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Head of School Letter 7th May 202407/05/2024

Dear Parents/Carers,

I hope you had a great Bank Holiday weekend and were able to enjoy the sunshine on Saturday and Sunday. This week, the GCSE and A-Level written exams begin. I spoke to Year 11 in their assembly on Friday, to remind them of the journey they have been on up to this point, that this was the final push to success and we were very proud of them. We will wish Year 13 the very best on Friday when they begin their study leave. 

Financially Motivated Sexual Extortion

Last week, Mrs Hankin sent two letters home regarding financially motivated sexual extortion – a type of online blackmail widely known as ‘sextortion’. The National Crime Agency issued an alert to teachers in England and Wales, following a considerable increase in global cases of this illegal online activity, with specific information for teachers to learn more about the crime and how to recognise the signs that a child at their school may be a victim. See more here: NCA issues urgent warning about ‘sextortion’ The NCA asked schools to write to families, ensuring everyone is aware and knows how to support young people experiencing this. 

Sextortion involves people being forced into paying money or meeting another financial demand after an offender has threatened to release nude or semi-nude photos of them. This could be a real photo taken by the victim or a fake image created of them by the offender. If you have any concerns or questions about this affecting your child or someone you know, please contact Mrs Hankin. 

Exam Season 2024

Exam timetables can be found on the school website: Examinations  Please support your child by discussing at home the importance of following invigilators’ instructions, ensuring they are on time for exams and have the correct equipment with them. All students have been informed of the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) rules regarding mobile phones, watches and other devices/technology and/or revision notes left in pockets. Students will be reminded at the start of every exam to ensure phones are off and in their bags, they have taken off their watch (smart/digital/analogue) and put it in their bags, checked pockets for revision notes or electronic headphones/other devices. The rules around having something left in a pocket are very clear and strict - each exam season students can be and are disqualified from a paper or an entire qualification if found to have any restricted items on them during an exam.  The JCQ warning to candidates is displayed in each exam room: JCQ Warning to candidates 

Fake Exam Papers

You may have seen reports in the news this morning about fake exam papers being offered to students via social media. As in previous years, scammers on TikTok, Instagram, Discord and other social media platforms offer new, untaken exam papers in exchange for payment. These accounts promise ‘early access’ to exam papers but in reality, the ‘exam papers’ turn out to be fake. The exam boards have very tightly controlled processes to prevent the leaking of exam papers and therefore any papers purporting to be this year’s papers are probably fake.  The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), which represents the UK's eight largest exam boards, says it is highly unlikely real papers are being leaked online. The exam regulator Ofqual says if students try to cheat, they could lose the qualification they have been studying for, even if the papers they try to buy are fake. Social media sites urged to stop A-level and GCSE scammers - BBC News

Roadworks and transport

We’ve been made aware of planned roadworks being carried out by Thames Water on the A418 in Bierton this week. Students taking exams have been reminded that if they are late to school in the morning due to transport issues or roadworks, and miss the 9am exam start, they will be given the full exam time. 

Ofsted Consultation

Last week I attended an Ofsted ‘Roadshow’ to learn more about changes to the Ofsted Education Inspection Framework (EIF) which sets out how Ofsted will inspect state schools, further education and skills providers, non-association independent schools and registered early years settings in England. Whilst the next Ofsted inspection for The Cottesloe School is unlikely to be for some time, it’s important that we have an understanding of any planned changes to the EIF. 

As part of their continued commitment to improving the process of an inspection, Ofsted is seeking the views of all stakeholders via a consultation called the Big Listen.  The Big Listen is an opportunity for them to hear from the professionals they work with, like teachers and other educators, carers, employers and social workers, and the people they work for parents, carers, children and learners. I would encourage you to complete the survey if you are interested and able to; it will help shape the future of Ofsted: The closing date is 31st May 2024.

Headteacher’s Gold Thumbs Up Award

I am delighted to let you know about the two most recent recipients of the Gold Thumbs Up Award. Students from the Year 11 Separate Sciences class, Izzy and Lilly, voluntarily completed the Isaac Physics Pre-16 Physics Masterclass to improve their understanding of nuclear physics. A virtual course that required a weekly commitment of 3-5 hours for pre-recorded tutor sessions and follow-up work, they both achieved 100% on all four modules! Mrs Hooley, Head of Science and A Level Physics teacher, was very proud of them and said this supra-curricular study will support them to achieve success in GCSE Physics this summer. This link will tell you more about the four modules: Pre-16 Nuclear Physics Masterclass Well done Izzy and Lilly!

Wearing PE Kit to school

Students have embraced the change to their routines by wearing the Cottesloe branded PE kit to school, on days students have Athletics, in order to support the exam processes. Please check that your child is wearing a Cottesloe-branded PE kit and not something that isn’t on the approved PE kit list. Students don’t have to be cold and there is no expectation for families to make an additional purchase of a Cottesloe fleece, so students should wear their school blazer over their PE kit if they would like. No other sports kit should be worn. If your child does not have the correct Cottesloe PE kit, and there are unforeseen challenges in acquiring it, please contact your child's tutor, who will be happy to support you.

Cambodia World Challenge

There is a parent meeting planned for this afternoon from 5:30pm as the departure date is ever closer. Please contact Mr Curtis if you have any questions about this meeting. All the teachers escorting the trip - Miss Gamage, Mrs Hankin, Mr Clawson and Mr Waite, along with trip leader, Mr Curtis will be at the meeting. 


Sports Fixtures and Results

There are no results to report again this week as the planned fixtures were rained off. There’s some Rounders planned again this week and a football festival for U13 girls. 


Year 8 and Year 9

Four students will be travelling to Walton High this week to participate in a Team Maths Challenge competition. The Challenges are aimed at students from Years 8 and 9 from schools and colleges based in the UK. Each team consists of four students, with a maximum of two students from Year 9, with only one team from each school permitted to enter. Thank you to Mrs Axtell-Powell for leading this opportunity for our very best Mathematicians to pit themselves against the best from other local schools. I’ll let you know about their achievements in a future letter.


Year 7 and Year 8

Sparx Maths Thank you to all the families in Year 7 and Year 8 who have supported our young people with their first week of online Maths homework. I’ve had an email today stating that 199 hours of learning have been completed this week by TCS students. Congratulations to everyone for tackling this new challenge with such enthusiasm!  


I hope you have a great week and thank you for your ongoing support.

Best wishes, 

Louise Baldwin

Head of School

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