February 2018 Newsletter
Dear Parent/Guardian/Carer
                               
Spring Report Card for all students
Your son/daughter/ward's spring report card will be available from Monday 19th February 2018 via the Varndean College Parent Portal.  If you have already registered for parental access you can login at https://parent.varndean.ac.uk. Once logged in, go to learning on the main menu and then progress reports. If you haven't yet received/have lost information about registering on the Parent portal please click https://parent.varndean.ac.uk/register and you will be able request details on registration.
A reminder of the meanings of the Grades and Descriptions we are using in the report card can be found here.

There have been some changes introduced to the subject reports that will be going live on 19th February. We have changed the target grade into a minimum expected grade based on the student’s GCSE score and national data. This does not mean that  teachers now think an individual student  is doing less well compared to previous reports. The UCAS prediction for Year 2 students going to university remains the same and also the marks students are getting in class will give them an understanding of where they are heading. The second grade on the reports is just an indication as to whether teachers expect a student to exceed their minimum expected grade or not. Hopefully most of them are exceeding their MEG and that is great. The reason for the change is that we were trying to standardise the information contained in the reports. What we found was that  targets were being set in different ways and this made it difficult for students and parents to understand what the grades meant.Hopefully the changes make things a bit clearer.

Consultation Evenings 
We will be holding our Year 2 Parents/Carers' Consultation on Monday 26th February from 5.30 to 8.pm. This is an opportunity to discuss progress with your daughter/son/ward’s teachers.

There are a few points to bear in mind which will help us ensure the smooth running of the evening and help us to be good neighbours:
  • Appointments are made via an online booking system by you or by your daughter/son/ward. This will be available on the Parent Portal (or My Varndean page for students). The booking sheet will be open from Monday 12th February for two weeks prior to the evening and shut on the Sunday before the Monday consultation meeting. If you experience any difficulty in this, please contact their Head of School
  • If you would like you will be able to print off a copy of your appointments showing names, times and locations. Staff will be in rooms in the main building and not in subject bases. In planning appointments for you, students will need to build in travelling time
  • Consultations are for 6 minutes and this is the only occasion when we use a bell to help us keep to time. We find that this time is usually sufficient to report fully on progress, but if, for any reason, a longer time is needed, a further appointment can be made at a mutually convenient time
  • As these events are very busy, we ask that you or your daughter/son/ward make an appointment with only one tutor per subject
  • Most staff will have full appointment schedules so we will need to keep to time and it may not be possible to reschedule missed appointments
  • Please respect local parking restrictions and do not park on the grass verges or illegally in the surrounding streets; ticket wardens are very active in this area.

What Next?
Pre-advanced students who intend to return to Varndean College to study advanced level courses are receiving advice in Core Studies and must complete their application in on My Varndean by Friday 23rd February. Students who apply to return will have an interview during March.

Year 2
I am sure that you would like to join me in congratulating the 8 Varndean students who have received offers from Oxford and Cambridge. We are very proud of their achievements.

Other universities make their decisions over a more extended period - some waiting until April to let students know the outcome of their applications. Please reassure any anxious young people on this point. Students should not feel pressured into making a decision until they have all their offers. When they have all their offers, UCAS will send them a deadline by which they must respond. This deadline will vary depending on how late all the student’s offers come in (and may be different from a friend’s).  

It will also be important to encourage your daughter/son/ward to discuss their final choices with their Core Studies tutor to make sure that second choice offers are genuine back-ups and lower than their first choice offers.

With two year linear courses, it is now very difficult to offer a meaningful additional year of study for students completing their advanced courses. If Year 2 students were hoping to return for a third year, they should book an appointment with their Head of School.

UCAS Higher Education Exhibition at The Brighton Centre on Tuesday 6th March 2018
A chance for students to meet staff from hundreds of colleges and universities and find out more about courses. The event runs from 12.30pm - 2.30pm with an additional 50 spaces between 10.30am and 12.30pm (only for students who do not have morning lessons).

Apprenticeship Event at Varndean College on Tuesday 13th March 2018
An awareness-raising careers event for students, designed to help them better understand Apprenticeships. The event runs from 11.30am - 1.30pm.

Higher Education Evening for Parents/Carers at Varndean College on Tuesday 27th March 2018
An information evening for Parents / Carers to find out how the College supports students through the University application process. The evening will run from 6 - 8.30pm.

Internal Examinations
Year 1 students who are following the new linear A levels will have end of year exams during the period May 15th to May 23rd. These exams will be important for progression onto the second year of the course. More details to follow in next newsletter.

Year 1 CTEC Creative media students
Year 1 L3 CTEC Creative Media students are booked in for a formal assessment at the end of March. This is due to take place offsite at the TV studio at Brighton University, as we don't have the facilities here. Students are expected to work in groups and the schedule is tight- they only have 1 day to shoot and live edit their piece together, so it is essential they are present on this day to meet the assessment criteria.

Students will be required on one of the following days- there will be 4 groups, and the specific day for each group is tbc based on which groups are assigned on which day, but as students shouldn't be taken out of college term time, it should be important that they are available all week! The dates are as follows:

Monday 26th March       10am-4pm
Tuesday 27th March      10am-4pm
Wednesday 28th March 10am-4pm
Thursday 29th March     10am-4pm

Contacting the College
It is my experience that many of the queries that parents have are addressed via the parent portal. However, if there are any unresolved queries, please do not hesitate to contact me at parents@varndean.ac.uk .  It is possible to contact teachers, via email, directly from your son/ daughter/ward’s timetable on STS, but please remember that teachers are busy teaching, preparing lessons and marking and will be unable to respond immediately.

Reporting Student Absence
The text number for reporting student absences is : 07481 342441.
Voicemail: 01273 546645
Email: registry@varndean.ac.uk

Student absences should be reported before 10 a.m on each day of absence. Further details on the absence procedures can be found at: https://varndean.ac.uk/absence_student

Nut Allergy
We have a large number of students with nut allergies and two with a very severe airborne allergy to peanuts and groundnut oil.   We would therefore ask parents and carers to remind their son/daughter/ward not to bring in snacks or lunches containing peanuts or groundnut oil.

Parent Survey
It is very important to me that Varndean College make it possible for your views and opinions to be heard.  Each year we make available the parent/carer survey and each year your feedback allows me to reflect upon the things we appear to be doing well but more importantly the things you are less happy about.  I regard you as a critical friend and will use this feedback to make your son/daughter/ward's experience more fulfilling.

Please take 5 minutes to complete this survey.  Thank you for your co-operation in advance.
https://survey.varndean.ac.uk/take/cptpLyDoZdgK98zId7bCBHJCmZI6YVYlGvAhkMTUxODA5MjQ1NA

Further details about all of the above events will be sent out to students and parents nearer the time. Latest Dates for Your Diary are available here.

Finally, I hope you and your families have managed to find some time over the half term to relax.
 
Yours faithfully
Phil Harland
Principal
©2019 Varndean College, Brighton, United Kingdom

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