Birchwood Update 2/12/2019

Birchwood Update week Commencing 2/12/2019


Important dates for your diary:





5 December – Year 9 Performance Review Evening, 3.30pm – 7pm


20 December - 6 January - Christmas break





Plan ahead - This term’s Important dates for Your Diary




16 January – Birchwood College Open Evening, 6-8pm

21 January – Year 11 and Year 13 Leavers’ photos

23 January - Year 11 Performance Review Evening 3.30pm – 7pm




6 February – Year 12 & 13 Performance Review Eve, 3.30pm – 7pm

27 February – Year 10 Performance Review Evening, 3.30pm – 7pm




19 March – Year 8 Performance Review Evening, 3.30pm – 7pm

23 March – Year 8 options deadline for choices forms to be returned




1 – 3 April – Year 7 residential to Menai

20 April – Year 7 Performance Review Evening 3.30pm – 7pm

What an amazing pre-Christmas family treat


An enormous well done to our cast members, Band and performing arts staff for a memorable version of the pantomime Aladdin.


The players were exceptional with Ben and Amy as the sweet couple who want to live ‘happily ever after’ despite the rules of protocol Princess Jasmine and Aladdin. Standoing in their way were two despicable baddies Jafar, played by Joe and the strange but silly Psychic Sid played by Daniel. Both baddies were marvellous in true panto fashion and had the audience booing and hissing!


We also had lots of comedic characters played beautifully by Ben as Dame Twanky and his strange sisters played by Callum and Oliver. Nice outfits boys!!!


Our real hero of course was the genie who sorted everyone’s problems out. Michael was a real treat as this character and really made the show memorable. I wonder how long it took him to get that blue paint off every night after show?


There were too many great performances to mention with everyone giving their heart and soul at every performance. There were also some fabulous dance routines and stunning songs which really brought the show together.


Huge thanks must also go to those behind the scenes: The stage crew, lighting, sound, costume and many more.


Also, thanks to our talented musicians who played live music throughout the show. Nathan Peers, Hayden Astley, James Harper, Will Ellison and Joe Fitzpatrick all led by Ms Walsh and Mr Coulson.


Finally, to the people whose vision and hard work made the show possible our performing arts staff and Mrs Burrows for her choreography. Thank you so much for all your months of dedication and hard work above and beyond the curriculum. You really are fantastic.




Our Year 9 teams prove to be best Geography boffins coming 1st place from Warrington schools at the World Wise Quiz


Freddie, Stanley, Harvey, Sadie, Harvey and Lily in year 9 were putting their geographical knowledge to the test on Wednesday evening at the regional final of the World Wise Quiz at Chester University. They had six difficult rounds (including map skills, place knowledge, potluck and fieldwork) and were competing against 30 teams across Cheshire and North Wales. They did exceptionally well, coming 13th overall, 8th best state school and 1st out of Warrington schools!


Special mentions were for Stanley Strong (his place knowledge and knowledge of Ebola locations is second to none!!) and Harvey Bold who was the only one out of 90 children to correctly identify a photograph of Spurn Point! Both boys were constantly involved in both the verbal and written rounds.


 Well done to everyone who took part, you are all World Wise superstars.



Ellen and Issy smash the Blackfoot Hike!


Two of our learners surprised themselves with their ability and endurance recently as they took part in the Warrington Scouts Blackfoot Hike. The hike is not for the fainthearted as it involves a totally self-sufficient hike of over 20 miles over a 2-day period.

The girls were dropped of in the countryside with a map, a compass and all their gear and set a task to reach a target destination by a designated time on the second day.


The weather was terrible with torrential rain, cold and wind as the girls set off carrying their tents, cooking equipment, food, sleeping bag and mat and dry clothing.


At the end of day one when they felt fit to drop, they then had the task of setting up camp and cooking for themselves, when all they wanted was a nice dry cozy bedroom, their tea and a warm bed.

The next day after cooking breakfast, they were off again. The weather was slightly better, but they really were by this stage chilled to the bone.


After another hard day though the girls made it, completing the challenge and receiving their certificate of achievement.

 Ellen said “When we got to the finish point it was such a relief as we were so cold and tired. There were times on the hike that we had not been sure that we could make it and had wanted to give up, so we were really proud when we completed it. It is an achievement that we certainly won’t forget!”


Well done girls we are so proud of you and what you have done proves that with a little hard work and determination, anything is possible.



Birchwood College Christmas Markets


To get Christmas festivities off to a start now December has arrived and as part of their unit ‘planning an enterprise activity’ our college level 2 Workskills students are planning to run ‘Birchwood College Christmas Markets’ this Friday, 6 December.


There will be 4/5 small stalls outside the College at break and lunch selling a variety of goods so if your child has some pocket money waiting to be spent Friday will be the day.



Birchwood Christmas lunch


I hope that your child will join us on Tuesday 17 Dec for our Team BIRCHwood Christmas lunch. Mags and her catering team will be providing a festive feast for our learners and staff. To ensure everyone can sit and eat at leisure we will have two lunch sittings. Years 7, 8 and 9 will eat at 12.15 and Years 10, 11, 12 and 13 will have their lunch at 1.15pm.   please note in the M1 Diner Christmas lunch will replace the usual menu options


The cost of the traditional Christmas dinner with vegetarian option is £2.30

Our uniform policy on coloured nail varnish and false nails


As the Christmas season approaches, we sometimes see the appearance of elaborate acrylic nails. Can we please remind parents, carers and learners that coloured nail varnish and false nails are not part of correct uniform and therefore not allowed in school. Form tutors do a standards check every morning and the protocol for breaches in incorrect uniform is as follows:


•             Learner is sent to Year Team Office by form tutor at start of day

•             YTO contacts parents to resolve the matter swiftly, which will involve removal of the nails

•             The learner will not be allowed in lessons until the matter is resolved.

•             One behaviour point is issued by the form tutor.  


Please avoid disappointment and wasted money by making sure you wait for the holidays to have acrylic nails applied and of course make sure they are removed before we return to school in January. Thank you as ever for your support.



Keeping your child safe


After looking at the dangers of on-line porn last week it is worth addressing parental controls


Parental controls can be used to block upsetting or harmful content, control in-app purchases or manage how long your child spends online. And the good news is parental controls are really easy to set up.

Innocent searches sometimes reveal not so innocent results. So, if you’re worried about what your child is searching for online, who they’re talking to or what they’re seeing the NSPCC can help.


Advice from the NSPCC regarding this subject can be found here.


Extra-curricular timetable


Please take a look at our extracurricular timetable to see what great activities are available for your child to take part in both before, after school and at lunchtime . 

Click here to access the timetable

 Learning Superstars


Please find our star learners of last week for our English, languages, geography and science departments


Year 7 


Have you secured your child’s place on our year 7 residential?


In April, we are organising a trip to the Conway Centre for all of Year 7. This will be an ideal opportunity for learners to experience new and different activities and to encourage them to start Year 8 with a focus on making good progress throughout the curriculum.

The cost of the trip is £200 per learner. This includes transport to and from the centre, board, lodgings and the cost of all the activities. The cost can be payed in instalments.

To secure a place, please pay a non-refundable deposit of £50 and complete the medical information required on Parent Pay as soon as possible.


For full details of the trip and how to pay see the letter here


Year 8 -  No specific information


Year 9 


Year 9 Performance Review Evening –Thursday 5 December 2019 in Birchwood College


This event gives you the opportunity to speak with your child’s subject staff to discuss progress and achievement. Please book via our online booking system for parents’ evenings. A letter with instructions how to do this can be found here


We look forward to welcoming you all on the evening


Year 10 - No specific information

Year 11


Year 11 Revision Launch PowerPoints


Thank you to all those who attended our Year 11 revision evening last week. We hope that you found it of benefit. All of the resources from the evening can be found on our website if you click here it will take you straight to the right area.  It is the button right at the bottom, the tab called ‘Make it Stick – Learning, Memory and Revision’.


For those who could not attend the event, a copy of the ‘Make it stick’ booklet will be in your child’s form box today.

Year 11 Mocks examinations - Monday 9 – Friday 19 December 2019


Below you will find information regarding the year 11 mocks, which will take place in December. Please help us by ensuring that your child is aware of their examination dates and that they attend school throughout this period. 


These exams will be completed under exam conditions and are a good test to measure how much progress learners have made in preparation for their exams next summer


A letter about the examinations can be found here

Mock timetable can be found here and Instructions for candidates, here

Looking to the Future and next steps for Year 11


According to the Government, young people must stay in education or training until at least the age of 18. See the information here


 They must do one of the following:

  • stay in full-time education, for example at a college/6th form

  • start an apprenticeship or traineeship

  • spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training


Learners have been following a careers programme throughout year 10 to prepare for this and will continue to learn about post 16 options, through Learning4Life lessons this term, assemblies and presentations.


If you would like to book a careers appointment for your son/daughter to discuss their post 16 options please email our Careers Adviser Mrs R Morris 

College Open Events


Birchwood College Thursday 16 January 6-8pm.


If you didn’t manage to make it to our October college open evening, or if you would like to consider courses in more detail, it is not too late as we would love to welcome you in January. If you have any concerns or questions in the meantime please contact Head of College, Chris Burrows on


 Our next open Evening will be on Thursday 16 January , 6pm - 8pm . We look forward to welcoming you to the event.


Birchwood College 



Two of our students are moved by a 'lesson from Auschwitz'
On Tuesday 12 November two-year 13 History students, Emily Travis and Lily Harrison, and Mrs Garratt took part in the ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ visit to Auschwitz in Poland. This was a packed one-day visit with other students and staff from across the north west of England. Following a 6.30am flight from Manchester the group went by coach to Oswiecim. This was the town renamed as Auschwitz by the Nazis and was the first stop of the day so that the students could see the ordinary background of the Jewish people who were then removed and taken to camps. The students were then taken to Auschwitz 1, which now acts as a museum displaying amongst other very emotive artefacts a book of 4 million Jewish names, as you can imaging the book is huge. The group then visited Auschwitz – Birkenau, the large concentration camp where thousands of Jews and other prisoners were gassed and cremated. The visit was very informative and incredibly moving, one of our students described it as ‘walking in dead people’s footsteps’. The visit finished with a short memorial service and the lighting of candles.


Emily and Lily will now produce a display to capture their visit.




Other School information:


A Reminder of our policy regarding sugary drinks and junk food in school


Please find a letter here from Ms Mills reminding you of our policy on such items. At the moment we are seeing a great deal of energy drinks, sweets, chocolate and takeaway foods in school and as per our policy on these banned items they will be confiscated or disposed of. We hope that you understand why this is a priority for our school and your child’s learning and development.


Difficulties in viewing the Update.


Last week some people told us they were having difficulty viewing photographs in our update. The problems relate to using Microsoft Internet Explorer.  If you are experiencing problem and are using Internet Explorer as your web browser, please close and re-open in another browser such as Google Chrome.

Useful Contacts for your child and to to keep by your phone:


  • Year 7 Team Office in Art Building

    • Year 7 Team Leader & Officer  – Mrs Butler: Telephone extension 202


  • Year 8 and 9 Team Office is at the top of main corridor

    • Y8 & Y9 Team Officer – Ms Hickson: Telephone extension 290 

    • Y8 Team Leader – Mrs Jenkinson/Ms Gilchrist

    • Year 9 Team Leader – Ms McAlinden


  • Year 10 and 11 Team Office is in D&T/EPR building

    • Y10 & Y11 Team Officer - Mrs Bird: Telephone extension 229

    • Y10 Team Leader – Mrs Jones

    • Y11 Team Leader – Miss Russell


Please support us in ensuring that our facilities are the best they can be


Please be aware of rules regarding learners being on the school site outside school hours.


Some damage has been caused to the site and a learner has been hurt trying to climb over the fencing. We would like to remind you that learners are not allowed on the school site at any time unless they are with a member of staff. The rule about this is below:  


Unless there is a member of staff running a special extra-curricular activity, the school site is out of bounds for all learners on weekdays after school clubs have finished (usually after 4.30pm) and at weekends and during school holidays. 


Please support us by making you child aware of this rule so that our facilities are the best they can be for us to use in school time and for the community to book and use out of school hours.


Thank you for your support in this matter



Keeping in touch gets even easier with the introduction of the Xpressions website


We are pleased to announce that Groupcall Xpressions is now available to access on your computer via a website. The login page can be found here.


This gives you a further way, as well as accessing the APP on your mobile phone and tablet, to view information about your child

Once you are set up you will be able to see information such as:

  • Free messages sent by the school delivered to the app

  • Attendance and absence information

  • Attitude to learning (“ATL”) scores for each lesson.

  • Daily/Weekly timetable information

Xpressions is completely free of charge to you and supports Apple iOS, Android devices and now Windows operating system.


In order to use the Xpressions, school must have your correct mobile number and email address on our school system. Forms are available from the school office to check and update your details or you can simply email them to the school. You will need to make sure you keep these details up to date in future to maintain access to the service.


We hope that you take advantage of this new service, which has replaced our ParentsLive system.  If you have any issues or need to know more please contact Mr O’Reilly here at school on


Mobile Phones, Earphones and Speakers in school.


Phones and headphones may be brought in to school but must be kept in bags or zipped in blazer pockets out of view at all times. Learners must not use phones at any time on the site between the bells at 8.50 and 3.00pm unless they are asked to do so by a teacher in a lesson for a reason that is related to learning. In this case, the teacher will issue instructions on the use of phones or headphones, which must then be followed. If a phone is out during the school day, even to check the time, this will be confiscated. There is a staged system of sanctions and mobile phones, earphones and speakers are counted as identical items.  If you think a learner is using a smart watch in the same way as a mobile phone, please speak to their Year Team Leader or Year Team Officer. 


If a learner is concerned about an issue at home and feels they need to speak to a parent, they need to go to the Year Team Office and discuss this with Year Team Officer. Staff should confiscate mobile technology items that are visible and in use during the times specified.  They should be taken to the school office.  The system of sanctions are:


Stage 1 - First offence

  • The item is confiscated and locked in the school safe

  • The item is collected by the learner at the end of the day

  • One behaviour point is issued by the Office

Stage 2 - Second offence 

  • The item is confiscated and locked in the school safe

  • The item is collected by the learner at the end of the day

  • One behaviour points issued by the Office

Stage 3 - Third Offence

  • The item is confiscated and locked in the school safe

  • Parents/carers are informed and asked to collect the phone at the end of the school day

  • One behaviour points is issued by the Office.

Children on site out of school hours


As a Community School, we welcome clubs and booked activities to use our facilities and school grounds outside the school day. We have become aware though that there are groups of both learners and ex learners on site in the evenings. Please make your child aware that learners are only allowed on site after the school day, if they are part of an organised and booked group. Thank you for your co-operation.


School Nurse: Please note that the school nurse comes into school every Wednesday from 12.15- 1.30pm and is available in the BSR Mentoring Room if any learners or students have any health related issues they would like to discuss.


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