Birchwood Update 16/12/2019

Birchwood Update week Commencing16/12/2019


Festive and reward events in the approach to Christmas


19 December – Years 8 – 10 ice skating reward trip – non-uniform


20 December – Charity Christmas theme non-uniform day and 12.30pm finish


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




1 – 3 April – Year 7 residential to Menai

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

Last day arrangements and Christmas assembly



Our whole school and college Christmas assembly will take place at 11.30am in the Sports Hall on Friday 20 December, the last day of term. Parents, carers and friends of the school are very welcome to join us for this event. There will be a brunch break earlier in the morning and then school and college will close for the Christmas after the assembly at approximately 12.30pm.

For our last day of term, our learner officers have organised for us to have a charity Christmas theme day in aid of Save the Children. Learners are invited to wear their own clothing with a Christmas theme.  Please do not feel that you have to purchase a special Christmas jumper for the day, anything that looks festive is fine. It would be lovely if our Christmas Assembly were a colourful and joyous Christmas occasion to celebrate a really successful term.

The only stipulation of what your child may wear is that it should be appropriate to our school situation so no very short skirts, no crop tops and no onesies please.

The donation to take part in this festive day will be £1.


Season’s Greetings from Ms Mills and all the staff and governors at Birchwood Community High School. We wish parents, carers, learners and students a happy and restful Christmastime.


School and College will re-open on Monday 6 January at 8.45am.


Jessica takes third place in the annual Alliance for Learning Christmas Poetry competition.


A massive well done to Jessica in 7CH who has won third place in the annual Alliance for Learning Christmas Poetry competition for her poem One of Us.


This year’s them for the competition was Friendship. Friends are an important part of our lives and increase your chance of being happy and making great memories. Society expects young people to have lots of friends and that is not always true. Loneliness is more likely to affect young people today than older age groups according to research.A recent study found almost 10% of individuals aged 16-24 feel alone “always or often”, the highest proportion of any age group.


Lisa Fathers, Director of Teaching School at The Alliance for Learning, part of Bright Futures Educational Trust, said: “As the festive season approaches, for many, thoughts turn to spending quality time with friends and family. However, there are many reasons why people can feel isolated or may not find it as easy to form friendships, with an increasing number of younger people feeling this way. Christmas can be a particularly lonely time for those that don’t have lots of friends so we wanted to encourage students to explore this theme, at the same time encouraging them to look at ways they can make new friends, evaluate their own relationships and support their existing friends.”


Jessica’s poem is set at Christmastime but brings in the theme of bullying at school and not allowing this to happen.It can be viewed here. Her prize is a book token.


Judges for the competition included Diane Modahl, MBE and Commonwealth Gold Medallist and Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester.




Bikeability light up our cyclists


Thank you to the Bikeability Trust, the UK government's cycle education programme who visited us last Tuesday to teach our learners about cycle safety and hand out free bike lights to any learners who travel to school by bike.

The Bikeability Trust is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation whose object is to advance the education of the public in general and particularlychildren on the subject of cycling.


High-quality cycle education enables confident and enjoyable cycling, raises awareness of skilful cycling among all road users, and contributes to better transport, health and wellbeing.


The ladies were here just as the sun was rising to give out the bike lights which was perfect as learners could really see the difference that even a small light can make to your visibility on the road





To echo the message that Bikeability were giving out this week our weekly safeguarding is about safe cycling for children. Guidelines can be found here, but Bikeability have asked us to stress the importance of visibility on the road with adequate lights and reflective wear. The lights given out are only a temporary measure and should not replace a bigger sturdier bike light.


They have asked us to also point out that very few cyclists arriving at school were wearing protective helmets and those along with bike lights really do save lives.


As Christmas is nearly here and some of you may be buying your child a bike, please make sure that you ensure that they are safe by, at the same time, buying lights, front and rear and a good bike helmet.



More information and advice on cycling can be found on sustrans here and bikeability here


A warm welcome to the elderly from our community

On Tuesday, Birchwood really bonded with our local community when year 8 opened our doors and offered a warm welcome to the elderly in the Birchwood area for a Festive Fun Afternoon. They served tea, coffee and mince pies and led a good old-fashioned sing-along of Christmas carols and songs, all finished off with a game of bingo or two.


It was a fab afternoon but what really was so heart-warming was seeing our young people chatting with the older generation about Christmas, grandchildren and a host of other things. Both generations have so much to learn from each other and so many things in common once they got talking.


Thank you to all those involved in planning and working on this, especially Mrs Jenkinson and our local churches for bringing such a lovely event together.



The Brigadier advises our learners not to be sheep, instead take control of their own lives


Last Tuesday, during their Learning for Life lesson, year 10 were visited by Brigadier James Richardson who gave us a really inspirational talk on taking control of your own life to succeed.


James, after struggling with school and exams, enlisted as a Junior Soldier aged 16 in the army where he trained as an electronics technician. With the army he really found his niche excelling in leadership and during his early commissioned years he led troops in various roles including arctic warfare he was awarded MBE after prolonged and multiple tours of Bosnia and Iraq.


After his army service, hejoined Haig Housing Trust as its Chief Executive.The company provides family and single veterans housing for those wounded in conflict. After re-discovering education later in life James now enjoys sharing his life journey with young people in schools and colleges.


His guide to maximising success and enjoyment in life is simple

  • Make better decisions.

  • Have no regrets.

  • Learn at every opportunity.

  • Don’t be a sheep – think for yourself and don’t follow the crowd.

  • Try everything.

  • Be nice to people.

  • Be optimistic. 


his inspiration also comes from the poem IF by Rudyard Kipling and the famous quote from Friedrich Nietzsche ‘That which does not kill us makes us stronger’.


After speaking, James opened the floor to our leaners, inviting them to ask him questions on his life and lessons that he has learnt.

I’m sure that Year 10 took a lot away from the presentation, some of them staying behind to talk to James personally.



Year 7 get a fantastic reward trip to the panto


Last Wednesday 131 year 7 learners had a wonderful pre-Christmas treat after reaping the reward of accumulating 50 BIRCH points or more for great behaviour, attendance and manners, when they took a trip to Liverpool to see Peter Pan.

The panto was amazing, and learners had a great time getting festive. It really is true that in BCHS points mean prizes!


Two of our year 7 learners have written lovely reviews of the panto. Thank you Alfie and Scarlett


Alfie Allen

Peter Pan was an enjoyable experience and a great reward trip. My favourite characters were Captain Smee and Cutlass Kevin because they were the funniest out of the whole cast. My favourite song was ‘If I was not in Neverland…’ especially when Cutlass Kevin was throwing water over the audience. I really enjoyed the scene when Smee was telling Captain Hook the main events.

In conclusion, I think this was a great pantomime and I would go and see it again. I would recommend it to other people.

***** - 5/5


Scarlett Dunne

Peter Pan was an enjoyable experience and really fun to watch. I especially liked Smee because he was hilarious and a terrific actor. It was great for a family pantomime because everyone would be laughing along with the story. My favourite part was when the second half started because Mimi the mermaid had a scene where she sang a song whilst fish danced around her; it was really funny. Overall, all the actors and actresses were amazing and I definitely recommend it for everyone to see.

***** - 5/5






The Big Birchwood Ballot


Last Thursday to join in with election day fever, Mr Burnham decided to give our young people their chance to have their say as we held the Big Birchwood Ballot. At morning form learners watched news about the election and held discussion before casting their vote on ballot papers.


All major parties were represented on our ballot papers, Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Green Party and Brexit Party and we couldn’t wait to see how the figures stood after counting.


Votes were counted and the winner was Labour with a landslide majority, taking 49% of the votes with 188 votes. Conservative and Lib Dem were close with just a vote between them at 52 and 51, followed quite closely by Green and Brexit at 42 and 47.


Mr Burnham, whose brother is Labour Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, was elated and was hoping that BCHS was an indication of the outcome in the real election!



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 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 – No specific information

Year 10 - No specific information

Year 11

National Citizen Service - a great way to spend 3 weeks of your summer holiday! 


What is it?


National Citizen Service (NCS) is open to all 16 and 17-year-olds in England.


It helps you build your skills for work and life, while you take on new challenges and meet new friends.

It runs in the spring, summer and autumn. You’ll have a short time away from home and take part in a team project that will help your community.


NCS brings together young people from different backgrounds and helps them develop greater confidence, self-awareness and responsibility. It encourages personal and social development by working on skills like leadership, teamwork and communication.

Participants develop a social action project to deal with a local issue they’re passionate about and spend 30 hours putting the project into action in their community.


If you are interested and sign up before Tuesday 31 December, you can go for just £30 rather than the normal fee of £50. There are also bursaries available. See here for further information.

Year 11 Mocks examinations - Monday 9 – Thursday 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 


Birchwood College Open Evening, 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


‘Brighter the Better’ at Birchwood College


Last Friday Birchwood College was absolutely popping with colour as our students decided to do some pre-Christmas fundraising for the mental health charity Mind. The theme of the day was ‘the brighter the better’ and students dressed in the brightest clothes that they could find and did a bucket collection of lose change. Though only lose change the collection raised just over £100 going to a fantastic cause.


Well done to everyone involved in the planning and a big thank you to those who supported the day.





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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