Year 7

Year 7 is usually made up of about 250 students who mainly live within a 2-mile radius of the school. The main feeder primaries are The Hill, Emmer Green, Caversham Primary and St Anne's RC Primary. There is usually a fairly even mix of boys and girls. We are taking an increasingly high achieving intake, with many arriving at Highdown with level 5 in Maths, English and Science.

Our range of transition activities means the majority of students arrive at Highdown knowing the physical space and key members of staff, and some students receive additional transitional help according to need. As part of the transition process we have two mentoring programs: Year 8 Buddies (who mentor the new arrivals from their first day) and the Sixth Form Mentors. We encourage our Year 12 and 13 students to be trained as mentors, so they can support students who find the move to a large comprehensive rather daunting. This benefits all those involved, as the older students share their experiences and develop their ow communication skills.

Year 8

Year 8 students have now settled into life at Secondary school and are familiar with the range of subjects that they study and where to find them within the school. Students have made new friendships within the eight mixed tutor groups and have enjoyed spending time in their tutor groups on Big Learning Days which have covered a range of topics from 'healthy lifestyles' to the 'Law and Justice system.'

Students have the opportunity of a trip to Rhos-y-Gwaliau in North Wales during the summer term, this is a week full of activities that push students to their limits. Students finish Year 8 more mature and ready for the challenges of Year 9.

Year 9

Year 9 is a time of change and looking to the future. We have to make big decisions about school life, regarding options. Students have the chance to choose new and exciting courses in both GCSEs and more practical BTECs or Vcert qualifications.

All students are looking at how they can achieve their KS3 targets, as they know how this will benefit them for their GCSEs’s. Students become more involved in their learning as they begin to think about their future. Year 9 is a dynamic and fast paced year with lots of opportunities and exciting new experiences.

Year 10

Year 10 is an extremely important and exciting year for everyone involved. All students have made a choice as to what they are studying this year, and whether it be GCSEs, or they have included a Diploma course, or they are educated at an off site provision, all the work produced is very significant and goes towards future qualifications.

Given the new changes to the GCSE structure Year 10 has taken on even more value in ensuring our students achieve their full potential.

In addition to their academic diet, Highdown places special emphasis on their pastoral and PSHCE need. A number of days are used for Business Enterprise which build on teamwork and presentation skills to look at how businesses run. These allow students to recognise the wide range of skills needed in the work place and allow our students to develop these skills to prepare for future expectations.

Year 10 is an exciting year where students develop and build upon skills and knowledge first learnt at KS3. Students are expected to push themselves and develop resilience in the face of challenges. Year 10 is a year where students also begin to understand who they want to be as adults and through the pastoral support structures, this is not a journey they take alone.

Year 11

Year 11 is the culmination of twelve years in compulsory education. Students have been working towards their GCSE examinations and are soon to embark on the public examinations that will shape their future and influence their life choices. The school is working hard to ensure that all of our students reach their potential. We are doing this in lessons, through feedback, and also by providing a range of additional study opportunities. All of our students are assessed regularly in the run up to examinations ; we use a wide range of pre-public examinations to ensure that our students have a secure understanding of the progress they are making and how to improve.

Of course Year 11 is not just about GCSE examinations. We look forward to celebrating a successful year and have just appointed a committee to plan and oversee the end of year celebrations. The committee is made up of students and they typically organise an end of year ball which is the high point of the year for staff and students alike. In previous years we have also had a year-book and a hoodie, so we eagerly anticipate what the students will come up with this year!

Year 11 are an able group of individuals and we have high expectations for them. They will need to work with a real sense of focus and tenacity over the next few months. They will need to embrace all of the support being offered by the school. They are a lovely group of students who we are confident possess the skills and personal attributes to do themselves and the school proud.