Hello, and a very warm welcome to the Lower School section of the website!
My name is Jo Marston and I am the Head of Lower School and a member of the English Department at Thirsk School & Sixth Form College.
Put simply; I love my job. I love the variety that comes from working with young people, the challenges that brings, and most of all the satisfaction that goes hand in hand with starting students on their secondary school journey and seeing them develop, grow and fulfil their potential.
I believe I have the best job in the school, as I am the first high school teacher they meet, and that gives me the opportunity to spend the longest time building on our relationship, and as such I am always the one to be found shedding a tear or two at the annual Leavers Assembly for each successive Year 11 cohort!
At Thirsk, our Lower School is comprised of students from Years 7 and 8, with a typical sized cohort being made up of 6/7 tutor groups and approximately 170-200 students per year group. Starting secondary school is one of the most pivotal moments in a young person’s life, and here at Thirsk we want to provide the best possible experience for our students, prioritising close liaison with our feeder primary schools throughout KS2 and ensuring the best possible transition from Year 6. There is a separate section of the website for Transition and Induction-please visit this page to find out detailed information on what these processes involve.
Meet the Team
The Lower School Pastoral Team is made up of 2 Heads of Year (who rotate only within Year 7 and 8), the tutor team for each year group and the Inclusion Unit. Together we are responsible for the safety, physical and mental health and wellbeing and support of the students in Lower School, carefully monitoring their progress, behaviour and attendance in close contact with parents and carers.
Our Heads of Year have been specifically chosen for their experience and expertise in dealing with Lower School, and both have a wealth of knowledge around the transition and induction process. The tutor teams are consistent from Year 7-11, and wherever possible it is our aim that they stay with their tutor group throughout their school career. The tutors are the absolute bedrock of our pastoral system, providing that vital day to day support and guidance necessary to the success and happiness of all students.
Life in Lower School
As Head of Lower School, I have very high expectations of students in terms of their standards of behaviour, uniform and punctuality. I believe firmly that the consistent reinforcement of these key areas creates a positive attitude to learning and improves student engagement. As parents you will be able to keep track of your child’s behaviour, progress and learning through the ‘MyChild At School’ app, which provides a real time report on all of the above areas.
Data for progress, attitude to learning and homework is recorded and reported to parents at half termly intervals across Years 7 and 8 and Parents Evenings are held to support and enhance the relationship between home and school.
Praise and reward are high on the agenda in Lower School, and as such we hold regular half termly Reward Assemblies to highlight positive behaviour for learning, 100% attendance and engagement with the school and community. Prizes are awarded to students and Tutor Groups with the most positive points for being Ready, Respectful and Safe around school, and those who go above and beyond in terms of our vision and values. If you have ever had the pleasure of visiting any of our Social Media accounts on Facebook and Instagram you will already be familiar with our mantra ‘Be More Thirsk’, which basically sums up what the heart of the school is about. We want our young people to become Tolerant, Happy, Inspirational, Successful and Knowledgeable men and women, and this is reinforced and acknowledged through everything we do here.
On a weekly basis we send virtual postcards home for our ‘Monday Marvels’ and we have even resurrected the Primary School idea of ‘Golden Time’ for tutor groups who have shown a consistently good attitude to their classwork. The lucky recipients are able to enjoy a free lesson in the Inclusion Unit as a reward, complete with music, food and drink and table tennis.
We also organise a range of extra-curricular opportunities for our students- from P.E and Sport, to running the school newspaper-there is always something going on. The Lower School Challenge booklet is also a fantastic way for the students to record their personal achievements and activities and score points for completing the activities within it. All aspects of school life are celebrated and valued here at Thirsk and our students thrive within this positive and productive atmosphere.
Thank you for visiting this page; I hope you have found the information both useful and informative. Should you wish to have a face-to-face meeting or conversation, or have any queries or problems, please feel free to contact myself, or any of the team on the email addresses below.
We look forward to working with you to maximise your child’s potential and extend our invitation to you to join us and be part of the Thirsk family.
Head of Lower School