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Headteachers' Blog

Week commencing 24th April 2017

State of Confusion – New GCSE grades confirmed

Shortly before Easter I accessed a letter from the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, to the Chair of the Education Select Committee, Ian Carmichael, via Twitter.  I tend to get most policy announcements via this route because nothing tends to arrive by email or letter following a period of consultation these days!

The letter was revealing. Having previously thought that grade 5 would be a pass for the new GCSEs in English and Maths, we discover – less than two months before Year 11 sit their examinations – that grade 4 is a standard pass, and that it is equivalent to an old C. A grade 5 will be seen as a strong pass……please don’t ask what a 6, 7, 8 or 9 will be called, but there have been some mildly humorous definitions of these grades circulating in the education world.

So, students who achieve a 4 will have deemed to have passed their GCSE English and Mathematics in 2017, and this appears to be the case for all future year cohorts as well. The only slight confusion is with the English Baccalaureate. Students will have passed the English Baccalaureate if they achieve the 4 in English and Maths in 2017, and achieved at least C grade passes in Science, Geography or History and a Modern Foreign Language.

School achievement is measured somewhat differently in league tables, however. To achieve credit towards the English Baccalaureate, a pass at grade 5 is necessary in English and Mathematics. This differential of 4 for them and 5 for us is simply bonkers. It’s just as well we don’t restrict student choice, and force them to study all of the English Baccalaureate subjects.  As I said last week, we value all learning, including that which is practically based.

Assemblies this week

It is usual for the weekly schools’ assemblies to have one specific theme. This week it will be titled “Bits and Pieces” because there are a few things we would like to share with our students. The first part of the assembly will be on our plans for our new learning centre.

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In last week’s Blog we explained the thought we are giving to redesigning our library space. We plan to create an inspirational place for learning, which encourages reading and sparks the imagination. This community space in Oslo caught our attention – the link was shared last week. www.facebook.com/biblotoyen/videos/1520681334908243

We have a made a fantastic start, with a ski gondola (pictured above) arriving last Friday. It’s authentic and versatile, and we can’t wait to see it adapted for use. So, with the support of the whole community, we are eager to get started on our project. Can you be a part of this? If you have something in the video that you are willing to donate, or could persuade someone you know to do so.... or if you have something similar that you think could work, please contact Debbie Stocks, Headteachers’ PA to the Headteachers - dstocks@suttonmail.org. We are open to ideas and look forward to hearing from you. We are ready to collect items you are able to donate.

The second half of the assembly will be a reflection on running the London Marathon on Sunday. Students were aware that it was on my ‘Bucket List’, but I can safely say that whilst I did ‘enjoy it’ – well, until about 20 miles – I am not eager to do it again. Some of the photographs that were taken as I crossed the line will confirm this! Hats off to Mrs Allen, Finance and Premises Team Leader, who completed her third London Marathon in as many years.

Both of us are very grateful for the support and best wishes that we received before, during and after the event.

Year 7 Girls’ Football Team

Our Under 12 girls’ football team are playing this afternoon in the County cup final at Richard Challoner School, New Malden It is a 5.30pm kick-off. We wish the team the very best of luck.

Year 10 Parents’ Evening on Thursday 27th April 4.15pm to 7.15pm

We are looking forward to seeing parents and carers for Year 10 Parents’ Evening on Thursday 27 April. Information has been sent, and booking closes at 10.00pm this Wednesday. We hope all Year 10 parents and carers are able to join us.

Fire Safety

We have been advised that free support is available to counteract risks from fire. We are happy to pass on the information below:

To promote home fire safety, Sutton Council is working with Sutton Housing Partnership and the London Fire Brigade to offer free smoke alarms to residents of Sutton. Residents are welcome to pick up not one, but TWO FREE smoke alarms (two per household limit).

All you have to do is visit the reception desk at one of the following locations:

  • Sutton Council – Civic Centre, St Nicholas Way, SM1 1EA
  • Sutton Council – Denmark Road, Carshalton, SM5 2JG
  • Sutton Housing Partnership – Sutton Gate, 1 Carshalton Road, Sutton, Surrey, SM1 4LE

You can pick them up from 9am to 5pm, Mon-Fri, until the end of May. Please bring along a letter showing proof of address or your council tax bill.

This project is being run as part of the Better Contacts project. The aim of the project is to work closer with local partners and to ensure residents receive the best possible service.

Please note that the London Fire Brigade also offers free home fire safety checks for any resident, with priority given to more vulnerable residents.


Week commencing 17th April 2017

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Welcome Back

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter break - absolutely glorious weather.

It was a busy break. There were visits to New York (Year 10) and Paris (Year 8), and we are delighted that both went very well. There was also Easter revision for those students taking examinations this summer and they were very well attended. Exam season will soon be upon us so we hope that our revisers feel like they have benefitted from the additional sessions.

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Many thanks to those members of staff that gave up some of their holiday time to enable the above to happen.

Children don’t like making things……..really?

Over the break I read an article by Camilla Turner in the Daily Telegraph claimed that according to a survey by the Design and Technology Association, the subject had disappeared as a GCSE subject from nearly half of secondary schools because teenagers no longer like making things. Teenagers don’t like making things? Really?

In the last week before Easter I conducted a straw poll amongst a group of Year 7 Trade students in their Excellent Futures Curriculum studio. Yes, they are one year away from being a teenager, but I doubt that their responses will be any different when they reach the lofty age of 13. The photograph below was taken after I asked them to put their hands up if they liked making things. Fairly conclusive, I think you would agree.

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So what has led to the decline in Design & Technology? There are two main reasons.

Firstly, the Department for Education (DfE) sees a hierarchy of subjects. It starts with English and Maths at the top and drops to Science, and the recently introduced Computer Science, through to History, Geography and Modern Foreign Languages. All the other subjects are seen as below this in their importance ranking.  The English Baccalaureate, introduced by the DfE, established a suite of academic subjects which pushed the arts and vocational subjects into second place.  It is hardly a surprise that hundreds of schools across the country chose to axe Design & Technology from the curriculum, many in the past year, according to a poll of teachers conducted by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).

Secondly, many of the subjects that were about making things have, quite frankly, become less about making things. Theory – the design and evaluation process - although very important, has come to dominate and the making has become of secondary importance. This is a shame and I believe it has put students off choosing Technology subjects – Resistant Materials, Textiles etc.

At Stanley Park High we see all learning as important. This includes when students have the opportunity to be create and make things. Having made something, students relish the opportunity to exhibit.

Over the next two weeks our Year 7 and 8 students will be exhibiting work from their current EFC projects.

  • On Wednesday 19th April, Year 7 Performance Students will be showcasing their recent work from the project ‘An Ordinary Hero’. The exhibition will take place between 5pm and 6pm.
  • We will also be holding two exhibitions for our current Year 7 and 8 EFC projects ‘Upcycled Chic’ and ‘Waste Not Want Not’.  The World Year 7 and 8 exhibition will take place on Tuesday 25th April whilst the Trade Year 7 and 8 exhibition will be on Wednesday 26th April. Doors will open at 4.15pm and both exhibitions are expected to last about an hour.

We look forward to welcoming parents and members of the local community to these events.

A new design for SPIRA - our learning centre?

We are giving some thought to redesigning what is, in effect, our library. In keeping with our innovative approach, we have been inspired by this community space in Oslo…… www.facebook.com/biblotoyen/videos/1520681334908243

We believe our students will think it is a fabulous place to learn, and would like to do something similar. Whilst some of the ‘furniture’ will need to be sourced – we don’t expect you to have a ski gondola hanging around in your living room - we are hopeful that we will be able to benefit from donations. If you have anything in the video, or something similar that you think could work, please contact Debbie Stocks, Headteachers’ PA, - dstocks@suttonmail.org. We would be willing to collect.

Praise for our drama students at ‘Connections’

We were extremely proud of our students’ performance at the Minerva Theatre in Chichester as part of the National Theatre ‘Connections’ programme on Thursday 23 March, and delighted to receive some wonderful comments afterwards by email from Jane Fallowfield, Director, some of which are reproduced below.

I felt your group went on a fantastic journey through the Connections process.  I really enjoyed watching their performances grow in Chichester - they suddenly understood how to tell a story and engage a whole theatre full of people... Above all, I love the reaction they got from the other school - they were absolutely engrossed in your production, they laughed, they nudged each other with recognition and they clapped like crazy! 

I hope Stanley Park do Connections again next year, it was a pleasure working with such smart, fun and polite young people.

At a time when creative subjects are being dropped from the curriculum by so many schools in response to funding cuts, it is good to see the impact drama makes and the enjoyment and confidence it generates.

Well done to all who took part.

Congratulations to our Future Foundations Award winners

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We are very proud of our three students who were recognised in the Future Foundations  Awards ceremony before Easter. They gave a polished presentation about a project they had undertaken in front of a panel of six judges, who included a range of business leaders, and three further schools and their teachers.

Our students were praised for their enthusiasm and passion.  They have now raised a considerable sum from cake sales and a sponsored walk for the Diamond Riding Centre, and are raising awareness about disability through an Art project and talking to different groups. The project will continue into next term.

Well done to all three – Lily, Roslyn and Lucy.

Well done to our Year 7 Ignis students – fundraising success

We are proud of our Year 7 Ignis students, who organised and ran a fete on Friday 31 March to raise money for Cancer Research and Ignis Funds. They successfully raised a huge £118 through stalls which including food and drink, sponge the teacher and tombola. This was a super effort and we are happy to commend their achievement.

Year 10 Parents’ Evening on Thursday 27th April 4.15pm to 7.15pm

We are looking forward to seeing parents and carers for Year 10 Parents’ Evening on Thursday 27 April. Booking opens today, and the deadline is 10pm on Wednesday 26th April 2017.  Information will be sent directly to parents and carers giving details.

Words of the Week

Every two weeks, the school focuses on new words which broaden the vocabulary. This week…

The literacy word of the week is demure
The numeracy word of the week is pictogram