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Headteachers' Blog

11th December 2017


Whatever Happened to the One School Pathfinders?

We are just over one month away from celebrating the sixth anniversary of us opening as one of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) ‘One School Pathfinders’. In the 2000s BSF was the name given to the government’s investment programme which envisaged all English secondary schools being rebuilt. Sutton, being one of the more affluent and educationally higher attaining, was amongst a group of local authorities that was going to be last in the queue. In June/July 2006, and entirely out of the blue, it was announced that all the 25 authorities that were last in the queue would be allowed to nominate a school to become the ‘One School Pathfinder’. After consultation, we became the nominated school for Sutton.

A requirement of the ‘One School Pathfinders’ was that they had to reimagine schooling for the 21st century and act as a role model for others to follow. They had to be innovative; doing the same was not an option.  In the autumn of 2006 we set off on a journey of discovery, seeking inspiration from other schools at home and overseas. Boston, New York, Reykjavik and Copenhagen were all visited and helped inform the vision (importance of relationships), structure (four small schools) and practice (Excellent Futures Curriculum, Taster Options, Vocational Subjects and Authentic Assessment – Student Led Conferences) that has been developed at SPH since our nomination.

So what happened to all of the other ‘One School Pathfinders’? The truth is we really don’t know. We were never introduced; there was no collaboration and sharing of ideas. We suspect that each school was developed in isolation. Consequently, England missed a once in a lifetime opportunity to positively regenerate its education system.

We are thrilled to be still operating in the way that was envisaged. We are also delighted that we have been given the opportunity to share our journey with other regions - Carmarthenshire and the Isle of Man amongst them - as they give collectively give serious consideration to the future of education. We look forward to meeting the latter again when they visit us in early February.

National Cyclocross success

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We were delighted to hear about the success of our student Emily Ashwood in the challenging National Cyclocross Trophy Race on Sunday 3rd December.

Emily explains, ‘Cyclocross is a very specific type of bike racing and the course is off-road, but there can be portions of pavement included, and you can expect to encounter grass, dirt, mud, gravel, sand, steps, hurdles and many other obstacles. The races are based on a set time (measured by numbers of laps), not distance, and I have to race for 45 minutes with the Elite and Under 23 women.’

Supported by friends and family who cheered her on, Emily had a fantastic race and won her category, finishing 1st in the Junior Girls.  Counting this the highlight of her cyclocross racing career so far, Emily is clearly set for further achievement. We wish her well.

Learning Review Week for parents and carers of Year 9 and 10 students

Parents and carers are encouraged to participate in our next Learning Review Week, starting on Monday 8th January. Year 9 and 10 students will bring home work to share, including exercise books and portfolios. Some of their work will be online, and students will be expected to share this with parents and carers.

We hope that reviewing and discussing your child’s work at home will be an opportunity for you to praise their effort and achievement, and encourage them to do their best.

Research into Sleep

Our Educational Psychologist, Ms Bainton, is studying adolescent sleep for her PhD. She is especially keen to explore how sleep is relevant to education, and how we can use our knowledge about sleep to improve the ways that we teach and support adolescents. Research tells us that sleep is linked to important areas such as learning, emotional regulation, behaviour, mental health and physical health. We also know that many adolescents are not getting a good quality or quantity of sleep.

We have the opportunity to find out more about the sleep young people our school are getting, and to contribute to this important area of research. Understanding this helps us to develop ways to help young people improve their sleep.

If you would like your child to take part in this research, then please email their form tutor, who will be happy to answer any questions you may have and supply a permission slip for you to complete. Young people who have signed permission from their parents or guardians can take part in the research which takes the form of a short questionnaire at school. Young people from all year groups can get involved in this.

We hope that you will be willing for your child to take part and thank you for your support.

Forthcoming Events

Christmas Carol Concert Tuesday 19th December

Please join us for our annual Christmas Carol Concert at the Good Shepherd Church, Carshalton next Tuesday. Doors open at 6.30pm, event starts at 7.00pm. Students and staff will be presenting readings and musical items to celebrate the start of the festive season. Parents, carers and friends are all welcome.

End of Term Wednesday 20th December

The last day of term will be Wednesday 20th December and students will be dismissed at 11.40am. This will be a Mufti Day with students donating a £1 to charity. Students are expected back in school on Thursday 4th January at the usual time.

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 Customary, and the numeracy word of the week is Inequality

4th December 2017


The Importance of Continuing to Develop our Learning Environments

Despite our building being nearly 6 years old, whenever we receive visitors to SPH they are still amazed at the variety and responsive nature of our learning spaces. Like all schools, we have some classrooms with rows of desks facing the front or in some group work configuration; however, we are constantly exploring opportunities to reimagine these spaces for the benefit of our students. Today’s students learn in a broader range of ways than previous generations and we need to meet this need. Consequently, below you will find an example of articles we are constantly sharing with our staff. Some of the ideas have already been adopted in Mr Tomson’s maths classroom.

hundred.org/en/articles/could-cafe-culture-hold-the-secret-to-better-classroom-design

It is not just in our classrooms that we are pushing the boundaries and seeking to innovate. We have already started to develop our learning resource centre, SPIRA, and we are starting to develop our plans for the atrium, a wonderful space that is adored by our students. Collectively, we are very keen that these spaces respond to one of the outcomes in our vision statement, ‘Optimism in a rapidly changing world’. We have found that this attribute is the most difficult to define. It is about a positive mindset – glass half full rather than half empty – and it is about preparing for massive technological changes. It is also about our students overcoming the challenges our world faces in the future: climate change, habitat destruction and resource depletion.

In SPIRA we envisage two learning zones. One will emphasise the impact of waste and the importance of recycling. The other will focus on the impact of climate change on the inhabitants of cold mountain environments. In contrast, our attached atrium will take its inspiration from tropical rainforests, diverse ecosystems that are under real threat. We will be utilising planting and seating areas in keeping with the rainforest theme. We will also be utilising the fantastic height and light that the atrium affords us.

It is important to us that these learning spaces will benefit all our students, and we are fortunate that School Fund donations from parents will help fund this project. If you regularly donate to our school fund, thank you for your generosity. If you have any ideas or any materials to help us achieve our aims in redesigning these spaces, please email Debbie Stocks, Headteachers’ PA, dstocks@suttonmail.org.

Parent and Carer E Safety Information Evening - tonight at 6.00pm

This evening Steve Welding, the borough E Safety Officer, will be visiting us to present an information session for parents and carers on ‘Keeping your child safe online’. This begins at 6.00pm in the Performance Studio and is expected to last an hour. We thoroughly recommend this presentation, which delivers some hard hitting facts and practical suggestions. All parents and carers are encouraged to join us. We hope that you are able to attend.

Chromebook Pilot Scheme

In previous blogs, details have been shared about our Chromebook pilot scheme with Year 7 students. This is proving to be very successful. A number of enquiries have been received from parents asking what device they can purchase.

The model we are using is an Acer Chromebook Spin R751T-C6LD, manufacturer code NX.GPZEK.002; which has been selected because of its durability, spill resistant and tamper proof keyboard and its flexibility for classroom use. Please be aware that there will be an additional cost of approximately £20.00 plus VAT for a Google management license that will need to be purchased at a later date, which enables the device to work on the school Google G-Suite platform.

For compatibility reasons, this will be the only device accepted in school. Students’ own devices should not be brought to school at this stage, and parents will be updated on developments shortly.

Mental Health First Aid course for School Staff

On Tuesday we are hosting one of the first Mental Health First Aid courses for schools. Delegates from schools in the area will learn about the triggers, warning signs and ways to cope with mental health issues in young people, and we believe this vital information will support interventions to help those affected. We are delighted to have been chosen as a venue for delivering this valuable training, and staff from our school will be among attending. They will be prepared to share all they learn with colleagues.

Mocks

Our Year 11 Mock Exams, also known as Pre-Public Exams (PPEs) will start today with Modern Foreign Language orals, Art, Textiles and Photography over the first few days. The majority of the exams follow from Friday 8th, lasting until Wednesday 20th December.

Study leave for Year 11 students begins on Friday this week. Students may choose whether to attend revision sessions with their normal timetabled teachers, study independently in SPIRA, our Learning Resource Centre, or study independently at home under parents’ supervision.

A special assembly for Year 11 students last Thursday gave them all the information they need about arrangements, and parents will have received a letter.  The Examinations timetable is available in the exams section of the school website.

This is a challenging time, and we aim to work together with parents and carers to help all students to do their very best. Please see the Exam Preparation section of the website for suggestions about how to help your child to succeed.

Afternoon Tea Invitation – Thursday 14th December

Parents and friends of the school are invited to join us for an Afternoon Tea hosted by Year 13 Business Studies students and Year 9 Hospitality and Food and Nutrition students on Thursday 14th December from 3.30pm until 5pm. The event is to raise money for the charity Sutton Mencap, which works to improve the lives of people with a learning disability and their carers in the London Borough of Sutton.

Tickets cost £7.50 per person, and include tea or coffee and a selection of sandwiches, mince pies, scones and choux buns, prepared and cooked by our Year 9 Hospitality and Food and Nutrition students. To book, please log onto the “ParentPay” website: www.parentpay.com

If you do not have login details, please contact the Finance Department via finance@stanleyparkhigh.org.uk. Tickets are limited to 30, and offered on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. All requests for booking should be made by Friday 8th December. We hope that you can come along.

Year 12 Volunteering Day – Thursday 7th December 

On Thursday 7th December, Year 12 students will undertake their first volunteering day as part of the ‘Post-16 Volunteering Programme’. 

Volunteering can be hugely rewarding.  It develops self-confidence, self-belief and overall satisfaction. Some of our students are placed in primary schools, charity shops and local businesses, while others assist teachers in school, working with children in Year 7 and 8.     

We believe that volunteering creates opportunity, helping our students succeed in future endeavours. It impresses university admissions panels and potential employers.  Time spent volunteering demonstrates students are giving something back to the community, contributing to positive change and making improvements to the local area. 

We hope all Year 12 students enjoy their first volunteering day and develop valuable confidence and skills in the process.

Future Think Tank potential changes to the school year / parent questionnaire

Two weeks ago, we invited parents to comment on the possible options for changes to the structure of the school year, which are being explored in Future Think Tanks. Parents are now invited to contribute to the debate about the pattern of the school day and week. If you would like to be involved, please read on....

This school has a single week timetable, unlike many schools both locally and nationally. School starts at 8.25am and finishes at 3.15pm, with some students finishing early on Thursdays at 2.25pm.

This is an opportunity to take another look, and set parameters which best suit our teaching and learning. Again, please be reassured that no changes will be made to the number of teaching days or contact time between teachers and students.

Below is a link to a survey which explores the advantages of potential changes. Other schools have chosen to follow a different pattern to help them manage some of the factors below:

  • Children may be more receptive at different times of the day.
  • Children may have varying spans of concentration.
  • Relationships with tutors may benefit from different patterns of contact.
  • Attendance may be affected by the decisions made on the pattern of the school day and week.
  • Flexibility in a two-week timetable helps maximise teacher time, meaning less wasted teaching periods and saving the school budget.

Of course there are different opinions, and these are only a few of the factors which have been taken into account when schools to establish their timetables.

To take part in our short survey please click here

Once again, this is a means to gauge broad opinion about the issues involved, not a consultation. If the project results in a proposal to make formal changes a full consultation will take place and parents will be involved. Thank you for taking part.

Forthcoming Events

Christmas Carol Concert Tuesday 19th December

Doors open at 6.30pm, event starts at 7.00pm. The venue is the Good Shepherd Church, Carshalton.  Please add the date to your diary, and join us to celebrate the start of the festive season.

End of Term Wednesday 20th December

The last day of term will be Wednesday 20th December and students will be dismissed at 11.40am. The first day of term, Wednesday 3rd January is an Inset Day.

Students are expected back in school on Thursday 4th January at the usual time.

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 Customary, and the numeracy word of the week is Inequality