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Headteachers' Blog

Week commencing 27th February 2017

Taylorism – not in my name!

It is winter so the perennial argument resurfaces in the Taylor household as to what temperature the thermostat should be set at. Not liking it too hot, I find it comfortable at around 18 degrees centigrade whereas my wife enjoys a positively balmy 22 degrees. We compromise on the average of 20 degrees but, if truth be told, neither of us is happy. The average doesn’t suit.

I have just started reading a book by Todd Rose, The End of Average – How to succeed in a world that values sameness. In the introduction he refers to the high death rate of American pilots in the early stages of the Second World War. Initially, much as they do today, investigations centred on mechanical failure or pilot error, but Gilbert Daniels found out that whilst the cockpit had been designed for the average pilot, none of the 4063 airmen in his research were average. Consequently, the standardised dimensions of the cockpit – distance to the pedals/stick/dials/levers/switches/ firing button, size and shape of the seat, height of the windscreen etc. – weren’t helpful and often deadly as the pilot struggled to get his un-average body to operate controls in an average cockpit.

Rose argues that our obsession with what he terms averagarianism started with one man, Frederick Winslow Taylor (no relation as far as I am aware!), an American who applied averages to industry in the late 1800s in order to improve productivity. He argues that since that time we have become obsessed with ‘Taylorism’, with averages being used to standardise all aspects of life, including our schools.

Most English schools are still organised according to a Taylorist vision of education. They speak of personalisation and individualism, but in reality the average diet is standardised regardless of a students’ background, abilities or interests. Each school’s examination results are judged against the average. Similarly, each student’s examination results are also compared against the average student – more on the upcoming 2017 GCSE examination results next week - but we know that there is no such thing as the average school or average student.

This Thursday we hold our Year 9/10 Parents’/Options evening. During the evening we will talk about our option blocks, of which there are four. Many schools have moved away from this breadth of choice because of government pressure for all students to follow the standardised EBacc options of Geography or History and a Modern Foreign Language. Despite the negative implications for the school in terms of league tables, we will continue to allow students to pursue their interests and passions. As a result, we will have 27 options on offer. Alongside subjects that are common to most schools, like GCSE Computer Science and Psychology, are others that are vocational in nature, such as BTEC Motor Vehicle Engineering and BTEC Horticulture. As an aside, it remains bizarre that these two BTECs count for the student as GCSE equivalent, but they do not count for the school and help lift our average in the school league tables.

So, you can take it as read that SPH does not value sameness and will not follow the Taylorist vision of education. Consequently, it looks like I am going to need to get my surname changed!

Funding Cuts for Sutton Schools

We would like to thank all parents who supported local schools and wrote in protest against the funding cut proposed by London Borough of Sutton. Despite the protests of Headteachers and parents, the Local Authority have taken the disappointing decision to press ahead with the 0.5% cut to funding for Sutton schools.

Naturally this news is a matter of concern and Sutton Headteachers will meet with the local MP, Tom Brake and Minister for School Standards Nick Gibb tomorrow.

We shall continue to keep you informed about developments.

Jack Petchey Awards February 2017

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We proudly reproduce the happy faces of our Jack Petchey award winners sharing their moment of success with Deputy Mayor of Sutton, Steve Cook. The ceremony took place in Epsom last Monday, and our students were applauded by parents, friends and staff in the audience. Congratulations to our winners on their achievement.

Come on SPH!

Good luck to our Under 14 Girls’ football team, whose National Cup semi-final has been arranged for tomorrow, Tuesday 28 February. The match will be played in St Ives, Cambridgeshire. The team have been training in preparation and are excited at the prospect of such an important match. We wish them the very best of luck and look forward to hearing news about the way the match unfolds.

Year 9 Core Parents/Options Evening on Thursday 2nd March 2017, 4.00pm to 7.30pm

Parents and carers are reminded about this event which takes place on Thursday from 4.00pm to 7.30pm.

Options talks will take place in Spotlight from 4.45pm to 5pm and again from 6.15pm to 6.30pm.  Visitors are encouraged to attend one of these talks.

A letter has been sent to all Year 9 parents providing information about the evening and details of how to make bookings with core subjects teachers online. Booking opened on Monday 20th February and the deadline will be at the end of the day tomorrow, Tuesday 28th February. Options forms will be distributed on the evening.

The Year 9 Options Booklet will appear on the school website under the link below, from Tuesday onwards. Please note that paper copies of the booklet will not be issued on the evening – this is an online document only. Feedback from this event will be via Survey Monkey. The link appears below.

Booklet - www.stanleyparkhigh.org.uk/52/downloads
Survey - www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/63V56XC

World Book Day – Thursday 2nd March

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We look forward to celebrating World Book day on Thursday 2nd March. Activities and events will take place throughout the school including readings, assemblies, competitions, treats and surprises. Younger students will receive a £1 book token. Please help your child choose a book, and encourage them to read for pleasure. Thank you for your support.  

Free tickets for Carshalton Athletic FC

Carshalton Athletic Football Club have nominated Stanley Park High School as the “School of the Week” for the week commencing Saturday 4th March 2017.  

This means that our students and their families will benefit from up to four free tickets to the football match between Carshalton Athletic vs Greenwich Borough FC on Saturday 4th March 2017 (3.00pm kick off).

Those families who take up the offer will also receive free soccer school tickets, after the date of match.

An email is being sent to all families. To apply, simply open the attachment to the email and click on the link.

We hope that many families from Stanley Park High will be able to benefit from this generous offer from the club, and attend this event.

Support your Year 11 child – Event for Parents and Carers Monday 6th March

This is a reminder about the Year 11 ‘Parent Power’ workshop on Monday 6th March.  Doors open at 5.15pm and the event starts promptly at 5.30pm in Spotlight.  We hope to welcome many parents and carers to this event, which will provide useful guidance and tips. There is no need to reserve a place in advance.

Intensive Day – Thursday 9th March

Thursday 9th March is Intensive Day, and we will be following a condensed timetable:

Period 1 08:30 – 09:10am
Period 2 09:10 – 09:50am
Period 3 09:50 – 10:30am
Break 10:30 – 10:50am
Period 4 10:50 – 11:30am
Period 5 11:30 – 12:10pm


There will be no Period 6 and all students will be dismissed at 12.10pm.

PTA ‘Night at the Races’ event on Friday 10th March

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We hope that you will be able to join us for our ‘Night at the Races’ event on Friday 10th March. Doors open at 7.00pm and the event begins at 7.30pm. The ticket price £ £8.00 for adults includes a fish and chip, or sausage and chip supper, with a vegetarian alternative of halloumi in batter and chips. Please bring your own wine/beer/soft drinks and nibbles, and please bring cash for placing bets on the eight races during the evening.

Tickets are available through Parent Pay. Please indicate your food preference when booking.

This was a very successful event last year with over £1,000 being raised for the school. Again, all proceeds will be donated to the school to help support areas where extra funds are needed to enhance pupil experience and opportunity. Please add the date to your diary.

Please note this is event is for over 18s only.

Contact with parents and carers

We aim to provide information to parents and carers promptly and efficiently, and our preferred method of communication is via email.  If you have not provided us with your email address, or you have recently changed your email address, please let us know. This should be via email to office@stanleyparkhigh.org.uk. When you contact us, please include your child's name and tutor group. Thank you for supporting the school in this way.

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 Cynical
The numeracy word of the week is Locus


Week commencing 20th February 2017

We hope you all had a restful half term break. During the week, our students and staff enjoyed exciting visits abroad including a History visit to Berlin and Kracow, and a skiing trip to Austria.

Cameras – the start of a new craze?

It was recently reported that two secondary schools are experimenting with giving teachers body-worn cameras in order to improve the behaviour of students in schools. Jenni Russell, writing for The Times on 9th February, believes they are not the answer. We totally agree with this. Good relationships between teachers and students are fundamental. The use of body cameras demonstrates distrust and we consider it counterproductive.

Unfortunately, it is at this point we diverge from Jenni’s opinion, which cites the need for stricter and more explicit rules. In support of her argument she names some schools – Michaela community school and those in the Harris chain – that have adopted an ultra-strict approach. She refers to “single file walking in corridors, standing when teachers arrive, and no talking unless asked to”. Some schools are said to go even go further by getting the students to collectively say the school motto at the start of every lesson. Jenni claims that teachers and students believe that these, and other draconian rules, liberate everybody.

In fairness to Jenni, she does say that this rigidity is not for everybody. We are one such school. We are human, so we have our ‘off’ days just like everybody else, but overall Ofsted was clear in stating that at SPH “the behaviour of pupils is outstanding. They move seamlessly between lessons and relax sensibly in the large, litter-free atrium during breaks. They behave extremely well in lessons. They are attentive, keen to learn and work hard. Their self-confidence grows in Year 7. They quickly learn the importance of respectful, positive relationships with staff, and make friends in their mini schools and with other pupils in their teaching groups.”

Yes, rules do provide a framework for good behaviour. However, far more important is the degree of freedom and a sense of responsibility that comes with focusing on trusting relationships, an area where we build constantly.

Funding developments

Just before half term a letter was emailed to all parents, written by the Sutton Secondary Headteachers. The letter set about explaining the scale of the funding crisis and the impact on schools. We appreciate the concern of parents as we face a difficult time, and we believe strongly that your direct support can influence change.

If you have not already done so, we would urge you to add your voice to those demanding a policy reversal on cuts to education funding in Sutton. The proposed cuts by Sutton Local Authority will have an impact on every single child. Please email your feelings to the Leader of the Council, Ruth Dombey, prior to the meeting today - Monday 20th February 2017 ruth.dombey@sutton.gov.uk.

We would reassure parents that it is our intention to work in tandem with you, to continue to provide the best possible education and opportunities for your child or children - and to express our determination to preserve the values, vision and ethos of our school at all costs in the face of challenging circumstances.

Year 7 EFC Poetry Evening - Tuesday 21st February

We are looking forward to welcoming parents of Year 7 students to our EFC Poetry Evening tomorrow between 5.00pm and 6.00pm. Students will be displaying their work from the recent project “The People are Revolting”.

Year 9 Core Parents/Options Evening on Thursday 2nd March 2017, 4.00pm to 7.30pm

Parents and carers are reminded that this event takes place on Thursday 2nd March from 4.00pm to 7.30pm. This has been adjusted from the time previously advised. Options talks will take place in Spotlight from 4.45pm to 5pm and again from 6.15pm to 6.30pm.  Parents are encouraged to attend one of these talks.

A letter will be sent to all Year 9 Parents today, providing information about the evening and details of how to make bookings with Core subjects teachers online. Booking opens at 7.30pm on Monday 20th February and the deadline will be at the end of the day on Tuesday 28th February.

Feedback from this event will be via Survey Monkey – the link appears below.

www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/63V56XC

Year 8 Student Led Conferences – Weds 8th and Thurs 9th February 

Students and their families shared student work and discussed their progress on Wednesday and Thursday before half term. This event was attended by a good number of families. We wholeheartedly believe that the process empowers students to take the initiative in their studies, and students put a great deal of effort into preparing. The results of our feedback survey will be shared on the website shortly.

Jack Petchey Awards

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As parents and carers may know, the Jack Petchey Award Scheme is a reward and recognition initiative which enables schools and youth organisations to celebrate the achievements of their young people. Diverse areas of achievement are recognised, which are completely separate from their academic achievements.

We are thrilled that nine of our students will be presented with awards in a ceremony this evening at Epsom Playhouse. The reasons for their nominations are inspiring, and include:

Tirelessly raising funds for charity following family tragedy; being a superb ambassador for the school; outstanding commitment to music; outstanding commitment to sport; inspiring contribution to the School Council; exceptional improvement in progress.

We continue to be impressed with the maturity and dedication of our young people, and we would like to add our congratulations to them on their awards.

Dates for the diary....

School Production – “Three” by Harriet Braun

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Stanley Park students will be performing THREE by Harriet Braun on Wednesday 22nd & Thursday 23rd February at 7pm.  The play focuses on a summer of unrequited love, as six teenagers navigate through their inner voices to a place where they can experience being in a true relationship.

The event is part of National Theatre Connections, a nationwide celebration of new plays for young people. If we are successful, we will take our play to Chichester on 23rd March as part of the National Theatre Connections festival.

Doors open at 6.30pm and the event begins at 7.00pm. The play is expected to last an hour.

This event is free of charge. To book tickets please click on the link below. We hope to welcome many parents, friends and governors on the evenings. Please add the date to your diary.

www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/stanley-park-high-three-by-harriet-braun-tickets-31410304065

PTA ‘Night at the Races’ event on Friday 10th March.  

We hope that you will be able to join us for our ‘Night at the Races’ event on Friday 10 March. Doors open at 7.00pm and the event begins at 7.30pm.  The ticket price £ £8.00 for adults includes a fish and chip, or sausage and chip supper, with a vegetarian alternative of halloumi in batter and chips. Please bring your own wine/beer/soft drinks and nibbles, and cash for placing bets on the eight races during the evening.

Tickets are available through Parent Pay.  Please indicate your food preference when booking.

This was a very successful event last year with over £1,000 being raised for the school. Again, all proceeds will be donated to the school to help support areas where extra funds are needed to enhance pupil experience and opportunity. Please add the date to your diary.

Please note this is event is for over 18s only.

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 Cynical
The numeracy word of the week is Locus


Week commencing 6th February 2017

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Funding Pressures

A recent survey for the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) 2016/17 reveals the extent to which school leaders are struggling with budgetary pressures. The findings show that the number of schools currently in deficit has more than doubled since their equivalent 2015 survey, now running at 18%. Meanwhile, nearly three quarters (71%) of school leaders are only able to balance their budgets by making cuts or dipping into reserves, and 72% say their budgets will be unsustainable by 2019.

Although stark, we suspect that the figures above underestimate the true national picture. We say this because some schools are reluctant to go public with their concerns for fear of giving the impression that their school is struggling financially and having to consider making cuts, all of which are likely to have an impact on the quality of provision. We fully understand their concerns. We now operate in a market economy with secondary schools ‘competing’ for potential students at age 11 and 16. Give the impression that you are struggling financially and parents will, perhaps understandably, consider educating their children elsewhere.

Last Tuesday there was a tweet by the Times Educational Supplement. It identified a headteacher, John Tomsett, of a school in York who in March 2016 wrote a piece about funding pressures. It remained anonymous, probably for the reasons specified above, until last week’s tweet when John took this brave decision to waive his anonymity.  We encourage you to read his candid article which shines a light on the true scale of the financial difficulties schools now face…

www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/how-my-school-losing-battle-funding-cuts

The Government will say that they have increased funding to schools and that they are currently reviewing how they fund schools to make the system fairer, but they won’t link to this the multiple sources of increased costs facing schools. These include increases to employers’ pension contributions, meeting the cost of statutory pay rises, a non-negotiable contribution to the Apprenticeship Levy, cuts to Post 16 funding and the removal of the Education Services Grant.

In addition to the above, the Local Authority has decided to cut a further 0.5% from the budget of all secondary schools in order to reduce their own financial pressures.

Stanley Park High is an expensive model of schooling to run for a number of reasons. The most important of these is that we absolutely prioritise the importance of relationships in developing four small schools within a school. Our classes are also quite small, not only in the critical transition years 7 and 8, but also to allow for the wide portfolio of options from year 9, many of which are ‘vocational’.  In addition, we have a state-of-the-art building that is the envy of many others, but it does not come cheap in terms of running costs. We are now over five years old and, despite the fact that our students and staff look after it, maintenance costs will rise.

Central government will encourage us to make efficiency savings, often drawing on a few examples where it has worked elsewhere. The trouble is no two schools are alike and none, if truth be told, are like us. We will have to consider savings in the near future, but we would wish to reassure parents that this will not be to the detriment of our ethos and values. These will be protected at all costs. We will, as always, keep you fully informed through the Blog.

Under 14 Girls’ Football Success

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Winning 6-0 in a superb performance last week, our Under 14 Girls’ football team earned their place in the last four of the English Schools’ Football Association U14 Cup. 343 teams entered, so we are extremely proud of their achievement. The semi finals will be played away, either in Somerset or Cambridgeshire. We are sure all parents, carers and friends join us in wishing the team the very best of luck!

Year 8 Student Led Conferences – Weds 8th and Thurs 9th February

Parents and carers of students in Year 8 are in school later this week for Year 8 Student Led Conferences. These take place on Wednesday 8th February (after school) and Thursday 9th February (all day).  All Conferences will take place in classrooms in World School 1st Floor.  Please note that the deadline for bookings to be made is the end of today, Monday 6th February. We are confident that the discussions which will take place empower students to plan and review their own learning, and draw together support from school and home to give them the best chance of success.

Year 9 Core Parents/Options Evening

Parents and carers are reminded that this event takes place on Thursday 2nd March from 3.45pm to 7.15pm.  A letter will be sent to all Year 9 Parents on Monday 20th February, providing information about the evening and details of how to make bookings online.

Inset Day – Friday 10 February

Parents and carers are reminded that Friday is Inset day, and the school will be closed.

Advance warning about traffic controls in Metcalfe Avenue

From today, Sutton Water will be extending the water main in Metcalfe Ave by 220m. This will mean some traffic light control. The work is scheduled to be completed by March.

Half Term

Half term starts next Monday 13th  February. We wish all families a relaxing break. School visits will be taking students to Germany, Poland and Austria.

We look forward to seeing all students back in school on Monday 20th February at the usual time.

A date for the diary....

School Production – “Three” by Harriet Braun

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Stanley Park students will be performing THREE by Harriet Braun on Wednesday 22nd & Thursday 23rd February at 7pm.  The play focuses on a summer of unrequited love, as six teenagers navigate through their inner voices to a place where they can experience being in a true relationship.

The event is part of National Theatre Connections, a nationwide celebration of new plays for young people. If we are successful, we will take our play to Chichester on 23rd March as part of the National Theatre Connections festival.

Doors open at 6.30pm and the event begins at 7.00pm. The play is expected to last an hour.

This event is free of charge. To book tickets please click on the link below. We hope to welcome many parents, friends and governors on the evenings. Please add the date to your diary.

www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/stanley-park-high-three-by-harriet-braun-tickets-31410304065

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 Futile
The numeracy word of the week is Kinematics