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Headteachers' Blog

Week commencing 28th November 2016

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Autumn Statement

A couple of weeks ago I started to listen to some of the Education Select Committee’s questioning of various individuals about the evidence for the possible expansion of grammar schools. I hadn’t been listening long before they took a break and the streamed Parliament channel switched live to the House of Commons and questions being taken about Business and Industrial Strategy. Most of these questions were asking about innovation. In response, the minister was unequivocal in stating that innovation in business and industry was essential to enable growth, ensure economic competitiveness and increase our living standards.

In the Autumn Statement last week the topic of innovation was referred to again when Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, spoke about investment in innovation; for example, in the scientific research industries. Unfortunately, there was no such money for education. In fact, there was hardly any mention of money for education at all. This is a real worry for headteachers up and down the country, particularly given a national shortage of teachers and ever increasing demands to raise standards across many aspects of schooling. Commenting on the Autumn Statement, Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “it is disappointing that the government has not used the Autumn Statement to invest in education. We know that school budgets are being pushed beyond breaking point. Almost nine out of ten school leaders are telling us that a rise in national insurance employer contributions and pension contributions are the key reasons behind financial pressures in their school.”

The only money allocated to schools in the Autumn Statement was the £240 million for the expansion of grammar schools over the next four years, which takes us nicely back to the recent questioning by Education Select Committee. Members were very rigorous in challenging the view that grammar schools are better than other schools and provide social mobility. I, whilst not wishing to in anyway criticise my grammar school colleagues, would also question that view.

In my final paragraph on this I would wish to ask two questions:

1) Why was this money allocated when the consultation on the expansion of grammar schools is still to be completed – deadline 11:45pm on 12/12/16?

consult.education.gov.uk/school-frameworks/schools-that-work-for-everyone

It looks like they have already made up their mind!

2)  How does the desire to be innovative marry with a return a grammar school system?

We will continue to innovate for the benefit of each and every student, no matter what their particular ability or talent, but we are going to have less money to be able to do it.

HSE Conference Feedback

Last week we pictured our recent Human Scale Education conference, and reported on the number of education professionals who had visited us to learn more about our outlook. We were delighted to receive the compliment below, which arrived by email from one of our visitors:

“...You have a fabulous school, and Helen and I left with a feeling of great respect for your staff and students.  You have really given us some food for thought here, especially regarding student voice and parental engagement and how we utilise our building/grounds further to support learning in future”. 

We are glad that our visitors were so impressed by their experience of the school, as we enjoy welcoming groups for workshops and presentations. We are always delighted to share our experience with others, and look forward to hosting similar events in the future.

SSAT

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This Thursday we have been selected to present a workshop at the SSAT National Conference at the ICC, Birmingham, before delegates from across the UK. Our topic, unsurprisingly, is “Igniting a Passion for Learning” and we have been asked to give delegates practical examples of our practice at SPH. Consequently, we will be talking about the small schools structure, as well as our innovative curriculum and approaches to assessment.

Learning Review Week for parents and carers of Year 7, 8 and 9 students

Another Learning Review Week will take place next week, starting Monday 5th December. This will be our second round of this exercise, and we hope that sharing the opportunity to review your child’s work will encourage families to be involved, and help support student learning. Further information will follow next week.

E-Safety Presentations

Last week Steve Welding, the E Safety Officer for the London Borough of Sutton, visited the school to lead sessions with Year 7. Together they explored the ways in which young people can stay safe online and take steps to protect themselves from danger. These are always engaging and thought-provoking sessions, which emphasise the importance of awareness about risk, and show practical ways to cope. We are grateful for his valuable advice and would like to thank him for his time and effort.

Maths Week, Monday 28th November to Friday 2nd December

Today marks the start of Maths Week, and students will pitch into five days of fun and fundraising linked to the subject. This event will include building challenges, the ‘Teacher Number Game’, a Maths Bee and Maths Bingo. Both lesson time and break time activities will challenge and entertain children, while developing their maths skills. All monies raised will go to charity. the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). Thank you for supporting your child as they take part.

Shoebox Gifts for Christmas

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The Student Council are leading on a school project to donate gifts to those in need in Eastern Europe. This will be a whole school effort, and tutor groups are planning to create and decorate shoe boxes filled with gifts. We hope that we shall be able to give up to 150 boxes. 

The small gifts which are included should be suitable for either children, teenagers, senior citizens, families or new babies. Boxes will be packed and labelled for a suitable recipient. They will be  transported to Eastern Europe using Rotary Clubs and other trusted partners, and distributed to those in need.

Thanks in advance to all parents and carers who contribute to this venture.

Friends of SPH

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Thank you very much and well done to the SPH Friends, who put on an excellent Quiz Night last Friday which raised nearly £500 for our students.  Everyone enjoyed a stimulating and challenging evening, putting their memory to the test. One visitor commented, “I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say how much I enjoyed the quiz last night, and felt it was very well run and organised. I am a local resident and don't have kids at the school, but I have attended your race nights and Christmas Fair last year, and have been made to feel welcome on every occasion”. We are delighted to welcome all friends, parents and staff for our events.

Their next date for your diary is the Annual Race Night which will take place on 10th March. Please pencil this in - we hope to see you there.

The SPH Friends are always looking for new recruits. If you would like to get involved, and become part of this active and friendly team, please contact Maria Walker via office@stanleyparkhigh.org.uk

Parking

We have been contacted by a local resident, who alleges that parking by parents has obstructed entrances and exits to local roads/driveways. We work hard to build good relationships with our neighbours in the community, and we would politely remind all parents that parking should respect local residents. Thanks you for your support.

End of Term

The last day of term will be Wednesday 21st December, and students will be dismissed at 11.40am. Students are expected back in school on Thursday 5th January at the usual time.

Lost Property

Parents are reminded that lost property should be collected before the end of term. Over the Christmas break all unnamed items will be disposed of.

Coming Events

Christmas Carol Concert - Monday 5 December at 7.00pm

Families are invited to join us for the school’s Christmas Carol Concert on Monday 5th December at the Good Shepherd Church, Queen Mary’s Avenue Carshalton. Student performers and readers arrive at 6.30pm, and doors open for visitors at 6.45pm. The event starts at 7pm and is expected to last just over an hour.

The church kindly offer refreshments to all who attend, which will be served after the service. We hope you can attend! Please add the date to your diary.

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 affliction
The numeracy word of the week is factorise 


Week commencing 21st November 2016

Human Scale Education (HSE) Conference at SPIRA

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Last Friday we welcomed headteachers and other senior leaders from Hampshire, Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. All had travelled to us to find out more about our human scale approach to learning. Prior to this Mike Davies, now a governor of SPH, gave a talk about the history of HSE and explored its values with delegates. In the afternoon our visitors joined various discussion groups about aspects of human scale practice. One of these was led by Sally, a Year 13 student, pictured above. Judging by the tweets that followed the conference, our visitors gained a lot and very much enjoyed their time. We look forward to working with them in the future.

Academy Status

At the Full Governing Body meeting last Wednesday, the decision was formally taken to convert to Academy status. Parents and friends will remember that the school entered into a consultation period from 28th June to 30th September, and the views expressed have been taken into account in our plans. The school plans to become a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) with the capacity to add other schools to the group, sharing our vision and values. We see this as an opportunity and we look forward to building links with other schools, both as formal MAT partners and informally as a mutually supportive network. We believe that this will benefit our staff and students. As we stated last week, the proposed date for conversion is 1st December and we shall keep you informed.

Year 11 Pre-Public Examinations

Our Year 11 PPEs take place in December.  Practical subject examinations will take place from Friday 2nd December for one week.  Other subjects will begin from Monday 12th December and run through to the end of term.  The full timetable is available in the exams section of the school website.  Year 11 students will be having a special assembly this week with their Head of School, at which they will be given further information and issued with a hard copy of the timetable, as well as a booklet providing them with useful revision tips. 

Year 11 Examinations Information Evening

A reminder that we will be holding an Examination Information Evening for all Year 11 Parents on Thursday 1st December 2016 from 6.30pm to 7pm.  Doors will open at 6.15pm. We hope that all Year 11 parents and carers will be able to join us.

Year 11 Study Skills Day

On Friday 25th November, Year 11 students will take part in a study skills workshop led by an external provider.  The session will not only help them in their preparation for the forthcoming pre-public examinations, but will also help develop skills which will be useful for them for the remainder of the year in lessons, and in the run up to their final summer examinations.  The session will include useful tips on how to prepare and revise for exams, as well as how to maximise marks during an exam.  They will take part in active sessions about learning and memory techniques, with the aim of creating motivated, successful learners.  We are confident that this will increase their chance of success in the summer, and we look forward to receiving their feedback after the session. 

Year 9 Options

Year 9 students will attend a special assembly later this week where they will be given information about choosing their next set of taster options.  These will start from January, and will run through to the end of March.  Students will be given their Options forms which must be returned to Ms Xavier with their choices by Tuesday 29th November.  They will be informed of their allocations in the second week of December.

Year 8 EFC Remembrance Project Presentation

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Last week marked 100 years since the end of the Battle of the Somme. Year 8 have been using historical sources to investigate the causes and conditions of World War One, and thinking about the reasons why remembrance is so important.

Last Monday, parents and friends gathered in the atrium to see displays and presentations from this EFC project. We were delighted to receive so many visitors, who commented so positively on the variety and standard of students’ work, and atmosphere of the evening.   

One parent sent an email afterwards to express her feelings, saying:

“It was a privilege to attend the presentation of the EFC project on WW1.

I was particularly impressed with George and Connor who met us at the front door and then acted as our guides for the whole event. They showed so much enthusiasm and knowledge about the displays and were obviously proud to have participated in the evening.

So much hard work was evidenced by the range of things to see from the Nurse's uniform through tasty food from the era, to the life-size trench and models. I was even able to chat to a 98 year old veteran explaining his medals and those of his father from WW1.

Although I enjoyed the historical displays, I was moved by the solemnity of the respectful one minute's silence and the playing of The Last Post by one of the pupils”.

It is always lovely to receive compliments which acknowledge the amount of effort students contribute to such occasions, and this has been shared with those involved. Thanks to everyone who came and who contributed to the success of this evening, which helps keep the memory of these events alive for our young generation.

Double Olympian Kate Haywood visits Stanley Park Stars

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Last Wednesday, Stanley Park High PE Department had the pleasure of welcoming double Olympian Kate Haywood to meet our Stanley Park Stars. Kate is a former GB swimmer who competed for Great Britain in the Olympics, FINA world championships, and European championships, and represented England in the Commonwealth Games.

Kate was working on behalf of Sky Sports Living for Sport, an initiative to help young people involved in sport. She spent the morning with our Stanley Park Stars, explaining her career and focusing on six ‘keys to sporting success’ - breaking barriers, people skills, hunger for success, sports and life knowledge, mental toughness and planning for success. Students were keen to ask her questions and hear about the famous people she had been lucky to meet.

The day was very successful, and we would like to thank Kate Haywood for spending this time working with Stanley Park High students.

Stanley Park Girls progress to Quarter-Finals of Surrey Cup

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Congratulations to our winning team who fielded a strong side and played exceptionally well in last Monday’s quarter finals of the Surrey Cup. Two goals from Sophie MacLaren and one from Emily Manning brought a final score of 3-0. This was, however, a team performance to be proud of and we would like to commend all players for their contribution.

We look forward to news of their further matches, and wish them good luck.

Friends’ Quiz Night Friday 25th November - 7.00pm to 10.00pm

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The Friends of Stanley Park High would like to invite parents and carers to their Quiz Night on

Friday 25th November from 7pm – 10pm. 

Doors open at 6.30pm. Tickets are priced at £5.00 per person via Parent Pay. 

Information has been sent by email and appears on the website. We hope you are able to join us.

Please note this event is for 18s and over.

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 Furtive
The numeracy word of the week is Equilateral


Week commencing 14th November 2016

Academy Status

We have been working with our solicitors to prepare for our conversion to a multi-academy trust (MAT). Providing our Governors take the decision to convert at their meeting on Wednesday evening, and subject to one or two issues being sorted in time, it is likely that we will become a MAT on 1st December. Our MAT will be called Academies of Inspiration, indicating our desire to remain true to our responsibilities as a One School Pathfinder and continue to develop innovative practice in order to continue to enthuse and inspire our current and future students.

A MAT is a single entity established to undertake strategic collaboration to improve and maintain high educational standards across a number of schools and it is governed through a single set of members and directors. At the time of conversion Stanley Park High will be the only school in Academies of Inspiration; however, as we move forward we will give careful consideration to other schools – primary or secondary – that wish to join us. We would wish to reassure all members of our community that we will only welcome schools into out MAT if it is mutually beneficial. We will keep you updated with our progress regarding this matter.

Conference at Stanley Park High

This Friday we are holding our first conference on behalf of the charity Human Scale Education. Headteachers and other leaders from schools across the south- east will have the opportunity to find out more about the charity and see how the structures and practises at Stanley Park High have been influenced by its philosophy and values.

Invitation to our Year 8 EFC First World War Commemoration Evening
Monday 14th November 2016 4pm to 5pm

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Last week we held Remembrance assemblies for each of the small schools and two minutes silence was held at 11am on Friday to mark the moment the guns fell silent on the Western Front at the end of the First World War in 1918. Our commemoration continues when we welcome parents and friends to visit the school this evening from 4.00pm to 5.00pm, for an exhibition of student work. In this project Year 8 students examined a range of historical sources to investigate the causes and conditions of World War One. They also considered the role of remembrance and why it is so important.

Students write:

“This exhibition is about the First World War. The ‘Great War’ as people called it at the time, was a conflict fought in Europe between July 28th 1914 and November 11th 1918. Nations from across the world were involved and over eight million people died. Much of the war was characterised by stagnant trench warfare and massive loss of life in failed attacks.”

“In Britain everyone was affected by the Great War, whether they were fighting or on the home front.

Our commemoration evening guides you through those four years from the outbreak of war to the reality of life on the Front Line.”

We hope that you will be able to join us.

Post 16 Open Evening

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It was wonderful to see more than 190 families at our Post 16 Open Evening last Tuesday. Visitors had an opportunity to tour our fantastic facilities, talk to subject leaders about the breadth of our offer including A-levels and Level 2 & 3 vocational subjects, and meet some of our students.

Positive feedback is reproduced below. One parent commented, “It is so encouraging to see staff and children already in your sixth form, passionate about what they do”.

 

Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

Strongly Disagree

% Agree or Strongly Agree

I received all the information I need about subject choices

58%

42%

 

 

100%

I received all the information I need about pathways

42%

58%

 

 

100%

The time of the event was appropriate

42%

58%

 

 

100%

I think the Post 16 offer is appropriate for my child

50%

42%

8%

 

92%

My child received appropriate careers information during Year 10 and 11

22%

70%

8%

 

92%

I received all information about Post 16 incentives for September 2016

29%

42%

29%

 

71%


If you were unable to attend and would like more information, please see the Post 16 section of the website for more information, or contact Miss Patel, Head of Post 16, by email dpatel28@suttonmail.org

The deadline for applications is Friday 16th December 2016.

Year 7 Tea Party

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         Phoebe - our runner up            Jay - our Bake Off Champion 2016

Tables were laden with a wonderful turn-out of cakes and bakes for the Year 7 Tea Party last Thursday afternoon. We were delighted that so many parents and carers joined us to share drinks and cakes, and to join in the games.

There were many impressive entries for the Stanley Park High Bake Off. Some incredibly original cakes were submitted, with inspired ideas and lots of talent. Bakers had imaginatively themed their entries and used plenty of chocolate, fruit and icing, not to mention sweets to enhance their creations. Not a soggy bottom was in sight!

Miss Jane Pascoe, Chair of Governors, judged the entries and tasted each cake. In a close decision, the runner up prize was awarded to Phoebe and the Stanley Park High Bake off Champion 2016 was Jay.

Well done to all competitors, who should all be very proud of their baking skills.

Stanley Park High Student Wins International Karate Tournament

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Congratulations to Year 10 student Bart Chaisrisud, who continues to take the karate world by storm.  Two weeks ago he represented England at the international tournament, IFK Karate Severn Challenge Cup of Europe, in Cardiff and won the individual junior category one.  This followed his National Tournament victory in Essex last month.

Further success came last weekend in Belgium, when Bart came second in his category at the Belgium International Youth Tournament. He was representing England against over 250 competitors from around the world. 

We are very proud of Bart’s achievement, and we look forward to hearing more news of his competitions in the near future.

Friends’ Quiz Night Friday 25th November - 7.00pm to 10.00pm

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The Friends of Stanley Park High would like to invite parents and carers to their Quiz Night on

Friday 25th November from

7pm – 10pm. 

Doors open at 6.30pm. Tickets are priced at £5.00 per person via Parent Pay. 

Information has been sent by email and appears on the website. We hope you are able to join us.

Please note this event is for 18s and over.

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 Furtive
The numeracy word of the week is Equilateral


Week commencing 7th November 2016

Guest blog

From time to time we like to bring a fresh voice to the blog, and this week our guest blogger is Mrs Ghodhbani who writes about her love of reading:

“South West France during the 2nd World War, all over England in the 1990s, and the deep American south in the 1960s – currently I am in South Africa in the early twentieth century. These are just some of the intriguing places and eras where my recent reads have taken me - not to mention the numerous interesting characters I have met along the way. For me, this is why I love to read – the windows on our world that open up every time I open a book.

We are born curious and being read to as young children stimulates that curiosity from an early age. Stories help us to empathise with the emotions and situations of others as well as extending vocabulary, expression and sentence construction. Not to mention the calming and relaxing space that reading provides – you can disappear into that other world without being obliged to share it with anyone. Research has shown that children who read regularly outside of the classroom do better across all subjects and obtain better jobs later in life. Convincing teenagers to keep reading is a tricky business. Other distractions take over and picking up a book can be perceived as tame in an ever increasing digital world. I watched with interest a BBC documentary aired last week called ‘The School That Got Teens Reading’. With the help of an actor and television presenter, the Lancashire school appeared to have had some success with turning the tide on a group of very reluctant readers; another recent story that caught my eye was the hairdresser in the states that gave kids a small discount if they read a book whilst having their hair cut. Novel!

As a mother of two boys, I have tried many things to keep their interest in books alive – from introducing the book of a film or series that they have enjoyed on television, ‘placing’ books on their bedside tables and ‘suggesting’ books that tap into their interests – ‘you would really enjoy this book Guantanamo Boy, about a teenager who loves playing a computer game across the net…’ But it is often recommendations from their friends that start them off and when they love one book and keep picking it up spontaneously, you become very thankful that there is a second, third, fourth in the series.  Last week during a discussion about books with my eldest son and nephew, my son said he favours dystopian novels because of the interesting possibilities about a future world and my nephew’s favourite genre is fantasy because a fantasy world is more interesting than the real world, as he put it. Neither of these genres would be my first choice.

But that I think is the key – to find the book that fits. There are so many great books being written all the time and I believe there is a book for everyone. At Stanley Park we are actively trying to promote reading for pleasure across the school: teachers display what they are currently reading outside of their classroom; we are promoting books in the atrium and library that other students have enjoyed; and Mr Brims the librarian is undertaking a reading challenge every lunchtime to see how many books he can read and hopefully inspire others. We will also be enlisting the help of students to read and review new books on a regular basis. We have a well-stocked and up-to-date fiction library in the school and students are encouraged to borrow up to two books at a time. From time to time we also have authors in to meet the students and to do writing workshops with them. Last year on World Book day we welcomed the poet and author Musa Okwonga.

As well as the pleasure, relaxation and escapism (reading in the garden on a summer’s morning with a mug of coffee is my favourite spot) that reading brings, I also love to be surrounded by books. I buy up –often second hand- more books than I currently have time to read as a full time teacher and mother. But eventually, I will open all those windows too. And if they happen to contain too many elves or bleak and pessimistic techno-filled futures, I will pass them on to someone who I know would enjoy that view."

Mrs Ghodhbani
Currently Reading – Flame Trees of Theka by Elspeth Huxley

Sutton Schools Cross Country Champions 2016

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Congratulations to our cross country team, who completed in the annual Sutton Cross Country Championships last Thursday. All team members were selected after outstanding performances in lessons.

Exceptional runs led to success for Emily Ashwood, 2nd in the Senior Girls , Jack Simpson, 3rd in Under 15 Boys and Ben Clark, 9th in the Senior Boys, who are selected to represent Sutton in the Surrey Schools Cross Country Championships in January.

We were delighted that our team were overall winners, being awarded Sutton Schools Cross Country Champions! This was a fantastic team effort, showing high levels of commitment and ability. Well done to all who took part and good luck to those competing in January.

GCSE grading is changing…

We would like to draw parents’ and carers’ attention to the forthcoming changes to GCSE grading in England. Our current Year 11s will be the first to feel the effect of this next summer. Under new plans, the current A* to G grades will disappear and be replaced with a new scale from 9 to 1, with 9 being the highest grade.

English literature, English language and maths will be the first subjects to be graded in this way from summer 2017. For this cohort, other subjects will be unchanged, but in summer 2018 and 2019 the change will be implemented across all subjects. Those subjects with the highest numbers of candidates (e.g. arts, humanities, languages) will be affected in 2018, and most others in 2019.

How will the new grades equate to the current system? DfE guidelines say, “In the first year each new GCSE subject is introduced, students who would have got a grade C or better will get a grade 4 or better. Students who would have got a Grade A or better will get a 7 or better in the first year. Grade 9 will be more difficult to achieve than a grade A*. The extra top grade will also make it easier for employers and universities to distinguish between the most able students.”

Information about the grade comparison can be found by clicking on this link: click here

Alternatively parents can Google "ofqual 9 to 1 postcard".

More information about when subjects will switch to the new grades is available on the Ofqual website here.

Why is this change being made? Schools are being advised that changes are happening because GCSEs are being reformed to make them more challenging, to keep pace with employers’ and universities demands.

We will do all we can to support our students through these changes, and continue to work with parents and carers to ensure that every student reaches their full potential.

Year 11 and Year 13 Interim Reports

Parents and carers of Year 11 and Year 13 students will shortly receive  their first interim progress report of this academic year.  This will show the current grades students are working at on each of their courses, as well as the targets they are working towards.  If you have any concerns about the progress of your child on receipt of this report, please contact your child's form tutor in the first instance.

Year 11 Examinations Information Evening

An early date for your diary - we will be holding an Information Evening for Year 11 Parents about the forthcoming Pre-Public Examinations (PPEs) on Thursday 1st December from 6.30pm to 7pm.  Doors will open at 6.15pm.  Further details about this will be sent in a letter with your child's interim progress report.

Remembrance

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Our Year 8 students participated in a thought provoking trip to the battlefields of the First World War last Thursday and Friday. This included visits to the Menin Gate Memorial, Allied and German cemeteries and reconstructed trenches.

At this time of year we focus on the events of 100 years ago, and think of all those whose lives were affected, as well as the fallen. Assemblies in small schools this week will focus on remembrance, and the school will observe a two minute silence at 11am on Friday.

E Safety

Much media attention has focused on E Safety over the last few months. Online activity accounts for a significant number of distressing incidents for children and young people, and there are ways to protect your child. With this in mind, a talk for parents has been arranged on Wednesday 14th December starting at 6.30pm. The event is expected to last an hour.

The speaker will be Steve Welding from London Borough of Sutton, who provides relevant and useful advice to schools and parents on this topic. The event is free and there is no need to book in advance. We hope that you are able to join us. The event will take place in the World EFC studio.

Friends’ Quiz Night Friday 25th November - 7.00pm to 10.00pm

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The Friends of Stanley Park High would like to invite parents and carers to their Quiz Night on Friday 25th November from 7pm – 10pm.  Doors open at 6.30pm. Tickets are priced at £5.00 per person via Parent Pay. 

Information has been sent by email and appears on the website. We hope you are able to join us. Please note this event is for 18s and over.

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 Seldom
The numeracy word of the week is Divisibility