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Headteachers' Blog

Week commencing 19th December 2016

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Final Blog of the Autumn Term

This is the final Blog of the Autumn Term, and of 2016. This brings to a close a very successful year for Stanley Park High, notably our award as TES Secondary School of the Year, and our conversion to academy status. We are delighted that we have been chosen by a record number of families as their preferred school in Year 7, and we are seeing increasing numbers of Post 16 enquiries about joining our growing Sixth Form.

This will be a very busy few days as we approach Christmas. Year 11 are revising for and sitting their mock examinations, whilst the rest of the school will be continuing with normal lessons until our last day on Wednesday. Please see details about closing and opening timings later in this Blog.

On behalf of all of the staff and governors at Stanley Park High, we would like to thank you for your support throughout 2016, and to wish you and your family a very happy Christmas and New Year.

Some very sad news

Over the weekend we received notice that Mike Dunman, headteacher of Stanley Park High between 2000 and 2005, had passed away. Mike will be fondly remembered as a headteacher who cared passionately about the happiness and wellbeing of all his students. He will also be remembered as the leader who oversaw the start of the growth of our Post 16 centre, as well as the introduction of the first of our autistic opportunity bases, now called Aqua. Our thoughts are with his wife, Lin, and his family at this very sad time.

More PISA anyone?

News broke this week that Heads in Scotland will take a new qualification for headship in the future. This is the latest initiative in the quest to drive up quality in Scottish education.

Why is this necessary? Last week, we commented on the shortcomings of the PISA* results, agreeing with educationalists in Finland who do not see them as a trigger for education reform. The Finns are leaders in the field of education, and we hoped that other governments, including our own, would follow their lead. However, views differ and the announcement about new Headship qualification follows hard on the heels of “Scotland’s ‘worst performance’ in PISA, with performance in reading, maths and science ‘declining’ in comparison to other countries”.

We support learning and achieving qualifications, but we do have two fundamental issues with this proposal:

  • Firstly, no-one can assume that achieving a qualification ensures excellent leadership skills. England tried something similar a few years ago by making the NPQH (National Professional Qualification for Headship) compulsory, but it has since been made optional.
  • Secondly, this initiative is being introduced in pursuit of chasing results. As we said last week, this is an incredibly narrow view of education. What’s more, it doesn’t work – England has been trying for years.

Curriculum changes take time to embed. The path to success takes time and involves many peaks and troughs. Let’s see the Scottish Government have faith, and stick with the potential of their Curriculum for Excellence. Were they to do so, we believe they might just hit the PISA scores they crave…. without actually chasing them.

*the Programme for International Student Assessment

A tale of two bids

In the last two weeks we have submitted bids to two organisations for funds to support innovation at our school. The first bid was to the Edge Foundation - www.edge.co.uk. If successful, our bid will:

  • Improve the design and delivery of Information, Advice and Guidance
  • Support the development of profound employer engagement
  • Support the development of blended academic, technical and professional learning as part of the 14-19 curriculum

Our second bid was to the Education and Endowment Foundation in the hope that we become a Research School. Research Schools are a focal-point for evidence-based practice in their region, building affiliations with large numbers of schools and supporting the use of evidence at scale. Research Schools will engage with local schools in a variety of ways and with varying degrees of intensity. There are currently five Research Schools in the country, but we are hoping to be the first to be designated in London and the South-East. If successful, we think it nicely dovetail with the work of our research and innovation centre, SPIRA. Further details about this programme can be found at educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/our-work/research-schools/.

We will let you know how both of these bids go.

End of Term fun...

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Today, DJ Dave Goodings makes his return to Stanley Park, and will entertain students with a set during the lunch break. One of the youngest presenters on commercial radio, with a successful show on Kiss FM and having just started presenting for Capital Radio, Dave is inspiring for young people. Last year his session was really popular and put us all in the Christmas spirit!

On Tuesday 20th December, staff will take the plunge and entertain students at lunchtime with lip-sync renditions of pop classics and favourites. We are all looking forward to some funny, festive numbers from a brave series of performers who are all prepared to ‘have-a-go’ in the name of entertainment.

The last day of term is this Wednesday, 21st 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 5th January at the usual time.

Staff Changes

We are privileged to have some wonderful staff and at this time of year, colleagues are nominating one another for recognition because of their special qualities. It is heart-warming to see the huge number of compliments paid, including exceptional dedication, energy, kindness and cheerfulness. We are sorry that some of our staff are leaving us for fresh challenges at the end of this term, and we sadly say goodbye to Mr Beale (ICT Learning Programme Leader), Mrs Taylor (Science) and Miss Tomkins (EFC). I am sure that all parents and students join us in wishing them well for the future.

All three are form tutors, and their form groups will be under the care of carefully chosen new form teachers next term. These will be:

7BL – Mr Shiels, who teaches Drama.
7CT – Miss Jefferis, who joined our MFL team this year.
8GT – Mr Parfitt, Science teacher.

We are confident that students in these groups will continue to thrive under the care of their new tutors in the New Year.

Shoeboxes for Christmas

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Students have been collecting gifts for donation to those in Eastern Europe who are in need at Christmastime. They have pitched into this project with huge enthusiasm, and filled and decorated many more boxes than anticipated. Each one will carry a message of goodwill from SPH to a family far away. We have been impressed with the commitment and creative ability of our students, who have worked hard to make this venture a success. Thanks to all parents and friends who have lent their generous support to the project, and to Miss Patsides for her organisation.

New Year’s Resolutions – please consider our Parent Volunteer Programme

We run a parent volunteer programme, which supports the school in areas such as numeracy, reading and display work. If you would like to offer a regular hour or two each week, and feel that you have the skills and qualities to participate, we would be delighted to hear from you. All our volunteers are subject to DBS checking and will develop a link with a particular area of the school. For further information or to offer your support, please contact Debbie Stocks, PA to the Headteachers dstocks@suttonmail.org.

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 impetus
The numeracy word of the week is grouped


Week commencing 12th December 2016

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PISA

The title of this lead piece, PISA, is not referring to the Italian city with the wonderful leaning tower, but the release last week of the results of the Programme for International Student Assessment tests which were sat by 15 year old students across many countries in 2015. These results of these tests, which are held every three years, are used as a barometer by politicians to highlight the effectiveness of their respective education systems; being ranked highly means that your education system is doing well.

These tests in English, Mathematics and Science are not linked to the school curriculum but are designed to assess to what extent students can read and analyse texts which are unfamiliar to them, and apply their mathematical and scientific knowledge in real-life situations. The tests are sat by a random sample of students in each country – Stanley Park High students have never sat these tests. In Science the UK scored 509 (Average 493) and came 15th, in Reading 498 (Average 490) – 22nd Reading and in Mathematics 492 (Average 490) – 27th. Our scores were very similar to 2012; in fact they were very similar to those of 2009, 2006 and 2003 as well. Cue the inevitable newspaper headlines of us “flat-lining” and “standing still” whilst others like Singapore “steam ahead”. Just like the leaning tower, our education system is viewed by some as one that refuses to right itself, continues to lean, but has little chance of toppling over. 

We could write for pages on PISA, but we will conclude by drawing strength from Finland. Here is a country that has always been at the top in terms of performance in these tests, but noticed a slight fall in 2015 because of several reasons, including the fact that financial cuts have increased class sizes and merged schools. How will they react? Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish educator and leading educationalist, is clear that PISA is not seen as a trigger for education reforms. The Ministry of Education had already launched a national programme that aims to improve primary and lower secondary education by not chasing results, but by making it more child-centred and by strengthening student engagement and motivation to study. The Finns think the best way to improve educational performance is to make school a more interesting and enjoyable place for all. We couldn’t agree more. Let us hope that our politicians make a New Year’s resolution to do the same. Chasing results is an incredibly narrow view of education….and it doesn’t work!

Parents’ Learning Review Week

Students in Years 7, 8 and 9 shared their work with parents and carers in our second Parents’ Learning Review Week last week. We hope that all families have been able to look through their child’s work and talk with them about their progress.

The support of parents and carers is vital to the success of children and young people, and we would encourage any who have not yet had the chance to review their child’s work to do so. Please don’t forget to sign the yellow sticker to show that you have taken part.

Christmas Lunch on Wednesday, 14th December

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Parents and carers please note that Christmas lunch for all students will be this Wednesday, 14th December.  The menu is shown above, and the price is £2.05. Tickets should be purchased in advance from the Stanley Perc, using either parent pay funds or cash. 

E Safety Presentation on Wednesday, 14th December at 6.00pm

The safety of children and young people online is a topic which appears regularly in news headlines, and every family will be aware of the potential dangers. This Wednesday, parents and carers are invited to join us for a presentation on E Safety, which will provide a realistic outline of the dangers, and provide answers which will help parents and carers to cope.

Our speaker will be Steve Welding, the Educational E-Safety Adviser for the London Borough of Sutton. The presentation will be held in the Performance Studio. We hope all parents and carers will be able to attend this informative session, which is expected to last an hour. The event is free. It is helpful to know numbers in advance, so please return the reply slip via your child’s tutor. However, last minute attendees are still welcome, so do not be deterred if you have not sent a slip. We hope that you will be able to join us.

Steve Gilburt

Those who remember Steve Gilburt will be sad to hear that he passed away recently. Steve qualified as a teacher in 1984, and was a member of staff at SPH from January 1992 to August 2009. He is remembered with affection as a Head of Department and Science teacher. Steve leaves his wife Pamela, who is currently an invigilator for the school. I am sure that all parents, carers, governors and friends would like to join in sending our sympathy to her at this sad time.

Parking

Although we have highlighted parking issues in the blog only recently, we would like to inform parents that pressure on the roads around the school will be increased over the next six weeks or so.

From today, Sutton Council will be undertaking work in Queen Mary's Woodland (to the west of the school) to improve access for the local community. The short section of Damson Way alongside the school will be used as access for construction vehicles, and any parking will impede the delivery of materials to the woodland. Parking will be restricted between 7.00am and 6.00pm Mon – Fri.

This increases congestion and prevents turning in this section of the road. Coupled with this, our neighbours have noticed that some vehicles are still parked inconsiderately around the time of collecting students after school.

Our school is situated in a pleasant residential area, and we appreciate the support of the local community. With this in mind, and especially at this time of additional traffic pressure, we would urge all adults who feel it is necessary to collect students from school, to park at a distance and encourage your child to meet you at an agreed location.

Thank you to all for your support.

Intensive Day this Friday, 16th December.

This Friday, 16th December, is Intensive Day and we shall 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.

All students will be dismissed at 12.10pm. This will enable staff to spend the afternoon preparing for government led curriculum and examination reforms.

Fostering in Surrey

We have been contacted by Surrey County Council’s Fostering and Adoption Officer, who writes:

“You may be interested to know that there are over 880 children in care in Surrey. Around 40% of them are placed outside of Surrey because we haven't got enough foster carers. We are looking for foster carers for children aged 0-18, for supported lodgings providers for young people aged 16-21, and Short Breaks carers for disabled children. Whether you are married or single, male or female, are straight or gay, do or don't have your own children, rent or own your home, work or don't work, we would love to hear from you.

Meet our foster carers at cafes around Surrey. You might enjoy having an informal chat with foster carers about what it's like to foster with us.

We are very grateful to the cafes that have agreed to let our foster carers have a table on a monthly basis at the following:

All Things Nice in Ewell, Leatherhead Youth Project in Leatherhead, Hothouse Cafe in Cobham, Bread and Roses in Addlestone, Bill's in Woking, Patisserie Valerie in Camberley, West Central in Redhill

More venues are to come. To find out the dates and times, please visit www.surreycc.gov.uk/fostering-recruitment-events. You can simply drop in to the cafes at any point during the advertised times to chat with the foster carers.

Or why not book a home visit to chat to us about fostering? Give us a call on 0800 0969 626 or email fostering.recruitment@surreycc.gov.uk We can book a time that suits you from Monday to Friday, between 9am and 9pm. There's no obligation to take your enquiry further if you decide after talking to us that fostering isn't for you at this time.

Thanks for your support”.

Linda Johnson, Fostering and Adoption Recruitment Officer (Tuesday-Friday 8.30am-5pm) Tel. 01483 518894

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.

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 impetus
The numeracy word of the week is grouped


Week commencing 5th December 2016

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We are an Academy!

Last Wednesday we marked our first day of operation as an academy. We have shared our plans and progress in previous blogs, so readers will already know that we have prepared to become a MAT, a multi academy trust. We will continue to be known as Stanley Park High, although the MAT name is the Academies of Inspiration. As we have explained recently it is our plan, in time, to partner with other carefully chosen schools who share our vision. This may be as members of our MAT, or informally as a mutually supportive network.

Our path to this moment has been a long one with much 'behind the scenes' work. We believe that this change will give SPH a measure of independence to sculpt our own future, and help us stay true to our values and ethos in difficult times. It's a major achievement for us to reach this point and we look forward to the future with optimism. We have much to be proud of, and we are on a new journey – students, staff, parents, governors and friends. We shall do all we can to ensure that it is a productive and successful one.

SSAT

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We spoke at the National Conference of the Schools, Students and Teachers Network (SSAT) last Thursday, presenting to a UK-wide audience our vision for ‘Igniting a Passion for Learning’. The ideas we have successfully put into practice for Stanley Park High are resonating with other schools across the country. We were delighted to be able to share our experience and we are pleased that it was so well received by delegates. We look forward to welcoming many visitors to SPIRA (Stanley Park Innovation and Research Academy) as a result.

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 to provide refreshments, which will be served after the service. We hope you can attend. Please add the date to your diary.

Maths Week 28 November to 2 December

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SPH had a definite Maths focus last week as students across the school took part in Maths Week sessions from Monday to Friday.

Activities included a Year 8 project on budgeting and good ways to manage your money, a whole school practical tower building challenge and the Teacher Number game, as well as fun events like the Maths Bee and Maths Bingo.

Thanks to the Maths department who organise this event to promote their subject each year.

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

It’s Learning Review Week for Year 7, 8 and 9! Students will be bringing home their work to share with parents and carers, who are asked to review their child’s learning and sign the yellow sticker. We hope this will start conversations at home about learning, and encourage students to take up the support we know so many parents are willing to give. Thanks to all families for actively getting involved in this venture.

Over 10,000 reward points!

Over the last twelve weeks, students have earned many well deserved Reward Points for effort, achievement and behaviour. We are delighted that the total broke through the 10,000 barrier this week with the figure standing at 10,312 at the end of the day on Friday.

This reflects the positive and hardworking attitude of our students. We are proud of all those who have put in so much effort to contribute to this wonderful total.

Intensive Day

Next Friday, 16 December, is Intensive Day. We will follow a condensed timetable and students will be dismissed at 12.10pm. This will enable staff to prepare for government led curriculum and examination reforms.

End of Term

Advance notice that 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.

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