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Headteachers' Blog

Week commencing 27th March 2017

Visitors

We continue to receive many visitors to SPH. On Tuesday of last week we welcomed Mark Featherstone-Witty OBE, the founder of the Brit School in Croydon and, more recently, the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA), a sixth-form college and a primary school. He is looking to build a secondary school to complete the educational journey from age 4 to age 20+, and came to us for inspiration. He was very impressed with our approach, and the building in which we operate.

On Friday we welcomed the mayor and several politicians/senior educational leaders from Høje-Taastrup Municipality, which is approximately 20 miles west of Copenhagen. They are in the process of creating a primary and lower secondary Learning Centre in the new urban development of Naerheden. It will have a strong focus on inter-disciplinary learning with all subjects working together in creative, experimental and realistic projects – very similar to our Excellent Futures Curriculum. This will be the first school in Denmark to be developed based on 21st century learning skills.

They loved our school and paid us a wonderful compliment when they asked for a copy of our building plans so that they could mirror what we do.

We look forward to hearing about the development of these schools.

Finding your passion

We are always delighted when a student finds their passion. Last week Mr Shiels, our drama teacher, told me about Zac James-Moussi, Year 10, whom he had recommended for a Headteacher's Award. Mr Shiels reported that Zac had done an amazing job representing the school at The Minerva Theatre in Chichester as part of our involvement in the National Theatre's Connections Festival.

Zac’s job was to 'run the show', which basically meant taking full responsibility for all the technical aspects of the performance.  Mr Shiels spoke to the Head of Stage Management after the show and she was full of praise for Zac. This was no mean feat!

The following day Zac approached Mr Shiels asking for the Stage Manager's email address. He also said that he now knows what he wants to do when he leaves school. We are delighted, and as Mr Shiels said, “we have ignited a passion here and these are the moments and reasons why we do what we do.” Wonderful news … and well done Zac.

Congratulation to our swimmers

At a Swimming Gala held at Westcroft Leisure Centre on 10th March, ten of our students put in a wonderful team effort and showed real team spirit and support for one another. Well done to Jack Holder, Ryan Duffy, Faye Falzon, Ben Greenaway, Isaac Edwards, Rohan Mohes, Max Harwood, Thomar Carabine, Nathan Wheeler and Luke Harris who came away with a very good selection of medals. Some team members may be invited to take part in the London Youth Games later in the year.

Easter Revision Sessions for Year 11 and Post 16

Monday 10th to Thursday 13th April

The coming break is a vital preparation period for those students taking public exams this summer. A programme of Easter Revision Sessions has been arranged. Information for parents will be published shortly.  If your child is preparing, please do all you can to encourage and support them at this stage.

Parents’ Evenings

Post 16 Parents’ Evening on Thursday 30th March 4.15pm to 7.15pm

We are looking forward to meeting parents and carers at our Post 16 Parents’ Evening on Thursday, 30th March. The appointment booking system is open and the deadline is midday on Wednesday 29th March. Please click on the link below:

parents-booking.co.uk/stanleypark

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

A reminder for after Easter – Year 10 parents and carers please note in your diary the date for Year 10 Parents’ Evening on Thursday 27 April. Information will be sent giving details about booking appointments. Booking opens on Tuesday 18th April and the deadline is 10pm on Wednesday 26th April 2017. 

Lost Property

Please remind your child to collect any lost property this week from Student reception. Unclaimed and unnamed items will be recycled and/or disposed of during the Easter break.

End of Term

The last day of term will be this Friday, 31st March. This will be a Mufti Day in aid of charity.

Students will be dismissed at 11.40am. They return to school on Tuesday 18th April (following the Bank Holiday on Monday 17th) at the usual time, for the start of the summer term.

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 taciturn
The numeracy word of the week is numeral


Week commencing 20th March 2017

T-Levels, grammar schools and finances

Are major policy announcements on education supposed to be made in budget statements by the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Shouldn’t they be made by the Secretary of State for Education or the PM herself? I suppose who tells us doesn’t really matter, but whoever tells us, policy should have taken at least some account of any consultation process – shouldn’t it? Well, apparently not.

“T Levels – have I missed something?” I asked Ms Patel (Head of Post 16) and Mr Amin (Head of Trade with responsibility for SPH’s curriculum) the morning after the budget announcement. They shook their heads. It appears that I hadn’t.

Whilst we absolutely applaud the attempt to improve the status of vocational education, it had come out of the blue. T-Levels or Technical Levels, it was announced by Phillip Hammond, will replace the existing vocational qualifications in 15 areas, some of which we currently offer at SPH including catering & hospitality, hairdressing and construction. The new T-Levels are supposed to come into effect 2019 which sounds a fair way away, but it isn’t in the world of education; it is an incredibly short lead-in time. Schools that are still reeling from significant changes to GCSEs and A Levels will have, as always, to respond as best they can.

T Levels were probably just the sideshow. Alongside them was the major announcement that £320 million is being set aside to fund 140 new free schools, many of which will be new grammars, but there was no further money set aside for existing schools. It is possible that we will find out more about the grammar school proposals this week. Also, on the horizon this week is an announcement about the new National Funding Formula. Given the state of school budgets across the country, this will be eagerly awaited by headteachers and governing bodies. We will keep you informed about developments and the likely impact on SPH.

Chair of Governors

Last Wednesday, the Local Governing Body met for the first time following the school’s conversion to academy status. Changes approved by the governors included the appointment of Miss Jane Pascoe as Chair of the Trust, responsible for strategic direction and decisions, and Ms Latifa Hassanali as Chair of the Local Governing Body, responsible for the day to day oversight of the school. Mrs Karen O’Kill was appointed as Vice Chair of the Local Governing Body. The structure of the MAT will be published shortly. We are looking forward to new challenges with a strong team leading us forward.

Post 16 Parents’ Evening on Thursday 30th March 4.15pm to 7.15pm

We look forward to meeting parents and carers at our Post 16 Parents’ Evening next Thursday, 30th March. Appointments are being made via the online appointments booking system, and the deadline is midday on Wednesday 29th March.

To make an appointment please click on the link below:

parents-booking.co.uk/stanleypark

Easter Revision Sessions for Year 11 and Post 16

Monday 10th to Thursday 13th April

The coming break is a vital preparation period for those students taking public exams this summer. A programme of Easter Revision Sessions has been arranged. Information for parents will be published shortly.  If your child is preparing, please do all you can to encourage and support them at this stage.

Parents’ Learning Review Week – w/c Monday 20 March

This week we encourage all parents and carers to participate in Parents’ Learning Review Week. Students in Years 7, 8 and 9 will be bringing home work to share at home, and parents / carers are asked to read the work, offer praise and ask questions. Please encourage your child to do their best. The signature added to the yellow sticker shows that you have taken part. Thanks to all parents and carers for your support.

End of Term

The last day of term will be next Friday, 31st March. This will be a Mufti Day in aid of charity.

Students will be dismissed at 11.40am. They return to school on Tuesday 18th April (following the bank holiday on Monday 17th) at the usual time, for the start of the summer term.

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 taciturn
The numeracy word of the week is numeral


Week commencing 13th March 2017

 

Guest Blog – Ms Ghodhbani

Watching with interest the recent BAFTA Awards and the Grammys , it was not surprising to hear many people involved in the film and music industry refer to the current political world climate in their acceptance speeches. Several referred to an obligation to keep focusing on humanity and to tell the stories that speak of love, acceptance and diversity. Indeed such a political climate provides a wealth of material for artists. It always has done. And always will. Is it that poets, writers, singer/song writers have the ability to view the world from a different perspective and to remind us that we are all ‘only human after all’?

With this in mind, I started to reflect more deeply on some of the texts that we explore across the curriculum in English and to notice stark similarities between them. In Year 11 we have just finished a study of Romeo and Juliet, the timeless classic written by William Shakespeare early in his career, in the late 16th Century. So numerous are the themes and ideas that concern us as humans in this text that it is hard to cover it sufficiently within one half term of study. At the heart of the text is the tragic love story of two young lovers who cannot indulge and celebrate their love openly because of the ongoing feud between their families. It is the younger generation who are able to question ‘what’s in a name?’ and understand that love is stronger than hate.

In Year 9 we have been reading The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. Written in 2008, it is an incredibly moving historical novel set in Berlin during World War II. Informing and reminding future generations about the abominable atrocities that took place at this time – when one regime blamed, tortured and persecuted another group in society - I believe is an obligation of schools. Brilliant story tellers such as Boyne enable us to do this effectively. Set against the tragic backdrop of the Holocaust, is the friendship between Bruno, the son of a Nazi Commander and Shmuel, a Jewish boy imprisoned in the appalling conditions at Auschwitz concentration camp, for no other reason than because he was Jewish. Again with this text, it is the younger generation who question ‘what exactly was the difference?’ between them and rise above the hatred, understanding that although their society is telling them they are ‘meant to be enemies’, friendship transcends race, religion and artificial man-made barriers such as fences.

In Year 8 we have just finished reading the fantastic book My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher. Published in 2011, I read this book for the first time recently, prior to teaching it. I cried openly, so affected by the incredibly human emotions that it addresses (re-reading it in class I also struggled to hold back the tears). Like the play Romeo and Juliet, the novel has so many different themes and ideas about what it is to be human that it is a challenge to address them all. The context of the novel is a terrorist attack in central London that kills one family member and subsequently breaks down the family.  Again at the heart of the novel is a young friendship, between two ten year olds Sunya and Jamie, drawn together perhaps because they have both been made to feel like ‘outsiders’ (both are targeted by the bullies). Jamie who is deeply affected by the failings of his parents to keep the family together after their loss, finds great strength in the relationship, refusing to be influenced by his father’s prejudiced views about Muslims.

Looking ahead to this half term, it’s Frankenstein for Year 7. At the heart of the play – an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s 1818 classic novel- is the theme of acceptance. The ‘creature’ or ‘monster’ wants to be loved and accepted for who he is. Despite being capable of great kindness and love, ultimately he is rejected by society because of fear and ignorance. Only the blind, young girl understands. This leads the monster to declare ‘You want me bad! All of you-everyone-you all want me bad!’

Just as writers and artists of years gone by and today, seek out that human story and often show empathy and a perspective through the eyes of a younger generation, we as teachers have a responsibility to bring these stories to life in the classroom and foster the key themes of tolerance, understanding and diversity – therefore helping to ensure that future generations build bridges, not walls.

Ms Ghodhbani – 10 March 2017

World Book Day – 2nd March

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It’s hard to believe that twenty years have passed since World Book Day became an annual event. Ms Ghodhbani’s blog testifies to the love of reading at SPH, and shows how much we can learn from our choices. On 2nd March, the LRC hosted a 'Celebration of Reading' with treats, music and many students and staff sharing a passage from their favourite book. Assemblies and competitions promoted reading, and over 100 students contributed book reviews as part of an inter-tutor competition. Each year 7 and 8 student also received a £1 book token which can be redeemed in local bookshops. We hope these are helping introduce students to further adventures in reading. Well done to all who participated.

Spring Concert Tuesday 14th March at 7.00pm

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Parents and carers are warmly invited to join us in Spotlight for our Spring Concert on Tuesday evening. There is no admission charge, but a raffle will be held during the evening. Doors open at 6.30pm and the event begins at 7.00pm.

We are looking forward to a joyful event with a varied programme, and we hope that you are able to attend.

Parents’ Learning Review Week – w/c Monday 20 March

Advance notice about Parents’ Learning Review Week for parents and carers of students in Years 7, 8 and 9, which will be next week commencing 20th March. As before, students will share work at home and parents / carers are asked to discuss, review, encourage and then sign the yellow sticker to show that the review has taken place. Thanks to all parents for your support.

Race Night last Friday 10th March

We were delighted to welcome so many parents, friends and staff to the Race Night organised by Friends of SPH last week. This event was well attended and all enjoyed a lively evening of entertainment and a delicious supper. The money raised will be used for the benefit of the school. Thanks to everyone who supported the evening.

Lost Property

Has your child mislaid any uniform or PE kit? There is a considerable amount of unnamed property accumulating at Student Reception. We politely request that all students reclaim lost property as soon as possible. Parents and carers please note that all lost and unnamed property will be recycled or disposed of during the Easter holidays.

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 Cajole
The numeracy word of the week is Millilitre


Week commencing 6th March 2017

Confusing….absolutely!

I apologise for the fact that this lead piece might need to be read two or three times to enable you to get your head around it, but it is worth persevering.

On 20th February I was drawn to the following headline, “Love Learning”, but my appetite was somewhat diminished by the sub-heading, “A broken system. Progress 8, GCSEs and SATs.” The article, by Debra Kidd, was a write up of her conversation with Lucy Rimmington, Senior Manager at Ofqual. In the interview Debra tried to find out more about the new GCSEs.

Schools have already been tackling the task of explaining these changes. At our Year 9 Options evening last week, parents were advised of the rolling programme of changes to the GCSEs. As it stands, the current year 11 will be getting a numbered grade between 9 and 1 (9 being the highest) in English Language, English Literature and Mathematics, but will be getting a lettered grade A*-G in all the other GCSE subjects. Numbered grades will be phased in for the other GCSE subjects over the coming two years so the current year 10 will have more subjects with numbers and the current year 9 should have just numbers.

Why the change? In a nutshell, the exams are being made harder and it was felt that a switch from lettered grades to numbered grades would be required to represent this. Consequently, the old grade C will be equivalent to a new 4, but the high pass grades will start at a 5, which is equivalent to a high C or possibly even a low B.

All clear so far? Well, let us muddy the waters a little. According to Debra’s write up of the interview, Rimmington confirmed that in 2017 the same percentage of students nationally will achieve a GCSE in English and Mathematics grade 4 as achieved a grade C as 2016. This has been agreed in advance. And despite the government saying that they have made the exams harder the same number will actually pass because, for what appears to be this year only, a 4 will be considered a high pass.

You could see the funny side of this if it wasn’t for the fact that it causes confusion and, more worryingly, increases unnecessary pressures on students, parents, teachers and schools.

Year 9 Options Evening Thursday 2nd March

We were delighted to see so many parents and carers at our Year 9 Options Evening last week. Our visitors were able to find out information about the many courses on offer and select their courses for further study. All choices must be made and forms returned by tomorrow, Tuesday 7th March.

Girls’ football – an honourable defeat

We were extremely proud of our Under 14 Girls’ football team, who played their National Cup semi-final last week in St Ives, Cambridgeshire. Despite a determined performance the girls were defeated 2-1. We would nevertheless congratulate our team on their achievement in reaching the semi-final stage of the competition and commend their perseverance and commitment.

Year 11 Study Skills - Parent Session - Monday 6th March at 5.30pm

On 6th March, our Year 11 students will benefit from a Study Skills workshop delivered by an external speaker. This will provide useful tips and hints for success in exams, including memory techniques, revision methods and holistic life style suggestions to maximise our students’ chances of success. The speakers will share their knowledge with parents and carers in a short presentation the same evening at our Parents Power Workshop which takes place from 5.30pm to 6.30pm in Spotlight. All parents and carers are invited to attend to discover ways in which they can best support their child at this vitally important time.

Intensive Day - Thursday 9th March

On this day 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.

Parents’ Learning Review Week – w/c Monday 20 March

Advance notice about Parents’ Learning Review Week for parents and carers of students in Years 7, 8 and 9, which will be during the week commencing 20th March. As before, students will share work at home and parents / carers are asked to discuss, review, encourage and then sign the yellow sticker to show that the review has taken place. Thanks to all parents for your support.

Maths Homework Club

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All students aim to master the skills taught in Maths, and there is no need to struggle alone when things seem difficult. We would like all parents to be aware of the individual help on offer at lunchtimes from Monday to Thursday in our Maths Homework Club, which is staffed by Maths specialists ready to explain tricky topics. All age groups are welcome. Please encourage your child to bring their homework and complete it in a supportive place where staff are on hand to answer questions. The group can be found in the World Studio from 12.45pm to 1.30pm

The latest craze

Fascinating though it is, the current vogue for tubs of slimy, gooey substances known as putty is not one we encourage in school. This material damages soft furnishings and carpets, and consequently has been banned from the school site.

Please do not allow your child to bring this toy into school, as it will be confiscated. Thank you for your support.

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 Cajole
The numeracy word of the week is Millilitre