Friday, 9 December 2016

9 December 2016

"It has been a hard day's night," sang Cinderella after spending hours sewing the ball gowns for the two ugly sisters in Wednesday's excellent performance of Cinderella. The show was performed by Year 7 and 8 students to a delighted audience who enjoyed the performance almost as much as the cast did. The production was a brilliant reworking of the original story, using the 60s as a backdrop and making the most of a number of songs by the Beatles which the cast sang wonderfully. Well done to everyone who was involved. If you missed the pantomime, you still have a chance to see a glimpse of the talent our students have at next week's winter showcase. Tickets are available from the box office during lunch at £3 p/p.

Two examples of student learning I want to celebrate this week is, firstly, Tyla North's art project on The Robin. Her in-depth study, where she has experimented with different media and textures, is truly superb and demonstrates both her talent and her effort. Her work is well-deserving of the headteacher's positive referral.


I would also like to commend Bailey Newman for his determination and resilience in music. The photograph shows the D major chord that Bailey was struggling to perfect in a fast sequence of chords he had just learned. What impressed me and made me award the positive referral was Bailey's willingness to keep trying despite the difficulties he faced. Well done.

After a trip to Southampton University this week, one of our Year 11 students commented to me, "I am now much clearer about University and how it works”. There are many questions that need consideration when applying to university, one being finance, and these trips are important as they help to sort the fact from the fiction. We are thrilled that two of our former students are being interviewed for places at Oxford and Cambridge Universities this week, and would like to see an increasing number of students think about the possibility. If you wish to know more, please get in touch with Mrs Sear at

Some of our Year 10 girls are currently taking part in the Girls Network. This is the third year we have participated and it has been really effective at helping girls to realise just how much they can achieve. This week, they had a great workshop on how to get themselves heard. The event was led by Julia Maile from Talk the Talk and focused on practical tips to help you appear confident. The girls I spoke to were intrigued by how big a difference posture can make when speaking to someone. 

I was also thrilled to see a group of Year 9 and 10 students begin their preparations for the Duke of Edinburgh Award this week with a visit to Cobnor Activities Centre in West Sussex. They had to push themselves really hard with some adventurous activities and learned about the resilience and teamwork they will need when it comes round to the expedition next spring.

For the second year running, we hosted a training session today for students enrolled on the PGCE English programme at Portsmouth University. The event asked them to think about their own values in education and some of the techniques they might use to encourage students to enjoy reading and how to help those facing educational disadvantages. We were pleased to do our bit to help these students progress towards becoming fully qualified teachers. 

You may have read that there is a national shortage of teachers. If this is a career you might be interested in, or you are already trained and are thinking of returning, then please do make contact for more information on how to get into teaching, or follow the link on our website.


Next week we will have our Golden Ticket event. Last year, we had great fun roller skating in the hall and laughing with those of us who came off a bit more bruised than others. I am certainly looking forward to the chance again to get "my skates on" and show the children what a lack of balance really looks like!

This week, we also farewell to the HMS Illustrious. She has been a great servant of her country attending crises as far apart as the Falklands and Sierra Leone and this week sailed on her final voyage to Turkey where she will be scrapped. For the moment, Britain is therefore left without any aircraft carriers. She has had a long relationship with Portsmouth and I know many of you will be sad to see her go.

And finally, I will be sending a letter home with the termly statement next week so there will be no blog next Friday. I wish to take this opportunity to remind you that school closes at lunchtime on the 16th of December and reopens for the first spring term on the 3rd of January. I hope you and your family have a very happy festive season. 

Friday, 2 December 2016

2 December 2016

"I'd hate to move to another school," was just one of the comments that really impressed our visitors from Challenge Partners this week who spent three days in school.  Five senior leaders from other schools, including one lead inspector from OfSTED, thoroughly scrutinised the school's work and found many things to celebrate. 

Some of the highlights included comments like:
"The children are incredibly keen to learn"
"The students are very positive and their behaviour is impressive."
"The students are incredibly supportive of each other."

Visiting lessons with Challenge Partners allowed us to see a lot of stunning work.  Special mention this week goes to Coby Cliff and Chelsey Howard for their amazing maths presentation on 3D shapes, which was so good, Mrs Hubbard asked them to teach the class what they had learned.  Well done to both who receive a Headteacher's positive referral.

Year 11 drama students had to overcome the nerve wracking experience of performing their exam pieces to an audience at the Theatre Festival on Thursday.  There was a real variety on display from monologues to group pieces and the students had to coordinate all aspects of the production themselves.  The two pieces I saw on child abduction and gender identity were hard hitting and thought provoking and performed with incredible maturity.  The standard was exceptionally high and a testament to their hard work.  Ms. Halls was thrilled.

On Thursday of this week, Year 11's from the class of 2016 returned to school to collect their GCSE certificates.  It seems they are doing really well and have very clear ideas of what they want to do with their futures.  "I am planning to go to a London business school", "I am loving my apprenticeship with a travel company”, "I am planning to travel to Japan once I have finished my degree" are just some of the things they had to share with us. They were the most successful year group in the school's history and we are very proud of all that they have achieved.  Of course, for most, this is the beginning and not the end and it was wonderful to learn about the futures they have planned.  Good luck to them all and please do keep in touch.

Thirty Year 11 students visited London this week on a combined history and geography trip.  Visits to the Natural History Museum and the London Dungeon were combined with lunch in Covent Garden.  The students learned a lot, were brilliantly behaved and enjoyed sights of our capital city. 

Year 11's also gave a resounding thumbs up to Elevate Education who ran a seminar for them this morning called How to Ace Your Exams.  The presenters were "really approachable" and provided some great practical tips for exam success that equipped our students with the confidence that they too could succeed.  The key message was that success is 80% preparation, and completing at least practice papers for each subject will help massively.

A dozen students from Year 9 had their third visit to Southampton University this week as part of the Learn with Us Programme.  They had a great time completing workshops in subjects like criminology and learned about employability skills.  They are now well placed to think about university for the future.

Love him or loathe him, you can't deny the influence that Fidel Castro had on the twentieth century.  Castro died last weekend at the age of 90 and his country has been in mourning this week.  He was a ruthless dictator who locked up his enemies but improved education and health care for the people.  He will be most remembered for his role in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 - arguably the closest the world has ever come to a nuclear war.  You can find out more about this event here.

It has been incredibly cold this week and this weather has been a reminder of the benefits of the new school where the doors and windows will be much more efficient at keeping in the heat! A number of students have responded to the weather by bringing hot drinks into school.  This isn't surprising, but, unfortunately, cannot be allowed for health and safety reasons.  Please remind your child that any hot drink must be finished before they enter school.

And finally, have you got your tickets for panto yet? Don't forget this week’s performance on Wednesday the 7th of December at 19:00.  It promises to be great fun and I look forward to seeing you there.

Friday, 25 November 2016

25 November 2016

This is the final part of an amazing 8 page history assessment completed by Leanne Delacruz in Year 10. Much of this was done as extra homework, showing her tremendous determination to achieve the highest standards.  This is just one example of the superb work some of our students are achieving and I will be using the blog to celebrate more of this in future weeks.  Well done Leanne, your Headteacher's positive referral is well deserved.

Last week, I also awarded Hayden Kennedy in Year 10 for a 100% attendance and exceptional effort in lessons.  Our Hub students are making great progress and below you can see some great examples of their determination and focus.


Financial forecasters are predicting a decade of doom and gloom after the Chancellor's autumn statement this week and there are some real worries for both schools and young people as a result.  Schools all over the country are already underfunded and with costs rising, there is a risk that the situation will get worse before it gets better.  If the economy does struggle over the next few years, young people will need even better skills and qualifications to be able to compete for the jobs that are around.

With this in mind, it is a cause for optimism that 64% of our Year 11 parents attended this week’s Year 11 parents’ evening on Wednesday.  Many of our students were eager to hear from their teachers about what they need to do to improve on their mock exam results to achieve the grades they are capable of.  "Really supportive, helpful feedback. Thank you", is what one parent fed back and we are thrilled with this vote of confidence.

In the survey we ask parents to complete at this event, an incredible 93% said that you thought the quality of teaching was good and that your child is making good progress.  We are incredibly grateful to you for your feedback and support for what we are aiming to do.  If you haven't completed a survey recently and would like to do so, this is now on the website for you to download.

Success at school is a partnership between school and home and as exams get harder, this has never been truer.  We need your help to ensure children are at school each day after a good night's sleep, well fed and ready to learn.  We also need your help to ensure children work hard and complete regular homework.  Thank you for all your hard work.

We were very pleased to welcome Katie Aris and other volunteers from the National Citizenship Service to the school on Wednesday evening.  NCS is a great scheme for Year 11 students to take part in during the summer holidays and King Richard School students have a long tradition of participation.  4 weeks’ worth of activities with other like-minded young people from the area costs no more than £30 and it looks wonderful on the CV too.  Many of our Year 11s have already signed up, but if you missed it, is not too late so see Mrs Sear for more details.

Most of Year 7 have been on a trip to Commercial Road this week collecting data for their geography project.  The vast majority of our students behaved exceptionally well and made their teachers very proud.  We were particularly impressed by the resilience of the group who went on Monday and were caught in that horrendous downpour of rain - and they still came back smiling!

Next Thursday, we will be welcoming back last year's leavers when they collect their GCSE certificates and pieces of coursework.  They were our most successful year group to date and many are now doing really well at college or on apprenticeships, so it will be wonderful to see them and hear there news.

If you haven't already, please ensure you have the dates for our Year 7 and 8 Christmas pantomime (7th Dec) and Performing Arts showcase (14th Dec) in your diary. They will be tremendous evenings full of fun, demonstrating the high standards achieved in these areas of school life.  Tickets are available from our box office and I hope to see as many of you there as possible.

And finally, it looks like the last part of the steel frame for the new building is now complete.  This bottom section will be the sports hall, dance studio and fitness suite.  These new facilities will be fantastic and available for both school and community use.  Pictures will follow soon. 

Friday, 11 November 2016

11 November 2016

"Poignant, powerful, thought provoking" are all words that describe the presentation delivered by Mike Haines on his visit to the school today as part of our Remembrance Day commemorations. Mike's brother, David, was a charity worker in Syria delivering humanitaria aid when he was captured and brutally murdered by ISIS in 2013 - you may remember the news coverage of this shocking event.

Mike now spends his time in schools talking to children about the incident itself and how we should respond to such violence.  He encourages us to develop tolerance and understanding and his message is truly inspiring. We were very lucky to have him in school and I extend my thanks to Mr. Watkins who organised it and had the following to say: "The presentations by Mike Haines this morning were challenging and generated huge emotion amongst both year [9 and 10] groups. The development of the presentation to the denouement that the brother being spoken of so eloquently by Mike was the brother seen in the orange jumpsuit on a slide, made a memorable impression on all present. The subsequent messages of tolerance, unity and justice were absorbed by both audiences with a maturity beyond the ages of the students present. The following Q&A sessions were tackled thoughtfully and with insight, showing great emotional intelligence from our students.  In short, it was one of the most memorable occasions I have had in twenty years here at King Richard School." 

On the theme of remembrance, I was very impressed by this display completed by students in the Hub this week.  As part of their research, they also came across a recipe from the First World War for trench cake which they baked, although some thought it might taste more like trench foot!

It was a pleasure to meet so many Year 7 parents on Wednesday of this week.  Approximately 70% of parents were able to attend and were very complimentary about the levels of feedback and quality of support offered by their child's teachers.  The success of children at school is totally dependent on the partnership between school and home and it was satisfying to note that so many positive relationships were established on Wednesday.  Please remember that if you have concerns about something, we would prefer to know about it sooner rather than later, so do get in touch via the 'Contacting the School' page on the website to direct your question/concern to the right person. 

Don't forget that Year 11 parents' evening is on the 23rd of November and other key dates can be found in the newsletter and on the website.

Below are some of the latest photos of the new school including - the views from the roof are amazing! The steel frame is mostly complete (they have just the sports hall to go) and the floor structure is in place for about 50% of the building. It won't be long before the building is very recognisable as our new school and the work in the inside can begin.  I know there is a rumour that construction is behind, but this is not true and the contractors are still expecting to finish ready for a September opening.

Next Friday is Children in Need day when we join the rest of the nation in raising money for excellent children's causes that will benefit a large scope of children from across the country.  This school event has been organised by the Charity Committee of the Student Council and it is my hope that all students will get involved in the bake sale, non-uniform day (£1 contribution) and other events.  We are aiming to raise over £600 so please do give as generously as you can.

I really felt sorry for the Year 7 football team this week who lost on penalties in the semi-final of the cup against Admiral Lord Nelson.  They had a goal disallowed, were leading with four minutes to go and then tragically lost in the shoot-out.  Once again, I was very proud of their determination, resilience and strength of character and I know they will go on to achieve great things later in the season.

Congratulations to Mrs. Sear who has been nominated and shortlisted for an EBP Amazing People award as a result of her excellent work developing our careers programme at school.  She is an excellent organiser, has great ideas and has established superb relationships with the students that are already having an impact on them.  The recognition is much deserved.

I was lucky enough to accompany Mrs. Bruin's Year 7 History class to Portchester Castle  this morning.  They were brilliantly behaved and learned much about how castles helped Medieval kings and barons to keep control in England.  Portchester's keep is really impressive and must have terrified the local population in the 1200s.

And finally, I forgot the photo of the water fountains last week, so here it is. It’s very encouraging to hear the levels of support for this initiative.  Students simply have to push their bottle under the nozzle and it will dispense free water - no need to spend money on bottled water anymore.

Friday, 4 November 2016

4 November 2016

Perhaps like me, you thought someone had played a trick on you on Monday when temperatures hit an unseasonable 20 degrees.  The warm weather certainly tricked the ladybirds who hatched in great numbers in my office into thinking summer was on the way.  In reality, the weather was a treat as we returned to school after the extended break which I hope you and your families enjoyed.

Before we broke for half term, staff at the school were involved in two days of professional learning, organised by Mrs. Hill. The focus was on identifying techniques that enable boys to make even more progress and how to help students develop the speaking skills they will need to succeed in the future.  As the photos show, there was an excellent level of debate and colleagues worked collaboratively to further improve their teaching. These days are a vital part of the calendar as teachers continue to develop their skills.


The last day of term saw our first Golden Ticket event of the year.  Incredibly, 273 students were eligible for the award - the highest ever - and we thank you for your support in continuing to make good attendance a priority.  Planning for the next event in December is already underway and I for one am hoping that this year will not be as painful as it was for me last year.

On Thursday of this week, Capital Radio retuned to the school as part of the city wide initiative Get In:volved to encourage our Year 10 attendance.  Jono Holmes, from the breakfast show, and Adam Inker, from drive time, attended an assembly to remind students of the importance of attendance and the chance to win free tickets for the exclusive Anne-Marie concert in January.  All they have to do to stand a chance of winning is simply attend as much as possible between now and the 9th of December.   

Well done to Tia Barton who won free tickets to a Chelsea ladies match as a result of being the Most Improved Player at the girls’ football festival just before half term.

It was great to see two former students in school this week.  Mollie Compton and Kendall Field Pellow both got scholarships to top schools for sixth form (Portsmouth High and Portsmouth Grammar respectively) and are doing really well.  Kendall has applied to Cambridge to study natural sciences and Mollie, who is going to study psychology at a university yet to be decided, has just raised over £1000 from a parachute jump from 10,000 feet.

The Student Council asked us to provide some water fountains at school so that they could fill a water bottle instead of buying bottled water.  Mr. Nutland installed these in the playground over half term, so if you are fed up with buying water and worried about the environment from there being so much plastic in use, then bring a bottle into school and enjoy water for free.

Mrs. Dedman spent half term in Berlin as a guest of the German Embassy.  She saw many sites including the Holocaust memorial, the Reichstag (pictured) and the Stasi museum showing the horrors of the East German secret police before the Berlin Wall came down. She was amazed to learn that the Germans had stolen the Treaty of Versailles when they invaded France in WW2 only for the Russians to steal it when they invaded Germany in 1945. More details can be seen on the news pages of the website.

Congratulations to Mr. Marshall who has been accepted into the Secondary Maths Mastery Programme.  This is a national scheme to develop new ways of teaching Maths based on those so successfully used in China and the Far East. After a programme of training, Mr. Marshall will share the skills with other Maths teachers both here and at other schools locally.

We look forward to welcoming parents of Year 7 students at Parents Evening next Wednesday, 9th of November.   Teachers will be available to talk to you about your child's progress from 14:30 until 18:30. There is no need to make an appointment, you can simply attend at a time that suits you best.

On the topic of Year 7s, Ms Sitch set a Year 7 Science project over half term that involved making a model about something they learned in Science during the previous term. Below are some examples of the amazing work they produced.



And finally, well done to our Year 11s who have completed a week of practice exams.  These will now be marked and results provided in an event, on Wednesday the 23rd of November, designed to replicate the real results day in August.  Parents can then discuss these results with teachers on Wednesday on the same day between 14:30 and 18:30.

Friday, 14 October 2016

14 October 2016

Well, the price of Marmite and PG tips may be on the increase as the pound continues to fall, but happily this shock hasn't stopped some of our students from participating fully in school life this week.

Thirty students enjoyed the wonders of the Tate Modern Art Museum on Wednesday.  Mr Samuel tells me they worked really hard and were truly amazed by some of the exhibits. As you can see, they found inspiration for their own sketching, a key part of success in Art, as well as visiting some of London's most famous sites.  The students behaved superbly and were a credit to the school.


Our cast for the annual Shakespeare School Festival attended a brilliant workshop this week at the recently refurbished Theatre Royal to think further about how they will stage their production of A Mid Summer's Night Dream. Miss Halls is delighted with how the piece is coming together in preparation for the performance on November 17th.  More information is available from Miss Halls.

We were happy to be asked to host the first summit of the year for the Council of Portsmouth Students this Monday and welcomed students from secondary schools across the city to take part in discussions facilitated by Unloc. Students worked in groups discussing the ways in which they can contribute to the running of their schools and make education better for everyone.  Our representatives were Louise Varndell, Jessica Austen, Billy Rhoden, Marnie Jones and William Doswell (who will be feeding back their ideas to the Student Council next Tuesday).

On Tuesday we held our first monthly SEND coffee morning of the year and were delighted by the number of parents who came along.  Our Senco, Family Support Worker and Key Stage 3 Student Manager were on hand to answer questions and chat with parents about how the start of the year was going.  It was good to know things were generally going well.  Keeping track of homework and behaviour were the main topics raised and we will be working hard to ensure all parents are able to log into and understand Progresso. We have asked Mr Webb to give a short presentation on Progresso at our next coffee morning in November, so look out for the text next month.

Next week, you should receive your first half-termly statement of the year. During the course of the year, we will aim to give feedback on the effort your son/daughter puts into lessons.  I have often said that effort matters - not only does it lead to more progress, it also helps children learn that they can overcome difficulties and so develop the resilience they need to thrive in the modern world.  I hope these reports will help you to support your child in school by encouraging them to make more effort where it is needed and celebrate their excellent effort where it is in place.  I would also welcome your feedback about the detail and presentation of the report.

This week I had the privilege of visiting Buxton School in East London. The school had an incredible level of diversity yet the children all got on with each other and cooperated well together.  What was really striking was how hard they all worked and as a result their GCSE outcomes were superb.

I have also been talking this week to a researcher from the Higher Education Funding Council who have been looking into participation rates along the south coast to see what they can do to encourage even more of our students to attend university.  Literally hundreds of local young people are capable of going to university but, despite increases in recent years, some of them never go.  Interestingly, I was also visited by a former student, Jordan Griffin, who is now at the University of Hertfordshire on a Business Studies course.  He was clear about the benefits and described how much he enjoyed studying and how his future has improved as a result. If you think university might be for you and/or your child, we would like to help you.  Please contact Mrs Sear on who will be able to provide more information.

Well done to the Year 7 boys’ football team who reached the semi-final of the local cup by beating Priory 6-1. Please see the newsletter for more details on sports fixtures and successes.

We break for the holidays at the end of the day on Tuesday.  Thank you for all your support this half term and I hope you and your families enjoy a restful break.  The next blog will be on the 4th of November.