Friday, 29 January 2016

29 January 2016

I always enjoy Fridays as they are an opportunity to get into classrooms and talk to children about their work. I am encouraged that the students are increasingly able to talk about their learning, describing in detail what they have done to improve and what they need to do next. I do hope you have the same experience at home when discussing your child's learning with him/her.

These lesson visits also allow me to take part in the "MyStickers" reward scheme where excellent work or effort is rewarded with a sticker, each with its own unique code. Students set up a MySticker account (, type in the code and collect points which can be redeemed for prizes, from stationary and calculators to vouchers for popular shops like HMV and JD Sport.  Please encourage your children to take part and if they have any questions they should see Miss Williams in the Humanities corridor.

Well done to Jessica Whitbread who raised £60 in the recent Readathon sponsored reading challenge. Over £250 pounds were donated to support children's reading in hospitals. Congratulations also to Sianna McKeller who has overcome her resistance to improving her reading and has now completed Level 2 on the Lexia programme as a result of her dedication at home and during break time.

The Student Council's Charity Committee have recently decided to raise money for the CLICK Sargent charity which raises funds to support the families of children suffering with cancer. Their novel fund raising idea is the selling of valentine messages. Starting on Monday, "hearts" declaring love and affectation can be bought from Form Tutors for 20p and these will be delivered to the recipients on the 12th of February. This is a lovely idea that I hope you will encourage your child to support.

My office is next to the main hall and so I have been enjoying the sounds of the Oliver rehearsals which are now almost nightly. The cast and crew are working very hard and progress is rapid. It is going to be a wonderful show and I do hope you will be able to come along and join us for the performances:  Tuesday 23rd and Wednesday 24th February.  Tickets are on sale from the box office.

On Saturday the 6th of February, the school is hosting a Dance for Cancer event with 30 groups from the Portsmouth area performing. There are still a few tickets available and if you would like to see this extravaganza, please contact Miss K. Nutland.  In reception, you will also find a collection bucket if you wish to make a donation to cancer research when you are next in school.

In last week's blog, I said the next Parents Evening was for Year 8 when in fact it is Year 7 whose evening is on the 9th of May.

On the note of meeting with staff, if you wish to speak with a member of staff,  may I remind you that it is best to make an appointment. This is especially true when you want to talk to one of your child's teachers as opposed to a member of the Student Services Team or the Leadership Team. This ensures there is no unnecessary waiting and reduces the frustration caused when we can't respond to your enquiry.  May I also remind you that, for safeguarding reasons, all visitors to the school must sign in at Reception.

A few students take advantage of the fact that the canteen is open every morning from 7:45.  This is an excellent opportunity to get some healthy breakfast  before lessons start as well as a chance to finish off homework or just keep warm and dry with friends.  Toast can be purchased at 15p a slice.  We would like to increase the number of students using the Breakfast Club, so please encourage your child/children to use the facility and let us know how we can improve the service.

Today we hosted 26 trainee English teachers from the University of Portsmouth. They met with some of our students, did a tour of the school and had workshops on encouraging reading and supporting disadvantaged students. It was wonderful to meet them, to play our part in their training and to see their enthusiasm for the job. Teaching is a wonderful career, but unfortunately too few people nationally are training to be teachers and this shortage will affect us all. If you have ever considered teaching as a career, or would like to know more, follow the links from the 'Recruitment' pages on our website.

I look forward to seeing your child/children in school in the run up to the end of term. While there are a number of flu-like viruses in the air at the moment, absence should be kept to a minimum, please.  For NHS advice on  how many days a child should take off for a specific illness, please visit the 'Attendance' page under the 'Parents' tab on our website. 

Once again, if you have any questions, queries or comments, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Friday, 22 January 2016

22 January 2016

Thank you to the very large number of Year 10 parents who attended parents' evening on Wednesday. These evenings are tremendously important and provide a great opportunity for us to work with you to ensure your child is as successful as possible at school. They are also a chance for you to give us valuable feedback about how you think we are doing. I have said many times that a successful education is about partnership between school and home, and Wednesday was a good example of this in practice. The next parents' evening will be held on the 13th of April and will offer an opportunity to discuss options for the following year.

I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening at the Iron Clad Warrior photography exhibition at the Kings theatre in Southsea on Monday the 18th. Four Year 11 students, Rosie Robbins, Holly Vaughan, Denise Pinhorn and Chloe Evans, have been working with a professional photographer at the Historic Dockyard over a number of Saturdays last year. They very confidently told me how they had learned that photographs can tell stories and communicate complicated ideas and how techniques like framing, exposure and composition helped them achieve this. The results were outstanding and it was a pleasure to be there and see the quality of the work - well done to all four.

Congratulations are also due to Charlie Howie and Oakley Hodges who have worked hard to achieve Level 2 and 3 respectively on the Lexia programme. Developing reading skills is crucial to success at secondary school, so keep up the good work, both of you. I would also like to congratulate Megan Scott who has been asked to try out for Portsmouth and Northsea Swimming Club following her school based swimming lesson this week.

On the topic of reading, Year 7 and 8 are just about to start the Read for My School competition. This annual competition challenges students to read as many books as they can on their e-reader. There is a large library of books to choose from.  Last year's Year 7 students were tremendously successful and read 1997 books which won us national recognition (and a box of new releases for two students who were successful in the weekly prize draw!) I am sure this year's Year 7 and 8 will be determined to do even better than last year - helped as they will be by Dylan Willis who has already read an amazing one million words on the Accelerated Reader programme since September. Well done, Dylan!  It is remarkable.

Year 11 students are busy finalising their plans for next year and many have already secured their places on the college courses and apprenticeship schemes they wanted. It is never too early for you and your child/children to be thinking about the future and to help them make plans about what they want to do when they leave school. To this end, Mrs Sear, our Careers Coordinator, has produced a very handy guide which can be found on the 'Careers' page of the website.  Please do take a look and make contact if you would like to know more.

I want to thank all those parents who have sent their child to school in the last couple of weeks despite them having a cough or cold or not feeling too well. When the temperature outside is minus 3, there are a lot of teenagers who would much rather stay under the duvet and have us believe they are too ill to go to school. We really appreciate the support of parents who challenge this and send their children to school despite the minor illnesses that the NHS confirm shouldn't stop a child attending school. Please remember that each day in school really matters and when it comes to attendance, 9/10 isn't good enough. If you would like to discuss any issue to do with attendance, please contact Lisa House, our Education Welfare Officer.

Below is a photograph handed to me by two former KRS students. It is of their prize giving in 1956, just four years after the school had opened. It was wonderful to listen to their stories of life at the school back then - when of course, the girls and boys were totally separated - and compare it to school life now. It made me think we should do more to collect these memories.  Therefore, if you have a school photograph or a memento of your time at the school, then please do get in touch so we can start to develop a gallery on the website to celebrate the school's history.

One of the stories they told was of their school productions which were usually Gilbert and Sullivan operas like The Pirates of Penzance. This prompted me to remind you that this year's school production is nearly upon us. Oliver will be performed on Tuesday 23rd and Wednesday the 24th of February. It promises to be a great evening, so please add the date to your diary and purchase tickets which will be on sale at the box office in the near future.

Friday, 15 January 2016

15 January 2016

So, here we go - week two of blogging and I have much to tell you.

Firstly, thank you to all who sent in old clothes for collection to raise money for Rock Challenge. I wouldn't usually want to see bin liners of old clothes in reception, but on this occasion it was very welcome. Every small contribution helps to raise much needed funds to support our team of dancers, led by Mr McFarlane, on their way to success at this year's event on the 17th of March. King Richard School has a long history of success at Rock Challenge and this year's plans are coming along very well. Tickets are available from the finance office until the 29th of January and it would be lovely to have you in the crowd cheering them on.

It was wonderful to see our team of Year 9 table tennis players compete with determination at the competition held at Admiral Lord Nelson School this week. Alfie Tazewell, Mitchel Knowler, Kalvin Potter, Jacob Jones, Daniel House, Jack Stewart and Mason Clements had been practising hard for four weeks.  There was much success with Alfie Tazewell and Mitchell Knowler getting through to the knock out phases, but they were sadly beaten by two experienced club players.  A huge well done to these students!  Keep on practising - hard work really does make a difference.

Five of our Year 11 students also won their football tournament at Roko last night.  Sam Hatherley, Taran Harper, Jordan Cook, Dylan Crockford and Ryan Dartnell won all 5 of their games against Springfield, Priory, Admiral Lord Nelson and Trafalgar A and B.

This week saw the start of our Premier League Reading Stars Programme. A team of Year 7 boys, guided by Ms Rogers, are using their love of football to inspire them to practice and improve their reading skills. Watching them briefly in the gym, after school on Monday, leaves me with no doubt as to their footballing skills although I am not sure I can say the same for Ms Rogers!  I look forward to following their progress this term. Years 7, 8 and 9 also raised £248.82 from their Readathon last term.

The first SEND Coffee Morning of the year was a great success with parents and staff enjoying a chance to chat in a relaxed atmosphere.    The Careers Adviser, Welfare Officer and Family Support Worker were on hand to answer questions and give advice and many useful tips were shared among parents.   The next coffee morning is the 9th of February from 9:15-10:15 and the Careers Adviser will be there again.  If you have a child in Year 11 and want to find out more about College courses or Apprenticeships, or if you just want a chance to chat with other parents, then please join Mrs Bailey and her team.    

A Year 10 mentoring scheme with the University of Portsmouth was launched this week.  Twenty students are participating over a 10 week period.  The scheme is designed to help raise achievements and aspirations and give students the chance to discuss a variety of topics.

We have already completed 83 Year 11 impartial career interviews and are hoping to have seen all of Year 11 before half-term.  Those wishing to complete apprenticeships after school can look for available opportunities on .  This website allows you to search for apprenticeships by post code or city.

On Thursday the 14th of January, we held two PSHE events - one for Year 10 and one for Year 11. Year 10's learned about extremism, its different forms and how people get drawn into extremist ways of thinking and behaving. This is such an important topic in our modern world and I do hope your children will share with you some of the ideas they discussed, especially the way in which their own ideas were challenged.

Year 11's tackled a similarly important topic: legal highs - what they are and the risks involved.  Our guest speakers Karen and Andy ran informative and engaging sessions which were very well received by all.  There has been a Portsmouth wide campaign on this issue recently which we have supported, and I can't stress enough how dangerous some of these substances can be. If you would like any more information, please do contact Mrs Nancarrow or Mrs Levers to discuss your questions further.

On matters to do with safety, I ask that you remind your child/children of the importance of crossing the road safely, particularly the need to avoid crossing between parked cars. We have had several cases of unsafe crossing recently and two of our students this year have required hospital treatment after crossing the road carelessly and being hit by passing cars.  Please help me ensure there are no further accidents.

You may know that we have been consulting on our PAN (Published Admission Number) recently. This number - the number of students who can join us in Year 7 in any one year - is to reduce from September 2017 because the new school building will be slightly smaller than the current one. If you wish to express a view on this decision, please contact Mrs Gajdus at the school by the end of Monday. More details can be found on the website.

Get Into Teaching:
If you (or someone you know) are a qualified teacher or are thinking of training to become one, you may be interested in the Teach Portsmouth "Get into Teaching" event taking place this weekend. It is at the Land Rover BAR Centre in Portsmouth from 10:00-15:00. More details can be found on our website.

Finally, we wish Mrs McCombie a speedy recovery. She has taken ill and needs an operation so will be off school for a few weeks. We are pleased that a suitably qualified teacher is available to cover her absence.

I am always keen to hear your feedback and views, so please don't hesitate to make contact if there is anything you would like to discuss further.

Gareth Hughes

Friday, 8 January 2016

8 January 2016

A happy New Year to all members of the KRS community.  I hope you and your family had a restful and enjoyable Christmas holiday.

The end of Term 1 finished on a very successful note and following are some of the highlights:

On Thursday 17 December we held our latest "Golden Ticket" event to celebrate those students with 100% attendance for the term. Amazingly, over 200 students qualified!  This number is particularly impressive given the prevalence of illnesses during November. Great fun was had by the students who attended the roller disco for an hour. For many this was their first time on skates and I was very impressed with their determination to try something new and take on a new challenge. It was also lovely to see the way they supported and helped each other when it became difficult. Below are some photographs of the day.  More can be viewed on the 'News' page of the website, but fortunately not the one of me falling over at the start of the Year 11 session!

On Friday 18 December we held our Christmas Attendance Raffle. Students with 100% attendance since September, or those with considerably improved attendance, had an opportunity to put a ticket into the prize draw to stand a chance of winning a brand new mountain bike valued at over £300. Congratulations go to Kalvin Lee Potter and Bradley Wolfe who were our lucky winners. I also want to congratulate the other students who were eligible:  the large number who either maintained excellent attendance for the whole term or who significantly improved their attendance - well done! May I take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support in making good attendance at school your top priority. Your efforts really do make a difference.

Another success at the end of last term was our fundraising event.  Once again we were able to make a large donation of toys (over £500 worth) to the Salvation Army Christmas Appeal as well as a large quantity of food to the Portsmouth North food bank, in time for Christmas. Thank you very much for your generosity and support. The Student Council has plans for developing our charity work further; more news on this will follow in the near future.

There have been some staffing changes recently which I would like you to be aware of: 
  • Ms Chapman, an experienced teacher from Henry Cort school, has joined our Science team to replace Miss Baldwin. We welcome her to the school and look forward to her making a successful start with us.
  • Ms Findlay returns to the English team after her maternity leave and so we welcome her back.  
  • Mr Bierton has switched from Maths to Geography (he has a joint degree in both subjects) and I look forward to him bringing his experience to this department.
If you have any questions about how these changes affect your child, please contact our Deputy Headteacher, Mr Tucker, in the first instance.

From Monday morning (11 January), the school's OfSTED report will be available on their website.  A link to this can be found on our website under the "Our School" tab. As mentioned in my letter this week, there are many positives in the report and I am particularly pleased with the comments they made about the attitude and outlook of the children.  However, there are also some things for us to improve on. Please take time to read the report in full and do not hesitate to raise any questions you may have. 

If you haven't already looked at the planning application for the new school on Portsmouth City Council's website, then please do so (the link can be found under the 'Our School' tab on our website). This is a major development for the school, as well as the area, and a once in a generation opportunity for us to ensure we obtain the school building and facilities the community needs and deserves. If you have any questions about the plans then please do get in touch.

Also on the school's website is a calendar listing all important dates for the upcoming term.  Please take note of the following event:
  • Year 10 parents consultation evening (14:30 - 18:30), Wednesday 20 January.
This is the first of my blogs designed to keep you informed of things happening in the school on a weekly basis. Please do let me know if there is particular information you would like me to include.

Gareth Hughes