Friday, 29 April 2016

29 April 2016

Well, was that snow at home time on Tuesday afternoon?  It was certainly cold and wet and not much fun for the students who were completing their RYA stage 1 sailing certificate at Portchester sailing club!  None the less they showed real determination and strength of character to see the session through especially when they ended up in the water as James Reilly Langley did while learning to gybe.

This week has also provided new opportunities for our students.  Thirty year 7 students went to Southampton University on Friday to have their first taste of university life as part of the organisation's "learn with us programme".  They had a tour of the campus, had to search for "treasure" in a scavenger hunt and reconstruct some of the buildings using lego.  The students I spoke to had a great time and are starting to think about how university might be the right path for them in the future.

At about the same time three year 10 students visited the Isle of Wight to meet His Royal Highness the Earl of Wessex as part of the celebratory events for the 60th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh Award.  The school is proud to be associated with the award because it fits so neatly into our motto of building character and shaping futures.  The award encourages young people to take on some new challenges and test themselves, all while having great fun.  Any students who wish to take part should talk to Miss Long or Mr Cooper.

Also this week every child in year 7 has had some training on how to make the best use of their i-pads.  The training was provided by professionals from Apple who introduced the students to some of the amazing things that can be done with the device.  One app that intrigued most of them was one that turned their scripts for short films into an auto cue; enabling their films to achieve a much more professional feel.  We know that lots of students make excellent use of the i-pads in lessons and when completing homework and we are keen that as many students as possible benefit from the scheme.  If you have any questions about i-pad use then please contact Mr James Webb at the school.

Many of our year 8 students have been working with visitors to the school in recent weeks. Our anti -smoking mentors are now fully trained and ready for action.  They are fully aware of the reasons not to smoke and have been set the task of engaging with five pupils each and convincing them not to start.  Given the health benefits of not smoking this is an important message and I wish them well in trying to have an impact on their peers.

There is also a group of 19 students working with local business men and women on the LEAP programme.  In developing their understanding of the skills you need to be successful in the work place e.g. time management they have recited a poem and performed a rap and many students are reporting how their confidence is growing.  We have been very impressed with their energy and enthusiasm.

I have been lucky enough to see some fantastic work in classrooms over the last week.  I was particularly impressed by Mr Bierton's year 7 geography class who had made some wonderful stop motion films to describe what they had learned about tectonics and also Mrs Nutland's year 8 English class who were creating their own physical models of the character Curly from Of mice and men by John Steinbeck.  Both sets of students could clearly describe how these physical activities were helping them learn more.  It really was excellent.

Congratulations to our latest Lexia "champions".  Mia Watson has achieved level 2 and Islam Abu Khalif level 4.  Well done both and keep up the hard work. 

Don't forget 11th May is year 8 parents evening and the chance this brings to discuss the option choices for the following academic year as well as receive the annual report.  The same opportunity awaits year 9 students and their parents on the 15th June.

Friday, 22 April 2016

22 April 2016

Sixty Year 11 students have been put through their paces this week in the final Art exams. The theme this year is Past, Present, Future and after 10 weeks of preparation, the students have 10 hours to produce their final piece. The intensity and levels of concentration in the Art rooms were phenomenal as the students strived to reach the deadline and produce their best work,  whether a collage, sculpture or painting. The standard of work was very high and a number of students created some outstanding pieces, far exceeding what they had  previously achieved. Mr Samuels, Head of Art, told me how proud he was of all the students.

The exam season is starting in al earnest now. Next week, the Drama students showcase their final performances (6pm on Thursday 28th - tickets are available from Miss Halls) and the following week (3rd May) is the first of the English exams. We wish all of our Year 11 students the very best of luck in these exams and remind them that there is a lot of information available on our website about how to prepare effectively.

During this period of examinations, I ask all parents and visitors to be thoughtful about noise levels in Reception and to remind their children to move around the school quietly so as not to disturb students who are sitting exams.

One disturbance we have enjoyed this week has been the start of Samba music in the school. A new samba band kit has been acquired by the community and is housed at the school.  Some Year 7 and 8 Music classes have been learning how to pick up the rhythm and create the sounds that we will hear so much of this summer when the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro start in July. Their is also a community Samba group practice taking place at the school on Thursday afternoons and anyone is welcome to join. Please contact the school or the Hillside Community Centre if you would like to know more.

A dozen students from all years began their RYA Level 1 sailing course recently at Portchester sailing club. After a brief shore based session, they were introduced to dinghy sailing and all that involves which really means the joys of capsizing when trying to turn the boat through the wind. Several of the children found themselves in the water unexpectedly, but showed incredible resilience and determination while getting back in the boat and carrying on. They are a real example of young people building their character while also learning a new skill.

Over the past few months, students have been discussing British values in their tutor groups. The stimuli for the discussions have been posters sourced by Mr. Watkins which have encouraged the students to think about concepts like tolerance, equality, the rule of law and democracy. The students have come up with some really interesting responses and have shown a good awareness of the ideas that make Britain the country that it is. It might be interesting to talk to your child about these discussions to see what they can tell you. Below is an example of a poster on resilience created by Mr. Morrison's class:

The Government recently produced an education white paper entitled Education Excellence Everywhere. There are some big ideas in this document that will have a further impact on the schools our children attend. One of these, that may not have escaped your notice, is that all schools should become academies by 2022. King Richard School isn't currently an Academy school, so this will mean a change to our status. Another idea is that more children should benefit from a longer school day with more enrichment activities on offer after the normal day has finished. If you have views on either of these two topics, it would be good to hear from you.

Ofsted is hosting a webinar for parents living in the South-East region on Wednesday 4th May 2016 from 19:30 to 20:30.  During the webinar, inspectors will outline Ofsted's current approach to inspections, priorities for schools in the region and how inspections try to get to the heart of what is going in on schools.  Parents will also have an opportunity to share their views on what is working well in schools and what could be better as well as what you think Ofsted does well and what they could do better.  If you would like to join the webinar, you can register here.

Some dates for your diaries:
Monday 2 May:  Bank holiday Monday (school CLOSED)
Wednesday 11 May:  Year 8 parents' evening from 14:30 to 18:30
Wednesday 15 June:  Year 9 parents' evening from 14:30 to 18:30

Please note that at both of these parents' evenings you will have the opportunity to discuss option choices with the relevant staff.

Friday, 15 April 2016

15 April 2016

Welcome back to the new term.  I hope you and your families enjoyed a restful Easter holiday. My staff and I did and we have returned with batteries recharged, ready for the summer term.

The rest was much needed as it has been a very productive and busy first week back. Year 9 have been sitting their mock exams (watch out Year 10, you are next at the end of the month), Year 8 have been thinking about their educational choices for the future with the University of Chichester, Year 7 have enjoyed making healthy smoothies, courtesy of a partnership we have with Tesco, and Year 11 have come back to realise that GCSE exams start for real very soon (Art is next week and English in 2 and a half weeks).

Pleasingly, attendance has been good this week which means very few students have missed out on these valuable opportunities, so thank you for your support in making sure your children are in school on time every day. Perhaps they have been motivated to attend by the fun that was had by last term's Golden Ticket winners? This group of over 100 students with 100% attendance enjoyed a couple of hours at Play Zone at the end of term and the photos below show what a good time they had.

The Government has said a lot recently about the importance of good attendance (mostly because of its impact on achievement) and we will therefore continue to push hard and reward those students who attend excellently. Plans are already underway for our next reward event and we will be looking for those who can rise to the 50 day challenge - more details will follow soon.

We have noticed that attendance is often worse than it needs to be because children are off ill when they are well enough to be in. The NHS publishes plenty of helpful information for parents about when they should keep their child at home and this is available on our website for your ease. Many children tell us that they have days off when they are probably well enough to be in and this is an area I would like to see reduced. With this in mind, I have asked Mrs. J. Levers to phone parents where the reason for absence appears to not meet the NHS standard so that she can discuss with you getting your child back into school.

If you read the Portsmouth News, you may have noticed that they are running their Youth Awards again in June this year. These awards aim to celebrate the amazing achievements of our young people and are offered in a variety of categories. A number of our students are nominated every year by staff, but anyone can nominate a child who they think is deserving. Nomination forms and other information about categories, rules and criteria can be downloaded here.

As always, there are a number of students whose achievements have come to my attention this week and who deserve a special mention. Rosie Robbins and Megan Evans of Year 11 both deserve congratulations for being accepted onto the Hampshire Police and Crime Youth Commission. They will work with the police and crime commissioner to tackle police and crime issues that affect young people. This will give them a real taste of democracy and the role that the police play in our society and I look forward to hearing more about their experiences.

I also want to mention Oakley Hodges of Year 7 who has worked tirelessly to achieve both his Level 3 and Level 4 Lexia award recently. He is the first student to be working at Level 5 and this is down to his tenacity and effort at home and school. Well done Oakley!

On a sporting note, our commiserations go to the Year 11 boys football team who reached the semi-final of the Portsmouth Cup in the last week of last term. They battled hard and bravely but were ultimately defeated by a very strong Priory side. I share their disappointment but am proud of all their effort.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who donated Easter eggs as part of the collection organised by the Student Council. Several boxes of delicious eggs were delivered to the Roberts Centre on Thursday the 24th of March which was gratefully received by very excited little ones.  

The Portsmouth Parent and Carer Board are currently looking for parents and carers who live in Portsmouth, who wish to make a difference to families, to join their board.  For more information, you can visit their website or contact Jenny Atkins at Home-Start Portsmouth on 02392 734400. 

One final piece of good news is that planning permission for the new school building was granted over the Easter holidays. The contractual details are now being finalised with the intention that work on site will start very soon. The development will have an impact on the site at the eastern end of the school and will affect the entrances in this part of the building. I will describe this in more detail in the near future when I have the final plans from the contractor.

As always, thank you for your continued support in the education of our youth.