Friday, 20 May 2016

20 May 2016

This time last week I accompanied 23 Year 9 students on an Outward Bound course in Cumbria. We stayed in Howtown on Ullswater, a truly beautiful location, and the sun shone all week, making the conditions perfect for the wild camping, hiking and gorge walking that we undertook. It was an unforgettable trip and the students were a credit to themselves and their families. They really rose to the challenges they were presented with and showed incredible resilience and determination in overcoming difficulties and fears. The motto of the centre is "We are all better than we know" and this group of students certainly proved that they can achieve much more than they previously realised. My thanks to Miss Long for organising this trip.

 We have been pleased to welcome back a former student to school this week. Alex Lemarquand returned having left the school in 2008. He is now a chef in the RAF and came in to the school to explain to the students of Willow and Sycamore houses what life in the forces is like. He also gave some Year 7, 8 and 11 students a demonstration of the sorts of food cooked in the mess tents of the RAF. These inputs were very much appreciated by the students (and not just because there was free food!) who learned a lot, not least the importance of choosing a career that allows you to continue to develop and learn new skills.

Courtney Shrubsole and Lauren Hatherley of Year 10 have also been involved with former students of the school this week. The girls represented KRS at the annual Mayor Making Ceremony at the Guildhall on Tuesday. Honorary Alderman Syd Rapson is a former student of the school and the girls were asked to play an important part in the ceremony by handing over the Freedom of the City of Portsmouth Scroll to him. Courtney told me it was terrifying to take part in such a formal ceremony in front of so many people, but she and Lauren did wonderfully well.

Formalities were also observed on Monday of this week when Miss Long and I were invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace as part of the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Duke of Edinburgh's award. As well as having a brief talk with the Countess of Wessex in stunning surroundings, we received a plaque to confirm our participation in the award. As mentioned before, it is an excellent programme that gives young people skills, confidence and a real advantage in the highly competitive jobs market of today. Miss Long is recruiting for the next group of participants and I strongly urge students in Years 9 and 10 to consider joining her group.

We are having a real push at the moment on the importance of being on time for school. The vast majority of students are punctual and are in school by 8.25 each morning, ready for the start of period 1 and so thank you for your support in making that happen. However, some are not and a few students are repeatedly late. For these students, there will be detentions to let them know that they must do better and we will be grateful for your support in getting this message across. If you are concerned about your child being late regularly and would like to talk to someone at the school to find a solution to the problem, please call Mrs. House, our Education Welfare Officer, or one of the Student Managers, Miss Richardson or Mrs Sisk, as appropriate.

I was lucky enough to watch a very thought provoking assembly on Tuesday. The assembly was led by students from 7RMc and students were challenging their peers to recognise that British values are more that just enjoying a nice cup of tea or a roast dinner on Sundays. The students made us all think about the importance of freedom of choice and free speech and the benefits we get from being able to choose what books we read and how, with all its libraries, our country is set up to encourage us to read freely and widely. Well done to all the students involved.

Regarding the new building, the contractors have been busy extending the fencing around the site and making a new car park. This means that the current car park and access road at the eastern end of the site will be closed once we return from the half term holiday and students will not be allowed to access this area. There will be a new entrance at the end of the Arts corridor to access the bike sheds, but all pedestrian access will now have to be from the front of the school.

Finally this week, congratulations to Miss Featherstone of Year 7 who is the first student in the school's history to work completely through the Lexia programme. More impressively is that she has done this completely in her own time, working through the different stages each day before school starts. This is a clear commitment to improving her reading skills and must be commended.

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