Friday, 24 June 2016

24 June 2016

I write this week at the start of a new era following the seismic decision in yesterday's referendum to leave the EU. As reflected in the views the students have shared with me over the last few weeks, a clear majority in the local area supported this decision . The referendum clearly had captured the imagination of our students, with large numbers getting engaged with the issues which can only be good for our democracy.

"Oh, didn't it rain" as the song goes, and it certainly did on Wednesday night of this week. Two floods were the consequence and a reminder that the current building can no longer cope. The new one will be watertight and temperatures in classrooms well regulated - something we will all look forward to in the future. The next step in the development is the arrival of the piling rig and the start of the foundations being put in which should begin next week and last until the end of August.

"An amazingly dark and compelling drama, dealing with all sorts of themes like playing God", was how the judges reviewed the Play in a Day performance from King Richard School's Year 9 students that was performed at the Theatre Royal on Wednesday of this week. It was a tremendous evening as 6 schools had a day to script, coordinate, rehearse and then perform a ten minute play from scratch with only a title and a box of props (which included an inflatable animal) to work with. Our students did incredibly well in our first time in this event which is part of the Portsmouth festivities. Happily, they will perform the piece again in the Arts Summer Showcase on the 7th of July if you would like to come and see more of their interpretation of the cruel and crazy scientist in the electric mind.

Another opportunity to visit the school is open to you on the 30th of June for our summer Art Exhibition. This is a chance for you to see some of the outstanding work produced by our GCSE Art students this year. Please do come along if you can.

Our samba band have had their first two public performances this week. Firstly, their energetic drumming was used to spur the students of Victory primary school on to greater sporting achievements during their sports day. On Saturday, they represent the school at the Paulsgrove & Wymering Carnival. They have mastered the basics of Samba drumming really quickly and are showing tremendous potential acccording to their coach, Tamsyn Braithwaite, although they are rather loud! Please remember there is an opportunity for you to get involved in samba drumming at the school each Thursday from 4pm.

Next week at school is Spoken Language week and staff across departments will be creating a series of activities to develop the students' skills in spoken language. There is increasing evidence to suggest that practising spoken language increases understanding and improves the quality of writing, and this project, led by Mrs. McCombie, is the first of many initiatives. As ever, we would be interested in hearing from you about how your child has found this approach to learning.

In assemblies this week, I have been talking to students about leadership, especially the behaviour of our political leaders in the run up to the EU referendum and in the light of the tragic murder of Jo Cox. Coincidentally this week, we have also been interviewing for the next group of student leaders. The standard of applications was very high and the decision will be a tough one. I promise to publish a picture of the new team next week.

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that many of our students already have leadership experience and many others are developing leadership qualities. This is excellent news as these attributes are ones that will serve them well in future life. Two examples this week were the presentation to a group of headteachers made by Courtney Shrubsole, Lauren Hatherley and Louise Varndell, and the large numbers of students who have put themselves forward for the vital role of peer mentor next year. Very impressive and well done to all.

Last week, I incorrectly said the careers week was the 5th of July when in fact it starts on the 12th. The careers fair is on the 15th and if you have some free time on that day to come and see the range of opportunities available for your son or daughter when they leave school, we would love to welcome you to join us and the 50 or so providers who will be with us for the day. More details of the week can be found on our website early next week.

We have been very pleased to see more and more of Barbara Evans, who is back on reception, in the last few weeks as she returns to work after her period of absence. She is not full time yet, so you will find other staff greeting you on arrival or answering the phone.  Please bear with us as we return to a more consistent level of staffing.

Lastly, please don't forget that the school is closed on Friday 1st of July and Monday 4th of July for staff training. Our closure dates for next year will follow the same pattern as this year (the last three days of the October half term and the Monday and Friday either side of the last weekend in June).  I know this helps families, who are trying to avoid holidays in term time which would not be authorized, when planning their holidays and trips away .

Friday, 17 June 2016

17 June 2016

Today was a very emotional day as we said farewell to our Year 11 students at their Leavers Assembly which followed the final Physics exam. They laughed and cried as they looked back at photographs (compiled brilliantly by Mr. Beck) of their younger selves and remembered the many friendships they have developed over the last five years. Although it will feel like the end, I tried to get them to think about today as the beginning. We have done everything we can to get them ready for the next phase in their life, whether that be at college or as an apprentice in work based training, and my wish for all of them is to go ahead with confidence and aim to "thrive not survive", as my hero, Maya Angelou, would have said.

Whatever future path our Year 11 students take, one certainty is that they will need many skills to succeed in the modern world. I was struck by this when visiting the building site for the new school last week and, realising just how few low-skilled jobs there are, couldn't help but notice how everyone on the site was having to use highly specialised equipment to complete challenging tasks - definitely very different to the building sites I worked on as a young man during university holidays.

With this in mind, Mrs. Sear has been busy organising our annual careers week (5th - 8th July) which will provide plenty of opportunity for students (especially, but not exclusively, Year 10) to think about their futures. There will opportunities to meet numerous employers, apprenticeship providers and colleges, practise writing CVs and develop the so called softer skills (team work, communication, problem solving etc.) that future employers so value. More details of this event can be had by contacting Mrs. Sear at or by phone, 02392 322 473.

Mrs. Sear also tries to encourage younger students to think about their plans and is starting to collect all the information they need to make good decisions about their future.

This week, she accompanied a group of Year 8 students to the Ageas Bowl in Southampton to  raise students' aspirations and give them the opportunity to meet with local business providers in order to ask questions about their career choices and paths, qualifications and industries.  The event was hands on and interactive and, as the picture shows, they had a great time and certainly gained a lot from the experience.

This week saw the final two Year 10 Geography field trips to the New Forest. The students behaved brilliantly and collected a large amount of valuable data for their controlled assessment tasks regarding the impact of tourism. The photos tell only part of the story as some students were even caught hugging trees in an attempt to get closer to nature.

Thank you to every single parent/guardian who came along to our very successful Year 9 parents' event on Wednesday. A successful education is always a partnership between school and home and my colleagues found it very useful to discuss with you possible option choices for next year and issues relating to your child's progress so far. Thank you also to those of you who completed our feedback forms and handed in the checked data sheets.  This information is what helps us get things right for you. If you weren't able to make it, you can collect your child's report from reception.  Please note, option forms need to be handed in by next Friday, 24th June.

I was thrilled to read about how well Year 7 students have responded to the Passport Challenge in the last few months. This week saw the deadline for them to hand in their evidence to show which experiences and challenges they have completed and some of them are truly amazing, with a number of students completing more than 20 of the possible tasks. Especially well done to Bobby Jo Jeans who completed an astounding 44 tasks! These photos show a little of what has been achieved.

Please don't forget these important key dates for the rest of the term: 
  • Thursday 23rd June – deadline for Parent Governor applications.  Please see the website under the ‘Governing Body’ tab for more details;
  • Friday 24th June – deadline for option forms from Year 7 and 9;
  • Friday 1st July and Monday 4th July – INSET days.  School will be closed to all pupils;
  • Thursday 7th July – end of year Arts showcase;
  • Monday 18th July – Prize giving ceremony for Years 7 and 8;
  • Tuesday 19th July – Prize giving ceremony for Years 9 and 10;
  • Wednesday 20th July – last day of term (school finishes at 12.50).
The builders on the new site have had an interesting week as slow worms and electricity cables have proven to be a real challenge for them. Because slow worms are protected, a survey is needed to see how many there are on site and what measures need to be taken to avoid destroying their habitats. And, a digger found a live power line running across the field that no one knew was there! This aside, there is much progress, and the setting of the foundations should begin next week.

Finally, we say goodbye to Mrs. Caroline Davies who stood in as receptionist for the last couple of weeks and thank her for the wonderful work she did. In her place, we welcome back  Mrs. Barbara Evans who joins us again shortly.  

Friday, 10 June 2016

10 June 2016

The sun has been shining all week, so it must mean the end of the holidays and a return to school! Unsurprisingly, students have been struggling in the heat and moaning about wearing uniform, but, despite this, they continue to look smart and I am grateful to all parents for continuing to support our Dress for Success principle. For the time being, blazers remain compulsory although students may take them off at lunch and break time and in lessons, at the discretion of their teacher. If we move to a summer uniform later in the term, I will be sure to let you know.

Thankfully, some of our students have been able to get outside to enjoy the fine weather and extend their experience of school. Two teams of rowers practised their skills in Langstone Harbour on Wednesday afternoon in preparation for the South Coast Regatta at the start of July. Mr Bixley was mightily impressed with their commitment and ability although Alex Safronovs was moaning about how much his arms hurt the next day!

On a sporting note, the canteen is selling celebratory Euro 2016 cakes for any football fans that would like to try one in anticipation of England's success. 

Congratulations also go to Rachel and Emma Cornelius who earned themselves a 4 day trip on an ocean going yacht this week. They had a wonderful but really challenging time learning vital skills such as team work and communication and, most importantly, how not to capsize!

The half term holiday saw more dance success for some of our students. Milly Johnsey, Frankie Tazewell, Ellis Ford and Mercedes Paxton have been selected to represent England in the World Street Dance Championships to be held in Glasgow in August. The team is relatively new to street dance and so this makes the achievement all the more impressive. Well done and good luck to them!

I was taken by surprise on Tuesday after school when I heard blood curdling screams coming from the Arts corridor. It turns out, I needn't have been worried as it was the students who attend Drama Club, practising their vocal skills ready for rehearsals. The enthusiasm and energy of the students were wonderful to see, and even more pleasing is the fact that the club is run by a former student, Elijah Lazenby.  He is currently studying Drama at university and wants to become a Drama teacher. Well done to all involved. 

We were also pleased to welcome back another former student this week, Daisy White. Daisy is studying Level 3 Media Studies at Highbury College and is clearly loving the course and the opportunities it provides; she is making plans for a career in the creative industries. She was back in school to gather material for a radio broadcast on preparing for exams and collected some good feedback from staff and students. The program will go out later in the summer on Jamm FM, the college radio station, and we will provide a link to it from our website.

Please also note that the school is currently advertising a vacancy for a Parent Governor on the Governing Body.  More information can be found on the school's website.

You should have received a letter from me today alerting you to key events this term. For your information, these dates are repeated here.  Please note our early closure next Thursday:
  • Wednesday 15th June – Year 9 parents evening, 3pm – 6.30 pm (please note later start than usual);
  • Thursday 16th June – early closure (1.20pm) to enable students to watch the England v Wales football match as part of Euro 2016.  The canteen will be open as usual and students will be released after lunch. Any student wishing to stay in school to watch the match in the hall or complete supervised study will be able to do so;
  • Thursday 23rd June – deadline for Parent Governor applications.  Please see the website under the ‘Governing Body’ tab for more details;
  • Friday 24th June – deadline for option forms from Year 7 and 9;
  • Friday 1st July and Monday 4th July – INSET days.  School will be closed to all pupils;
  • Thursday 7th July – end of year Arts showcase;
  • Monday 18th July – Prize giving ceremony for Years 7 and 8;
  • Tuesday 19th July – Prize giving ceremony for Years 9 and 10;
  • Wednesday 20th July – last day of term (school finishes at 12.50).
And finally, the builders have been busy this week. You can visit the school's website for regular updates and track their progress by clicking here