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.