Friday, 17 November 2017

17 November 2017

Highlights of the Week

Following Remembrance Sunday, there was a poignant and thoughtful tribute by Cedar House this week to those killed in wars while serving their country. Mr Waldren's tutees did justice to the event with a mix of local history, poetry and music which proved to be an excellent reminder of the sacrifice that many in our armed forces make on our behalf.

The assembly was particularly pleasing because of the quality of the students’ involvement. For over a year, we have been pushing student involvement in assemblies and this example was of high standard and included a poem which Jo'Anne McGiffen had learned by heart, Lewis Mountifield's recital of the Last Post and a demonstration of high quality public speaking from Daisy Thompson. Performing in front of their peers is a real challenge for the students, but this group showed that by determination and practice these difficult challenges can be overcome. Well done to those involved.

To do our small part for Children in Need today, we held a wonderful concert at lunchtime in the atrium where students and staff alike enjoyed great performances from Dylan Willis, Ryan Armstrong, Shane May, Oliver George, James Reilly-Langley, Gypsie Palmer, Ratu Nawai, Lewis Mountifield and Alex Grant. In total £120.69 was raised to add to the huge sums raised by the BBC for some great and worthwhile causes.

I also want to celebrate the excellent charity work conducted by Ms Sitch's tutor group who collected contents for Christmas boxes for Samaritan's Purse Christmas appeal. They spent the last month or so collecting small items, wrapping and filling their boxes and completed 4 boxes in total: two unisex boxes for 2-4 year olds, one 10-14 year old boy and one 10 - 14 year old girl. A special mention goes to the following students who donated/made gifts: Megan Hanna (Year 9), Bobbie-Jo Jeans (Year 9), Graice Murphy (Year 11), Frankie Proud (Year 9) and Alfie Peacock (Year 7).


Learning Champions

Our enrichment programme continues to offer students many new learning experiences and the range on offer this week was really encouraging. Some examples that caught my eye included the Year seven boy who was learning how to make vegetable soup for his mum so she didn't have to cook after a hard week, the speed with which some of our students are taking to chess, the Year 7 and 8s working effectively in teams as part of capture the flag and the cast of Bugsy Malone practicing the vocals for some of the main songs for this year's musical.

I saw some amazing algebra from Mr Gill's Year 9 Maths group who are working well above expectations when factorising and expanding quadratics. I was really impressed by the progress of Kieran Baker and Tia Barton amongst others and the ease with which they explained what they had learned. They are well deserving of the positive referrals they have been given.

In Art, Year 8's have been experimenting with directional lines and a variety of media to create these beautiful pieces of artwork below.  Well done to JJ Neville, Douglas Eastman, Summer Alexander and Kaylee Lexington-Palmer for outstanding work.

Building Character, Shaping Futures

This week, ten Year 10 students attended an Enterprising Women Conference where they had the opportunity to interview 3 enterprising women to find out about their progression from school/college to their current roles. They were given 'specialist question time' to identify speakers that they hadn't met to ask any questions they had. Students also heard from Ali Golds, The Juno Project, about growth mindset and preparing for the future.

Our Year 7,8 and 9 reading mentors had their first trip to Victory Primary School this week. Having been trained by Ms Findlay in skills needed to listen to a child read, they met Victory's Headteacher, Mr Hartley, who talked them through the routines and procedures they will need to follow when they begin reading with children next week. I am really excited about this community action project and will report more on it once it has been established.

Key Dates

22 November - Year 7 and Year 10 Parents’ Evening
24 November - Parent Attendance Forum at 9:30 for Year 7 and 8 parents
13 December - Y11 mock results day and Y11 Parents' Evening
20 December – Talent Show in the main hall (more details to follow)


Now we are properly up and running and all boxes are unpacked and out of the way, we can start offering activities before and after school for students to engage with. From Monday 20th there will be a number of things on offer including a breakfast club where students can get toast, cereal and a hot drink for 50p. Mrs Jervis is running the club in the food room and it will be on every day starting at 8:15. She is keen to find some student volunteers to help run it, so if your child is interested in taking on some extra responsibility around school, please let me know. The posters below outline the activities currently on offer before, during and after school:

Our Year 7 and 10 Parents’ Evening on Wednesday will give parents the opportunity to meet with their child’s teachers to discuss his/her progress in class as well as strengths and weaknesses in each subject. The event will run from 15:30-19:30 and will take place in various classrooms around the school.

Next year April, 24 Year 9 students will have the opportunity to attend another trip at the Outward Bound center in Cumbria. The trip is heavily subsidised by sponsors and the school so that students only need to contribute £75 towards the total cost.  They will experience a range of outdoor activities such as kayaking, Gorge Walking and an overnight expedition. Below are some photos of previous trips to give you a flavor of the fun they will have. If your child is interested in attending this trip, please contact Mrs Gajdus,, who will send you a trip letter and permission form.

With temperatures dropping outside, we are noticing more students wearing non-uniform coats to school. While it is not a problem that children dress warm for their journey to school, I do want to impress that that these items of clothing are non-uniform and should therefore not be worn inside the building. Our new school boasts temperature controlled classrooms and corridors which means the school is warm inside, and coats and other jackets should therefore be packed away until students go outside for break/lunch or the journey home. If you're unsure of what is and isn't allowed, please consult our website for more details.

We have joined forces with the Unloc Enterprise Academy who will be running a course with some of our students who are interested in starting their own business. Please see the poster below for more details or contact Mrs Theresa Sear at for more information if your child is interested.

Friday, 10 November 2017

10 November 2017

Highlights of the Week
It’s our second week in the building and staff and students alike have been realising how well the new school works as a learning environment. Classrooms are well lit and temperature control effective which all contribute to the optimal classroom environment. The building is very easy to navigate and students are already familiar with where things are and can move speedily from A to B compared to the efforts they had to make previously with the miles of corridors that we all faced in the old school. We invite you to see for yourself how students benefit from these new facilities by joining us for this term’s Parents' Evenings.

We are delighted to welcome back to work Ms Kat Nutland who joins us again after taking maternity leave. She has approached the return to work with her normal determination and skill and is to be congratulated for earning Recognised Teacher Award status from the council for Dance Education. She is one of only two teachers in the Portsmouth area to be accredited and this is confirmation of how much our students will benefit from her return.

Our Year 8 football team secured an excellent victory this week when they beat Trafalgar 2-0 with great goals from Callum Palmer and Frankie Clarke. Sadly, the Year 7 team weren't quite so successful as they lost to Springfield on penalties in the semi-finals. Congratulations to all the boys involved who represented the school with such skill and determination.

Learning Champions

Year 8 Geography students are currently learning about globalisation and trade. Studying the world's coffee trade and fair trade has led Miss Gale to share the sight, smell and texture of roasted coffee beans with students. Students were enthused to see the end product and realise the impacts of our shopping habits.

We are very proud of our Year 11s this week who showed excellent application and resolve when tackling their first set of practice examinations. Many have found the most effective ways to revise and have been punctual, well-equipped and focused on the exams sat so far. The exams they sit next year will be the hardest sat by any group of young people for many, many years and so it is vital that they prepare well and get into good habits.

I wrote once before about Bethany Smith in Year 8 who is fast becoming our poet in residence. Taught and encouraged by Mrs Swaffer, Bethany has been experimenting with different moods and emotions in her poems and I read some of her latest examples which showed a really impressive range. I particularly liked her poignant, relevant and very comic poem Don't Call Me Sweet which I hope to publish here, along with others, as soon as it is finished.

Building Character, Shaping Futures

We welcomed our Girls Network mentors into school on Tuesday who had a great session with their Year 10 mentees, supporting them with their career planning and self-presentation skills. Their mentors talked very positively about the gains in confidence that the girls are demonstrating and the way they are developing the important skills of being able to describe in detail their achievements and aspirations.

Congratulations also go to two other Year 10 students who have been offered places on the Outward Bound Skills for Life course which will take place in Cumbria next July and August. The students have been selected to be the recipients of a 75% bursary to attend the course as a result of the tremendous attitude and leadership potential they demonstrated on last year's Cumbria trip. We will shortly be advertising places on this year's Cumbria trip, so parents of Year 9 students should look out for more information about this.

Key Dates

13-17 November - Year 11 mock exams continue
22 November - Year 7 and Year 10 Parents’ Evening
24 November - Parent Attendance Forum at 9:30 (more details to follow)
13 December - Y11 mock results day and Y11 Parents' Evening


We have been discussing with Year 11 students some rewards and privileges in response to how hard they have been working recently and their superb attitude in their examinations. Mr Tucker and Mr Gill are drawing up a programme which will outline occasional opportunities to leave the site at lunchtime to go home or to the local shops to buy lunch. While off the site, students are expected to behave appropriately at all times. If you are worried about this extra freedom and do not want your son or daughter to take part, then please do let Mr Tucker know at

If you drive your child to and from school, please remember that parking on double yellow lines while you pick up or drop off can cause a hazard for students or other pedestrians and can also be a nuisance for our neighbours. With this in mind, please park safely and considerately and please think about other means of transport that will help ease the parking difficulties we are currently facing.

If your child cycles to school, please remember that they will need a robust padlock to lock their bicycle in the bike shed and the bike should be insured. While the bike shed is secure and behind the school's fence line, I need to remind all users that bikes are parked at your own risk.

This is also a reminder that your child will need trainers for PE, enrichment games and lunchtime clubs which take place in the sports hall as any other type of shoe will mark and damage the specialist flooring that has been installed. Thank you to those parents who have already made a note of this and have been sending students to school with trainers.

Thank you also for all those parents who are working hard to ensure their child is in full school uniform. We recognise that this is not always easy and appreciate your support to ensure students are dressed for success.

Parents’ Evenings are coming up soon and we hope many of you will be able to attend. On these evenings, our Governing Body are very keen to gain your feedback about your hopes for the education of your children so do please put the dates (listed above) in your diary and we look forward to meeting with you.

Friday, 3 November 2017

3 November 2017

Highlights of the Week

There can be only one highlight this week and that is our new building.  I will let the pictures do the talking:

We are thrilled with our new home, and now that we have such excellent facilities have all agreed that we must aim for excellence in everything we do.  This week, the students have responded to this challenge really positively which is very encouraging.  A big thank you to all the families who have supported us in setting such high standards.

It has been a monumental effort to move from one school to another and be ready to open to students just two days after getting the keys (other schools I know of have been closed for another week before opening) and I am hugely grateful to all of the staff for their hard work and commitment.

Learning Champions

Courtney Bunting and Cana Crampton were lucky enough to be chosen to visit the First World War battlefields in Belgium and France last weekend as part of a Department for Education initiative to support the study of war poetry.  They travelled with Ms Findlay and had an amazing trip visiting places of real significance like the Somme front line (where they read poems by Siegfried Sassoon) and Talbot House in Poperinge.  The highlight though was laying a wreath at the Menin Gate in Ypres and witnessing the last post ceremony which has taken place every day since 1918.

Mr Watkins saw some great work from his 7K3 History class this week who have been grappling with the Tollund Man mystery (a well-preserved corpse found in a peat bog in Denmark). After watching a series of group-devised role plays outlining the discovery of the body, students posed their own questions onto the chalk outline of the Tollund Man.

Ms Williams reported that Blake Harris worked very hard over half term to complete a superb piece of History homework. He was able to work independently to investigate different interpretations of political turmoil in the Weimar Republic between1918-1923. Not only did he investigate the interpretations with independence, he produced some detailed analysis and submitted his work ahead of schedule. Well done, Blake!

Building Character, Shaping Futures

Twelve of our Year 11 students travelled to London this Wednesday to join with Year 11 students from across the country at the PiXL conference.  They attended workshops and presentations about the value of university and the various ways to apply that could increase your chances of getting selected to places like Oxford and King's College London.  The students found it incredibly useful.

Part of preparing for your future involves trying new things. One example of this I came across this week was Josh Forrest in Year 8 who took on Miss Williams in his first ever game of chess.  Well done, Josh, it is this willingness to have a go at new things that is so important in life.

Highbury College were in to talk to Year 11 students this week. As with all of the colleges, their message was about taking the time to find out what is the right course for you from the huge range available and to attend as many open evenings as you can in order to pick a course that is most suitable.

Please see the following posters for more information on college events, taster days and apprenticeships that will help students make informed decisions for their futures:

 Key Dates

6-17 November - Year 11 mock exams
22 November - Year 7 and Year 10 Parents’ Evening
24 November - Parent Attendance Forum at 9:30 (more details to follow)
13 December - Y11 mock results day and Y11 parent event


One detail of our new sports hall is the quality of the flooring which is the highest grade timber sprung floor. Unfortunately, this means that school shoes cannot be worn for activities in the hall, and so please note that unless the activity can be done in bare feet, students must have their trainers with them for PE lessons, enrichment and any sports clubs (including at lunchtime) that they participate in.

Next week sees the start of the first set of practice public examinations for Year 11. You can view the exam timetable below, and if you are a parent of a Year 11 student, please help them prepare by organising a sensible revision plan.  More details of how to support your child through the exam season can be had from Mr Gill,, or on our website.

Following the end of the public consultation on our decision to convert to academy status, the full Governing Body resolved this week to continue with the conversion process.  This means that the final steps can now be taken to convert which we hope to do in the next two months so that we can become part of the United Learning Academy Trust in the New Year.