The week started with two firsts. Our usual weekly staff briefing was transformed into a sales’ pitch where teachers who are leading staff training sessions did a brief sales’ slot trying to get people to sign up to the training they were offering. There was some very persuasive selling and there have already been 100 sign-ups to the training being held at lunchtimes. I was really impressed by how committed staff are to developing the way they teach, even being willing to attend sessions at lunch during busy teaching days.
The second first was our new Breakfast Club, run by Anijl Soni and Aimee Grieve. It was lovely to see so many students coming into school early to enjoy a wholesome breakfast and discuss what is happening in the news. The senior leadership team held their usual daily pre-school meeting there too and we loved the atmosphere that had been created; we may join again for tea and toast!
Mike Gordon took 35 Year 9 students to Anglia Ruskin University on a trip about making the right choices. They were reported to be excellent on the trip, a real credit to the school.
On Tuesday it was good to finally visit the Castle School. Meetings had been arranged for last term, both of which had to be cancelled for our respective Ofsteds. I really enjoyed meeting the Head and being welcomed by the students. Our school sports’ co-ordinator Julie Godfrey teaches some of the students at the Castle School, as part of her outreach work, and often they will use our sports’ facilities; this is great to do as part of our involvement in the wider Chesterton community.
This week we also had a visit from a team of musicians from Aldeburgh Music running a workshop for potential candidates for their Aldeburgh Young Musicians’ Scheme. The day consisted of a talk, mock audition and a rhythm and composition workshop. I managed to drop in at the end of the day and was very impressed with the musical improvisation I heard from students and the focused, professional atmosphere that was evident throughout the music block.
Tuesday was a busy night for meetings with both the Parents’ Forum and the PTA meeting. It was good to see lots of parents at the Parents’ Forum and we had wide ranging discussions about a variety of school issues. Please look out for future dates, as you are very welcome to attend.
At the PTA meeting Donna Young and Mark Little spoke about our plans to transform an existing space in school into an exciting 21st century teaching space. Our plan is to run a fundraising drive to create this new space. Images of what we hope to create will follow in the coming weeks, along with details about how you can donate if you wish to and support us in developing an inspiring learning environment for students. Cambridgeshire, as you may have heard, is one of the lowest funded authorities in the country and this has a significant impact on what we can create as a school. We will be continuing to bid for capital money (which can be used for the school site) but this can only be used for health and safety developments and not for developing innovative spaces for learning and teaching. If you are interested in these future developments do please keep an eye out for information on the website about what we are hoping to achieve.
On Thursday we had a very successful Y9 Option Evening; it was great to see so many excited Y9 students planning their futures. We have a very varied curriculum offer which is important and even in difficult financial times we feel it is important to offer as wide a variety of subjects as we can in order to inspire students.
Plans are continuing for the Y11 study day on January 22nd. Staff have volunteered to run an array of sessions which we hope will provide inspiration to students, ranging from what to do if you are finding it difficult to get motivated, through to stress management, subject specific sessions and how to eat healthily. Staff have also been recording video help for students and they will be appearing on the website soon. As parents these will definitely be worth a look, as they guide you through how to work on difficult exam questions.
We have had a number of House competitions and fundraising events now and I’d like to share some of the outcomes with you. Daisy Fong Hill won the recent History competition for Hill House and Darcey Stickley won the DT competition for Cavendish House. This leaves the current house league table as follows: Hill House: 745 points, Robinson House: 555 points; Equiano House: 550 points and Cavendish House: 500 points. All entrants to competitions receive a Good news Slip Level 1 and winners receive a Good News Slip at Level 3 along with the points for their house. Let’s see if the current winners Hill retain the coveted first place!
We had a great end to the week on Friday with all of year 8 involved in the launch of a new national charity event called “Power 2 Inspire”. Set up by a man named John Willis, the charity aims to raise money for people who lose limbs – serving in our armed forces or through accidents, illness etc. John himself was born with no arms and legs. Year 8 took part in an assembly during registration time and then in an interhouse swimming gala during their PE lesson time; there were also many staff volunteers. To raise money John has set himself the challenge of swimming 1000m in 50 pools in 50 days and he will be swimming during the event. We were joined by Fran Williamson who is a local paralympian and pupils from the Castle School came to join our house teams. Representatives from The English Federation for Disability Sport and The County Disability Sports Forum were also there and Radio Cambridgeshire covered the event. A truly inspiring event.