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Friday 18th December 2015
I’m writing this (short) Blog wearing my Christmas Jumper as we are participating in Text Santa day today. I’ve just heard that from the Fayre and Christmas Jumpers we’ve raised £76.61 and collected twice the value of this in donated items for LeatherHEAD Start which is a fantastic way to end the term. Well Done to Juniper House and Mr Hostler for organising their charity events over the last few days which have included the Juniper Christmas Fayre, a collection of household items and tinned goods for LeatherHEAD START and the Text Santa Christmas Jumper Day event.
There have been a number of festive events this week which ensured that we have been able to reflect on the celebration and commemoration of Christmas. Things really got underway with the Sixth Form and Staff Pantomine. This provided a unique interpretation of the Nativity and my highlight was Mr Chamberlain’s Angel Gabriel!
I enjoyed a very tasty Christmas dinner with students on Wednesday, complete with crackers. My thanks go to Chris Stedman and her amazing team for providing a great lunch for everyone to enjoy. Year 10 MFL students organised a fantastic Christmas Market on Wednesday with delicacies from France and Germany researched and prepared by them in teams. They also had to plan ahead and market their food appropriately with posters and decorations and by speaking French and German to their customers. The food I tried was delicious and I enjoyed speaking to the groups in French / German. During the market the students took turns to man their stall and greet customers and go round trying out everyone else’s food. Each group completed a tasting form and selected their top three stalls on the basis of their baking, their marketing and their use of French/German. For French we had joint winning teams – Lauren Clayton, Amberley Harrington, Gus Byrne and Sophie Waller who made cookies, macaroons and crepes, and Emilie Budd, Sophie Elphick, Poppy Russell and Caitlin McCartney with their truffles and madeleines. For German the winners were Sam Renouf, Finn Turner, Oscar Leonard and Ellis Channell with their tasty and authentic Stollen. A good time was had by all.
The Music Department has had a very busy fortnight and I was able to see them perform in the fantastic setting of Polesden Lacey on Tuesday afternoon. Any participation in Music requires dedication and commitment from staff and students and it is great when the hard work comes off in a final performance. Well done to all.
Finally yesterday evening’s concert was absolutely brilliant. I always think that the night of a school Christmas concert is the time that “The Season” is definitely upon us. Listening to readings, carols and some festive favourites alongside the terrific drama performance of “The Night Before Christmas” made me feel “Christmassy” and I’m sure that everyone in the audience felt the same. (Or at least everyone apart from those who were sitting in hearing range of my rendition of “Jingle Bells”! ) A tremendous amount of dedication and commitment from the students led to this successful evening and their applause and cheers showed their appreciation of everything that Ms Glide, Miss Rosewell, Ms Lindsay and Mr Moon do for them.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed 2015; I think it’s been a great year for Therfield and I’m looking forward to celebrating even more success from our students in 2016. I wish everyone connected with the school a great Christmas with friends and family and a very prosperous New Year.
"Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself."
Friday 11th December 2015
It is a privilege to be Therfield's Headteacher every single day, but occasionally the role provides a specific day that you know you will remember for the rest of your life. Last Wednesday, because of the fantastic achievements of ten Therfield students, I got to be a VIP (for the first time in my life!) as our students were awarded their gold Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Seeing the inside of St James' Palace and meeting HRH Duke of Edinburgh was an amazing experience, but my favourite moment was the photograph below. Seeing students celebrating with proud parents summed up what a school should be about and it made me feel very proud.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award is a success at Therfield because of a huge commitment from our staff. Mrs Pickett is one of the colleagues who is instrumental in ensuring our success and she's reflected on the journey of our Magnificent Ten below:-
In 2001 many local youngsters began their school journey, probably nervous with brand new bags and uniforms, little did they know where their journey would take them……..
Barnett Wood Lane welcomed 4 students (Alex Keenen, Ben Heels, Charlie Heels and Ed Harrington) whose journey would take them through St James’ Palace, these 4 were joined by a fifth (Hanah James) in 2003. Meanwhile West Ashtead Primary School had welcomed two students (Glen Waller and Emma Andrews) who would take similar journeys.
Progression through primary school saw some of these groups split up as two (Ed and Hanah) joined West Ashtead while 3 went off to the Greville (Alex, Ben and Charlie), where they may have met a formidable young lady (Lucy Smith).
In 2008 these 8 students came to Therfield, 8 small people joining hundreds of others as they began the next phase of their journey, by now the final two ‘joined’ the group (Kieron Hosking, having been at Oakfield Primary School and Callum Smale from The Vale Primary School). At this stage thoughts of the Duke of Edinburgh programme were probably far from their minds as the daunting task of settling into ‘big school’ began, but before long, Year 10 rolled around and the opportunity arose…….Bronze D of E began.
It wasn’t until Silver in 2012 that some of the groups formed which would then go on to Gold D of E, Hanah, Lucy, Emma and Callum were now all in one group. I believe they made a pact during the silver qualifying to ‘never do this again’. But GCSE’s gained and AS courses started so why not sign up for Gold? All ten students above did just that, alongside several others. By now they had already completed over 1000 hours of volunteering, physical endeavours and skill between them, and would go on to clock up a further 1500 hours minimum as they completed the Gold sections. This is a commitment second to none, whilst studying for A levels, it takes dedication, time management skills and a real desire to succeed.
And succeed is what they did, the ten students named above were among 17 Therfield students who were awarded their Gold D of E during the 2014 – 15 Academic year. This is a huge number, but what makes these ten extremely special is that they were all from the same year group and D of E cohort, with a national gold completion rate of below 35%, this group had a completion rate of 58% and all before leaving Year 13.
They were accompanied to St James’ Palace by very proud parents, an equally proud, Mr Malley and Mr Hart (Therfield’s Chair of Governors) and I. The setting of the palace is beautiful, made even more so by the huge Christmas tree. Our 10 students were housed in the Queen Anne room, along with 78 other recipients from Surrey. They made up over 10% of the whole room, were the biggest single group from one school and were the only group all from the same school year – a huge achievement for any D of E centre. Their guest presenter, Mike Bannister, spoke passionately about the award and the opportunities it opens up for young people, including how it helped him become, first, a pilot, then to pilot Concord. Mike proudly wore his Gold D of E badge and I hope ours do the same in time to come. HRH Prince Philip was very chatty and did not leave the room before speaking with each group, Mr Malley (along with other guests) and to wish us all a very Merry Christmas. Each student then received their certificate, which had passed through royal hands before heading outside for the obligatory photographs.
Once again I am extremely proud to have been part of the journey these young people are on, and with the skills they have gained from completing all three D of E awards – this is only the beginning!
I left students and parents heading from the palace into London to celebrate, to head back to school to ensure that I was back in time for our Year 7 Celebration Afternoon. It was excellent to see the achievements of our youngest students after their first 10 or 11 weeks at secondary school. The mince pies were delicious and I really enjoyed talking with parents about the successes of this important first term. I was also able to catch up with Year 8 parents this week at Parents’ Evening. I had a lot of very positive conversations with parents about all aspects of learning and it was particularly good to hear about how our new flightpaths assessment model is working to focus learning.
It has been a busy fortnight for us. I'm very proud of the efforts of our Year 11 students as they've tackled the challenges of a full set of Mock Exams. Students will be able to pick up their results at Parents’ Evening on January 13th. We will be making that evening a special event to help give a powerful impetus to the run up to the summer's exams and I'm looking forward to strong learning conversations that evening.
Year 7 students experienced a fantastic day on Friday as our business partners from local businesses Wates, Unilever, Menzies, CGI, and Circle Housing as well as BiTC (Business in the Community) came in to support a business day run by SATRO. The intention of this day was to act as an ice breaker - getting students to work with people they may not have made friends with before, team-working, presentation, communication and numeracy skills. The day was run as student teams setting up and running their own businesses and facing the challenges the business world throws up! The teams worked brilliantly all morning and then put some highly impressive presentations together for the afternoon's judging. We have, as you would expect, had some very positive feedback from the business mentors involved in what was a very tiring but enjoyable day. Well done to all those involved and, in particular, to the winners of the money (chocolate) prizes.
I'm sure many of you will be aware of the Transform Leatherhead Project. Last Thursday, 3rd December, 14 members of the Student Council paid a visit to the Mole Valley District Council Chambers in Pippbrook, Dorking. Taken by Miss Rolfe and Mr Clarke, students were engaged in a workshop to contribute their ideas to Colin Mills and his team. They were asked to discuss how Leatherhead can be re-invented, expanded and transformed into a distinctive, enterprising and highly regarded market town. If you would like more information on this project, please follow this link http://www.molevalley.gov.uk/transformleatherhead
One of the texts that students are studying for the new English GCSE is “A Christmas Carol”. We were very fortunate to have a visit from Quantum Theatre to perform the play. This was an excellent production and over 250 of our Year 9 and 10 students made for a very appreciative audience. I'm sure that having such a great input will lead to great learning in upcoming English lessons.
Last Thursday saw an amazing performance from our Year 13 Drama students. They wrote and produced their own play which is called "Hackers". This is a modern and thought provoking piece which was exceptionally performed. The audience, me included, were gripped by fantastic performances from Bronte Skey, Jack Matthews, Morgan Channell and Bethany Rowe. Well done to everyone involved and I hope that you will get another chance to show off this remarkable work, perhaps at the Leatherhead Drama Festival in the spring.
So we are moving into the final week of this long Autumn Term. I'm hugely looking forward to our Christmas concert on Thursday and I hope that as many parents, grandparents, friends and students will be able to join us to celebrate this special time of year. I will write a final blog of 2015 next week to capture what happens on the evening.
"Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself."
Friday 27th November 2015
For the second time in 2015 we found ourselves having to reflect on a terrorist atrocity in Paris. This involved appropriate and solemn acts of remembrance and reflection through observing the national silence and by flying our Peace Garden flag at half-mast. As a place of learning I feel it’s very important that we explore significant events like this with students. Mrs Woodroffe has designed a presentation which tutors have used with their groups to enable discussion about what happened. The MFL department also explored some themes in their lessons and I happened to walk into Ms Ashburner’s Year 10 lesson when she was showing this clip, which has gone viral, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkM-SDNoI_8. I hadn’t seen it before I went into the lesson, but after watching it and having a good conversation with the Year 10 students about it; I did feel a little better. If you haven’t seen it and can spare a minute to watch it I think it goes someway to restoring our faith in humanity. It feels to me that our democracy and linked values of respect, tolerance and freedom are worth preserving in the face of anyone – fascist, communist, extremist – that wants to take them away and I hope we’ve been able to discuss this with students in a positive way over the last fortnight.
Following on from our own Remembrance services we held a very successful Fundraiser for the Poppy Factory last Friday. We participated in their ‘500 Challenge’ by setting ourselves the target of cycling for 500 minutes during the school day. The event was extremely successful with staff and students cycling for a total of 1,177 minutes and raising £414.88. I was able to complete a few minutes on the bike, but my efforts pale into insignificance compared to Harry Higgs who seemed to be on the bike all day. Well done to Harry and everyone else involved and special thanks to Ms McGregor for organising the event.
On Friday 20th November, 6 of our students attended Tomlinscote School to participate in the ECITB Regional Final run by The Smallpeice Trust. After nervously waiting to get started, the enormity of the task was soon apparent; design and build a ‘robotic arm’ for transferring radioactive fuel rods from one container to another. As if this weren’t sufficient challenge, the students had to try and incorporate hydraulics into their design, pitch to a group of experts and keep costs to a minimum.
After 2 hours of planning and building time there were some impressive designs, two of our teams went for a ‘hook system’ while one group designed an arm which had both hydraulics and biomimicry (utilising nature’s designs to strengthen theirs). Now was the time to either pitch their design to a group of engineers or test it, counting how many rods could be successfully transferred in two minutes.
Our teams performed well, with the Year 10 team being narrowly pipped into third, just two fuel rods between themselves and the winner!
On Tuesday we took 20 students to the KBR offices in Leatherhead, to complete the annual inter schools competition. The day was designed for students to learn about a career in engineering. Students got the chance to find out about the different types of engineering, the projects KBR are currently working on and the routes into the career. This was followed by a challenge where students had to make a tower out of paper and sticky tape to support as much weight as possible. All students got fully engaged in the task, and spent the full length of time improving and tweaking their structures. All towers held up very well, but our team of 5 girls, managed to come 2nd. They got presented with a trophy. Hopefully the day enlightened them and showed another possible career where science could take them in the future.
Yesterday 38 students from Years 7-11 participated in a two hour Nestle workshop run by My Kinda Future. Nestle representatives, including our ex Head Boy Mason Elliott who is currently completing the Fast Track Scheme at Nestle, asked our students to create a sustainable, environmentally friendly business whose sole purpose is to turn factory waste into a marketable product. Some of the ideas submitted were creating an ‘Ecobike’ from recycled metals and plastics, confectionary products, making jewellery from recycled glass and even burning coffee beans to create a source of energy. The students really demonstrated the core Therfield values of ‘Excellence’ and ‘Leadership’. The prize for this challenge is to attend the final assessment day at Nestle’s Head office at Gatwick airport and compete against other students to win two weeks paid work experience worth £500 including travel expenses. The successful students will be notified shortly.
Following that the Nestle Society gathered together for the first time. This is a unique opportunity offered to Therfield in which students will be working alongside Nestle representatives, My Kinda Future and Miss Rock as their mentor to set up, plan, promote and run career orientated events in the school. They elected the confident and inspirational Sophie Baggs (10PMU) as their president. This is a brand new programme set up by Nestle. And will work on key employability skills and help students build up key valuable contacts within Nestle. The next step will be the society defining their roles and commence their planning for running an event in Therfield School in 2016.
Our Sixth Form Open Evening was very well attended by Year 11 students and their parents. I really enjoy these events which centre on young people’s future ambitions and passions. Our current sixth formers represented the school fantastically well and I’m sure have helped to inspire the next generation. If you would like any more information about our Sixth Form please see our Prospectus on the website and contact Ms Buckell (Director of Sixth Form) to talk about any aspect relating to applying for a place with us for September 2016.
Following the same theme of ‘futures’, I mentioned, in a previous blog, our annual careers fair and I know you will have received an email invitation from Mr Place. This is a key event in our preparations for students after school, college, and sixth form and highlights the vast array of opportunities including university, apprenticeship, and employment. We already have volunteers from finance, retail, engineering, photography, health, armed services, and modelling, as well as representation from universities, colleges, and apprenticeships. We will continue to welcome, and ask for, further volunteers so if you are happy to volunteer or want more information please contact us on CareersFair@therfield.surrrey.sch.uk
Last week was Anti-Bullying week. The message this year was to “Shout Out” about bullying. Students reflected on the messages around bullying in assembly and during tutor sessions students went on to complete entries for this year’s new Anti-Bullying inter-house competition, as well as, pledging to make a noise about bullying within a speech bubble. Linking to this Miss Mundy ran our Cyber Safety workshop with Steve Clark from Babcock yesterday evening, which provided parents and carers with important information regarding the dangers associated with modern ‘online’ lives. Resources from the workshop will be placed on the website. Please do speak to Miss Mundy, a Head of House, a member of the Leadership Team or me, if you know of any bullying, harassment, friendship dispute or incident of unkindness affecting any Therfield student. We don’t accept any form of bullying at Therfield and are very proud of the way our staff respond on the infrequent occasions that we encounter it.
It has been Inter House football week which saw Leith House again dominate for the second year in a row; although differing Houses saw individual year group champions, overall the strongest performance came from those in yellow. So, the rest of the year is now set up for Leith to hold that initial winning lead, though Polesden in particular are very close behind. In other sporting exploits this week both ends of the school intake have had great successes. Our Year 11 boys secured a very convincing 5-1 win over St. Andrews at home, following a good win for our Year 9 boys against the same opposition last week, I will be mentioning that to Mr Mitchell the next time I see him!. Our Year 7/8 girls Football Team have also had a very successful few days, beating The Priory at home 2-0 last week and they had a very exciting morning spent at the Fulham Football Club training ground at Motspur Park on Thursday, playing in the Community Tournament. Not only did they play well and in good spirit, the highlight was watching the FFC 1st Team Train alongside their games.
So December will arrive in the next few days and the last three weeks of term bring many important and exciting events. From 4th December the Year 11 students will be undertaking their first full set of exams. As you can see from the images below our message to them has been to “Keep Calm and Revise” and they have certainly been rising to the challenges of this important year.
As we move towards the festive season there are a number of events for music and drama students;
On the 3rd December at 5.30pm the Year 13 Devised Performance “Hackers” will be taking place.
On Saturday, 5th December between 2 – 4pm, Therfield School have been invited to perform at Dorking Halls by Mole Valley. Our Guitar group will be representing us. This is an event that will raise funds for the Chairman’s Charities. Tickets are available from the Dorking Halls Box Office (On-Line at http://www.dorkinghalls.co.uk/article/10401/Booking-Information or purchase over the counter), for only £7 each (£5 concessions and £20 for a family ticket)!
On Thursday 10th Dec between 2.30 - 4pm, Exxon Mobil has asked us to playing in their Atrium. Therfield’s Jazz band will be performing
On Saturday 12th December from 1:15-1:45pm, Leatherhead Trinity Primary School Christmas Fair has asked us to play background music during fair.
On Tuesday 15th December between 2-2:45pm Polesden Lacey has asked the Jazz Band to provide background music.
There will also be a Christmas concert on Thursday 17th December at Therfield starting from 6.30pm
If you can make all or any of the events above you would be very welcome. Our busy term also includes a performance of A Christmas Carol to Key Stage 4 students, Year 11 “Braking Point” Event and Year 8 Parents’ Evening. I’m also feeling very privileged to be representing the school, alongside Mrs Pickett and Mr Hart (Chair of Governors) at St James’ Palace as 10 Therfield students receive their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Awards from the 2014-15 academic year.
So it looks like a very busy final three school weeks of 2015. We wouldn’t have it any other way!
"Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself."
Friday 13th November 2015
With the rest of the nation, the last week has been a time of Remembrance at Therfield. Those of you who attended Academic Tutoring will have seen our “Poppy Negative” display in the Foyer. This was our response to the work of the artist Cornelia Parker. Many parents and students commented on how effective the display looked. On Armistice Day we held a short ceremony of Remembrance on the Main Lawn. This was attended by the vast majority of students and staff and included a silence, the Last Post played superbly by Will Griffiths and Dylan Hammond and culminated in Ben Moar-Littlewood laying a wreath. Students had also completed their messages of Remembrance and after the service these were transferred to our Memorial Garden. Next week we are turning our attention to raising some money for the Poppy Factory with our Sponsored Cycle event. We will keep two cycles (one for students and one for staff) going in a marathon all day long. Please see Ms McGregor for details of how to get involved and I’m looking forward to my stint on the bike!
Ms Walker, Euan De-Netto and Billy Cottee also had reason to reflect on significant events of World War Two this week. The Holocaust Educational Trust provides an opportunity for two students and one teacher to visit Auschwitz to enhance understanding of the Holocaust. This project will have a significant impact on the teaching of this important topic and Ms Walker's write up of the visit can be found here.
Since 1999, over 27,000 students and teachers have taken part in the Holocaust Educational Trust's ground breaking Lessons from Auschwitz Project. Based on the premise that 'hearing is not like seeing', this four-part course explores the universal lessons of the Holocaust and its relevance for today. Two of our Year 13 students applied to take part in the project and to become Holocaust Ambassadors for the school and future years as they embark on their University studies and beyond, and I was fortunate to be able to go with them. Having taken part in a seminar last week where we heard a Holocaust survivor speak, learnt about pre-war Jewish life and prepared for the visit, we were then ready to take part in the one day visit to Poland. It was an eye opening day that started with a visit to the town of Oswiecim (Auschwitz), where we learnt that despite 55% of the population of the town being Jewish before the war, now there are no Jewish people living in the town. We visited the site of a former Synagogue where Rabbi Andrew Shaw (Stanmore's Community Development Rabbi) explained that despite no Jewish people living in the town, Judaism was still alive in the small town as a result of the visitors who come to the town and visiting the synagogue to remember their relatives that died in the Nazi persecution. We then visited Auschwitz I, where the history of the persecution of Jews, and Information and artefacts recovered from the camp chart the journey through persecution to mass genocide. Our guide for the visit spoke in great detail about what it would have been like to be a prisoner in the camp, and our educator from the Holocaust Education Trust also read through individuals testimonies to highlight the need to humanise an event of this magnitude, and to remember the personal stories not just the facts and figures.
We then went over to Auschwitz-Birkenau which was the site of the mass extermination of Jews and other minorities and political opponents at the camp. Here we saw what the conditions would have been like and heard more about the lives of individuals that were victims of the Holocaust such as the testimony of Elie Wiesel describing what it was like arriving at Auschwitz. "Men to the left! Women to the right! Eight words spoken quietly, indifferently, without emotion. Eight short, simple words. ... For a part of a second I glimpsed my mother and my sisters moving away to the right. Tzipora held Mother's hand. I saw them disappear into the distance; my mother was stroking my sister's fair hair ... and I did not know that in that place, at that moment, I was parting from my mother and Tzipora forever. "
Our visit culminated, as night fell, with a memorial ceremony held next to the destroyed crematoria II, led by Rabbi Shaw, which included readings, moments of reflection and a candle lit ceremony where the lights were placed on the end of the train tracks in the camp. The next steps will involve our students attending another seminar which will guide them on how they can take what they experienced in Poland and apply it to the wider education of the Holocaust, genocide, racism and bullying.
I always really enjoy the school events which focus on student’s futures. Next Wednesday is our Sixth Form Open Evening which will provide a great opportunity for those conversations about the important next stage of learning for Year 11s. For those of you at Therfield and for students who are currently at other schools we will be delighted to welcome you to the school to talk about the excellent learning, wide ranging leadership opportunities and great fun that two years in our Sixth Form can provide.
There's been some great sporting success in the two weeks since the darker evenings arrived with the clocks going back. This has included some terrific games played on our new MUGA. We have played 5 Netball Matches on the MUGA this week alone, and 2 other games have been played away at other venues. Resulting in 4 wins, with the stand out being an incredible 2 point win for the Year 10 Girls over St. Andrews; end to end and a hugely deserved win by the Therfield Team. And a win for the Year 11 Girls over Rosebury, after 4 years of defeat, the final game has resulted in the well-deserved win we have been so very close to over the years. It is fantastic that games and training sessions which would not have been possible last year can continue under the lights. My highlight of the last two weeks would have to be the girls’ Hockey team defeating Manor House School in torrential rain last Thursday evening. A brilliant performance from them all led to great goals from Lauren Clayton (her first goal for the team) and Sophie Baggs in a 2-0 victory. I was soaked despite my umbrella (and I was delighted to give the team a laugh at half-time as I failed spectacularly to wrestle with the umbrella in the elements) but compared to Ms Nicholls and the team I was relatively dry! Sporting success, like success of any variety, needs a lot of commitment and the girls showed it in spades. Well Done.
A final highlight of the last fortnight has been three performances of Twelfth Night by Year 10. Shakespeare's comedy was brought to life with some impeccable performances from all members of the cast. Those who saw the performance at Leatherhead Theatre commented on how expertly the complicated plot was conveyed by our students. We were also invited to perform the play to Yehudi Menuhin School in Cobham and earlier today, our Year 10s inspired the next generation of Therfield dramatists by performing the play to Year 7, 8 and 9. Huge thanks go to Miss Rosewell, Miss Lindsay and to Bronte Skey our student director for everything that was done to "Make it Happen". Just like the sport mentioned in the last paragraph it is a massive commitment to learn pages and pages of Shakespearian dialogue and to remember exactly how to perform each element to perfection.
As many of you will be aware, for the last 2 years we have run a very successful Careers and Opportunities Fair. This fair is only possible through parents, businesses, and friends of Therfield generously volunteering their time. We have emailed parents previously to ask for your support and have received a number of very generous offers from parents. The more we have – the better the event so we are still looking for people to give up a small amount of their time. We are planning a “day in the life” style Careers Fair on 27th January where volunteers highlight to students what their career involves and any related information about accessing the industry. We will also be inviting colleges, universities and apprenticeships to be represented again this year. Following feedback from those involved last year we intend to run this year’s event at the start of the day (approximately 8:30-10:30) and bring all of our students down to maximise the impact of those willing to give up some time. We realise this may involve some people having to go to work later than usual but we hope you feel inclined and able to support this extremely worthwhile event. If you would be prepared to volunteer or want more information then please get in touch via CareersFair@therfield.surrey.sch.uk – we only need expressions of interest at this stage and will contact volunteers at a later date with further details. Thank you in advance for your help and support.
I thought I’d finish this blog with a quote from the play: “Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness and others have greatness thrust upon them.” I hope that everyone at Therfield can follow the lead of our Hockey team and Year 10 Drama group and aim for the middle of those three options!
"Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself."
Friday 23rd October 2015
I really enjoy my job. Every day I wake up and look forward to going to school! I wouldn’t say the job of Headteacher is easy and there’s always far too much to do to fit in the time there is, but for me I simply wouldn’t do anything else. One of the things that has given me immense pleasure this half-term has been my 1-2-1 meetings with every Year 11 student. These have given me a great insight into the plans that students have for their futures. In some cases these have been very well thought out and centre on a specific career or university course. For other students they’ve often said they have ‘no idea’. For these students I have counselled that finding something that they enjoy is far more important than the money available for any career. Over the coming weeks all the Year 11s will be thinking about their Post 16 options as we move towards our Sixth Form Open Evening on November 18th and my message to them is to take every opportunity to talk with friends, family and teachers about potential future options.
On Friday 9th October the school hosted BBC Radio 4s Any Questions. This was a lively and engaging evening of debate which generated a lot of interest and put Therfield and Leatherhead in the national spotlight. It was fascinating to see how an outside broadcast is put together and to witness the professionalism of the production team at close quarters. It was great for our students to meet Jonathan Dimbleby, who was extremely generous with his time after the show despite facing a long journey home, and the evening had a real community feel to it. My thanks go to Mr Chamberlain for leading such an important event for us.
On Thursday 15th October Therfield had the opportunity to work with The Smallpeice Trust who are a registered charity who run hands on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) activities in school to encourage young people to take an interest in STEM subjects.
60 Year 9 students, followed by 60 Year 10 students, were tasked with building a pipe connecting an oil rig to land with some very specific criteria to make it more difficult.
Working in groups of 5 they got started and a frenzy of ‘resource collecting’ got underway as they began building their structures using Kinex and plastic pipes.
Once the time was up, the marble test began, how fast did the marble travel through their design? The fastest took just 1.5seconds. This was followed by the wind and waves test (Mrs Pickett shaking it gently) or the earthquake test (a not so gentle shake!), before the winners were announced, based on all aspects of the process.
It was a pleasure to see so many students engaged in an engineering activity, bringing into play several of their subjects as they designed, built and refined their pipelines – Well Done to all including Mrs Pickett for arranging the event.
On Tuesday 13th October 2015 around 12 employees from Unilever who work specifically on Dove products came to Therfield School to deliver a workshop all about Self-Esteem and Body Confidence to our Year 8 students. The materials in the workshop included group discussions, activity sheets and a short film produced by Ranking, one of the world’s leading fashion photographers who have worked alongside experts in Psychology. The purpose of this workshop is to help young people build and protect their self-esteem, enabling them to realise their full potential.
The self-esteem workshop covers feelings about physical appearance and examines how images of models, actors and celebrities are fabricated or manipulated to portray a “perfection” against which our children often measure themselves. Most of all, the workshops help young people to develop the skills that lead to high self-esteem and body confidence. My thanks go to Mrs Woodroffe for organising such a powerful workshop for our students.
This week saw Therfield Yr7s taking part in the NSSSA Yr7 B Team Netball tournament held at Esher High School. They arrived with only minutes to spare due to traffic before the first matches kicked off which meant the team had no time to warm up thoroughly. The first match was against Esher and although the team started off well it was clear that the lack of warm up and preparation meant that Esher were able to dominate the game and won 3-2.
The second match was against Rydens. Therfield was warmed up and raring to go and determined to succeed. Sophie Connor and Rosie Childs worked together to get the ball into the shooting area which paid off with us winning the match 3-0.
The final match of Pool A was against Hinchley Wood who strived to get possession of the ball but Therfield was too dominant, intercepting and regaining possession allowing, Therfield to get the ball into attack. Final score 4-1 to Therfield. We came second in Pool A overall.
The team was elated to discover they had made it into the semi-finals where they faced St. Andrews. At full time the score was 1-1 so the match went into extra time. The girls responded well to the pressure and fought for the ball at every opportunity and managed to score 2 more goals winning the semi-final 3-1.
The final was against Rosebery School. Again the girls knew this would be their biggest challenge yet but they didn’t let their confidence fade and more importantly didn’t panic and worked extremely hard as a team to keep possession of the ball and get it to the shooters. The final score 2-0 to Therfield.
A huge well done to Sophie Connor, Rosie Childs, Charlotte Bruce, Ellie Brooke-Wilson, Charlotte Fitzwater, Jenny MacDonald and Sannu Shahi.
I would like to mention Amelia Penfold who is also a valued member of the Year 7 netball team. However Amelia agreed to play for the Year 8 team on this occasion so missed out on this achievement. My thanks go to Mrs Woodroffe for organising and accompanying the girls to this event.
This week has seen Norbury students hold their annual fundraising week. Their chosen charities are Time to Change (Mental Health Charity), Kidscape and Shooting Stars Hospice. Events have been organised throughout the week by members of Norbury House and have included;
Guess the number of sweets in a sealed jar, cake sales and “guess the items in a sealed box”.
The events have taken place around the school during the day, with a whole school event today called “Jazz it Up Friday” where students are allowed to accessorise their school uniform for a day, with outrageous ties, braces, leggings, socks or tights for a donation! My thanks go to all staff and students involved for their fundraising efforts.
So we’ve reached the end of the first half-term of the year and of course it’s time to look forward to the next one. We will be up and running immediately with Academic Tutoring meetings for all parents and students. Also in the first week back our Year 10 students are performing Twelfth Night at the Shakespeare Schools Festival on Tuesday 3rd November. I’m also looking forward to seeing our first netball fixtures under floodlights on the new court. The first two weeks back at the start of November will, of course, be a time of National Remembrance and Ms Collins and Ms McGregor will be leading students in Art and History in a range of commemorative events. It will also be great as we move towards winter to be looking forward to Juniper Charity Week, a Christmas Concert as well as some very important mock exams! I wish everyone a relaxing break.
"Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself."
Friday 9th October 2015
It’s been a great pleasure meeting so many Year 6 students and their parents over the last fortnight and I’ve really enjoyed showing them Therfield. Last week our Sixth Formers showed guests around the school. We wanted them to see how the school feels on a day-to-day basis and it was great to see the enthusiasm the children have for their learning. One of the things that the Year 6s were able to do was to get a feel of what a Duke of Edinburgh Expedition is all about as we had a tent set up for them to climb into to try out. DofE is a real strength of Therfield and I enjoyed following the Tweets from our Gold Expedition to North Wales. I also asked Scott Kershaw to write up the experience and he explains what went on below:-
In our Gold D of E in North Wales we encountered many challenges, but we met them head on and completed the training. The 5 days consisted of more in-depth knowledge on navigation and teamwork, starting with a gentle warm up near our campsite. The following day saw us all head into the hills above Bethesda where we grappled with timings, pacing, bearings and how to fold our maps into ‘sensible’ sizes! The next day saw both groups heading towards the summit of Moel Siabod , our first mountain, where we used our improved skills to navigate our way up to the top or around the side…..one group chose a ‘boggier’ route than the other! On the 3rd day we walked from our main campsite, which felt like the Ritz in comparison to our semi-wild campsite, complete with one black faced sheep! The walk was met with the non-stop rain and wind and it drained people, before arriving in our ‘luxury field’, setting up camp and looking forward to a warm night’s sleep. We woke up the following morning to sunshine and the prospects of a warm bed the next night which kept our spirits high and kept us going!!! Not to mention Mrs Pickett’s homemade cake at the final checkpoint - Now on to the qualifying - bring it on!
As I write this, students from Year 11 are heading to the New Forest for three days of the Silver Expedition. It is great that so many of our students use D of E to fulfil our motto of “Excellence. Leadership. Opportunity” and our thanks go to Mrs Pickett, Mr Hogben, Ms Reynoldson, Mr Clarke, and 2 ex-students who have undertaken leadership training and are kind enough to support us, Alex Willcocks and Ben Morgan for everything they do to make these expeditions a huge success.
Of course students can show Leadership in many ways and last week they were able to make a significant contribution to a collection of much needed items for the refugees in the Calais Refugee camp. The collection at Therfield linked to the collection being made by Bookham Baptist Church. We spent 2 weeks taking in urgently required items such as men’s trainers and hiking shoes, tents, tarpaulins, covers, sleeping bags, warm clothes, coats, travelling bags, socks, candles, solar power torches, kitchenware, toiletries. Students from year 7 and Year 8 then helped Mr Hostler load up 2 cars to bursting with the donated items. After having been sorted at Bookham Baptist Church, the items have now been transported to the camp in Calais via a central depot in London.
Some of our recent assemblies picked up on the theme of compassion as being more than a feeling. The challenge was to do something practical as well as compassionate. This is exactly what students, parents and staff at Therfield have done. In this instance the leadership was about taking compassionate action and showing in a practical way that you care about the world and people around you beyond your front door. Many people I have spoken to outside of our school community were impressed that we, as a school, wanted to do this and impressed that our students felt it was important. Thank you to everyone who played their part.
We have recently had great success for our Geography department. We have been awarded the Secondary Geography Quality Mark with the award process encouraging and supporting schools to reflect on their work and strive for the highest quality in their teaching and learning. All the award winners undergo a rigorous moderation process, and the team of assessors were hugely impressed by the manner in which all are continuing to embrace new and innovative approaches to teaching Geography. The SGQM recognises student attainment, progress and achievement in areas such as Geographical knowledge, understanding, values, skills and concepts, and sets expectations about the quality of teaching in Geography. The SGQM highlighted our work in making Geography a popular and successful subject as well as the extra-curricular opportunities which are being organised for the students. The Geography department have now set their sights on achieving Eco Schools status which encourages the whole school to be more aware of the environment and how we can be sustainable as a school. We hope this will have a great impact and is just another way that we are pushing our students to think about the wider world, not just the school community.
The annual MFL interhouse contest is the first of the academic year and is timed to coincide with the European Day of Languages on 26th September. This year a variety of activities took place both in and out of school.
Tuesday was the first day. The Year 7s, with Mrs Lock in charge, competed to demonstrate their knowledge of the flags of different countries. Meanwhile next door, Ms Buckell and our Year 12 linguists worked with Year 8s who were identifying capital cities. Wednesday was the turn of the Year 9s with Miss Ashburner and her “sous chef” Ben Leika, the students were blindfolded and had to identify various foods from a range of countries. The final day was Thursday, which saw Mr Hostler take over the P.E Classroom (PEC) where Years 10 & 11 battled it out in a Tour de France sprint contest. There was a great turnout from tutor groups in all of the4 Houses but in the end Juniper took first place – well done..
In addition to the interhouse, each year group had language or international culture related quizzes to complete and the winners of this event were 7JDE, 8NJY, 9PLY, 10JMC and 11JEG.
Last but by no means least; our GCSE linguists took part in an international contest run by Vocab Express to celebrate the European Day of Languages. As well as seeing some amazing individual performances in French and German (or a mixture of both) from students lead by Iain Cheverton with an amazing score of 4,035, we fought off stiff competition to seize 10th place overall in the German Medio Cup (medio = medium sized schools) and were congratulated on Twitter by Vocab Express itself #TherfieldPROUD.
Later this evening we will be welcoming Radio 4s “Any Questions” to Therfield. This is a prestigious event for the school and I’d like to thank the BBC for choosing us as its host. I’m looking forward to hearing what Grant Shapps and Diane Abbott have to say about the political issues of the week and I’m sure that the debate will be stimulating for our students, parents and friends who will be here tonight. You can listen to the show on Radio 4 at 8.02pm this evening and it’s available on the iPlayer too.
On Wednesday we had our first Parents Evening of the year which was for Year 13 parents and students. It was great as Headteacher to have conversations with students which ranged from those who know exactly what they want to do (e.g. Maths at Oxford University, Forensic Science at Canterbury, Marketing & Management at Exeter or Bristol and Midwifery at Surrey,) as well as those students who are still narrowing down their options between courses (e.g. Accountancy or Criminology, History or Law) and destinations (Oxford or Bath, Sheffield or Bristol.) This is a great time for the students at the top of the school. They are already young adults and are making important decisions about where they will take their lives when they leave Therfield after their seven years with us. It was a pleasure to have those conversations and as Headteacher it’s great to think of the Year 6 students enjoying the tent and climbing wall on our Open Morning & Evening and thinking about all of the experiences they will have to come at Therfield over their “Seven year journey” which will lead to their own destinations.
"Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself."
Friday 25th September 2015
An academic year is definitely a marathon and not a sprint. However like anything that’s worth doing well it is important to make a good start and I’m really pleased with the learning that students have undertaken in the first weeks of 2015-16. Year 7s have made an excellent start to their time and some highlights so far have included:-
A comment from one of the students was “For our RS homework we had to make a mask, like the ones worn by the people from the Kikuyu tribe in Africa. I found this a lot more fun than written homework” – see photo below
These are just examples of things I’ve seen as I’ve walked into lessons and I know from speaking to students and parents that the new students are happy at Therfield. Of course the rest of the school has also had a purposeful, focused approach which has set us up brilliantly for the marathon ahead!
It was really great to see so many parents of Year 7, 8 & 9 at the talks on Wednesday about our new Flightpaths. The Flightpaths provide a new (and in my view much improved) way for us all to see how well a student is progressing during Key Stage 3. From what I’ve seen in lessons students are responding very well to this new approach and I’m sure that all of us will be able to have excellent learning conversations at Academic Tutoring Sessions in November. Parents who were not able to make the evening who would like to know more should contact Mr Gallagher (Assistant Headteacher).
For Year 11 students those November conversations about progress will be extremely important and, in advance of Academic Tutoring, I’ve been meeting the students individually this term. This has given me the chance to review progress in Year 10 and to set students some challenges for the year ahead. In many cases students need encouragement to continue their excellent effort and attitude to learning that they’ve shown throughout their time at Therfield. For a few students I hope the one-to-one with me has given them the chance to think carefully about a few ‘home truths’ and to act now to change their approach to their learning. Most of all I’ve been hugely impressed by students’ warmth, care for their family and friends and their passion for their learning and futures. It is a pleasure to work with them.
I am always very impressed with students who have their work published. During the summer term students in Creative Writing Club entered a competition run by Young Writers hoping to have their creations published. Students had to write a tale (with a beginning, middle and end) based on fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm – but with the additional challenge of a 100 word limit! Rebecca McDonough, Sheree-Rania Usman Binasing and Danielle Cunnington have just had their original writing published in a book entitled Grim Tales (Surrey and Sussex) with Young Writers having chosen mini sagas for publication based on style, expression, imagination and technical skill. My thanks go to Mrs Coles for running the creative writing Club and I’m looking forward to sharing the next authors to be published.
Last Thursday saw a very enjoyable Open Evening for the school. Students and staff were able to show some of the great things that we do at Therfield. I enjoyed meeting many very enthusiastic Year 5 and Year 6 students and there were so many great things happening from cake decorating to solving murder mysteries and from explosions in Science to children developing ‘character’ by tackling the climbing wall. Next Thursday, 1st October sees our Open Morning where parents and children can come and see the school in day-to-day action. For those of you looking to choose a school for next year please do come on Thursday or call the school office on 01372 818123 to arrange another time for a tour.
I hope most of my blog centres on Therfield’s students, but as Head I feel hugely privileged to lead a dedicated team of expert teachers. This week colleagues’ commitment to Teaching and Learning was evident in our first “TeachMeet.” 80 Teachers from 24 different schools across the south-east came to Therfield to share ideas for great teaching and learning. Over 10 of our teachers led sessions and it is a pleasure to know that the school is recognised for its innovative practise by teachers in other schools. Of course the staff’s commitment to improving what they do every day helps to ensure that our students’ learning thrives.
So it will be October next week, Autumn has officially begun and the academic year is fully underway. We have made a good start and I’m looking forward to see how students and staff build on this in the coming weeks.
“Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself.”
Friday 11th September 2015
I believe the start of an academic year is a very exciting time for a school and its students. This year has been no exception for Therfield. Our new Year 7 students have risen to the challenges of secondary school life. As I go round the school visiting lessons, it is great to see excellent learning taking place with students actively engaged and focused on their work. Just some examples from the lessons I’ve visited include drawing their own eye in Art, focusing on chronology in History, developing their vocabulary in French and trialling the full range of instruments in Music. The Year 7 students also participated in their house days to help develop key qualities such as resilience and teamwork. I’d like to thank all the staff, but especially our sixth form students, for leading these brilliant days.
On Wednesday we were able to officially open our new MUGA. (Multi Use Games Area) This is a floodlit facility with three netball courts and four tennis courts. We were privileged to welcome Amy Flanagan of Surrey Storm to ‘cut the ribbon’ to open the court. Amy was a member of the team that lifted the National Superleague Championship this year. She provided excellent coaching sessions for the netball squads which was a fantastic way for sport to start on the new courts.
On Wednesday evening we held our GCSE Information evening for Year 10 students and their parents. For those of you who are not aware there are significant changes to GCSEs which will impact on the Year 10s and younger students. Most notably the grades awarded will change from the familiar A*-G grades to a numerical grade from 9 (the highest grade) to 1. For the Year 10s the new number grades will be for English and Maths only, but over the next few years all GCSE subjects will change. This also heralds changes to the content of the GCSE courses. For those parents of Year 10 students who were not able to make the evening we will send out the information, but you can also access the presentations by clicking here.
I draw your attention to the slide reference where it states that - it is expected that as many students as possible achieve a grade 5 in English and Maths and that it will be this grade which opens doors to many post-16 courses.
I led assemblies in the first two weeks of the year. Last week I asked students to reflect on the refugee crisis and I set out my expectations for the academic year. Students were given clear messages about how to conduct themselves in lessons, around the school and in the wider community and I’ve been very impressed by the politeness students show and the care they have for each other. Importantly, in the lessons that I’ve visited, there has been a palpable ‘learning buzz’ which is a great sign for the year ahead.
In this week’s assembly I explored the impact of two American presidents; Lincoln and Kennedy. Our quote for the week is Lincoln’s famous phrase, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” It made me think of JFK’s famous speech from 1962 when he challenged the American people to lead the race to reach the moon. Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon, not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” I’ve asked students to work with their tutors to reflect on their ambitions, to think about how they can create their own futures and have challenged them to achieve the things that are ‘hard’.
I’m looking forward to my first Open evening as Headteacher next week. Open evening provides a fantastic opportunity to showcase the great things our students achieve and we will be delighted to welcome prospective parents to the school on Thursday 17th September between 5.30pm and 8.30pm.
"Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself."