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Tuesday 20th December 2016
This is a mini-Blog to ‘sign off’ for the Christmas holiday. We’ve had a number of events over the last few days which it feels right to report on at the very end of the term.
Friday saw Christmas Jumper Day across the country and at Therfield we had an enjoyable day taking part and raising over £250 for ‘Save the Children’ charity. Thanks to Ms Murtagh and 7CKM for organising this event.
We had an excellent Christmas lunch. My thanks go to Christine Stedman and her team for cooking a delicious dinner which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. The only downside was the quality of the new member of staff who was on gravy duty!
This year saw another very successful German Market held by the Year 10 students. They researched and baked a wide selection of traditional Christmas goodies. The cakes and biscuits were rated by peers, teachers and two 6th form experts, along with the team's marketing and presentation and their ability to 'wing it' when responding to questions in German. Well done to all the students, especially the overall winners - Lucy, Mia and Sophie. The German delights produced included Gugelhupf and Spitzbuben, Lebkuchen, Zimtsterne, Stollen and Vanillekipferl plus a rogue Bûche de Noel.
Yesterday evening saw the culmination of weeks of hard work from Performing Arts with our Christmas Service and Show. There were so many fantastic performances and I certainly began to feel ‘Christmasssy’ during the show. My thanks go to Mr Moon, Miss Glide, Miss Miller and Mr Hogben for everything they did to create such an amazing event.
As always after such a fantastic evening I feel very privileged to be Therfield’s Headteacher and I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
"Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself."
Friday 16th December 2016
I believe that a school should help students to get the best grades they possibly can in GCSEs, A Levels and other examinations, but that they should be equally successful in developing traits and qualities that will ensure they will be able to make significant positive contributions to society. Whether it’s developing ‘leadership skills’ as a Language Leader, ‘grit’ through scaling the wall at climbing club, ‘responsibility’ through membership of a student council, ‘independence’ through public speaking at Open Evening or ‘perseverance’ through challenging academic tutoring targets; at Therfield, we believe that by providing these types of opportunities for our students we are developing confident Twenty-first Century citizens who will be the leaders of tomorrow. We had two very important visitors to the school on Wednesday this week who, in different ways, have helped us to develop our approach in this area.
Gillian Lindsey, who won a Silver Medal in the Women’s Coxless Four Rowing at the Sydney Olympics, ran two sessions with our Sports Leaders and spoke to Years 7-9 in a special assembly. Her story was inspirational. For me it wasn’t her ultimate success and the huge contribution Gillian has made – this was the first ever GB women’s medal in Rowing – that inspired me, but the persistence, positive mind set and sheer hard work that Gillian showed in realising her amazing achievement. Speaking with the students I know they too were inspired by Gillian. My thanks go to Gillian for giving up her time in this way.
Nicky Morgan, formerly the Secretary of State for Education, was our other important visitor of the day. Regular readers of this Blog will know that Therfield was awarded the Character Award in 2015. This was an Award introduced by Nicky when she was Secretary of State. At that time she said,
“I was recently captured by an article urging schools to ‘teach team spirit, character and the meaning of work’. This confirmed my long standing belief that developing attributes in children, such as resilience and perseverance are as important as gaining good exam results, and many help children do even better in fulfilling their educational, personal and career ambitions. The Character Awards winners are a great example of this, and prove that there are teachers, schools and organisations across the country who are doing excellent work to develop well-rounded individuals. We need to encourage all schools to understand the value of character education, alongside academic success.”
Nicky is researching Character Education in greater depth for a book she’s intending to write so it was a privilege for me to be able to show her Therfield ‘in action’. We were able to visit a number of lessons, meet with students across all year groups and discuss what ‘Character Education’ is all about. Nicky wrote to me after her visit;
“Thank you for hosting our visit this morning. Please would you pass on our thanks to all those we met for their enthusiasm and willingness to discuss the issues around character education and leadership with us. It was a pleasure to see some lessons and to meet members of the student council, climbing club and language leaders. I thought all your pupils were very impressive and a credit to Therfield.”
I wrote to parents this week to tell them about a change in our expectations regarding the use of mobile phones in school where our younger students will have more restricted use of their phones. It is clear that modern technology has transformed our lives this century. From an educational point of view the opportunities for learning provided by the internet, social media and smartphones are hugely positive, but ensuring that our children grow up understanding the responsibilities that come with this powerful technology, is vitally important if this era is to be remembered as one of which humanity will be proud. We’ve been fortunate that at Therfield we have only rarely had to deal with examples of cyberbullying and in many ways our children’s approach is more mature than the thousands of adults who post abusive and threatening posts on someone’s Twitter feed who they happen to disagree with. It is a challenge for the parents and teachers of today that we equip this generation of ‘digital natives’ with the skills to become expert users of modern media in a way that does underpin values of respect, responsibility, and tolerance of others. On another, perhaps simple human level, there is something a little depressing in watching a group of eleven year olds engaging with a smartphone, rather than just chatting, playing or ‘kicking a ball about’ with their friends. I hope the changes we are making, alongside our regular messages regarding these aspects in lessons and skills sessions, will further encourage positive use of modern technology amongst our students. We will keep our approaches to the use of smartphones under review and I welcome parents’ views regarding this.
This week four intrepid Year 12 Government and Politics students descended on the Palace of Westminster. Once inside, we were treated to a detailed tour of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Entering both chambers certainly made Politics seem even more real for the students. They then had the opportunity to divide into different political parties, and convince everybody why we should vote for them…with mixed results. It was a great insight into the inner workings of the home of our politicians.
A number of Sixth Form Law students visited Kingston Crown Court on Monday 12th December. The majority of the group is wanting to study Law or Law related subjects at University and being given the opportunity to learn and experience how court cases are heard and conducted is invaluable. Having sat in the public gallery for a terrorism and robbery case, both of which the students found fascinating, they could now see the relevance of their studies in class.
As part of the PSHE programme for Year 9 students and skills sessions for Year 10 and 11 students’ teachers lead sessions to educate students about drugs and alcohol, their effects, with discussion around issues such as different motivations to take drugs, peer pressure and resilience. Woven into all of this is the story of Daniel Spargo-Mabbs, told by his mum, Fiona Spargo-Mabbs. Following Daniel’s death, as a result of drugs, Daniel’s mum has set up a foundation and speaks to students and parents about her experience. Mrs Fiona Spargo-Mabbs presented to our students. The sessions were incredibly powerful and well received. There was much feedback from parent following the workshop, here are just a couple:
‘Just wanted to say how good the talk tonight was…………… Fiona is an amazing woman – I don’t think that I would have the strength to stand there and talk about my son in that way without breaking down.’
‘Thank you for arranging last night's talk. We found it very informative. What an amazing lady she is and the youth ambassadors were great.’
For four years’ members of the Jazz Band have been making an appearance at Exxon’s Winter Warmer event and performing seasonal music to staff and visitors and this year was no exception. The band has benefited from new members and continues to grow and thrive as an ensemble. We would like to thank Exxon for their generous donation to Therfield which goes directly back into the students and funds the purchase of new music and instruments. Another event where the band performed for parents and children was at the Leatherhead Trinity School. The students performed at the Trinity Christmas Fair under a gazebo and wearing Christmas jumpers and tinsel on their instruments. Their audience was treated to well-known Christmas carols from Away in a Manger to Jingle Bells.
So, our longest term of the year is approaching its end. I’ve been very impressed by our Year 11 students who have been working hard on their first set of Mock Examinations and I’m looking forward to catching up with them and their parents at the important Feedback Forum on Wednesday 11th January. Before then we still have our Christmas Concert to look forward to on Monday.
I’d like to wish everyone connected with Therfield a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
"Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself."
Friday 2nd December 2016
I was visiting Calum, one of our Year 11 students earlier today at a provision he attends every Thursday called the Therapy Garden based over in Normandy, which is the other side of Guildford. I was inspired by the visit; Calum spoke eloquently about the work he’s done in the garden alongside students from many Surrey schools and volunteers who support the project. For Calum this project has been a huge success and on my drive back I remembered that Winston Churchill had something to say on the topic of success;
“Success is not final,
failure is not fatal:
it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Reflecting on this it seems to me that for a person, and also for a school, success is not really a destination, but part of an ongoing journey. In that light, I think this fortnight’s Blog is a celebration of success as Churchill defined it. Our students have a lot to be proud of over the last two weeks, but of course they need the ‘courage to continue’ in everything they do too.
Last week I was privileged to be invited to Wates who were presented the Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2016 by Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal. Wates has been an integral partner of Therfield as a key leader in the Leatherhead Responsible Business Network. For example, this term Wates colleagues contributed to the Year 7 Business Game and our Year 10 students visited their Head Office (opposite Leatherhead Station) during their renovations. Asia and Andy in Year 7 represented Therfield alongside me and were able to meet her Royal Highness and present her with a bouquet of flowers at the end of the event. Congratulations to everyone at Wates on their success from everyone at Therfield.
At this point in the Blog I’ll hand over to Mrs Pickett for two other great examples of success.
Climbing club is now in its third week and our new year 7 recruits are now tying in and belaying with confidence, while three of our year 10 climbers passed their junior competency tests, Joshua Gray, Rachel Smith and Mia Dempsey (Zak Nunns passed his away from school in the summer). This allows our experienced climbers to tackle any walls they like, away from direct supervision, but with the knowledge that Mrs Pickett is never far away to offer advice.
We also have a group of very strong year 9 climbers, Caitlin Keenan, Katie Palmer, Tara Martinez and the recently joined Evie Lucas, these will all be taking their junior competency test as soon as they are 14 (they are all competent now).
All of the 16 climbers tackle routes they find challenging and support each other as they climb or belay and have a mature and safe approach to the sport, particularly enjoying the bouldering at the end of each session.
The Duke of Edinburgh programme celebrates 60 years and this was recognised with a service at Westminster Abbey last week. Award holders, volunteers and dignitaries were invited, including Mrs Pickett (who has now been involved in our D of E programme for 12 years!). It was a wonderful event, with a vibrant atmosphere in a beautiful location. The Queen was resplendent in purple, the Award Holders spoke with passion, as did the Duke of Wessex, thanking his father for the inspiration to start the Award and the tireless volunteers who make it happen in a variety of locations – a very rewarding day.
On Thursday we welcomed Sir Paul Beresford, MP for Mole Valley to Therfield. This was in relation to a national programme called Researchers in Schools which supports PhD graduates into teaching. Dr Di Salvo is currently on the programme and, alongside our Year 13 students Dan Cullen, Lewis Napper and Shonam Shahi, we are able to describe how the programme works. There is a national challenge to recruit teachers – especially in shortage subjects like Physics and Maths – and schemes like the Researchers in Schools project will support schools during the coming years. Of course the most important people who benefit are the students who are learning from expert practitioners. Dr Di Salvo is leading a trip to CERN in Geneva to visit the Large Hadron Collider in the new year so some exciting Science to move forward with in 2017.
I wrote about the fantastic performance of “As You Like It” by our Year 10 GCSE Drama students in my last Blog. Last week we followed up the Leatherhead Theatre show with performances to our local primary partners and our Key Stage 3 students. This means that our Year 10s have performed to over 500 people and have done a lot to take Shakespeare to a wider audience. Very well done to everyone involved.
Our final example of success this week was our Year 7 Celebrating Success event on Wednesday. This was an excellent occasion supported by parents and teachers. Year 7 students have worked very hard across all their subjects and much of this was on display. The year 7 band (only formed just a few weeks before) gave their first public performance and the mince pies and jam tarts, which the students had prepared with Ms Sime, were absolutely delicious. My thanks go to Ms Woodroffe, the Therfield Trust and all the staff who organised this great event.
I hope this Blog has established that success is a journey not a destination; so what’s up next for Therfield? Year 11 students are embarking on their first set of GCSE Mock Exams and I’ve been very impressed by their dedication this term. Therfield students are visiting Mercedes World, The Houses of Parliament and The Playhouse, to see JB Priestley’s timeless classic “An Inspector Calls.” As we move into the Advent season our countdown will very much be to our Christmas Service and Concert on Monday 19th December. All will be most welcome.
"Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself."
Friday 18th November 2016
Last Friday was our Remembrance Service and I was very proud to be Therfield’s Headteacher at this important event. Our service took place at break time and was voluntary for students and staff but, as you can see from the photos below, was attended by hundreds of students. Yusuf A, Giovanna T, Lara R, David G and Oscar P read poems or their own work in remembrance of fallen soldiers and Mark Castles played the Last Post. All year groups have been working on the Remembrance wreaths in which they wrote their own thoughts to the fallen from past conflicts. My thanks go to Ms McGregor for organising such an important and poignant event for us.
This week has been Anti-Bullying week and students at Therfield have completed activities during tutor times on the theme ‘Power for Good’. They have all worked towards completing an entry for the anti-bullying inter-house competition, they have looked at famous heroes and bullies in history which has helped deepen their understanding of how power can be used for good or bad. Finally tutor groups have pledged to stand up against bullying by taking action with their ‘power for good’.
This week hasn’t just been about the students at Therfield; a group of parents attended the E-Safety talk on Tuesday evening which provided them with up to date information on key areas. Material will be placed on the school website shortly for all parents to access.
Most of us know how important the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme is to students at Therfield. Of course completing the Bronze, Silver or Gold Award is a real challenge. As well as the expeditions that we are very aware of, one other element students have to complete is volunteering. I was delighted to be given the certificate by Mrs Pickett which outlines how much volunteering our students have done in the last year as a result of the commitment to the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Some of you may be aware that this year is the Diamond Anniversary of the launch of the Duke of Edinburgh programme, in recognition of this many people have signed up to the ‘Diamond Duke of Edinburgh Challenge’, including Mrs Pickett. This raises money to continue widening the access to the Duke of Edinburgh programme for those who may otherwise find it a challenge, for a variety of reasons. As part of the Diamond celebrations, there is a service at Westminster Abbey next Thursday to which Mrs Pickett has been invited, in recognition of her ongoing support and dedication to the award programme. My congratulations go to all students involved, Mrs Pickett and the rest of the staff team to enable us to have such success with this important prestigious award.
Despite the shorter days, the last fortnight has been very successful in the sporting arena. Our year eight students are still going strong in the National Schools’ Cup and they face their next game next week. During last week they had three matches and won every one. This week has seen rugby fixed against Therfield and Weydon School. Therfield winning 55-15!
Wednesday saw our Sixth Form Open Evening. This was a really important event for Year 11 and Year 10 students to think about the future and to begin to make decisions about the courses they wish to study at Therfield next year. I really enjoy open evenings as there are thousands of conversations that occur about each student’s future and education and their next steps. If anyone is interested in gaining a place in the Sixth Form for next year and you weren't able to make the evening please contact our Director of Sixth Form Miss Buckell who will be delighted to provide you with more information.
Another important event in which we discuss students’ futures is the annual Careers Fair which takes place at the school in January. We are now moving into the 4th year of what has been, in the past, a very successful and well supported Careers and Opportunities Fair at Therfield. This fair is only possible through parents, local businesses, and friends of Therfield generously volunteering their time. It is the time of year where once again we ask for your help.
A key feature of life at school is the preparation of students for the wider world of work. This event is a key one in our calendar and, for the last 3 years, has given students the chance to speak a wide range of people from a wide range of careers, industries, and roles, as well as universities, colleges, and apprenticeship providers and consider their possible future pathways. We were very lucky to have such a large number of volunteers from our parent body last year which helped make the event so successful. You would not need to prepare anything and would just need to be able to talk students through your career or field of work. If you would be prepared to volunteer then please get in touch with me 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.
Yesterday I was in the audience at the Leatherhead Theatre for our Year 10 student production of William Shakespeare's ‘As You Like It’. This was an amazing performance which had clearly been the result of so much dedication and hard work from our students and staff. My thanks go to all of the Year 10 students and especially to Miss Glide and Miss Miller for producing such a powerful piece of drama. I'm delighted that the students will get to perform the play to Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 students next week and to our local primary schools too. Congratulations to everybody involved.
"Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself."
Friday 4th November 2016
We had a really busy and productive start to the new half term this week. I've really enjoyed having great conversations with students and parents during the academic review sessions. My thanks go to tutors and other colleagues who worked with the youngsters to set some very challenging targets to help them focus on their learning over the coming weeks and months. The academic review day sessions built on a really successful Meet the Teachers Evening the week before half term. This was a new evening for us at Therfield and the feedback I've had from parents is that they greatly valued this opportunity to meet informally with teachers.
Many of you will be aware of the visit from England and Chelsea football player Gary Cahill on the Wednesday before half term. I was really impressed by Gary and his commitment to signing every autograph and posing for every selfie he was asked to. (My ‘selfie’ is below and I’m beginning to accept that my stature makes it unlikely I’ll be playing centre half for England anytime soon!)
Gary spoke thoughtfully and with good humour about his football career and it was great to have a positive role model visiting the school. Year 8 students Amelia and Ollie interviewed Gary for the CBBC Match of the Day program and this is still available on the iPlayer. The visit will also be featured on Sky Sports Gamechangers programme. I'd like to thank Miss Rennie for organising the visit, which also included football coaching for over 200 students, and all of the PE teachers who have contributed to our success in entering the FA Schools Cup every year. I’d also like to thank Gary Cahill from everyone at Therfield for giving up his time to support the values, as shown through sport, which we hold dear at Therfield.
It was fantastic to see so many festive designs for The Police Federation Christmas Card Competition. Congratulations to those students who have submitted entries below, for the chance to win a Prize of a £50 gift voucher.
Our huge congratulations go to Sean Simmonds who received an award from the GASP Motor Project for Outstanding Work in Industry during his program with them during the last academic year.
GASP are a charity whose work allows young people aged between 14 and 19 years who are living in Surrey and the surrounding area to learn basic motor mechanics and practical engineering skills in a modern workshop, based at Albury. This includes taking engines apart and putting them back together, changing wheels and also how to maintain the cars they were working on. At Johnston Sweepers the students were able to shadow workers on the production line and take part in building the sweepers which were being made.
The awards ceremony was held at McLaren’s Technology Centre in Woking which is an amazing facility completely closed off to the public.
Sean said ‘It was a huge honour to receive the award and it has certainly opened my eyes to lots of opportunities. I am interested in completing an apprenticeship when I have completed my GCSEs and seeing the McLaren Centre has really shown me what I can do if I work hard’. Congratulations Sean!
At the start of a new half term I like to look forward at all of the opportunities that students and staff will have over the coming weeks. In the next fortnight alone there are some very important events in which I know Therfield students will show all of their qualities. These include:
• Our Remembrance commemorations on Armistice Day
• Sixth Form Open evening on Wednesday 16th November
• Anti-bullying week, 14th to 18th November
• E-safety briefing for parents on Tuesday 15th November
• Year 10 students performing ‘As You Like It’ at the Shakespeare Festival, Leatherhead Theatre on Thursday 17th November
I'm looking forward to writing up all of the events in my next blog.
"Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself."
Friday 14th October 2016
Over the years there have been some debates about the role of competitive sport in schools. For me sport, and the highs and lows that go with playing and watching sport, is character forming and the values which sport, at its very best, promotes can form an integral part of a young person’s development as a learner and a citizen. I do believe that you should always ‘play to win’ and I expect the students who represent Therfield to always do their best, but I don’t fully support Vince Lombardi’s quote that “Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.” Looking at some of the other things he said it’s clear that Lombardi (A hugely successful American Football Coach from the 1950s and 1960s) had a more sophisticated view of the value of sport and I really like this one; “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” On doing a little research into Vince Lombardi’s life, as I searched for the quotes above, I was surprised, though really pleased, to find that he disciplined any player or coach who showed prejudices to another player based on their sexuality or their race. Given he died in 1970 it seems that his attitude in this area was certainly well ‘ahead of his time’.
The reason for me to be starting this blog with the paragraph above was the fact that I was inspired by what I saw on the school field on Wednesday afternoon. As well as seeing a great team performance from our Year 8 boys football team I was hugely impressed by two of our students who lived the school values through their actions. I arrived just after the second half began and speaking to Mr Berryman it was clear that Therfield had been on top, but that our opponents, Ash Manor School were winning 2-0. After several chances and some great saves from the Ash Manor goalkeeper, Therfield pulled a goal back with ten minutes to go. With all the momentum in our direction I was confident that we would get the next goal, but Ash Manor were awarded a penalty. In that moment, despite my disappointment at our team falling 3-1 behind, I reflected on the integrity of a student who does so much for the school. David Jordan in Year 13 is a qualified referee who volunteers to ref many school fixtures. To give a penalty against his own school in the last few minutes of the match speaks volumes to David’s integrity, independence and his sense of responsibility. I’m really proud of David and his efforts for school and I think we’ll see him refereeing a Cup Final at Wembley in the future!
Despite the 3-1 deficit and with just a few minutes to go our team showed great Persistence and were rewarded with two goals before the final whistle giving a final score of 3-3. The boys certainly didn’t deserve to lose, but as this was a National Cup Match they now faced the dreaded penalty shoot out. Therfield started first and the first nine penalties were scored. When the Ash Manor student went up to take their fifth penalty he missed. Naturally I was pleased we had won, and our players were delighted, but my first thoughts were for the young man from Ash Manor. As I looked over I saw our goalie, Ollie Ward, commiserating with the Ash Manor player. He did this before celebrating with his teammates and for me it was reminiscent of Freddie Flintoff’s famous actions towards Brett Lee at the end of the Edgbaston test in the famous 2005 Ashes series. I can’t explain how proud I was of Ollie (I awarded him five house points!) and the rest of the team applauded him for his actions. So in half-an-hour, on a cool Autumnal afternoon on the school field, Therfield students playing a game of football provided a great example of why competitive sport is important.
Another example of great competition which took place last week was the Year 7 Business game. It proved a great success. The cohort were involved with activities focussed upon successful business etiquette. A huge thanks you to UNUM for funding the two events and supplying excellent volunteers together with the HUB associates, Menzies, Wates and CGI.
The students thoroughly enjoyed the challenges and clearly learnt the importance of teamwork and the different job roles! Here are a few of their fabulous comments below:
“I learnt there are a lot of big decisions in life”
“I learnt how to be a financial manager and sales manager”
“I think that where some people were messing around I rose to the challenge and did what I needed to do.”
“I learnt business can be complicated and fun.”
“I learnt you need a team to help you do a big project like running a company.”
“I learnt that no matter what job you get, every job builds a team and each job is just as important as a manager. ”
Within school the first House Competitions of 2016-17 have taken place. Each MFL year group fought it out in a separate session with quizzes on flags, capitals, taste testing and the traditional Tour de France cycle-off. The house teams were very competitive, enjoyed taking part (apart from the olive eating) and each house took top spot in one event, but excellent levels of participation throughout the event made the overall victors Polesden.
For PE our traditional Inter-House Sport curtain raiser of Netball kicked off the 2016-2017 programme. Again participation levels were excellent from Year 7 to Year 10 students and great numbers took part across each of these Year groups.
The winning year groups were: 7CKM, 8CJJ, 9DJM and 10CIE, resulting in 2 individual wins each for Polesden and Leith Houses.
A huge well done to all involved and many congratulations to all the winners!
I’m looking forward to finding out which House has won the most House Points for the first half-term and to see our new House Flags change order. I’ll update the results in my next Blog.
Alongside the house events there was an annual international vocab learning contest going on in Y10 and 11 to celebrate the European Day of Languages, which saw our best ever results – Therfield came 10th in the world across all languages when compared with similar sized schools, and an amazing 2nd for German, as well as being 5th in the world in the ‘Genius cup’ for German (the scores of our 20 best competitors combined). Four of our students made it onto the international leader board for the first time, some of the group spent the final evening of the contest in N14 eating pizza and building up their points, and there was very fierce competition for places... Our top scorers (across both German & French) with individual scores of above 10,000 points, were:
Sophie G – 35,260
Giovanna T – 17,740
Farhan C – 17,095
Olivia N – 16,965
Lucy H – 13,590
Nia M – 13,190
Rachel S – 10,490
On Wednesday, students had an exciting visit from Alexander Finch. He had recently returned from a yearlong expedition to Antarctica. Alexander took on the challenge to speak to our Year 8 and 9 cohort about life in Antarctica and the experiments that are conducted there; meteorological surveys and psychological studies of humans in isolation. He had some interesting stories about his time there, including seeing the Aurora Australis and a few spells of frost nip! Of course the students loved the pictures and videos about the penguins, especially watching an enjoyable video of a baby penguin trying to run away from its colony. Thank you to Alexander who gave his time to inspire students about a unique and incredible place in the world.
I am really looking forward to the ‘Meet the Teacher’ event next week. I will be around if you would like to talk to me about anything.
"Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself."
Friday 30th September 2016
For all schools, and Therfield is of course no exception, our core purpose is to provide a high quality of education to our students. To be successful I think you need three main ingredients. Firstly you want enthusiastic and engaged students who try their hardest every day. Secondly, they need to be supported by parents and carers who work closely with school staff to ensure that each student can be successful at school. Finally – and without this element a school cannot be successful – you need inspiring teachers who teach fantastic lessons to ignite a passion for learning. It’s important to me as Headteacher to support and encourage our teachers to provide excellent lessons and we’ve had a fantastic evening this week relating to that as we hosted our Annual TeachMeet. Teachers from across Surrey and south-east schools joined Therfield teachers to share ideas and present excellent tips and skills to help everyone improve. I’m proud that Therfield is at the forefront of teacher development and I’d like to thank, in particular, Mrs Stemp and Mrs Walker for all they did to make this possible.
Our Year 7 students have had a fantastic start to their time at Therfield. Thursday and Friday saw all of the Year 7 students out and about on Ranmore Common before returning to Therfield to grapple with the teambuilding challenges.
Thursday was a little grey and drizzly, spirits were not dampened as half the year group headed to Ranmore for a short walk with challenges to complete before enjoying hot dogs cooked in the open.
Friday’s weather was much improved with showers around – but none hitting the second group of intrepid Year 7 students as they ventured once again onto Ranmore Common, the order of the day was water rather than tea as the sun shone!
Both afternoons were spent tackling a variety of activities which encouraged teamwork and communication, along with lots of laughter!
All of this was only made possible by the support of over 30 Sixth Form students who willingly gave up their time to accompany our Year 7 students – embodying Therfield’s ‘Excellence, Leadership and Opportunity’
This Wednesday I was privileged to be able to present certificates and medals at the end of the Year 6 Football Competition. This was organised superbly by our Year 13 BTEC Sport students and brought over 60 youngsters from Eastwick, St Peters, Oakfield, The Dawnay, The Greville and The Raleigh schools. I was impressed by the sportsmanship shown by the students from all the schools as well as being very proud of Therfield’s students for their dedication in creating such a strong event. In a week when there’s been a lot of bad news for our national game so it was a pleasure to see sport doing what it should be about; competition and fostering a will to win, with important values upheld such as respect, responsibility and perseverance.
So as we head into Autumn we have a lot to look forward to. Next Friday morning is our Open Morning. All visitors are welcome from 9am-11am to come and see the school in action and I’d be delighted to see you then. We also have our Year 11 students embarking on their Silver Duke of Edinburgh Expedition and I hope that Autumn holds off for them. Students have also began to work on the annual Christmas Card competition the details are below.
Please see the document below
"Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself."
Friday 9th September 2016
Welcome to my first Blog of the 2016-17 academic year. It has been a busy summer for the school in a number of areas. First of all, I’d like to congratulate a former Therfield student – Chris Langridge – on achieving a sensational Bronze model at the Rio Olympics in Badminton alongside Marcus Ellis. Chris is a real inspiration to our current students and shows us all exactly what hard work and dedication can lead to. In Chris’ own words “Marcus and I are not anything special; we aren’t exceptionally fast or the most talented. We are normal guys who have worked really, really hard…and we have lost a lot! Every single one of those losses helped today. It all came together…and if we can do it, anyone can.”
For students in Years 11, 12, and 13; August does not just provide an opportunity to relax after the hard work in preparation for their exams over the long, lazy days of the summer break. It also culminates in them facing their GCSE and A Level results envelopes and all of the stresses, celebrations and perhaps some commiserations that this entails. I was very proud of the students’ achievements this year and we saw continued strong results with improvements in many subject areas at a time when the national pass rates appear to be down. As one group moves on through the doors which have been opened to them by their hard work and results we look forward to working with families to support the next group on their important journey.
We’ve had a number of redecoration and renovation projects going on during the holidays. Students and staff returned to find that the corridors in the main building had had a complete repaint and a new floor. This has really given the school a modern and bright feel. We’ve also been able to complete some important work to enhance reception and the other entrances to the school which has further improved the security of the site. A new training room for staff and students is nearing completion and this will enable the school to host high quality courses for adults and students in an excellent facility. I expect to be able to talk about another three great projects for the school in coming Blogs.
One of the successful trips which took place during the Curriculum Enrichment Days in July was the Year 9 visit to the World War One and World War Two battlefields. During the holidays I felt very privileged to receive the following emails and photographs from British visitors to the Somme who came across the tributes left by our students at the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.
“My wife and I visited the Somme (again) recently. We saw the letters that your students left on both the British and French graves at Thiepval. I must say how moved we were by these comments and I would like to thank the school, teachers and of course the pupils for the wonderfully appropriate words. I had two grandfathers in the war, 1 died, the other returned and I feel quite moved that the next generation will still be remembering them. Thank you for your initiative.”
“We are regular visitors to the Somme Battlefield and this year was no exception.
Ourselves and others were deeply moved by this particular tribute on the grave of an unknown French soldier. It's simplicity and poignance are remarkable.”
My thanks go to Mr and Mrs Taylor and Mr and Mrs Stretton for taking the time to write to us and of course well done to the History Department and the Year 9 students for their poignant tributes in this centennial year of that dreadful Battle of the Somme.
Nothing gives me greater pleasure in my role than to welcome new Year 7 students to the school and it has been fantastic to see them learning so well in their first days of their ‘Seven Year Journey’ at Therfield. As you can see from the photos below, they have embraced secondary school with the excellent attitude and strong work ethic that I expect.
I led year group assemblies this week. I used the inspirational story of the Wright brothers’ quest to discover powered flight to reflect on the school’s five core values. Of course there are many values we hold dear at Therfield, but I believe that if our students can live their lives through the five values below they will go far in life.
The next fortnight promises to be very busy for the school. Students have been signing up to new activities at the Clubs Fair today and the first sports fixtures of term will be commencing too. Next Thursday 15th September sees our Open Evening. Whether you are an existing parent or someone considering the school for your daughter or son’s future; the students, staff and I will be delighted to welcome you.
So, a very positive start to the year with, of course, so much more to come.
"Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself."