This week the Art department have organised three events for Therfield’s annual Creative Arts inte...
‘Rehearsals are well under way for the school production of The 39 Steps, we have nearly blocked t...
On Tuesday 7th March 2017, seven A Level photographers travelled from Leatherhead station to Russe...
On Wednesday 22nd February, 14 Year 7’s took a trip to Surrey University to experience a day of le...
Friday 27th March
It feels amazing to me that this Blog completes my first term as Head teacher of Therfield. My view is that we've achieved a lot this term and I hope I've been able to work with students and staff to build on the strong foundations here to make some key improvements to the school. As I said in my first Blog, my intention is to be Head teacher for years to come and my goal is that every term sees the school moving forwards to secure better outcomes for our students.
As I mentioned in the last blog national recognition of our school's quality came with the awarding of the Character Award. I was privileged to be able to watch Joe in Year 11 receive the Award from Nicky Morgan MP, the Secretary of State for Education. The event was prestigious and took place in the Long Gallery Room of Lancaster House (a stone's throw from Buckingham Palace). In her speech the Secretary of State 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. Today’s award winners are leading the way, and I hope that they are empowered to go forward and capitalise on their success, acting as the foundation upon which we can build England’s character education”
Therfield is the type of school that the Secretary of State mentions and I also expect the school to go from strength to strength in this area in the coming terms.
My letter to parents and carers about uniform and a new Sixth Form Dress Code has generated a lot of feedback, discussion and debate. This ranges from students, staff and parents who are strongly for the proposed changes, to those vehemently against. I am delighted that so many of our community have contributed so positively to this debate and I've enjoyed meetings with parents and students even if, on some occasions, our views about dress code and uniform have differed. Of course with such disparity of views there is no way that our final decisions regarding the changes will please everyone, but I hope once they are made that everyone will get behind them. They are intended to improve the school in a range of ways and they stem from a genuine desire to promote "Excellence; Leadership; Opportunity" & "The Best for All". In the meantime I'd be delighted to meet with anyone who'd like to talk further about the changes.
As the Spring Term draws to its conclusion we've been involved in a range of Sporting success which have put the 'icing on the cake' of a brilliant term's efforts. The Year 10 boy’s football kicked off Therfield's pursuit of silverware with a keenly fought 3-2 victory over Hinchley Wood in the District Final. This was rapidly followed by the Year 9 Mixed hockey team who became North Surrey Champions after convincing wins in a tournament held at Therfield. This week the Year 11 boys team became North Surrey Champions with a professional 2-0 performance. The Year 9 girls won their final 2-1 to become North Surrey District Champions, going onto represent the District at the County Finals next month. With Year 9 boys beaten finalists, Year 8s reaching the semi-final and the Year 7s coming third, Therfield is challenging for silverware at all levels. Well done to everyone involved; my thanks go to all the PE staff, but in particular to Mr Downs for his excellent coaching of so many Therfield teams.
There have been plenty of academic success stories during the last fortnight. Year 11 students and sixth formers have worked hard on Mock Examinations and I hope that parents and carers found the revision/study evening on Wednesday useful. I have the view that Mock Exams are often more stressful than the real GCSEs when at least exams are spaced out and come after focused revision time. I'm sure that the mocks have provided both clarity on what students know but, more crucially, what needs to be worked on. I'd urge everyone sitting Public exams this summer to use the Easter break wisely - revise hard, complete what you have to complete, but find some time for some fun with friends and family too.
Away from the preparation for exams, the Year 7 Castle Competition reached its climax this week with a fantastic display in the School Hall. The overall winners were Marcie Wood (7PCA) was awarded 1st place with her amazing biscuit castle; comprising of lollies, bourbons, fondant fancies and wafers! In 2nd Place - Isla Cooper (7PCA) and 3rd place Stephen Wright (7PBE). The winner of the Effort and Achievement Award went to Lara Cole (7LLN) who submitted her amazing Curtain Wall Castle in addition to a beautifully written explanation. I'm sure you agree that they are brilliant pieces of work.
Last week I was able to catch part of a highly engaging lecture of astronomy delivered by Laurence Anslow, an elected fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society which was attended by Year 10 Science students. Science and Geography classes also looked at the Eclipse, though of course our local weather meant that students were unable to see the eclipse for themselves, although I'm sure their learning has whetted their appetite for August 2026 or, for those students who are waiting for the next total eclipse over the British Isles, September 2090!
I was delighted that Therfield students were able to contribute to the Leatherhead & Ashtead Primary Arts Festival held at the Greville this week. My only disappointment was that an Area Headteacher’s meeting meant I couldn't be there in person. However I did receive this email from a parent which captures how our students were excellent role models to the children who participated from our local primary and infant schools.
“I was very lucky to be able to attend the Year 2 Festival at Greville today. I just wanted to say how well the Therfield students performed and what a credit to the school they all were. At all times I have been impressed with the school’s behaviour when ‘out and about’ but today I was particularly impressed.”
Thank you to Mr Moon and students in Vox band and Therfield boy singers for their participation.
Yesterday evening saw a truly memorable event as the school headed to Hollywood for "Therfield Goes to the Movies". The ambiance, including the red carpet, popcorn and candy, to our gigantic 'Oscar' and stunning examples of the best of our Art work set the scene for some amazing performances. Our hosts - in true Oscar ceremony style- were James and Helen from Year 13; they did a great job in guiding the audience through the evening. (I've included a pun in honour of James at the end of the next paragraph!)
Drama was provided by two brilliant Key Stage 3 Drama groups. Miss Rosewell's group transported us through the film classics of Harry Potter, the Matrix and Grease. Miss Lindsay's group discovered movie genres with an exploration of 'horror', adventure, romance and Sci-Fi movies. The creativity on show, with stunning humour and wit throughout, captivated the whole audience. The music team provided some iconic tunes from Star Wars to the Pink Panther and from Help to Wallace & Gromit. Our brilliant Jazz Band closed the evening with a simply dazzling performance of Star Trek. After such an amazing evening I am now expecting students and staff in Art, Music & Drama to 'boldly go' towards our summer term show!
Of course developing talent only comes through hard work, perseverance & determination. The students have shown these qualities in abundance. However it is the adults involved who provide the opportunity for our youngsters to shine. My thanks go to Ms Lindsay, Mr Moon, Miss Rosewell, Ms Upson, Miss Mundy, Ms Collins, Mr Singleton, Mrs Whitaker, Mrs Squires. Also my thanks go to the PTA for the wonderful refreshments.
I'd like to wish everyone connected to Therfield an excellent Easter Holiday and, for those heading towards GCSE and A Level exams, some quality revision time. I'm looking forward to finding out what we are going to achieve in the Summer Term!
“Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself”
Friday 13th March
In my last Blog I said that I had something very special to share. Therfield has been successful in its bid to win the Department for Education Character Award. In fact we are one of only 8 secondary schools in the country and the only school in the whole of Surrey to win. Next week Mrs Land (who wrote Therfield’s bid) Joe Cresswell, a year 11 student, and I will be going to Lancaster House to receive our award. We will also be receiving £15,000 to further develop character education at Therfield.
I’ve always believed that a school has a responsibility to develop young people who can make positive contributions to society for the rest of their lives. Achieving the very best academically is an important component of this but so is developing character, qualities, and skills. The Character Award is recognition of Therfield’s great strengths in all these areas. I'd like to publicly thank Mrs Land for her excellent bid and all the staff who do so much every single week to make this happen.
World Book Day was on Thursday 5th March; this important day was marked by several engaging activities held in the LRC at lunch time which the Year 9 Literacy Leaders had planned, created and organised. One noteworthy activity was the Library Book Trail, whereby the students used their clue sheet to consider different books, find the missing letters and solve the trail. Furthermore, the Literacy Leaders created word searches on popular book titles, authors and characters. The word searches proved to be an enjoyable activity with the students, who enthusiastically tried to find all the answers in the allotted time. Also, Book Blind Date was an interesting activity whereby the students read several book blurbs and had to guess what the missing title of the book was. Many students were successful at completing this challenge and this was delightful to see.
Lastly, the Year 9 Literacy Leader, Farhan Chughtai, read Chapter One from his published novel. The library was filled with students from all year groups who listened attentively to Farhan read his novel. During Tutor Time tutees were completing the Literacy Leader’s quiz, Guess the Teacher’s Favourite Book, which caused much excitement and discussion amongst the students and teachers as they were all eager to discover which teacher favoured The Hobbit or A Brave New World, and solve the quiz.
Reading and books must be at the heart of a school. Thanks to Miss Picken for supporting our literacy leaders Max Baker, Archie Astley, Neve Garel, Lauren Clayton, Danielle Cunnington, Sheree Usman Binasing, Farhan Chughtai and Natalie Mundy, to make this happen.
As well as a published novelist in Farhan we also have several published poets! Nineteen students from Therfield have had their poems published in a national poetry anthology entitled “War of the Worlds”. This is a national competition run by “Young Writers” and the poems had to be based around the theme of conflict. My thanks go to Mrs Coles for organising Therfield’s impressive entries. I promised that I would select my favourite poem from the nineteen and as I’ve always enjoyed the poetry of the First World War I was struck by Kyanna Boot's poem where the first line of each stanza guides the reader to the inevitable outcome of war. I'm sure you'll agree it's an excellent poem.
As I Watch the World Go By
As I watched the world go by,
Riflemen and soldiers hurried.
The memory of home was sweet like pie,
As the frightened men all scurried.
As I watched the world pass on,
Grenades and bullets flew.
The grass and flowers had all gone,
Leaving mud too thick to pursue.
As I watched the world crumble and scatter,
I held onto my deformed, bloody face.
I was losing my will to remember what matters,
All the men who had died would never be replaced.
As I watch the world fade away,
I cling on to my final breath.
I am terrified, scared - afraid of this day,
The day that will end in my death.
By Kyanna Boot
We were delighted to be able to invite our year 7 Whole School Gifted and Talented students to a presentation evening on the 26th February. During the evening parents and students were spoken to by Mr Thomas who outlined the processes that the school undertakes to highlight and support talented students within a framework of challenge for all. It was explained to students that we wanted to celebrate their achievements so far, however, it was emphasised that maintaining a position on the register was a combination of talent, aspiration and hard work. The evening culminated in the students receiving certificates and blazer badges in recognition of their efforts so far in Year 7.
The theme of supporting the Gifted and Talented students was a topic that was raised during the first meeting of local Secondary school Gifted and Talented co-ordinators held at Therfield last week. Staff members from 5 schools met at Therfield to discuss a variety of topics from Oxbridge entry, Supra-Curricular activities and whole school impact. We hope that the creation of this group will allow us to develop closer links with our secondary neighbours and cultivate the sharing of best practice between our schools. The ultimate aim is that opportunities and challenges for our Gifted and Talented students will be further enhanced. My thanks go to Mr Thomas for co-ordinating this important aspect of school life.
Last week I was invited by Miss Collins’ Year 7 Art class to be interviewed about aspects of my life and my opinions on a complete range of topics. This was because the class has opted to use a photograph of me to hone their portrait skills which has been the focus of Art lessons in Year 7 this term. I really enjoyed my time with them and I hope I did my best to answer their probing questions. I’m looking forward to seeing their interpretations based on my interview. I think they are very brave having to paint and draw this Headteacher for several lessons!
Last Friday eight Year 11 Business Studies students and three Year 13 Business Studies students attended the Starbucks Assessment Day at the Keyworth centre at London South Bank University. The assessment day followed their success in a school workshop and now students were competing against other students from other schools to win the fantastic opportunity of a paid apprenticeship at Starbucks.The students participated in a number of exciting workshops which entailed teambuilding skills, solving and acting out possible customer service scenarios at Starbucks, meeting key Starbucks managers in the ‘Mock Shop’ café and completing a mock interview, in which students were interviewed and given feedback accordingly. Students were individually assessed throughout the day. Therfield’s students have done us proud again, they were confident, integrated well and did not hesitate when completing all of the challenges they were set. They were all extremely professional throughout the entire day and made a fantastic impression of the school to Starbucks, MyKindaCrowd and all other schools present. The students who attended were Kieran, Luke, Beth, Millie, Annie, Cameron, Nathan, Henry, Will, Avraj, Georgia, and Charlie.
This Tuesday we were joined by Nestle and MyKindaCrowd and our Year 10 Business Studies students took part in a Business-Enterprise event. Students produced detailed and thoughtful plans and presented them in teams. The skills being developed by all students will help them in a range of future employment. The course tutor selected five Therfield students (Fahima, Megan, Sam, Paige, James – Katie, Tom, Max, and Heidi were also selected as reserves after commendable performances) to compete with other schools in the next round (with the chance to win a work experience placement at Nestle) saying “The workshop went really well and I was very impressed with the level of detail that groups went into on their challenges. There was a good amount of competition between teams and the teams that presented did so with professionalism and confidence. I really enjoyed meeting the students and felt they represented Therfield really well – especially off the back of the high standards set from the Starbucks assessment centre!” I will keep you posted about how well they do. Thanks to Miss Rock for co-ordinating these activities for Therfield.”
There has been no let up on the sporting front in the last fortnight. In person I’ve been able to watch rugby, netball, and hockey teams in action. Some results as follows:
Year 8 Netball: Therfield 20 – 5 Boxhill,
Year 9 Girls Hockey: 6th in the District Tournament,
Year 9/10 Boys Hockey: Therfield 1 – 2 Moon Hall,
Year 10 Rugby: Therfield 46 – 0 Boxhill,
Year 7/8 Rugby: Therfield 5 – 45 St. Andrews, Therfield 17 – 48 Boxhill – Despite the results, the commitment of the year 7 and 8 students was fantastic. A much improved performance in the 2nd game scoring 3 tries and showing much better game awareness.
Last weekend the staff led 36 footballers and netballers to PGL Liddington to participate in our annual sports camp. All of the students I’ve spoken to had a fantastic time and my gratitude goes to Mrs Woodroffe, Miss Rennie, Miss Moore and Mr Downs for using their weekend in pursuit of Therfield Sporting Excellence. Well done to everyone who participated.
Netball Tour Scores: Year 7’s - finished 12th and Year 8/9’s finished 3rd.
I will write to parents and carers early next week outlining a few changes to uniform that will be happening in September. Perhaps the most important one is that the sixth formers will be wearing business dress - this replaces the current casual wear. This change will be part of an enhanced package that we are developing for the sixth formers. There will be many more leadership opportunities for them including leading a team of year 7s to support their transition to secondary school and, through a re-connection to the house system, opportunities to lead students in the main school. We will also be creating a Russell Group Society next term to help focus Year 11s, 12s and 13s on what they will need to do to achieve a place at Oxford, Cambridge and other top universities. There are a number of other uniform changes which are outlined in the letter and I hope that, by informing parents of the changes in March, we have provided sufficient time to ensure a smooth transition in September.
As with any change, whilst I am sure many will see the desired positive impact for students and the school, there may be some students and parents who are sceptical or even down right against the plans. I'm convinced that the change will have a transformative effect on our ethos and support the staff in ensuring even better academic and ‘character’ outcomes for our students. I'm more than happy to debate this further with any stakeholder.
This week’s blog can only end by giving significant attention to the Mole Valley Showcase which took place last Friday evening. This was a sensational evening run by the Youth Council which serves the whole of Mole Valley. At the very heart of the event was Therfield School. This included our wonderful Jazz Band who played futuristic music including famous themes from Star Wars and Star Trek. The band has become the annual ‘house’ band for the Showcase and the atmosphere they created was very special. I’m already anticipating another great evening of music and drama at “Therfield goes to the movies” on Thursday 26th March. My sincere thanks go to our conductor, Philip Singleton, Ms Lindsay and especially to Mr Moon for everything they do to ensure that music at Therfield is thriving.
In my blog on Friday 6th February I listed the 27 nominations from Therfield. All the nominees received their certificates in an Oscar style ceremony. I’m also delighted to report that Therfield was able to scoop three of the main awards!
Extra Congratulations go to our overall winners:-
• The Year 9 Netball Team : Rosanna Bennett, Anya Stead , Jodie Sharpe, Caitlin McCartney, Amberley Harrington, Isobel Duke, Sophie Baggs, Sophie Elphick and Madeline Austin who won the “Sports Team of the Year”
• Abi Dentus who won the “Individual Sports Award”
• Cameron Zaltsman who won the Special Achievement Award.
As I write this blog and think back to last Friday and all the other achievements included in this blog I can assure you all, that I feel very privileged to be this great school’s Headteacher.
“Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself.”
Friday 27th February
The football club I support is six games undefeated! Not only that, the team scored 6 goals away from home last Saturday (for the first time since 1963) and in the mid-week game they scored 3 goals in the last quarter of an hour to deliver a great 3-2 comeback win. Before any reader gets excited about which team I support and start looking at the European leagues for Juventus’ and Barcelona’s last couple of results, I feel it only fair I should point out this recent run of results has lifted ‘us’ to the lofty heights of thirteenth in League 2!
For everyone who is a passionate supporter of a sports team their team is special, but I’ve always thought that some clubs have an aura which sets them apart. One such club is Liverpool FC. Their history is rich with monumental success such as 5 European Cups, famous managers, stunning players, and poignantly, two very tragic events at Heysel and Hillsborough too. One core component of the Liverpool aura is the famous “This is Anfield” Liverbird crest which greets players as they walk onto the pitch. Traditionally Liverpool players have touched the badge on the way out from the tunnel, perhaps as a token of good luck, but also as a sense of belonging.
Anyway I’ve been talking about football enough, but I hope you can see the connection below. Our school has a similar sounding name to Anfield and we have a different iconic badge with our White Swan. I’ve entitled this blog, “This is Therfield” because in the last three weeks so much has happened which I think showcase our character. As you know, we have launched “Therfield Proud” in the last fortnight and it is immediately noticeable how a simple thing such as having the right equipment allows the students to engage in their learning and convert their already enthusiastic and positive approach into greater progress in lessons – this is what we are here for after all.
On Thursday I was delighted to be able to show our great school to our local MP, Sir Paul Beresford. I was really grateful that Sir Paul was able to give up his time to meet with me, tour the school, help present our RAG week cheque to the Samaritans and to submit to a ‘grilling’ from our Year 13 Politics students. I’ve been really pleased to work with our local representatives who have shown a huge commitment to the young people of Leatherhead and surrounding villages and I’m looking forward to ensuring that Therfield is at the forefront of local life.
I’ve also met in the last few weeks a number of fantastic leaders from the Leatherhead Youth Project who run All Saints Coffee Shop and BFree Youth Cafe, giving opportunities to young people locally. The LYP also provides counselling for Therfield students where it is needed. I’d like to thank them for their ongoing work for local youngsters and I’m looking forward to working with them in the coming years.
Sixth Form RAG week, which took place the week before half term, was a huge success. The sixth formers wore a huge range of imaginative fancy dress each day and I was astounded by their creativity. Each day there was a lunchtime event for students across the school to get involved in and this included a Talent Show as well as interesting versions of ‘Take Me Out’ and ‘Bush tucker Trials’! Great fun was had by a lot of staff and students, but most importantly £770.56 was raised for the Samaritans. My thanks go to the Sixth Form Committee and especially to Mason Elliott and Lucy Smith for their leadership of this important activity.
RAG Bush Tucker Trail (above) and RAG Gender Swap day (below).
Also that week was the culmination of the in-school Spelling Bee Competition. The Spelling Bee is a national competition for all year 7s. The first stage is to compete within each class. Students have to learn 50 words, then be able to say and spell as many as possible using the French alphabet in 1 minute. The top 2 winners from each class compete against each other in the whole school competition, which is the stage we have just completed. They have to learn an extra 50 words, and complete the spelling bee on all 100 words. Our champions were Ra-Maar Dronca, Layla White, Lara Coles and Sulaiman Ali Shah who will represent Therfield at the regional finals at the University of Brighton in April. We hope to maintain the high standards achieved by Sophie Gill last year who was in the national finals of the 2014 Spelling Bee. Everyone at school wishes Ra, Layla, Lara and Sulaiman every success and we congratulate you on your efforts so far.
On a visit to Art one lunchtime I came across students working together on a stunning composition as part of a competition organised by the University of Surrey. It transpired that Farhan Chughtai, Sam Renouf , Carly Harman, Mariska Viljoen, Katie Jones, Cameron Sayers, Alex Creswell, Isobel Duke, Dean Armstrong, Dylan Adams and Finn Turner had collaborated to design and paint a mural as part of an extra-curricular Gifted & Talented year 9 project. These students were visiting the department at different times at break, lunch and after school to complete different sections of the design. University of Surrey and BAM Construction Limited worked in partnership to invite ten local secondary schools to enter a painted piece under the theme of ‘Wild and Domestic’. Students worked all hours to complete the piece for the deadline of Friday 13th February. Therfield’s entry was delivered to the University of Surrey during half term. All pieces will be exhibited permanently outside of the Veterinary School of Medicine at the University.
There is something very special which takes place every Tuesday lunchtime in the Library. This is the Leith Reading Buddies Scheme. Students from Year 9 and 10 mentor Year 7 students in a safe, secure and learning environment. The first part of the session entails the mentors enquiring about their mentees week and highlighting any concerns to their Head of House or Form Tutor. The remaining part of the session Year 7 read to their mentors and the mentors take it in turn to read to their mentees. This is also linked to the accelerated reading scheme as students have access to the computers so they can test their comprehension and understanding of their book. This not only forms a basis for students to develop their reading and comprehension but also develops relationships and confidence in a positive environment.
Another very special event was the European Geography Showcase which Therfield staff and students ran for Year 5 students from Trinity school. The students had a great afternoon learning about the main features of Europe such as rivers, mountains and key landmarks. They completed three activities and were all really happy to take home a map they had created as well as a booklet which will be finished back at school. We are now awaiting competition entries for an extra activity which was to explain ‘Why Geography is Important’ and we look forward to celebrating the students work with Trinity School. I was hugely impressed by the Trinity students who were very focused on their learning and immensely proud of our Year 9, Year 12 and Year 13 students who guided and supported them through the experience. Thanks to Mr Cowlin and everyone who was involved.
After such a busy week at the end of a very successful half-term most staff and students headed off for a well-deserved break. However for Miss Nicholls, Mr Thornton, Mr Wessell, Miss Hobson and Miss Butts the half-term involved spending their time with 39 teenagers on the ski trip to Bardonnechia in Italy. Although I’ve rarely met a teacher who isn’t very positive about residential trips they are not holidays and I am hugely grateful to the staff who gave up their time to ensure that everyone could have a stunning time. If you follow the school on Twitter (@TherfieldSchool) you will have seen a flavour of what was achieved during the trip. I was able to see the students off the coach as they arrived back last Saturday afternoon and every single student said they had had a brilliant time. Thank you to Miss Nicholls for her excellent leadership in making this happen and for everyone who was involved.
There hasn’t been any let up at school this week. On Wednesday I was able to catch part of the Year 11 Rugby victory against Box Hill School with great tries from Matt Munnings, Cameron Zaltsman and Eddie Keenan contributing to a 40-0 victory. I also saw the Year 7 & 9 girl’s football team in action against St. Andrews’ School. In the short time I could watch I saw Emilie Budd score a stunning goal. The final score was 1-0.
On Monday our Year 11 students visited Horsham theatre to attend an exam workshop and play to put ‘Hitler on Trial’. They watched the trial of Adolf Hitler in an alternate past where he was caught by the allies and tried for crimes against peace. Actors played the parts of real people from the time giving evidence which students then used to judge if Hitler’s sole plan was to take Germany to war. I’m assuming that Hitler was found guilty, but from speaking to the students they certainly enhanced their understanding during the event.
On Tuesday, 15 year 10 students divided into 3 teams visited the University of Southampton to compete in the annual National Science Tech Challenge run by Exxon Mobile with 24 other teams from across the country. This year’s challenge was to design a product, scheme or material which would make a brand new city more energy efficient. Students learnt about the huge amounts of energy that are wasted in cities every day and how the demand for energy is ever increasing.
One of our teams – “Team Innovation” made up of Luke Elbishlawi, Ben Keene, Matt James, Elizabeth Cole and Chess O'Mahony made it through to the final by being placed 3rd overall, they were extremely delighted with this. I will be presenting “Team Innovation”, with their certificates in an upcoming assembly.
Forthcoming events that I intend to cover in my next blog include - Year 11 mocks, Youth showcase awards, Big Bang science trip, Liddington Football & Netball weekend, Starbucks Skills and Assessment Day and further sporting endeavours.
As always there are a range of other great lessons, clubs, events and activities that have happened that I haven’t fitted into the blog. There is one other, very special thing that has happened this week. For now I’m going to be keeping that to myself, but I will be sharing some truly stunning news with you in my next blog in a fortnight, which I think will make all of us even more “Therfield Proud”.
“Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself”
Friday 6th February
We celebrated an important birthday in our family last weekend. Our cat, Oscar, was 20 years old! Last year the world’s oldest cat died at the age of 24 and the average seems to be around 15 years. 20 years is a long time. When we got Oscar I was just finishing my NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) year. I taught at that time with chalk and a blackboard – the first Interactive Whiteboards were probably still five years away from being installed in my first school. I think the internet did exist then, but was certainly not something which I knew about and had absolutely no impact on education. No member of staff at the school and no student owned a mobile phone!
What we can say with some degree of certainty is that the world will be a different place in 20 years’ time when Oscar turns 40! Being prepared for the future is something that our students need to think about at particular times and we’ve had three great events in the last fortnight which have helped students put their future at the centre of their thinking. The Year 9 Careers Carousel day gave students an opportunity to interview a range of visitors from business and other organisations. As part of my walk round lessons, I visited this activity in the hall and the atmosphere was electric, with so many hundreds of conversations informing and engaging students about the world of work. Year 9 built on this event at Options Evening on Wednesday when thoughts turned to the subjects they will focus on for their GCSE years. Seeing parents, school staff and students come together to talk thoughtfully and passionately about learning and future opportunities made for a great occasion. Thanks also go to the Year 9 catering students who prepared and served delicious canapés during the evening, they were:- Ethan Tickner, Libby Lawson, Millie Darby, Katie Nevin, Charlotte Benjamin
Sandwiched between the two Year 9 events was our Careers Fair. This was a truly special occasion with over 90 businesses, universities and other organisations represented. I estimated that there were over 10,000 conversations which again centred on the wide range of opportunities which young people have. If you weren’t able to make it this year I urge you to make the most of a brilliant evening next year when I’m sure it will be even bigger and better.
All of these events require considerable organisation and I’d like to thank all staff who were involved, but especially Mr Gallagher, Mrs Stemp and Mr Place for ensuring that all these events were excellent. Of course without the support of our partners in the Leatherhead Hub and our other visitors we couldn’t create such special learning events. My sincere thanks go to everyone who gave up their valuable time.
Of course before the internet, there was no need for internet safety. I don’t believe that the internet actually makes children less safe than they were in the past, but it’s vital that all of us (Schools, parents and most importantly young people) are aware of the risks of an ‘online’ life. I’d encourage parents & carers who would like to know more about this important area to attend the National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day on the 18th March 2015 at HG Wells, Woking. Please click here to download the flyer.
In school next week we will be focusing on National Safer Internet Day. Students will be making pledges about how they will help to make the internet safer. If any parent or carer does ever have any concerns regarding their child’s online activity please contact a Head of House or senior leader and we will do our very best to help you through what can be a difficult situation.
I was able to attend my first meeting with the Therfield Trust on Tuesday this week. For those of you who are not aware the Trust is our PTA. It organises a number of excellent social evenings for parents & carers to be involved in at school. I will be participating in the Quiz next Thursday and a few places are still available if you fancy taking on my team!
What you may not realise is that the Trust also makes significant donations to the school to provide funds for events, equipment and other aspects over and above the school budget In recent times they have provided funds for the History Memorial Garden items, Active History subscription, Drama Shakespeare Schools Festival, Peripatetic teachers for Year 7 and some instruments , Year 7 September Team Building event & PSHE Health and Finance Resource packs If you would like more information about the Trust please click here.
I mentioned in my last blog that I had launched assembly competitions with the first assembly based a famous Einstein quote. The winners (two from each House) were:-
Lara Coles, Caitlin McCartney, Lewis Napper, Katie Jones, Olivia Nevins, Jamie McNamara, Harriet Austin and Farhan Chughtai.
From the eight winners, I selected Lara Coles as the overall winner. I thought her piece of writing was thoughtful and showed an extremely mature world-view. I’ve shared Lara’s response below:-
“Many of the things you can count, don’t count.
Many of the things you can’t count, really count.”
To me, this quote means that the things I can count, don’t count, such as my Instagram followers and my amount of friends. I may have lots of friends, but I have only a few close ones who really matter. The amount of friends doesn’t matter. It’s about having those few who really count. Followers on social media don’t matter, it gets you nowhere in life. You might not even know them.
However you can’t count love, love is the largest and most precious gift a person can have. Without love, happiness is scarce, and we would have nothing to live for. You can’t count knowledge, imagination and personality, but they really count.
People may judge you, but they can’t count you. You can’t be counted. You are unique!
In assemblies this week Ms Marrill, Mrs Stemp and I have launched “Therfield Proud” with all students. I’ve been delighted with the learning I’ve seen every day in school, but one negative thing I have seen is that a small minority of students have poorly presented work. On one occasion, when I was in a Year 10 lesson that required students to draw a graph, over half the class did not have rulers! This is completely unacceptable. We’ve set out our expectation for all students through assemblies which you can see here. Please click here to download the PDF. I know I will have the support of parents and carers to ensure that every student is fully equipped and is taking pride in their work.
This week we have welcomed 37 Taiwanese students to Therfield. They have been involved in lessons. I have been impressed by the way that the students from the other side of the world have settled into our community and have been very proud of how our students have supported, helped and interacted with our visitors. My thanks go to Mrs Land for organising an excellent cultural programme that benefits so many people.
Sometimes you come across a superb piece of work in school. During Juniper’s Assembly this week Mr Hostler showed Mariska Viljoen’s stunning sculpture. This is based on a Cubism piece.
Mariska made an abstract human head sculpture using wire mesh, modrock, paint and stencils.
The piece has been created in the Cubist style in response to her Year 9 Cubism ‘Conflict’ Project.
Students have examined Pablo Picasso’s work entitled ‘Guernica’ which was a protest on the pain and suffering inflicted on innocent civilians during the Spanish Civil War.
Mariska was particularly moved by this piece and endeavoured to show feelings running parallel to these in today’s society.
She showed her understanding of Cubist artists’ recording a scene from different points of view/angles by showing different aspects of a head and facial expressions.
I’m sure you agree that this is a stunning piece of work. Well done, Mariska.
I’m delighted that we have been able to make 27 nominations at the Mole Valley Youth Showcase Awards to recognise the achievements of Therfield students. This is more than any other Mole Valley school. All will be attending the prestigious event on Friday 6 March 2015. I’m looking forward to dusting down my DJ & Black Tie for what promises to be a stunning evening. Well done to everyone who has been nominated. The list is below:-
Volunteering Award: Brandy Miller-Holmes, Amy Knight, Thomas Clark & David Smith
Individual Sporting Achievement: Alfie Steers, Oliver Ayres, Alex Clayton, Louise Surridge and Abigail Dentus
Team Sporting Achievement: Year9 Therfield Netball Team and Year 9 Therfield Football Team
Creativity: Douglas Hartnoll, Leah Garel, Ella Tennent, Selous Nicolle, Victoria Stanbridge, Daniel Axford, Hattie Rowe, Lewis Napper, Brandy Miller-Holmes & Olivia Nevins
Teamwork: Therfield Peace Garden, Therfield Football Initiative, Therfield Jazz Band and Therfield School Leadership Team
Special Achievement: Cameron Zaltsman
Half-term splits the next two school weeks so it’ll be three weeks before my next blog. I will be looking forward to hearing the stories from the ski trip to Bardonnechia in Italy. For those students facing the challenges of public exams this year I always see February half-term as a significant staging post in the push for great grades. At this point there are fewer than 50 school days before the exam season begins. Make the most of every single day you have.
“Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself”
Friday 23rd January
I’m writing this blog sat in a local garage after having to make several visits here following a flat tyre; this has caused me a significant headache this week! Sometimes life throws problems at us and we need help. The staff at the garage have been hugely helpful; putting air in the flat tyre, ordering a new one and then replacing it. Of course a flat tyre is a very minor annoyance in the grand scheme of things, but without people to help us when we need it, life would be very hard. Sitting here I’ve been thinking about the amount of support that the staff at Therfield give to the students to help them with their ‘flat tyres’. Whether this is teachers providing revision and catch up sessions; the Heads of House offering that crucial piece of advice and encouragement; the Learning Mentors supporting a student going through a crisis or anyone just going over and above their role, there is so much done here to support our students.
In the last two weeks there have also been a number of examples that I can remember of students helping one another to ensure that they are safe and looked after. One Year 11 student went out of her way to speak to me about a friend of hers who was in some trouble. This action changed the way the school supported the student and meant that we were able to move on from the difficult situation. Two things I look for our students to develop are initiative and care for each other and it’s hugely pleasing to see how much the students demonstrate these qualities.
Last week I led Assemblies with all the Houses. My assembly centred on a famous Albert Einstein quote;
“Many of the things you can count, don’t count. Many of the things you can’t count, really count.”
I’ve set students an Assembly Competition in which they are thinking about their response to this quote. Each house is selecting two winners and then I will select an overall school winner. I will be sharing the winning entry in my next blog.
One of the things I’ve been able to do in the last fortnight is to meet many parents and carers at Academic Tutoring mornings and Sixth Form parents’ evenings. The parents I spoke to were hugely supportive of the school’s work and rightly proud of their children’s academic progress. They also spoke highly of the range of activities on offer at Therfield and the care and guidance offered by staff.
There has been so much going on in the last fortnight that I’m not sure a blog can do it all justice, but I hope it does allow me to give you a flavour of what’s been going on. The photo below shows the excellent work produced by Harry, Connor, Taylor, Kegan, Elliott and Jack in Year 10 Construction. This was made from measuring, shaping, cutting and ‘blow-torching’ copper piping. I felt very proud that the students chose to present this to me and I will be finding somewhere to show off this great work.
Last Friday evening’s Year 13 drama production was exceptional. The play was written and performed by Joe, Helen, Georgina, James and Fleur and represented their response to George Orwell’s 1984. The audience made up of parents, current and former students, friends and staff enjoyed an electrical performance which got everyone thinking. Congratulations go to all involved and especially Ms Lindsay and Miss Rosewell. It has certainly whetted my appetite for the next production in Drama.
The last fortnight has seen an impressive set of results on the sporting field:-
Y9 Football v Ashcombe: Therfield Won 3 – 1
Y10 Football v Ashcombe: Therfield Won 6 – 1
Y11 Football v Ashcombe: Draw 1 – 1
KS3/4 Hockey v Hurtwood House: Draw 1 – 1
Netball V Boxhill: Therfield Year 10 Won 10 – 1, Year 7 Draw 2 – 2
Yr10/11 Rugby v Esher High School: Therfield Won 38 – 24
I was able to watch most of the Year 9 and Year 11 football matches. All students represented the school brilliantly. I enjoy our students winning sports fixtures, but the participation is the most important factor and there are so many opportunities for our students. Make the most of them!
Within the last two weeks we’ve also maintained a strong focus on exams. As well as the completion of the first set of Year 11 mocks there have been real exams in Catering, Art and Drama as well as some students receiving their results from GCSE English (Well done to them all!). The work that’s been produced has been of the highest quality and suggests that Therfield is on course for another great set of exam results in 2015.
There’s a lot to look forward to in the next fortnight. All are welcome at our Annual Careers Fair which takes place next Wednesday between 4pm and 7pm. There will be over 90 employers, universities and businesses represented and it provides a great opportunity to think about futures. The following day it’s Year 9 Options Evening which is a vitally important occasion with decisions for GCSE choices to be made.
“Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself”
Friday 9th January
My intention is to write a blog every two weeks as an opportunity to share with students, staff, parents and all our friends and supporters what I've noticed and reflected on during the previous fortnight at Therfield. I hope it gives a sense of what's happening in the school and what I see as important.
I'd like to start my first Blog by thanking the students and staff of Therfield for welcoming me this week. I've thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many great people who are wholly committed to learning. I was able to speak to all staff and students in assemblies on my first day to talk about the values I hold dear. I shared a motto that has guided me since my childhood. My Dad used to say it to me at the start of every school term when I was growing up. I use it with my own children and so I was pleased to be able to challenge Therfield's students with the phrase "Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself."
I've been really impressed by the lessons that I've seen so far. Some highlights have included:-
I have said that there are some aspects of student behaviour that I won't tolerate. One is smoking. Not just at school, but whenever a student is in school uniform. Any student caught smoking will be serving a detention as a bare minimum. I will also not tolerate swearing. Again students who do swear will be punished. As is often the case these measures do not affect the vast majority of our students who would never, ever, contemplate swearing or smoking. Those tiny few who do make the poor choices to swear or to smoke know that there will always be a consequence.
I'm sure all of you, like me, were shocked and outraged by the events that took place in Paris this week. As a mark of respect we flew the flag in the Peace garden at half-mast on Thursday and students had the opportunity to reflect in Tutor time on what happened, but also the importance of freedom of speech. I'd like to thank Ms Palmer for putting together an excellent session for all tutors to use with students and I was pleased that as they left the school the students I spoke to had thought carefully about these difficult issues. It seems to me that education has never been more important than it is today and I hope that the famous phrase, "the pen is mightier than the sword" proves to be true in the years to come.
I'm already looking ahead to some important events in the next two weeks. Year 12 & 13 Parents’ Evenings (14th & 21st respectively) are a critically important event for our most senior students and I will be looking forward to meeting parents then. On Friday 16th January the Year 13, A Level Drama students will be performing their Unit 3 Devising Exam. Students have been developing a devised piece of Drama in response to the stimulus “1984” by George Orwell and have been preparing since October. The performance will take place in the Drama Studio at 6.00pm and tickets cost £2.00 which can be bought on the door.
There are a lot of exciting times ahead. As I said in my assemblies, my intention is to be Therfield's Headteacher for years to come and I'm really delighted, proud and privileged to be taking on this important role.