With Mark Hayward A group of Therfield young ladies and mothers completed a safety awareness c...
This week the Art department have organised three events for Therfield’s annual Creative Arts inte...
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 17th July
The last week of term has seen many students living up to our vision that they
“Strive for Excellence, Become Leaders and Seize Opportunity”
Last Friday saw a competitive and enjoyable sports day. The weather was kind and students participated in the full range of events. Records were set by Marcus Austin in the 100m and shot putt.
Grace Penfold in the 300m; Tara Martinez in the triple jump; Emma Adsett in the shot putt and Paige Hamper in the javelin. Our victors were Polesden who narrowly pipped Norbury to lift the Sports Day Cup. Thank you to Ms Rennie and the team for all the hard work that goes into making Sports Day a success.
Monday saw the culmination of a wonderful year for drama and music with our Summer Concert. Performances ranged from South African folk songs to Shakespeare, and from Greek tragedy to Bohemian Rhapsody. Our stunning Jazz Band also played two brilliant pieces. Every student who took part seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves and the audience were very appreciative of their efforts. Thanks go to all the staff involved who provide so many hours of practise and rehearsal time to produce such great performances.
11 students departed on Wednesday to undertake a World Challenge Expedition to Malaysia. For them the next month is full of significant challenge, excitement which I'm sure will require them to develop many key qualities. Miss Picken and Mr Chamberlain are accompanying the students and I'm sure there will be many amazing stories to hear when they return. In the meantime we will be using the school's Twitter account to re-tweet anything we hear from the expedition.
After the end of year House Assemblies on Wednesday we moved into Activity Days. The students I've spoken to have thoroughly enjoyed their experiences which included a trip to the Battlefields in Belgium, climbing at Craggy Island, learning to make sushi with a top chef and many more. A lot of work goes into organising all of these trips and experiences. My thanks go to all staff involved but especially to Mrs Land and Mrs Purdue for everything they've done to organise these experiences.
So we have reached the end of a very successful year for the school. For those students and staff who are leaving Therfield this summer I'd like to thank you for everything you've done for the school and to wish you every success for the future. We would very much like former staff and students to keep in touch. For everyone who will return in September I wish you a fantastic and safe summer holiday. Please be ready to return to school on Thursday 3rd September refreshed and ready for even greater achievements next year. Year 7 students start at 8.30am and Years 8 – 11 start at 10.30am.
Friday 10th July
I was hoping that this would be the Blog where I could start with a sporting victory (see last two Blogs!!), but unfortunately it's another defeat for me! I was showing a family around the school last week. They are currently living in Texas and the student (currently in the US equivalent to Year 5) is a keen baseball player. When I found out he was a pitcher I challenged him to pitch at me. I have to say that I didn't even see the ball as I vainly swung my bat on three occasions. My quest for sporting glory goes on!
I will write up today's Sports Day in my final blog next week, but anticipation has been building all week, relay teams have been picked and I'm looking forward to finding out who will be the first house champions of my time as Headteacher.
Last week was extremely hot. I felt the students responded very positively to this. They kept a smart approach to the 'shirt sleeve order' we introduced and focus on revision for assessments remained sharp and the tests themselves were carried out in an exemplary manner. I'd welcome parents’ views on 'shirt sleeve order' and whether we should repeat this or extend it in future years.
Last week, and for the second time in my months as Headteacher at Therfield, our Peace Garden flag was flown at half-mast. Students held a minute's silence on Thursday as they were not in school on Friday for the national remembrance of the victims of the shooting in Tunisia. Teachers and students discussed a presentation that Miss Palmer had put together which looked at the bravery shown by British and Tunisian; Christian and Muslim people who were caught up in the horrific attack. In my view, hope for future peace lies in educating our future leaders to understand what drives a small minority to undertake these acts, whilst also appreciating that a significantly huge majority of people of all faiths and no faith alike, find acts like this abhorrent and completely without justification. It can be hard to get the balance right when seeking to interpret these events for the young people we work with, but I think students appreciate the opportunity to reflect on these world events, even when they are upsetting and without clear and obvious answers to the simple question, "Why?"
We were delighted to receive a Certificate of Excellence from the National Teacher Awards last week. This prestigious award went to our History department. This was in recognition, not only of excellent learning leading to great examination results over many years, but also of a wider contribution to school life which has included the creation of our Peace Garden. Congratulations go to Miss Cortizo, Miss MacGregor, Miss Palmer, Ms Walker, and Mr Chamberlain for their success.
We were delighted to welcome back 22 ex Sixth Form students to school on Friday 26th June as part of our Higher Education and Careers week. The school has a vibrant Sixth Form Alumni Facebook group of over 500 members with the aim that as many links as possible are made between people in current jobs and those aspiring to go into those fields. We welcomed ex-students from a wide range of careers including medicine, academic research, publishing, interpreting and translation, recruitment, finance, psychotherapy, design and PR. All of whom studied in the Sixth Form here at Therfield. The ex-students led workshops all day giving some top tips on how to achieve in these areas as well as how to excel in a job or University interview.
Last week we had two Induction days for Year 6 students who will be joining Therfield in September as well as an evening for their parents and carers. I was very impressed by our new students who demonstrated an impressive appetite for learning. The culmination of the two days was an assembly for parents which gave a great insight into the learning that had taken place including fascinating science lessons, sporting success, 'dramatic pauses' and an intriguing Maths experiment. The days also provided an excellent leadership opportunity for current Year 7 Students who supported the Year 6 groups throughout the two days.
I was delighted to be invited to West Ashtead school to see their production of Bugsy Malone this week. It was a truly excellent evening and as Headteacher I'm looking forward to seeing so many young, talented actors develop their skills at Therfield over the coming years. I'm confident that they will help Ms Lindsay, Miss Rosewell and our current students to reach even greater heights in performance next year.
Another enjoyable job for me this week was interviewing Year 12 Students for the position of Head Girl and Head Boy and their Deputies. The 11 students who had put themselves forward were excellent, full of enthusiasm, thoughtful about the school and generally very impressive. It was a very difficult decision to choose between them and all of them (and of course all the sixth-formers)) have a big leadership role to play at Therfield next year. Congratulations to Callum and Anna on your appointment as Head Boy and Head Girl and to Hannah and Billy who will be the Deputies.
Last weekend saw the Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award Weekend which was a huge success. We had 32 participants who were reaching this significant level. I'm told that highlights of the expeditions included a 7.30 am start on Saturday 26th June, where the Year 11’s came back to school with fully loaded back packs ready to complete the final leg of their Silver D of E expedition. The 6 groups of students started from Groombridge station in East Sussex.
Day 1 involved walking 20km in order to reach Broadstone Warren their camp for the night. All groups made it into camp in good time after having a little trouble navigating around a golf course! Day 2 involved all groups completing 25km, with blisters and sore feet all kicking in students did extremely well. All were very happy to arrive at Heaven Farm campsite where they were greeted with clean toilets, chickens and turkeys.
The final day students were responsible for deciding when they should wake up and leave so they could arrive at the finish in plenty of time to stock up on as much food as they could before the coach back. The last day’s walk was 20km but involved some steep inclines, very hot weather and lots of sun cream!
All students did exceptionally well throughout the weekend showing great determination, resilience and leadership skills. I would like to thank all staff and ex-students for giving up their weekend to make the expedition possible. I’m sure all groups will remember the expedition for many years to come.
Yesterday evening was our Annual Prize Giving Awards. This gave us the opportunity to reward our younger students in Years 7, 8 and 9 for their efforts and achievements. It was excellent to see the support our youngsters have from parents, grandparents and wider family, but particularly good to note the support the students have for each other. I hope they are proud of themselves; their Headteacher is very "Therfield Proud" of them and I'm sure parents and family are too.
So one week of a busy and successful academic year to go. All students have been working hard in the run up to their end of year assessments, and Year 10 have particularly impressed me in the last fortnight as they complete controlled assessments in, amongst other subjects, History, Geography, Business Studies and English. I'm now heading off to enjoy Sports Day and I will also update you next week on our Summer Concert on Monday and on the events of Activities Days next Thursday and Friday.
"Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself"
Friday 26th June
This week is National Sports Week which has been celebrated in a number of ways at Therfield. I was honoured to be asked to speak at our Sports Awards Evening and to present so many awards to our students in recognition of their achievements (more details below). I believe that sport provides a window on humanity. This isn’t always positive; for example, negative issues around sport such as recent investigations into alleged corruption in football and performance enhancing drugs. However it is also about respect, family, forging friendships to last a life time, being resilient and developing leadership skills and attributes. The contribution to sport made by Therfield’s students and staff definitely reflects these aspects.
I received this email from a parent after the Sports Awards Evening which I’m sharing because I think it demonstrates why sport in its widest sense is important to our school.
“You couldn't not be inspired by the enthusiasm and commitment that we saw today from the staff at Therfield. You make a difference to every child that you touch and personally from our family thank you!
Our daughter has completed both Bronze and Silver D of E and has two elements to achieve her Gold, thank you Mrs Pickett, having spoken to parents of children attending other schools you are the only one that includes everybody, nobody gets turned away. I agree that D of E makes a person, having completed and taught this I have many excellent memories and know that you have been instrumental in making memories for her.
The wide range of activities you offer again is great; both our children have enjoyed climbing club, again something that is not offered to many children."
Sports week also involved the culmination of our Lunchtime World Cup Football competitions which have been taking place over the last two weeks. Huge well done to both Columbia (8LMR) and Germany (10LTM) on their glorious victories.
Tuesday 23rd June saw our Annual Year 1 Multi-Skills Festival on the Astro, where we welcomed 180 Year 1 children from Leatherhead Trinity, West Ashtead, St Peters and Fetcham Village Infant School. The morning activities were led by 25 wonderful Year 10 Sports Leaders, who taught their fun sessions in 15 minute rotations, ably supported by 16 Year 8 Aspiring Sports Leaders. The Year 1 children completed sessions on Vortex throws, relay races, parachute games and giant red space hoppers to name but a few. All had great fun and were truly excited by the end of the Festival.
Wednesday 24th June saw an evening of celebration, where we all came together once more to celebrate the work of the students and staff in PE & Sport. The evening was a great success, with over 180 prizes awarded, with highlights being the Year 11 Boys Football Team as Team of the Year, Luke Holland receiving the Hill Sports Trophy for his dedication to leading the Year 7 Boys Football Team and International Honours being awarded to both Daniel Malamud for his swimming achievements at National level and being placed 4th in the British Open and Louise Surridge for her Track and Road Cycling achievements and who is part of the Team GB Olympic development apprenticeship scheme.
Thursday 25th June 2015 saw a repeat of the fun and games from Tuesday, this time for over 200 Year 2 children, again from Leatherhead Trinity, West Ashtead, St Peters and Fetcham Village Infant Schools. This was a historic high with the largest ever number of children taking part. The amazing Year 10 Sports Leaders again lead with maturity, enthusiasm and great engagement, this time being supported by 16 Year 8 and 10 Year 7 students.
All in all, an amazing week and we welcome Whole School Sports Day in two weeks’ time.
Sport also contributed to a very special evening last week; the “Living the Vision” Showcase. This included another defeat for me (see previous blog). This time I was soundly beaten at Handball not only by numerous Year 6 students who will be joining Therfield in September, but also by our Chair of Governors! I’m hoping to report a personal victory in a future Blog soon!
In all seriousness the evening provided an opportunity for students and staff to show how we are building “Excellence, Leadership, Opportunity” in every aspect of our work. We heard from Language Leaders about the great work they’ve led with our primary schools. History Leaders told us about their work creating our Peace Garden and about Football Remembrance: The 1914 Christmas Truce. The English literacy leaders reflected on their successes with World Book Day. We heard about a number of trips and expeditions that students have been on in the last twelve months.
There was an excellent gymnastics display which drew gasps and applause from the audience including Dan Axford- he is in Year 7 and does acrobatics several nights a week and recently won a trophy for his endeavours. From Drama there was one gripping gothic play from Year 9 students and a hilarious political farce from our Year 10s. Throughout the evening there were some excellent musical performances, which definitely whetted the appetite for the Summer Concert which is taking place on Monday 13th July.
It was also particularly impressive to hear about the experiences students have gained from our work with the Leatherhead Business Hub. The Hub Qualification is now reaching its conclusion as the students have now applied for a range of jobs carefully selected for them. They have had to follow the normal procedure of looking at the job specification, completing an application form and personal statement for the jobs and we look forward to their mock interviews over the next fortnight. A picture from the session hosted at CGI and supported by Circle Housing is shown below. We were also extremely proud to see James Farrington and Lucy Stephenson present during the “Living the Vision” showcase on their experience and it showed how far they have come during the process that they were able to do this. We believe that this is the only program of its kind in the country and we believe it has had a huge impact on the aspirations and progress of our students.
On Thursday we welcomed the team from Transform Leatherhead to run sessions with students and parents. There are big plans for Leatherhead and a significant opportunity to improve aspects of the town in the coming years.
There is an exhibition taking place in Leatherhead High Street over 2 days on:
Friday 26 June: 10am-6pm
Saturday 27 June: 9am-2pm
If you would like further information please use the link here http://www.molevalley.gov.uk/transformleatherhead
We welcomed our Year 12 students back from study leave this week and we launched into Higher Education Week. This has involved students planning and drafting their personal statements, registering and setting up their UCAS application, researching university courses, apprenticeships and employment opportunities and finding out how to use the brilliant new Unifrog tool that we use to help with course and apprenticeship research. We were also very lucky to have visits from both KBR and Menzies, to talk about engineering and accountancy respectively. This has been a great opportunity for students in Year 12 to get individual support and guidance that they may not get in a college environment. We will certainly be looking to build and develop this further next year. Next week Year 12 students embark on work experience which is something we have introduced for the first time this year, this will enable students to gain valuable workplace experience. It has been really good to see so many students taking planning for their future so seriously. As I write this blog, Alumni Day is underway and I will talk more about that in the next blog.
The last fortnight has also seen :-
I hope you agree that Therfield is a school where our planned activities fully support our students to aspire to “Strive for Excellence; Become Leaders; Seize Opportunity.”
I am looking forward to welcoming our new students for September 2015 in our 2 induction days Tuesday and Wednesday next week, I will also be meeting their parents on Tuesday evening from 6pm.
“Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself”
Friday 12th June
Despite being a two-time loser this week I've spent most of my time feeling like a winner! My first defeat came in a "row-off" with Mr Place during the Carnival, which was a key event in Leith Charity Week, on Tuesday afternoon. Despite my best efforts in reaching 200 metres on the rowing machine in what I felt was a competitive time, Mr Place's technique proved far superior to my own and he smashed my time. My only consolation is that (as far as I know) my efforts weren't captured for posterity whereas (as you can see below) Mr Place's victory was caught on camera!
Leith Charity Week has been action-packed with the week kicking off with Year 7 & 8’s dressing up as various characters some of which included Princess Fiona, a minion and Wilma Flintstone. There were some amazing costumes by both students and staff. The week continued with The Leith Carnival which had a great vibe and was full of fun. Other events included wear your own hat, car washing and sponge a teacher. Well done to all the students for their fantastic effort. They really did rise to the challenge.
My second defeat came during the language leaders’ MFL/Sport Festival. In one class I visited I found our Year 9 language leaders teaching French to Year 5s. I was challenged to a game of "hit the board" which involved identifying sports based on their name in French. My opponent was Daniel, one of the Year 5s and I'm afraid to report that in a best of three competition I lost two-nil!
The day involved 180 Year 5s from Trinity, West Ashtead and Oakfield. On arriving they all descended on the 24 Year 9 Language Leaders who taught them a selection of French words to use during the day in a classroom environment (e.g. Goal! Pass the ball! ). They were divided into teams; each accompanied by a pair of friendly and helpful Year 8 aspiring leaders, and took part in a rota of activities. Later they played football and handball with an expert band of 24 Year 10 Sports leaders, and learnt some sports-related French e.g. describing sports clothes and saying what sports activities they liked. The student leaders were excited to be teaching the younger students and really pleased with the enthusiasm and energy they showed, and the primary teachers were all extremely impressed to see our students, often their own former pupils, taking on responsible leadership roles.
Of course as a Headteacher these two amazing events make me feel like a winner. The opportunities that staff have planned to give our students the chance to develop their Leadership skills whilst having lots of fun are signs of how great a school Therfield is. My thanks go to all the staff and students who were involved in both events. With so many Year 5 students involved too it was excellent to give so many students a taste of secondary school life.
I attended a meeting with the Trust this week. The Trust does an amazing job to raise money which supports some of the extra things we do as a school. With school budgets looking like they will be tight in the coming years, I really appreciate the support that parents and carers give to us through the Trust’s work. The Trust is always looking for parents and carers to get involved and it is a great way to support the school. If you would like more information about The Trust or would like to get involved please contact the school and we will put you in touch.
Throughout the last fortnight GCSE and A Level exams have been in full flow and I've had a number of conversations with parents about how hard students have been revising at home. On Sunday in school, 75 Year 11 students were focused on their final revision sessions in preparation for the Maths GCSE exam. Well done to all for their hard work, their support to each other and for the impeccable conduct throughout the exam season and my thanks go to Mrs Pickett, Mr Hibbert, Miss Boulescu, and Mr Johnson for coming in on a Sunday.
On Friday 5th June, five Year 10 Business Studies students went to Nestle HQ at Gatwick airport to take part in the assessment day in which they were competing against students in surrounding schools for the chance to win two weeks’ paid work experience at Nestle. The students got actively involved on the day and were placed into mixed groups of students from other schools. The students really grabbed every opportunity, networked with employees from Nestle, graduates on the graduate programmes and integrated extremely well in their groups. They made me “Therfield Proud” and we now eagerly await the result to see if one of our students has been successful.
Last week I was able to catch part of a fantastic Science demonstration to Year 8 students. In an interactive talk from Engineers representing BAE systems and the Royal Air Force, students were given the opportunity to consider the everyday applications of physics and where their learning could take them. From air cannons showing how Harrier Jump Jets work to giant air bags used to raise the Costa Concordia cruise ship (or in our case, 5 Year 8 students), the students were fascinated to see the ways in which their learning is being applied to some amazing real life scenarios by Engineers. The final demonstration, a Tesla Coil was a great way to wrap up the hour. Year 8 student, Rachel Smith was invited to play a tune on a keyboard which, while being wired up to the Tesla Coil created bolts of lightning in time to her song.
Over the last fortnight the Hub Qualification has really taken off with the eight lucky students visiting a number of major companies in the area. On Friday 5th June they attended a morning at Wates for a session on Working Routines and Procedures which looked at what is expected once you gain employment. They also had a tour of the offices and got to speak to a number of employees from different departments. On Tuesday 9th June the students visited Circle Housing in Dorking to see how their offices worked and were very lucky to speak to a large range of people. On Wednesday 10th June they visited CGI and were amazed at some of the things they saw from around the company, with experts from military and satellite teams taking the time to speak to them. They also learnt about CVs and will be doing a follow up next week to actually complete their own. Finally on Thursday 11th June the group were treated to tours around the North Greenwich residential construction site run by Wates as well as their work on the V&A museum in London, which allowed them to meet young people who had taken various routes to employment as well as see the results of the work people were doing in the office on Friday. The day was a real highlight and allowed them to do things no other students in the country have done including a first look at some 3D modelling which Wates have been trialling.
The next stages of the Hub Qualification are to complete a mock application for a job and a mock interview which will put into practice everything they have learnt throughout the process. We look forward to seeing their progress! Good luck over the coming fortnight to the students and thank you to all the businesses for volunteering their time, in particular Debbie Hawkes at Wates, Michelle McSorley at Circle and Philippa Green at CGI, we look forward to working with them again in the future.
It's always important to note that all of the special events like charity week and the Year 5 day are important additions to the important day-to-day work of the school. Some highlights of my visits to lessons in the last two weeks have included:-
We have a very busy few weeks ahead. I hope I will have a good opportunity to talk with many parents and students at our “Living the Vision” evening next week and of course we will soon be welcoming new students into Year 7 and Year 12. I believe they are joining a great school.
“Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself”
Friday 22nd May
I received an emergency call from my brother last Saturday. His village cricket team was short by two players so he asked if my son and I would play the following day. We decided to play and therefore unexpectedly I resumed my cricket career after a 20 year absence! One of my passions is sport and for a few hours during the game many happy memories of childhood came flooding back. I think one of my most important roles as Headteacher is to ensure that our students are exposed to as many opportunities as possible to develop their passions be they in sport, in art, in drama, in music or in any other area. Within the last couple of weeks there are a number of great examples of students developing their passions at Therfield.
The fortnight started with an absolutely amazing evening of drama with our Year 11 GCSE performances. Five original plays, written, directed and performed by the students provided for a truly memorable evening. Highlights included a fascinating play called the Journey which included a great tube train episode and a play based on conspiracy theories with a shocking twist on "Happy Birthday Mr President" complete with Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy and JFK. Well done to everyone involved and especially to Ms Lindsay.
Unfortunately our sporting success has been put on hold by the British Summer so far with both the Central Surrey District Athletics Championships at Kingsmeadow Stadium, being abandoned at lunchtime due to torrential rain and the St Johns Under 15 Cricket Tournament being cancelled. However I'm sure you have heard by now about the construction of our new Multi Use Games area. (MUGA). This will provide an all-weather floodlit facility for netball and tennis. We expect the MUGA to be ready for the new school year in September and we'll keep you updated on our Twitter feed.
Last Friday, Wates, one of our partners from the Leatherhead Business Hub, came in to school to spend some time working with groups of Year 10 students on employability skills as part of their company’s ‘Give and Gain’ day. This involved members of Wates’ communications team talking to individuals and small groups about how they present themselves to an employer, CVs, applications, career aspirations, and interviews. I am sure every student took something from their session including the valuable skill of talking to an ‘employer’ with confidence and maturity. We continue to explore ways of working with these local businesses to give our students opportunities, with independent people, to consider their futures and the skills needed to get there. In the afternoon, Andrew Davies, Wates’ CEO came in and spoke to the Year 10 Business Studies students. He spoke about his journey and how he got to where he is now – largely through taking opportunities which were offered to him, a valuable lesson! As well as his thoughts on leadership. The students asked some pertinent and challenging questions and I am sure they will take much of relevance to their course. As a senior member of Wates, we thank Andrew for giving us his time but our thanks also go to Gemma and Katherine from the Communications Team and Wates for their continued support.
During the last fortnight, again in partnership with the Business Hub we've launched a new course called the ‘Hub Qualification’. This programme involves 8 students who will be working with various business mentors from across the Hub businesses on a series of weekly sessions covering Self Evaluation and Target Setting, Interview Skills, Creating and Maintaining CVs, Job Applications and World of Work Visits. Our first external provider was Surrey County Council, on Monday, and whilst the students found the session challenging we are certain it will develop key skills for them and their futures. The next session will be with Wates on the 5th June on Working Routines. My thanks go to Mr Cowlin for organising this exciting programme for Therfield and we look forward to the graduation/celebration event at the end.
I’ve also recently found out about another excellent achievement for students through the English Department. Seven talented Therfield students (two from Year 9 and five from Year 11) have just had their original writing published in an anthology entitled: ‘Mini Monologues – Southern Authors’. The newly published authors are: Danielle Cunnington, Jake Eales, Emma Godden, Zoe Hickson, Tom Lyndsell, Amy Milner and Sheree Usman-Binasing. Emma, Zoe and Sheree were also amongst nineteen Therfield students who had their poems published in a national poetry anthology earlier this year. Students were invited to write a monologue from the point of view of a famous or fictional character, trying to capture that character’s thoughts and feelings at a key moment in their life. As an extra challenge, students were asked to bring their chosen character’s thoughts and feelings to life in exactly 100 words!
Please click here to read the excellent entries
You may recall in my last blog I shared a link to the Woodlands Park Hotel research outing that our Yr10 catering students attended to give them an insight into how the professionals deliver afternoon tea. Last week saw them undertake the challenge when they had their exam. Please see the pictures below to judge for yourself. I think they did an amazing job and it goes to show how useful the experience was for them.
Wednesday evening saw another brilliant drama production. The Year 12 production included each student giving a Monologue. These were produced with great skill in a range of different styles. After a short interval the group performed a very ‘hard-hitting’ play called “Blackbird”. This was an absolutely mesmerising performance of extremely sensitive subject matter. I always think that great theatre challenges the audience and the performance really gripped the students, parents and staff who were there. Congratulations to Bronte, Beth, Morgan, Charlotte and Jack for truly excellent work and to Miss Rosewell and Miss Lindsay for making it happen.
As always there has been so much going on at Therfield including
Today sees the final 'formal' day in school for our Year 11 and Year 13 students. Of course the majority of year 11 students will not be leaving Therfield and in just a few weeks will be on an Induction Day for our sixth form. However for those who are leaving the school, whichever year group they are in, I wish you every success in the future.
"Work hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself"
Friday 8th May
I’m writing this Blog on General Election Day. As a school leader it is interesting (and possibly unnerving?!) to reflect on possible changes which may come about depending on the outcome of the election. The last five years have seen significant changes to education which have included: the introduction of free schools; hundreds more schools becoming academies; the introduction of a pupil premium designed to support more vulnerable youngsters; and major reforms to the curriculum and examinations at Key Stage 3, GCSE, and A Level. Of course, if you are a child attending school what really matters is being happy, developing excellent friendships, making progress in your learning and achieving in and beyond the classroom. As much as my job includes needing to manage any changes that politicians introduce, in my view it’s much more important that I keep our focus at Therfield on these aspects.
As always there have been lots of examples in the past fortnight of our students making hugely positive contributions. As a school we were able to reflect on the terrible earthquake in Nepal. This included a tutor session to explore the events and the consequences and last Friday our “Walk in their Shoes” day contributed £580 to UNICEF. Thank you to Ms Palmer for organising this event.
Last Monday I got to be a Dragon! This was as part of our Dragons Den event delivered by our local linked businesses through the Leatherhead Hub. Students spent the day in teams exploring the different aspects involved in marketing and launching products supported by business mentors. They then devised and pitched a new product under the brief of “something for lunchtime”. The quality of the presentations was amazing and the students did an excellent job. The ‘Dragons’ had a very difficult time selecting a winner. In the end the winning group was The Dark Horses (Team 5), including Martine Cherrington, Max Clark, Lauren Clayton, Fred Donlan, Tom Marchant, Noor Matouk, Georgia Outrim, and Lucy Stephenson with their winning chocolate and caramel centred fruits. This group will now get to visit Unilever’s offices for a tour and to meet with their design team to develop their idea further and design their branding. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all of the businesses who supported this terrific event and, in particular, David Titman who ran the day. David is Marketing Manager at Unilever for Lynx and Impulse and, as an ex-Therfield student, a true example of “where Therfield can take you”. In my last Blog I reflected on how special the Leatherhead Business Hub is; the Dragons Den event fully cemented that view and gave a real opportunity which is unique to Therfield and developed leadership skills amongst all those involved. My thanks also go to Mr Place; I really appreciate his tireless work in supporting the development of the Hub and ensuring that Therfield students gain so many great opportunities through our partnerships with local businesses.
Having been a ‘dragon’ for the first time I had another ‘first’ on Tuesday. Our German exchange began with students from Munich staying with families of Year 9 students. One of the jobs as Head Teacher is to welcome our guests and Miss Ashburner kindly prepared a speech for me. I studied French at school, but had never spoken German before so I was very nervous standing in front of both groups of students. Thanks to Miss Ashburner’s expert coaching I think that the audience mainly understood me (or if not they showed impeccable politeness by giving me a round of applause!). The group headed off to Brighton for the first of several excellent days. Mixed German-English groups completed a challenging quiz around the Lanes and the seafront before meeting on the pier for some fish and chips, then students and partners had free time to explore Brighton further. Wednesday and Thursday saw the German partners head off to London with their teachers to visit some of the sights including Madame Tussaud’s, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace and Covent Garden, and in the evenings they were with their partners and their families, getting to know Leatherhead and Ashtead and seeing what life in a family in the UK is like. On Friday they were all together again, and the German partners joined us in school for the day. For some of them this was the highlight of the whole trip! They had a tour around the school, led by six of the year 9s on the trip, and then they accompanied their partners to a couple of lessons. During p4, they were kindly allowed to use two of the food tech rooms and Therfield students and partners buddied up for a scone-making challenge. Students then had a cricket masterclass with Mr May, who introduced the visitors to some of the techniques required for this sport, which is rarely played in Germany. At 3:15 I met with all the students again for a well- deserved traditional English Cream Tea. All in all it was a brilliant visit and both the Therfield and Willi Graf students were an absolute credit to their schools and countries.
One parent emailed me to say:
I wanted to express my thanks for the first half of the German exchange. You had put together an interesting and varied itinerary which our German student thoroughly enjoyed every moment of. She did say the best bit was spending time in school!
It was a pleasure to observe the English and German students interacting and finding out about each others' lives and differences between the two countries. I believe that the Therfield students were courteous, friendly and totally engaged with the German students at all times - they are an absolute credit to Therfield school. Similarly the German students are a credit to their school back in Germany.
Thank you again for giving the students this opportunity and roll on the second week of the exchange. I know that my daughter can't wait and would hop on a plane to Munich tomorrow if she were given the chance!
Thank you to Miss Ashburner for organising an excellent exchange visit and I will report in a later Blog about our return visit to Munich in July.
Last Thursday saw the “Therfield Theatre Company” perform “Beautiful Thing” by Jonathan Harvey as part of the Leatherhead Drama Festival. I cannot find the words to justify how good this performance was. Not only was the play hard-hitting and controversial, it was delivered with exquisite attention to detail and included some delightfully funny moments. One of our students, Alex, fainted at the very start of the play. Not only did the actors manage this situation, Alex himself returned to complete the whole of Act 2. I received many comments from the audience and Wilf Hashami, the Festival Chairman, wrote to say:
“You provided a very well-rehearsed, imaginative performance on a contemporary topic. When you had a crisis, with one of your cast falling unconscious, your team handled it with such skill and professionalism that nobody noticed. You deserve to be proud of your innovative and original interpretation of the text.
Ms Lindsay made this possible. Thank you to her, and to everyone else who was involved, for their dedication at this busy time of year for the school.
The last fortnight has seen our GCSE and A Level Art exams. For those of you that don’t know, students have ten hours, over two days, in full exam conditions to produce their final piece. I believe that the work our students have produced is exceptional and a true reflection of their dedication over the many months of preparation. I’m sure that you, like me, are looking forward to seeing the display of all the work produced in the A Level and GCSE Art, Photography & Technology Summer Exhibition w/b Monday 15th June 2015 (Private View – 15th 3:30pm – 6:00pm)
The events I have written about here today by no means exhaust the wonderful opportunities Therfield students’ experience. For more details please click the link here to read all about Afternoon tea at The Woodlands Park Hotel and here to read how Therfield are winners in a national Astro Pi Competition.
Although we’ve been in ‘countdown’ mode for many weeks we can now say that exam season is fully upon us. In my view all students have been working with vigour towards their ‘finishing post’ and my message to them at this stage is to ‘Keep the faith’! Year 12 students should be using study time (whether at home or in school) to ensure that their final preparations lead to exam success. Our Year 11s and Year 13s should be using every opportunity in school in the next fortnight to focus on those last ‘bits’ of learning that will help them achieve that extra few marks in their GCSEs or A Levels. For everyone facing an exam in the next few weeks I wish you luck, though I do temper that with Gary Player’s famous view on how to be lucky!
“Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself.”
Friday 24th April
I’m writing this Blog on the train on the way back from the House of Lords! Mr Place and I were invited to represent Therfield in recognition of the work of the Leatherhead Business Hub. The event was to celebrate the Business Class model and a number of business and school leaders spoke about the power of the links between one school and one business. It made us both appreciate that our partnership with the Hub means that our students get to work with and learn from representatives of 10 local businesses. Our sincere gratitude goes to:-
It struck me that there are a number of key elements which ensure that we stand out as a distinctive school. The Leatherhead Business Hub is one of those elements; students at Therfield have numerous opportunities because of these links which are unavailable to students in other schools.
I am hugely looking forward to our annual Dragons' Den competition on Monday and I will update you on this important event next time.
Another significant element for Therfield is our participation in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Five of our Year 13 students ((Hanah James, Lucy Smith, Ben Heels, Charlie Heels and Callum Smale.) have just heard that they will be receiving their Gold Award. This is an exceptional achievement. Everyone is very proud of them. On the same note 69 Year 10 students took the first steps of their D of E journey last weekend. I was able to visit the students for a short time last Saturday evening on their practice expedition at High Ashurst. On arrival I found enthusiastic youngsters cooking, for the first time, on their trangia stoves. There were some interesting dinners consumed that evening! Throughout my visit there was an extremely strong sense of ‘team’ amongst all students and staff. Everyone I’ve spoken to this week seems to have thoroughly enjoyed the experience despite facing near freezing temperatures over night! Of course no student can achieve the D of E Award without significant help from a range of adults. I’d like to thank Jo Reynoldson, Mandy Young, Caz Upson, Bethan Mundy, Dani Evans, Ceara Egan, Aoife Breen, Paul Clarke, Jeanette Eaton, Jenny Major for leading the expedition last week and Mrs Pickett for her outstanding co-ordination of our D of E Programme.
This week was my first Presentation Evening as Headteacher at Therfield. This was an excellent event which celebrated the achievements of our older students from Years 10-13. For each year group involved it was a chance to focus and reflect on their achievements while looking forward to the future. Our Year 13’s are looking forward to going off to top Universities or employment; Year 10’s have had a very positive first year of the GCSE’s and Year 11s were being recognised for their achievements and looking forward to continuing their studies with us in the Sixth Form.
As it was a beautiful spring evening the Jazz band played outside as parents, carers and staff enjoyed Pimms and strawberries. I was immensely privileged to be asked to read the citations for the Year 13 students. There is a link to the citations below should you wish to read them
In my short time at Therfield I have been tremendously impressed by the dedication of our sixth form students and the staff really enjoyed saying “Well Done” through this formal event. My huge thanks go to Ms Buckell for leading the evening and to Mrs Davis, Mrs Smith and those staff that supported them for all the essential behind the scenes efforts to make it such a success.
Occasionally you come across a piece of work which is truly exceptional. Ms Cortizo sent Will to show me the movie he put together as part of his independent learning homework in History for the castle competition. If you have some time I urge you to look at what a Year 7 student can achieve using modern technology. I know Will’s dad supported him (I’m sure a lot of Year 7 parents are nodding in recognition at the thought of the support they gave to the castles project!) but I’m sure you agree it is an excellent presentation.
Monday afternoon saw the culmination of a lot of hard work by our Year 9 Language Leaders as they went into the Greville School in Ashtead to teach French to year 4 pupils there. We have 24 Language Leaders in year 9 who have been following the accredited Language Leader course, they have been learning about teaching skills and have been working hard on their French to ensure that they could plan and lead the sessions with younger pupils. Teaching the pupils how to have a conversation about school in French, the Language Leaders devised their own lesson plans and resources. Their lessons were a real success, using imaginative teaching ideas and interactive activities, the pupils at the Greville really enjoyed them. The Language Leaders were superb ambassadors for Therfield and we look forward to their next and final event, a sports and MFL festival for year 5 pupils to be held here at Therfield.
Finally for this Blog I’d like to show you a photo of the 2015 Learning Support Mural. The following students and staff - Katie Collins, Bethan Robinson, Jack Hurrell, Callum Munday, Jake Warrington, Will Carodoc-Hodgkins, Teri Skelton, Ryan Davidi, Dan Axford, Ashton Packham, Scott Kershaw, Kieran Amos, Mrs Sandy, Miss Kelly, Mrs Cassar have produced this excellent reminder of why we (staff and students) come to school every day. There are a number of thoughtful words and phrases in the mural which help connect me to the values I hold dear.
“Work Hard. Play Hard. Enjoy Yourself.”