On the first day back, this term our Year 10s had time to reflect on their work experience and the learning they achieved during their time out in the work place. In the feedback we have received from the students, they talked about how their confidence has increased when it comes to dealing with new places and people. They also identified that they now have a greater appreciation for what the work place is like and, as one student put it, they realise what people mean when they say they have done a "hard days graft". The majority of students felt that their placement had challenged them and helped them make decisions about what careers may suit them.
It has been really lovely to read the individual reports that students have received from their employers. Comments such as "an asset to the team", "was professional and efficient" and "is a young person with great aspirations" are just a few of the many positive responses. A number of students have secured Saturday jobs as a result of their placements and other employers have said that they would be more than happy to employ students in the future or have them back as volunteers.
As part of the debrief morning students began to draft their CVs and were able to use their work experience to identify skills they can offer an employer. These CVs will be used for their mock interview practice that happens in October of the new academic year. Many of the Year 10s have also been focusing on writing their application letters for the senior posts in the College as we start the in-depth selection process that runs throughout May. Suddenly, we are beginning to see the students in this year group changing and growing up, as their experiences broaden and opportunities for responsibilities grow.
The preparations and support for Year 11 has continued throughout April. During the Easter holidays there were numerous classes held for maths, computer science, business studies, MFL, PE and RE. Since the start of term, we have had masterclasses in geography, maths and science. For some subjects the GCSE is now complete, such as photography and dance with art being completed in the first few days of May. Next week we start the full ‘Bridging the Gap’ Programme which is designed to give the students maximum time with specific subjects just prior to the exam in that subject and we start the main written exams on 14 May. Next week we also have the start of the Year 10 GCSE mock exams for the core subjects of English, maths and science.
Mr Collins and I did a final assembly to Year 11 last week and we focused on the need for resilience and courage to get through the remaining weeks. We showed them one of our favourite film clips (yes it had Rocky in it) but it has one of my favourite quotes: “the pain is only temporary, it will pass, but if you quit, then the pain will last for ever” , and we used this with the students to try and illustrate that whilst the revision and hard work is painful and difficult now, it will pass, and there will be new opportunities as a result of it. If, however, the students give up now, then the missed opportunities will restrict and limit them significantly going forward. I know that the majority of Year 11s are really striving to work as hard as they can and are now putting in the hours at home. With GCSEPod we have hit a total of 6667 streams since Easter, which is fantastic bearing in mind the average number of streams for a school using GCSE pod is between 5000 and 6000 streams a year. 94% of Year 11 are using it and top subjects for streams are English Literature with 1278 with Maths just behind on 1051.
Mr Collins has also introduced GCSEPod to other year groups and it is great to see that Year 10 are already well underway with using it as an additional learning tool, with 68% of the year group logged on and over 800 streams, so let’s hope this helps with the revision for those Year 10 mocks!
We had one of our biggest primary events in April, the world-renowned Professor Cranium came to visit the College with some of his erstwhile colleagues such as Willy Wonka; one of Willy’s chocolatiers, Rachel Riley and an alien. Quite an eclectic bunch I am sure you will agree, but the Year 5s loved them and the whole experience, and congratulations to Purbrook Junior who walked away with the Cranium trophy this year. Well done to them.
Despite the pressure of the approaching exams, the College enrichment programme has continued to be varied, exciting and full on! Mr Bezant took a More and Most Able group from English to the ‘Warner Brothers’ Studio Tour- The Making of Harry Potter’. This was by all accounts an amazing experience, with much follow up for students interested in the whole film production area of employment. I really do believe some eyes were opened wide by the potential and opportunity that there is within this industry. Mr Bezant plans to run more trips like this next year to broaden the experience out to more students.
In the first two weeks of term there were three University visits. Year 7 students took part in a number of animation and storytelling workshops at Portsmouth University while Year 9 visited the Portsmouth campus and the BAR as part of the project they have been working on with University ambassadors developing a sports science training plan to improve an individual’s performance. The Year 10s visited Winchester University to take part in a series of creative writing workshops and to experience what life is like on campus.
Miss Williams and Mr Brunink took a group of Key Stage 3 dancers out to the Sport England/ National Youth Sports Trust Academic Schools Dance competition (An incredibly long competition title!) where they competed against 45 other teams from around the country and finished in an amazing 5th place overall. I am very proud of their achievement and the exemplary way they conducted themselves on the trip and during the competition.
Our Duke of Edinburgh students were taken by Miss Miller to Sea Court Lane Tennis Club to meet the Earl of Wessex and to take part in Real Tennis. They had a fabulous time and enjoyed meeting the Prince. Miss Miller also took 2 Year 7s to the Regional Spelling Bee final. Both students did incredibly well, and Soha U achieved 3rd place and will be going to the National Final in Cambridge on Friday 29 June. Another fantastic achievement that I am proud of. Well done girls!
Finally, we had a very successful PTA quiz evening with a meal provided by our wonderful chef Julie Bridgen, to raise funds for our computer science department and some robotics equipment that Mr O Sullivan is very keen on. Thank you to all staff and parents who attended to make it such an enjoyable and successful money raising evening.