February Blog 2018
We have had a great opportunity this month to reflect on how we are building the learning culture at Crookhorn. For the past year we have been focusing on how we help students understand what learning is all about; what it feels like when you are learning; what the outcome of learning is and the fact that learning never stops. We have been participating in a project run by Mark Rowland and Hampshire County Council around learning, and Mark’s visit to us on the Friday before half term gave him an opportunity to gauge how far the students have come in their learning journey, from this time last year. He was pleased with the way the students are now able to articulate their understanding of learning, and, most importantly of all, what a student expects in the classroom to enable them to learn well.
We had a visit from a Hampshire adviser/inspector earlier in the week who spoke to the students specifically about stretch and challenge in the College with regards to learning. I was absolutely delighted when it was fed back to me that students at Crookhorn believe it is ‘cool to be clever’. Indeed the new options system is injecting great challenge to the learning when it can sometimes go flat in Year 9, while students are waiting to start their GCSE courses. Both visitors also commented on the great improvements with regards to our classroom learning environments, making them clearly defined effective learning spaces. What a great journey we are on, and I am so pleased with the progress we are making.
We have had cause to reflect though on one strand of our learning vision and that is BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology). It has become clear that the students have been increasingly misusing the BYOT Policy, and accessing their phones inappropriately during the day. As a result, we have gone back to our BYOT user guide, which remains the same, but we have made it clear to all students exactly what this user guide entails, and what the consequences are for infringing it. As a result, students can bring their mobile phone to College, but it remains switched off and in their bag until they are asked to access it by the teacher who requires them to use their technology to support the learning in that particular lesson.
Students are no longer allowed to use their mobile phone during DEAR time; they must all have a book to read or a proper e-reader. Any student who has their phone out inappropriately will have it confiscated and they will need to collect it from Reception at the end of the day. In the meantime, we continue to work relentlessly with the students to help them understand that mobile phones can be useful and can certainly aid their learning, but misuse of them is unacceptable, and there is so much to do in life other than be on your mobile phone for social media purposes.
Our students have had a very theatrical month. On 2 February, Mr Bezant took a coachload of students up to the Royal Opera House to watch Giselle. This is part of the English department’s ‘Open Doors’ enrichment programme, where the students are encouraged to engage with a wide range of different cultural experiences that can light fires for future ambitions. Preceded by a pre-visit workshop in College, 41 More Able and High Attaining students visited The Royal Opera House in London. In the morning, they participated in a practical armoury workshop, making a leather purse from scratch. In the afternoon, they attended the afternoon performance of 'Giselle', performed by The Royal Ballet. The whole experience was simply thrilling: as a Y9 student wrote: 'Overall, I really enjoyed the experience, especially being able to witness the level of expertise that the dancers needed to keep up their stamina throughout. I thought that the Royal Opera House was stunning and as was our view! I would love the opportunity to go back to experience a different show. Thank you for organising the trip for us all, we all appreciated it.'
During half term, Mrs Poulter and 10 staff took 92 students to Euro Disney, where despite freezing temperatures, everybody had a great time.
In the week after half term, 90 of our students took part in Rock Challenge in Southampton. They had a fantastic day, and I was delighted that the Year 10s achieved the leadership award, and the Year 8 boys, who have been working so hard on their own dance skills every Tuesday with Tracey McCaw, achieved the stage crew award. Well done to all who took part. In the same week, Mrs Nailor and Miss King led a session for 25 students with Winchester University on creative writing. The students were taught by a graduate of creative writing, with the aim of extending our students vocabulary and creative thinking strategies. It was the first of two sessions, with a third session in April where the students get to visit Winchester University and see what attending English seminars and lectures is really like.
In the last week of February 25 students performed various musical pieces at the Spring in Havant. It is the first time I have been to this event, and I thought it was genuinely brilliant. The range of music played, the skill with which it was delivered and the obvious enjoyment of the students made it an evening that I will remember for a long time. The Year 11 GCSE performances which count as a significant part towards their final grade brought the house down!
The very next day Mr Bezant was out again, this time taking 24 Year 11 and Year 10 students to the Tate Modern in London, followed by Shakespeare with Much Ado About Nothing, a set Year 11 Shakespeare text, at the Globe theatre. Again, Mr Bezant had prepared the students with a pre-visit workshop in College, to make sure that they would get the maximum out of the trip. No one could have foreseen though the freezing temperatures and snow that certainly made this a trip that the students and Mr Bezant will never forget. They are currently still thawing out! It was just typical that this particular theatre trip was open air!
However, it has not all been about culture. We have also been able to provide opportunities to help the students think ahead about their futures. Mrs Duncan and Mrs Brown took 45 Year 9 students to the Havant Federation Careers fair at Havant South Downs College. The key aim of attending the fair was to show our students the wide range of options post 16 including A levels, vocational qualifications and apprenticeships. They had the chance to talk to representatives from colleges, universities, apprenticeship providers and local companies. They were encouraged to see that there are many ways to achieve a successful career and consider which pathway will suit them the best. Through conversations and practical activities, our students were introduced to careers they may not previously been aware of and gained confidence by talking to new people as a way of researching their futures.
This gave the Year 9s their first real chance to look into the possibilities and prospects that await them beyond Crookhorn, hopefully giving them the real motivation to study hard and engage with their learning in a purposeful way, as it is the key to being able to do what they want later on.
We also had the privilege of one of our ex-students, Laura Hagedorn coming back to talk to 25 Year 9 and 10 students about life at Oxford University. Laura is in her 2nd year at Oxford, studying law, and is an ambassador for the University, helping younger students understand what University life is like, and how the challenge of learning and stretching yourself to the highest levels can be genuinely enjoyable and life changing.