Like the weather, we have had a glorious July on so many levels, and it has been the hard work, dedication and perseverance of so many staff and students that has brought us to this point. Last July when I wrote my blog, I made it clear that there was going to be a significant focus on behaviour as we went into this academic year, and that through the ‘Cornerstones’ we, as a community, would centre on the significance of preparing the ‘next generation’ for the world in front of them. As a result, this year we have worked on our ‘behaviour for learning’ and what this looks like when it is successful. I am very proud of some of the leaps students have made with regards to their responsibility and commitment to their own learning and the increasing respect they now show towards the learning of others. The understanding that the College can be a place of achievement for all is growing, and the evidence to support this is increasing month by month. Just as an example, this year I have issued a total of 127 Headteacher Merits, which is a record. These merits have focused significantly on students who are showing real progress in their learning, and where their commitment to improve absolutely shines through. Consequently, over the months I have seen a wide variety of students, and the look of surprise and delight on some faces when they see their learning being commended is exactly why I do this job.
I am also very proud of the fact that our Year 11 leavers are determined to take their sense of commitment and responsibility forward from Crookhorn, with over 58 of them signing up to the Pompey in the Community National Citizen Service programme over the summer break. For the second year running Crookhorn has the largest number of students signing up out of any other single school in the Portsmouth area. Well done to each one of those Year 11 leavers.
At the end of last year, I talked about the excitement of launching our new curriculum structure and teaching a broader range of subjects to students than ever before. Without a doubt this new structure has been a success for students and teachers alike. The additional time to grow the foundations of knowledge and skills required for the GCSE curriculums, and the ability to try out previously unknown subjects before committing to a final choice at the end of Year 9 has been invaluable. The early entry subjects have enjoyed the extensive time there is with the students to really immerse them in the subject material and this has shown some real dividends with the quality of the work being produced by the students.
Right at the beginning of July we rolled our timetable forward, so all year groups moved into next year’s academic timetable. I will freely admit to having some apprehension about doing this, but the roll over went incredibly smoothly, and has enabled all our students to get into the mindset for the increased challenge of their studies next year and has ensured no wasted time at the end of the academic year. It has also enabled us to be able to set holiday work for students in all year groups as they are already in their classes for next year with their new teachers. This is an important step forward as it means we can utilise as much time each year as we can, to encourage the students to pursue the necessary independent side of their learning. Five to six weeks is a long time during which the brain muscle can get out of shape, so teachers have specifically set tasks that recap on previous learning as well as preparing the way forward for the learning next year. The pack for each year group has been sent home attached to parent mail. As I said to the students at the Whole College Assembly, I want them to rest, but also to come back with their brains in gear for an outstanding academic year next year.
As we remain oversubscribed with our September 2018 intake taking the College to its capacity of just over 800 students, I have made the decision to increase our staffing going forward next year, despite budget pressures, so that we can ensure the best teacher to student ratio that we can, and we keep class sizes down in critical practical subjects like science. As a result, I have a further 4 teaching staff joining us in September, going into science, maths, English and RE, whilst another 2 teachers join us to replace outgoing staff in geography and catering. Likewise, we have successfully recruited to fill all our vacancies within support staff, so I am looking forward to welcoming 4 new Learning Support Assistants, a new Study Supervisor and a new Library Manager to the staff team. To ensure that all these staff have a successful transition into Crookhorn College, we have spent the last month really working on our induction programme and making sure it is as thorough, comprehensive and bespoke to individuals as it can be so they can hit the ground running.
So why was July specifically glorious? Well we had Sports Week and then Sports Day in the first week. Sports Day was a triumph and my sincere thanks to all the staff who made it so successful. I am absolutely delighted for Arundel House and Miss Bishop that they were the deserving winners this year. On the evening after Sports Day we had the Year 11 leavers prom held at the Porthouse in Port Solent. The weather was perfect, the boys looked dapper and the girls literally sparkled in the July evening sunlight. It was a truly lovely evening, filled with friendship and humour and where the Year 11 leavers made the staff reflect on why we will miss them so much as a year group!
In the following week we had our Bugsy Malone production, which for me was a great showcase of the talent we not only have across the year groups, but also across the three disciplines of dance, music and drama. I was truly delighted to see so many boys showing us their phenomenal potential. Again, well done to the cast, crew and directors who put on such a show, and I am looking forward to the further development of our College talent next year.
Hot on the heels of Bugsy we had the legendary summer camp, which was a wonderfully sizzling, lively, exuberant weekend full of skill, character and friendship building for the Year 7s and the Year 8s who supported as camp leaders. My thanks to Mr McGinley and his team for the organisation and dedication to creating such special memories for the students.
In the last week of term, we managed to fit in an incredible 3 trips, the first being the Golden Time trip to Thorpe Park where 108 students had a fantastic time enjoying many rides in the beautiful sunshine. This was followed up with the ‘Rewards Fest’ afternoon on the Thursday where 135 students who had managed to gain 50 commendations in the summer term from across the year groups and houses, indulged in an afternoon of summer fun playing either games or competitive team activities. My thanks to Mrs Poulter and Miss White for their marvellous organisation of both events.
We also had two academic trips out, with one to the Farlington Water Works for our Year 11 engineers looking at the UV stream project, to help get ideas and develop expertise ready to assist with our Year 8 Deep Learning day next term, being run in partnership with TRANT Engineering. The other trip was for Year 10 design and technology students who researched how the zoo recycles waste and maximises conservation, ready to help them with their summer holiday task.
Finally, just before term ended we had notification that the College had achieved the Schools Games Mark at gold standard for our "commitment, engagement and delivery of competitive sport in 2017/2018". This is a fantastic achievement for the College and the PE department and is a recognition of the high numbers of students we have engaged in extra-curricular sports, including house competitions, team events, fixtures against other schools and engagement in community sports activities such as our sports leaders working at local primary school sports days. What a great way to finish the academic year!