When my husband stated over half term that the students must be getting really apprehensive now as their GCSEs were due to start in June, I looked at him in total amazement and queried if he had listened to any of my conversation in the weeks preceding half term (I am fully aware that there is an obvious answer to this!!). In fact, amazingly by the time we reached May 25th, there had been 25 exams already and subjects like art, photography, computer science, PE, sports studies, sociology, engineering, RE and English Literature are now all completed. Across the board so far, both teachers and students have felt that the exams have been rigorous but fair, and the students have felt very well prepared for them. We have also had a good number of revision sessions run at the College over half term, for English, maths, science and MFL. My thanks to the teachers who ran them and the students who attended. Hopefully all of these factors give us real confidence for the remaining 16 exams after half term.
I am delighted with the opportunities our students have had to learn outside of the classroom in this month, despite the pressure of the exams. The Year 7s had a thoroughly enjoyable day trip to Hampton Court supporting the work they have been doing on Tudor England in both history and English. I have learnt more than I needed to know about Tudor forms of punishment, through being in Year 7 English lessons in recent weeks. Interestingly, some students felt that having these forms of what can only be described as utterly heinous punishment would be more effective today than our modern-day Police force. Brave words indeed and possibly not completely thought through! I have also seen a number of students for Headteacher’s Merits for the outstanding history homework they have completed on religion, politics and economics in Tudor England. So, it is great to see their burgeoning enthusiasm for the topic being grown and cultivated by a visit to the most memorable of all Tudor palaces.
A small group of Year 9’s from Miss Eastmead’s English class had the opportunity to visit the CASS sculpture foundation at Goodwood in the third week of May, where they were really challenged to think deeply about their own response to the sculptures and what they think the artist’s intention was in the creation of such a piece. This level of critical thinking is excellent preparation for both their English Literature and English Language GCSEs. In the same week, Ms Nailor and Mr Weaver took a group of Year 8, 9 and 10 students to visit Fort Nelson to see the ‘Poppies’ display. Whilst there, they were asked to capture their response to the display through poetic verse. I have subsequently read some of the poems and have been deeply moved by the students’ perception of war and the way it has shaped humans and communities since 1914.
The Year 10 students who relish their sport got the chance to compete in the South East Hants Athletics meeting at the Mountbatten Centre. The teachers who co-ordinated the trip reported back to me that our students were superb in the way they supported each other throughout the day and with the way they remained focused on the reason for being there, which naturally was to compete and do the very best that they could in each of their events. This behaviour was apparently sometimes in marked contrast to students from elsewhere. I am very proud of this as I think it speaks volumes about the Respect and Commitment that we aim to cultivate in the students all the time, through our Cornerstones Code.
Responsibility and Commitment were the name of the game on the Leadership Camp that took off on Friday 18th of May for the Year 9s. This is the third year that this camp has run, and it has been brilliant at providing opportunities for students to interact with each other and nature, in a way that they probably have not experienced before! My thanks to Mr King and Mr McGinley who organise and run it each year and consequently provide such a fantastic challenge for personal growth to our students.
Just as we prepared to break up for half term, Mrs Smith took a Year 9 and 10 history trip to Berlin, to get a hands on experience of Germany, including a visit to the Brandenburg Gate, the Olympic stadium and also crucially the sobering and haunting visit to Sachsenhausen. The weather was amazing, the students brilliant and a wealth of culture and history were on hand. I think we will take that as a successful visit.
May has been a very important month for our Year 10 prefects as a significant number of them applied for the posts of Head Boy and Head Girl. In fact, we had record numbers of applications, and they were by far the best formal letters I have ever read from students at Crookhorn. Each letter was cleverly crafted and showed real attention to detail, both through the structure and language used. I feel the achievement of these students is not only a real credit to themselves, but also to the English department, who have worked hard on the format of formal writing with this year group for a number of years now as a way of laying strong foundations for the GCSE Language skills requirement. I would like to congratulate each applicant for putting themselves forward, and for those who were unsuccessful in being selected for the next stage of the process; I look forward to watching their undoubted success in securing one of the other senior leadership places that they will now be put forward for within their Houses.
For the six successful candidates; three for the post of Head Girl (well done to A Faull, R Newman and R Ashby) and three for the post of Head Boy (well done to R Honeychurch-Turner, E Pressley and S Ginn), the next stage involves them creating their own campaign video with the help of Mr Parkinson our Media Technician, ready for the whole College vote through ‘itslearning’ in the week of 11th of June. Doing the final stage of the selection process as a College vote gives our students the opportunity every year to experience what a democratic process is, and how important their single voice can be when added to that of others. This will be a highly competitive vote this year and I look forward to the outcome with eager anticipation.
Throughout this year, we as a College have focused intently on the growth of our learning culture and on 23rd of April I spoke to teachers and support staff about our need to really promote this by celebrating when a child makes progress as a result of making a mistake. It is very much my belief that the most effective learning happens when mistakes are made, duly considered and then corrected. Children, by their very nature, fear making mistakes, because they believe that we as adults are only interested when the answer is right, and this can hold back their ability to learn. As a result, I am very keen to promote a ‘culture of error’ in our community, as I believe that when we get students to accept that making mistakes is a good way to learn, then we will really start to see some dynamic progress for all learners. To help this happen, teachers and support staff are now sending work to me from students who have made a mistake, or really taken on board a piece of formative feedback and improved or corrected their work as a consequence. I speak to each of these students individually about their work and they are rewarded with a Headteacher’s Merit for the progress made in their learning. I have been delighted with the number and range of students that I have consequently been able to talk to and reward throughout the month of May and I hope this now continues through June and July and into next academic year.
Finally, I am excited to announce the launch of our new weekly newsletter that will be posted on the website at the beginning of each week, our first addition being for the week beginning 4th June. I am hoping that this will really strengthen our communication with home, by highlighting key events, trips and clubs, as well as celebrating students with weekly rewards updates.