A significant focus this year is to raise the bar in the College as far as the learning ethos goes, and the way students undertake challenges independently to stretch their learning. Well, January seemed like the perfect month to launch the new ‘Challenge Award’. This is a learning enrichment programme involving eleven different activities from across the range of curriculum subjects. To achieve the actual ‘Challenge Award’ a student needs to complete six of the challenges. Any student from Year 7 through to Year 10 can take part; they just need to sign themselves up with Mr Lemon via ‘itslearning’ and identify which challenge they are going to try first. This could be the debate over the seven deadly sins, and the consideration as to which sin represents the greatest threat to humanity; it could be the teen teach, where a student teaches other students in a different year group for a whole lesson; it could be the classical reading where a student chooses to read either Aesop’s Fables or a Charles Dickens novel or a Shakespearean play that is not studied in College, and then has to write a final chapter in the style of the original author. Alternatively, students can stretch their knowledge and understanding with ‘Who is Coming to Dinner?’, where Mr McGinley will provide the names of twelve characters, historical and contemporary, and the aim is to create a seating plan, explaining who you are sitting next to who and why, with the ultimate plan that the twelve guests should still all be alive at the end of the meal! Mr Morgan, is going to oversee the STEM challenge, coming direct from BP Global which will start in September, whilst Mr O Sullivan has laid down the gauntlet with ‘Let’s Hack’!
I will ensure the Challenge Award sheet is attached to this blog, so parents can have a look at all the challenges. Please feel free to partake if you so wish! I have made it clear to the students that they can have a go at one or two challenges that particularly interest them, they do not need to complete all six. Each challenge that is successfully completed will be rewarded in its own right, with a Headteachers Merit and a certificate.
I launched this Challenge Award as part of my assembly which has covered the last two weeks. The focus was specifically on the ‘responsibility’ each student has towards their own learning and how they need to engage with learning, for the want of understanding the life around them. I tied this in with the assembly from September, where each student was made aware that they are the future of our world, and so, to make the future as good as possible for themselves, they need to partake actively in the present by engaging in all the opportunities available to stretch and grow their intelligence and skills! I am really hoping that over the next twelve months we really increase this expectation of self-study, and the desire to learn beyond the standard curriculum content.
Now, from my point of view January seems to have gone on for ever, and has been dogged by grey and very wet weather. In fact, it is easy in a month like this, to just hunker down and hope it passes over with minimum damage. Well, the reason it seems to have gone on for a very long time to me, is that we have managed to fit so much in for each Year group and I am seriously grateful at the moment that this half term is only five weeks long!
January has certainly been a big month for the Year 8 students, as they are now well into the ‘options’ process in preparation for Year 9. In December they were given the Options Booklet and then had the opportunity to have taster lessons in some of the new subjects that they have not had as part of their standard curriculum so far. This has generated genuine interest and thought into their futures, and the dreams they have and the steps that need to be taken to achieve them.
The Year 8 students also had a curriculum enrichment day, focusing on Chinese culture. There was exploration of Chinese cooking, language, dance and martial arts as well as shuttlecock kicking! I was really pleased with the way that the students engaged and participated in all the activities with enthusiasm and a real desire to learn about something new.
The Year 9 students had an opportunity to plan for their future with MADE, the study skills experts who come in and work with each Year group during the course of the year. Their focus is always to help the students focus on effective ways to learn, and on effective ways to plan where they want to go and how to get there. MADE then also ran a training session for staff on effective revision techniques, looking at the use of mind-mapping, the Cornell note taking method and how to create effective cue cards. MADE will be running a session to support Year 11 parents as we get close to the pressured time of the final exams on Wednesday 28th of March, just before the College breaks up for the Easter holidays. This event was very well attended last year and parents found it very beneficial in helping them know how best to support their child through the stress of exams.
Students from Years 7, 8 and 9 went off to the National Schools Dance Regional Finals in mid-January and performed a variety of dance pieces brilliantly. Ms Williams has noted that we have huge dance potential in Year 7 and so I will look forward to seeing how their talent develops over the next couple of years. The mixed Key Stage 3 group did particularly well though with their piece on ‘prisoners’ which was performed at the Winter Show as well, and so they are off to the National Finals in July, which is fabulous! (I do have to ask repeatedly, why dance topics or themes can’t ever be about something happy, but apparently, they just can’t be!).
Year 10 girls had the opportunity to attend the Women in Maths conference held at the Hampshire Collegiate School. It was a really insightful day which showed students the different careers that involve maths and gave students a taste of A Level mathematics. A definite highlight of the day was a demonstration of how bubbles will form a path of the shortest possible distance between multiple points.
A small group of Year 10 students also took part in the Rotary Youth Speaks competition hosted here at Crookhorn, presenting a speech on euthanasia. They competed against other Schools in the Federation who spoke on topics from ‘body image’ to ‘the state of the NHS’. Alissa did a fantastic job in delivering the speech and she was expertly supported by Lexi and Reuben. Although the Crookhorn team did not win, the day was extremely beneficial and helped enhance their public speaking skills significantly.
All Year 10 students were involved right at the end of the month in a deep learning day working on the skills of transactional writing, which is a core part of the English GCSE. Days like this really enable the teachers to immerse the students in the skills required, as well as allowing time to practice and practice again giving a really strong foundation which can then be built on in subsequent lessons.
For Year 11, it has been intense! We started the month with an English masterclass day on Shakespeare, revisiting the plots and characters in the respective texts that are being studied for the GCSE Literature exam. The real focus for the day though was to start taking the Year 11 students on a deeper journey into the themes of the plays and the intentions of the author. This helps the students understand the depth and significance of the language and imagery used in the plays, and raises the students’ academic understanding towards the higher grades. A very intense but essential day.
In drama, the Y11 students completed their mock scripted performance in front of an audience of the SLT. We provided some detailed feedback on their performances to help them in the preparations for their final performance on 9th of March. Likewise, the Year 11 music students completed a full mock performance of their sets for an audience of staff with feedback sheets in preparation for their final performance at the Spring on 27th February. In both drama and music the mock performances showed there is plenty of talent with just some tweaking to do before those final performances.
The history students completed the Queen Elizabeth 11 walking tour around London to enrich their understanding of Elizabethan England, whilst the PE students completed a masterclass day that focused on the key terms, and an in-depth theoretical understanding of the physiological structure of the human body.
The whole focus for the Year 11 students at the moment is increasing their knowledge and honing their application of skills to ensure the best possible performance in the exams. As we go into February, this preparation continues apace, with an increasing focus on the work the students are doing outside of College hours to help ensure their success. For the second month running it is worth noting that Arundel have won the Homework Club trophy, for the number of students across all Year groups attending either the Homework Club in the Library, A4 or the Year 11 Study Room. I do continue to urge Year 11 students to make the most of these study spaces to help them as they prepare for their final exams.
We also have had some exciting staffing news this month. To start with we have welcomed Mrs Simon and Mrs Hope back from maternity leave. Mrs Simon is returning to teach geography, whilst Mrs Hope takes on the SENCO role again alongside the teaching of some RE. We have also appointed a new Head of House to Petworth, with Mr McGinley taking on the role when Mr Holman leaves at Easter, and finally we have appointed two new Science teachers to join our Science team from September 2018.
It is all systems go into 2018…
For more information on the new Challenge Badge, please click the link below: