St Andrew’s School – Principal’s Blog 22 September 2017
The week started early for some of our A level students in years 12 and 13, with a 6.30am departure time from school on Monday to travel to Hunstanton (thank you to parents for getting them in so early). The day-trip was in order to investigate coastal fieldwork and collect urban data.
The coastal investigations require a comparison between two different coastlines, so this Wednesday and Thursday the group headed off to Newhaven and Brighton for a 1-night stay as the second part of their field studies on geology, coastal direction, and wave action. The time in Brighton will be spent gathering data to understand how the Brighton Marina development has affected the community and businesses.
Finally, they are also conducting fieldwork more locally, investigating the effect Centre Parcs has had on the Flitwick and Woburn areas. Overall, quite a hectic schedule! I hope the students will find it useful. My thanks to Miss Ross for organising the trips and to Miss Rayer and Mr Whomsley for accompanying the group.
On Thursday evening we welcomed year 7 pupils and their parents to the transition evening. This is to welcome the pupils to the senior school and explain the opportunities the pupils will have during their time in the senior years. I hope that everybody who attended found it useful. Please remember, we operate an open door policy and are available to chat through any matters you or your child would like.
We have our first fixture for dodgeball this evening, with pupils from years 7 and 8 taking part in a competition held at the Bunyan Centre. Well done to all the girls who are due to play. Sport is certainly getting more popular and I am delighted that we have a bit of a problem! So many girls wishing to take part in hockey club on a Thursday evening at the Hockey Centre. I like that kind of problem! I hope the girls keep up their enthusiasm for this sport and I am pleased that they are listening to us and taking on-board all the opportunities to get involved in extra-curricular activities. Cheerleading is also a popular activity led by Mrs Jones, one which I was keen to introduce following my visit to Boston with the local organising committee of the School Games last February, where I saw some fabulous cheerleading displays. Some of the moves looked very difficult! We also offer gymnastics run by the experts from Falcon Gym Club, as well as horse riding – so hopefully, something that appeals to everyone!
I am delighted that Mrs Shackleton, our new music teacher, has really settled in so well at St Andrew’s and that the pupils have made her feel very welcome and are reacting well to her ideas. I heard the choir practising this week and it sounded very impressive. I know the girls are enjoying the choice of modern songs. I cannot wait to hear their performances.
It has been very nice to see our year 11 pupils taking great pride in their roles and responsibilities around the school, such as being prefects. They are setting such a wonderful example to our younger pupils and I am pleased to see them joining the rest of the school in the dining hall this year, again setting a good example. They are really working conscientiously and have shown that they understand the importance of this year, which bodes well for next summer’s examinations. I know they will take full advantage of all the additional booster lessons in order to ensure they achieve their full potential. So far, a great start and I hope they will enjoy learning about our Sixth Form over the coming months to start planning their further education. To start with, year 11s and their parents are invited to come along tomorrow, Saturday 23rd, to the information event held at Fenwick House from midday onwards. Mrs Beattie, Director of Sixth Form, and the Sixth Form staff and students will be on hand to answer any questions our year 11s may have. We have been delighted with the number of students who joined us this year and we hope that our current year 11s will find this information event helpful. There will be other sixth form tasters run throughout the year too.
A brief reminder that Open Morning is taking place across the alliance tomorrow morning, 23rd September, between 10.00am to 12 midday. I will be visiting both sites during this time and I will be delighted to chat with you if you are attending. My thanks to those pupils who are coming along to lend their support; I say it often, but our pupils really are our best advertisement.
On Wednesday 20 September the year 7 and 8 girls had their first netball fixture against Goldington Academy. St Andrews started strong with great movement towards their attacking end and excellent shooting. With great defensive work St Andrews went into half time with a 6-2 lead. In the second half Goldington started to place St Andrews under high amounts of pressure, and our shooting was less successful. As the half progressed the game became tight but the team showed determination and excellent team work skills to hold off for a 6-6 draw. Man of the match was awarded to Chiamaka for her flawless shooting in the first half - well done to everyone who played.
Year 9 have their first netball league matches next Tuesday against Sandy, Etonbury and Bedford Free School. We wish them luck.
Junior School Stars of the Week:
RJR - Vedh Muralidharan
1GA - Agnes Barrett & Clara Hendry
2LT - Zac Pitter
3/4Nvds - Elizabeth Seddon
5JF - Grace Langridge & Phoebe Phillips
6KT - Ada Padbury
Principal’s Awards: Madeleine Corley in year 7 who bravely volunteered to read an extra part in our form assembly and read it beautifully. She has got stuck into being part of the school community since joining us at the start of this term!
Phoebe Phillips in year 5 and Katelyn Gostelow in year 6 who overcame adversity at sky-diving club.
We are settling a lot of new babies and toddlers into Nursery and Pre-school and would like to say a big ‘Welcome’ to the children and their families. In Pre-school we have been cooking cheesy snakes while looking at the letter ‘S’ and making ant fingerprints for the letter ‘A’. The children have also been enjoying making mud pies in our outside mud kitchen, adding extra flavour with small apples and leaves off the tree! Children in Robins and Owls are working with Mrs Trunchion, our Music Teacher, on learning our old favourite …. The Big Red Combine Harvester. We look forward to continuing the visits to our friends at Charter House, residential home for the elderly.
Ian M. Daniel
St Andrew’s School - Principal’s Blog 15 September 2017
Welcome to my first blog of this new academic year. It has proved to be a busy time for pupils and staff alike, with lots of new routines to familiarise ourselves with. I am pleased that the pupils appear to have settled quickly and they all seem excited about the year ahead. I have been spending my mornings at St Andrew’s School and have enjoyed taking the whole school assembly on the first day back, together with the junior school assembly this week.
The staff were back at school the day before the pupils returned in order to take part in a training day where the main focus was on assessment and monitoring. I hope you all saw the letter sent out last week about the new procedures for reporting and consultations evenings which we will be using across the alliance in the future.
It has been wonderful to see the year 11 girls enjoying their new common room which was decorated and furnished over the summer holiday period. My thanks to Mrs Stott and Mr Jones, who joined my sons and I to put the furniture together – it was quite a production line! The result is a wonderful space for the girls and I know they will look after it.
The first day back at school on Wednesday 6th September saw our A level theatre students from years 12 and 13 depart on their first outing. They visited Milton Keynes to watch The National Theatre’s internationally acclaimed production of ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’. This play is based on Mark Haddon’s award-winning novel. It is the winner of seven Olivier Awards and five Tony Awards, including ‘Best Play’. It tells the story of Christopher who is fifteen years old. He has an extraordinary brain, exceptional at maths, but he is ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road, he detests being touched and he distrusts strangers. When he falls under the suspicion of killing Mrs Shears’ dog, it takes him on a journey that turns his world upside down. The students will all be studying this play in great detail as part of their A-level studies.
The year 9 and 10 pupils went on their bronze Duke of Edinburgh expedition on Friday 8th September with a long trek and a one night stay in the delightful Bedfordshire countryside. Well done to all who participated and I hope you didn’t get too wet! My thanks to Mr Morrish and Miss Holyoak for co-ordinating everything.
I would really encourage pupils to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award as it is something that shows commitment and looks good on your CV and when applying to universities. Having visited Loughborough University recently I noted that it was something the lecturers were really looking for. Pupils can speak to Mr Morrish or Miss Holyoak for further details. You don’t have to start with the bronze level as there are options to go straight to silver or even gold, so you can join your own age group even if you didn’t start at the same time.
Year 11 geography students from across the alliance went off to Amersham on Wednesday 13th September for a fieldtrip aimed at exploring rivers. My thanks to Miss Ross and Miss Lawrence for organising the trip. I hope that the pupils found the experience useful and it will certainly help to reinforce what they are learning in the classroom.
It was so wonderful to see all the smiling faces of our Junior School children and to welcome our new pupils. The staff have enjoyed hearing all the exiting news and stories of summer holidays.
Star of the Week We are proud of our children’s positive learning attitudes and the way they behave. To celebrate their achievements, every week each class teacher will choose a member of their class to be a ‘Star of the Week’.
There are several reasons why a child might be chosen. They may have:
Worked really hard that week
Demonstrated positive values in their learning (e.g. Resilience, Solving Problems) or during break times (e.g. Compassion, Teamwork)
Made good progress in an area of the curriculum
Stars of the Week are announced each Tuesday during Junior School Assembly starting from next week, and the children don’t know who it will be in advance (although they sometimes guess if they’ve noticed who has done particularly well that week!). As a reward, Stars of the Week are given a certificate which is displayed in school and sent home the following week.
I would like to congratulate the following girls on their excellent achievement in recent LAMDA exams: Jessie Bettsworth Loulou Bettsworth Isabelle Burt Isabelle Clegg Lottie Kent
We have Open Morning coming up on the 23rd September and this is a great time for parents to familiarise themselves with areas of the school they have not seen and speak to subject staff they may not yet know. So please do come along if you would like to.
To date there have not been any sport fixtures. However, I would like to wish Year 7 and 8 good luck for their first Netball league fixture next Wednesday and their Dodgeball competition next Friday.
Ian M. Daniel
Last Friday, the year 11 girls were invited to have drinks and cupcakes with some of our sixth formers and the Director of Sixth Form, Mrs Beattie, plus the Sixth Form Co-ordinator, Miss Rayer. I hope that the girls enjoyed the opportunity to ask questions about sixth form life at Fenwick House. I firmly believe that our students will continue to flourish if they select the alliance sixth form for their further education. Those who have attended this year have really enjoyed the experience and are making excellent progress. I cannot believe the standard of the artwork that is being produced by the sixth formers, it is fabulous. I am also extremely impressed by their work ethic and they have all put an incredible amount of effort into their recent AS levels. Even on exam leave, they came into Fenwick House to make the most of the support provided there. Now, they are all firmly stuck into their A2 studies. The entire cohort have made us incredibly proud and I know they are very happy with their choice of sixth form.
On Tuesday the sixth formers visited the University of Bedfordshire for a UCAS Exhibition where a large selection of universities were represented. This was a great event to give our students ideas on their choices for higher education. The students have also had a personal statement workshop to help them with their applications. Our thanks to Mrs Howard, one of our parents, for providing this workshop; we are so grateful to all of our parents who provide their expertise to help our students. Finally, On Tuesday, the sixth form staff held a UCAS information evening for parents. I think you will agree all of this shows just how well our sixth form students are being supported.
GCSE examinations finished this week, so Thursday evening was a time for our year 11 pupils across the alliance to celebrate. The joint Prom was held at the Sharnbrook Hotel. Well done to the Head Girl and Head Boy teams for organising the event, which proved to be a great way to round off the term. Now, the year 11s have a well-deserved long summer break before they receive their results on 24 August. We look forward to seeing them all on that morning and then hopefully welcoming them to our joint sixth form in September.
Well done to everybody in year 8 who held an international showcase evening on Wednesday. Guests were able to enjoy culinary delights prepared by the pupils, together with music, presentations and performances.
You will be aware that the alliance summer fete will take place on Saturday between 11.30am and 2.00pm at St Andrew’s School on the main playground. These events are a traditional part of school life and we welcome your full support and expect all pupils across the year groups to attend to support their school. I look forward to seeing you there.
I hope that you have all seen the email regarding the upcoming summer concert on Monday 3rd July. Again, it is the turn of St Andrew’s to host this event and we are hopeful that the good weather will continue so it will be held outside. Pupils across the alliance will be performing and if last year’s event was anything to go by, it will be a wonderful musical evening. Please contact the school office if you wish to attend (maximum of 3 spaces per family). The evening will start with drinks and canapes at 6.00pm, served by the older students and the performance will begin at 6.30pm. Please remember to bring a deckchair!
Last Friday evening the pupils and staff from years 1 and 2 spent the evening supporting Save the Children by having a den-building evening and sleepover. I was with Mrs Thomas over the weekend and she told me that there was actually quite a lot of sleep because everybody was exhausted from all the fun activities. Thank you to all the staff who attended and thank you to all the pupils and parents who supported this worthwhile cause. I am told that the alliance have already raised over £900 for Save the Children from the muddy puddle walks and the money raised from the Den Day is still to be counted. Fantastic effort by all concerned!
Sports News: On Monday a number of the pupils from across the alliance went off to Birmingham International Athletics Stadium to compete in the Independent Schools Association’s National Athletics Final. Well done to everybody who qualified to represent the London Region at this event. We are very proud of you all and we are very proud that some of our pupils finished medallists. On Monday 19th June it was a scorcher of a day, 32º the hottest day of the year, and Year 5/6 still competed in their last rounders match of the season against Harrold. The girls really worked well together. Sophie Woods caught someone out. Roma Kealy stumped someone out at first post. Jelena Ilic stumped loads out at second post and Grace Constant, Amelia Creasey and Shannon Ryall worked really hard in deep field. This week we nominated players of the match, fielding Ella Stone and batting Jelena Ilic. It was a perfect finish to the league with a 14½ - 10 win. Well done. Swimming lessons after May half term were geared towards the Inter house swimming gala that was held on Wednesday 21st June. All pupils took part in their year groups and swam lots of races within their House. Well done to all involved.
A big thank you to all the parents who took the time to come to our pre-school sports day. The event continues to be hugely successful with the children having a wonderful time and enjoying the real sense of community. Some of our oldest toddlers also came to watch the fun and have their own race to show the big children how fast they could go! The parent races were as competitive as usual with the dads showing some real competitive spirit! The children were well rewarded for all their hard work with an ice lolly at the end.
Anyone for BounceTennis? If you haven’t tried it – you really must give it a go! Mrs van der Sande’s class thoroughly enjoyed their taster session at Towers Health and Racquets Club on Friday. They learnt about correct foot movement and body posture for tennis in a fun and engaging way. Thank you to Mrs Pierce at Rushmoor School for organising this.
Save the Children Den Day Sleepover Key Stage 1 pupils from both St Andrew’s School and Rushmoor School joined forces for a very successful sponsored sleepover in aid of Save the Children. They had a great time making their dens and we hope to raise lots of money for this very worthy cause. Well done everyone!
Nearly There! Pupils in Years 5 & 6 are busy with rehearsals and putting the finishing touches on what will prove to be a wonderful show. The performance dates are Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th June at 7.00pm in Wamsley Hall. If you haven’t ordered your tickets – don’t delay!
May I remind parents that on the Rushmoor and St Andrews facebook/twitter pages we regularly update on events and activities at the schools. Please feel free to follow us.
I M Daniel
As we enter the second half of the summer term, it is full steam ahead with a lot going on over the next 5 weeks, so I hope the pupils made the most of their half-term break.
GCSE and AS examinations resumed this week, together with extra revision sessions that the teachers have been putting on to help boost our pupils confidence as they enter the exam room.
We have also had the LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) examinations taking place. LAMDA is one of the UK’s oldest and most respected awarding bodies, which has been offering practical examinations in communication and performance subjects for over 130 years. LAMDA aim to provide people with the opportunity to develop the life skills they need to be a success: attributes such as self-confidence and the ability to communicate clearly and present ideas.
Pupils from years 8 and 9 had the chance to go off to beautiful Wales this week to stay at the Blue Peris Centre, where they have taken part in lots of outdoor pursuits in the wonderful Welsh scenery. They also got to experience the wonderful Welsh weather, rain, with a bit of sunshine! This was another opportunity for pupils across the alliance to mix whilst enjoying this enrichment opportunity.
Pupils in years 3 and 4 have also gone away on a 2-night residential, together with their friends from the same year groups at Rushmoor. This was a big adventure for some of them as it was their first experience of staying away from home on a school trip. They have visited Grendon Hall in Northamptonshire where they have taken part in team-building activities and outdoor pursuits. Pictured: they are on a rope course, blindfolded. I am sure they have enjoyed the experience immensely and will have lots of stories to tell this evening.
Pupils in years 5 and 6 took part in a prayer spaces workshop. Children and young people are innately curious about life. Growing up raises lots of questions and the aim of these types of workshops is to enable children, of all faiths and none, to explore life questions, spirituality and faith in a safe, creative and interactive way. This gives them an opportunity to develop skills of personal reflection and to explore prayer in an open, inclusive and safe environment. The approach purposely allows pupils to make their own meaning and to draw their own conclusions.
I was delighted to see our younger pupils having the opportunity to take part in the swimming gala hosted by Bedford Modern School. This is a great way for pupils in years 1 and 2 to get their first glimpse of the competitive sporting world that we like to promote here at St Andrew’s.
This weekend I know that some of our eldest students who are based at Fenwick House are off to visit university open days. This will continue over the coming weeks and will also happen next September and October. We have a UCAS information evening taking place on 20th June for parents, to explain about the whole application process. My thanks to the Sixth Form staff for all the support they are giving to our sixth form students with regard to ideas for higher education, particularly Miss Rayer, who is becoming an expert on everything to do with UCAS.
The Year 10 students have been working hard on their mock GCSE exams and have benefitted from some of them being in the exam hall. This has provided them with an experience of the environment ahead of their second round of mocks next year. It is hoped that this will ensure confidence and familiarity in the process and settings come the real thing next summer. Thanks have to go to all staff in school who have given up time to invigilate and mark these papers.
The Year 11 students have been working through their GCSE exams and we hope that they have prepared fully for them in order to do well. There has appeared to be a calm and focussed atmosphere when they are in school and staff have continued to offer a range of revision clubs and intervention groups to fully support the students. I would like to reassure parents that the error on the English paper will not affect our students due to them studying a different text. We will continue to support and encourage all our Year 11 girls as they enter into the later stages of this examination process.
On Monday 5 June years 5 and 6 were straight back into rounders matches, with a match against Goldington Academy. Unfortunately we were without our bowler Ella Stone so Jelena Ilic and Amelia Creasey stepped in and did an amazing job. There were some mistakes in fielding but the girls are definitely getting stronger and more confident. There were rounders from Grace Constant, Shannon Ryall, Rosie Foster-Glennon and Ruby Ryall which shows the girls are going from strength to strength. We lost this match 20.5 to 16 but scored more rounders than we have in the past. Player of the match for batting was Lottie Kent, and for fielding was Ruby Ryall.
Year 7/8 rounders matches have had an enforced break due to the School of Rock trip and the Blue Peris residential visit, but they will be taking on Castle Newnham next Thursday and we wish them well for that fixture.
Congratulations to Rosie Bailey and Courtney Gwiza who have both qualified to represent North Bedfordshire at the County Athletics Championships next Wednesday, in pole vault and high jump respectively. Danielle Mainstone is reserve for the discus. A fantastic achievement for all three girls – well done!
On 8 June we were very lucky to be visited by a football coach from R & D Coaching who spent time with Reception, Year 1 and 2 pupils, working on their ball skills. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it.
As Nursery lead up to healthy eating week the children have enjoyed dressing up in the colours of their favourite vegetable! We have been singing songs to explore colour and reading books such as ‘Vegetable Soup’. During next week’s healthy eating activities we will encourage children to try a whole range of fresh produce and cooking activities as well as learning about moving our bodies and how to be active.
Our Owls class had a wonderful time recently on the Peppa Pig muddy puddle walk….as there was no sign of rain on that day we decided to create our own fun by mixing paint and water together to create our own rainbow puddles for the children to jump in, plenty of wet mud to make pies in the mud kitchen and hide and seek with Peppa Pig characters being disguised amongst the trees down at Bedford Park.
Many thanks to all parents who attended our recent parents’ evening, it is wonderful to see such open communication between parents and practitioners. If you wish to see your child’s keyworker at any time, please do not hesitate to speak to a member of staff.
Last week Mrs Djukic and I went to the Independent Schools Association’s Conference in York. The theme for the conference was resilience and overcoming adversity. The guest speakers were very good and I have invited one to come along to the staff training day in September to speak on this subject further. Of course, we already have a strong reputation for supporting our pupils extremely well and helping them to build their resilience. I am very proud that the pastoral care we provide is considered to be excellent. This is always the overwhelming feedback we receive from parental questionnaires, and is also highlighted by inspectors during their visits.
One of the things talked about at the conference was an initiative called Girls on Board. This is a scheme focused on helping girls navigate the choppy waters of friendship problems in adolescence and pre-adolescence. The scheme gives girls the language, concepts and skills to assist them in providing their own solutions to friendship problems. The scheme has been put together by a Head Teacher who has witnessed friendships breaking down within school and resolved to try and help girls deal better with the issues that they all face from time to time. More information about this initiative will be shared with the girls and parents over the coming months.
This week, the year 2 pupils from across the alliance have enjoyed their first residential. On Thursday I drove them over to the Chellington Centre in Carlton, where they stayed in a converted church overnight. I was extremely impressed with the accommodation. The children took part in lots of activities, including a nature trail around Harrold Country Park. In the evening they enjoyed games and a talent show and all the excitement meant they had a good night’s sleep in order to refresh themselves for the daytime activities on Friday.
Exam season is now in full swing, with AS levels at our joint Sixth Form and the first lot of GCSEs. I am delighted that the girls have expressed their thanks to teaching staff for the support they are receiving and will continue to receive right up to their last exam. The extra push will benefit them enormously. I wish everyone the very best for each examination.
I am pleased that the students across the school are making good use of all the extra-curricular clubs available to them and thank the teachers concerned for providing them. I am pleased too that Miss Izzard’s Youth Theatre group has caught the attention of more students. Miss Izzard is providing a summer school too, so please contact the school office or Miss Izzard directly if you require further details about this.
Last Friday, 12 May, the alliance was delighted to host the Independent Schools Association’s London Region athletics event at the stadium in Bedford. Well done to everybody who took part. We were pleased that a number of our competitors from across the alliance got through to the prestigious national event which will be held during the next half of the summer term. I was the regional sports representative for the ISA for many years, which is why we regularly host events in Bedford, so I am delighted that this tradition continues and now the St Andrew’s students have the opportunity to take part at both a regional and national level. Sporting opportunities really have come on a long way since the alliance began 4 years ago.
On 15 May years 5/6 had their first rounders match against Bedford Girls’ School A team. It was a very hard game to start the season on, but a perfect opportunity to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the team. We definitely found out the areas to work on in lessons. Shannon Ryall was captain and her and the team represented St Andrews’ really well. There were some fantastic catches by Rosie Foster-Glennon and Ella Stone to get the other team out – and I think it was the catch as well as Ella’s brilliant bowling skills that got her player of the match for fielding. In batting, the girls took too many chances early on, which got a lot of our team out. However, Lottie Kent and Shannon Ryall were the last to stay in. Lottie got player of the match for her batting skills.
On 18 May year 8 played a rounders match against Lincroft School. It was a very close match with St Andrew’s winning 8 to 7.5. It was an excellent game of rounders where the team showed determination and improvement in the second innings. Players of the match were Ella Wing and Evie Maddison.
Is there anybody out there? The children in Reception have been thinking about aliens this week. They listened to stories about aliens and used the internet to find out what other people think life on other planets might look like. Then they designed their own creatures and made ID cards to describe them. If you are passing the Reception classroom, come and look at all our amazing aliens. Grace - “My alien comes from Neptune. It is kind.” Emma - “My alien is called Tobee. It has three black eyes and it can jump very high!” Ruby – “My alien has an orange head and a blue body. It is very gentle and very small.”
Rehearsals for the Year 5 and 6 production of The Rocky Monster Show are going very well. The girls are working very hard to learn their lines and all the wonderful songs.
I would like to remind parents of our digital safeguarding information session on Wednesday 14 June at 6.00pm in Walmsley Hall. This session will be an extremely engaging one hour presentation for parents and guardians, delivered by Richard Denton (Children and Young People Development Officer and School Co-ordinator) who is an experienced expert on digital safeguarding and child protection from Bedfordshire Police.
Nursery News: The older children have been enjoying the independence of using our new child friendly knives during our cooking sessions, and with this new found independence we are introducing a programme of understanding how to keep ourselves healthy with the foods we eat and how we move. With this in mind we have joined part of a national healthy eating week (12-16 June). In the build up to this we will have a mufti day on Thursday 8 June and are asking that the children dress up in the colour of their favourite vegetable. Bethany Childs will become our setting PANco (Physical and nutrition co-ordinator) to support all staff to ensure that we promote the highest level of learning in regard to these areas. If you have any healthy recipes that you would like to contribute, please send them in - we will be creating a recipe book for all the children to enjoy and us.
Our babies have been enjoying transporting and mark making activities to develop their fine motor skills and hand eye co-ordination. Watch out for the next nursery newsletter which will give you some fun activities to do at home, from babies to pre-school.
This weekend I am going to be at the Young Farmers event in Westoning on Saturday promoting the school in the community. These events are always very well attended and I usually am visited by many former pupils and their families. If you are going along, please stop to have a chat.
I M Daniel
This half term has passed by in a flash and it has been a really busy one for the pupils and staff across the alliance. Last week we had our full governors’ meeting to discuss planning for the next academic year and to review things so far for this year. We felt it has been a really great couple of terms, with increased opportunities for all our pupils across the alliance and huge successes, particularly in sport, which always pleases me. I would like to thank all the staff at St Andrew’s for their support and enthusiasm in ensuring all our pupils have the opportunities they deserve and I would like to thank the pupils and their families for embracing these opportunities.
We have lots of events coming up over the summer term, one of which is the Summer Ball and you should have received news about purchasing tickets. It will be held on 5 May at the Park Inn Hotel in Bedford town centre. I really hope that St Andrew’s parents and staff will be able to support this event. The Ball is not about raising money; it is about having the opportunity for parents and staff to socialise and enjoy a night out. Tickets can be purchased from the school office. It would be great to see a large number of St Andrew’s staff, parents and friends supporting this PTFA event.
The past week has been dominated by the Peter Pan performance. The pupils and staff involved spent Monday and Tuesday at the theatre putting the finishing touches to their show. Wednesday was the first performance, followed by Thursday evening and two performances on Friday. Everybody involved in the production should be proud of themselves for all the hard work they have put into the show. I would like to congratulate the main cast members, Thomas Kilroy as Peter Pan and Lou Lou Bettsworth as Wendy. You did an amazing job, as did all the other cast members. Thank you to everybody involved in the production, behind the scenes and front of house, particularly Mrs Stott, Mrs Gittins and Mr Day.
In her blog last week, Mrs Ryan mentioned the Auction of Promises. We were delighted that the evening raised approximately £8000 for the PTFA. The amount raised was brilliant considering numbers were down on previous years, perhaps due to the big match at Goldington Road the same evening, but it would be great to see more faces from St Andrew’s at future PTFA events, particularly as the money is used across the two schools to benefit all the pupils. I know it might seem strange coming to the Rushmoor site if you are unfamiliar with it, but we really are trying to promote one whole community across the alliance, so the more we get together the better. There are always plenty of friendly faces to welcome you from both St Andrew’s and Rushmoor.
Last week it was lovely to see our Science department taking the year 6 girls outside and making the most of the sunshine. They were celebrating British Science Week by making slime in the lab and then doing lots of tests on it measuring bounce, height and how far it could be stretched.
This week has been our very first mock AS Level examinations at Fenwick House. Our Sixth Form students have been revising really hard and it has been interesting to see just how they are coping with these examinations. With not long to go until the real things in May and June, it has been valuable to enable them to get to grips with the style of the examinations. With all the changes that have happened recently to the A-Level syllabus actually getting hold of revision guides and past papers has been difficult. I would like to thank all our sixth form staff for their efforts this year in providing a great learning environment for the students and fantastic enrichment opportunities.
I would add that the Easter break is a good time for the year 11 and year 12 students to do lots of revision. It is just 13 weeks until the last GCSE examination will be sat. Please ensure your child has a sensible revision timetable planned and makes good notes. Teachers can answer any queries they may have next term if they ask for help.
At one of the conferences I attended I heard about the WE DAY so I asked our PSHE co-ordinators across the alliance to look into it. This resulted in a group of pupils being taken to Wembley to attend a day of special celebrations. It proved to be a great experience for the girls and boys and I would like to thank Mrs Bassett-Gilham and Miss Camino for taking them. This links into the PSHE curriculum and encourages pupils to be aware of issues from around the world. Click here to find out more https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqtzsIEn-lg
This year WE Day fell on the 22nd March 2017 and the St Andrew’s pupils from years 7 and 8 who went along to Wembley Arena had a thoroughly enjoyable time. WE is a movement that brings people together and gives them the tools to change the world. The WE vision is to empower people to transform local and global communities by shifting from “me” thinking to “we” acting, helping to make the world a better place as we are all connected. Together WE change the world. The event brought together world-renowned speakers, A-list performers, and thousands of young people to celebrate a year of action that transformed communities and changed lives.
The children from the Reception classes at St Andrew’s and Rushmoor have joined forces again to take part in a scavenger hunt at Bedford Park. It is great to see the children having the opportunity to get together during enrichment events and I am sure that they enjoyed this particular outing immensely. Thank you to all the staff involved for arranging it.
Thank you to Miss Tweedale for arranging a Key Stage One Creative Curriculum presentation. Pupils from years 1 and 2 were delighted to be able to show their parents and guests all their work at this special event. I hope that those who came along enjoyed the opportunity.
With Mother’s Day this Sunday the Junior School invited their mums to breakfast on Friday morning. This is a lovely St Andrew’s tradition and it is a great way for the children to say a big thank you to their mums for everything they do – including sending them to a lovely school like St Andrew’s! Thank you to everybody involved in hosting this event and to all those who came along. We hope every mum with children throughout the nursery, junior and senior school enjoys this Sunday.
We are currently planning heavily for next year and one of the things we have been looking at is the sport provision for our sixth form students. Last week we arranged for the year 11s and 12s to visit the new complex that has just opened opposite the school field, Towers Health and Racquets Club. It is a wonderful facility and I am pleased to report that our Sixth Form students will have access to it next year. As well as being able to use the gym, this now means students will be able to swim too.
As I said earlier, our pupils are getting great opportunities in sport this year and I would like to add my personal congratulations to the girls who travelled to Chigwell to take part in the ISA Mixed Hockey Tournament last week. They won the tournament with the boys from Rushmoor. What a really fabulous achievement in a tough, fast-paced sport. Well done to Shannon, Ruby and Roma. I am very proud of you.
Girls from years 7, 8, 10 and 11 took part in a badminton tournament on Tuesday 21st March at Webber Independent School, Milton Keynes. The girls enjoyed the experience and played well in a very high standard competition.
I was delighted to see the photographs on our FaceBook Page of the girls having their first cheerleading lesson. I saw fantastic cheerleading on my recent sports trip to Boston. Of course, the Americans take it all very seriously! We have a way to go before we catch up with them, but it is looking good so far girls! As I have mentioned before, we will filter this club down to other age groups if it proves popular. This opportunity came as a result of my council meeting with the pupils.
Lastly, I would like to finish by wishing all our pupils and their families, together with the staff a lovely Easter break. I look forward to seeing you all in the summer term, which is always busy, so make the most of the rest.
I M Daniel, BA, NPQH
It is hard to believe quite how fast a fortnight goes when you are working in a school environment. Certainly, whilst I have been looking at preparing my fortnightly blog, the past couple of weeks have been full and have kept us all busy.
I would like to start by praising our year 12 students who I mentioned in my last blog. They went off to Swanage for a geography fieldtrip just after half-term. We have received feedback from the centre to say just how delighted they were with our students’ work ethic. They crammed so much into their trip, working from 9.00am to 9.00pm. They were praised for being one of the very best groups the centre have hosted. I expect our students to represent the school well, both in and out of school, so this feedback makes me incredibly proud. Well done to Amelia, Rebecca, Alex, Louie, Oliver and Owen. I know you all found the trip very useful with your studies. Now it is full steam ahead with revision for your examinations next term.
We’ve had the year 10’s consultation evening, which I hope was a positive experience for all concerned. At this stage there really should be no surprises and my one real piece of advice to the students is that effort is of paramount importance from now, all the way through until the final GCSEs in June 2018. Revision should become second nature in years 10 and 11, little and often being the key! I was brought up on the saying about perseverance and I believe it is good advice! As parents we need to be really positive and ensure we praise effort. It focuses your child’s attention on the right issues.
We are all incredibly proud of the students who are participating in the Bedfordshire Festival for Music, Speech and Drama. I have been pleased to see the joint choir rehearsing and they sounded fantastic. Everybody who takes part should be really proud of themselves. It is a serious competition and the experience is nerve-racking, but can really help to boost confidence in our students. It is a proven fact that the performing arts create a fun and structured space for children to navigate the ups and downs of their adolescence. Learning how to perform, singing with and in front of others, acting or dancing as part of a team or group – all of these things help children build a sense of purpose, camaraderie, confidence, and self-esteem.
Another thing that helps to build confidence in a child is knowing how to converse well. This is something that we all need to do in order to cope with life, anything from social situations, to job interviews. We also like to encourage our students to have a go at public speaking, as at some stage in our lives we all usually have to speak in front of an audience. Our students show a good deal of flair in this area and they are currently putting it to good use when working on their English speaking assessments. In my opinion, it is absolutely disgraceful that the speaking element of English no longer counts towards the final examination mark. I believe the ability to speak well is a really useful tool that we all need to develop. Confidence in front of an audience and the ability to appear natural when speaking publicly are really useful. Once you’ve learned the basic skills associated with public speaking, you’ll find that being able to effectively speak in public has profound benefits, including influencing the world around you and developing leadership skills.
I am delighted to report that our Peter Pan performances have proved to be very popular and tickets are selling fast. Please do contact the Admin Office if you need to book yours still. The students were busy again on Sunday rehearsing and we are so grateful for their commitment. Our thanks to parents for juggling your Sunday routines around in order to taxi the students to and from the rehearsals.
We are starting to think about preparations for summer events, so a date for your diary! We will be holding a musical concert at St Andrew’s on 3 July 2017 from 6.30pm. This follows on from the successful concert we held last year at Rushmoor where we had over 200 people attending, with canapes and bubbly to help put us in the mood for a ‘proms style’ evening, celebrating all things musical. It was a great atmosphere and I am sure that will be repeated this year too. The plan is to have performers from across the alliance, from the junior school upwards. Fingers crossed that the weather will be kind to us!
We are also starting to arrange the first joint sports days for the alliance students. The Junior sports day for nursery through to year 2 will be held on the Games Field on 4 July 2017 in the afternoon. Years 3 – 12 will attend sports day at the Athletics Stadium on 5 July 2017 all day. We will ensure that each school’s traditions are respected, but we feel that by combining, it will provide wonderful atmospheres and great sporting occasions.
Some of the students from St Andrew’s are enjoying a joint photography club with Rushmoor students. They have been learning about topics such as aperture (basically, large aperture lets in more light to the camera shutter for an exposure, while small aperture has a smaller opening in the lens diaphragm to let in less light for a given exposure), ISO (in digital photography ISO measures the sensitivity of the image sensor. The lower the number the less sensitive your camera is to light and the finer the grain. Higher ISO settings are generally used in darker situations to get faster shutter speeds) and depth of field (the distance between the nearest and furthest elements in a scene that appear to be “acceptably sharp” in an image). I know the students are learning far more about these topics than I will ever know and they probably won’t have to look up the meanings as I did! Last Tuesday they went across to The Mill in Bromham to capture some shots all under the expert guidance of Mr Child, who has volunteered his services. My thanks to him for running this club and for also compiling the recent Sixth Form marketing video, which featured on our FaceBook page recently. You can watch it by clicking this link www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsfICMcduG4
Well done to all the students from years 5 and 6 who took part in the netball match against Broughton Manor Prep School. It was a close fought competition, which finished 6-4 to them.
Also well done to the girls who took part in a very wet Independent Schools Association’s Netball Tournament. Fantastic levels of enthusiam in horrid conditions!
Finally on the sporting front, I would like to add my personal congratulations to all the students who took part in the Rowney Warren cross-country competition. I am delighted that our year 5/6 team achieved third place overall. This really is an excellent result.
I was delighted to see the students who are taking part in the Junior Skydiving GB competition have now started to raise funds for their equipment by holding a cake sale. Thank you to everybody who supported this by donating or purchasing cakes. It is great to see the support across the school and really highlights the family friendly feeling we strive to achieve. I noticed on our FaceBook page that this caught the attention of somebody who speaks Dutch, who left a comment that translated to “What fun to do that”. It is great that the students have so many opportunities to have fun during the school week and I am pleased that our reputation is spreading further afield!
A couple of Friday’s ago the children from years 6 and 7 had the chance to attend a disco and this week it is the turn of the year 8 and 9 students. I hope they have a great evening. Once again, thank you to the PTFA members for giving up your time to support this event. Also, thank you to our Head Boy, Oliver Sadd, and his Dad for providing the disco equipment again.
Miss Tweedale gave an interesting assembly outlining the Fundamental Values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect which underpins our society.
It’s a little early to be thinking about Christmas………. but Mrs Ayres, is collecting together the entries for the Royal Mail Christmas Stamp Competition this week ready to send off on Monday. All the entries so far have been fantastic and we are hoping for a winner! As well as receiving a prize for themselves and a prize for the school, the chosen design will be an official Christmas 2017 stamp which can be purchased at the Post Office.
The year 5 girls have been participating in the International ‘Cinemasports’ event. This film festival involves teams from across the world producing their own short film, (1-3 minutes) which must include 2 specific ingredients, which this year are ‘Zipper’ and ‘Magnet’. The girls have planned and produced their film which will be edited and uploaded to the Cinemasports Website ( http://www.cinemasports.com/ ) by the end of March.
All of the girls have been involved in this project and have learned about script writing, camera angles and film production. In the past this has been a fantastic experience for the girls and I am sure that it will be just as successful this year. Click here to see our previous videos.
Finally, we are pleased to be offering a Ballet Club for pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. This will start on Tuesday 14 March at 12.35-1.05pm in the Senior Hall. Please contact your child’s class teacher if you would like them to attend.
We understand the importance of keeping children active and the Nursery team have implemented a new physical introduction to the day through fun rhymes and action songs. We have trialled this with our oldest children so far and it seems to have been a huge hit….if you would like to enjoy their favourite rhyme at home you can find it on YouTube: ‘Shake your sillies out’ by the learning station. We would love you to send us photographs of your child doing their dance at home! Photographs can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Children of all ages enjoyed dressing up for World Book Day; we had a fantastic day exploring our books from home and we would like to mention Genevieve (babies) and her mum for their brilliant costumes….well done! Our older nursery children enjoyed a ‘book day’ parade with the junior school and we were very proud of them all.
Nursery management have been busy looking at ways in which to incorporate the community into nursery life and are currently in the process of working with the University of Bedfordshire to look at use of their forest school and also talking with the local retirement home to arrange for our oldest children to visit them to share experiences with them. We are very excited about these potential opportunities and will keep you updated as we go along.
Our youngest children have been enjoying texture/sensory play leading on from our last stay and play session; they have experimented as they attempt to pour flour down a water wheel or mixed coloured water by running separate colours down a variety of funnels and ramps... needless to say it has caused plenty of mess! The pre-school are getting ready for spring and have lots of lovely seeds and herbs to plant to make their outdoor area a colourful place to be. If you are a parent with green fingers you are more than welcome to come and join in, we also welcome any donations of seeds or bulbs. We have been learning new spring songs; music time is always a favourite with the children who look forward to seeing Mrs Trunchion each week.
Miss Niro would like thank all the parents so far who have returned their questionnaire regarding the nursery and the team. All feedback from parents and visitors will be incorporated into future action plans. Your fantastic feedback will be shared with staff, so keep it coming!
I would like to thank the students and staff who gave up their Saturday morning in order to attend the Open Morning. It was pleasing to see a number of prospective families coming to view our school, together with current families using the chance to chat informally with staff. Our students really are our best advertisment and mornings like this do help to promote the school well. Pictured are some of our students with the crocodile they were using as part of a drama display at the Open Morning.
Finally, another reminder about the Auction of Promises to be held on 17 March 2017. This has always proved to be an entertaining evening. The price is £10 per head which includes curry and wine. You can also bring your own nibbles and drinks. Please contact the Admin Office to purchase tickets. The event will be supporting the PTFA and our chosen GEMS charity (the school in India).
I M Daniel,
BA, NPQH Principal
The week before half-term we had our A-level taster evening, which was another chance for the year 11 students to learn more about the subjects we are offering for them. It is really important for them to have the chance to chat with the subject teachers and make an informed decision on their future options. We are strongly promoting our Sixth Form because we feel it is the right place for our students to continue their studies. It should be an automatic transition for our students to continue their post-16 education with us. We believe that the exceptional pastoral support, small classes, enrichment opportunities, mentoring and excellent teaching and learning our students receive in years 12 and 13 will prepare them well for their post-18 choices.
Our year 12 geographers went off to the Bedford Archives on the last week before the short break. The Archives Service cares for the written, oral and visual heritage of the Borough. It aims to ensure that the heritage material remains available to both present and future generations. The Archives Service can be used to discover your Bedfordshire ancestors, as well as uncover the history of buildings, villages and towns in the historic county. You can also use the collections to find out how national events were experienced locally. This links in with our year 12’s coursework studies on the public perception of certain local areas.
This particular A-level group are being kept very busy with enrichment opportunities; this week they had an early start on Wednesday morning, meeting at the school at 6.30am to head off to Swanage for a 3-day fieldtrip. Their location for the trip is Leeson House, the ideal venue for A Level fieldtrips, it is a secluded and comfortable residential centre situated near the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. The itinerary has been set to ensure our students learn and practice as many field skills as possible on the coastal topics. They will also have evening classroom sessions in order to collate data, collect secondary data, analyse their findings and write up their conclusions. They will visit Corfe Castle village and Studland Knowl Beach. My thanks to Miss Ross and Mr Whomsley for accompanying the students.
Well done to all our girls who took part in the Independent Schools Association’s London North Cross-Country Competition, which was hosted by Rushmoor and St Andrew’s. Thank you to all the staff who played a part in making the afternoon run smoothly. We were very pleased with the results, with Rosie Foster-Glennon finishing in first place, which is a fantastic achievement. Amelia Baker finished in fourth place, Evie Maddison in sixth place, Rosie Bailey eighth, Francesca Milburn tenth and Anusha Kambli eleventh – all fantastic results too. Great effort and I wish them all the best of luck at the ISA National Championships.
I would like to add my personal congratulations to Amelia Baker, Rosie Foster-Glennon and Evie Maddison who finished 3rd, 4th and 12th respectively in the County Cross-Country Championships just before half-term, as well as Rosie Bailey and Anusha Kambli who came 37th and 39th. This is a gruelling course and a tough competition, so the girls all did tremendously well. They should be very proud of their accomplishments and I know everybody at the school is very proud of them too. Again, thank you to the PE staff.
Overall it has been a great term so far for cross-country and I was delighted to learn that St Andrew’s was listed in 3rd place in North Bedfordshire for cross-country. This is an amazing achievement for a small school. Well done to all the students who have taken part and thank you to our PE Department.
The year 10 students studying art had a great first day back after half-term, with a trip to London. The group visited the Victoria and Albert Museum. The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design, housing a permanent collection of over 2.3 million objects that span over 5,000 years of human creativity. The museum houses some of the greatest resources for the study of architecture, furniture, fashion, textiles, photography, sculpture, painting, jewellery, glass, ceramics, book arts, Asian art and theatre and performance. So plenty to keep the girls busy! Thank you to Mrs Probets, Mrs Andrews and Mrs Ryan for taking the students.
We have a great deal going on at the moment in terms of performing arts, with the Peter Pan production rapidly approaching. I am really pleased to hear that the students are very committed and rehearsals are going well. Students will be rehearsing during the Open Morning on Saturday 25 February and I am sure they will showcase their talents well to impress our visitors. We also have many students taking part in the Bedfordshire Festival for Music, Speech and Drama, with a joint choir made up of students from Rushmoor and St Andrew’s performing for the first time this year. I do hope that parents will be able to attend the group and individual performances. My thanks to all the staff from across the alliance for their work in preparing our students for this Festival. The choir will be performing ‘For the Beauty of the Earth’ by John Rutter, ‘Brave’ by Sara Bareilles and ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen.
Subject help desks and booster sessions are available to students in year 11 and my advice is that everybody makes good use of them. In the run up to the formal examinations this support really helps. I know that our current year 12 cohort would give year 11s the same advice – they attended the booster revision sessions and sought additional help if they were uncertain of a topic and this helped them feel more confident in the examinations. I would also reiterate the fact that revision needs to be something that is done routinely now, right up to the last examination in June. Little and often is the key! A sensible revision timetable is vitally important.
Tonight is disco night for the students in years 6 and 7 from across the alliance. I remember my own sons attending these prior to me being involved with St Andrew’s School, I am glad they have been reinstated this year. I hope the students all enjoy the night and my thanks to the volunteers from the PTFA and the staff for arranging this. Thank you to Oliver Sadd, Head Boy at Rushmoor and his Dad for running the disco for us.
The year 9 consultation evening was held on Tuesday evening, 21st February. I hope that our year 9 students have finalised their decisions in regard to their option subjects. We are always happy to discuss this further if needed. I hope that the evening itself proved informative for both students and parents. Please do contact the subject teacher direct via email if you need any further assistance – we are here to help.
Aesop's Touring Theatre Company specialises in Theatre in Education, touring Schools, Children's Centres, Art Centres and Theatres nationally throughout the year with plays and workshops specifically written and designed for Nursery, Infant, Junior and Senior age groups. The Company aims to educate young audiences through the powers of entertainment and imagination whilst, at the same time, encouraging children to question and think for themselves. This Friday, 24th February, Aesop’s performed to an audience made up of students from across the alliance from Reception year through to year 6. It was arranged to support their history lessons. I hope they all found this enrichment opportunity enjoyable. Thank you to Mrs Djukic for organising it.
Well done to Matilda Norman for generously donating her hair to charity. Her lovely locks will be used to make real hair wigs for patients suffering hair loss.
Our Year 5 and 6 girls had their first netball match just before the half term break. They played valiantly against Bedford Girls School and Player of the Match was Jelena Ilic.
Our Spring Literacy morning was a flurry of creative activity. Pupils thoroughly enjoyed working collaboratively to produce attractive displays based on characters created by the popular 2011–2013 Children's Laureate writer, Julia Donaldson.
Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 each looked at the story ‘What the Ladybird Heard’. Reception made a giant paper mâché ladybird, they painted the ladybird and added spots and glitter! Year 1 decided to make some animal masks based on the animals in the story that helped to save the prize cow. Year 2 looked carefully at the story and wrote their own version of ‘What the ladybird heard’ called ‘What the caterpillar heard’ swapping the ladybird for a caterpillar. They used some lovely language and adjectives in their story and it has a fantastic ending. We came together at the end and decorated some cakes with ladybird icing and chocolate chips.
Years 3- 6 used ‘Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book’ as the inspiration to produce a collaboratively written book of their own. The day started with pupils across the different year groups being paired up to share their own favourite books which covered a very wide range of genres. Each pair then chose a favourite book to use as the stimulus for their own double page spread. As well as writing about their book in rhyme, pupils used their creativity to illustrate their page using a range of media. The resulting pages are wonderful to read and very individually presented. They are displayed up the blue stairs in Walmsley House so don’t forget to pop along and take a peek!
On Wednesday 22nd February the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) celebrated World Thinking Day. This day has been marked by WAGGGS since 1926, celebrating international friendship and raising awareness on issues affecting girls and young women. Charlotte Kent, Roma Kealy, Amy Parrish, Isabelle Burt and Amy Parrish came to school in their association’s uniforms to mark this special day.
It has been a busy week in nursery as we received visitors from other settings who wanted to look at how we support our children individually. Ms Dempsey and Miss Niro have been extremely proud of the visitors’ reactions and feedback to our setting, in particular how engaged and motivated the children are. We are looking forward to continuing to build our network of childcare settings in order to put together a focus group which will look at best practice.
Following the children’s interests so far this week, we have enjoyed dinosaurs, excavating fossils and bones, the season of spring, magnets, room on the broom and outdoor mark making (Writing). Children have also enjoyed baking together in order to create real life props for their home corner. Our younger children are relishing the task of getting to grips with scissors and we would particularly like to thank Nicole (who is based in Toddlers) for her great ideas in ensuring that learning this particular skill has been exciting and presented in different ways.
We would like in particular to mention Isaac and his mummy in our Owls class for a continuous supply of interesting facts and models from their adventures, this made for a fantastic focus week and plenty of new facts to discover for the rest of the class.
As the weather becomes warmer, we are planning ahead and looking forward to planting a new batch of fruit and vegetables along with the Reception children as part of our integrated learning experiences. If you are a keen gardener and have some spare seeds, we would welcome any donations.
We have also welcomed two further additions to our nursery family this week and practitioners have worked hard to ensure that their first few days have been enjoyable and begin to build solid relationships.
We are looking forward to seeing everyone at this Saturday’s stay and play where we will be enjoying sensory play which includes cooking, making playdough, cornflour play, light boxes and sensory bottles. We will also be displaying a range of resources which cover topics such as speech and language, guides to levels of development for your child’s two year old progress checks and available sessions for you and your child at local children’s centres. While you are here, please feel free to have a look at the junior school which will be holding their open morning, the school staff will be more than happy to assist you.
Visit to Boston
Over the half-term break I visited Boston, Massachusetts in my role as Vice Chair of the Legacy of the Olympic Committee across Bedfordshire. I really didn’t know what to expect, but we had a jammed packed itinerary for the week. As Principal of two schools I found it fascinating to be able to visit a range of educational establishments from state schools, to independent schools, colleges, right up to Harvard University. I brought lots of ideas back, not just about sport, but also the wider curriculum. I will be discussing these with teachers across the alliance. There was a huge emphasis on sport and fitness, right from a really young age and I witnessed the very best PE lesson for junior school children I’ve ever seen. The cheerleading was fantastic, so I am glad we are introducing this at St Andrew’s. You can see from the indoor track facilities in the photograph, they are well prepared for the adverse weather they have. We saw a lot of snow!
Whilst in Boston, we had the fantastic opportunity to meet Nelson Mandela’s grandson, who is continuing his grandfather’s legacy. He travels the world to give talks on what happened to his grandfather, apar theid and how Nelson Mandela overcame adversity to lead South Africa into a brighter direction. It was a truly inspirational night.
Ndaba Mandela spoke in detail about meeting his famous grandfather when he was 11 and living with him in South Africa's Presidential Palace. He said “I carry with me the values of my grandfather, I am an African and I know what it means to be African, and I’m proud of it.”
Ndaba Mandela is chairman of the Africa Rising Foundation, a nonprofit foundation that works to improve Africa's image around the world. The organisation also works on economic development in Africa. Their aim is to create a mindset that instills and uplifts a heightened sense of pride and purpose in young Africans to ignite a New African Generation. I will use some of his words and put together an assembly on the subject for the senior students. His message to the audience was ‘together we can achieve anything’.
Open Morning is tomorrow and it would be great to see the whole school community attend to show off their school. This really helps our visitors to see the real sense of pride and belonging the students have for their school. It is also fun for students to help in their particular area of interest. I hope all families received the invitations and I hope to see you there.
I M Daniel, BA, NPQH
3 February 2017
Welcome to my first Principal’s Blog for St Andrew’s School. The blogs will be a mixture of day-to-day life at the school and my own thoughts on educational matters. They will be issued on a fortnightly basis.
Since St Andrew’s and Rushmoor formed their alliance, I have taken more and more of an active role at St Andrew’s School. The best part of this for me is to have the chance to spend time with the students. In the past couple of weeks I have been fortunate to be able to cover some of their lessons and they really seemed to enjoy the content and the learning experience. Enjoyment is a valuable tool when it comes to learning and that is something that stays with us all throughout our lives. If you enjoy something, you will take more from it. Across the alliance I try to promote an environment where students can enjoy their school life. Yes, there will be times when they will struggle, but they should feel happy enough to ask for help and know they are going to get it. There is no question that this type of environment is a key strength for any school.
Recently, I have heard a story about a student at another school who was entered incorrectly for GCSE examinations and has suffered terrible stress because of it. The student had specific learning needs which were not catered for. Staff blamed one another, so nobody was held accountable. Basically, the child got lost in the system. The system is a school that is too large, staff that are overstretched, and a severe lack of pastoral care. The end result is a deeply unhappy child. This should not be allowed to happen anywhere, but it is a reality and I am sure it is not the only one. It highlights why the students here are very fortunate to attend this school and why, as their Principal, I will strive to work for their best interests so we do not have unhappy children.
I firmly believe that students should have a strong and powerful voice in their education. This is why I run the School Voice and I listen to what the students have to say to me. I react to what they say. I also react to what parents say. If I consider changes are needed or something has to be done, it gets done and it gets done quickly. That is my style. I believe in that old saying that if you want something done; then ask a busy person. I work hard to ensure that all the students at St Andrew’s experience a happy school environment. An environment where they can extend their learning away from just the linear approach; yes, they will all learn subject material in the traditional way, but they will also enjoy an environment where they can have deeper learning experiences and are given the opportunities to expand their minds and be happy.
St Andrew’s School has enjoyed different reputations throughout its long history. Originally it was seen as a sort of finishing school for young ladies, where academic achievements were not really cause for concern. It moved on from that to become a school where students were pushed further academically. Now, St Andrew’s is part of a strong alliance and we are working towards an eventual merger to form the diamond model school (albeit frustratingly slowly due to the Borough’s planning department). In the meantime, St Andrew’s is a school that offers students, now both boys and girls, the ideal place to feel welcome, cared for and happy, with access to exceptional pastoral care and excellent teaching and learning. We value the diversity of the students within our care and we work hard with parents to ensure each child fulfils their potential.
I am delighted that the students across the alliance are working together on the production of Peter Pan. I am informed that the rehearsals are going really well. I would like to thank the staff involved; Mrs Stott, Mrs Gittins, Mr Day and Mrs Frost for their hard work and commitment to this project. I would also like to say the same to the students involved, particularly for giving up your free time on Sundays to put in the rehearsal time required. I am very much looking forward to seeing the production in March at the Place Theatre. Look out for information on ticket sales which will be sent out shortly.
On the subject of children flying I would like to mention our skydiving club. As part of inspections (I know, I am an inspector) Ofsted and the ISI look at the extra-curricular activities that the school provides. Not many schools can say they have a skydiving club!
I would like to say thank you to Mr Farnsworth for running this club, together with Ms Robson from Rushmoor, for the children across the alliance. I know they are all enjoying the skydiving, but have also had the chance to meet the Blue Peter presenters and are now the first GB team to be preparing to participate in the World Challenge in April. Fabulous! Well done to all.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mrs Turner for her help with the horse riding club. I know that a number of our students are keen on this particular sport and I am delighted that it is something the school can offer as an extra-curricular activity. I know nothing about horses, although my niece owns two and tries to encourage an interest. Having spoken with her, I know there are school competitions, so in future I would love to see our students competing in these. This is an area where we can develop further if the students so wish.
Well done to Lindsey Gifford, Emma Grieve and Zeynep Salerno who are taking part in the Active Girls Challenge at Kempston Outdoor Centre. This is an eight week course which will includes yoga, body combat and spinning (one of my favourite fitness activities nowadays). It is an excellent opportunity for them to participate in a variety of sports and I am sure they will have a great time doing so. I want some feedback girls!
Another area I would like to encourage more is swimming. We have the opportunity to get more of our students involved in squad swimming at Trinity Pool. It is free and something I would really like our students to think about joining in. Please contact my PA if you would like more details on 01234 352031. I went to the swimming at Robinson Pool this week to watch and there are some top quality swimmers amongst the students, which is really pleasing. On that note I would like to say well done to Ella Stone who won a silver and bronze medal in the County Championships last weekend at Inspire Luton - great achievement Ella.
As a keen sportsman I have tried many different activities over the years. One of the most enjoyable was attending karate, where I achieved my brown belt. It is such a great discipline and I am delighted that it is offered as an extra-curricular club to students from Reception to Year 11. I hope the students currently attending are enjoying the experience and I would encourage others to join them. Please contact Mrs Cox in the school’s reception if you would like to sign up.
Gymnastics is another great discipline and has become more popular since the wonderful successes of our Team GB athletes at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016. I have a young daughter who loves showing me her cartwheels and I know it is a sport that youngsters enjoy. I am pleased the students at St Andrew’s have the opportunity to attend gymnastics sessions at the school and I would again encourage participation. Again please contact Mrs Cox if you would like to join in.
I would also remind students that they can participate in netball as an enrichment activity. Please contact Miss Holyoak if you would like to attend. I would like to say a huge well done to Amelia Baker and Rosie Bailey for their great running at the District Cross-Country Competition. Amelia was awarded third place in an excellent run.
Congratulations to Amelia Baker, Year 7, Rosie Foster-Glennon, Year 5, Evie Maddison, Year 8, Anusha Kambli, year 10 and Rosie Bailey, Year 11 who have all qualified for the County Cross Country.
Our sports teams are getting stronger and stronger and this can only improve with more participation. I will be actively encouraging the students to participate. Please do speak to me if there are any extra-curricular clubs or enrichment opportunities you would like to be considered at the Parents’ Council ( if you are unable to attend these please do email Mrs Heaney). My ultimate aim for sport in school is to encourage fitness and for the children to find something they enjoy and will continue into adult life in order to achieve a healthier lifestyle.
I take sport seriously, so I am off to Boston over half-term as part of a working team from the UK who are representatives from the Legacy of the Olympics Committee (LOC). I am Vice-Chair of the Bedfordshire Committee and this is an opportunity for me to liaise with my counterparts in the United States to see how sport can be used to enrich the lives of children. We are visiting five schools over the course of the week, which is a great opportunity for me to also look at other areas in the American education system that may be of benefit to us.
Moving on to another area I feel passionately about – food. I am delighted that our new Food Technology teacher at Rushmoor has agreed to offer an extra-curricular opportunity at St Andrew’s. She is running a ‘Great British Bake Off’ inspired club, which the students seem to be really enjoying. There are places still available for this club, so if any student would like to join in, please contact Mrs Cox to book a place. I believe Food Technology is a really important subject and cooking is a valuable life skill that should not be underestimated. My mother was a Domestic Science teacher and I learnt cooking from her. It stood me in good stead for my university days and beyond! In recent years, girls have seemed to step away from the GCSE, but I do hope that the students coming up through the middle years will reconsider this as a serious option and that clubs like this will help to inspire them.
Schools are not just judged on their academic success, but their sporting provision and the arts. I consider Music to be a really important part of school life. I particularly encourage students to try becoming a member of the choir. Singing is uplifting and being a member of a choir is really great socially too. I covered a music lesson recently, which was a bit of a last minute thing, so I had to think on my feet. We ended up singing some popular tunes and I know the students really loved the lesson from the feedback I received. So, why don’t they join the choir and try singing the music they like? I would love to hear them – particularly our senior girls – at another music concert like we had last summer. Anybody interested in joining the choir, let me know.
At one of the meetings of the Student Voice, I was advised that the students would like to see cheerleading introduced as an extra-curricular activity. As I said earlier, I believe that our students should raise their ideas with the leadership team and I am delighted that cheerleading will now be introduced for Years 9 and 10 and will then filter down to the other age groups.
I have also taken on board the comments made at the Student Voice meeting about a variety of menu ideas for school lunches. The group was invited to meet with the Catering Manager to discuss the ideas and their views are being considered. We are also considering their views in relation to the tuck shop and they have even had their input regarding the curriculum timetable for next year.
Our Year 9 pupils had an information evening regarding their options for GCSE recently. This is a very important decision for the students to make and I hope that the evening helped. Final option choices will need to be made by 6 March so there is still plenty of time to consider everything. Please do feel free to contact teachers to discuss any queries you have. Alternatively, Mr Jones is happy to chat things through and can be contacted via email@example.com
The Duke of Edinburgh Award is something that I personally believe is extremely worthwhile. Indeed, I have encouraged my two sons to do this and one is now working towards his gold award, the other towards his silver. It is something that is highly regarded when seen on your curriculum vitae by further educational establishments and employers. It shows commitment and determination. Vitally important in today’s fast moving world! I would strongly encourage our senior girls to take on board this challenge and we will provide them with all the assistance they require. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further advice.
I was delighted that we were able to introduce the new Sixth Form this academic year. The Sixth Form is really functioning well at Fenwick House and I know the students are really enjoying their new freedoms. They are also working hard on their subjects and understand the importance of striving to achieve their best. I hear lots of talk about universities and different courses and it is great to hear the sixth formers considering their post-18 education so seriously.
We have been delighted to introduce the current Year 11 girls and boys to Fenwick House and talk to them about their next steps after GCSEs. They enjoyed spending time having subject taster sessions and talking to the current Year 12s about how things are different in the A-level years. I know that they are considering their options and I know they will benefit from the nurturing environment at our very own Sixth Form. Lots of the Sixth Formers are enjoying being involved with the wider school communities at St Andrew’s and Rushmoor. They are running clubs for the younger children as part of their volunteering work for the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award and helping out in whole school events and fundraising activities. I also know that the Sixth Formers thoroughly enjoy the many enrichment opportunities they get involved with. Directly after half-term the geographers are off to Swanage for a few days where they will take part in field studies and lectures in a purpose built facility. Overall, the Sixth Form is a great addition to the alliance and I hope that the St Andrew’s girls will take full advantage of having it, particularly because I’ve been hearing even more about budgetary cuts in the county this week and post-16 education will be the first to be hit, which is very worrying. I would be delighted to give a personal tour of the Sixth Form during lesson time for you as parents to get a flavour of the wonderful teaching and learning in the setting. Bursaries and scholarships are available for the Sixth form.
Mrs Djukic is now fully embedded in her role as Head of Junior School across the alliance. She splits her time equally between the two sites and I know that she is ably supported by Mrs van der Sande and the full junior school and nursery team here at St Andrew’s. I wanted to include this picture of Mrs Djukic chatting to the children during an assembly last term. I think it sums up St Andrew’s School well. I love to see the way in which the children are all fully engaged with their teacher. As one of the leadership team, Mrs Djukic is not just a teacher and in many other schools in her role, she would not necessarily know the children so well and interact with them at this level. I think it is wonderful to have senior leadership at shop floor level to fully understand how a school ticks, which is why this picture sums up St Andrew’s School so well for me.
I am extremely proud of our nursery provision. They have worked exceptionally hard to be judged as outstanding by Ofsted and to be the winners of the national award for excellence in provision judged by the ISI. I enjoy visiting the nursery and seeing all the happy children there. I would now like to see more of those children moving onto the junior school and beyond because I know they will continue to thrive in the environment that the alliance can provide. Mrs Djukic is always happy to talk to parents about their options in this respect and can be contacted at any time on email@example.com. Please remember bursaries are available subject to status.
I hope that all our students have a very enjoyable half-term break. In my next blog I will update all parents on the new school at Clapham Park. Please note I am always open to ideas for the blog, so please do inform the SLT team if you would like to see an area of the school featured more.
I M Daniel, BA, NPQH