Blog from the Top
Friday 3 February 2017
“Times they are a changin’!”
It’s a changing landscape in so many aspects of life at the moment.
On a global scale, we have Brexit, President Trump, the threat of terrorism and, to lighten the mood, Beyoncé’s changing profile!
On a local scale, as we pause for a moment to glance out of the window, we see Edenbrook continuing to grow and a nearly completed Leisure Centre across the road.
In education terms, the current Year 11s are preparing for brand new GCSEs in English and Maths that will be graded on the new 9-1 system this Summer. This will be supported by our revised ‘Lesson 0 and Lesson 7’ intervention programme, “Make a Difference”.
These changes will gradually roll out across all the year groups and are having a direct impact on our teaching and learning, bringing additional challenges and requiring all of us to embrace the growth mindset approach that underpins ‘The Calthorpe Way’.
We have also had something of a drive on morning punctuality recently and are delighted to report a change in this area too, with a steady improvement; we appreciate parental support in ensuring that students are here on time. Next week we will continue our Prepared and Ready to Learn programme with a particular focus on ensuring that all students are properly equipped; once again, we would welcome parental support in this matter.
Next week at Calthorpe Park is our annual ‘Week of Change’ which focuses on the United Nations Rights of the Child. A wide range of related activities are scheduled, concluding next Friday with a ‘teacher swap’ whereby a number of lessons will be prepared and taken by students, in place of their teachers, thus encouraging responsibility, awareness, organisation and planning.
Change is inevitable and might not always be to our liking; our challenge is to make the changes positive, dynamic and advantageous. Making the best of everything and never giving up.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” (Nelson Mandela)
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for.” (Barack Obama)
Friday 2nd December 2016
A very brief blog from us this week, just to highlight three moments during the past few days that have truly captured something of the essence of the school.
A prospective teacher at the school came to have a look round and was taken on a tour by two young students. Upon his return, he spoke of their honesty and openness, their positivity and their palpable pride in the school of which they are a part. He immediately applied for the job!
Four Year 11 students represented the school’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Club under the direction of Mr Hainsworth at a national awards ceremony at the House of Lords. The following day we received an email from someone who had also been at the ceremony and who had met our students. The email stated, "It was a pleasure to meet them. They were very professional, mature and had such enthusiasm for the great work they had done. They were a credit to the school and to themselves."
Finally, we held our Interhouse Music Competition this week. It was a wonderful event that will be reported in detail in the Christmas Newsletter, but during one solo performance, having sung beautifully, one student slightly forgot her words. As emotion swept across her face, the entire student audience, irrespective of age and house allegiance, instantly began to sing the song for her, to her ….and with her.
Confidence, commitment, care, compassion, community...
Friday 18th October 2016
And so to the end of the busiest fortnight ever!
Week beginning 7.11.16: Full Governing Body Meeting on Monday Evening and Governors’ Finance and Personnel Committee on Tuesday evening. Wednesday evening saw us at both a CPSA meeting and an Ocean Stars Event. Thursday? Our annual Certificate Evening and what a fantastic event it was. Attended by 140 ex-Year 11s and their parents, it was an absolute joy to meet up again with such delightful, dynamic and incredibly grown-up young adults.
On Friday 11.11.16 at 11am, the whole Calthorpe community joined together to hear the Last Post played, from the courtyard balcony, by one of our Year 10 students and to collectively observe two minutes’ silence in honour of those who have given their life in war.
On Sunday afternoon, with two of our Senior Student Leadership Team, we attended the Fleet Remembrance Service. Afterwards, in a very moving ceremony, our students read a poem of remembrance and laid a wreath at the War Memorial in Gurkha Square.
This week has been less hectic, meetings-wise, but has nevertheless seen our current Year 11s embark on the first week of their GCSE Mock Exams. And they have done so with exemplary behaviour and great focus.
We have also completed the first of this year’s Calthorpe Lesson Standard events. Over two days, every teacher has been observed by a member of our Senior Leadership Team and we have seen many fine examples of inspirational teaching by our dedicated colleagues and learning by our intellectually curious and creative students.
Feeding back, individually, to each colleague is a great opportunity for us all to engage in vital pedagogic discussion and to engage in reflection on what constitutes outstanding learning and learning dispositions – which is surely what education is all about?
Friday 7th October 2016
Generosity of spirit, cakes and impromptu fire drills!
As the school year continues to move forward, so we at Calthorpe Park continue to do the same.
Open Evening was the highlight of our week, with students and staff showing our many visitors just how fantastic a school we are. With so many activities and experiences on offer in the various subject areas, guests at the school were bombarded with choice and were able to get thoroughly immersed in the many aspects of Calthorpe Park life. So much so, that even the Science Department’s over-enthusiastic use of Bunsen burners, and an impromptu fire drill, couldn’t dampen their spirits! The sheer volume of people on the school site was a joy to behold, and made the efforts of everyone involved particularly worthwhile….even if the students (and staff) appeared a little tired the next day! A huge thank-you to all involved, it was truly a team effort and a fantastic success.
Not content with their very active role in our Open Evening, the Senior Student Leadership Team also organised our annual Macmillan Coffee Morning this week. Again, the whole school community got involved in some capacity. Whether it was making and bringing in delicious cakes to sell, wearing Mufti, donating directly to charity or having to contend with the ‘hardship’ of buying and consuming a scrumptious treat and hot drink at break, everyone played their part in raising a large amount for charity. Needless to say, such was the students’ ‘appetite’ for this event, it was a total sell-out by the end of break!
The week will finally end this evening when various teams battle it out for the title of ‘Calthorpe Park Quiz Champion’. Our CPSA supports the school in so many ways, and events such as these play an important role in their fund-raising efforts. With a Quiz Master who relishes the challenge of setting a puzzling set of questions, it is never a foregone conclusion who the winners will be. However, whatever the outcome, the journey is always more important than the destination, even for those who don’t quite make it and who are left to console themselves with a plentiful and tasty curry.
We never cease to be amazed by the kind and generous nature of our students, parents and staff and that is something that is never taken for granted. But it is lovely to witness and be part of such a spirit on a daily basis, no matter what is going on at Calthorpe Park School.
Friday 30th September 2016
A very hectic, but typical week at Calthorpe Park!
What a busy but fantastic week!
Our annual Prize Giving Ceremony, in the Hart Leisure Centre on the evening of 22nd September, was a wonderful evening of celebration. Having recognised the superlative achievements, academic, personal and community-based, of over 220 students at our July Awards Ceremony, and at a special Award Winners BBQ on 16th September, Prize Giving was an opportunity for the parents of our Award Winners to come along, share in the celebrations and to proudly watch as their sons and daughters were recognised for their successes. We, and our staff, welcomed in excess of 450 parents to the ceremony and awarded 165 Subject Awards and 149 Pastoral Awards. An amazing achievement!
On Sunday 25th September, our Race for Life was held on the school site. Organised by Ms Perez in support of Cancer Research UK, 75 students, family and friends turned out in a range of fancy dress on a crisp, autumnal Sunday morning to complete the course (2.5 or 5 kilometres, according to choice and personal fitness levels) and to raise over £900 for this excellent charity. Thanks to our CPSA whose refreshments were a great pick-me-up for tired but elated participants on completion of the race.
On Tuesday 27th September, all our Year 7 and 8 students were treated to the Punctuation Show in our Hall. Presented through song, dance, joke and interactive quizzes, who could have guessed that learning how to use grammar well could be so very entertaining and such fun! And we were particularly delighted by the very positive feedback from the guest presenter, Barrie McDermid who wrote: ‘ I’m now back home safely and would like to thank you for your wonderful hospitality. During my visit to Calthorpe Park, I found that my conversations with staff illustrated the school’s commitment to achieving great results and the students seemed very well-balanced and happy. Their manners were flawless and their courtesy was outstanding. All staff were enthusiastic and supportive of each other and gave me the impression that Calthorpe Park is as nice a place to work as it was to visit’. What a superb accolade! And a big ‘thank you’ to our excellent new Librarian, Mrs Ward, for organising this very impactful event for our students.
On the afternoon of 27th, we held our ‘Meet the Tutor’ Interviews. A great opportunity for our new Year 7 parents to come in to chat to their son or daughter’s new Tutor and to find out just how well they have settled into life and learning at Calthorpe Park.
On Wednesday 28th September, we held our Options at 16+ Information Evening which was very well attended by our Year 11 students and their parents. Representatives of local colleges, apprenticeship providers and the Careers Service were present to advise on wide-ranging aspects of college life and post-16 pathways and this was an excellent start to the process our Year 11 must now embark on as they plan for life after Calthorpe Park. This final year with us will go by so quickly for them!
Thursday 29th September was a whole-school Mufti Day in support of our Ocean Stars Charity. Over £900 was raised, which was a fantastic sum that will be added to the £8,400 already raised this year by the students and staff who will be travelling to Sri Lanka in October. This money will be used to benefit the local schools, and their students, that our party will work with during their 10 day trip.
And finally today, Friday 30th, an INSET Day and school closure for our students but a busy day of Performance Management, Subject Self Evaluation and Improvement Planning for 2016/17 for our staff.
Just a flavour of a very hectic, but typical week at Calthorpe Park!
Friday 16th September 2016
Having now completed a full week of the new timetable and new year, we want formally to welcome back all of our students and colleagues and, in particular, all of our new staff. It is quite a long list of new faces that join the Calthorpe community but as the school grows, our staffing must reflect the need to retain the same size of teaching and tutor groups, something that is core to our beliefs and standards.
Mr Roberts joins us as Associate Leader with responsibility for Maths and Numeracy having previously held a senior position in a school in Basingstoke. He has settled in quickly and is already building on the reputation of the department as well as the skills and qualities of the team around him.
Joining Mr Roberts in the Maths team we are also delighted to welcome Mr Downes, Ms Man, Mr Kisob and Ms Webb. Mr Downes is a highly experienced and successful new colleague who was previously a Lead Teacher of Maths; Ms Man has worked in a number of local schools with success; Mr Kisob was based in a school nearby until this year and came to us with an excellent reputation; and Ms Webb has travelled to us from Australia where she was previously Maths Curriculum Adviser for the State of Queensland. We have been extremely lucky to recruit such highly skilled, qualified and experienced staff into a subject area that is a shortage one nationally.
We were further delighted to recruit Mr Jones as our new Head of Modern Languages. A very experienced Subject Leader in two schools previously, he has held a whole school position at a school in Reading but returns to his first love and subject specialism in his new role with us.
Two new colleagues have joined the History Department, Mr Redman and Ms Williams. Both have been successful subject specialists in other schools and, once again, we are delighted to have been able to recruit such experienced colleagues.
Mr Irvine has taken up a post in our Computing and Business Studies team and also joins us having held more senior positions elsewhere; he is looking forward to getting back into the classroom and working with our wonderful students.
Ms Blake and Ms Hadley join our Drama Department with additional roles in promoting literacy. Ms Hadley was with us for a few weeks at the end of last year and they have both started with great enthusiasm and creativity… as you might expect.
Ms Francis and Mr Barrett are also new colleagues who joined us for the final part of last term, moving seamlessly into the RE/Psychology and Science departments respectively. We also welcome Mr Ferry to the Science Team. Mr Ferry will this year work part-time with us here at Calthorpe Park and part-time in the Science department at Farnborough Sixth Form College.
Another new colleague has also made the long journey from Australia, and we warmly welcome our new member of the English Department, Ms Brown.
Mrs Griffiths is a highly experienced and specialist teacher who joins our Learning Support Department. We are delighted to welcome her to Calthorpe Park.
We offer the warmest of welcomes to all of our new colleagues. We also express our admiration for how quickly they have settled in and the high standards that they are all setting right from the start. We look forward to working with them and to the contribution we know they will make as we move the school forward and develop yet further success in the future.
On the subject of success, we must conclude by paying tribute to all of the staff who worked with our Year 11 leavers to achieve such great results this summer, the details of which were published a few weeks ago. We know that large numbers of our former students will be starting college or apprenticeships or jobs around this time and we take this opportunity to congratulate them on their excellent GCSE outcomes and to wish them every success and happiness in the future.
The 2016 leavers set a very high standard and we challenge our current Year 11 to aspire to be even better than their predecessors (they certainly have the potential) and thus inspire younger generations of Calthorpe students to continue that improvement, year on year.
Finally, we thank you all for your support on the matter of uniform this year. Almost without exception, students have returned looking immaculate so enabling us all to concentrate on the business of learning.
Welcome to the new school year.
Friday 1st July 2016
Only 12 more school days to the end of the year.
Looking back, it doesn’t seem possible; the year has gone so fast! And what an amazing year it has been in so many ways. And nowhere more emphatically evident than in terms of the diversity and volume of curricular, extra-curricular and enrichment opportunities that have taken place. A true reflection of the importance we place on the promotion of the spiritual moral, social and cultural development of our students. “Educating the whole child” in the widest sense.
The final half term of the year is proving to be as busy as ever with an equally diverse schedule of events. We have concluded GCSE exams. We held our Year 11 Leavers’ Assembly last week and we enjoyed their excellent Prom at Highfield Park. Both had the highest attendance of any such event in our school’s history with over 200 students (from a Year group of 214) attending the Prom. Their behaviour, attitude and appearance were quite superb.
Delightful too have been the behaviour and exuberance of our 255 Year 6 guests who today completed their two Year 6 to 7 Transition Days with us. It has been an excellent occasion, as was the Transition Parents’ Evening yesterday, and we look forward to welcoming both students and parents to Calthorpe Park in September.
We know, too, that the remaining 12 days will be filled with a similarly diverse range of events: our school production of Beauty and the Beast; Sports Day, our annual SLUGG Walk, trips to Winchester Science Centre, our D of E Assessment Weekend, the Pen Y Fan Challenge and, of course, our Annual Awards Ceremony on the final day of term.
And just to balance this wonderful array of enrichment events lined up, parents might be interested to learn of some of the strategic work that has been going on during the final few weeks of term.
Formulation of the 2016/17 academic timetable is well under way with the issue of three year groups embarking on, or working within an options framework, being a challenge to be overcome for the first time! Next year’s School Calendar is also almost ready; our Assessment and Reporting Calendar is currently out for consultation, as is our proposed Meetings Schedule for 16/17. We have formed and are currently training a Teaching, Learning and Assessment Group which will drive pedagogic improvement in school next year. We are also currently devising ‘Calthorpe Park Standards’ in a wide range of areas of leadership, teaching, learning, behaviour and operational systems; these are a set of benchmarks and non-negotiable standards which will underpin all aspects of our professional and operational practice in school and we will be using them to structure the New Staff Induction Day that we will be holding in early July.
And finally, to reflect and encapsulate our values and ethos, we have distilled our expectations for student attitudes, approaches and relationships into a new set of principles entitled “The Calthorpe Way”. These have been recently publicised through posters, presentations, assemblies, and via the Year 6 Induction Days and Evening. For further details, please take a look at our Ethos and Values page.
Wednesday 18th May 2016
Having recently visited a school where the path to the Headteacher's door is described as being 'steep and full of obstacles', we reflected on the openness of Calthorpe Park and our own desire never to find ourselves in that sort of 'management Ivory tower'.
Calthorpe Park is a self-evaluative school. We constantly review our practice and reflect on how we can drive continuous improvement. Fundamental to this is to find out what our stakeholders think about our school.
We have, therefore, recently conducted two questionnaires, one with the staff and the other with the students. We wanted to reflect on what is going well and, more importantly, on how we might do things better, so we thought we would share the outcomes with you in this week's Blog.
So, what did they think?
Out of more than a thousand (anonymous) student responses, over 90% think that the school provides good teaching, that we have high expectations for the quality of work, that learning and progress are the school's priorities and that students respect staff.
The same 90%+ response was accorded to their belief that the House system works well and that they work hard and engage actively with their learning; also that they have a clear understanding that hard work improves life chances and that they recognise that they have a supportive learning environment at home.
Similarly favourable responses were recorded regarding their belief that they are challenged to think in lessons, that the school's learning resources are good, that their teachers encourage them to contribute actively in lessons and provide them with work that promotes independence in learning and that our classrooms are pleasant places to learn.
And it continued in a similar vein with our students feeling that they are treated with respect, that the school values the student voice and that their parents are interested in their learning. Finally, students emphatically stated that they feel safe and happy at Calthorpe Park and that they are proud to be members of this school.
Overall, 94% rated the school as Good, Very Good or Outstanding.
Inevitably, there were some areas where responses were less favourable and we took anything with less than a 70% positive response to be an area we need to reflect on and put plans in place to address. 70% may seem to be a relatively high threshold for concern but we set our standards high. Students perceive there to be a need for increased consistency in behaviour management, in teachers' use of praise and rewards and in the quality of learning.
Striving for greater consistency in all we do is a key objective of our 2016 School Improvement Plan, this need having been identified by ourselves via our 2015 School Self Evaluation process. 'The rest of us like the best of us' is our watchword and something we will continue to strive for in all that we do. We will reflect on what the students have said over the next few weeks. We are already putting together an action plan.
Finally, we also gave students the opportunity to make any comments they wished to about the school. Very few took this opportunity but we leave you with a few quotes that reflect some of their views:
"CPS is a great school, full of great opportunities and people!" Year 7 student
"Lucky to have such a great school." Year 10 student
"CPS is a brilliant community with hard working students who really care about it." Year 11 student
Friday 29th April 2016
This week has been a week in which a variety of visitors have commented extremely favourably on our school, its buildings, our staff and our students. From the Site Manager of Balfour Beatty (who finally leaves us this week, with our sincere thanks for the fantastic job he has done over the past 20 months) who commented what a joy it has been to work at the school, through a visiting member of the Hampshire Inspection and Advisory Service, to a number of candidates for important roles within the school. Their comments have been very satisfying and it would be easy to rest on our laurels.
We are a school, however, which is in an almost constant process of self-evaluation and improvement planning. The above plaudits add weight to our conviction that we have some outstanding materials to work with but that there are always things that we can do better. This is equally true of organisations as it is of individuals.
Our Year 11 students have now completed their Art and Photography exams, are in the middle of their Drama exams and have the full exam season only ten days away. We know how hard they are working to do that bit better. The focus and concentration evident in the exams to date, as well as their ongoing commitment to revision sessions, demonstrate clearly that they know just how crucial it is to look back, reflecting on how things in the future can be done even better. When we make mistakes, it is not the mistake that is important but what we take from it, and how we move forward subsequently. That is what learning is all about.
Although our building programme is physically completed, there are a multitude of new challenges and tasks ahead of us, not only in the environment but in everything we do; and we know we have the capacity to do even better, to continue to grow. We also know that there will be times when things don't go quite so well. But we learn from those times and we move forward with the support of the entire school community.
We thank Balfour Beatty for giving us a wonderful new building that reflects the aspirations of the school. We thank the Year 11s (and the staff) for their commitment to all aspects of their schooling and exam preparation.
Growing is hard work!
"If we are growing, we are always going to be out of our comfort zone" (Maxwell)
However, "Without continual growth and progress, such words as ‘improvement’, ‘achievement’ and ‘success’ have no meaning (Franklin)
We are confident in the belief that everyone within our Calthorpe community will continue to work hard, to grow, to succeed and so give meaning to all that we all do.
Friday 10th March 2016
This half term is a very short one but still packed with events and activities.
The CPSA Quiz and Curry night last week raised an amazing £1500 in one night. We would like to thank everyone who came and, as ever, the loyal band of CPSA members who work tirelessly to support the school. It is greatly appreciated that people give up their time to attend or help, modelling the very qualities that we strive to promote in our students.
The Year 8 trip to York left this morning and we hope that they all have a wonderful time; education in its widest sense with a range of opportunities and experiences as well as a great deal of fun!
We say goodbye to Mr Montero today and thank him for his contribution to the school during Mrs Goss's maternity leave. We welcome Mrs Goss back on Monday morning. This will necessitate some timetable changes and parents of students concerned will be informed of these by letter. We would also like to recognise the excellent work that Mrs Coackley has done as Acting Head of Somerville during Mrs Goss’ leave. We thank her for her contribution, as do Somerville students. Mrs Coackley will be heading up a number of whole-school projects during the Summer Term and we will issue details nearer the time.
GCSE Exams have started in earnest with Art and Photography pieces being completed over a two-day period; Year 10 are also currently in the middle of their internal exam period. We wish success to all students taking exams and all the best for what we hope are detailed revision programmes fully underway!
Senior staff have met individually this week with every single student in Year 11 to review their progress and support their preparation in the ‘Countdown to GCSE’s. It has been a real privilege and delight to meet so many young people with ambition, dedication and a real sense of commitment. And we must also applaud their great work ethic. We have been operating additional exam revision and preparation sessions each day for a number of weeks now. This programme includes Lesson 0 which runs from 8.10am to 9am and Lesson 7 from 3.10pm to 4pm each day of the week. Some Year 11’s even attend additional practical sessions (Lesson 8!) until 5pm. We are full of praise for their resolve and enormously grateful to our staff who give so generously of their time to ensure the best possible outcomes for our students and our school.
At a time when education is constantly in the media due to staffing shortages, recruitment difficulties, funding shortfalls - things that are impacting every school - we never stop appreciating the young people and staff who make up the community that is Calthorpe Park. They are why we all do this job and it is they who make it all worthwhile.
Friday 4th March 2016
Last week saw the opening of our courtyard, releasing another section of the school for student use! We celebrated this next step of the building project with the whole school and a film produced by some Y10 students:
Friday 29th January 2016
We thought that, this week, we would show off our wonderful new building!
All the new classrooms are now occupied by teachers from English, Maths and Modern Languages. Teachers and students report that they are delighted to have moved in and that their new environment has further enhanced the quality of learning at Calthorpe Park.
We have both moved into wonderful new offices above the new Reception area.
The full-size, floodlit astro turf pitch is now in use by the PE department although, in spite of community interest, we will not be taking bookings until further notice.
Our students are revelling in the extra space and are really looking forward to opportunities that the opening of the new courtyard will afford. Year 11, particularly, are delighted to be able to enjoy our amazing new facilities before it is time for them to move on to the next stage of their education.
Below is a selection of photos to give a flavour of the environment of which we are increasingly so proud. We are now developing plans to celebrate with a formal Opening Ceremony in the Summer Term, when everything will be completed and made even more inspiring under a sunlit sky.
Friday 8th January 2016
Happy New Year to all our readers!
We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and that your resolutions for 2016 are still holding. The new term at Calthorpe has started with the opening of our brand new Reception; it is still something of a ‘work in progress’ but it is one more step towards the final completion of the new block and courtyard area.
In the customary January manner of looking back over the final few days of the old year and looking forward to the new, we would like to report that we enjoyed a traditionally amazing final Christmas Assembly with fantastic performances and involvement. It was a joyous end to a long term.
Sadly, we also said goodbye to two members of staff. Mr Kay was only with us temporarily but he has now moved on to a new school which is closer to home and we wish him well. Mr Carter who had been with us for four terms and had made such an outstanding start to his teaching career, was offered, and accepted, a role that he described as his ‘dream job’ as Sports Coach, teacher and Development Officer at an Academy in Reading. This fitted perfectly with his original training as well as with his additional role as Captain of the Reading Rockets basketball team. He left us with our very best wishes and our certainty that he will be a great success in his new role.
We have been joined this term by two new staff. Ms Fixter will teach Science and Mr Moore becomes a member of the English team. We warmly welcome them both and are confident that they will quickly become key members of our Calthorpe community.
We began the term with an introductory message to all of the staff highlighting some key focuses for this term in relation to our philosophy and approach. We would like to share with you the four main headings in support of wider understanding of the developing ethos and culture of all stakeholders at the school:
- Believe that no matter what their individual circumstances or difficulties, everyone has the capacity to improve
- Create inspiring environments in which to learn and work
- Positivity and a solution-focus at all times. Work with openness and transparency; make clarity and concision our watchword
- ‘The rest of us like the best of us’ : aspire to be the best we can be in every way and in every context. Support each other through leadership and collegiality, and with humanity.
Our presentation made reference to the key vision statements and motto of the school but concluded with a quote from Goethe which, we feel, encapsulates the next phase of development of our philosophy, culture and ethos. And so we leave you with this thought:
“Be bold in our ideas and courageous in our decisions and actions.
“Whatever you do, or dream you can do – begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.”
Friday 27th November 2015
This week’s Blog will be very brief but entirely celebratory.
We are truly delighted and very proud to let everyone in our community know that the school performance data published by the Department for Education and Ofsted this morning confirms that our GCSE results of 2014/15 were truly outstanding.
This data confirms the progress students at Calthorpe Park School made from Year 7 to Year 11. A score of 1000 approximates to the national expected rate of progress at secondary school. This year we have achieved 1011.2. (Our highest value added score previously was 1008.9.) This year’s figure is identified by the DfE as showing that CPS students made significantly more progress than students across the country.
This fantastic outcome represents a huge amount of work by students and staff and we thank them for all of their efforts.
Friday 13th November 2015
A theme of remembrance this week.
We attended the Fleet Memorial Service on Sunday, accompanied by two of our Senior Student Leadership Team, Emily and Tyrone from Year 11.
Following the Remembrance Service at the Harlington Centre, we joined the parade to Gurkha Square where, on behalf of our school and alongside representatives from Court Moor School, Tyrone delivered a poem with gravity and poise whilst Emily ceremoniously laid a wreath in remembrance and honour of those who have given their life in war. It was a poignant ceremony; the advancing dusk and distant rumble of thunder evocative of battle, as Tyrone’s voice echoed solemnly across the square.
Assemblies throughout the week have also reflected the theme of remembrance and commemoration and, on Wednesday, our school community observed the two minute silence with the Last Post performed outside by Michael P from Year 9. A very powerful moment of reflection and gratitude for sacrifices made.
Thursday witnessed another kind of remembrance, but with a joyous dimension, as we celebrated the many and varied achievements of our ‘Year of 2015’at our annual Leavers’ Certificate Evening. This was the first time that we have been able to hold this event in our magnificent new hall. Parents were greatly complimentary about the evening; former students admired, with wonder, our vast new auditorium, their largesse tinged, however, with envy for a space they had watched grow but which they will only get to experience and use on this one occasion!
165 awards were presented; every winner was enthusiastically greeted with supportive applause and, to the credit and generosity of their peers, each of our Major Award Winners received well-earned rapturous ovation.
Another event of which Calthorpe Park School can justifiably be proud.
Friday 16th October 2015
Our brain is like a muscle. The more we feed and use it, the stronger it gets.
Our assemblies this half term have focused consistently on the power of positivity …. a belief that, with the right mindset, anything is possible.
That the ‘Calthorpe Way’ is one where any assertion that something can’t be done is always concluded with ‘yet!’.
And that where we start from, and how far we travel, are more important than where we finish.
We want our young people to value challenge above success, effort above ability, process above outcome.
And we want them always to remember that here at Calthorpe Park, our corporate message is clear ….. we emphasise growth-mindset over talent-mindset.
A solution-focused approach.
A willingness to rise to the challenge.
And an expectation to be a positive, professional learner.
We went out today and snapped a few students at work and at lunch. Feeding their brains.
Friday 18th September 2015
With two and a half weeks of term having sped by already, we thought it was time for us to introduce the new colleagues who have joined us this term.
The end of last year saw quite a few staff leave us, all for reasons of retirement, promotion, moving away to get married, or to embrace new challenges. The new year has, therefore, been one of new beginnings in many ways; we are delighted with our new, multi-talented colleagues and have been impressed with how quickly they have settled into Calthorpe life.
In no particular order we welcome:
Mrs Milner, who joins us as an Associate Leader with responsibilities across the Science, Technology, Maths and Computing subject areas.
Also in Science, we have been joined by Mr Findlay and Mr Carter.
In English, we are delighted to greet Miss Beaveridge, Miss Hanif, Mrs Beynon, Mr Morris, Mrs Hoole and Miss Stilwell..
We extend a warm welcome to Miss Gluck and to Miss Salter who join our Maths Department.
In Modern Languages we say ‘willkommen’, ‘bienvenue’ and ‘hola’ to Miss Meaden, Mrs Hull and Mr Montero.
In Technology we welcome Miss Tims.
Ms Rose joins us as Head of Art and Miss Ellis also joins the Art Department.
We welcome Ms Perez who will teach both PE and Geography and Ms Streimikyte-Pocevicience who joins our Cover Supervisor Team.
And finally, we are pleased to announce that Mrs Ball has been appointed to the role of Emotional and Behavioural Support during Magda’s maternity leave.
We wish a happy and rewarding stay to all our new staff who, we are sure, will make a great contribution to the growth and continuing success of Calthorpe Park School.
We would also like to announce the following changes in role:
Miss Fisher takes on the post of Associate Leader with responsibility for English and Literacy across the Curriculum.
Mrs Wilson and Mrs Franks assume the joint mantle of Head of Maths - although, with the commencement of Ms Franks' maternity leave, we now look forward to the impending arrival of her new son or daughter and wish her well for the months to come.
Mr Hainsworth and Miss Baggott jointly take on the role of Head of Technology.
Mrs Green is now our Learning Support Manager and Mr Burrell assumes Lead Responsibility for our Pupil Premium Students.
Ms Coackley has taken on the role of Acting Head of Somerville and we congratulate and send our very best wishes to Mrs Goss on the arrival of her new baby boy.
We also send Mrs Ryan our very best wishes and congratulations on the birth of her daughter.
We know that all of our new staff, and all of our established ones, will, through their commitment, hard work and dedication, maintain and build on the highest standards of CPS, as well as enjoying everything that being part of this school brings.
We conclude with a quote from one of our Year 11 Summer leavers:
“Could you please pass on to all the staff my thanks for being an amazing team and for their help and support through the years. Please tell them how, because of them, it made school life ten times easier. The grades I achieved were all thanks to them and their help. Because all the teachers were so good, it was great fun to be a student at Calthorpe Park School.”
A fitting point at which to sign off this week's blog!
Friday 4th September 2015
First few days back at school and our first blog of 15/16.
A huge amount of work has gone on over the summer and many areas of the school are looking very different. Lots of photos to follow over the coming weeks!
We hope that you have read our statement on the website announcing our great GCSE results. We were delighted with all of our students’ performances.
Although it has been a busy summer on site, the real message we want to convey today is how pleased we are with the way in which students have returned to school in terms of their demeanour, attitude and approach and we reproduce below a message that we sent to all of them at the end of their first day back, a day during which we delivered an assembly to each year group in our amazing new Hall (as they walked in, the 'wows' were audible!):
We would like to commend the very high standards of dress, behaviour and approach on the first day back at school. Conduct during our assemblies was outstanding, and particular mention should be made of Year 11 who were exemplary in terms of their maturity, demeanour and positivity. We are sure they are going to be outstanding role models throughout this year.
Uniform was generally very good with the vast majority of students turned-out impeccably and fulfilling our expectations that uniform and presentation should be professional and reflect the business of learning. In a few cases, inappropriate material or styles were evident and we would advise these students to review the uniform guidelines in the Student Planner and then to speak to their parents about ensuring that they comply with the requirements and our expectations.
Our new Year 7 also made an extremely impressive start to their secondary school careers and seemed to really enjoy their day.
Overall, we have heard nothing but positive comments from staff about the way in which students have conducted themselves on the first day. We are delighted and know that this will continue. Maintaining these standards is now our minimum expectation for everyone.
Well done to you all. Have a great year
And finally, a thank you to all Calthorpe parents for your support in ensuring that your sons and daughters have returned to school with such a positive mindset and so ready for the business of learning. We look forward to another year of close partnership working with you all.
Martin Amos and Melanie Hooper
Friday 3rd July 2015
Last week was about our leavers; this week we welcome our new students who will join us in September!
Friday 26th June 2015
This week has seen us bid au revoir to our Year 11 leavers. On Tuesday we held the final assembly where we and the Heads of House said farewell and then looked back through a catalogue of photos that documented their five years with us at CPS. On Wednesday, we gathered at Oakley Hall for the Prom.
The same afternoon, two of our ex-students came back to visit us. They were happy to admit that although they hadn’t always approached their education positively, or hadn’t always behaved impeccably, they had learnt so much from their time with us, and not just academically. Both, in their own way, have had to demonstrate many of those dispositions that we hold so dear, not least resilience. One has had to fight back physically and emotionally from a severe car accident but is now working to support people with cancer and she reflected on how lucky she has been. She talked of her regret at not seizing all of the opportunities the school had offered her and has agreed to come back to spread the message to our current students. The second visitor is soon to leave to take up a soccer scholarship in the US just weeks after being told by Chelsea that he would not be part of their plans. Again, he has bounced back from adversity and sought a new and exciting challenge, with education a key part of his drive and motivation. Each spoke of how much they missed school and how much they appreciated everything that everyone had done, and tried to do, for them. We wish them both well.
Within hours we were watching our current leavers arrive at the grand Hall that was the venue for their final act as students of CPS. As ever, they all looked glamorous, beautiful, handsome, smart and oh so very grown up. Many parents expressed incredulity at the swift passage of time to this point; as did the staff!
The evening was a true delight. As ever the behaviour was everything we could ask for. They had a great time, dancing, talking, smiling and laughing. The staff of the Hall spoke warmly of their politeness, charm, warmth and joie de vivre. Even the weather was perfect.
At the end of the evening, as they left, they shook hands, hugged and thanked staff who were there with genuine appreciation and affection. The staff simply burst with pride at everything these young adults had become.
Someone said at the time that this was the Calthorpe circle complete. Of course, it is not a circle. We are just one stop on a long journey, a continuum. We wish them every success and happiness on the rest of their journey and hope they too will come back to see us with tales of their achievements and adventures.
Our motto describes our desire to help educate "Learners who....inspire others". Wednesday was one of those days when one can reflect on a job well done.
We thank every student for doing just that: inspiring us and, indeed, the next generation of students at Calthorpe Park School.
Friday 12th June 2015
At a time when young people are exposed to increasingly wide-ranging stresses and pressures in their lives, the benefits of teaching mindfulness in schools has received a great deal of attention recently. Growing up in today’s frenetic, ever-changing world is not an easy task. We have heard recently that children as young as 5 are being diagnosed with mental health problems and research tells us that adolescence is a particularly vulnerable time for the onset of mental illness, with 50% of mental health disorders believed to begin before the age of 15.
At Calthorpe Park, following our very successful Year 9 Mindfulness Day last year, we have recently held a further two Mindfulness Events for our Year 8 students. Planned, organised and coordinated by Mrs Timms Blanch, these highly-practical and very well-received experiences included sessions in Guided Meditation, Yoga, Art Therapy, Relaxation and Music Therapy and were delivered by a mixture of external experts and our own Calthorpe staff.
There is a growing body of knowledge out there that tells us that mindfulness techniques have a powerful and highly positive impact on the development of young people’s coping skills, helping them to deal more effectively with stress, increase motivation, better manage time pressures and acquire greater focus and concentration. Experts have found that mindfulness supports self-regulation, boosts tolerance, patience and a sense of well-being. And, on the achievement-front, research shows that practising the techniques of mindfulness bolsters self-esteem, supports problem solving and decision making; in short, that it helps young people to learn more effectively.
After their Mindfulness Morning, our students were asked to reflect on how the experience had affected them. Their responses were as insightful and inspiring as ever. A few of their contributions are shown below:
We finish this week’s blog with the words of Mrs Timms Blanch. All that remains for us to do, is to hope for a calm and relaxing weekend, and to wish the same to everyone!
‘At the heart of all we do, every single moment of every day at Calthorpe Park, is our genuine desire to promote the wellbeing and happiness of every member of our community, be they student or staff. Our recent Mindfulness Mornings made a small contribution to this endeavour’.
Seishin, Buddhist monk and Leader of the session on Meditation
Friday 5th June 2015
A very creatively satisfying week this week as we have spent time with our architect focusing on some interior design features for our new school.
No pain, no gain, of course and, despite the now less-regular but still noticeable and very familiar banging, drilling and other auditory reminders of major building work, it is increasingly exciting to watch the external features of the new-build take shape before our eyes - structures rising majestically, cladding adding interest and texture, the outline of new social areas and landscaping features taking shape and so providing an increasingly detailed glimpse of how our school will soon look.
But things really begin to take on a tantalising reality as we come to the interior decor part of the process! We have been choosing colour schemes, design features, furniture and fabric from a dazzling array of swatches, samples and mock-ups.
And the best and most exciting aspect has very definitely been the bit where we have considered the 'manifestations' we want to have displayed around the various areas of the new building. Words and phrases that encapsulate our values and convey our vision for learning, personal development and achievement will be etched into glass windows and partitions, featured pictorially on key walls and in core spaces.
We can see taking shape a wonderful and diverse learning space that will motivate our students to fulfil the aim expressed in our motto 'Learners who aspire for themselves and inspire others'.
We are certainly feeling inspired by this unique opportunity to shape the future of our school in both a physical and visionary way; to grow minds and build futures.
We have actually chosen this to be the theme of our whole-school Annual Awards Ceremony this year, scheduled to take place on the last day of term - 'Growing minds; building futures'.........
But that's for another blog!
Friday 8th May 2015
Fewer words from us this week!
Instead, a focus on some of the diverse array of additional and enrichment activities that our students have been involved in since our return from the Easter break. A snapshot, pictorially and metaphorically, of the rich diet of opportunities that support those hugely important social, moral, spiritual, cultural, personal and physical dimensions of education. And which promote the skills and attributes that are so very essential to life in the 21st century ….. personal commitment, collaboration and teamwork, resilience, perseverance, problem solving, reflection …….
Wednesday 22nd April: 12 of our young team take part in the STEM QinetiQ event
Thursday 23rd April: Election fever continues at Calthorpe Park as Hustings for the election of Sports and House Captains begin
Every Tuesday and Thursday, after a hard day of studying, our intrepid walkers cover a round trip of over 10 miles, building their stamina and resilience in preparation for the annual Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge in July
Thursday 30th April: Students from Years 8 and 9 take part in the national Junior Maths Challenge
5th, 6th, and 7th May: three evenings of the most wonderful Year 11 GCSE Drama performances. Inspirational acting, superb team spirit and remarkably thought-provoking pieces held audiences spell bound and bode incredibly well for outstanding results this August.
Thursday 7th May: Congratulations to our jubilant Year 9 football team on beating Purbrook Park School 3:0 to become the Hampshire Under 14 Champions following the final played at Farnborough Town Football Club.
Throughout the weeks since Easter, our Year 11s have been immersed in Subject Conferences specially designed to aid revision and support them all to achieve the very best results in their GCSEs which start next week. Well done to the students for their concentration and great buy-in. And, of course, to staff for the energy and, as ever, for the total commitment that has gone into preparing and delivering these conferences.
And finally, as we write, our Year 9 students are today enjoying our annual Health and Respect Day. The day consists of 12 workshops which focus on keeping safe, relationships and sexual health, relaxation and stress management and more. It’s great to welcome so many presenting visitors to school from such a wide range of charities, trusts and services including St John’s Ambulance, Step by Step, The Fire Service, ‘Babies, Babies, Babies’ and the Police with their sniffer dogs.
Just another fortnight in our busy schedule! GCSE exams really kick in next week and we wish all of the candidates the very best of luck knowing that all their hard work will pay dividends.
The drum beat of the piling has ceased but the seismic repercussions of the election are yet to be felt. We have seen a dramatic political 24 hours and all of us will hold our breath to see what the new government’s education agenda will bring. Rest assured that we will always work in the very best interests of our inspiring students.
Friday 24th April 2015
After the peace of the Easter break, we have returned to school to the accompaniment of a steady “drumbeat” from the piling work across the road. We are assured this will only last for another week but, ever seeking ways to promote those crucial dispositions of resourcefulness and resilience, we wonder whether, as in the stories of the Roman galleys, this might provide us with an excellent opportunity to create a rhythm for student working … especially as it has seemed to become faster and faster as the week has progressed!
The Snow Sports trip returned with great tales of success and even greater plaudits for the attitude, approach and behaviour of the students; the Three Peaks training continues in earnest with regular 10k walks being completed even after a hard day at school; the building work progresses; and the sun shines; all is well at Calthorpe Park.
Year 11 students will, of course, have spent a great deal of time over Easter revising and this is being reinforced by a series of subject ‘Conference Days’ which allow an immersion in the key elements needed for exam success. Staff are working very hard to ensure that these days have maximum impact and that students are supported to achieve at the highest level of which they are capable in the final exams.
We have been busy interviewing, both at the end of last term and the beginning of this. We are delighted to have appointed some excellent new English and Modern Languages teachers as well as making some internal promotions: Ms Franks and Ms Wilson will be jointly taking on the Head of Maths role from September; Ms Baggott and Mr Hainsworth will be assuming the Head of Technology mantle; Mrs Green will become our new Learning Support Manager and Mr Burrell will take on responsibility for specific groups of vulnerable students. We have also appointed a very experienced and talented external applicant who will operate in an Associate Leader role with her precise title to be confirmed.
Throughout this process, every one of the visiting candidates has commented on the staff, students and school in the most favourable terms; the happy, welcoming atmosphere; the calm and responsible student behaviour; the active, purposeful learning - all have been commonly mentioned as particularly impressive. All of them wanted to work here … well, who wouldn’t?
The hammering pace has increased and so we must get on even faster! Enjoy the weekend; let’s hope the sun will keep on shining.
Friday 20th March 2015
This past week has been busier than ever and one during which we have truly marvelled at the creativity, independence, contribution and awesome talents of our student body.
On Thursday last, among many student-led initiatives to raise funds in support of Comic Relief, we staged our first ever 'Calthorpe Bake Off' which saw students and staff in steely competition, producing a range of highly creative red-themed cakes which were judged by a panel of local expert bakers. Needless to say, in spite of the highly commendable efforts of the staff, our student bakers won the day, producing a spread of weird and wonderful culinary delights which were snapped up the following day, so adding to the amazing range of tasty treats produced by our students and on sale in school in support of the fundraising day.
Thursday and Friday also saw a group of students from our STEM Club at the NEC in Birmingham, taking part in the Big Bang Science Fair, where we were delighted to win two trophies. The first was the prestigious Young Engineers School of the Year Runners Up Award and the second was for the Space Balloon Launch. We are planning to use the prize money to further develop the STEM ethos around the school starting with Scalextric 4 Schools. The absolute highlight of this extremely successful event for us was that one of our Year 9 students, Jack, was selected to be the UK representative at the Broadcom International Masters event in Pittsburgh in May. This is a highly prestigious award available to only 24 young people from around the world each year and we are absolutely delighted that one of our amazing young science and engineering stars has shone in this way.
This week has also been our Week of Change. Based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child's 'Day of Change', our Student Senior Leadership Team organises, annually, a full week of rights-themed events and student involvement and this year has been greater than ever. Entirely student-led and introduced by them in assemblies at the start of the week, each day has focused on a different right.
With wet and windy Monday focusing on Article 27, the right to shelter, students competed at lunch time to build shelters from recycled items, the inclement weather really helping them to focus on just how hard it must be for those whose lives are on the streets to keep warm and dry.
Tuesday's Article was Number 24, a right to clean water. Volunteer students ran a water station on the playground to raise awareness of just how crucial this basic commodity is to health and life. Wednesday focused on Article 31, the right to leisure, play and culture. Staff didn't think they knew much about this right! But, with an extended lunchtime, students happily exercised theirs by flocking to the hall to watch Monsters Inc.
For Thursday's Right to Privacy, staff and students voluntarily contributed little-known facts about themselves for a Guess the House competition and finally today, the culmination of the week, we focus on the Right to Education with students and teachers swapping places in the classroom. Jointly organised in advance between teachers and their volunteering students, our budding 'student teachers' have prepared and will deliver lessons to their class. We expect over 100 such lessons, reflecting every subject, to take place during the course of the day and, on Monday, in a temporary 'staff room' at break, our volunteers will celebrate the final grand total, well supported by congratulatory cake.
Many of you may have been catching up with yesterday's news on South Today when the cheerful face of Patrick in Year 7 popped up to deliver an update on the solar eclipse! This was part of the BBC School Report initiative that we took part in and he, along with another four of our students, spent the afternoon at the studios watching, rehearsing, filming and learning about how the world of television really works. Congratulations to everyone involved and particularly to Patrick for his professionalism and winning smile. And congratulations are also due to our Year 9 football team who made it through to the Hampshire Cup Final this week with a comfortable 6-1 win.
Finally, as we write this, the moon is inexorably sliding across the sun to create the eclipse, albeit hidden by frustrating levels of cloud. It seems that the arrangements and best-laid plans of various teachers will be thwarted by the weather today, but let's hope that the Easter holiday of everyone connected to the school will not be similarly affected and that the spring sun will shine on us all.
Friday 6th March 2015
This week’s blog is a reflection on what can be learnt from the building process that is going on here at Calthorpe, especially as the past few weeks have seen a dramatic change in the view from our offices. If you haven’t visited or passed the school recently, you may not have seen that since half term the steel work for the new front building has been erected. Approximately 100 tonnes of steel has been put up in just over two weeks (and it would have been faster if the delivery pace had matched the speed of the construction work). It took 6 months to prepare the groundwork for the new build. The foundations, infrastructure and service connections have been time-consuming but essential. So much of the constructor’s hard work is now hidden below the concrete slab and gravel and yet it is vital to the end product.
We can now clearly see the shape and size of the project, the locations and perspectives of the classrooms and offices, and the scale of the new courtyard that will be created. This weekend, we know that a number of our families and members of the local community will be taking the opportunity to look round and we hope that you feel the same level of excitement as we do.
So what message can we pass on to our students from our observations of the project to date? In simple terms, we would say to all of our younger students, you must get the ground work right. You are laying the foundations for your success in every lesson and through every learning opportunity. The skills, dispositions and knowledge that you are gaining will be the bedrock of future achievement.
For our Year 11s, the message is similarly clear. When you look at the rapid changes and developments that have happened in the last fortnight, reflect on the fact that it is amazing what you can achieve, in a relatively short time, with the right preparation, organisation and skill set underpinned by simple hard work and commitment. Your exams are barely three months away; see what more you can build in that time.
Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning. Benjamin Franklin
Friday 23rd January 2015
Last Thursday evening, our ever-growing STEM club held its annual Post-Christmas Lecture. Presented jointly by STEM Club students, staff and parents, it was a wonderful glimpse into the amazing range of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical activities, events and competitions that club members have been involved in this year. Last year, as their major project, and in conjunction with PhD students from Southampton University's Spaceflight Association, our STEM students designed equipment and programmed technology to capture the curvature of the earth through photos and video footage of a helium weather balloon which they sent to the edge of space and then tracked in flight. This year, aspirations are even greater; 'infinity and beyond' is the password for the next major project which aims to link up with Airbus to support their solar-powered UAV flight programme.
Thoroughly inspired, with a whetted appetite to learn more about how we might capitalise further on the awesome potential of technology to enrich the learning of our students (and, on a practical note, to envisage possibilities for resourcing our post-expansion school and its learning environment), we spent some time yesterday at London's BETT exhibition at the Excel. The range of technological devices, programmes, structures, support and hardware that are now available in the world of education is breathtaking. We did wonder what schools are actually able to afford much of the hard and software on display, particularly in times of budget cuts and growing basic costs, but we planned for the near future and dreamt for the longer term, and, with great satisfaction, we identified some exciting and innovative hardware, gadgetry and furniture that we want to include when kitting out our new-build.
Whilst the exhibition illustrated the awesome potential of, and speed of change in technology, this in turn served to reinforce the fact that the so called 'soft skills' in education are becoming ever more important so that the next generation can adapt, be resilient, be creative and rise to the challenges of the future. When we speak to local business leaders, it is clear that what they really want, and need, are young people with the ability to communicate effectively, to show initiative, to operate in a solution-focused way; young people who can work both independently and in a team and who demonstrate the GRIT that we value so highly, and promote so emphatically here at Calthorpe Park.
And finally for this week, our blog would not be complete without mentioning the retirement of Mr Tony Phipps, our Head of Technology who steps down after 22 years at Calthorpe Park. Mr Phipps has been an excellent teacher and tutor; with his passion for Technology, he has brought many new ideas to the department, to the classroom, to form time and to the many and varied activities that he has been involved in as part of our Citizenship and House Day programme. This is not really a final goodbye as he will remain with us in a support capacity for a while yet, but it is most definitely a huge thank you to him for his many years of loyal and committed service. We will miss him enormously and wish him well with his slightly less stressful role at CPS as well as for the rest of the week when he will be enjoying the world beyond education. We're sure there is one out there!
Friday 9th January 2015
In spite of already having arrived at the end of a very busy first week back, our first blog of the year is simply to wish a Happy New Year to all our community and to hope that one and all enjoyed a wonderful festive season.
As 2015 quickly establishes itself and, with Christmas fast becoming an increasingly distant memory, we would just like to think back and mention our amazing, uplifting Christmas Assembly which was held in the Hart Leisure Centre Sports Hall on the last day of term. Always a fantastic and thoroughly enjoyable celebration, we were, this year, delighted to welcome the Chair and Vice Chair of Hart District Council who were highly impressed by the talent, participation and infectious enthusiasm of our students.
The staff started the new term on Monday with a powerful training day on a 'sticky learning' theme. With the increasing move to terminal GCSE exams, focus on strategies to support our students to retain information, long term, is crucial so we used the day to explore how best to do this. We were also delighted to welcome back Mr Groszewski after a period of illness and recuperation during the Autumn Term; we are so pleased to see Mr G now looking well and so obviously pleased to be back in the Calthorpe fold. We also welcomed one new member of staff this term; Mrs Bev Wayman joins our PACE and Citizenship Department and, we know she will waste no time in proving herself to be a highly effective, driven and popular colleague.
Our students returned on Tuesday and life has moved on rapidly since! Yesterday saw us hold our annual and highly successful Year 9 Find a Future Day and today, as we write, the whole school celebrates another annual high point....our Day of Languages. It is lovely, again, to see so many students (and staff!) in their various national costumes and to hear so many different languages being spoken and celebrated. As is the Calthorpe tradition, and in a spirit of mutual support and 'having a go', we conducted our Staff Briefing this morning in a selection of recognisable and obscure languages. Thank goodness for Google Translate!
Looking ahead, Mock Exams start next week. We wish all of our Year 11 students every success in their endeavours but we also remind them of our constant message that there is absolutely no substitute for hard work and that success comes to those who put the effort in! And finally, a flag for the Mock Results Assembly which is scheduled to take place on 9th February and at which we look forward to recognising some outstanding outcomes and personal achievements.
A happy New Year and a successful and healthy 2015 to all.
Monday 15th December 2014
As the steel frame of the new hall grows and we cope with yet further restrictions to access, we would like to thank all of our staff, students and parents for their patience and resilience in the face of all these changes and challenges. The temporary road has been repaired and we thank all of you for your continued and careful use of it, not just because of the pot holes, but because this maintains the quality of the surface a little longer.
Christmas is nearly upon us and thus a new year is just around the corner, with every hope and opportunity that this brings. No doubt many of us will be reflecting on resolutions to be made to do better (car park usage records for the Leisure Centre show it to be at its busiest in January as we all resolve to get fit, lose weight or shake off the post-Christmas lethargy!) and we have been delighted by the response of our students to recent charity events in school; a particular mention goes here to our senior students who take responsibility for organising so many of these events.
Our thanks also go to all of you who bought raffle tickets and helped our PTA raise over £1000. We would also like to express our gratitude to all who contributed prizes, particularly the Four Seasons Hotel and our building contractors, Balfour Beattie, who continue to be great partners, not only in the process of putting the building up, but also in supporting the general activities and ethos of our school.
The Year 7 Parents' Afternoon and Evening were a great success, as was the superb afternoon that our Year 7’s spent working with, and being inspired by, the author Alan Gibbons. We have also recently seen very successful trips to the Lion King and to STEM events from which, last Thursday, a number of our students came away with nationally-acknowledged Gold and Silver Crest Awards. On Friday, the Christmas Jumper Day went well, despite it being mainly the staff who entered into the sartorial spirit of things! However, the school had a wonderfully festive air and the lunchtime market was a huge success.
Christmas and the holidays may be just around the corner but the remaining week will be a busy one with our Music Concert on Monday, our annual House Day on Thursday and our Christmas Assembly in the Leisure Centre Sports Hall on Friday morning. A busy week is scheduled in the community too with the two of us due to attend a number of local events to celebrate the season as well as, at their Certificate Evening on Thursday evening, the achievements of our previous leavers who went on to Farnborough Sixth Form College.
We will issue our last message of 2014 as part of our end-of-term Newsletter but in this, our last real blog of the year, we would like to reflect on all of the successes, opportunities, qualities and efforts displayed by members of the Calthorpe community. As one year draws to an end and another is about to start, it is even more imperative that we believe in the philosophy of growth mindset and recognise that anything is possible with the right attitude and commitment….Year 11 take particular note as your mocks are early in the new year!
Friday 28th November 2014
As Christmas approaches, our blog this week takes on a more philosophical note.
Following our profoundly thought-provoking and very moving Year 7 Citizenship Day, with its theme of homelessness, which took place on Tuesday, we all had cause to reflect on the plight of those less fortunate than ourselves.
Shelter has recently announced that over 90,000 children in the UK will be homeless this Christmas. Predictions from the Trussell Trust are that, nationally, thousands of families will be relying on help from food banks over the festive period.
At the senior end of the school, a group of our Year 11 students are taking the initiative to plan a sponsored event in January which will raise money for, and awareness of, the work of the Step by Step Charity in Aldershot which focuses on supporting and empowering young homeless people and those who are facing adversity in our local area.
Our commitment to educating the whole child must include opportunities that allow our young people to explore and develop an understanding of a wide range of social issues to contextualise their own lives. And to support them to reflect on the the contribution that they can make to help improve, make a difference to, their own world.
Today is 'Black Friday'. As we are bombarded by adverts encouraging us to 'spend, spend, spend', we should, perhaps, give some thought to a simple calculation. Predictions suggest that in excess of £500 million are likely to change hands in today's pre-Christmas spending spree.
In contrast, the generosity of the UK, and indeed, of our own students, is reflected in the £32.6 million raised nationally on a Friday just a couple of weeks ago.
Amazing as it undoubtedly is that such a huge sum should be raised by the British public to support Children in Need, and whilst we know that more money will come in before final calculations are made, as pledges are realised in the weeks to come, simple maths tells us that the final total will, undoubtedly, amount to less than a tenth of the sum likely to be spent today.
And how many more shopping days are there to Christmas?
We are enormously fortunate to work with young people who have the integrity to reflect on their own situation with honesty and a sense of appreciation.
Sometimes, it is important to just stop, think, take stock, care. For this week's blog, we think this is a good point for us to stop, too.
Friday 21st November 2014
With our last Blog dedicated to a single worthy subject, this one covers a wide range of events and emotions. The weeks since half term have been something of a roller coaster.
Over half term our intrepid group of staff and students travelled to Sri Lanka to experience a new culture and to help at schools in communities still struggling to rebuild after the tsunami of 2004. They took with them wonderful activities, great games, brilliant musical instruments and an abundance of energy, compassion and empathy. Elsewhere on this website you can find a film and photos of the trip and we urge you to look at them to see the joy on the faces of everyone involved. This now annual adventure is life-affirming and life- changing for all those who take part. Next year's trip is already nearly full and we celebrate both those young people who are so willing and ready to dedicate much time to helping others, as well as the staff who go with them. The entire venture is organised by the wonderful Ocean Stars charity and we were privileged to meet Gihan, one of the tour operators of ‘Beyond Boundaries’, the company which coordinates our trip in Sri Lanka, when he visited our school two weeks ago. Gihan praised all members of the team for their positivity and the sheer love of life that they brought to the trip.
The Fleet Remembrance Day service, parade and ceremony was a deeply moving one and we were, as ever, very proud of those senior students who sensitively delivered a reading and laid a wreath on behalf of our school at the town’s War Memorial. On the 11th, the entire school fell silent as the last post was beautifully and hauntingly played by one of our young musicians. The respect and reverence were tangible in the strict adherence to silence in memory of those who have given their lives in conflict.
Last week saw us back at the Farnham Maltings for our annual Certificate Evening for our Summer Year 11 Leavers. It was a real privilege to be a part of such a celebration of success, endeavour and wider contribution to the school. The turnout was higher than ever and every student who attended had their richly-deserved moment in the spotlight.
As well as the leavers and their parents, Certificate Evening was attended by staff and Governors as well as being hosted by current senior students, alongside ourselves. A similar representation attended the funeral this week of Clive Newland. His widow, Jo, was particularly touched by the presence of such a range of people from the school, especially our senior prefects who offered their condolences on behalf of the entire student body.
Next year we hope to have the capacity in our new hall to host the Certificate Evening in-house, maintaining the high standard of presentation, as at all our events, but allowing us to bring those leavers back "home" for the celebration of their achievement.
On the subject of the building work, we would like to express our appreciation of those parents who have continued to use the new drop-off area despite the deteriorating condition of the access road. This is something that is regularly raised in meetings with the relevant representatives of the Local Authority and we will continue to pressure them to resolve the problem as a matter of urgency. Continuing the theme of our building work, our Staff Training Day this week had the added auditory distraction of the pouring of 18 lorry-loads of concrete to form the base slab for the new hall, all of it pumped over the top of empty teaching rooms! Over the next few weeks the same process will be undertaken for the much bigger base of the main building although this will be done in a ‘sequence of pours’, not over a single day! The project continues to be on track despite the weather and we are very grateful to Balfour Beattie for both their efficiency and their support of a variety of events and activities: they have very quickly become part of the Calthorpe team.
We were also delighted to welcome our new Deputy Headteacher, Oliver Borkowski, who this week visited us and who will be joining the school in the Summer Term. He is very excited and keen to be joining us and we know that he will make an excellent contribution and add yet more value to the quality of the school workforce.
And thus to the Staff Training Day itself. We were very privileged to welcome the internationally renowned educationalist, Professor Barry Hymer who articulated, reinforced and extended the philosophy of Growth Mindset, a philosophy in which we implicitly believe and which has underpinned much of our vision and aims since appointment.
The day reinvigorated staff to continue to explore practical ways to ensure that all students can, and do, succeed through promotion of an attitude and approach that celebrates and thrives on challenge, effort and resilience and a belief that everyone can achieve with the right level of commitment and the right positive mindset. These are things that we celebrate and value and will focus on increasingly as time goes by.
Growth Mindset is a philosophy originally coined by Carol Dweck and we conclude with one of many key axioms presented:
"The hallmark of successful individuals is that they love learning, seek challenges, value effort and persist in the face of obstacles."
It is incumbent on all of us to ensure that through our actions and words we support everyone at the school to be such individuals.
Friday 7th November 2014
This week’s blog has, unusually, a single focus and we will write about other matters next time.
Those of you who keep a close eye on the website may have noticed a brief notice reporting the very sad passing, over the half term break, of our Network Manager, and member of our school’s Governing Body, Clive Newland. Following our private communication with his wife, we now wish to mark his passing with a more fulsome tribute. Clive showed great fortitude, courage and dignity during his illness and we have lost a fine man and a highly respected member of our school community.
Clive enjoyed a diverse career supporting the high-level development and deployment of complex IT systems in several significant companies. His work with the RAF took him overseas to work with new information and control systems as well as taking on critical research and development projects in the UK.
His problem solving skills, dedication to the job and enthusiasm for supporting others were very special professional characteristics. Clive has been highly regarded by staff and students at Calthorpe Park School for the past 8 years as a key member of the ICT Technical Support Team and, for the last 4+ years, as our Network Manager. His contribution to the development of Information Technology within school has been substantial and highly valued.
Clive had great integrity, wisdom and calmness that meant, even in the face of difficulty and when under significant pressure, he remained implacable, measured and positive. He was also a school governor and as such contributed greatly to the strategic direction of the school. Although not widely known to the students or parents, he was one of those essential people who we rely on so greatly.
In the years that Clive was here, he became a real Calthorpe man, demonstrating all of the dispositions that we hold so dear. He was a gentleman and a gentle man. We will miss Clive enormously and our thoughts, prayers and most sincere condolences are with his family especially his wife, Jo, and his two youngest children.
There will be a collection that will go to a charity of his family’s choice, the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice. Should anyone wish to contribute, please contact the school or send donations c/o Mrs Haynes.
Friday 24th October 2014
And so the first half term of the 2014/15 school year closes, and what a half term it has been. So many things have happened and these have been variously reported in previous blogs or in the Newsletter that is published today.
The school looks so very different and yet the essential values and ethos remains steadfastly the same. Buildings have been knocked down, foundations have been laid for new ones and the view from the window has ebbed and flowed each and every day. The 154 ten metre piles have all been finished and the amazing piece of machinery that did the work has been disassembled and transported elsewhere (apologies if you got caught behind it on the M3). The next phase is underway with the metal frame due to be completed by Christmas. The multi-use games area will open after half term alongside the new play area for younger years. We are very excited about this facility and the opportunities it will bring to the school and the PE department in particular.
This week we have been interviewing for a new Deputy Headteacher and every candidate commented on the smooth running of the site despite the restrictions, the amazing resources that are being created and, in particular, the positivity and adaptability of the students. Every one of them desperately wanted to come and be a part of the school…well they would, wouldn’t they?
Our intrepid group currently in Sri Lanka on their way to support schools so badly affected by the tsunami have reported back:
“We had a great day seeing baby elephants being hand fed, swimming in the pool, having a buffet meal with music, visiting a Buddhist temple. The weather is gorgeous and the students amazing.”
They will now be travelling across the island to a situation that is a world away from the one they describe here where they will learn so much and give even more.
This blog is quite a brief one, partly due to the publication of the Newsletter but also as the lure of half term draws our minds away; although rest assured we will still be working - albeit not ALL the time.
Thank you for your support this half term and for the positive comments about this blog.
Before concluding, however, and in the context of our aim to educate the whole child for the whole of their future, we just wanted to quote from a letter received from a student who left last year:
“I’ve been privileged to make such wonderful friends and have teachers all of whom have helped me and encouraged me to achieve grades that I felt were out of my reach… (but) I didn’t just learn the facts and statistics for exams, but also about who I am and who I want to be in the future.”
Makes it all worthwhile.
We’ll see you in November.
Friday 10th October 2014
As this blog is penned, a debate on the situation in Syria is in full swing in our Model United Nations Debating Hall. Radical solutions are being proposed! Throughout all discussions, however, the thing that shines through is the level of understanding of the global picture underpinned by real passion for human rights and a clear sense of moral integrity. The speeches, both prepared and off-the-cuff, are eloquent, informed and delivered with real clarity of thought and expression. Despite what we might be told in the media, the future is in safe hands!
On a similar note, we would like to reiterate our thanks to all those students, and there were many, who worked hard to make our Open Evening and the Open Mornings such a success. They are our best advert and the number of visitors who commented on their knowledge, excellent communication skills, self-confidence and commitment to Calthorpe Park, made us feel privileged to work here.
We are delighted that the new multi-use games area is on course to be opened in ten days whilst outside the office window, an enormous drill rig has been delivered and is now beginning to sink over 150 10m piles into the ground as the next step for the new building. Gradually, our dreams become reality!
Although the sun is shining as we write this, we are aware of some concerns regarding where students go at lunchtime when the weather is less favourable. We are trialling a new system, the details of which are in the weekly update and published elsewhere on the website.
Have a good week.
Friday 3rd October 2014
As the view from our office windows changes on a daily basis, it is astonishing to watch the progress being made. One building demolished, extensive trenches dug, services rerouted, old pipes removed and now the beginnings of a building outline emerging.
Out on the field, the multi-use games area is nearing completion, as is the new softer area which will be part of a lower school facility for breaks and lunchtimes; both will be ready in just a few weeks. Exciting times underpinned by the students’ incredible flexibility and adaptability….and school life carries on as usual!
The last few weeks have been as busy as ever and, once again, it is our students who have led the way in giving us our greatest sense of pride. This was best exemplified by the Prizegiving Ceremony held last week in the Hart Leisure Centre where award winners recognised in the summer had the opportunity to repeat the process in front of their family. It was a wonderful event and we thank all those parents who took the time to comment so positively. The musical interludes were of their usual extraordinarily high standard and the students’ support for each other, irrespective of year or house, was a joy to behold.
This week has seen a group of students involved in the first part of a Shakespeare Festival; and an entire year group undertaking a wind turbine activity in the Hall to promote the skills and dispositions that underpin education and our curriculum commitment to ELLI (Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory).
Yesterday also saw our annual Open Evening where all those parents interested in sending their children to Calthorpe Park came along to have a look around. We imagine many of you remember the event and some of you may well have come back around again, with younger siblings! This year the tours had to weave their way through the revised site, and our usual fabulous subject presentations were supplemented by a room overlooking the main build area, dedicated to the building work and manned by our partners from Balfour Beattie. The feedback from our visitors was extremely positive, many commenting about the welcome and information they received from staff as well as the wide variety of activities that were going on. The greatest praise was, however, reserved for all of the students who acted as guides, helping departments or speaking in public presentations. Each and every one was a credit to the school and reinforced our enormous sense of pride in our students, your sons and daughters. We thank them all. They remain our very best advert.
Finally, next week sees the start of the annual Model United Nations event at the school with countries to be represented now allocated, research underway and interviews for the key roles completed. These allow senior students to speak eloquently and informatively about the role of the United Nations and of their perception of its key priorities. Our MUN event is an extraordinary occasion and demonstrates that the young people of Fleet have a wide knowledge of the world, an ability to debate, reflect and respond as well as a keen commitment to make their world a better place. What is not to be proud of?
Friday 12th September 2014
A very warm welcome back to a new year at Calthorpe Park, particularly to those of you who have just joined the Calthorpe community. This is an extremely exciting year in many ways but particularly with the major building project now definitely underway and a very different landscape and vista to key areas of the school. The block at the front was demolished over the Summer in dramatic fashion and the field has seen extensive work undertaken. Published in the weekly message on Friday is an outline of the new arrangements for accessing the school that will come into operation from Tuesday 16th September. Please take some time to familiarise yourself with these arrangements, available as an announcement on our new school website which, we hope, reflects and conveys the spirit and values of the school.
Our Year 11 students last year did us proud once again with some outstanding achievements both individually and across the board. An announcement on the website gives more details and we wish to pay tribute to all of those who made great progress, and to the staff who helped them.
We were also delighted with the results of both last year's Year 10 Statistics groups and Year 9 RE candidates. Remarkably, of the 192 students who took GCSE Statistics, 75% achieved an A*-C grade and, of the 146 students who took RE GCSE, 99% achieved a B grade or higher.
These courses reflect part of the school’s commitment to an enriched and challenging curriculum and the results bode very well for those current students who are now either half way through their GCSE courses (Year 11), or just starting them (Year 10). We look forward to huge levels of progress and ever greater success.
This term we are delighted to welcome a number of new staff to the school and welcome back following maternity leave Mrs Plunkett who will resume her role as Head of Marie Curie although Mrs Jinadasa will continue her work with the house specifically on a Wednesday.
Furthermore: Ms Chidgey has taken over as Head of Geography; Mr Lewis, Professor O’Donnell and Mr Atkins have all joined the Science Department; Ms Gray has arrived into English; Ms Doward will be teaching Art; Mrs Marren joins RE; Ms Shipley will be with the Maths department; Mr Möller will now be teaching Music and Drama; Ms Shakell has joined Drama and Mr Carter has taken a role in the PE Department.
We started the school year with assemblies to all but Year 7 outlining our expectations and vision for the school. These are also conveyed in our Head Teachers’ Welcome message on the website; we would ask that you continue to support us in ensuring that the students dress, behave and work in a manner that is conducive to progress and the business of learning. We would ask that you encourage and support your son/daughter to attend punctually and to adhere to the uniform regulations. We do not want these basic expectations to get in the way of learning but, equally, we do expect students to be appropriately dressed. Similarly, encouraging a dialogue about what they have learnt and what they did to improve their own learning is a good way to start the “What did you do at school today?” dialogue.
Finally, a particular mention to our new Year 7 students who have settled into the school quickly and positively, finding their way around despite all the changes. As ever, we have been extremely impressed by their general attitude and demeanour although must also pay credit to the other year groups who have helped them and, in particular, to the Year 11 students who greeted them on their first day, gave them a tour and have continued to look out for them as the days have gone by. It has been a delight to witness the Calthorpe community so brilliantly illustrated by seeing Year 11s freely and happily chatting to the new arrivals.
We do hope you have enjoyed a wonderful summer and look forward to working with you throughout the year. Thank you, as ever, for your support.