Blog from the Top
Thursday 29th March 2018
So we come to the end of another great term that has witnessed much outstanding learning, a number of year groups involved in exams, both internal and external, and our Calthorpe Extra Year 11 Revision Programme in full swing and drawing numbers well into several hundreds during many weeks this term. And then there are all the enrichment opportunities that our staff provide and into which our students invest so avidly….. special events, trips, visits and competitions, both local and national, many of which we invite you to read about on the pages of this newsletter.
Staff and students have, again, worked so very hard as the days have gradually turned from the icy darkness of Winter into the (almost and keenly anticipated) airy lightness of Spring! We commend the vast majority of our students for their ongoing effort, active participation and ever-readiness to savour new opportunities. And, in turn, we applaud our staff for their passion, relentless dedication and simply, for always going the extra mile. A number of them will also be in school during the Easter holiday, offering extra revision support to our Year 11s as GCSE exams nudge ever closer, but we hope that each and every one of them will find an opportunity to take some time out. We wish them a very well-deserved rest and a great break.
On the staffing front, Ms Tate started her maternity leave last week; we wish her all the best for impending parenthood and look forward to meeting her new little one in the months to come. Sadly, we must say a longer-term good bye to three colleagues who are off to explore pastures new and so are leaving us this week. Ms Tims (Technology) takes up a role in a school in the south of the county, much closer to her home. We thank her for her contribution and wish her well for the future. We say goodbye also to Ms Payton who joined us on a temporary basis last year; she has bridged a gap so well at a time of transition in the History department, pending the arrival of our new Head of Department. We thank her, and wish her well also. And finally, we must say goodbye to Ms Russell, our Assistant Head of Science, who, over the past five years, has made such an excellent contribution to Science teaching at CPS. An outstanding practitioner, she leaves us to move into the field of scientific research. We thank her and wish her every success in her new venture.
And finally, we look forward to welcoming two new colleagues next term, both of whom will join our History Department. Mrs Eleanor Rushmere is an experienced and highly successful subject specialist who joins us from a Basingstoke school and, having worked very successfully at CPS for a number of years previously, Mrs Alicia Binding rejoins us to take up the leadership of the History department. We are delighted to welcome her back on board and have great expectations of her for the future.
But enough of projecting ahead to a new term…. holiday time now beckons! We wish everyone a very Happy Easter.
Friday 23rd March 2018
A few observations and thoughts for this week, as the end of term nears.
The first two surround our amazing students.
On Monday and Tuesday, we interviewed a group of 18 young people for the Senior Student Leadership positions. What an absolute joy it was to meet such measured, mature, articulate and positive young people. Congratulations to all of those selected for the various posts, and thanks also to our unsuccessful applicants for being so willing to support the school - we could easily have picked an entire “shadow” SSLT! We very much look forward to working with the new team who are full of ideas, enthusiasm and a genuine pride in their school.
Also on Tuesday, we ran a Site Strategic Workshop as a very early part of the ongoing consultation around the potential future growth of the school. There were representatives from the local community, the governing and parent bodies, the staff (teaching and support), Hampshire County Council, local councillors and, of course, a range of students from years 7 to 10.
While everyone’s contribution was valued and recognised, it was, without doubt, the students who stole the show with their observations, ideas, commitment to, and appreciation of the school. And they demonstrated such confidence in speaking to so diverse an adult group.
Finally, on Thursday, we took part in an aspect of the selection process for the Hampshire Teaching Awards. Reading the nominations brought about an increased awareness of the high quality of skill and incredible commitment of our own staff that we often laud in this blog.
Nominations spoke of teachers who give up their time before and after school to run clubs, extra lessons, support groups and the like. These teachers were deemed to be exceptional – yet so many of the activities cited were simply things that we ‘just do’ as part of normal life at Calthorpe Park.
Take, for instance, the Calthorpe Extra Programme - a timetable of additional revision classes that, since the start of the year, have been taking place before school, in tutor time, in teachers’ non-contact periods and after school, not to mention the revision days that are planned to take place during the Easter holiday. And it isn’t just about the delivery – each of these sessions has been meticulously planned and resourced, also in our colleagues’ own time. Literally hundreds of students have been attending ....and all of this has been offered gratis. This level of commitment is exceptional and must never be taken for granted by any members of the school community. At a recent Full Governing Body Meeting, when appraised of these activities, our governors were amazed at the extraordinary dedication of staff at this school.
What the process of reviewing the Hampshire Teaching Award nominees also brought into sharp focus was the immeasurable and enormously valuable role that support staff at Calthorpe Park play in the running of the school and in support of the students’ education. None of our trips, events, activities or projects would happen so smoothly without the management, support, leadership and commitment of colleagues from the many and varied areas of the school. Learning and supervision are also often underpinned by the involvement of our Support Staff Team – by their willingness to contribute and by their sheer endeavor. We are enormously lucky to have such a complete and wonderful group of people. At a time when teacher recruitment is a real challenge, a subject we will return to in future blogs, there is a tendency to focus on the incredible job that teachers do. And that is right and proper. But we must never forget the amazing teams in admin, cover and supervision, finance, exams, reprographics, site management, information management, learning support, welfare, the cafe and every other group or individual whose vital role does not fit into these headings. It is they who keep the school running. They work incredibly hard, often for meagre financial reward, but each and every one will always go the extra mile, do a little bit more... And always with a smile and infectious good humour.
We thank all of our colleagues for all that they do. Quietly. Day in, day out.
Next week sees the end of a short but full term. Enjoy your Easter break.
Friday 9th March 2018
To conclude our annual Week of Change, the final day is traditionally given over to a ‘teacher swap’ whereby, in consultation with their teacher, students have the opportunity to plan part, or even all of a lesson and to deliver it to their classmates.
Today was Teacher Swap Day and, as we carried out our usual schedule of classroom visits, we were delighted to see some amazing student-led learning going on across a wide range of subjects.
Up in IT, 2 ingenious students were very confidently delivering a revision lesson in preparation for Year 10 exams that are due to start on Monday. They had pre-programmed a multi-choice on-screen quiz, with accompanying graphics, to help their peers revise key technical terms of the GCSE Computing syllabus. The whole class was focused, loving the challenge of the task and thriving on its competitive element.
In a Year 10 English class, a student was leading learning using excerpts of films that, with the support of his teacher, he had selected to practise GCSE-style questioning; in a French class, students were also focused on exam preparation with two of their number leading their peers in revision of key vocabulary around urban social problems. Discussion, in the target language, of homelessness, gang culture, substance misuse and poverty provided significant challenge and offered opportunity for speaking, listening and writing skills to be practised.
In a Year 7 Science lesson, a student was teaching reflection and refraction of light, providing a clear and accurate explanation to accompany the projected diagram whilst the class recorded key words and definitions. Learning was similarly impressive in a Year 7 Geography class where three students were co-leading their peers through a lesson on natural disasters. They had prepared a mini-video for the class to watch, a powerpoint presentation and an accompanying worksheet; by the end of the lesson, students were applying the knowledge they had acquired to plot, on a furnished plan of a building, the most safe places to shelter in the event of an earthquake. When it was time to debrief the task, in true teacher fashion and with no difficulty whatsoever, the intrepid student teachers called their classmates to silence on the count of ‘3,2,1’ and then proceeded to collect, and spontaneously expand on ideas shared by the class!
Today, we have seen endeavour, enjoyment and the realisation that teaching is actually harder than it looks! But, in these very difficult times for teacher recruitment, we think that many of our students at Calthorpe Park could do a great job!
We also think that the idea of teacher/student swap is a great one and we intend to practise what we preach! So, with their GCSE exams fast approaching, it’s sadly time for our fantastic Year 11 Senior Student Leadership Team to relinquish their roles; Year 10 applications are in and interviews are scheduled for after the exams. Before final retirement, though, we are going to ask our out-going Year 11s to write our next blog for us. Watch this space!
Friday 9th February 2018
Only 5.5 weeks in length but, without doubt, the most packed and impactful half term.
Our fantastic Year 7 football squad won the Regional 5-a-side Final and have now gone through to the National Finals to be held in Birmingham in March.
Year 8 students have completed internal school exams; their behaviour and effort were impeccable throughout.
Our Year 9 and 10 Mathematicians have taken part in the Intermediate Maths Challenge and, just last Friday, the whole school were involved in Number Day. The day was prefaced by a week of supporting numeracy challenges and activities which provided a great opportunity to embrace our love of all things numeric combined with fundraising for the NSPCC.
Also on the fundraising front, one of our wonderful Year 8 students has initiated and inspired a series of in-school events that have resulted in over £2,000 being raised in support of the Royal Marsden and Cancer Research charities.
Other great outcomes of the half-term have witnessed our Year 10 GCSE PE students spending a week at Calshot Activities Centre, a D of E Practice Weekend and one of our Year 11 students coming second in the Hart Young Musician of the Year Competition, so securing his place in the District Final.
But, the key highlight has, without doubt, been the amazing effort, enthusiasm and dedication of our fabulous Year 11 students.
We launched our Calthorpe Extra Programme on the first Monday back in 2018. The programme supports preparation and revision for GCSE exams and sessions run pre-school, at lunchtime and after school each day until 5pm.
Student buy-in has been phenomenal with in excess of 100 Year 11s attending regularly, even on Friday evenings! Indeed, yesterday afternoon topped efforts so far with numbers nudging 150 turning up for their weekly additional English session. It’s been an expensive half term on the biscuit-buying front!
All of this wouldn’t be possible, of course, without the commitment and professionalism of our exceptional colleagues who continue, so consistently, to go above and beyond in their support of our students.
It is also our observation that, in all classes that we visit, as well as in the timetabled revision lessons that we both supervise, our Year 11 students’ collective independent and collaborative learning skills are not only of a notably high standard but, indeed, are even more developed and focused than those of any previous year group in our experience.
Well done Year 11. You have raised the bar to a level to which our younger students must now aspire. Thank you. Enjoy your half term. Have a rest. But don’t forget your revision timetable!
Friday 26th January 2018
Safeguarding the young people at Calthorpe Park
Last week we learned that, as part of a sample of Hampshire schools, we had been selected for a Local Authority Safeguarding Audit visit. Four days later, on Friday 19th, two inspectors spent the day with us, talking to students, staff and Governors, and auditing our safeguarding provision and practice in a range of areas.
We are hugely proud of our safeguarding practice at CPS and value any, and every opportunity to enhance it further. So, we very much looked forward to the feedback report which, at the end of the day, was presented verbally to ourselves, Jeff Kelsey, our Safeguarding Governor, and to two other members of our Governing Body.
It was really positive. We’d like to share some of the key point with our parents:
- The inspectors said that young people at Calthorpe Park are very clear about how to keep themselves safe; in terms of e-safety, the school has identified the most appropriate solutions for filtering, monitoring and keeping students safe online.
- CPS is leading the way by focusing on the promotion of positive mental health as a supportive context for its keep-safe work
- Support for staying safe online is a real strength. It is embedded in our wider curriculum, via PACE and Citizenship specifically, and through our rich programme of assemblies, special focused events and external presenters
- Safeguarding policies, procedures and practice are fit for purpose, consistently operated and regularly reviewed; their impact is continuously monitored
- Training in safeguarding for staff and governors is of high quality and accredited. Safer recruitment practice is firmly embedded. Checks to monitor the high quality and consistent implementation of safeguarding practice are exemplary
- The school’s evaluation of its safeguarding practice and impact is very strong; both this and our Safeguarding Action Plan were described as being models of good practice
The inspectors concluded the day with their judgement that the culture of safeguarding at CPS is very strong and clearly embedded in all aspect of practice, both day to day and in terms of strategic planning. They said that some of the safeguarding practice that they had observed at Calthorpe Park is the best they have seen and they asked to take away some of our documentation as exemplars.
We were delighted with the outcome and we continue to strive for ongoing improvement. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to support our young people to stay safe and to promote their wellbeing….and it must always be at the heart of what we do.
Thursday 21st December 2017
Here we are, finally, at the end of a super-hectic term!
And our final four days of term have been, as ever, full of good cheer, festive fun and memorable events. Our wonderful Christmas Concert took place on Monday evening; on Tuesday, our Year 7s took part in our annual Homelessness Day and the remainder of the school brought in food and other basics as donations for those who are in need. Also on Tuesday, staff and students sat down together to a delicious Christmas lunch, prepared and served by our hardworking Café Team, and with all the trimmings, of course!
We are all looking forward to our whole-school Christmas Assembly on Thursday and, as is our custom, we reproduce below, for parents, our 2017 Head Teachers’ Christmas Assembly message to our students :
A few days ago, the Oxford English Dictionary announced its ‘Word of the Year 2017’. This is an annual event. Each year, those who compile the dictionary, endeavour to find a word that is deemed to reflect the ethos, mood or preoccupations of the year and to have the potential to pass into common, daily language use. The word for 2017 is ‘Youthquake’. Youthquake is defined as ‘a significant cultural, political or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people’. Young people like you.
It was a word first coined some 50 years ago when it was used to refer to the youth-led fashion and music movement of the 60s. The influential magazine Vogue said : ‘The year is in its youth; the youth in its year. Fewer dreamers, more doers. Here. Now. Youthquake 1965’
And now it’s 2017…very nearly 2018. The ‘Youthquake’ now referred to by the dictionary is a political change surrounding the way in which young people voted in both the June General election and the Brexit Referendum. But perhaps ‘Youthquake’ for this century should be about more than just politics.... maybe it should be about what you do, and can do, to make the world a better place.
Every year we see you do things for charity. Last week, you had a mufti day for the Save the Children charity. This week, you have been donating gifts and food for those who are homeless or without life’s basics. But when you come in to school not wearing school uniform, for Save the Children or Children in Need, or any of the other charities we support, do you look beyond the opportunity to dress casually? When you attend the fairs and events, do you look beyond the chance to buy cakes or chocolate at break and lunch? If you don’t…now is the time to do so.
We have been proud and amazed at the way in which so many of you have embraced these fundraising activities. Every one of them raises much-needed funds for charities. But we do wonder if all of you fully understand the true import of what you do and where the money goes. A few simple cans of food can make the difference between someone eating this Christmas or simply not eating. A gift that you might look down on as not quite what you wanted, not worth much, not something you need…may well make the day of another person who has little.....might make their Christmas brighter.
The money you donate can buy essentials for a person or even a family; can support initiatives and projects that improve the lives of those who suffer challenges and difficulties that most of us can barely imagine.
Through your contribution you can change a life. It might sound over-dramatic but that is the reality. Your generosity can mean that someone’s life is lengthened, brightened, improved. But less material and simple acts of kindness can cheer up a neighbour, a passer-by, a family member or even a complete stranger. And beyond our immediate community, what you do can make a difference in ways that, perhaps, we find hard to imagine.
And we have the proof that what you do is changing lives…
The Ocean Stars Trust that we have raised funds for in many ways, supports the communities, families and schools on the East Coast of Sri Lanka that were devastated by the Tsunami in 2004. For the last few years, we have been sending out students, staff and resources to help with the rebuilding of villages and education provision for this area. This year was no different, except that a letter, written to the team by the Headteacher of one of the schools we visited, clearly articulated exactly what a difference the simple things we send, take and do, can make.
She wrote: “Our students … have ongoing money problems, alcohol related problems, post-tsunami family loss and one parent families where a parent is away working in the Middle East (for up to 4 years). These factors mean that a lot of students have mental health problems and feel …unhappy.
When (your) students visit, our students have a chance to be free from their problems. They feel liberated. They can be children, and laugh, and have fun. They feel motivated to study and want to do well in their exams. They feel that someone cares for them and they truly treasure the interactions they have had with the UK students.
Before (you) came to visit our school in 2013, our GCSE results were 26% A-D grades. In…2016, they were 58%. My target for 2017 is 65% pass rate.
You are really making a difference and changing lives. Our children now have hope and their hearts are filled with happiness. Thank you.”
That is the difference you can make.
For the past few years, we have set you a Christmas challenge. This year is no different. We ask you to do something that makes a difference, that improves someone’s life, not just your own. Raise money, but be aware of why you are doing it and how it will make things better. Do something for someone who is not just suffering financial hardship but who is less well off, less fortunate than you in any way. If each one of you takes one small step to do something good, to do something better, then the vibrations will resonate far beyond this school. You can create your own Youthquake!
And by so doing, you can begin the Youthquake that influences the powers that be to do the right thing. You can begin the Youthquake that makes a difference through its commitment, compassion, integrity and care. You can begin the Youthquake that changes lives.
‘The year is in its youth; the youth in its year. Fewer dreamers, more doers. Here. Now. Youthquake 2018.’
Be the year. Be the youth. Make it happen.......’
So, to conclude the term, it simply remains for us to say goodbye to three colleagues who are leaving us to move on to pastures new. Good luck and many thanks to Laura Blake who leaves us after 4 very successful terms. Laura has been a great asset to CPS and has made an excellent contribution to students’ learning in Drama, Drama Literacy and English. She is moving to a school nearer her home in the south of the County and we will miss her dedication and infectious enthusiasm. We wish her well in her new post.
Two other colleagues are also leaving CPS this week. Richard Sutton, Second in Maths, moves to take up a post in the private sector locally and Science colleague, Sophie Haggart, moves to Wiltshire. Although both have been with us for a just a term, we thank them for their valued contribution and wish them well in their new ventures. We look forward to welcoming Ms Helen Zhu and Mr Robert Mansfield who will join us in January, in the Maths and Science departments, respectively.
Finally, we would like to extend our thanks to all parents for your support during this long but busy term. We wish you all a very Happy Christmas, a peaceful New Year and a very relaxing break!
Melanie Hooper and Martin Amos
Friday 1st December 2017
Many of our proud 2016/17 Year 11 returned for our annual Leavers’ Certificate Evening, held in our auditorium, on November 30th 2017. Staff, parents and the ex-students had a short time before the event to meet and catch up with news, share stories of ongoing progress at college, and talk about future aspirations. With the stage set, music queued up, nominations and winners of Awards ready to share, two of our current senior students opened the event. We presented the official GCSE Certificates after giving out a number of subject and school awards. It was lovely to see so many students and their families joining us to celebrate their successes! We concluded the event with an address – aimed specifically for our leavers but was of interest (and even some amusement) to the parents and family in the room. You can read it here:
Mr Amos: Have you ever got lost?
Ms Hooper: We don’t mean in some esoteric or metaphorical way. We just mean lost.
Mr Amos: I recall when I had just passed my driving test staying with a friend in St John’s Wood in North London and then moving on to see another friend in Notting Hill Gate, also in North London. I got lost; hideously and horribly lost. Eventually I managed to work my way there using the Thames as a point of reference even though the Thames is miles away from either location. It took me 2 hours. On the return journey with someone sitting beside me who knew the way, it took 9 minutes.
Ms Hooper: Of course, this was long before mobile phone technology allowed us to identify, where we are, where we are going and how to get there. I assume you didn’t have a map. You could have asked someone the way.
Mr Amos: I was 18…and a man. Everyone knows that neither teenagers nor men ever ask for directions.
Ms Hooper: We often talk about life being a journey. It has become something of a cliché. But the thing about clichés is that they have become such because they absolutely do contain some considerable element of truth. Every step we take in our lives is part of a bigger journey. Time moves on. We move on.
Mr Amos: The problem with the journey that is life is that there is no GPS to tell us where we are on that journey; no Google map to point us in the right direction; no sat nav to tell us which way to turn.
Ms Hooper: Your generation, Generation Z, has not known a world without mobile technology, and for the vast majority of your school life you have had access to smart phones with all that they bring. Who did you ask about stuff before Google? How did we communicate with anyone before social media? How did we ever get anywhere before we had sat navs and google maps?
Mr Amos: Well, we did. Although sometimes it took a bit longer…but in taking that time we learnt new things. On my convoluted journey from St Johns Wood to Notting Hill Gate I discovered a degree of resilience, patience, problem solving…as well as a fantastic little café which did brilliant bacon rolls.
Ms Hooper: We are so used to just getting to where we need to be that we have lost the ability to enjoy the journey, even to enjoy being lost. And there are other problems caused by a slavish reliance on technology…it does not take into account the speed bumps and pot holes that occur along the way. It doesn’t take into account that other people through their needs, through their unhelpful behaviours, their mistakes, their carelessness can influence the direction we take along the way. The technology also can’t recognise that sometimes a more scenic route is better for your soul.
Mr Amos: And, of course sometimes it just goes wrong. Maybe there’s no signal? Sat Navs take us down roads that are unmade up or unsuitable, take us to places with the same name, divert us off the route we wanted to follow, insist we go a way that we know to be wrong…
Travelling to Wales with a friend a few years ago on the M4, he slavishly followed the sat nav’s direction, taking us off at junction 13, round the roundabout and back onto the motorway. Why? Because that was what the sat nav said!
Ms Hooper: But life does not have a Google map, a GPS or a sat nav. It does not come with a pre-planned set of directions. There is no manual on how to grow up, how to mature, how to succeed. There is no set on instructions on how to live.
As parents we know all too well that there is no easy guide to parenting. That sometimes we make mistakes. But understand that when we do, we make them for all the right reasons.
Maybe we don’t always know best in your view but experience means we do know better….
Mr Amos: We all have to keep learning. We all have to pay attention to every learning opportunity. We have to know that on the journey of life we have to find our own way. You, as the next generation, have to find your own way.
But you can look for signposts, you can plan a route, and you can stop and ask for direction from those who are further down the journey and road than you are.
Ms Hooper: It is often said that we are often defined by what we do…where we go…who we choose to associate and be friends with. If you hang out with people without moral fibre or purpse, with negative attitudes…what does that say about you? If you hang out with people with low aspiration, their lack of ambition may influence you.
Mr Amos: But if you spend your time with people with commitment, with positive attitudes, with compassion, with ambition; these qualities may rub off on you, even inspire you. On your journey of life, our advice is to do three things.
Ms Hooper: Take a careful note of and learn from what is around you: choose the company you keep and the route you take; embrace the detours and the scenery that will help you grow as a person.
Mr Amos: Listen to the advice you are given. Choose that which you think is best and given to you by people who care…genuinely care; people who will care at every step of your journey not just in the next five minutes.
Ms Hooper: Make sure that your journey creates footsteps for others to follow in. We all have a duty to inspire someone positively. There is no limit or parameters to inspiration. We are constantly inspired by the students we come across, by you. Similarly we are always inspired by the amazing staff who taught you and who we have the privilege to work with.
Mr Amos: Finally, make sure that your journey has a purpose, but make sure the pot of gold at the end of it gives you satisfaction, mental and physical wellbeing, joy and love; those are the things of real worth.
These things will inspire you; they will fuel your dreams. They will give you that ambition to succeed in life, the aspiration to keep moving forward and improving on the journey.
Ms Hooper: During your time at Calthorpe Park you have often proved that you have these capacities. Your challenge is to carry these abilities and dispositions forward; to develop and hone them. Can you do that? We absolutely believe you can.
Mr Amos: We wish you happiness on your journey. We know you will travel well.
Send us a postcard.
Ms Hooper: Good luck.
Friday 10th November 2017
Last week, representatives from the school staff and student body attended a Community Minds Partnership event at The Village Hotel.
The subject was around the need for local businesses and schools to work together to ensure that opportunities are extended, relevant skills are promoted, careers-confidence is developed, employability is enhanced and that young people across Hart and Rushmoor become the kind of people who will enhance the community in which they live, and will ultimately work in, thus having a positive impact both socially and economically.
Our student representatives sat with adults from local community groups, businesses, organisations and consultants. They fed back on behalf of their tables and were able to demonstrate exactly the skills, attitudes and dispositions that we promote at CPS and that the community is looking for. By the end of the morning, they all had contacts and had received offers of apprenticeships, internships and work experience from a range of employers. They learnt a great deal and were, as ever, a credit to our school.
It was reassuring to know that, alongside the emphasis on qualifications, the broader elements of education are appreciated and even demanded by such organisations. The education of the ‘whole child’ that we promote is exactly what further and higher education establishments are looking for, as are employers.
The event also raised the interesting question as to how the diverse businesses and employment experiences of our parents might be harnessed to supplement and support these aspects of education.
As a result, we will soon be sending through a request for parents to indicate their line of work and whether they might be able to offer help or opportunities across any number of situations and events, as well as to support individual or small groups of students seeking information, experiences, opportunities or understanding.
We would ask that, if you feel able to help, you complete the information request when you receive it.
On this matter of support, we would once again like to pay tribute to the activities of the CPSA (Calthorpe Park School Association). The events they run are fantastic fun (Race Night is on 24th November) and raise money to enhance the education of our students, your children.
Sometimes, however, it can feel that, in a school of nearly 1200 young people, the percentage of parents who actively get involved is quite low. We are not expecting you to join the committee but if you could keep an eye on the website for letters about events and activities and maybe come along, sponsor your child or contribute in some small way, the resulting impact could be tremendous.
Friday 20th October 2017
The first half term of any new school year is always a full and hectic one but this half-term has, without doubt, been the busiest and most productive one yet!
In addition to great learning from all year groups (we know this because every member of staff has already been observed teaching at least once so far this term, and, since our return to school in September, we have operated a ‘visibility rota’ whereby each day, members of the Senior Leadership Team visit classrooms across all subjects, unannounced, to ensure that good focus for learning is happening), we would just like to list a few of the memorable events, trips and enrichment activities that have taken place in the first few weeks of term. Far too many to mention in entirety, and with some of the long list explained and showcased in more detail elsewhere in this newsletter, we will pick out just a few to give a flavour of the additional opportunities on offer at Calthorpe Park.
On the literacy front, we have celebrated Roald Dahl Day, Book Week and National Poetry Week with a wide range of super activities. Year 7 students enjoyed a Punctuation Show and Year 8 took part in a Reading Skills event. Our Scholastic Book Fair was great success with all year groups.
Off-site activities that have taken place over the past few weeks include the National Water Explorer trip to London, a visit to the Haymarket Theatre to see a performance of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the Year 11 Field Trip to Christchurch Bay and, as we write, our lucky students and staff who are participating in the Calthorpe Park Ocean Stars trip are watching elephants bathing at the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala, Sri Lanka!
Our Year 7s and their parents have had an especially busy half term. Students have taken part in our Rights Respecting School launch and, with their Year 11 partners, have done a brilliant job of proudly (and very competently) showing prospective parents around school at our Open Evening and Open Mornings. Their parents have been on site too, to ‘Meet the Tutor’ and to take part in our Year 7 Information Evening.
Year 11s are busy preparing for their Mock Exams which start shortly after half term. They have just completed Week 1 of their in-lesson revision programme and many of them are in school until 4pm each evening, taking part in the special after-school revision sessions that their teachers are providing for them. With their parents, they have also attended our Options at 16 and Mock Exams Information Evenings.
Our wonderful Model United Nations annual event demonstrated, yet again, that Calthorpe Park is a school with the widest ambitions and aspirations. It ran over a marvellous evening and day and was attended by delegates from 11 other schools and a range of other visitors, including our local MP. The event is fully described and illustrated in an article to be found later in this newsletter.
We could, of course, go on forever! We need little excuse to wax lyrical about the rich and varied opportunities that our students buy into and benefit from so actively….Prize Giving, Duke of Edinburgh event, Inter House sporting events, Race for Life, House Day - the list goes on.
And finally, we want to make special mention of the Drugs Awareness event that we held, this week, at Calthorpe Park. Dave Parvin, former Drugs Squad officer and now country-wide Drugs Prevention Educator, visited school to provide special information sessions for our Year 9, 10 and 11 students and a tailored after-school training session for our staff. In the evening, he presented a thought-provoking, illuminating and very well-received Information Evening for both our parents and those from Court Moor School. This was the first of a number of events that we hope to offer, in the future, to raise awareness of the dangers of substance misuse. On this occasion, we were delighted to work in partnership with Court Moor to provide information for our parents so that, together, we can support the young people of Fleet to make informed choices and keep themselves safe in a rapidly changing world.
Looking ahead to next week, although we recognise that not all will have the good fortune to be able to take some time off, we wish everyone associated with the school a very happy half term.
Friday 29th September 2017
As Autumn sets in, and the leaves on our Courtyard trees turn golden brown, we thought it would be a great idea for our blog this week to share a typical late September day at Calthorpe Park:
Friday 8th September 2017
This week’s blog is relatively brief and simple focussing on welcoming everyone back after what we hope has been a wonderful summer.
We have been delighted to see the Year 7 students quickly settling into the lessons and school routines and thrilled to see so many examples of senior students positively helping them through the transition.
Year 11 have also returned with their eyes clearly on achieving excellent GCSE grades with the challenge to be the best year group the school have ever had, exceeding the very good grades that last year’s leavers attained.
We would like to specifically welcome a number of new colleagues into the school whose presence allows us to state that we are fully staffed and looking forward to working with our outstanding teams and colleagues.
Ms Haggart joins us in Science; Ms Wrighton, Mr Sutton and Ms Scutter join the Maths team alongside the returning Mrs Ward and Mr Blake who will also be teaching some PE.
Ms Loosemore also joins us fulfilling a dual role in English and PE, while Mr Margilewski joins the Business Studies and Computing team. Ms Kearns joins us in the Music department.
Furthermore, we welcome Ms Robinson, Ms Bridgman and Ms Kelly to the Learning Support team.
We hope they all settle in quickly and enjoy being part of the Calthorpe “family”.
We know from past experience this term, like every other, will be a busy one but we wish all the staff and every student the very best for the following weeks and look forward to celebrating their successes in future blogs.
Tuesday 25th July 2017
Here we are, at the end of another year already. And what a year it has been! A year in which 42 trips and visits and a huge variety of events, concerts and shows have taken place.
The list is far too long to report in detail but includes a very wide range of musical and dramatic presentations, sporting events, fair trade and eco school events, careers fairs, citizenship activities … the list goes on and on. Our annual Sports Day was definitely our best ever and this year’s school show, Billy Elliot, was an absolute triumph! And all of this, plus a highly positive Ofsted visit in March and a very successful Local Authority Review in June, both externally validating our own self-evaluation, prioritisation and approach to improvement planning.
Ofsted headlines, of which we are particularly proud, spoke of our very clear and confident vision for the school, our strong set of values and clear expectations and our relentless pursuit of excellence. In short, ‘The Calthorpe Way underpins all aspects of the school’s work’.
Headlines from our Local Authority Review echo a similar theme, celebrating Calthorpe Park’s many considerable strengths; our ambition and determination to secure continuous improvement, our effectiveness in driving this improvement and our ability to secure high standards of both attainment and progress.
We seize, whenever we can, the opportunity to recognise and proclaim the many and varied achievements of our students and are looking forward to our wonderful Annual Awards Ceremony. With such a fantastic year coming to a close, there will certainly be a longer list of successes to celebrate than ever before. It’s the conclusion of our fourth year in post. Time really does fly!
This is a time of the year when, sadly, we say goodbye and farewell to colleagues who leave us to move on to pastures new – new schools, new roles or to a new phase in their life. We will miss them all; we wish them well for the future and thank them all, each and every one, for the great contribution they have made to Calthorpe Park School in so many ways in the time they have been with us.
Mr Downes has only been with us for a year but, in that time, has been an inspirational teacher, enthusing his students with his outstanding pedagogy. He leaves us to take up the job of his dreams, teaching Maths on a South Korean island! We hope that, if the call of adventure far away ever loses its charms for him, he will find his way back to Calthorpe Park. He certainly won’t be forgotten.
Ms Man moves to take up a post in Berkshire. She has a fantastic work ethic and has shown super commitment in the short time she has been with us. We wish her all the best for her future success.
After 17 years with us in a variety of roles, from Learning Support Assistant through to Pupil Premium Academic Tutor, we say a fond farewell to Mrs Barton, who begins her retirement and is looking forward to a slightly slower pace of life. Her calm, caring and patient approach will be very much missed.
We also say goodbye to Mrs Brown, also a highly successful Learning Support Assistant, whose commitment to our students with additional needs has been one of excellence. She leaves us to take up a similar role in a local primary school and we wish her all the best as she moves cross-phase.
After eight years of great service we say goodbye to Mrs Coombs, who leaves us to take up the role of Head of Music at a school in Reading. Known for her energy, creativity and skill, both as a teacher and as a form tutor, we will miss her greatly and we wish her well in her new leadership post.
Mr Kisob leaves us to develop his own business and we wish him all the best in his new venture. We have very much appreciated his experience and positivity and we know both staff and students will miss him.
Mr Saddiqui joined CPS in November and, in the short period of time that he has been with us, has forged very good working relationships with students and staff alike. He leaves us to take up a post in a school in Qatar; we thank him for his contribution and wish him well in his future career.
Ms Francis joined us in September and leaves us temporarily to take maternity leave. We wish her joy and contentment in motherhood and look forward to meeting the new addition to her family in due course.
We say goodbye to two of our Learning Support Assistant team. Ms Henze and Ms Mitchell both leave us this summer and we thank them for their contribution and wish them well for the future.
Ms Beaveridge moves to take up an English and Drama post in the private sector and to gain experience of teaching at Advanced level. On joining CPS, she very quickly established herself as a gifted and motivational practitioner and we will miss her drive and excellent pedagogy. We thank her for the great contribution she has made to the English Department, and to the school, in the time that she has been with us.
Ms Macmillan is also moving on to join the private sector, having spent 17 outstanding years as Head of History at Calthorpe Park. All recognise Ms Macmillan to be a gifted, inspirational teacher and an excellent, highly skilled Subject Leader and we will miss her hugely. We wish her every success in her new role and thank her for her utter dedication and total commitment to the many hundreds of students she has taught throughout her years with us.
Finally, we say goodbye to Mr Bell, who joined Calthorpe Park in 1980, and whose 37 years of commitment to the young people of Fleet has been legendary, both as a teacher and in his roles, throughout the years, as Careers Coordinator, Head of Upper School and as Coordinator of Vocational and Work Related Learning and Citizenship. Mr Bell is a man of determination and strength of character who richly deserves, and is positively looking forward to the next phase in his life; we wish him every happiness and many years of active retirement. We know that he intends to enjoy every minute!
And, last but not least, we say our temporary goodbye to all within our Calthorpe community. We wish every one of you the very best of summers and we hope the sun shines on you, wherever you are and whatever you may be doing.
Friday 14th July 2017
There are two things that we wish to talk about in our blog this week; they relate to events in the school that have taken place during the past two weeks or so and they encapsulate the broadest and most powerful value of education, as well as embodying the very essence of the Calthorpe Way.
Ten days ago, we held our annual Sports Day. This was a mix of traditional sports day events alongside multi-sport activities (hand ball, rounders, softball, cricket, etc). The huge number of students competing in events was wonderful, as was the tremendous sense of collaboration and community, which was tangible. Achievement and effort were celebrated in equal parts with both first and last place being cheered equally in the races that took place in the afternoon. With the barbecue and refreshment stall running all day long, music to accompany events and an ongoing commentary, the feel was more of a festival of sport. Staff support for the PE team and student commitment to ensuring the day went well were both brilliant and we thank everyone for one of the best such days we have experienced.
Some students also put together a short film using the school’s drone and we would urge you to watch the two minute piece to see both our excellent facilities and to get a flavour of a truly wonderful day.
This week has seen the culmination of months of hard work for the team that makes up the many and varied aspects of the production of Billy Elliot, The Musical. By the end of this week, 1,100 people will have seen the show which has a cast in excess of 60 and a support team that increases the number to beyond 80. The plaudits and standing ovations have rung out; everyone has been blown away by the talent and teamwork in evidence. The show is a complex and demanding one and the Drama and Music teams, led by Miss Oram and Mr Walker, continue to raise the bar in terms of aspiration: they dare to dream and take the students with them.
It is wonderful to see the lack of ego present as leads from last year’s production happily join the chorus just to be a part of the experience; Year 11 who have now left us come back to share the sheer joy that the experience brings; everyone supports each other with a single ambition to put on the best show they can. The sense of discipline and endeavour alongside effervescent joie de vivre and fun is a powerful combination; something to which all of us involved in education can aspire.
Photo credits: Robert Oram
Monday 3rd July 2017
A time of ‘goodbye’ to our outgoing Year 11 and of ‘welcome’ to next year’s Year 7
This time of year sees events occur which encapsulate the journey that our students make during their time with us at Calthorpe Park.
On the evening of Thursday 22 June, we stood in pleasant summer sunshine in the shadow of the grand Audley’s Wood Hotel and watched our Year 11 leavers arrive for their Prom. Even the wonderful photographs attached do not do justice to the levels of sophistication, maturity, calm confidence and joie de vivre that these young people brought to the event. Always with good humour and good grace they chatted, danced and smiled through the evening: happy to talk to peers and staff alike. It was an absolute joy to be a part of this event and we wish them every success in the future.
Last Thursday, our current Year 10 , now our most senior students, took part in a World of Work and Mock Interview Day. A series of workshops on key interview techniques and work skills concluded with each student being interviewed for an imaginary job for which they had applied. They were allowed to dress as they would for an interview and how smart they all looked! Immaculate, mature, measured and incredibly grown up: they were a credit to the school.
And this week, we will be welcoming Year 6 students for two days of Induction to Year 7; the next generation of students to follow the Calthorpe Way. We eagerly look forward to meeting them.
Finally, to the many parents who have kindly written or spoken to members of the school following the departure of our Year 11s, we thank you for your appreciation of what the school tries to do, and for trusting us with five years of your sons'/daughters’ education. Some of you were kind enough to heap praise on our school and its staff, but we would simply wish to thank our leavers for becoming young adults of whom we can be very proud.
And we look forward to watching our next Year 7 cohort follow in the steps of our leavers as they grow, aspire, achieve and inspire, just as those who have gone before them have done.
Friday 9 June 2017
In our May half-term newsletter, we mentioned our intention to introduce the next phase of our plan to ensure even better attendance by launching an ‘Attendance Matters’ initiative this half term. This will include a dedicated page for parents on our website through which we will regularly publish our attendance figures and other attendance-related information. In parallel, our in-school focus will also see the introduction of a range of competitions, incentives, prize draws and assemblies to help us promote and celebrate excellent attendance amongst our students.
On a daily, on-going basis, we have, in fact, been maintaining a real focus on attendance and punctuality since last Christmas. Both are good at Calthorpe Park but we need to make them even better! Since the start of 2017, senior staff have been out and about, braving the elements and welcoming students to school in the morning. They have been meeting and greeting students on their arrival and issuing short, snappy lunchtime detentions to a very small number of latecomers who have struggled with the requirement to be waiting to go into their tutor room on the bell at 8.40. To further support good punctuality, we now also shut the various gates to the site on the 8.40am bell, so there is no escape from the welcome party!
Punctuality is now generally excellent but we need to turn our attention even more closely to attendance.
Attendance percentages are not like examination results – an attendance percentage needs to be in the high 90s before it can be considered good and regular; we define ‘good and regular’ attendance as 96% or above. If a student is not in school regularly, s/he will miss out on learning and, in turn, this is likely to impact negatively on progress and, potentially, on well-being.
Unfortunately, our whole-school attendance for the Spring term fell this year, to just below 95%. We know that there were a plethora of bugs and colds ‘doing the rounds’ in the early months of 2017 (and a number of our staff fell victim to them also) but we now need to really drive this figure up as the (hopefully!) sunny and warm days of Summer beckon.
So do, please, look out for our Attendance Matters webpage which will be appearing shortly. We look forward to sharing advice, guidance and information on attendance with you and thank you, in advance, for reinforcing at home the importance and benefits of great attendance.
Friday 26th May 2017
It has been a short but eventful half term.
We received our Ofsted inspection report and were delighted to share it with our parents and the community. We also delivered special assemblies to all our students, speaking to them about what the inspectors had said about them - the high quality of their learning and engagement, their compliant behaviour and their respectful attitude - and we applauded them for being the asset that they so emphatically are to Calthorpe Park School. The report's clear recognition of the emphasis that we place at this school on the development of personal and social skills, our focus on the 'whole child', the strong and explicit values that underpin the 'Calthorpe Way' and the unfailing politeness and courtesy of our students are a source of great pride to us.
GCSE exams are now in full swing. Year 11 students are on Flexible Learning programmes, attending taught revision sessions relevant to their exam schedule. Pre-exam booster sessions have been incredibly well attended so far, despite the 8 am start for all morning papers, and students have also been participating enthusiastically in the post-booster refreshment programme!
This week, Year 7 students returned from a highly successful Osmington Bay trip. A member of staff who joined us this year told us, pre-trip, that he was really looking forward to accompanying his first group of CPS students on a school trip and that he expected it to be a great experience. On his return, he reported that both surpassed his expectations. We were not surprised!
Year 8 students have completed their Options process and are waiting for confirmation of subject choice allocation. Year 9 are busy preparing for their GCSE R.E. exam and the upcoming trip to the battlefields of France and Belgium.
With Year 11 no longer in school full time, our new Year 10 Senior Student Leadership and Prefect teams are proudly wearing their black sweatshirts, setting up their 'firms' and establishing themselves as our senior year group.
We would like to thank parents for their cooperation in supporting the school during the change of use of the former Hart Leisure Centre car park. At the end of the school day, the volume of traffic continues to cause congestion along Hitches Lane so we reiterate our request that parents maintain a free-flow of cars through the school drive and only drop-off along the marked bay at the front of the school.
Starting after half term, we will be reinforcing the importance of good attendance through the establishment on our website of an attendance page for parents - 'Attendance Matters' - which will include weekly publication of attendance information and data. In parallel, our in-school focus on attendance for students will see new House Boards with similar attendance information in the main downstairs corridor. This will be supplemented by incentives including competitions, prize draws and celebratory assemblies to support the improvement of attendance still further.
Finally today, the day we are writing our introduction to this Newsletter, the whole school observed, impeccably, one minute of silence at 11 am in recognition of the Manchester tragedy and in memory of those who died in it. At times like these it is incumbent on us all to take more care, to be more aware and to remember that, whatever the highs and lows of our daily routine, life is precious.
Friday 7th April 2017
Another half term that has been packed with events, activities and trips, as well as much hard work and, last week, a visit from Ofsted.
Our ‘Revise and Refresh Programme’ with its daily pre- and post-school subject revision sessions to support our Year 11’s in the run-up to GCSE exams is in full swing. Year 10 exams have just been completed and our Year 8 students are now embarking on the GCSE Options process. A busy time for all!
On the extra-curricular front, Eco Week and the Great British Clean Up were a great success, as was our Comic Relief Student and Staff Bake Off ….. you can read about, and see photos of both in this Newsletter. Our students have loved reading this half term! We celebrated World Book Day with staff reading a section of a short story at the start of each lesson throughout the day, meaning that by the end of the day all students and staff had enjoyed a complete story. We’ve also launched the Hampshire Book Award and Carnegie Medal reading initiatives; and our Year 9’s have enjoyed a Shakespeare Theatre Company performance.
Our menu of events and trips this half term has been wide and varied. Our students have hosted our annual Fair Trade Conference for primary school guests; our Music Review was a joyous celebration of the Spring’s arrival; a group of our older students have visited the Houses of Parliament and watched Prime Minister’s Question Time; and Inter-House Sport has taken place. Our Year 8’s enjoyed a fabulous residential trip to York; Year 10 geographers have been on field trips; and our choral group has very successfully taken part in the Bath and Mid Somerset Festival of Music. Our annual Community Snowsports Experience sets off for Italy on the final day of this term.
Auditions for the cast of this year’s production, the wonderful ‘Billy Elliot’, have taken place and we excitedly await what we know will be an amazing show scheduled for the end of the Summer term. Recent weeks have also seen the appointment of our new Prefect Team and we have interviewed and appointed an excellent new Student Senior Leadership Team. They will be writing to parents to introduce themselves after the break.
Sadly, we must say goodbye to Mrs Anderson who moves on to a post in a Surrey school where she will have the opportunity to teach to A Level. Mrs Anderson has been with us since 2011 and, in this time, has proved to be a truly outstanding teacher capable of inspiring her students to achieve the highest standards. We will miss her utter dedication to those she teaches and wish her all the best for her future career.
The start of the Summer Term will see us welcoming two new colleagues to our staff.
Mr Matharu will be joining us as Head of Computing and Business Studies and Mr Robbins will be joining the Modern Languages Department as Assistant Curriculum Lead. We wish them both a long and happy career with us.
We will also be writing to you in the new term to convey the outcomes of our recent Ofsted inspection. We await receipt of the final report and very much look forward to sharing this with you as soon as it is published.
And so, we are ready to start our Easter break - lots of chocolate, a modicum of relaxation and plenty of sunshine, we hope!
And we wish the same to you all, our staff, students and parents, and we thank you all for your ongoing support.
Don’t forget to take part in this newsletter’s Easter Egg Hunt!
Friday 10 March 2017
This week we have handed production of the blog to our wonderful Senior Student Leadership Team.
Hello, we are the Senior Student Leadership Team (SSLT) and as we are now coming to the end of our time as Head Boys and Head Girls of the school we have been asked to reflect on our time here. As GCSEs approach we are faced with the imminent prospect of blood, sweat and tears plaguing the last few months of our time at school…but let us not wallow in our sorrows and instead reminisce about the good times at Calthorpe Park.
The time we spent in the lower school seems a world away now, when our biggest worries were forgetting our apron for Food Tech or maybe having to complete a 4-week History project the evening before it was due in! Our life was scattered with pockets of free time where we could relax, and if you weren’t ridiculously afraid of failing that all-important PACE test, maybe even take a weekend off work…but this was only for the adventurous type. Despite this freedom that our lives outside of Calthorpe Park contained, our school certainly kept us busy! Those three years were filled with incredible trips: Osmington Bay, York and the illustrious Battlefields Trip, which never failed to produce unforgettable memories. Events, activities and performance opportunities littered our school lives. Many of us wish that we could turn back the clock to those care-free days, but unfortunately that is not to be. Let us take counsel from possibly the greatest Disney characters ever to be established: ‘I never look back, darling. It distracts me from the now.’ – Edna Mode.
At the end of Year 10 we faced the rather serious prospect of responsibility… In some cases this was long awaited, but most of us were soon to discover the heavy pressures (although usually enjoyable!) this can set upon you. We, along with many students, applied to take the prestigious position of Prefect due to our (newly-found, it would seem) desire to serve our school community. Following this we were then given the opportunity to interview for the SSLT. The interview process was of the utmost formality, and we discovered that we had never truly appreciated the effect of sitting in front of our rather fearsome head teachers. But fortunately we managed to pull together whatever nerve we had left, and our efforts were rewarded.
Last week we hosted the annual Fairtrade conference run by REaL3 and SSLT. On this day we invited 80 Year 6 students to join our Calthorpe ambassadors in learning about Fairtrade and its benefits. This was achieved by students from each group taking part in various activities such as orienteering, smoothie tasting, party games and Creative Fairtrade. We also offered African drumming (a definite hit among students!) in which one of the groups recorded a performance which was then shown to the rest of the students in the final presentation.
The main task of the day, however, was to create a presentation of a Fairtrade product given to each group. These groups were made up of students from both the junior schools and Calthorpe Park. There were, of course, a few rules to this presentation! The presentation had to include a PowerPoint, poster, leaflet and the all-important costume! At the end of the day we all received a stunning variety of presentations, and the amount of effort put in by the students was truly incredible. We would like to congratulate all teams for their fantastic efforts and enthusiasm throughout the day.
Other than the Fairtrade conference we, as a team, have achieved some incredible things, and we have all gained something from our experience. Some of our most notable events included the SLUGG Walk, MUN, the Christmas Fair and the Induction days in the summer. Others of us have managed large groups of people such as the Prefect Team and Speakouts, with positive outcomes along with a few moments of stress! Thank you to the House Captains for your assistance with Speakouts, and to the Prefect Team for your hard work and dedication. Our time as SSLT has been an incredible opportunity to develop our skills (although it may not have seemed it at some points!) and we have gained vital knowledge and experience which we will take through life. The last few months have been a time that we will never forget, and we owe huge thanks to the staff who have supported us throughout it. We wish the future Senior Student Leadership Teams luck in their roles, remind them that sometimes a little stress is healthy, and hope that they gain just as much from it as we did.
Friday 3 March 2017
This week has seen two wonderful events going on in school alongside a few trips and the launch of this year’s school show: Billy Elliot, The Musical.
The first of the events was our annual Fair Trade Day which was run by our students for local Junior Schools. The Senior Student Leadership Team will be writing next week’s blog and so we will leave it to them to say more about the content of the day, but we must just take this opportunity to acknowledge both their skilful and meticulous organisation of the event as well as the care and commitment of all the students involved. It was a wonderful event, much appreciated and enjoyed by all our visitors.
Thursday was World Book Day and alongside the issue of a £1 Book Token to all our students, we enjoyed a range of activities which included competitions and free books. Throughout the day, every member of staff read a section of a short story to their class, part 1 in period 1 and so on. The story, by Anthony Horowitz, was entitled Killer Camera and had us all on the edge of our seats as the tale gradually unfolded throughout the day. It was a wonderful idea and really focussed us on the importance of reading for pleasure as well as to improve our literacy skills and find out information. We cannot stress how vital it is to encourage young people’s reading skills and to nurture a love of reading; it has a profound impact not only on their success in school but also gives them access to worlds, ideas, images and tales that will excite, intrigue, challenge and inspire.
While reading and literacy are key parts of improving a young person’s chances in life, it is also important that they understand the importance of actually being in school. In these grey days of winter and early Spring, it is easy to struggle to get out of bed and make it into school. This has always been the case (even Shakespeare wrote of the “…whining schoolboy, with his satchel and shining morning face, creeping like a snail unwillingly to school), but statistics clearly demonstrate that attendance and achievement are closely linked.
95% needs to be our minimum expectation for attendance as this gives a student a statistically very good chance of achieving their potential. Should an individual student’s attendance fall to 90%, this would equate to them missing one session (a morning or an afternoon) every week! Over the course of their 5 year secondary education, this would equate to half a school year missed!
Evidence indicates that missing 19 days a year results in achievement of one grade lower across all GCSEs and, should a student’s attendance drop to 90%, he or she will have less than a 50% chance of achieving their expected progress; this drops to less than a 30% chance for 88% attendance.
These are not our figures, they are facts generated from countless schools and countless students.
We ask for everyone’s support in ensuring that every student’s chances of success are maximised.
Friday 17th February 2017
We’ve made it! Despite an unprecedented share of bugs and viruses this half-term, amongst both the student and staff bodies, we have got to the mid-point break and can now look forward to a very well-deserved few days of rest and recuperation.
It has been another jam-packed half-term. We started the new year with an excellent GCSE Revision Day, which included a morning of ‘Ace your Exams’ and ‘Memory Mnemonics’ for our Year 11 students, an afternoon session for teaching and classroom support staff and an evening especially for parents which outlined strategies and suggestions to use at home to support our students as they prepare for their GCSE exams. This revision event was held on 4th January and 193 of our Year 11 (89% of the year group) voluntarily gave up their final day of the Christmas holiday to attend. Well done, Year 11, we were highly impressed by your commitment and delighted with your 99% positive feedback.
Despite the cold and wintry weather, this half term has, once again, featured a rich menu of trips, extra-curricular activities and in-school events. These have included STEM Lego League, Snowsports Dry Slope lessons, Calshot residential, a Music trip to Blackheath Hall and GCSE Science Live at the Apollo. As we write, we are delighted to welcome to our Music Department a group of children and teachers from Tavistock Pre-School, who have come to share in a Chinese New Year Music Festival organised for them by Mr Walker and the Ceilidh Band.
In-school events have included Year 9 Find a Future Day, Years 9-11 National Maths Challenge and our annual Week of Change event, which focuses on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and takes, each day, a different right which forms the basis of a range of student-led activities at break and lunchtime. The Week of Change concluded with a ‘Teacher Swap’, which saw over 170 students working with their teachers to plan a lesson that they then delivered to their peers. Such was the students’ enthusiasm that over 50 lessons or part-lessons were delivered by them across 14 subject areas. A remarkable achievement!
So we are all eager to experience a half-term week of relative calm, post-6am lie-ins, and some lazy, work-free evenings. And then there’s masses to look forward to after the break…… applications for, and appointment of our next Prefect Team, our Fair Trade Conference, the Year 10 Geography Field Trip, World Book Day and related events…. and that’s just the first week back!
Happy half-term to you all.
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 16th December 2016
As we approach the end of another year, we think back over the weeks, months and terms that seem to have sped past so very quickly. It has been another incredibly busy but highly rewarding and very successful year. A year in which our (now former) Year 11 students achieved some outstanding GCSE results and in which the programme of trips, visits and enrichment activities offered and taken up by our students in all year groups has been the broadest and most diverse in the school's history. With a student roll of 1,172 we are fully subscribed, fully staffed and have the best-resourced, most well-appointed and spacious school we could ask for; 2015/16 has truly been a great year.
It has become somewhat of a tradition since we became Headteachers for us to share with parents, via the newsletter, the address which we deliver to students at end-of-term events. The theme of our Summer Awards Ceremony was ‘change’, reflecting the change from work to play, from one year to the next and, in some cases, from one school to another, that different members of our Calthorpe Community were about to experience before the start of the new school year in September.
Well, here we are, already at the end of another term, with Christmas fast approaching. And so we share with you below a glimpse of the message with which we will conclude our Christmas Assembly on Friday.
‘At the Awards Ceremony in July, we spoke to you about the amount of change that had occurred in the world and in our lives during the previous academic year. Since that assembly, the momentum of change has not slowed; if anything it has accelerated.
Ten years ago, a company endeavoured to project into the future to predict things that they thought would come about within a decade. They didn’t get it completely right as one prediction was that, in 2017, the first human head transplant would take place… now there’s a thought! But in other areas, their forecasts were uncannily accurate. For example, they predicted a major crisis in Yemen, something that is sadly already happening and is likely to worsen.
It was also predicted that, sometime next year, due to urban expansion, nine cities in China with populations of several millions will merge, so creating a mega-city with a combined population of 42 million; this compares with the population of the entire UK, at 65 million, and plans have been in place since 2011 to move towards just such mega-cities in a number of global locations.
Another idea was that by 2017, the number of web-connected “smart” devices would exceed the population of the world. This would mean that there would be more than 7.2 billion gadgets in use around the planet. This figure has already been exceeded; in fact, we went past it three years ago! The number of such devices is increasing five times more quickly than the population, meaning that every second, ten more tablets or phones are connected.
And in terms of education, the group foresaw the growth of virtual schools, where students sit at home and study via skype, email and web-based resources. No social interaction! No social education!
In some countries this is already happening in more remote areas but the idea is being explored in cities as well. Indeed, in Hampshire, some students who are ill or, for various reasons, are unable to attend school, learn from home via a virtual learning environment. Similarly, they predicted that education would become a defining feature of not just an individual’s future success but of an entire nation’s. In some countries, parents are paying for private tutors for children as young as three. In Shanghai, for example, parents are paying to have their three year old child’s brain waves analysed to figure out what kind of subjects they should specialise in at school, so that parents can support them to succeed. The word 'competition' has become a watchword for them as they aspire to be the best they can be in everything they do, both as individuals, and as a country.
This is the world we live in. This is your world.
Things change. We must adapt to survive.
Who would have imagined that Facebook would become such a global force and that its fake news could change the destiny of a nation? That hackers would be able to bring a business to its knees, and possibly a country? Who would have imagined that the new iPhone 7 would not have a headphone jack!?
Change happens. It happens in technology but change also happens to you; it happens at home, in school, in Fleet, as well as in the world. And it's how we adapt that matters. How resilient we are. How we seize opportunities to ensure that we are well-placed to compete and succeed in the world as future employees, employers, carers, parents, friends. That is what will make us who we are and who we will be.
Our country is facing a crisis at the moment in terms of education, health and social care. It is sometimes easy simply to blame a lack of funding and, whilst this is often a key factor, it actually goes beyond that. We can live healthier lives to cut down on the impact on the NHS of avoidable illnesses and injuries. We can recognise, appreciate and support the benefits of the education we receive for free and not disrupt, disturb or be negative in lessons so that everyone can succeed. And we can care. We can care about ourselves, about each other, about our family, our friends. But perhaps the most important thing at this time of year ...... we can care about those who are less fortunate than us. And there are so many people who are.
This Christmas, our challenge to you is not just to say you care but to show you care. Do something that brings a smile of gratitude or appreciation to someone’s face, an elderly person, a lonely person, someone down on their luck, someone unhappy. Do it not for a gift or for a reward but for the right reasons. We talk about integrity as doing the right thing even when no one is watching. Over this festive season, show integrity: give without expecting to receive; brighten someone’s life by your company, your politeness, your help, your care. That is the greatest gift you can give and the greatest gift you can receive. Even better than an iPhone 7, with or without a headphone jack!’
A Merry Christmas and a Happy and Peaceful New Year from us all at Calthorpe Park School.
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 November 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 21st October 2016
This half term has, as ever, been an incredibly busy and full one packed with events, trips, activities, successes and achievements. There are far too many to mention individually and we are delighted that most of them are mentioned at various points throughout this Newsletter.
We would, however, like to pay tribute to everyone who has organised, facilitated or been involved in any of the many, varied and rich range of opportunities that have occurred in the last few months. It is sometimes quite easy to lose sight of how incredible the staff are at this school; how amazing our students are year after year; and how lucky we are to be Heads of such an organisation.
Last year’s exam results are beginning to be able to be seen in a wider context and early indications are that, despite all of the pressures and changes, our students have done wonderfully well. We will publish more information when it has been finalised and validated but we look forward to celebrating this success with the leavers of 2016 at their Certificate Evening on 10th November.
We were also so impressed with the students who supported us during the Open Evening and Open Mornings, helping and talking to visitors with consideration, thought, intelligence, pride, courtesy and independence. They continue to be our best ambassadors and our finest advertisement.
From another perspective, we held our annual Model United Nations event a week ago and, once again, all of our many and esteemed visitors were so impressed by the dedication, passion, compassion and intellect of all of the students. One visitor commented that it “gave you confidence that the future is in safe hands”.
At a conference last week, a senior member of Ofsted spoke and said that every so often Headteachers should take a step back and admire everything that is good about their school, even at times to go “wow”. In a busy day, week, half-term, it is not always possible to do that but when we do, when we read through the Newsletter about all that is going on, we never cease to be impressed, even “wowed” by everything.
Thank you to everyone for their ongoing support.
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.
Tuesday 19th July 2016
We love the chance to celebrate the many and varied achievements of our students and are so looking forward to our wonderful Annual Awards Ceremony on Tuesday. We can hardly believe that we are, yet again, at the end of another year. It certainly has been a busy one with many changes and even more successes. And it is the conclusion of our third year in post. How time flies!
And during those three years, it has become our tradition, each July, to convey to parents, via our final Newsletter of the year, our Annual Awards Ceremony Concluding Address to Students. We reproduce it below; its theme this year is ‘change’, reflecting the change from work to play, from one year to the next and, in some cases, from one school to another, that different members of our Calthorpe Community will be experiencing in the weeks to come.
But before we record our address, we wish to record our bitter-sweet feelings as we say goodbye to a number of colleagues this academic year. Sad to lose them, but delighted for them as they move on to new roles, new schools and new phases in their lives, we send them off with our very best wishes for the future and thank them for all they have given to Calthorpe Park School:
Mrs Binding moves on to teach History, and to return to Advanced level teaching, in the private sector. We will miss her excellent pedagogy and constant drive for excellence.
Mr Burrell moves to take up a Progress Leader role in a school in a nearby town. He has done a sterling job as Pupil Premium Lead this year and we wish him well on his promotion.
Ms Clay leaves us after nearly 11 years. Known for her commitment, dedication and excellence, both as a teacher and tutor, we will miss her greatly and wish her well in her new role in the private sector.
Ms Ellis has only been with us for a year but she has made a real difference in that short time. We are very grateful for her contribution to the teaching of Art in school, for her positivity and thoroughly caring approach.
Moving on for family reasons, we wish Mr Goddard every success in his new job in Bournemouth. He has been a dedicated and deeply caring teacher who will be greatly missed.
After being with us for effectively two years, Miss Salter also leaves us to extend her knowledge and experience of A level Maths at an independent school. We wish her well.
We must also say goodbye to Mrs Ward, who has decided to take a break from teaching. We would like to assure her that her experience and commitment to our students will be missed and, if she ever wanted to come back…
Mr Gueye has been with us for three years and moves on to teach A level Maths. He has been a dynamic, committed and utterly dedicated teacher with a wonderful sense of humour and integrity. He will be greatly missed but has assured us he will be back!
Mrs Ryan also leaves us, having retuned just briefly after the birth of her daughter. She is moving back to Ireland, to be near family and to enjoy her little girl growing up. We wish her every happiness.
Similarly, Mrs Franks is not returning after her maternity leave, having moved to Kent to be near family and for her husband’s job. She was an outstandingly effective teacher and hugely well organised. We know that the school and the students will miss her.
Mrs Wilson moves on to take up the position of Subject Leader of Maths at a school in Basingstoke. She has made a great contribution to Calthorpe Park over the years, and especially this year, when she has led the department onwards, under difficult circumstances, and we thank her for her professionalism, commitment and focus on the students.
Finally, we have to say goodbye to Mrs Wood. Mrs Wood started at CPS in 1977 and her record of dedication and commitment to the young people of Fleet has been truly astonishing. She has fulfilled various roles in the school but always with the optimum sense of caring deeply about the lives of the young people she has taught and tutored. She has made a truly significant difference to so many lives and is hugely appreciated throughout the Calthorpe community. We wish her every happiness and many years of enjoying a richly deserved retirement.
And so to our Awards Ceremony Address:
‘This last year has seen some big changes at Calthorpe Park. The new building is complete and we are pretty much fully moved in with the other refurbished rooms, hopefully being ready for September. Alongside such changes in our school, we have seen the new Leisure Centre taking shape across the road and the ever growing number of houses being built in Fleet.
We have seen quite a few new staff arrive this year and have welcomed them into the Calthorpe Community. We will see more arriving in September and we know that you will welcome them also. And sadly, today we have to say goodbye to some, who move on to new schools, new opportunities, new chapters in their life.
But before we move on, it’s worth stopping a moment to reflect on those staff. Your teachers. All of them. They work such long hours and with such dedication to help you learn and progress. To provide you with opportunities to grow. To help you change for the better.
It’s easy, when you are young, to dismiss adults as not knowing what it's like, not being fair, not understanding. But we do understand, all too well. Some of us have been doing this job for a long time. We have seen not just the one childhood or adolescence that you are experiencing now, in your life, but literally hundreds, even thousands of them. We do know what is best for you.
You should thank your teachers every day for what they do. Just as we stand before you now and thank all the amazing staff of Calthorpe Park for everything they do, day in and day out, for you, for us and for our wonderful school.
But it’s not just at CPS that changes have taken place….
This year has so far seen considerable change in the wider world too. We have seen a Prime Minister move on; an England Manager move on; a country move on. Whether these things are for the better or not is not the most important point. What matters is that everyone works for success.
The world has also been a troubled place at times this year. We have watched in horror as atrocities, injustice and inequality have occurred in so many places and in so many ways. We have had our thoughts filled with the pain of others’ loss and felt sympathy for the lives that many are forced to live.
Through all this upheaval, we must constantly reflect on our own lives, consider our own skills and talents, the opportunities we have, and ask ourselves what we can do to make things better.
What can we change to improve the here and now?
What can we do to improve the lives of others?
What can we do to improve ourselves?
Because change must be welcomed. Progress goes on in spite of some of us, of a certain age, nostalgically looking back and thinking... even saying.. ‘It was better in my day’… Whether it was or not is open to debate. We have to change to move on, to develop, to progress, to make improvement.
The theme of this year’s assembly is Carnival and this also reflects the theme of Friday's SLUGG Walk also. The Rio Olympics start in just a short while. Across the world, people will be putting the final preparations to their training for their events. The culmination of years of endeavour, focus, commitment and dedication. Years spent fine-tuning performances to save a millisecond here, to jump a fraction further there, to be just a tiny bit stronger, better…... Sweating the small stuff to make the big differences. To be the very best they can be. All of this in the land of the carnival. A joyous celebration of life and the fun of life. It is full of tradition but it also embraces the very best of the new.
Never lose sight of the need to push yourself as far as you can, but always do it with a smile on your face, with belief in your spirit, with joie de vivre and the expectation that you can succeed.
Many centuries ago, the philosopher Socrates wrote "the secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."
That is your job. Your role. To build the new. We will help and support you to do that but you are the next generation. Whether that is in the next year of secondary school or as the next wave of leaders, your job is to learn from your mistakes, to progress from where you are, to change into something better, to grow into something that makes you proud.
Because ultimately it’s all about the person you are.
The new toilets in the new block have the best mirrors in the school. But, they are also very visible. And we see you! We see you looking at yourselves, admiring yourselves. Touching your hair, checking how you look……
But that person you see needs to have depth as well as just looking gorgeous. So think about the person you are going to be tomorrow, next term, next year. And make the changes you need to make to progress. To be a better person.
We finish with a poem by Dale Wimbrow in which the word "guy" is used in a generic way to mean any person, male, female, or transgender; and the glass is a mirror.
When you get what you want in your struggle for wealth,
And the world makes you King for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that guy has to say.
For it isn't your Father, or Mother, or Wife,
Who judgement upon you must pass.
The person whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the guy staring back from the glass.
That's the person to please, never mind all the rest,
For they're with you clear up to the end,
And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the guy in the glass is your friend.
You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you've cheated the guy in the glass.
Look in the mirror. See the person there. Be proud of yourself and resolve to be even better next year. That is your challenge.’
So now it’s almost time to recharge the batteries. We thank all our parents for their continuing support again this year and we look forward, optimistically, to September. But, in the meantime, we wish you all a sun-filled and relaxing holiday!
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.