Friday, 23 September 2016

23 September 2016

I continue to be really impressed by our new Year 7 students.  They are always smartly dressed, well equipped, committed to homework and so enthusiastic.  They have also settled in well.  The picture below shows just how serious they have been taking their daily DEAR sessions (Drop Everything And Read) which is really encouraging.  I remain convinced that reading regularly is one of the most important things your child can do to progress at school, so please keep encouraging them to read.



I have also been wowed by how mature our Year 11 students have become over the holidays.  As one said to me yesterday, "It is our final year; we really have to knuckle down and take it seriously."  He is not alone in this thinking as many are showing an excellent attitude, not least our Student Leadership Team who have some great ideas for how they are going to improve their school - more on this will follow in the future. I have also been thrilled by how a number of them have looked after some of our more vulnerable new students to ensure they are safe and happy.



Sporting fixtures have started for the new year.  The Year 10 football team came up against a very good Mayfield team and placed second.  The Year 11 boys have a cup-match next week and there is also a table tennis tournament where some of the Year 10 students are hopeful for success.  A full programme of lunchtime and after school activities that your child can get involved in is available on our website.

Attendance has been excellent so far this year.  Thank you for your support in making sure your child is in school every day and understands that 9 out of 10 for attendance just isn't good enough as it means 19 days off a year which is bound to affect how successful they are.  If maintaining good attendance is a problem for you, please come and talk to us.  The first person to contact is Mrs. Lisa House, our Education Welfare Officer, who will be pleased to try and help you resolve any problems.

Following are a few dates for your diary: 
  • Monday 3rd October from 4pm-7pm is our annual Open Evening aimed at showing parents of children in Year 6 how wonderful our school is.  Many of your children will be helping on the night as they are always the best advert for the school and I thank you in advance for allowing them to be here.  The school is fully open and you are welcome to come along and see us in action.
  • Wednesday 5th October we will be holding our first "no pens" day.  This is not an excuse to leave the pens at home but more an initiative to encourage students to develop their skills of speaking and listening.  These skills are vital for life and work and so my team will be exploring fun and interesting ways to bring more of these activities into our lessons.  I will feed back to you after the event, hopefully with many photos of the children’s' successes.


























It is the time of year when colleges and sixth forms hold their open evenings and it would be very valuable for all Year 11 students (and some forward thinking Year 10s) to go along and take a look at what is on offer. All of the colleges make presentations in assemblies, but there is nothing like an actual visit to decide if it is a place they wish to study. The programme is listed below and these details can also be found in the newsletter and the website.
 

 
Just in case you haven't noticed or seen the news article last week, here is a picture of the frame of the new building. Progress is really rapid now and if the weather stays pleasant, the shell of the building will be in place by Christmas.


Friday, 16 September 2016

16 September 2016

After six and a half weeks of holiday, the first day back at school was a bit of a shock to the system for students and staff alike.  Happily, we all made the transition easily and have had a great start to the new academic year.  Attendance has been excellent and the vast majority of students are in perfect uniform - thank you to all parents for your support in making everything work so smoothly.

The theme for the start of the term is Success.  The most notable example of this is the excellent GCSE results that we received at the end of August.  They were the school's best ever, despite our students sitting much harder exams now than before.  There were more A*/ A grades, more grades at C or better and more students than ever before gaining a C or better in English and Maths.  We are thrilled with the results and immensely proud of the students who worked really hard and deserve this success. 
  
The results have opened many doors for this group of Year 11 students.  Three have been awarded scholarships to independent schools, others have been offered prestigious apprenticeships at venues like QA Hospital, and the majority gained entrance into the colleges of their choice.  This is fantastic news!

We continue to get good news about former students. Last week Friday, we welcomed back Liam King who gave an assembly to our new Year 11 students about planning for GCSE success.


Liam is at Portsmouth College and was the top student at AS Level in the summer.  He is currently planning an application to Oxford University. Kendall Field Pellow, of the same year group and now on a scholarship to Portsmouth Grammar School, has similar plans.






Last week, we also welcomed back Darcie Harper.  Darcie left in 2014 but has now joined us as a member of staff (much to her brother's concern) to complete her Level 3 apprenticeship as a teaching assistant. We have a long tradition of helping our students develop their careers and it is a pleasure to be able to work with Darcie in this way.






At the start of this week, another ex-student visited us.  Alex Le'Marquand, who left KRS in 2008, is a Senior Air Craftman for the RAF and is looking to start his Officer training next year.  Alex was back to lead some workshops for Year 11 students on motivation and leadership which are both important skills to master as they prepare for their final year of secondary school.  




As the photos show, the workshops were very practical and forced students to consider what they can do to fulfil their dreams. Mr Gill, who coordinated the day, was thrilled with the impact it had on students and said, "The students really took it seriously and got a lot from the event." Year 11 student, Lucas Devey, reflected, "He treated us as equals and motivated me to think about my future career choices."

On Thursday, Capital Radio were in school to launch their city wide attendance initiative "Get In:volved" which is aimed at Year 10's.  The objective is to improve attendance of Year 10 students across the city, and, to this end, Capital FM will be promoting the importance of attendance on their programmes and organising free tickets for an exclusive gig in January for the students with the most improved attendance.  If you have a child in Year 10, please give your support to the campaign. Who knows, your son or daughter could be on their way to a great concert later in the school year.

Today, we welcomed a group of dignitaries to the new school for a publicity event to mark the incredible progress that the company Keir construction are making on the new build.  Officers from the Government and Portsmouth City Council, Penny Mordaunt, our local MP, Donna Jones, the leader of the council as well as local councillors Gemma New, Stuart Potter and John Ferrett were amongst our guest.  The Portsmouth News were also in attendance, so you should be able to see the story in the paper over the weekend.

             



I am thrilled at how how well our Year 7 students have settled in. They look very smart in their uniforms, are attending well and, if my History class is anything to go by, completing lots of homework. They have made a really positive start to their school career here at KRS. If there is anything you are worried about, please don't hesitate to get in touch so that we can resolve any issues before they develop further. 













The school photographer was in school today to take individual photos of students as well as House photos. These will shortly be available for sale, so watch out for more details if you are interested in purchasing a photo of your child looking smart in their uniform.


The Performing Arts department were thrilled last week by the enthusiasm of Year 7 and 8 students who auditioned for the pantomime Cinderella.  The show, written by Ms Hall, includes great songs and many jokes and promises to be a wonderful evening of entertainment for the whole family.  Well done to all those selected for the a role and good luck with the rehearsals to come.  





Our new members of staff are all settling in well and have made a good impression on students.  Ms Scarcliffe and Mr Lopez have joined the Spanish team, Mr Lee joined our Maths staff and Mr Stuart and Ms Choudhry the English department.  Mr Boxall is our new Head of Inclusion and Ms Twining is covering for Sam Griffiths while she is on maternity leave.  Good luck to all these colleagues and I hope the year progresses well.

There are a number of new policies on the website, including a new complaints procedure .Please take the time to read through these when you have a moment.

And finally, are you interested in having a say in the running of the school and helping shape its future?  If you are, the Governing body are looking for a new parent Governor to join them and are very keen to have the voice of parents represented so that we make the right decisions for the future. More details of the role and a description of what is expected can be found here.  Governors complete a really important function in school and this presents a great opportunity for someone to get involved with the direction the school takes. If you would like to talk through the role informally, then I would be happy to do so - please do get in touch.

Friday, 8 July 2016

8 July 2016

"Thrive, not survive" is one of my favourite quotes and this absolutely describes the attitude of the 100 plus students who were on stage on Thursday evening as part of our summer Arts Extravaganza. The show was a sell out, and the 200 people in the audience were thrilled by an evening of dance, drama and music. The quality of performances were extraordinary and the standard in the Arts just keeps on rising.  Last night, we saw plenty of new stars in Years 7 and 8 who I am sure will entertain us in the next few years. There were too many wonderful performances to single out any individuals for a mention, but I must let you know that the school now has its own Elvis impersonator!

On Tuesday of this week, we welcomed the Science roadshow Chaos into the school. Fifteen or so Science undergraduates from Cambridge University enthralled Year 7 and 8 students with explanations and experiments on how light and colour work on the eye, how pulleys work to enable us to lift heavy objects and what we can learn from fossils that are several million years old. Thank you to Ms. Bedassie for setting this up. 












The highlight on Wednesday was our Year 11 Leavers Prom. Mr. Aston and the prom committee had arranged a new venue for this year - the Solent Hotel in Whitely - which was a huge success.  The students rose to the challenge of the classier venue and all looked amazing in their suits and dresses. Two firsts this year included Frankie Kimpton in a kilt and Archie Scott's spray on tan. As usual, the students had chosen some amazing forms of transport to get to the venue and there was a parade of limousines, Range Rovers, Bentleys and even a horse and trap, although these were trumped by Jack Grant in a Del Boy Trotter van!

Last weekend, our Year 7 and 8 rowing team went to Cobnor Activity Centre to take part in the Oarsome Chance rowing regatta. This was a new event for the school which saw teams of four rowing St Ayles Skiffs around a course against other schools from across the South of England. Our team, led by Mr. Bixley, did fantastically well, coming a close second to Park Community who had to use older students to secure their victory! The organisers were full of praise for our students, commending their determination, enthusiasm and team spirit.



Careers week starts on Monday and there are a range of activities organised for different year groups to get the students thinking about their future. More details can be found here.  I hope we will see many of you at the Careers Fair next Friday when we will be joined by a whole host of employers, colleges and apprenticeship providers. Year 7 started early by spending today with colleagues from the University of Chichester, and learned a lot of useful information about further and higher education.


I am wonderfully impressed by the achievements of Sianna McKellar who has worked her way all the way from Level 1 to Level 5 on the Lexia programme, showing incredible commitment to improving her reading. She is the first student ever at King Richard School to progress so far.

On the subject of reading, I am also pleased with our Premier League Reading Stars who committed themselves to improving their reading throughout the year.  They enjoyed a visit to Stamford Bridge on Thursday as part of this programme.


Next week, we welcome our new Year 7 students to the school which we are very excited about. Please encourage your children to make them feel welcome.

Our new Student Leadership Team has been appointed and I am thrilled about what they will offer to the school and the student body. Please congratulate them on their appointment if you see them. From left to right they are: James O'Toole, Maxine Perkins, Kara Collis, Callum Wolfe, Morgan Burton.


And finally, please note that the last day of term is Wednesday 20th July. As usual, we will finish at 12:50.  Please ensure that, until then, your son or daughter maintains good attendance.

Friday, 1 July 2016

1 July 2016

On Thursday afternoon, I had the privilege of attending a remembrance service to mark the centenary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme during World War 1. The event was planned, coordinated and delivered by students in Mrs. Bruins' Year 8 History class as part of their study of the Great War, and included their own original poetry, choice of music and scripted pieces on the facts of the battle, and the work itself was stunning. The 1st July 1916 still remains the worst day in the history of the British army and the service was a poignant reminder of the huge loss of life that occurred. Well done to all involved.






















Year 9 spent all of Thursday focusing on their speaking skills as part our Spoken Language week and were assisted by the organisation Talk the Talk. They were involved in a number of activities which helped them to plan and then deliver personal speeches to their peers. This is a hugely demanding task and the majority rose to the challenge admirably, impressing their teachers as well as the visitors.





































Year 10 have been on college taster sessions this week with visits to South Downs, Havant, Portsmouth and Sparsholt colleges. This was an opportunity to learn what college life is really like and to taste new subjects like Psychology, Forensic Science and Criminology. The students I spoke to were really positive about the experience and excited about the opportunities that await them in the future.

In between the college tasters, Year 10 also had some testing practical exams this week in Art and Catering. In both areas they have demonstrated their true potential. The standards in Food were the highest of any year group to date according to Mrs. Morriss, and students showed a great grasp of nutrition, technique and presentation. In Art, the students took on the challenge of making clay cup cakes, showing what they had learned about form, tone and texture to great effect. The students responded in many unique and individual ways as the pictures below demonstrate.






Fifteen Year 7 and 8 students made an excellent contribution to Victory Primary school's Reading Festival on Thursday. They explained how important reading is at King Richard School and surveyed students and their parents to assess attitudes to reading. They also spent time with younger children talking about the books they love and why. I am very proud of their efforts which only ended when one of the parents who was pregnant fell in the playground and went into labour!



By now you should have seen my letter about next Tuesday's industrial action. If not, a copy can be found here. Please note, I have decided that, for the students who are attending school, Tuesday is a non-uniform day.

As I write, our Year 7 and 8 rowing teams are taking part in a regatta and activity weekend at Cobnor Activity Centre near Chichester. This is a great opportunity and I am really impressed at the enthusiasm our teams (1 boys, 1 girls and 1 mixed) have shown. This morning, I even got a lesson from PJ Harvey about the technique - wonderful! More news and photos will follow next week about their successes I hope.

Finally, well done to our samba band who did their best to bring a flavour of South America to the Paulsgrove Carnival last Saturday. As the pictures show, the weather was against them, but they kept their spirits high and the sun did start to shine as they played.



Friday, 24 June 2016

24 June 2016

I write this week at the start of a new era following the seismic decision in yesterday's referendum to leave the EU. As reflected in the views the students have shared with me over the last few weeks, a clear majority in the local area supported this decision . The referendum clearly had captured the imagination of our students, with large numbers getting engaged with the issues which can only be good for our democracy.

"Oh, didn't it rain" as the song goes, and it certainly did on Wednesday night of this week. Two floods were the consequence and a reminder that the current building can no longer cope. The new one will be watertight and temperatures in classrooms well regulated - something we will all look forward to in the future. The next step in the development is the arrival of the piling rig and the start of the foundations being put in which should begin next week and last until the end of August.

"An amazingly dark and compelling drama, dealing with all sorts of themes like playing God", was how the judges reviewed the Play in a Day performance from King Richard School's Year 9 students that was performed at the Theatre Royal on Wednesday of this week. It was a tremendous evening as 6 schools had a day to script, coordinate, rehearse and then perform a ten minute play from scratch with only a title and a box of props (which included an inflatable animal) to work with. Our students did incredibly well in our first time in this event which is part of the Portsmouth festivities. Happily, they will perform the piece again in the Arts Summer Showcase on the 7th of July if you would like to come and see more of their interpretation of the cruel and crazy scientist in the electric mind.












Another opportunity to visit the school is open to you on the 30th of June for our summer Art Exhibition. This is a chance for you to see some of the outstanding work produced by our GCSE Art students this year. Please do come along if you can.


Our samba band have had their first two public performances this week. Firstly, their energetic drumming was used to spur the students of Victory primary school on to greater sporting achievements during their sports day. On Saturday, they represent the school at the Paulsgrove & Wymering Carnival. They have mastered the basics of Samba drumming really quickly and are showing tremendous potential acccording to their coach, Tamsyn Braithwaite, although they are rather loud! Please remember there is an opportunity for you to get involved in samba drumming at the school each Thursday from 4pm.

Next week at school is Spoken Language week and staff across departments will be creating a series of activities to develop the students' skills in spoken language. There is increasing evidence to suggest that practising spoken language increases understanding and improves the quality of writing, and this project, led by Mrs. McCombie, is the first of many initiatives. As ever, we would be interested in hearing from you about how your child has found this approach to learning.


In assemblies this week, I have been talking to students about leadership, especially the behaviour of our political leaders in the run up to the EU referendum and in the light of the tragic murder of Jo Cox. Coincidentally this week, we have also been interviewing for the next group of student leaders. The standard of applications was very high and the decision will be a tough one. I promise to publish a picture of the new team next week.

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that many of our students already have leadership experience and many others are developing leadership qualities. This is excellent news as these attributes are ones that will serve them well in future life. Two examples this week were the presentation to a group of headteachers made by Courtney Shrubsole, Lauren Hatherley and Louise Varndell, and the large numbers of students who have put themselves forward for the vital role of peer mentor next year. Very impressive and well done to all.

Last week, I incorrectly said the careers week was the 5th of July when in fact it starts on the 12th. The careers fair is on the 15th and if you have some free time on that day to come and see the range of opportunities available for your son or daughter when they leave school, we would love to welcome you to join us and the 50 or so providers who will be with us for the day. More details of the week can be found on our website early next week.

We have been very pleased to see more and more of Barbara Evans, who is back on reception, in the last few weeks as she returns to work after her period of absence. She is not full time yet, so you will find other staff greeting you on arrival or answering the phone.  Please bear with us as we return to a more consistent level of staffing.

Lastly, please don't forget that the school is closed on Friday 1st of July and Monday 4th of July for staff training. Our closure dates for next year will follow the same pattern as this year (the last three days of the October half term and the Monday and Friday either side of the last weekend in June).  I know this helps families, who are trying to avoid holidays in term time which would not be authorized, when planning their holidays and trips away .

Friday, 17 June 2016

17 June 2016

Today was a very emotional day as we said farewell to our Year 11 students at their Leavers Assembly which followed the final Physics exam. They laughed and cried as they looked back at photographs (compiled brilliantly by Mr. Beck) of their younger selves and remembered the many friendships they have developed over the last five years. Although it will feel like the end, I tried to get them to think about today as the beginning. We have done everything we can to get them ready for the next phase in their life, whether that be at college or as an apprentice in work based training, and my wish for all of them is to go ahead with confidence and aim to "thrive not survive", as my hero, Maya Angelou, would have said.

Whatever future path our Year 11 students take, one certainty is that they will need many skills to succeed in the modern world. I was struck by this when visiting the building site for the new school last week and, realising just how few low-skilled jobs there are, couldn't help but notice how everyone on the site was having to use highly specialised equipment to complete challenging tasks - definitely very different to the building sites I worked on as a young man during university holidays.

With this in mind, Mrs. Sear has been busy organising our annual careers week (5th - 8th July) which will provide plenty of opportunity for students (especially, but not exclusively, Year 10) to think about their futures. There will opportunities to meet numerous employers, apprenticeship providers and colleges, practise writing CVs and develop the so called softer skills (team work, communication, problem solving etc.) that future employers so value. More details of this event can be had by contacting Mrs. Sear at tsear@kingrichardschool.net or by phone, 02392 322 473.

Mrs. Sear also tries to encourage younger students to think about their plans and is starting to collect all the information they need to make good decisions about their future.

This week, she accompanied a group of Year 8 students to the Ageas Bowl in Southampton to  raise students' aspirations and give them the opportunity to meet with local business providers in order to ask questions about their career choices and paths, qualifications and industries.  The event was hands on and interactive and, as the picture shows, they had a great time and certainly gained a lot from the experience.

This week saw the final two Year 10 Geography field trips to the New Forest. The students behaved brilliantly and collected a large amount of valuable data for their controlled assessment tasks regarding the impact of tourism. The photos tell only part of the story as some students were even caught hugging trees in an attempt to get closer to nature.



Thank you to every single parent/guardian who came along to our very successful Year 9 parents' event on Wednesday. A successful education is always a partnership between school and home and my colleagues found it very useful to discuss with you possible option choices for next year and issues relating to your child's progress so far. Thank you also to those of you who completed our feedback forms and handed in the checked data sheets.  This information is what helps us get things right for you. If you weren't able to make it, you can collect your child's report from reception.  Please note, option forms need to be handed in by next Friday, 24th June.



I was thrilled to read about how well Year 7 students have responded to the Passport Challenge in the last few months. This week saw the deadline for them to hand in their evidence to show which experiences and challenges they have completed and some of them are truly amazing, with a number of students completing more than 20 of the possible tasks. Especially well done to Bobby Jo Jeans who completed an astounding 44 tasks! These photos show a little of what has been achieved.



Please don't forget these important key dates for the rest of the term: 
  • Thursday 23rd June – deadline for Parent Governor applications.  Please see the website under the ‘Governing Body’ tab for more details;
  • Friday 24th June – deadline for option forms from Year 7 and 9;
  • Friday 1st July and Monday 4th July – INSET days.  School will be closed to all pupils;
  • Thursday 7th July – end of year Arts showcase;
  • Monday 18th July – Prize giving ceremony for Years 7 and 8;
  • Tuesday 19th July – Prize giving ceremony for Years 9 and 10;
  • Wednesday 20th July – last day of term (school finishes at 12.50).
The builders on the new site have had an interesting week as slow worms and electricity cables have proven to be a real challenge for them. Because slow worms are protected, a survey is needed to see how many there are on site and what measures need to be taken to avoid destroying their habitats. And, a digger found a live power line running across the field that no one knew was there! This aside, there is much progress, and the setting of the foundations should begin next week.




Finally, we say goodbye to Mrs. Caroline Davies who stood in as receptionist for the last couple of weeks and thank her for the wonderful work she did. In her place, we welcome back  Mrs. Barbara Evans who joins us again shortly.