Friday, 27 May 2016

27 May 2016

It has been a grueling week of examinations for our Year 11 students. Many staff have been talking about how focused the students have been and their impressive levels of application and seriousness. As GCSEs can be a very stressful time at home, I would like to say well done and thank you to all the families who have successfully supported their children and got them ready for the challenges of the examinations.

Much has been done, but it is not over yet and there are still a number of important examinations to be written. With this in mind, a number of my colleagues are offering revision sessions during the half term holidays. The schedule is as follows:

Tuesday     : 10:00-14:00 - Science
Wednesday: 10:00-12:00 - History
                     12:30-15:30 - Geography
Thursday    : 10:00-12:00 - Catering
Friday         : 10:00-14:00 - Maths

If your son or daughter wants to attend a session, please ask them to sign in by the site office on the appropriate day. We would love to see them here as there is no substitute for a good revision programme.

As well as sending your child into the revision sessions, parents can do much to help ensure students are well prepared for examinations. The importance of a good night's sleep, exercise and a healthy meal should not be underestimated. We are happy to offer advice if any parent would like it (please contact Mr. Tucker by email at atucker@kingrichardschool.net) or visit our website where there are many tips available.

It would also be useful for Year 10 students to start thinking about these issues now. They have written mock exams over the last couple of weeks so have begun to experience the rigours and demands of GCSEs. Between now and the Autumn terms, we will be talking to Year 10 parents about the importance of establishing good work habits for their children such as doing regular homework and revising topics as you go along. It is never too early to start and any effort now will not be wasted next year when the exams actually start.



I wonder if you can recognise where this picture was taken? This beautiful setting is the garden at Buckingham Palace and is the picture of Ms Long and I receiving the plaque as that recognizes us as a a licensed organisation for the Duke of Edinburgh's award. The man in the middle is Mike Bassett, the captain who flew Concorde down the Mall as part of the golden jubilee celebrations in 2002.

The PE team have recently been working closely with a charity called Oarsome Chance who are encouraging young people to overcome disadvantage by taking on the challenges of rowing. Our prospective team has been practising their technique on the rowing machines in the school gym and testing themselves against the national record for 500 metres. They have shown much promise and have been selected for a regatta in Chichester Harbour at the start of July. First, they must practise on the water and so the next stage will be to practise in the specialist boats (called St Ayles Skiffs) on Langstone Harbour.

On the theme of adventure, below are some photos from the Cumbria trip. As you can see, the students had a great time and took on many challenges. The good news is that the company SGN have agreed to sponsor the school again next year and so Ms Long and I will soon be looking for 22 students from the current Year 8 group who will be willing to participate. If any Year 8 student is interested, they should let one of us know.

 

      
Thank you to all parents who have supported the food bank collection this last week. We have a healthy looking trolley of food in Reception that will make a difference to some families in need.

As we reach the end of a term, it is time to say good bye to two colleagues who are leaving King Richard School. Dr. Watson comes to the end of her time as a trainee at the school and goes to finish her training in Guilford, and Miss Cummings is leaving the PE team after five years at the school to start her own business as an estate agent. We wish both of them well.

Next week is half term and I hope you and your family enjoy some rest and relaxation. School starts again on the 6th of June when the new car park will be in operation and a new entrance for the bike sheds will be in place. Please remember that more information about the progress of the building, including the latest photographs of what is going on week by week, can be seen on our website.

Friday, 20 May 2016

20 May 2016

This time last week I accompanied 23 Year 9 students on an Outward Bound course in Cumbria. We stayed in Howtown on Ullswater, a truly beautiful location, and the sun shone all week, making the conditions perfect for the wild camping, hiking and gorge walking that we undertook. It was an unforgettable trip and the students were a credit to themselves and their families. They really rose to the challenges they were presented with and showed incredible resilience and determination in overcoming difficulties and fears. The motto of the centre is "We are all better than we know" and this group of students certainly proved that they can achieve much more than they previously realised. My thanks to Miss Long for organising this trip.

 We have been pleased to welcome back a former student to school this week. Alex Lemarquand returned having left the school in 2008. He is now a chef in the RAF and came in to the school to explain to the students of Willow and Sycamore houses what life in the forces is like. He also gave some Year 7, 8 and 11 students a demonstration of the sorts of food cooked in the mess tents of the RAF. These inputs were very much appreciated by the students (and not just because there was free food!) who learned a lot, not least the importance of choosing a career that allows you to continue to develop and learn new skills.


Courtney Shrubsole and Lauren Hatherley of Year 10 have also been involved with former students of the school this week. The girls represented KRS at the annual Mayor Making Ceremony at the Guildhall on Tuesday. Honorary Alderman Syd Rapson is a former student of the school and the girls were asked to play an important part in the ceremony by handing over the Freedom of the City of Portsmouth Scroll to him. Courtney told me it was terrifying to take part in such a formal ceremony in front of so many people, but she and Lauren did wonderfully well.


Formalities were also observed on Monday of this week when Miss Long and I were invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace as part of the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Duke of Edinburgh's award. As well as having a brief talk with the Countess of Wessex in stunning surroundings, we received a plaque to confirm our participation in the award. As mentioned before, it is an excellent programme that gives young people skills, confidence and a real advantage in the highly competitive jobs market of today. Miss Long is recruiting for the next group of participants and I strongly urge students in Years 9 and 10 to consider joining her group.

We are having a real push at the moment on the importance of being on time for school. The vast majority of students are punctual and are in school by 8.25 each morning, ready for the start of period 1 and so thank you for your support in making that happen. However, some are not and a few students are repeatedly late. For these students, there will be detentions to let them know that they must do better and we will be grateful for your support in getting this message across. If you are concerned about your child being late regularly and would like to talk to someone at the school to find a solution to the problem, please call Mrs. House, our Education Welfare Officer, or one of the Student Managers, Miss Richardson or Mrs Sisk, as appropriate.

I was lucky enough to watch a very thought provoking assembly on Tuesday. The assembly was led by students from 7RMc and students were challenging their peers to recognise that British values are more that just enjoying a nice cup of tea or a roast dinner on Sundays. The students made us all think about the importance of freedom of choice and free speech and the benefits we get from being able to choose what books we read and how, with all its libraries, our country is set up to encourage us to read freely and widely. Well done to all the students involved.

Regarding the new building, the contractors have been busy extending the fencing around the site and making a new car park. This means that the current car park and access road at the eastern end of the site will be closed once we return from the half term holiday and students will not be allowed to access this area. There will be a new entrance at the end of the Arts corridor to access the bike sheds, but all pedestrian access will now have to be from the front of the school.

Finally this week, congratulations to Miss Featherstone of Year 7 who is the first student in the school's history to work completely through the Lexia programme. More impressively is that she has done this completely in her own time, working through the different stages each day before school starts. This is a clear commitment to improving her reading skills and must be commended.

Friday, 6 May 2016

5 May 2016

Well, it must be the exam season because the sun has started to shine this week!  
Happily, the lovely weather didn't distract the Year 11 students who sat their first English GCSE exam on Tuesday. They showed tremendous focus - English is one of the longest exams, so it was a hard one to have first - and most of them came out smiling, despite having to read and write about bees. Let's hope the news is good when results come out in August.
Given the start of exams and the need to create the right environment for the students sitting their examinations in the hall, we have decided to close reception to students with the exception of those signing out for the day or arriving after 9am and after an appointment. This means there will be no risk that the students will be disturbed during an examination. All other entrances will remain open at the start and end of the day and students should use these. Any student who is late should enter via the door nearest the Arts corridor where they will be met by Mrs. House to sign in.
The big news of the week is that the contract has been signed between the Government and Kier construction to build the new school. This means the building will definitely be going ahead and we can all look forward to the development of the site over the next 18 months before it opens in the Autumn of 2017. Work will begin in earnest on Monday and will be very visible to all of you within a couple of weeks.
With this in mind, the car park and entrance road at the eastern end of the site will be closed to students, staff and visitors and a new car park made off Connaught Lane. Access to the bike sheds will remain and an access point will be made from the corner of the Arts corridor. The other major change concerns the playing fields; these will now be accessed via a footpath along the southern edge of the site.
The project starts with the fencing off of the proposed site and it is important to note that nobody should consider crossing the fence line into the site area because of the hazards involved. Kier construction will supervise this tightly during the day and there will be no unsupervised access. I am aiming to explain and expand on all this to the students during the week beginning 16/5 and will inform you later in the term of some opportunities for you to come and find out more about the plans and how the building is developing. I will also post any updates on our website and will include regular updates from the contractor in this blog.

Our next fundraising event for the term is a food collection for the Portsmouth Foodbank who aim to provide 3 days' emergency food to people in crisis.  They asked specifically for 1L juice cartons, sugar, tinned mead and tinned tomatoes, however, any other non-perishable food items will also be accepted.  Your child can hand their donation to their Tutor or it can be placed in the trolley in reception.  Ten of our Year 9 and Year 10 students will form part of a Get Set for Community Action project to collect these items and will then volunteer some of their time to sort the food into packs and distribute these to people who visit the foodbank.  
Finally, I am joining 22 Year 9 students in Cumbria next week where they are taking on a series of adventurous outdoor challenges to test their leadership skills, resilience and self-confidence. It is an amazing opportunity and we are grateful to the company SGN who have heavily sponsored this trip so that it is affordable for the students to attend. Last year was great fun, although I rather embarrassed myself on the leap of faith as some of the students will testify! My absence will mean no blog next week, but it will return the week after with tales (and photos) of the fun we had.