9 October 2015
Building on the CHARACTER agenda shared in blog two, I had the pleasure of expanding upon the school’s new vision and values more explicitly with the students during the house assemblies last week. Many students demonstrated in the assemblies that they had clearly absorbed the new CHARACTER values, articulating these confidently in response to my questions. I explained to the students that CHARACTER is about ensuring that each and every individual has the very best opportunities offered to them, so that they are able to get ahead in life, able to compete with the very best in the country for college places, apprenticeships, university places and jobs. I reinforced that academic qualifications will open doors to them all, but CHARACTER attributes will secure their futures.
I am well aware that at least 50% of our school population is already participating in activities after school hours, inside and outside of school, to broaden their experiences and foster CHARACTER. Many have applied to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, many more attend sports clubs and represent the school, some are fabulous actors, actresses, swimmers and martial arts experts. As Headteacher of this school, I am keen to know and celebrate with our students all of the wonderful enrichment opportunities that they are enjoying outside of school. I therefore strongly encourage you to get in touch with us if you think that we are not aware of the commitment that your son/daughter is showing to their personal development and building of CHARACTER.
All students had the opportunity to demonstrate their progress against our CHARACTER value of ‘Articulate’, when we held ‘No Pens Day’ on Wednesday. For the only time this year, students did not need a pen in any lesson, with the focus firmly placed on speaking and listening activities, core to the development of every young person.
Our Sixth Form students Georgia Boucher and Helen Finlay showed their CHARACTER and desire to put others first on Monday 28 September, hosting their own Macmillan coffee morning. £172.60 was raised over break and lunch time, which is a real achievement. Congratulations must go to the girls and thanks to everyone who took the time to buy some cake for such a magnificent cause.
Continuing with the theme of self-development and community, our PE department staff have been busy taking students committed to their sport off to fixtures over the past fortnight. A particular mention must go to the U-14 girls football team who beat JMA 6-0 in round two of the National cup and Cherwell School 9-0 in round three! A particular well done to our hat-trick hero Georgia Stevens and to Lillie Clibbon-Grant, Lauren Bullock and Sarah Morgan who scored the other three goals against JMA and to Niamh Broder, Sasha Tidy, Daisy Barnes and our six goal hero Lillie Clibbon-Grant who scored the goals against Cherwell School. Two truly magnificent results and I wish the team the very best of luck in the next round. In the U-14 rugby, the boys B team have recorded two super results, beating Chiltern Edge A 12-5 and St Josephs A 31-5. Very well done to all.
Many parents/carers may not be aware that for the past three years we have enjoyed a close working partnership with Pangbourne College. The relationship evolved as we were interested in how their Combined Cadet Force developed essential skills in young people and felt that we had students at Denefield who would value the opportunity to take part. Our first two cohorts speak of the benefits of the experience, stating that it built their confidence, communication, problem solving and teamwork skills.
Having recently been fully kitted out, in their uniforms we have no doubt that our new Year 10 cohort (Chloe Alden, Lauren Andrews, Lewis Cullum, Katie Dearling, Joseph Goswell, Hannah Gracey-Stokes, Courtney Griffin, Emily Harley, Maisie-Anne Lowe, Harry North, George Sharpe, Sophie Thorner, Joshua Verroken and Ria Walsh) will soon share the same views as previous participants. I am proud that each one of these students will be a great ambassador for Denefield every week when they attend Pangbourne College and I am sure they will see the value in the many opportunities that this experience will bring.
The recognition of opportunities available at Denefield came up as part of my routine student voice work with Year 12 and 13 last week. It is my job, with other senior colleagues, to monitor the quality of students’ experience of teaching and learning. In order to establish how well they have settled in to their courses, how well they felt they were being taught and to sample how consistent we were being across the school in terms of assessment practices, I gathered together students from each year group. It is always a pleasure to hear how much value they attach to their teachers and how they recognise their commitment to them. Staff here do go the extra mile for young people and it is reassuring to hear the young people articulating that. All SLT colleagues including me will be repeating this student voice activity with Year 11 students over the next fortnight to gather their views, and with all other year groups at different points across the coming terms.
A couple of notices to conclude the blog for this week. Firstly, can I thank all parents/carers who were able to attend the Year 11 parents’ evening on Thursday 1 October. These events are always vital to reaffirm our collaborative partnership in support of your child and I hope that you feel the academic progress discussions will enable your child to make good progress over the next few months. Please keep in contact with us over the course of this year so that, together, we can ensure that your child really does reach his/her potential as we would expect.
Year 11 parents/carers who attended the evening will also have been made aware of our Into KS5 Evening on Thursday 15 October. At this event the Sixth Form team and other colleagues will be available to discuss our post-16 offer and the future pathways available within our Sixth Form. We do hope that you will be able to attend with your son/daughter to explore the opportunities available to them and seek advice where necessary.
Miss L Dawe