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Mr Woolf's Blog

Here is a round up of our blog posts, keeping you informed about the life and times of Pinner High School.


Page 1

  • Activity week

    Published 25/05/18, by Chris Woolf

    A brilliant end to the half term with activity week: students have been engaged in a whole range of enrichment opportunities. They have taken up new challenges and brought new life to the Pinner High School Values with their positive approaches to the tasks set for them. Year 7 were engaged in art projects, Chinese calligraphy, House rounders, and a day of learning about PSHCE topics under the umbrella of 'My body, my rules'. Year 8 extended this theme by looking at aspects of the #metoo movement. They also worked with 'Wise Up team building' to improve their communication and collaboration, had their rounders tournament, and looked at film Science, yoga and poetry to do with their Houses. A varied and successful week, for which I must thank my colleagues for their inspirational work in running all these events around the school. They are a fabulous team.

    In assembly to celebrate the end of the half term we awarded another Jack Petchey prize to a student who chooses how to spend £250 on a school project, celebrated the large numbers with 100% attendance, crowned our Chess champion, and were treated to an encore of 'Beauty and the Beast' from last week's fantastic show.

    More to look forward to in our next half term: PinnFest, Sports Day, meeting our new year 7s, and preparing for three year groups at Pinner HIgh School. Where has the time gone?

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  • Cricket, Maths, Football and Spanish!

    Published 27/04/18, by Chris Woolf

    An action packed week: a visit to Lord’s Cricket Ground, a visit from a Spanish theatre company, students at Watford FC, and our neighbours Cannon Lane triumphing in our annual Primary Maths Challenge.


    ‘La Casa Encantada’ was performed completely in Spanish by theatre company ‘Onatti’ to the whole school this week. Students were a fantastic audience, and the play was very visual to enable students who have not been studying the language very long to understand what was happening. There was even some audience participation, which went down very well with students! Students were also very attentive to speakers from ‘Breaking the Cycle’ who spoke to Year 8 about youth violence as part of the Q?rius programme.


    Our Cricket team were part of a historic occasion this week: the first domestic women’s game at the Home of Cricket watching Middlesex v MCC. They were part of the biggest ever crowd at a women’s domestic game, and returned to school inspired to further develop their own cricketing skills. Our cricketing fixtures start shortly, and students are already practicing at lunchtime.


    Sporting visits also took place last week, this time to Watford FC. Our ‘Enterprise’ group of students learnt about the business side of the club, as well as touring their facilities.


    Our second annual Primary Maths Challenge, took place on Thursday when our neighbours Cannon Lane, were victorious over local rivals. We were delighted to have teams from Reddiford, Longfield, West Lodge and Cannon Lane taking part. The level of Maths was very impressive.


    We had our sixth term check-up from the Department for Education this week, which went extremely well. They confirmed their high level previous judgements across all aspects of the school. This is reassuring, and they set some more challenges ahead of our expected Ofsted inspection next academic year. To help us prepare for this, I’d be grateful if families had a moment to complete Ofsted’s Parent View: This helps to build a positive picture over time, even though the inspection will be some months away. We have a waiting list of over 100 for September 2018, but we are not complacent about our reputation in our local community. If you have time to make a comment on the Good Schools Guide alongside the other positive reviews there, I would be delighted: We shall shortly be taking bookings from Year 5 families interested in our summer open morning on 14th June.

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  • New Spaces

    Published 20/04/18, by Chris Woolf

    Students have enjoyed exploring new parts of the school this week, as over a dozen student spaces were quickly regenerated into Pinner High School areas now that Avanti House are safely moved into their building.


    The new library has proved a particular hit, with 30 brand new computers, work space for considerably more students than that, and the large number of books inherited from Heathfield School on their departure. I overheard a student declaring "I just love this library!" at the end of the week! Moving into the sports changing rooms has created more space for extra classrooms and a dedicated reflection/prayer room as well as additional office space for staff. More Science Labs are now operational, and the flow of students around the building is much smoother.


    Whilst preparing all this meant a very busy holiday, 40 students were also busy over the break on our first trip to Spain. Students had a fantastic time enhancing their language skills and learning about local culture. This was our third international trip, in our fifth term of opening, and students are thriving on the opportunities provided to them.


    This week students had the opportunity to help decide our priorities for the next phase of our refurbishment. Many chose the very necessary roof and heating works, alongside resurfacing the tennis courts. There were lots of requests for trampolines and 3D printers, both of which are on the list. Exciting times!

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  • 21 teams!

    Published 23/03/18, by Chris Woolf

    173 students have represented the school in 21 teams so far this year, with rounders, athletics and cricket still to come. It was the turn of our netball teams in Years 7 and 8 this week, playing in tournaments at home and away. Both teams had some successes, and brought life to the Pinner High School Values. The Values were also alive in the non-uniform day Sports Relief donations received of £266.61. Sports Relief led to a very active lunchtime, with a total of 936 laps completed of the school field by 195 students, 7 members of staff and 1 Headteacher.


    Our House competition concluded Science week, where students had to build the tallest structure they could out of spaghetti and marshmallows, including the ability to hold a chocolate egg on a part of the tower. There were some impressive, and messy, designs! Q?rius students this week were utterly engaged by Rev’d Paul Hullyer, vicar of St. John’s Church, Pinner, who came to speak to them about a fascinating range of topics, including looking after a 700 year old church and his work as a Padre in the Territorial Army.


    Planning for next term continues apace, and I am particularly grateful to the parent volunteers who have been helping us set up the library to be ready as soon as possible in the new term. We have inherited lots of ‘stock’ for the library from Heathfield School, the previous occupiers, and we have made good inroads cataloguing these books, so they can be borrowed alongside our existing newer titles. The new library space is significantly larger, and will accommodate the school when it is at full capacity in the years ahead. As 1515 books have already been loaned this academic year, this bodes well. 30 desktop computers will be delivered over the holiday for the library, and with some redecoration taking place around the student changing rooms as well, we will be ready for the next phase of our development as Avanti House move out next week.

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  • Winners!

    Published 16/03/18, by Chris Woolf


    The initial proposal for Pinner High School was that it should be an excellent inclusive school for the whole community. It is especially pleasing that alongside an array of academic opportunites, this week we were recognised with the Young Carers award. This celebrates the commitment to students who take on additional responsibilities at home, and the support available to them through school.


    School has been alive with Science week, currently being celebrated nationally. An element hunt, liquid nitrogen and slime creation are a few highlights, alongside the bridge building engineering House Competition. Students this week took part in the TCS Oxford Computing Challenge, stretching our most able coders. Our most able writers in Year 7 enjoyed ‘Young Writers’ activities at Stanmore Library. This built on the workshop and presentation to all students from author Beverley Naidoo for World Book Day.


    Q?rius this week was especially good, with Kathryn Knight who has written for the Times, Marie Claire and the Daily Mail. She told Year 8 fascinating stories of her travels during her journalistic career including visits to a military base, and interviewing Simon Cowell and One Direction. She shared ways of getting into journalism, and answered lots of questions.


    I enjoyed answering questions from parents at our half termly Coffee and Chat this week. We talked about the development of the site through the next phases of refurbishment, as Avanti House move to their new home in a couple of weeks. We also discussed buses and traffic, catering and more.

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  • Hat Trick!

    Published 09/03/18, by Chris Woolf

    I was delighted this week to welcome families of those given offers to join us in September as our third year group. Time flies! 180 offers were made for 180 places,  and the ‘last distance offered’ was 1.4 miles. Our waiting list is growing, but there will be lots of movement, and I expect more offers will be made over the coming weeks.


    It is exciting to share with new families the opportunities a Pinner High School education brings. The last few weeks have seen Money Matters workshops, and the return of students from the ski trip. The arctic weather led to the cancellation of the Globe theatre trip for the whole of Year 7, which was unfortunate. The RAF were due to be our speakers in the Q?rius programme, but could not make it due to the snow!


    Students are busy rehearsing for the school musical ‘Beauty and the Beast’, trying out for the table tennis team, and preparing for the Science Week House competition.


    Before we add an extra year group we will be the sole occupants of our site, as Avanti House move to their new site in a few weeks. We are busy planning the spaces we can use straight away, and developing the next phase of the refurbishment programme. Students will help how to prioritise spending £4.2 million on our facilities: we're creating an extensive shopping list!

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  • Wall of Fame

    Published 02/02/18, by Chris Woolf

    Lots of sporting success to celebrate this week, from the boys and girls football teams, the cross-country teams, and the boys and girls indoor athletics teams. All experienced considerable success, with 4 runners qualifying for the cross-country county competition and all representing us very effectively. The boys athletics team won the borough competition, and will add their photograph to the Wall of Fame, showcasing our tournament winners. Teachers from other schools commented on the quality of performance and conduct of our students, which is always very pleasing. As we make our debuts in the different age categories of the different sporting events, it is brilliant to see the students achieve such success, and equally important, creating such a positive reputation as they continue to bring the Pinner Values to life.


    I have been interviewing a range of candidates keen to teach in our growing school for September. We continue to attract a range of talented individuals, both experienced colleagues and those new to the profession. UCL Physics department are currently working with us and the Institute of Education to bring undergraduate physicists into classrooms. The undergraduates have been bringing their research skills and experience to lesson planning, and will visit more lessons after half term to inspire and enthuse our students.


    Further inspiration will come next week with our Chinese New Year celebration, including Kung Fu sessions with a Grand Master for all students. Next week is also the Year 8 finance day, when students will be applying their mathematical skills to the world of personal finance. After the half term break the whole of Year 7 will experience a performance at the Globe theatre, we have an author visit on World Book Day, and over the half term break our annual ski trip. Exciting times!  

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  • Happy New Year

    Published 12/01/18, by Chris Woolf


    Happy New Year! The first full week back has seen the students straight back into action. They have chosen from a new list of thirty five clubs for the Head’s Challenge, with new options including Psychology, Salsa, Reading ambassadors, as well as the usual range of sports, art and community based activities. The clubs got underway straight away, and it is great to hear students talking about their new activities with such enjoyment.


    The enjoyment of students in the Politics Club was clear to visiting Councillors before the holiday, who will be profiling the group in their newest publication. This news comes alongside Miss Lowder’s successful application to the Teachers Institute at the Houses of Parliament. Teachers taking part in Teachers’ Institute become UK Parliament Teacher Ambassadors following the training, and go on to teach their students and fellow education professionals about democracy and the Houses of Parliament. Miss Lowder applied to Parliament’s open call and was selected from more than 170 applicants to attend the three-day training event in Parliament.  Fully funded by Parliament’s Education Service, Hannah will question the House of Commons Speaker and the Lord Speaker, and hear from parliamentarians of all parties about their work in the Commons and Lords. Rt Hon Lord Fowler, The Lord Speaker, said: “Teachers’ Institute is exceptionally well-regarded by the participants each year, and I welcome the opportunity to explain the work of the House of Lords to such an appreciative audience.” Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: “I am proud that this excellent initiative continues to provide such an invaluable service. Better engagement and dialogue with young people is of fundamental importance to our democracy, and I am sure that the UK Parliament Teacher Ambassadors attending Teachers’ Institute will find the experience both useful and enlightening.”


    We successfully applied to be part in the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families research project into the mental health of children and young people. Our pastoral care has consistently been very highly rated, and taking part in projects such as this ensures we are able to access the latest research to inform our school practices. The research has been approved by the UCL Ethics Research Committee, and training is provided for three members of staff at no cost to the school.


    Year 8 students are having their individual GCSE options interviews over the next few weeks. It is brilliant to hear their career aspirations are so broad and interesting. Talking about Sixth form options when the school has only been open for 4 terms and a week is very exciting! We are currently recruiting for lots of teaching positions, so it is not too late to join our team for September.

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  • Season's Greetings

    Published 20/12/17, by Chris Woolf

    A brilliant end to the 4th term at Pinner High School, and a festive season jam packed with events: performers at Pinner Panto, our own end of term concert, guest appearances by our students as we hosted the Cannon Lane concert, a very enjoyable charity Christmas jumper day and festive lunch.


    In the last week, Year 8 had a day dedicated to their GCSE options. This included a speaker from Unidays, University of Cambridge, and closer to home sixth formers visited us from Whitmore High School to talk about how they made their subject choices for GCSE and A Level. Our students also took a ‘Careers test’ on the Fast Tomato website, that suggests careers based on an individual’s interests and strengths. Year 7 had a day dedicated to Esafety, with parents invited for an evening session to help keep their children safe online.


    In our celebration assembly today, students received their certificates from the Bebras Challenge 2017 a national computational thinking competition.  12 students came in the top 10% across the country: many congratulations to them. We also crowned our first Chess champion, and enjoyed 7BX showcasing their salsa dance, the winning entry into the ‘MFL Got Talent’ languages House competition. Bannister are in the lead at the end of the first term, but with plenty left to play for!


    There continues to be much to celebrate. We received over 900 applications for entry to the school in September 2018, by which time we will have the whole site for our own use. We have already appointed some brilliant colleagues to start with us in September for our growing school, and it promises to be a very happy new year.


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  • Action Packed!

    Published 24/11/17, by Chris Woolf

    An action packed few weeks: the whole of year 7 at the Science Museum exploring the ‘Wonder Lab’; year 8 at Ealing Gurdwara temple; more speakers in the Q?rius programme; sports fixtures in football and badminton; rehearsals for Pinner Panto; applications for House Captains; Year 7 parents evenings; preparations for GCSE options.


    The Wonder Lab is a brilliant place to explore Science and Maths, and students had great fun at the explosive show and experimenting with a whole range of ideas, activities and materials last week. Taking the whole year group on London Underground is a big undertaking, but students excelled themselves. For many students in year 8 it was their first visit to a Gurdwara temple, and as well as learning a lot students were also very well fed in the langar hall. They enjoyed a generous feast, and the whole visit brought their Philosophy, Religion and Ethics lesson to life in a very memorable way.


    The Q?rius speaker this week was a Risk Strategist from Price Waterhouse Coopers, who gave a great insight into the world of professional services. As students are about to make their GCSE choices it is a good moment to be exposed to different career options.


    A couple of parents at the year 7 evening last week volunteered their services as a Q?rius speaker, which is much appreciated. It is about intellectual curiosity in all its forms, not just career aspirations, so if you have anything that might be of interest to talk about, please do get in touch. At parents evening many many families reported how well their children have settled in, and how busy they are. With sporting success, student leadership elections and performance rehearsals every week, it is easy to see why. You’ll be able to catch our performers on the stage outside Andrew Pearce at 6.20 on Thursday 30th November as part of Pinner Panto. It is a fabulous community event. See you there!


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  • Going places

    Published 18/10/17, by Chris Woolf

    Interest in the school has been extraordinary in the last few weeks; over 1300 visitors to open evening, and overwhelming interest in tours of the school. As well as this we have had our termly visit from the Department for Education, hosted theatre company the ‘Riot Act’, took to the stage at the Heath Robinson museum celebrations, enjoyed the second guest speaker in our Q?rius programme, held our ski trip parents meeting and somehow found ourselves at the end of the first half term of our second year!


    Our Year 8 students were brilliant tour guides on Open Evening, with lots of feedback noting what excellent ambassadors they are. Seeing the school at work is a great way to see if it is right for your child, and a prospective parent left today saying that it is a ‘beautiful school’. With £4 million of refurbishment work taking place when Avanti House leave us in just a few months, hopefully even more of it will fit that description soon!


    During tours of the school, students often talk about their favourite parts of school life. The Q?rius programme features in this more and more, and the guest speaker this week, Criminal Barrister Lucy Sweetland of 2 Bedford Row Chambers, shared some fascinating insights into life in Court, the legal system in the UK, and her time volunteering with a charity representing death row inmates in the US. Students were spellbound, and even had the chance to try on her gown and wig!


    Continuing the theme of making judgements, the Department for Education during their inspection last week confirmed all the judgements we have made about ourselves since we have been open; there is plenty still to do, but the school has had the very best of starts. Being rated ‘Outstanding’ by parents, students and staff in all categories is certainly a very positive endorsement at this point in the school’s development. I shared with the inspector lots of our student progress data, including the remarkable improvement in student reading ages during our first year. Average student progress was to add 2.2 months to their reading age for every month they were in the school.


    As well as our own students on stage at the Heath Robinson Museum celebrations this weekend, the ‘Riot Act’ presented their theatre and workshop around the theme of road safety last week. Secondary school students are statistically the most at risk group as pedestrians, and such safety reminders are hugely important. Safety, as well as excitement, were high on the agenda when we met with the parents of the students lucky enough to be going on our ski trip this year. With 25 students signed up for this trip, and 40 for the trip to Spain and 40 for China the year after, students at Pinner High School are going places!

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  • Open Evening on Thursday

    Published 29/09/17, by Chris Woolf

    Youth Parliament votes in form time and a visit from a local councillor brought democracy to life at Pinner High School this week. Students voted on the issues they want their local representative in Youth Parliament to discuss in the House of Commons the next time they are in session. Students engaged in this process really well. They also asked interesting questions to Mr. Almond, one of the Pinner South ward representatives, in Politics Club. Politics Club is part of the Headteacher's Challenge Clubs that were featured in the Evening Standard article this week 'Mindfulness and karaoke on menu for headmaster's DofE-style award.'


    Earlier in the week it was a pleasure to have parents of Year 8 students in school, looking at the year ahead. This will include making choices about GCSE courses, and students starting to take control of their learning in a tangible way. Thanks to the parents who came along to my first Coffee and Chat of the term. It was great to talk about the things that students are currently enjoying, and hear how we can make things even better. Topics raised included meal deals at lunch time, the Headteacher’s Challenge levels and plans for the building once Avanti move to their permanent home next Spring.


    This week we practiced our safety drills, which the students did in an exemplary manner. They are looking forward to showing off their school on Thursday next week at our Open Evening for admissions in September 2018. Inspectors last summer noted how ‘students are proud of their school’. I am very proud of it too, and I look forward to welcoming you if you are able to join us. My presentation will take place at 5.30, 6.30 and 7.30pm, with tours and self-guided routes both available. Last year we had over a thousand visitors, so using public transport to get to us will ensure traffic is managed as effectively as possible in our community.

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