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Mr Woolf's Blog

I'll keep you updated with our progress during this very exciting year with my weekly blog.

Chris.

Page 1

  • 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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  • Second time around

    Published 18/09/17, by Chris Woolf

    The Pinner Village Show was a great place to be to start last week. I enjoyed chatting to lots of local families from our stall in the Memorial Park. Many visitors remember the school with much affection in its previous guises as Pinner County School or Heathfield, telling me how the site has changed over the years. It is great to write a new chapter for a building that has been a school since 1937 and is going from strength to strength.

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  • 'String of Awards'

    Published 08/09/17, by Chris Woolf

    Year 2 is underway! It is wonderful to welcome our second year group to Pinner HIgh School. Our new Year 7s are settling in really well. One parent sent in a lovely message about their child who "had a fantastic first day and is feeling very positive and happy about his experience... He was smiling leaving for school and still smiling when he came home. He can't wait to go back again tomorrow to do it all again." Long may that continue!

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  • An Inspector Calls

    Published 18/07/17, by Chris Woolf

     

    Our first end of year production 'Bugsy Malone' was a great success last week. Lots of fun was had with custard pies and splurge guns! There is a great array of talent in the year group, and as usual it was easy to forget that everyone in the cast was in Year 7.

    This was the same opinion of an Ofsted Inspector that Governors and I invited to school a couple of weeks ago to help evaluate our progress so far this year. Amongst some useful development ideas he concluded we have 'the model for an outstanding school' and that Pinner HIgh School is a 'very special place'. Further evaluation came in the surveys of students, parents and staff, conducted on our behalf by Kirkland Rowell. They link the survey questions to Ofsted inspection criteria, and benchmark against other schools. It is especially pleasing, therefore, for every group to rate us as 'Outstanding' in every category. Additional validation came last week with the EQ Equalities Award. Governors' initial vision statement referred to an 'inclusive school for the whole community' so this award has particular resonance. Further success came yesterday following our Investors in People Health and Wellbeing accreditation. We have been recommended for the award following a full day inspection. A successful end to the year!

    As well as these external evaluations, the student experience is the key measure of success at Pinner High School. Over 60 students, all those who represented the school in a sports team this year, spent the day at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford at the World Para-athletic Championships this week. Over 40 students were involved in the production of 'Bugsy Malone' last week. Many others will be on stage on the last day of term on Friday, receiving an award at our inaugural Prizegiving, celebrating our Trailblazing year. Thank you for all your support. We are all looking forward to the second chapter!

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  • Pinner High: Case Study of Best Practice

    Published 30/06/17, by Chris Woolf

    Our inaugural Pinnfest was a great success this week: fabulous performances by the rock band, an impressive acoustic set, and a superb standard of work on display in the exhibition. One visitor commented that he needed to be reminded that all the students are in Year 7 given the highs standard on display throughout. More than 200 people attended, and enjoyed cakes, teas and mocktails. Many thanks to all involved!

    Earlier in the week our athletics team represented the borough in the county championships; we are the only school where both boys and girls teams were invited to attend. Our cricketers have qualified for the semi finals of the local competition, and our rounders team represented the school admirably against older students this week too.

    Alongside this, over 40 students are involved in the production of 'Bugsy Malone' running from 13-15th July. Tickets are available on Parentpay, or from tickets@pinnerhighschool.org It promises to be a brilliant show.

    You may have seen our banners noting our involvement in 'The Parliamentary Review 2017'. This is an annual Government publication that highlights and shares case studies of good practice in the education industry. To be selected for inclusion in our first year is very special, and a real endorsement of the first class education Pinner High School students are receiving every day. Inspiring Learning indeed!  

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  • Surveys and reports

    Published 16/06/17, by Chris Woolf

    The girls tennis team had a successful debut at the borough tournament this week. They returned with certificates for their third place; the first time several of them had represented the school and played competitive matches. A great result!

    Last month I commissioned a Safeguarding Audit of the school at governors' request, following recent local and national events. Two experts from the Local Authority visited for the day, talking to students, staff and governors, and going through policies and procedures in great detail. They opened their 'Key Findings' feedback by noting that "Pinner High School is indeed well led and managed in respect of safeguarding. The Chair of the Governing body and the Headteacher have a clear strategic vision to ensure safeguarding key duties are undertaken effectively." The report goes on:  "The students say they feel safe. According to the students interviewed incidents of bullying are very rare. The students were well informed regarding how to keep themselves safe and who to go to if they felt unsafe or had a concern." This is always reassuring to read and given the current climate we will never be complacent about these crucial aspects of safety and wellbeing.

    We had further positive inspection feedback in the Department for Education's third term report, which we received this week. Also this week the Spanish trip for Easter 2018 became oversubscribed, along with the Ski trip to Italy in February 2018. There are good numbers signed up to the China trip and Costa Rica trips for 2019. Exciting times! All of this tells us we have active and engaged students.

    Parents, students and staff are engaged this week completing surveys about the first year of Pinner High School. It has been a brilliant year-and not over yet with plenty more opportunities to come- but we will always have an eye firmly on the future as the school grows. Hearing feedback makes sure the challenge of doubling in size is seen with the benefit of feedback from all stakeholders about the experiences of this year.  

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  • Team of the Year

    Published 09/06/17, by Chris Woolf

    Many congratulations to all of my colleagues involved in running our extensive enrichment programme: they have been recognised with a Certificate of Excellence in the Outstanding School Team of the Year category of the Pearson Teaching Awards. As there are over 5,000 schools nationwide eligible for this accolade, this is a very impressive achievement. They put on 18 different activities every week in the last half term, providing a brilliant range of options for our students.

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  • Opening the Batting

    Published 04/05/17, by David Groves

    The Trailblazing Cricket team took to the field for the first time this week, keen to live up to the reputation established by our successful football and netball teams, who were winners and runners up in the borough tournaments. Competition for places in the team was very tough, but the spirit with which they play is very much as important as the results at the end of the match. Like the other teams earlier in the year, our debut match was successful, with a ten wicket victory over Ruislip High. Our netball teams scored victories over Nower Hill and Rooks Heath this week; it was pleasing to welcome them to our sports hall to use our first class facilities.

    Some students attended a performance of 'Refugee Boy' at the Chicken Shed theatre this week, commenting on the power of the play. One of our fields was brought alive on Wednesday afternoon with the House Rounders competition: 6 teams playing simultaneously on 3 pitches. My thanks to the expert umpiring of colleagues and the enthusiasm of students. Finals will take place during activity week. 

    Preparations continue for our first activity week, beginning on 15th May. Parents attended an information evening about the PGL adventure part of the week, and with arts and sports sessions, as well as a workshop at the Heath Robinson Museum, it promises to be an even busier week than usual.

    Governors have visited the school several times recently, seeing the students at work, speaking to them about career opportunities through Science Club, listening to 'Student Voice' sessions where they meet with Governors to talk, amongst other things, about things they like about the school and anything they would like to change as the school grows. Through these discussions and with an eye firmly on the future, students have started to create a 'Trailblazers Charter' to help our new students settle into the school in September. As our numbers will more than double, helping our students rise to the responsibility this will bring them is something we are working on all term. A draft of the Charter is attached below, please feel free to email in comments on it, as students continue to develop this with staff guidance.

    As we are in our final term of the year, we are developing our school evaluation processes, and have our final Department for Education check up of the year in a couple of weeks. There have been 22 lesson observations this year, 6 of which were paired observations where a school senior leader observed the lesson with either a DfE adviser, or a Headteacher from the Harrow Academies Trust. Teaching has always been observed to be 'Good' or better, with a great deal of outstanding practice. This is a great position to be in, and I know the teachers starting with us in September will enrich students' experiences still further.

    Interviews for our support staff posts take place next week, and as we are fully staffed with teachers for September, it is an exciting time to be a part of the school.

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  • Welcome Back

    Published 21/04/17, by David Groves

     

     

    Headteacher’s Challenge Clubs this term promise to be a highlight. Students yesterday chose from 18 different options, from which they will have 2 every week for the

    next half term: Golf, Cricket, Fashion, Chinese Film, Bugsy Malone rehearsals, Art, Mindfulness, TfL Entrepreneurs, Creative writing, Carnegie Shadowing, Science, Rock Band, Environmental, Tennis, Athletics, Netball, Spanish Film, Stretch and Challenge. The clubs are grouped into 4; Sports, Community, Arts and Innovator, and the more different groups of clubs they participate in, the higher the level of Headteacher’s Challenge they will be eligible for at the end of term. House Events also form part of the Headteacher's Challenge, and this week Malala House won a tense netball final against Ali House.

     

    Although it is only the first week back at school, rehearsals are in full swing for our inaugural end of year musical, ‘Bugsy Malone’. Performances will be on 13 and 14th July, with booking details available nearer the time. We will also host our first summer concert, on 29th June, featuring music and art works in an informal ‘prom’ style atmosphere with refreshments. Before then students are looking forward to their activities week, which will see the whole year group off timetable during the week beginning 15th May. They will have a range of enrichment activities, trips and House Events that bring life to the motto ‘Inspiring Learning’.

     

    As well as all this, students have been enjoying their usual range of lessons. Assessments took place this week in Maths and Science, and after teacher assessment and students' own reflections, they will be sent home for families to see too. Progress data puts us ahead of expectations compared to student starting points, which is very pleasing indeed. Student Government are being consulted about the timing of their end of year exams, and these dates will be published shortly.  

     

    Today sees the last of our first, first week of term. I don’t know where the time has gone. Support staff advertisements are currently on our website to join our growing team in September to provide first class service to our students. If you are interested in being part of our local success story, please do send in an application before the deadline of 27th April. Here is a link to the Staff Recruitment area of the school website, with more candidate information: http://www.pinnerhighschool.org/page/Default.asp?pid=3&action=saved

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  • Happy Easter

    Published 31/03/17, by David Groves

    Our first second term ended today, with a celebratory assembly of all that the students have accomplished. This included a student rock band, drama sketch, certificates for the Headteacher's Challenge, Science Week prizes, awards for the Pinner High School Values, a section presented by House Leaders and a Bollywood dance. As a way of capturing the ethos of the school, that list is very representative!

    Students have had a brilliant term; sports tournament winners, visitors to the Globe and the British Library, opportunities to try new things and practice skills in existing areas of interest. The environmental club have been recognised with an RHS Level 1 award. House Events continue to be keenly contested, with Bannister leading the way with one term to go before the House Cup is awarded for the first time.

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  • On Show

    Published 21/03/17, by David Groves

    So much going on, so little time left this term! Girls Netball runners-up in the borough championships, the inaugural Maths Challenge, Science Week with fire and primary schools, as well as positive recruitment news, and an invitation to speak at 'The Education Show'. All in a week!

    Our girls had a brilliant time on their first outing at a local netball tournament as one of twelve competing teams. They came second only to North London Collegiate School, and impressed everyone with their skills and sportsmanship. The team are coached by Mrs Pacey, who was as delighted as the returning team at the end of the competition. We hosted our own Maths Challenge for students in Year 5 last week, giving the most able mathematicians in local primary schools a taste of secondary school maths. Teams from West Lodge, Cannon Lane, Reddiford and St. John Fisher battled it out, with Reddiford emerging victorious. Pinner High School students were on hand to host and facilitate the event, which they did very effectively. Our students were also involved in leading Science Week water rocket launches for the children of West Lodge Primary School, who came here last week as part of the week of events. Pinner High School students also experimented with methane bubbles during lunch time, with incendiary results as the photo on our social media account shows (full risk assessment in place!)

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