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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

  • Star of the week

    Published 08/01/21, by Chris Woolf

    A whirlwind of a week, in which I must start by congratulating students and staff for the flexibility, resilience and dedication to which they have approached their first week of live Distance Learning. These are all Pinner High School Values, of course. It is a huge undertaking at home and at school, and my immense thanks to everyone involved in the project. I know we still have adjustments to make, but the exceptionally high levels of attendance in lessons and the engagement with these sessions is a testament to the students and the skills of my colleagues. I know I am biased, but the whole community deserves a ‘star of the lesson’ award for the week. We know we can improve the experience further, so parents have been sent a survey today. I would be very grateful if you could complete this by the end of Tuesday so we can make any changes to support everyone involved.

    Our on-site provision has been busy all week, and my particular thanks to colleagues still coming to school to support our students. Our testing centre is now up and running and available to colleagues who are supervising the on-site provision. It links to NHS test and trace, so we hope this will make a contribution to keeping the whole community safer. We will start offering tests to our on-site students on Monday. We will take guidance from the Department for Education about offering this more widely when schools are able to welcome more students back through the doors.

    Some good news in the image that accompanies this blog, in that one of our students has been featured in The Economist Educational Foundation magazine. Many congratulations. More than ever we continue to celebrate success in these challenging times, and this is a particularly impressive achievement.

    I hope everyone is staying safe and well. If you need any assistance, please reach out to us. Being part of the Pinner High School community means there are a fantastic group people ready to help you in any way we can.

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  • Happy holidays

    Published 11/12/20, by Chris Woolf

    Our end of term audio concert is available on Google Classroom today; a mix of the old and the new with a radio style concert distributed on a twenty first century learning platform. I hope you enjoy it. Despite the restrictions of recording all performances in a covid secure manner, students have done a great job. Congratulations to all the staff and students involved.

    Further congratulations to our Year 8 and Year 10 writers, who recently entered the ‘Young Writers’ SOS Sagas: Trapped’ competition. A mighty 87 of them were winners, and will be published in the next anthology in the new year. Further success in our Burnet News Club, run by The Economist Magazine, with one student winning the competition for ‘obsolete jobs’ with an entry about the role of coachman in the twenty first century. Judges were impressed with the creativity and research involved.

    Festive jumper today is a very colourful end to the term, as you can see from the staff modelling their festive jumpers in the image! The photo features our school Christmas card too, designed by a member of Year 7. Our Christmas lunch, also pictured,  was very festive and very tasty! Many thanks to ISS our caterers, who managed to serve across 5 serveries, with high numbers of students and staff joining in. They do this every day and have adapted very successfully to our new way of working. Many thanks to them all.

    I wish you all a peaceful and restful holiday. Thank you for all your support this term. It has certainly had its challenges, but Pinner High School is such a positive community, and we look forward to the new year and the new term with optimism and excitement.

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  • Celebrations

    Published 04/12/20, by Chris Woolf

    Year group celebrations have started for students who have made particularly good progress this term. It has been lovely to draw a challenging term to a close by congratulating students who consistently try their best, approach their studies positively, and set a strong example to their peers. These celebrations continue next week.

    Next week we have our Christmas lunch on Wednesday- please make sure your child’s parent pay account is topped up for the occasion. Festive jumper day takes place on Friday 11th December, our last day of term. Years 7, 10, 11 finish at 12.00 and Years 8 and 9 finish at 12.25pm.

    The photos today are of the Masterchef creations in Year 8 Food Technology and weather stations in Geography. They are very creative, which is, of course, one of our Pinner High School Values.

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  • Mathmagician!

    Published 27/11/20, by Chris Woolf

    An eclectic round up in the blog this week, involving Maths, the Burnet News Club and the Royal Geographical Society.

    Year 9 have been working on complex questions involving volumes and surface areas of 3D Shapes. When I visited the class, one student did a perfect explanation for me of how to tackle this particularly demanding question in the image above. The question is beyond the expectations of GCSE, so for students to approach this, and be able to explain it so eloquently in Year 9 is staggeringly impressive!

    Also very impressive, the Burnet News Club is run by The Economist magazine Educational Foundation, which we take part in with some of our more able students. One of them won their most recent competition. Congratulations!

    And finally, the Geography department are delighted to report they have become full members of the Royal Geographical Society.  A Year 7 parent has very kindly sponsored the membership which gives the school access to a host of additional resources . The Royal Geographical Society lectures, teaching resources and up to date key cases are all now available to the school. Head of Geography Mr Smith believes, ‘This is a great extra resource and next year when the school rolls out its first A level courses, the membership will be invaluable.  The knowledge and expertise linked with the new technology will help the department to be at the cutting edge of teaching Geography’. We are very grateful for such generous support.

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  • Awards night

    Published 20/11/20, by Chris Woolf

    The TES awards took place last week, featuring a film about Pinner High School following our shortlisting in the Secondary School of the year category. Being the only school in the whole of London, and one of just 8 schools in the country selected in this way when there are over 4,000 in the country is a huge honour. It is a brilliant endorsement of everything our students, staff, governors and trustees have been doing for the last four years. The award was won by Heartlands E-ACT Academy; many congratulations to them. To even be considered for this prestigious award is an extraordinary achievement, and I’d like to thank our whole community for their support. If you would like to watch the award presentation, it is available here: https://www.tesawards.co.uk/tessa2020/en/page/watch-the-tes-schools-awards-2020 Our film is towards the end of the programme. Congratulations!

    Anti-bullying week is coming to an end, during which we have had so many peer ‘kindness’ nominations. Year 7 had their tower building House Event, during which 7BY came out on top. Our Year 11s have Sixth Form interviews, and their examinations are fast approaching. There are only 3 weeks to go until the end of term, so plenty of time to let you know about this year’s charity, and events in the last week of term including a festive lunch and the annual festive jumper day on the last day of term, 11th December.

    I hope you and your family are staying safe and well.

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  • Parent Governors

    Published 13/11/20, by Chris Woolf

    I am delighted to share news of the recent parent governor election. I am always grateful when parents offer to contribute to the success of our school. There are many ways to do this, and being a governor is an especially important one. We had a high number of parents willing to put themselves forward, and I would like to thank each of them for doing so. I am sorry all the candidates could not have joined the group, but there were only two vacancies. The successful candidates in the election were Dr. Day and Rev’d Hullyer. Congratulations to them both. Their biographies are below:

    Paul Hullyer: "I have been Vicar of Pinner Parish Church since 2008, having been ordained for 23 years. Before ordination, my career was in credit management and corporate finance. I have experience of school governance, having been a governor at 2 schools in Addlestone, Surrey (2000-2003), then later chair of governors at the Oak Farm Primary Schools in Hillingdon (2003-2008), and as a community governor at Bishop Ramsey (2008-2013) where I chaired the finance committee and also the steering group managing the transition to academy status. I am also an Officer (Chaplain) in the Army Reserve.

    I am used to working both within teams and individually, and pursuing goals which emerge from a corporate decision making process. I understand corporate responsibility, and feel strongly that the role of school governance is to assist, not direct, the head teacher and all staff in their roles. I can bring experience of school finances and governance in a variety of settings to this role.

    I passionately believe in in Pinner High School and its challenging and stimulating education for young people; it’s ethos and it’s capability for inspiring learning in every discipline. I am able to give the necessary time to the role."

    Kerry Day: "I would be delighted to have the opportunity to join the Governing body as a parent Governor, as I believe I have the skills and experience to be able to make a meaningful contribution as Pinner High continues to grow and establish itself as an outstanding school in the community. 

    I have 7 years’ experience as a Governor of a local primary school and fully understand the role of strategy and challenge in an education setting. I have been the designated Governor for safeguarding, pupil premium, SEND and EYFS. I have also been Chair of the Curriculum and Community committee. My term has included Head teacher and SLT appointments, decisions on school expansion, extensive building works and 2 successful Ofsted inspections. 

    Professionally, as a Consultant Paediatrician, the development of children and young people is something I have always cared passionately about, and I believe that an education that is engaging, inspiring, wide-ranging and fun gives young people the best possible start in life.

    As my children are growing older, with my daughter now in Year 8, I would relish the chance to bring my experience as a Governor and my perspective as a parent to the Pinner High Governing body."

    Governors meetings are all virtual at the moment, but I look forward to Rev’d Hullyer and Dr. Day’s contributions to our school. Our students continue to show considerable resilience during this challenging time, and I am so impressed with the way they continue to approach their learning. We are keen to make sure that the ‘fun’ that features so prominently in students’ views of Pinner High continues this term, and Year 7 have been looking at form time House Events, and Year 8 have been reflecting as a year group on the Pinner High School Values.   

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  • New spaces

    Published 06/11/20, by Chris Woolf

     

    A challenging and rewarding week: new classrooms for 360 students and almost 20 office moves- but we are in and students are making good use of their new spaces. 

    We have new gates, doors, feature displays, labs, classrooms and staff work spaces we have reclaimed the main hall and expanded into new outside areas too. I need to express my admiration for our site and facilities team who have managed this over the half term break whilst adhering to safe working practices. A real challenge, and a real success. The strip out work has started immediately on the parts of the school we vacated, ready to upgrade these facilities as well. These plans have been several years in the making, and it is exciting to see them coming together.

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  • Black history celebration

    Published 21/10/20, by Chris Woolf

    The blog this week is guest edited by Miss Bloss, Head of History, who led our reflections on Black Lives Matter, and Black History Month.

    This year we chose to focus on the Notting Hill Carnival for a month long celebration of Black History. This has enabled students to connect with Black History in their own city and provided an opportunity to honour and understand this historic and inspirational annual carnival.

    Our celebration began by focusing on the history of the Notting Hill Carnival. Our students learnt that the carnival was set up in order to show case, promote and honour Caribbean and African achievements. Prior to this Notting Hill area had been subjected to riots and tension. In order to help educate the wider community and provide a platform for the black community living in Notting Hill. Claudia Jones and others started the Carnival in 1959. This is an important message we wanted our Pinner High School community to understand - it is still crucial to provide a platform today to show case black culture and history.

    Our students have learnt how Carnival has changed over time to grow and build into a weekend celebration. In collaboration with the Drama and Music departments, we have been able to highlight to our students how Carnival has been revolutionary in performance, creating stages and show casing a variety of musical styles. Miss Sims, Head of Drama and Enrichment, highlighted to our students why “the Notting Hill Carnival is the most wonderful celebration of diversity. It’s a festival that shows that through adversity comes creation, that art will always carry on and that differences only make us stronger.”

    Mr McCormick, Teacher of Music, was involved in teaching a selection of Year 9 pupils Samba as a part of our celebrations. He stated “I have always been inspired by the words of Nina Simone – ‘I had spent many years pursuing excellence, because that is what classical music is all about... Now it was dedicated to freedom, and that was far more important’. The initial idea behind this contribution was to recreate a school wide parade in honour and celebration of the Notting Hill Carnival. However we were unfortunately unable to do this due to the obvious restrictions imposed by social distancing. We instead opted to have our miniature performance presented by the Year 9 House Captains whilst featuring a Year 7 DJ ”.  One of our performers commented “Even though COVID- 19 forced the Notting Hill Carnival to be cancelled, at Pinner High school we are doing all our best to honour the Black Lives Matter movement this year through the celebration of Black History Month”.

    This celebration has been enjoyed immensely by our students and staff.  One Year 9 student said “I have found Black History Month this year extremely useful and I’ve learnt about an area of history I have never studied.” Equally, Mrs Hindmarsh, one our Deputy Heads also found the celebrations insightful. “It has been wonderful to walk around at form time and see each of the year groups learning about Black History Month. The discussion with pupils has been both thought provoking and hopeful. We celebrate this every year, but this year seemed particularly important”.

    This is an important area to continue to study and develop. After discussing the importance of studied black history with two Year 10s both agreed “black history is part our history and the roots of England. It should be taught and should not be ignored due to how historical significant it is”.  As a history department we have continued to further diversify our curriculum to now cover an even wider range of histories from around the world. Black History will remain a strong and central part of our school curriculum beyond Black History month. Mr Mason in our history department, summed it up really well: “Studying 'black history' properly means going above just learning about the periods of black and BME struggle throughout time, but embracing the undeniable role black people have taken in shaping the history and culture of our nation. 'Black history' is all of our history”.

    In the aftermath of the death of George Floyd we created this website as a hub of resources: https://sites.google.com/pinnerhighschool.org/phsblacklivesmatter/home

    It remains available if anyone would like to find out more.

    My particular thanks to Miss Bloss for her leadership and the whole community for their support. The student who created the Black Lives Matter inspired art work that accompanies this blog noted: "My choice of images were of the different emotions that are held amongst people during the Black Lives Matter movement. These are: happiness, loneliness, sorrow and anger. The string interlinks all these emotions for one cause."

    The Pinner High School Values demand that we continue to respond; there is plenty more to do but it has been a very positive start.

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  • Positive report

    Published 16/10/20, by Chris Woolf

    You will have seen from my update during the week that our refurbishment programme is moving to the next phase after half term. The new spaces are looking fabulous and I am really excited that we can soon share them with students. The highlight for me is the Science labs, which are absolutely first class spaces. I know the Science team are as excited as I am. More disappointingly I have to move out of my office whilst the next phase of refurbishment takes place, which I am less excited about! Please do check the website link I sent though earlier in the week, as we have changed some start times to maximise learning over the next half term: https://sites.google.com/pinnerhighschool.org/newfornovember/home These changes come into effect from 2nd November.

    I am pleased to report more Jack Petchey Award winners over the last few weeks. This is an award scheme that asks winners to identify projects on which to spend £250 of Jack Petchey Foundation money around the school. Students vote for the winners themselves, and this brilliant scheme has supported different departments and activities in our community. Congratulations to all involved.

    You may know that nominations for Parent Governor closed this week. We had 11 applications for 2 posts and you will receive details of all the parents who have put themselves forward shortly. You will then need to vote for your preferred candidate. Our Chair of Governors, Dr. Ahmed, will be in touch with arrangements next week.

    It is application season for Year 7 places for next year, as you will know. We already have 500 applications to join us next September, over 100 more than the same time last year which resulted in us being the most oversubscribed school in Harrow. If you know someone who wants to find out more about our school please do direct them towards our Youtube channel or school website where you will find our school films. We will premiere our Sixth Form film on 10th November.

    Every year we have a rigorous external health and safety audit. This year amongst many other things they reviewed our Covid procedures. This is an internal document, but given the difficulties reported in the news with a rising rate in this area, I thought it would be of interest to you to see that: “As part of the audit process a summary review of Covid-19 procedures was carried out. There are good arrangements in place which were observed to being followed during the audit. Covid-19 arrangements are a standing agenda item at SLT meetings. There is a regularly reviewed and updated risk assessment, staggered start / finish times, good separation of bubbles with separate canteens and break space, well-spaced classroom layouts and an enhanced cleaning regime with a day cleaner. Good procedures were observed in PE and D&T particularly around sharing resources. Checks have been made of cleaning and catering contractor regarding their arrangements for managing the situation as well. There is good support for staff with individual risk assessments completed for all staff where needed and risk assessments have also completed for higher risk areas such as site, IT and medical. Visors are provided to any staff member who wants one and wellbeing forms have been sent to staff so they can raise any concerns.”

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  • The Governors Blog

    Published 09/10/20, by Chris Woolf

    My name is Andleeb Ahmed, and I am the Chair of Governors at Pinner High School. As we have Parent Governor vacancies at the moment I thought it would be a good idea to write to everyone about the Governing Body and the work we do. This might be of use if you are considering putting yourself forward to join us, and even if you are not it is important to know what is going on behind the scenes at your child’s school.

    Governors are all volunteers who want to support the successful growth and development of the school. I am a local GP- all our Governors have day jobs, and most of us do not have a background in education. When the school first opened we had more Governors from local schools to help steer our development. Once we had appointed a Headteacher and the school was clearly on the right track, the Governing Body has evolved to include a more diverse skill set, but still involves some experienced school leaders. More details of the current Governors are on our website: https://www.pinnerhighschool.org/page/?title=Governance&pid=11 I have learnt so much from being a Governor at Pinner High School and enjoy the dialogue around school improvement and development. Interacting with the pupils via ‘student voice’ is my favourite part of being Governor . My background in the NHS and public service is useful in helping me understand some of the issues in education, but we welcome a diverse set of skills and backgrounds to enrich our Governing Body even further.

    Highlights for me of the last few years include the ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted judgement. Having been a Governor since before the school opened and seeing the journey first hand, it was an emotional moment and a few tears were shed! We were also delighted to learn the school is the most oversubscribed in Harrow. Our local schools are so strong and so supportive that to be competing with them so soon is such a good sign.

    We know the last few months have been challenging for everyone. The role of Governors is to support and challenge the Headteacher and the leadership team and we are particularly keen to provide support through the present time. We are proud of the contribution the school has made to the local community particularly in the last few months; making masks for frontline workers; hosting 3 other local schools on site; donating all their PPE to local healthcare providers; and still providing support for key workers in school and everyone else at a distance. As well as this, we are firmly behind the school’s proactive approach to emphasise Black Lives Matter. We recruited the current Headteacher to lead ‘an inclusive school for the whole community’ and this remains the case; to join our Governing Body you also need to be supportive of this position. We welcome new ideas and diversity, but given the school’s shortlisting for the TES Secondary school of the year award and many other positive indicators, we are not looking to steer a radically different course as we must be doing something right!

    Other than recruiting senior staff, I am sometimes asked what we do. We meet several times a year in different committees and groups to talk to the school leadership team. They report a range of information to us, and we interrogate that data carefully to look at trends and indicators about what it tells us about our children, and any advice we share as a result. In ‘normal’ circumstances we like to visit the school and see it all at work. Sometimes it is easier to talk about what we don’t do. We don’t run the school. We leave that to the leadership team. I remind Governors from time to time that we are ‘eyes on, hands off’.  

    Being a Governor is very enjoyable. It enables parents to have a voice in the development of our school and to help shape its continuing success. What could be more important than that for our children?

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  • Inspiring Learning

    Published 02/10/20, by Chris Woolf

    Year 7 are the guest editors of the blog this week, with their reflections on joining Pinner High School. As our open event film is on Facebook premiere at 7pm this Thursday 8th October it is a good moment to hear their views on starting a new school. We are now the most oversubscribed school in Harrow, so it is good to hear they have settled in so well. 

    Smiling faces

    During the summer holidays I was very nervous, I was so nervous that every time I thought of a new school there was a chill down my spine. When I arrived at school I was greeted by many smiling faces, so felt welcome from the moment I was in the front gate. In class my teacher explained to us what was going to happen and the daily schedule. Everyone was kind so I was able to make some new friends straight away. By the end of the day I was smiling to myself as I walked out of the building! If there is any advice I could give to people nervous to go to secondary school is to remember that everyone is in the same boat. I have only been at Pinner High School for a few weeks, but I could not feel happier.

    Sasha 7MY

    Fun!

    Life as a Year 7… You have teachers, homework and classmates. That’s quite normal.  But there is something unique about Year 7 that not many people realise – it is really fun! The teachers are very good and well educated, and the homework is very helpful and well explained via websites and demonstrations. The breaks are well timed, and it is a very COVID safe environment to be in. Pinner High School is a very kind and nice environment. I like it a lot.

    Vir 7MX

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  • Shortlisted for Secondary School of the Year!

    Published 25/09/20, by Chris Woolf

    A special blog this week to celebrate today’s announcement that Pinner High School is on the shortlist for the Tes Secondary School of the Year award!

    The Tes Schools Awards celebrates the extraordinary commitment, quality and innovation shown by teachers and school staff across the UK. The most outstanding individuals and institutions that the education sector has to offer have been recognised in the shortlist for the Tes Schools Awards 2020. TES editor Ann Mroz said: “It is always a highlight of the education calendar to see the best ideas and people lauded at the Tes Schools Awards. But this year, it felt more important than ever to run an event that showcased and celebrated the hard work that teachers and school staff do for children and their local community every single day. This has been one of the most difficult years in education, but – as ever – teachers continue to rise to the challenge.

    "We had a record number of entries this year and the standard was very high, so all those shortlisted should be very proud: it's an extraordinary achievement to be on this shortlist."

    This is an amazing achievement for the students and staff at Pinner High School. It reflects everything that everyone does every day and I am so proud of them all. Chair of Governors Dr. Ahmed passed on her congratulations to the whole community for their support. Great news!

    You can read more about the awards on tesawards.co.uk

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