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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

  • Top quality

    Published 24/01/20, by Chris Woolf

    The school has been adorned this week with red lanterns to celebrate the Chinese New Year, which takes place tomorrow. The photograph shows Year 10 Mandarin students at the British museum, where they saw some of the beautiful artefacts on display, and had a special guided tour of the exhibits. Today is the special Chinese New Year lunch, which seems to be going down very well!


    More success on the sports field, with a group of four from our school representing Harrow in the cross-country, having qualified from a large field of runners across the borough. Netballers were triumphant again, and the basketball team make their debut in a new league next week.


    This week I have spent 3 days interviewing prospective colleagues who would like to work at our school from September. We have had such strong fields, of well qualified teachers it has been hard to make the final choices. This week I have also had two visits from school leaders in other new schools a year or two younger than Pinner High School, looking at how we have grown so successfully over the last few years. Central to that has been a supportive community, and for this I am very grateful. We have lots of engaging challenges to come, and students and staff are dedicated to continuing to exceed expectations.


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  • Year of the Rat

    Published 17/01/20, by Chris Woolf

    Auditions have been taking place this week for our school production of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. The amount of interest has been very high and knowing the quality of previous productions I am looking forward to it already. The added challenge is that the hall is about to be refurbished and is unavailable for the performance, so we will experience a different form of theatre for this show. This will be a brilliant experience for performers and audience. More details will follow!


    More sporting success this week, with the Year 7 netballers winning again, success for the basketball team, and a particularly impressive set of results in the borough cross country. Our PE department organised the girls event on behalf of the borough, the first time they have been asked to do so, and I am particularly pleased this ran so smoothly. Congratulations to all involved. Our CCF Army contingent had their debut last week, and continue with their weekly parade at John Lyon School. 25 students from Years 9 and 10 take part, and I am delighted to hear it is progressing so well.


    Chinese New Year activities start next week off, with a visit to the British Museum. We have a themed lunch during the week, and other activities during form time to celebrate this important festival. The Kung Fu lesson is sure to be a highlight! The photograph this week is of the cards we received from our link school in Taiwan. Our students wrote in Mandarin, the Taiwanese students wrote in English, and students have enjoyed the cultural exchange. Particular thanks to the Chinese teaching team involved in this. You may have seen my article in the Times Educational Supplement a couple of weeks ago about the importance of Mandarin in schools:


    As you may know, before Christmas Governors and I appointed our Founding Head of Sixth Form. He will start with us in July this year, preparing to open the Sixth Form the year after, in September 2021. He is attending our Year 10 parents evening on 30th January. He will be presenting our early Sixth Form plans, and talking about his extensive Sixth Form leadership experience. Any parents from any year group who are interested to meet him are most welcome to attend. Please do let reception know if you plan to do so, so we can ensure we have enough space. His presentations are at 4.30 and 6.00pm.


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  • Happy New Year

    Published 10/01/20, by Chris Woolf

    A flurry of activity on our much anticipated refurbishment programme this week. We anticipate beginning next month, to make a start just before the half term break in February. I will write with more details of the phasing of work as we finalise the details of it. Building plans will be on our website, and students will hear the details in assemblies in the coming weeks. I’ll also be writing to residents and other stakeholders in the next week or so. Last year families and students had the chance to help provide ideas for our priorities during this programme of works, and it is brilliant to see this finally coming together. Exciting times!

    The week has already seen a number of firsts; our first LAMDA classes in the performing arts, and our first CCF students off to John Lyon in this exciting collaboration. The Year 7 netballers started the year well with a convincing win over Nower Hill, setting the standard high for the rest of the school. 

    The photo this week is of a brilliant Geography lesson I saw today, with Year 10 turning their atlases into river banks, and looking at how load is carried down the river. The subject terminology used by the class was highly impressive. Happy New Year!



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  • Happy Holidays

    Published 12/12/19, by Chris Woolf

    Holidays begin today, after a long and rewarding term. This week has been the culmination of lots of hard work on the growing arts scene in the school: Pinner's Got Talent, the Christmas Concert, the Hub Christmas show, and the local schools' carol service have all taken place in the last week. My thanks to all students and staff who have been involved in these events. Year 7 Food Technology students were not left out of the festive feeling with the Reindeer Cookies in the picture! It is worth commenting how our Year 7 students have settled into their new school really successfully. The end of their first term in secondary school is a good moment to reflect on this milestone. Transition to a new school can be difficult, but we know that with personalised pastoral care and lots of activities from the moment a school place is offered, it can be done really well.

    Of course, there are lots of challenges for the future, as we look to develop the school still further. I am pleased to report the successful appointment of our Founding Head of Sixth Form, who will take up his appointment towards the end of the summer term, ready to work with our community to ensure our Sixth Form sets off on the same 'Outstanding' footing as the rest of the school. He will be attending our Year 10 Parents Evening on 30th January to start the conversation with our Trailblazing parents and students about post-16 options. I very much hope to have further news of our refurbishment programme early in the new year. There have been positive developments over the last few weeks, and once these are confirmed I will share them with the community. Exciting times!

    In the meantime, Season's Greetings and Happy New Year!

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  • Season's Greetings

    Published 06/12/19, by Chris Woolf

    A host of special events to report: our first 'Hub' Christmas show, our local schools' Carol Concert, next week's Christmas show, and our first end of term talent contest!

    The students in our Hub spent many weeks of lunchtime rehearsals working on their first performance, which took place this week. They did an amazing job, and the impact on their confidence and self esteem was clear for all to see. The rest of the school will have their turn on Tuesday at our end of term concert. It starts at 6pm. There are no tickets required, but we ask those that are able to bring an item for the local Food Bank. I hope to see you there!

    Next week we have a visit to John Lyon School for those interested in our CCF programme, and Festive jumper day on Friday 13th December, our last day of term, which finishes at midday. The Talent contest is on the same day, and is a new event designed to showcase the many skills of our fabulous students. It promises to end an excellent term on a real high.

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  • Attention!

    Published 29/11/19, by Chris Woolf

    "The most outstanding school we have visited" was the feedback from some of our visiting speakers this week who contributed to our Deep Learning Day on Tuesday. The speakers were from 'Healthy Choices' and spent the day talking to students in sessions and around the school. They based their feedback on the quality of the interactions between students and staff, which is certainly lovely to hear. The rest of the Deep Learning Day was also very positive, with topics as diverse as Esafety, CV writing, and Hate speech and prejudice covered between Years 7-10. Year 7 had a Road Safety theatre session this afternoon as well- a topic that always needs to be fresh in students' minds as they become more independent.

    Our CCF (Combined Cadet Force) Army contingent launch date is getting closer, and students in Years 9 and 10 had assemblies about that this week. Flt Lt Mann from John Lyon, our partner school, will be answering questions about this for students on Wednesday at lunch time.  There is more information about the types of activities the CCF get up to here:

    Year 10 exams begin next week for our Trailblazers, which will be a useful indicator of how the students are progressing towards their GCSE target grades. They have a full range of exams which will be really helpful for us to see where they are doing well, and where further development is still needed.

    Basketball took centre stage this week, with hard fought victories on consecutive nights for the Year 9 and Year 10 boys teams, the latter by a single point against Rooks Heath. Dramatic stuff!

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  • Self Esteem Team

    Published 21/11/19, by Chris Woolf

    The Mandarin Excellence programme is new to us this year, and I spent a very interesting afternoon at the China Exchange this week meeting with the Headteachers of other schools who have also successfully applied to be part of this programme. There are just 76 schools across the whole country accepted onto this programme, with the support of the Institute of Education and the British Council. We have 30 students in Year 7 enrolled, with a view to making accelerated progress in this language. There is an article below from 'My Pinner News' with more information about the programme.

    Ths week we had a visit from the 'Self Esteem Team' to work with our older students about exam stress and positive mental health. They led an excellent session on practical tips to help manage the pressures that can mount up on young people. Students described the sessions as 'really helpful' and were timed to help Year 10 with the preparation for their week of exams starting in December.

    Good news from the borough Gymnastics competition, where the teams came in first and second, with some fine individual performances too. The football and badminton teams were also in action.

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  • 56 applications

    Published 15/11/19, by Chris Woolf

    A delighted group of students were at Wembley Stadium last night to watch England’s 7-0 victory over Montenegro in the Euro 2020 qualifier. Our own sports teams had a successful week too, with great performances from the boys and girls football teams as well as the netball and badminton teams in local tournaments. Congratulations to all involved.

    I have spent the last couple of days reading the 56 applications from potential colleagues who want to be our Founding Head of Sixth Form. It is brilliant to have such a level of interest, but time consuming to read them all! Undoubtedly a happy problem to have.


    We are pleased to be part of the Jack Petchey Award programme, which runs across London. Our first winners in the current Year 7 will be announced this week. They have the responsibility of deciding how to spend £250 from the Jack Petchey Foundation on a school project. Previous winners have supported Head’s Challenge Clubs, outdoor seating and other similar projects. It is an excellent programme, and we are delighted to be a part of it.


    Our end of term performances are fast approaching, with our concert on 10th December. Tickets will be available shortly. I hope to see you there.

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  • Remembrance

    Published 08/11/19, by Chris Woolf

    The Founding Head of Sixth Form post currently being advertised is drawing an extraordinary amount of interest. I have enjoyed showing prospective candidates around the school, who are all very excited at the prospect of the opportunities the role presents. Interviews are towards the end of the month. I am starting this process so early so that our Trailblazers have the benefit of a brand new Sixth Form set up with the same traditional values but innovative approach that is characterised by the rest of the school.


    Our basketball team made their debut this week in a new league. They are competing against students a full year older (and taller!) than they are, which will give them great opportunities as they gain in experience.


    The students and staff returned from the Battlefields of the First World War this week, where they had a very memorable experience. As well as the very moving monuments in the area, they also saw a production of ‘Journey’s End’ by RC Sherriff. As a literature teacher, I am always keen that students see such performances in context, none more so than this. A powerful experience. Poppies have been on sale this week supporting the British Legion, organised by students during their free time, and we will have representatives at Remembrance Day services in Pinner and Eastcote this weekend.


    Black History month drew to a close following a very engaging series of activities designed to challenge stereotypes and promote positive role models. My thanks to all those who engaged in this, and all aspects of school life, so well.

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  • Welcome back

    Published 01/11/19, by Chris Woolf

    It is brilliant to start the half term so positively: 1,169 applications have been received for entry into Year 7 for September 2020, our highest total ever. I really enjoyed sharing this with our fabulous staff, as it is such an endorsement of everything they do with our students every day to ensure the school motto of ‘Inspiring Learning’ comes to life with such vibrancy. My only reservation is that with 6.5 applications for every place, our catchment area will shrink further. Similarly, I have been overwhelmed with interest in the role of Founding Head of Sixth Form. The deadline does not close for a couple of weeks, but the quality and quantity of candidates who are putting themselves forward for the role tells me that this is a post that has excited colleagues as much as it excites me. Our new school film on our school YouTube channel shows this too:

    Black History Month celebrations have run all week, with a range of form time activities celebrating this important event. The history department have done a great job, and in the same week that students take part in the English literature led First World War Battlefields trip it is a timely moment to reflect.

    Years 8 and 9 today have enjoyed their financial maths sessions with MyBnk. They have spent time with us before in previous years and with different year groups, applying mathematical skills to the practical tasks of personal finance and household budgeting. This has been eye opening for many students! Many thanks to the Maths team for putting the day together. It makes a real impact.

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  • Chair of Governors guest blog

    Published 17/10/19, by Chris Woolf

    Our new mini-bus arrived this week, but news of this will have to wait until after the half term break, as our blog this week features a guest entry by our Chair of Governors. Dr. Ahmed writes:

    ‘It has been another excellent half term of the year for the students at Pinner High School. There are now over 700 students, and they have settled in well to all aspects of school life. A growing school has unique rewards and challenges, and the strategic oversight Governors have of this ensures our continuing success.


    Every half term I run a ‘student voice’ meeting, where I chat to a group of students about their experiences at school. I spoke to a very articulate group of Year 10 students last week, who told me about their growing school with so much pride. They talked warmly about the opportunities they have had ‘so much better than our friends in other schools’ (they said) and the support they feel from their teachers. They also talked about how well supported they are in their GCSE courses, and the high standards expected of them. They also made a point of telling me how friendly they still find the school. The same theme came from visitors to our open day a couple of weeks ago. Over a thousand visitors were here on the day, who filled the main hall four times during the day. When we were a brand new school we expected there to be lots of interest from all sorts of quarters. We also expected the number of visitors to decrease over time as so many families have been to see us already. However, our positive Ofsted inspection only seems to have increased the numbers for our fifth annual open event. My only regret is that they won’t all be able to come here in September.


    We all celebrated our ‘Outstanding’ judgement of the summer, but are keen to build further on this success. There is no shred of complacency in the Development Plans the Leadership team present to the Governors. They firmly have their sights set on the forthcoming GCSE examinations, and securing the Sixth Form with the same success that the whole school is founded on. The staff team have grown to nearly a hundred, and the extremely high quality of applicants the school has had to choose from is one of the main reasons for our success. Our Governing Body has also grown in size recently, and I am very grateful to them for the time they put in as volunteers to provide challenge to the school. We take this very seriously, and review a range of student data in detail.


    We all await further news of our refurbishment plans. I know the community has been very patient with this, and there is an immense amount of work going on behind the scenes to secure this key aspect of our next development. Whenever I visit the school I am reminded that it is never the buildings that make a school special, it is the people within them. Nonetheless, I will ensure you are kept up to date with developments.


    Student successes this half term have been wide ranging; more sports teams than ever before, greater numbers on the Duke of Edinburgh Award programme, and a vibrancy to school life that has always been the hallmark of a Pinner High School education. There are always new experiences too: the school is now on the Mandarin Excellence Programme, a prestigious opportunity supported by the British Council and the Institute of Education to develop Mandarin across the UK. Following the successful World Challenge trip to Costa Rica this summer, another trip was launched this week, this time to Tanzania. All of these opportunities require dedicated teachers to make them happen, and I would like to ensure all members of staff at the school know how much everything they do is appreciated by the Governing Body.


    Students at Pinner High School have broad horizons. As well as the Chair of Governors and a Trustee, I am also a Pinner High School parent. The PTA continue to flourish; we are lucky to have such a supportive community, and it has been a pleasure to work with the school since before it opened. Thank you for your continuing support for our school. We have lots to look forward to!’


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  • Full House

    Published 04/10/19, by Chris Woolf

    Particular thanks to the large numbers of students who volunteered to support our Open Day yesterday. Over 200 students were involved showing round well over a thousand visitors during the day. A snapshot of their feedback is shown above. Our students are brilliant ambassadors for Pinner High School, and I am delighted there continues to be such interest in the school. Visitors commented on the knowledgable and enthusiastic guides, and their obvious pride in their school. 'Inspiring teachers' was another comment on the feedback forms, which is an accurate reflection of my colleagues. This was our fifth open event, and we have come along way over the last five years. There are now over 700 students, nearly 100 members of staff, and a real community around the school.

    Elsewhere in the school this week, more sports teams took to the field, with competitive matches against our local schools. Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award certificates have started to arrive for our Trailblazers who started this last year. 60 members of Year 9 have signed up for the programme for the year, and Year 10 will have the opportunity to step up a level and start their Silver Award. Exciting times!


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