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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

  • 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

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  • Wellbeing

    Published 18/09/20, by Chris Woolf

    I was delighted to receive the certificate this week acknowledging our Year 10 Student Wellbeing and Mental Health ambassadors. We have a group in Year 11 who were trained a year ago, and with the challenges of the last few months I was keen to have an even larger group trained this year. 19 students gave up their time at the end of the summer holiday to come in to school during the inset days before term started to complete the course. The trainer was very impressed at the way the students engaged with the blended learning. My thanks to them all. The challenge now is using these skills across the school whilst maintaining the year group bubbles. We are working on this!

    Also working on some problem solving are our refurbishment contractors, B&K, who continue on the new schedule to complete another dozen classrooms  ready for us to move into during the October half term break. This includes another 4 brand new Science labs, which look phenomenal. I am very excited to show our Year 11 students these spaces, as this is where their new bubble will be after half term. I will share more detailed plans of the changes that are still to come over the next few weeks as we continue to benefit from even more first class facilities.

    Thank you for the messages of support we have received over the last few weeks. It was great to see so many families on our Year 7 virtual welcome event last night, and I look forward to working with you over the months ahead.  

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  • Welcome back!

    Published 11/09/20, by Chris Woolf

    It has been a brilliant week welcoming students back to school after such a long time. The whole school community has responded so well to the new ways of working, and I need to thank students, colleagues, parents, governors and friends of the school for their cooperation and warm wishes as we return to the classroom.

    In classes I have enjoyed seeing a range of learning activities that I know we have all missed; particular classes I saw included Year 8 at the long jump pit, Year 9 war poetry, a very engaging art class, and an impressive historical debate. Year 11 intervention is already underway- they have an early start and a late finish- and are stepping up to this challenge in a very mature way. Year 7 are getting used to their new spaces and new uniforms, and picking up the trailblazers spirit as the first students to occupy our newly refurbished spaces. More than all this, the chance for students to reconnect, regenerate and work together is happening exactly as I had hoped it would.

    Whilst it has been an overwhelmingly positive start we know that it is not easy, and our control measures are not ideal. However, our attendance this week is close to 97% across the school, which is higher than national targets for 'normal' times. I find myself seeing the Pinner HIgh School Values in our students more and more as we negotiate these complicated times together. It is good to be back!

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  • Quadruple award winners!

    Published 16/07/20, by Chris Woolf

    This has been a challenging term, so it is lovely to end it with news of four awards recognising different aspects of school life that we have received over the last few weeks.


    Pinner High School was awarded the Investors in People Health and Wellbeing Gold Award, the Eco Schools Silver Award and has two Pearson National Teaching Award Certificate of Excellence winners; the Mandarin department in the ‘Impact through Partnership’ category for their work with Cannon Lane and West Lodge Primary Schools, and Mr. Maran Dhannie, who leads our autism provision, for ‘Excellence in Special Educational Needs‘.


    I am so proud of our Mandarin team and Mr. Dhannie for being recognised in this way. We are an inclusive school for the whole community, and these awards all arriving simultaneously captures that really well. Our commitment as an Eco School is an important one as we look to play a leading role in sustainable education programmes as we all emerge from the last few months. Starting a rigorous wellbeing accreditation programme through the Investors in People award during a pandemic felt rather foolish, but to have jumped a level straight to Gold is brilliant news. It shows how hard my colleagues have been working together to build a school as it should be, rather than as it has always been.


    Students are the ones who benefit from this, as everything is always centred around them. They are the measure of success in any school, and many of my colleagues have been touched by the comments many of them have received from students through Google Classroom thanking them for all they have done at a distance.


    We are so grateful for the support of our community throughout. It is not something we take for granted. There are plenty of things we are developing further, of course, and we look forward to returning to these in September. Before that, I know we all need a break, some time away from our screens, and a chance to re-energise for the challenges ahead.


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  • Champions!

    Published 13/03/20, by Chris Woolf

    Congratulations to our Year 7 boys table tennis team who are our newest Borough Champions! They had a brilliant tournament this week, and played really well throughout against some very tough opponents. We’ll add the team photo to our growing Wall of Fame to celebrate their success. Brilliant news!

    I enjoyed checking in on the refurbishment programme this week, walking round our new spaces and seeing the progress our contractors have already made. The schedule of work is tight, but indications are positive. We are planning how to decorate the hoarding at the front of the building so that the students can make their mark on the process as well. They have been involved in planning the growth of the school through the buildings. I shall continue to keep you updated.


    The media has been full of reports about different phases of the coronavirus national action plan. We have been planning for different scenarios, and have developed a range of online learning activities that can be completed from home should the need arise. Teachers have been practising using different apps and resources in class to try to get as far ahead with this as is possible. You may have seen your child preparing Google classroom activities at home. I have enjoyed seeing the creativity from students and staff in the balanced way they have responded to this. The Pinner High School Values or resilience, flexibility and courage spring readily to mind. Whatever the future holds, I know the school community will rise to the challenge.


    Year 9 rose to the challenge of their Midterm examinations a couple of weeks ago. Today they receive their grades, and will spend subsequent lessons looking at feedback and how to improve further.


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  • Full House

    Published 06/03/20, by Chris Woolf

    The waiting list for Pinner High School is longer than ever, as the week started with ‘National Offer Day’ when students in Year 6 around the country found out which secondary schools they will attend in September. This is the fifth year group of students to join the school, and we are delighted to welcome them to our community. Our newest students will be visiting us after school next week to begin the process of settling in, so they can get off to the ‘flying start’ noted in our inspection report last summer. Students now live within 0.7 of a mile of the school, as we now have more applications per place to join the school than any other in Harrow. This would not have been possible without the support of our community, and I am very grateful for this.


    On Tuesday, the Year 8 and 9 Maths team took part in the Team Maths Challenge at Preston Manor School. They had a very strong start, 2nd after the first round, and eventually finished 8th out of 26, coming ahead of some very well-known private, grammar and state schools in the area. My thanks to colleagues involved in the event, and congratulations to the students for representing us so brilliantly.


    The same afternoon the Year 8 and Year 9 netball teams had matches at Whitmore school and both managed convincing wins. More congratulations! Year 8 artists are in the picture above, who have created some amazing work on the theme of 'Movement'.


    Out PTA are organising a Quiz Night for 24th April. Tickets are available on Parentpay, so do please get a team together, and see you there!


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  • Expecto patronum!

    Published 28/02/20, by Chris Woolf

    GCSE Design students had a brilliant day at the Harry Potter Studio this week. They had a workshop using props and set models from the film that are not usually seen up close in this way: ‘I thought this was really cool’ remarked one student! They talked about how the design would influence their GCSE projects, as well as having an enjoyable day. Feedback from students was extremely positive, and other visitors to the studio let our teachers know how impressed they were with our young people. Inspiring Learning and Pinner High School Values in action at the same time!


    Footballers in Year 10 had a great result this week, progressing to the next round of the borough tournament. The table tennis team were also in action, and netballers have fixtures next week.


    I was pleased to welcome the Director of the New Schools Network to Pinner High this week. The New Schools Network provide invaluable support for new schools, and the Director came to hear about our success, and how that can be replicated elsewhere. I enjoyed showing her round, and look forward to continuing to work together. Our refurbishment work continues, with demolition work around the school cottage taking place over half term so we will be able to utilise the space for maximum benefit in due course. Scaffolding work and ‘internal strip out’ continues. Progress reports have been positive from B&K, who have kept things moving along during inclement weather. The final outcome will be really exciting.


    Local and international news, of course, has been dominated by one topic this week. That should not take away from the excellent trip the skiers had over half term. Feedback on their return was really positive, and many thanks to the staff for leading this group- our biggest one to date. The ski instructors specifically commented on the students’ enthusiasm and resilience on the mountain, two of our Pinner High Values. In challenging times our community can demonstrate its true strength, and I am particularly grateful to those who have gone out of their way to show that this week. It is noted and appreciated.


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  • Impeccable

    Published 14/02/20, by Chris Woolf

    Refurbishment work is well underway, as the fences around the school show. Many thanks for your patience with the disruption this causes. It is brilliant to have started! 

    Our Jack Petchey Award winners had their annual celebration at Watersmeet theatre in Rickmansworth this week. The awards recognise the contribution young people make to lots of organisations, and we are delighted to be part of the programme. All our winners decide how to spend £250 of grant money around our school. Here is more information about the programme:

    Over 40 students are preparing for our ski trip to Italy, leaving this weekend. We have run a ski trip every year the school has been open, and I know staff and students are very much looking forward to it. We are planning an even more exciting trip to ski in North America next year. Watch our for more details soon!

    Students in Year 9 have been impeccable during their Midterm exams this week. It is the first time they have had a full set of exams, one in every subject they study for GCSE. We run them as if they were GCSEs, and they have really stepped up to this challenge in a very impressive way.

    I am sure you will all be impressed with our London Junior Chess Champion in both U18 and U21 categories, despite being in Year 10. More details are on page 19 of the magazine below. Huge Congratulations!

    I hope you have an enjoyable and restful half term. School begins again on Tuesday 25th February, for a normal school day.


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  • Pride

    Published 07/02/20, by Chris Woolf

    Monday is the first day of our long awaited refurbishment at the school. The photo collection above shows a selection of rooms on the disused side of the school that are about to be significantly upgraded. Many of our Trailblazers have waited almost as long as I have for this, so we are all very excited to get it underway! The plans between now and completion in summer 2021, go through 3 phases designed to minimise disruption. As a result of this we are moving assemblies from the hall to the Pinnacle, as the hall is in the first phase of work. This is scheduled to be returned to us in September, ready for when our student numbers reach 900. Our last assembly in the main hall was an important one; celebrating LGBTQ+ month, and the inclusive school ethos noted as Stonewall Champions. With rainbow flags in each classroom as a sign we are committed to this, we had an informative presentation on appropriate use of language.


    The last few weeks have seen intensive activity to recruit additional colleagues for September. I have seen very strong fields for many posts. The advantage of a growing school is being able to predict in advance which posts will be required, and filling them early. A small number remain, and I would encourage you to pass the message on to anyone who you think might be interested in joining our ‘Outstanding’ team: My colleagues continue to set high standards, and our Investors in People Health and Wellbeing award and commitment to professional learning shows our dedication to raising this standard still further.


    Thinking of Outstanding teams reminds me of our brilliant Year 7 netballers, undefeated so far this year. Our indoor athletics team had another strong showing, as did our basketballers.  We also hope for strong showings from Year 9 in their Midterm exams next week. It is designed to give students an early insight into their performance so far in their GCSEs, and to help sign post them towards areas to develop still further.


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  • NACE

    Published 31/01/20, by Chris Woolf

    Another certificate for our wall this week, as members of the National Association for Able Children in Education. As well as the everyday challenge in lessons of a stretching curriculum, we have run two programmes for our Most Able, one in collaboration with St. John’s College Oxford, and the Brilliant Club as well. This certificate notes our ‘consistent commitment to provision for more able and talented pupils in school’. This will always be our focus, to ensure all our students are stretched and challenged in and out of lessons.


    In lessons, Year 10 are taking on board their examination feedback as the end of their GCSE courses start to get closer. At parents evening last night our Founding Head of Sixth Form spoke to large numbers of students and parents in different sessions about the exciting developments in this area. He is a self-confessed ‘UCAS nerd’ and I am delighted to welcome him to our team. He will be full time with us in July, well ahead of the Sixth Form opening in September 2021. Year 9 Midterm examinations get underway in the last week of this half term, giving them a good opportunity to show their progress since the start of their GCSE courses.


    Outside the classroom, Chinese New Year festivities were a great success last week, with bubble tea and Kung Fu the student highlights. Sports results included Year 7 Netballers beating Nower Hill 9-5. They are a formidable team who have won every game so far this year. Year 7 boys Footballers reached the semi-final of the Borough competition. They won their group but lost on penalties. Completing the round up from a busy week for Year 7, the girls Indoor Athletics came second in the borough with the boys coming in 3rd place. The Year 10 Badminton team won the Plate competition in the Borough. Congratulations to all involved.


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  • 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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