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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

  • Chair's guest Blog

    Published 21/10/21, by Chris Woolf

    Chair of Governors Dr. Ahmed is the guest contributor of this week's blog, to round up our first half term of the year:

    "I am delighted to write to you at the end of the first half term of the year to thank you for your support through these complex times. I also want to let you know what your Governors have been doing to support and challenge our school leaders over the last term.

     The term started with the brilliant news of truly outstanding GCSE results. To be 24% above the national average for grades 7-9 this year is astonishing, and our Trailblazers, parents and teachers have so much to celebrate. However, rest assured, the governors are not complacent. We are always challenging and scrutinising data during our Students, Standards and Achievements Committee, holding the school to account. I know the students are enjoying the new building, especially the students who remember where we began in 2016 in just one corridor!  The Governors certainly remember, and we are immensely proud to see the completed product. The photo is from 1939! Our Finance and Risk Committee have overseen this since before the school opened, with the school management team. The Governors know how hard the school has worked to achieve the finished product plus how patient and flexible our children have had to be.

    It was a real honour for the Governors to be recognised alongside the School in the Harrow’s Heroes nomination in September. As Chair during this continuing difficult period, I remember how the school's response to managing Covid in the first wave was described by public health as 'exemplary'; staff delivering laptops to children on new year eve; our school being open to children of frontline workers from several local schools during the holidays; the endless hours of work that went into teacher assessed grades and you may recall how the school opened in August to begin Covid testing so that term could begin on time for all our students.  The governors oversee that the school are continually monitoring and assessing the Covid risk. 

    The term has felt like a welcome return to some sense of normality: we have enjoyed seeing the Duke of Edinburgh expeditions take place again, Harrow’s Music Service is back in the school, renewed and expanded LAMDA provision is available, we’re a part of a new Artist in Residence programme, and we have a full calendar of sports fixtures. Governors also recently had their first in person meeting in school since March 2020 and had a tour of the school. All this while continuing to ensuring Covid safety.

    With all of these activities going on, perhaps it is no surprise that interest in our school is greater than ever. We are the most oversubscribed school in Harrow for the last two years! Of course, all this success requires the support of you as parents, and the school and governors are extremely grateful for this.

    We continue to support and challenge the school to ensure we continually improve and grow.  This is done via regular meetings plus subcommittee meetings. We also have link governors monitoring areas such as safeguarding and SEN.

    As a local GP I am especially interested in mental health support, and I was pleased to have the chance to talk to Year 10 and 11 parents this week about supporting young people’s mental health. I also spoke to staff at school about the same topic, and  how to prioritise their own wellbeing so they can continue to offer outstanding care to our students.   

    I hope you will have a restful break, and thank you again for all your support this term. Pinner High has a strong community, and my Governors and I are pleased to be involved in it."

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  • Busy week!

    Published 15/10/21, by Chris Woolf

    Students have been really busy this week, covering a great range of activities. This includes completing the Duke of Edinburgh Silver award in high numbers, which is so impressive as the Award is very challenging and highly prestigious.

    I am grateful to Barclays Bank, who provided an introduction to employment session with Year 11 this week. Our Year 12 Engineering Scholars Group took part in a national summit designed to explore ways engineers can help solve the climate crisis. The Tomorrow’s Engineers Week Schools COP Summit saw over 50 students from across the UK come together, coinciding with the UN Climate Change Conference taking place in Glasgow later in the month. Students heard from inspirational engineers at the forefront of reducing the effects of climate change and then held discussions hosted by broadcaster Fayon Dixon and former BBC presenter Susan Bookbinder that mirrored those being held at the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow. All students were given the opportunity to focus on areas of interest, such as protecting wildlife from the worst effects of climate change or motivating more young people to be more eco-conscious. They brainstormed ideas for how engineering can reduce the carbon footprint of the UK and how they can make an impact on reaching net zero themselves.

    A group of enthusiastic Year 10 students were able to participate in the Jack Petchey ‘Speak Out’ Challenge. The fantastic Emily Pollet hosted an onsite workshop about confident public speaking which allowed students to improve their literacy and oracy skills. Students spoke about a range of subjects very close to their hearts, which included aspirations to be a chess grand master, wanting to address homophobia and racism in British society, and why they would want to be a whisk if they had to be a kitchen utensil!  Five students will be competing in our school assembly to see who can move on to the regional finals early next year.

    Our History department has been working hard to ensure that the history of black and ethnic minority people has been interweaved into the historical narratives that we teach; recognising the importance of capturing our nation’s diverse past in our curriculum all year round.  October is Black History Month, which we wanted to use as a focal point to draw more attention to the contributions of black and minority ethnic people that have often been overlooked or neglected in history. The History team put together a selection of different key people and stories that we want to share with our students. At school we have also begun to hold diversity awareness meetings to open up the conversation and to amplify students’ voices.

    Our Year 11 CCF students are back working alongside John Lyon School students looking at propulsion systems.  Their task is to create an aerodynamic wheeled vehicle that will travel furthest when propelled by an electric firework!

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  • Harrow's Heroes!

    Published 01/10/21, by Chris Woolf

    The week began with the celebration of our nomination as ‘Harrow’s Heroes’. Harrows Heroes “celebrates the hard work, dedication and achievements of local people and teams who make Harrow a special place to live and work.” It is a great honour for our school and Governors to be acknowledged in this way. More details of the award scheme can be found here: Harrow's Heroes 2021 – Harrow's Heroes – Harrow Council

    Our first ‘Artist in residence’ event takes place this afternoon. We are delighted to be involved in this scheme, set up by Andria Zafirakou, 2018 Global Teacher Prize winner: About Andria - Artists in Residence. We will host Armando Alemdar who will be leading an oil painting workshop today. Our A Level art students will be involved, as well as all the trainee art teachers working with the Hillingdon School Centred Initial Teacher Training programme. This art programme is led by our Head of Art. Art is already a strength of the school, and I am excited to see how this continues to develop.

    We had other visitors this week, from the Amy Winehouse Foundation. They led a workshop for Sixth Formers on drug and alcohol awareness, with a focus on the pressures that young people go through such as self-esteem, fitting in, peer pressure, social media and body image. They heard a ‘life share’ from a speaker who had experienced drug and alcohol dependence and overcome this. Students were so engaged in this session and had lots of questions for the speakers about their life experiences. Brook also delivered a session on consent and healthy relationships. The focus of the session was on empowering students to recognise unhealthy relationships and to ensure that students feel empowered to stand up to any situations in their relationships where they do not feel comfortable.

    The image this week is from our Origami House event- a big contrast to House Tug of War, and great to see so many students involved.

    Our open events for Year 7 entry to the school in September 2022 take place next week. All six in person sessions are now fully booked, but if you know anyone interested in finding out about a Pinner High School education who has not been able to book a place, there are live Zoom presentations on Monday that they may be able to join. We also have a new school film available that gives a good insight into our school if you cannot be here in person: Pinner High School 2021. 

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  • Moon cakes!

    Published 24/09/21, by Chris Woolf

    It has been brilliant to have our first sports fixtures in over a year this week, with boys football teams in Years 9, 10 and 11 starting the season, and girls netball in full swing in Years 10 and 11. The results showed a really positive start, with plenty more to come, and brilliant to have so many students out representing the school.

    I was delighted to welcome back Elevate Education this week, who were leading some study and revision skills sessions for the whole of Year 10. Year 10 exams are fast approaching, so the additional boost to help them prepare seems to have gone down well with students.

    Our Mandarin team were celebrating Moon Festival in lessons this week. Moon cakes are a particular part of this festival, and particular thanks to Mr. Fang for travelling all the way to Chinatown to source the finest fare.  

    Continuing the food theme, we hosted a colleagues Macmillan coffee morning today. There are some star bakers in the staffroom, and funds raised for a really good cause.

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  • Aspiring Medics

    Published 17/09/21, by Chris Woolf

    This week we had the inaugural meeting of the Medic Society and an inspiring guest speaker, Dr Rao. Aspiring Year 12 Medic Aaron says ‘The Medic Society brings all the aspiring medics closer and broadens our horizons by introducing us to different medical specialities and career paths. It is led by Deputy Head of Sixth Form Ms Bruck who studied medicine at university herself, and she is helping us make sure we are on the right path with this journey. We are very grateful to Rupal Rao, Chief Cardiologist Physiologist at Northwick Park for visiting us and talking to us. We did an ECG and learnt how to calculate heart rate, as you can see in the photo! The Society also helps us to prepare for UCAT and BMAT to help us get into medical school.”

    Year 7 continue to settle in well. I enjoyed talking to families at our online welcome event this week. It was lovely to have so many families on the call. The Year 7 assembly today focused on talking about feelings and asking for help, through the metaphor of teachers and students holding out jugs of water. As the water is shared out, it lightens the load. An inspiring assembly!

    Although term is only 2 weeks old, it feels like the fun of school is much more a part of daily life; as well as the aspiring medics, inter-school fixtures begin next week with some Year 9 football matches, and really high levels of achievement points have been awarded across all years. Well done everyone.

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  • Welcome back!

    Published 10/09/21, by Chris Woolf

    It is brilliant to be back! This week saw the opening of our Sixth Form: the students are looking exceptionally smart. We had applications from 59 other schools as well as our own, and our Trailblazers continue to set the standards the rest of the school look up to. I know they have particularly enjoyed having a fully refurbished school, as they have seen us grow from a school on one corridor to a school of over 1,000 students and 150 colleagues. Our new Year 7s, our sixth intake, have had a really good start to the year and have certainly benefited from the week they spent with us in August in the summer school programme. As we are no longer in year group bubbles they know more about the school than some of our other year groups. This week, the talk of year 7 seems to be 7AY sharing news of their victory in the House Tug of War competition, and other Houses planning their comeback in the next House Event: origami. The ‘Brilliantly Black Project’, named by the students themselves, began for students in Year 11 with some inspiring success stories. There is plenty more to come in this, and all parts of Pinner High School. Exciting times!

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  • Chair of Governors

    Published 16/07/21, by Chris Woolf

    Our fabulous Chair of Governors, Dr. Andleeb Ahmed has taken over the blog this week for an end of year message to the community. News of the 'Go Ape' trip and other events will have to wait!

    Dr. Ahmed writes: "Thank you so much for your support for Pinner High School this year. It has been a very challenging year for so many of us, but on behalf of Governors, Trustees and parents, I want to take a moment to thank all the members of staff at Pinner High for looking after our children with such care and attention.

    I am very proud of how our children have responded to the difficulties we have all faced, and I know much of it is because Pinner High School staff consistently go above and beyond what any of our families could reasonably expect. Last year they kept the school open through three consecutive bank holidays for the children of keyworkers and vulnerable students. The leadership team were out delivering laptops to our families on new year’s eve so students would be prepared for the start of Distance Learning in January. Teaching and support staff have managed the transition in and out of Distance Learning, and I am so impressed with all they have done. They managed to create a Covid testing centre for students on-site to help keep our community safe. They have had to track and trace through evenings, weekends and holidays and they still continue to provide opportunities for our children where they possibly can. Alongside this, they have managed a complex multi-phase refurbishment programme, and the opening of what promises to be a first class Sixth Form.

    Our vision that Pinner High School expects and achieves the highest standards of and for every student has shone through during this time and I cannot thank the staff enough, but of course with distance learning I also want to thank our parents for supporting their children and our staff. Our community has always been a strength, and seeing everyone collaborate through this time has been wonderful to witness.

    On a personal note, as a NHS GP I have seen first hand the impact of COVID and lockdowns  on both children and those in the education sector. Please take the time to talk to your child about how they are feeling about the whole lockdown experience and concerns they may have for the future. I am instructing everyone who works and studies at Pinner High to take a break over the summer and I’d like to congratulate them all on everything they have managed to do during such a difficult time.

    I hope you all have a really good summer holiday."

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  • Rainforest T shirts

    Published 09/07/21, by Chris Woolf

    Magnificent rainforest T shirts this week from Year 8 as part of their ecosystems scheme of work. They were tasked with coming up with a unique design and slogan, which they did very impressively. Mr Smith, Head of Geography, was amazed with the standard of work. I found it very hard to select some winners from such a high standard of work from the whole class. The Geography department have been especially busy, and are pleased to take our Year 10 students on their GCSE Geography field trip next week. On a similar theme, I hope map reading skills will be on display by the students on the Silver Duke of Edinburgh expedition, which began today!

    The week began with an all staff training day in preparation for our Sixth Form opening in September. It was an inspiring day looking at the exciting future for our students and school. Our Sixth Form has the strongest foundations, and we can’t wait to bring it to life with our students. Our Trailblazing Sixth Formers will be supporting our inaugural summer school for our new Year 7 students. It is brilliant for us to have such role models to work with our younger students. 

    A Deep Learning Day took place on Tuesday; students responded very maturely to the sessions and in particular Year 9 students engaged very well with the session on everyday sexism led by the charity ‘Hope not Hate’. They analysed how various sources of media present men and women differently and considered ways of challenging this narrative. Students also considered the importance of issues such as the #metoo movement, gender equality and consent.

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  • Samba!

    Published 02/07/21, by Chris Woolf

    This week Year 7 had a brilliant activity evening on Thursday, and Year 9 were able to get back to their enrichment programme. It is great to get the buzz of Head’s Challenge to all year groups.

    Year 9 were working in their houses; Ali House were on the field doing Samba! The drums came out and the dance moves began with an amazing drumming / capoeira workshop. Competitive rounders was in full swing with Bannister House and our year-wide art project inspired some amazing images from Malala House. The students rotate each week so that every house will get their opportunity to try something new. It’s brilliant to see them out of the classroom and displaying the Pinner High School Values. The Values were certainly exhibited by Year 7 too who had an evening of games, activities, tent building and pizza. Huge thanks to all the colleagues involved in making all these events happen.

    The Year 8s who chose Philosophy Religion and Ethics (PRE) as a GCSE option for next year took part in an inter-faith conference this week. This was run virtually via zoom by Northwood College for Girls and gave students the opportunity to hear from and speak to members of world religions as well as hearing from a Humanist speaker for a non-religious viewpoint. They engaged in the debate really effectively.

    There is plenty more to come before the end of term, with each year group having a sports afternoon, and Year 10 having their team building activities now that they have successfully finished their examinations. We had a Duke of Edinburgh expedition last weekend and Year 12 even had their initial induction to Sixth Form life last week too. Well done everyone!

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  • Walk to school!

    Published 25/06/21, by Chris Woolf

    We are so proud of the diligence and commitment shown by our Year 7 and 8 students on the Mandarin Excellence Programme as they participate in a series of national Chinese exams. Only 76 schools across the country take part in this prestigious programme, and we are so impressed at the levels our students are reaching. We wish them all the best of luck as they show off what they have learned.  These tests present a fantastic opportunity for our students to familiarise themselves with the format and experience of taking GCSE in a lower stakes setting 3-4 years early!

    A few green fingered Year 10s volunteered to help improve the environmental quality of the school this week. Under the guidance of their teachers they learnt how to plant new flowers, construct a new flower bed and even clean up the school pond.  Mr. Smith commented that “The teamwork and positive attitude of the students was magnificent and the transformation in such a short time was nothing short of remarkable.“

    Next week is 'Walk to school week'. Please encourage your child to walk to school.  If they would usually travel by car, please encourage them to be dropped further from school to reduce congestion and pollution around the school.

    ‘Solutions not Sides’ came into school yesterday and hosted a workshop with some Year 9 students on the Israel/Palestine conflict. They hosted a Zoom call where students could speak to and ask questions of both Israeli and Palestinian people. The programme that they offer gives a critical approach to education on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, aiming to tackle Antisemitism, Islamophobia and polarisation around the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the UK. The programme has been formulated with the input of both Israelis and Palestinians as well as senior members of Jewish and Muslim communities, and is designed to prepare students to make a positive, solutions-focused contribution to debates on Israel-Palestine. More info is on their website: https://solutionsnotsides.co.uk/

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  • Stand Up

    Published 18/06/21, by Chris Woolf

     

    Another very positive week at Pinner High School, with highlights including Mandarin Excellence, refugee week activities, anti-discrimination workshops and a Careers Talk series.

    We are so proud of the diligence and commitment shown by our Year 7 and 8 students on the Mandarin Excellence Programme as they participate in a series of national Chinese exams. We wish our students all the best of luck as they show off what they have learned.  These tests present a fantastic opportunity for our students to familiarise themselves with the format and experience of taking GCSE, in a lower stakes setting. Last year, the hurdle tests were cancelled due to distance learning in the summer term, so this is the first time that our students have been able to benefit from this valuable experience. We are so proud of all that the students are achieving, and look forward to celebrating with them! 

    National Refugee Week activities focused on learning about isolation, highlighting inclusion and making connections on the theme of ‘we cannot walk alone’. It leads in really well to Diversity week, the theme of assemblies next week. The anti-discrimination charity ‘Stand Up’ have been at Pinner High in the last few days leading anti-discrimination workshops with all of Year 9 in their Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (PRE) classes. Their website is https://www.standupeducation.org/ if you would like to find out more.

    During the last two weeks our Founding Head of Sixth Form, Mr Stump, has hosted four online Careers Q&A sessions with inspirational women working within STEM:  Dr Hannah Thompson shared her experiences of working in cancer research; Noemi Gyori gave us a taste of what its like to study for a doctorate in Computer Science; Lucy Eckersley – from the Royal Veterinary College – inspires us with how passion for animals helped her overcome social anxiety. Last but not least, Dr Ruth Faram proved that you don’t always have to get things right first time to achieve your goals.  Dr Faram failed her A Levels first time around, but her perseverance and passion for science saw her graduate from UCL before undertaking a doctorate at Oxford. Dr Faram is now the Head of Research and Development at 'Higher Steaks' and is a trailblazer in the world of laboratory-cultivated meat products. The talks were live but we will share the recordings in due course. If you or someone you know would be interested in speaking to our fabulous students, please complete the form here: https://forms.gle/C7933QdZ7y45qbhL7 Thank you in advance.

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  • A great week!

    Published 11/06/21, by Chris Woolf

    This has been the most ‘Pinner High School’ week in a long time. Team building activities, academic enrichment, Head’s Challenge events, student led initiatives and sports clubs all featured for our students, and was brilliant to see them embracing the opportunities available to them. And more new spaces open in Computer Science!

    Years 7, 8 and 9 were all out on the field for a full day each of team building activities led by ‘Wise Up’. They provide a range of different tasks that required diverse skills, and the students rose to the challenge together really successfully. One student summed their day up as ‘really tough and mind bendy, but really great!’

    I am very grateful to Bridget from the ‘Meat Like it Used to Be’ butcher in Pinner for coming to school to demonstrate how to properly joint a chicken, and donating one to each student in the Year 9 Food Technology class so they could do it themselves. This was extremely generous, and I am very grateful for her time and effort- and the chickens! Students were utterly absorbed in the process and made real progress. Thanks to Mrs Stephenson for organising it all.

    Colleagues in the English department are running a Poetry competition for Year 7 and Year 8. More details are here: Foyle Young Poets – of the Year Award The poem can be any length and any theme. The deadline is Thursday 29th July and the students can submit their poems via dedicated Google Classrooms. The winner will be announced in October! The Google Classroom codes are here: Year 7 code: lzdycd7 Year 8 code: f2zugkb

    In the last week I was pleased to be approached by two student groups hoping to launch new initiatives, Year 10 led Wellbeing Wednesdays looking at different ways of offering support for each other, and Year 9 students looking to start an Aspiring Activists group. I watch both with interest, and am grateful to my colleagues providing the support to help this happen.

    The same colleagues are able to provide 19 sports activities every week, running outside the Head’s Challenge activities which started coming back last half term, and gradually continue to do so over the next few weeks. It was brilliant to have our Silver Duke of Edinburgh participants training this week before their forthcoming adventurous journey, and plans coming together for an onsite Year 7 camp.

    And in the background, 1505 Teacher assessed GCSE grades being moderated and processed, and the Year 11 Leavers Celebration assembly on Monday. It could be a lump in the throat moment after 5 Trailblazing years!

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