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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

  • High Five

    Published 21/01/22, by Chris Woolf

    Students represented the schooI in five different sports this week: basketball, football, netball, badminton and cross country. The Year 7 netballers are unbeaten in the competition so far, and several members of the cross country team will be invited to join the county team on the strength of the competition this week, hosted at Harrow School. More important than the results are the opportunities this provides our students, and I am very grateful to everyone involved in this, students, colleagues, parents and volunteers at our school and others. It is always appreciated.

    St. John's College at the University of Oxford hosted our Year 10 English students this week. They had a tour of the Ashmolean Museum, the Bodleian library and an interview skills session with an admissions tutor. Many thanks to St. John's for being so welcoming, and accommodating our Scientists last week as well. Our school motto is 'Inspiring Learning' and students certainly returned inspired by what they had seen.

    Our student leadership positions have been shared with students this week, with an opportunity for all year groups to be involved in student government. We will also be electing our very first Head Students. Now that our Trailblazers have reached Year 12 they are ready to take on these additional responsibilities. Candidates have to be part of student government, and will then be interviewed for the posts by me, Mr. Stump our Head of Sixth Form, and a member of the Governing Body. I remember talking to Year 7 in 2016 about appointing our first Head Students in 2022. I don't know where the time has gone and it is exciting have such high levels of interest in these posts. More details are on the dedicated Google Classroom page!

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  • Oxford Visit

    Published 14/01/22, by Chris Woolf

    St. John's College, University of Oxford was the destination for a group of Year 10 students on Monday who found out more about what it would be like to study Chemistry at university. The student report on the trip reads: "Firstly, we took part in a session which discussed the history of the university, and the other things that you can get involved in whilst studying there such as extra-curricular activities, volunteering, and research. After this, we took part in a Chemistry workshop where we had to use our problem solving skills to solve a mystery and work out how someone had been poisoned. We then had lunch in the college dining hall before going to the Ashmolean Museum, where we viewed famous pieces of art from around the world. Finally, we took part in another workshop at the university where we had to combine our scientific skills with critical thinking skills to come up with solutions to help stop climate change. The trip was a fantastic way to learn about what it is like to study at university, and we would like to thank everyone at St John's College who worked with us throughout the day."

    Year 11 students have been doing their Spanish and Mandarin Speaking exams all week.  This has given them the valuable experience of speaking one to one under test conditions. They have risen to the challenge really impressively. A group of Year 11s had a valuable session with the Reach Society co-founder and Chairman Dr. Neil OBE and Dr. Adams. More details of the Reach Society are available here: I am delighted our young people have the benefit of working with them.

    You will see another certificate in the image this week; thanks to the North West London Health and Care partnership for supporting us to be an asthma friendly school.

    Our House Event this week for Years 7-9  was preparation for the Spanish Spelling Bee. Next week we will crown our MFL Spelling Bee Champions!

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  • Happy New Year!

    Published 07/01/22, by Chris Woolf

    Happy New Year! It is so lovely to have students back in school this week. They have settled back in really quickly, and it is brilliant to see them immediately approach their learning so positively.

    Year 12 have been focussed on their mid-year exams this week, and like the Year 11s in their mock GCSEs before the holiday, they have impressed everyone with their dedication and resilience through what is undoubtedly a challenging experience. Of course, those are Pinner High School Values, so this should come as no surprise!

    Creativity and collaboration are also Pinner High School Values, as exhibited in the attached new display for the International Peace Poster Prize, sponsored by the Hatch End Lions Club. They are also shown by the 53 students across the school who are involved in our LAMDA programme. 33 students recently received their results, with over three quarters of them at the highest 'Distinction' level. LAMDA is the 'gold standard' performance examination, so this really is an astonishing achievement. Many many congratulations to all the students involved on this stellar achievement. There are just a couple of places remaining on the LAMDA programme this term. Please do contact us if your child would like to be a part of this. Students report a positive impact on their confidence and enthusiasm: also Pinner Values!

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  • Season's Greetings

    Published 03/12/21, by Chris Woolf

    Year 11 students are approaching their mock GCSE exams in a very impressive manner. They are now almost half way through, and are doing such a great job. It is a challenging time, and it is lovely to see them responding so well.

    Different challenges will await the World Challenge team who are planning their trip to Borneo in the summer of 2023. They are working hard to raise the funds they will need to make this happen. Students are making really good progress with their individual totals which is really impressive.

    Van Arthur florists in North Harrow have very kindly donated the Christmas tree to us, that you can see in the image this week. Our Sixth Formers decorated it this morning. Particular thanks to Van Arthur for their generosity: Van Arthur Florist London - Order Online or 0203 583 3084

    The festive theme continues with our Christmas lunch on Wednesday this week, and Year 8s who are decorating their form rooms in a festive style. Christmas jumper day is being organised by Sixth Formers this year, to raise money for Save the Children on Friday 10th December, our last day of term.

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  • Inspiring Learning

    Published 26/11/21, by Chris Woolf

    We know ‘Inspiring Learning’, our school motto, does not stop at the classroom door or even the school gate. It is lovely to have students out on trips for the last 3 consecutive weeks. Trips for students in Science and Geography over the last couple of weeks, and this week a theatre trip and students taking part in the InterClimate Network summit at Northwood College, as featured in the image this week. This event took place during our Sixth Form led Eco week. This featured assemblies about how we can all make a difference to our environment, including the initiative that won us a Kick-start award from the Mayor of London.

    Here is a student reflection on the Year 10 Science event last week: “The Emmanuel Centre in Westminster hosted a group of 20 Year 10 students at their lectures about the new, evolving branches of science. The first speaker talked about material science and how it helped her swim across the English Channel. The second speaker enlightened us about DNA mutations and the next lecturer talked about the drastic changes that will take place in our everyday diet due to the increasing population. The penultimate scientist informed us about how animals survived in the twilight zone using waves. Our final speaker was (in my opinion) the best. He demonstrated how to break blocks of wood using simple physics. He was hilarious and the most entertaining. Overall, I really enjoyed the trip as I learnt about new things.” Trip Leaders have commented on how brilliant the students have been at embracing the opportunities available to them.

    A different opportunity was available to Year 12 Maths students, who took part in the UKMT Senior Mathematical Challenge. This is a 90-minute, multiple-choice maths challenge. It encourages mathematical reasoning, precision of thought, and fluency in using basic mathematical techniques to solve interesting problems. Congratulations to all 16 medallists- an amazing achievement- and Tanmay who won Gold!

    Congratulations also to our Year 9 boys Badminton team who reached the final of the Harrow Cup.

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  • Prize winners!

    Published 12/11/21, by Chris Woolf

    The Sixth Form students awarded the Climate Kick-start Prize last week have been busy planning the project. They want to use the funds to create an ‘eco bike shelter’ to accommodate the additional bikes that will result from their campaign to get more students cycling to school. News of their success reached the Evening Standard and Harrow Times, as well as ITV news, and they were congratulated by local counsellors this week, as well as the Mayor of London last week. The official photographs have now arrived, which feature in the blog this week. A film about our project is on the Mayor's Youtube channel: Climate Kick-Start Prizewinner, Pinner High School - YouTube It is an exciting time, and an important moment to focus on Climate change. The students asked me to sign up to become a carbon-neutral school by 2030, which I have done here: UK Climate Change • Let's Go Zero ( we are already working on this target.

    Our student poets will be representing the school as winners of the Harrow Mayor’s Poetry Competition. They have been invited to attend the Mayor’s Remembrance Sunday commemoration where they will read their winning entry as part of the service. Many congratulations.

    Our Sixth form open events have been very well attended over the last couple of weeks, both in person and online. Last year we had applications from 59 different schools to join our Trailblazers in the Sixth Form. Last week we received the total applications for Year 7 places, which have risen for the seventh consecutive year. We have been the most oversubscribed school in Harrow since 2020. This is due to the brilliant students and colleagues at the school, and the strong level of parental support we are lucky to enjoy- thank you so much.

    And as is now becoming customary, some sporting success with which to end: Badminton success for the Year 9 boys, who progress to the next round of the borough championships. Congratulations!

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  • Tallest tower

    Published 04/11/21, by Chris Woolf

    A particularly action packed round up of a Pinner High School education this week!

    Anti-discrimination charity ‘Stand up’ were in school again for their second workshop with Year 9 Philosophy, Religion and Ethics classes for a workshop on anti-discrimination, in particular looking at Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. They also led an assembly for Year 12 as part of their ‘And beyond’ programme on fake news and discrimination which students responded very positively to, as always.

    Just before half term in our Deep Learning Day each year group spent time focusing on specific topics. Year 7 looked at eSafety, where they learnt about how to use the internet responsibly and protect themselves online. Year 8 focused on fake news, looking at examples of this, considered how to spot fake news and also made their own news articles, using their new skills to spot which articles were real and which were fake. Year 9 had sessions on drugs and alcohol awareness. A particular highlight from this was externally led workshops on county lines and a talk on alcohol and drugs awareness from the Amy Winehouse Foundation. Both facilitators commented on how fantastic the students were in these sessions and the maturity of the questions students asked. Years 10 and 11 investigated aspects of the ‘Prevent’ programme, and considered what the causal factors behind extremism are as well as what can be done to challenge extremism. They looked at current examples and had opportunities for debates and discussions.

    A group of Year 10 students took part in a training day last week to become Wellbeing Ambassadors for Pinner High School. They worked with two trainers, who helped them to develop a number of skills and learn how they can support students in all year groups. After half term, they will begin their work as Wellbeing Ambassadors by delivering assemblies to each year group to introduce themselves. The trainers were so impressed with our students that they wrote to me the day after the training sessions to say what fantastic ambassadors we have, the first time they had every felt compelled to do so in all their years of training.

    The English Department recently promoted The Remembrance Sunday Mayor’s Poetry Competition, run by Harrow Council to our Year 9 students. The entries we received were beautifully written and not only did they show the brutal devastation of war, but they also commemorate the brave people who fought for our country. 6 students have been shortlisted, and the winner will be invited to attend the Remembrance Sunday ceremony with their family and read their poem after the period of silence.

    The House event was a combined Year 7-9 event this week. Students had to create freestanding towers using only newspaper and 3cm pieces of sellotape. There were some interesting designs and impressive ‘tallest’ structures- as in the image this week.

    And as well as all this, this week the Year 8 boys football team won their second game at home!

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  • 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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