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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

  • 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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  • 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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