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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.

 

October 2020

  • Black history celebration

    Published 21/10/20, by Chris Woolf

    The blog this week is guest edited by Miss Bloss, Head of History, who led our reflections on Black Lives Matter, and Black History Month.

    This year we chose to focus on the Notting Hill Carnival for a month long celebration of Black History. This has enabled students to connect with Black History in their own city and provided an opportunity to honour and understand this historic and inspirational annual carnival.

    Our celebration began by focusing on the history of the Notting Hill Carnival. Our students learnt that the carnival was set up in order to show case, promote and honour Caribbean and African achievements. Prior to this Notting Hill area had been subjected to riots and tension. In order to help educate the wider community and provide a platform for the black community living in Notting Hill. Claudia Jones and others started the Carnival in 1959. This is an important message we wanted our Pinner High School community to understand - it is still crucial to provide a platform today to show case black culture and history.

    Our students have learnt how Carnival has changed over time to grow and build into a weekend celebration. In collaboration with the Drama and Music departments, we have been able to highlight to our students how Carnival has been revolutionary in performance, creating stages and show casing a variety of musical styles. Miss Sims, Head of Drama and Enrichment, highlighted to our students why “the Notting Hill Carnival is the most wonderful celebration of diversity. It’s a festival that shows that through adversity comes creation, that art will always carry on and that differences only make us stronger.”

    Mr McCormick, Teacher of Music, was involved in teaching a selection of Year 9 pupils Samba as a part of our celebrations. He stated “I have always been inspired by the words of Nina Simone – ‘I had spent many years pursuing excellence, because that is what classical music is all about... Now it was dedicated to freedom, and that was far more important’. The initial idea behind this contribution was to recreate a school wide parade in honour and celebration of the Notting Hill Carnival. However we were unfortunately unable to do this due to the obvious restrictions imposed by social distancing. We instead opted to have our miniature performance presented by the Year 9 House Captains whilst featuring a Year 7 DJ ”.  One of our performers commented “Even though COVID- 19 forced the Notting Hill Carnival to be cancelled, at Pinner High school we are doing all our best to honour the Black Lives Matter movement this year through the celebration of Black History Month”.

    This celebration has been enjoyed immensely by our students and staff.  One Year 9 student said “I have found Black History Month this year extremely useful and I’ve learnt about an area of history I have never studied.” Equally, Mrs Hindmarsh, one our Deputy Heads also found the celebrations insightful. “It has been wonderful to walk around at form time and see each of the year groups learning about Black History Month. The discussion with pupils has been both thought provoking and hopeful. We celebrate this every year, but this year seemed particularly important”.

    This is an important area to continue to study and develop. After discussing the importance of studied black history with two Year 10s both agreed “black history is part our history and the roots of England. It should be taught and should not be ignored due to how historical significant it is”.  As a history department we have continued to further diversify our curriculum to now cover an even wider range of histories from around the world. Black History will remain a strong and central part of our school curriculum beyond Black History month. Mr Mason in our history department, summed it up really well: “Studying 'black history' properly means going above just learning about the periods of black and BME struggle throughout time, but embracing the undeniable role black people have taken in shaping the history and culture of our nation. 'Black history' is all of our history”.

    In the aftermath of the death of George Floyd we created this website as a hub of resources: https://sites.google.com/pinnerhighschool.org/phsblacklivesmatter/home

    It remains available if anyone would like to find out more.

    My particular thanks to Miss Bloss for her leadership and the whole community for their support. The student who created the Black Lives Matter inspired art work that accompanies this blog noted: "My choice of images were of the different emotions that are held amongst people during the Black Lives Matter movement. These are: happiness, loneliness, sorrow and anger. The string interlinks all these emotions for one cause."

    The Pinner High School Values demand that we continue to respond; there is plenty more to do but it has been a very positive start.

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  • Positive report

    Published 16/10/20, by Chris Woolf

    You will have seen from my update during the week that our refurbishment programme is moving to the next phase after half term. The new spaces are looking fabulous and I am really excited that we can soon share them with students. The highlight for me is the Science labs, which are absolutely first class spaces. I know the Science team are as excited as I am. More disappointingly I have to move out of my office whilst the next phase of refurbishment takes place, which I am less excited about! Please do check the website link I sent though earlier in the week, as we have changed some start times to maximise learning over the next half term: https://sites.google.com/pinnerhighschool.org/newfornovember/home These changes come into effect from 2nd November.

    I am pleased to report more Jack Petchey Award winners over the last few weeks. This is an award scheme that asks winners to identify projects on which to spend £250 of Jack Petchey Foundation money around the school. Students vote for the winners themselves, and this brilliant scheme has supported different departments and activities in our community. Congratulations to all involved.

    You may know that nominations for Parent Governor closed this week. We had 11 applications for 2 posts and you will receive details of all the parents who have put themselves forward shortly. You will then need to vote for your preferred candidate. Our Chair of Governors, Dr. Ahmed, will be in touch with arrangements next week.

    It is application season for Year 7 places for next year, as you will know. We already have 500 applications to join us next September, over 100 more than the same time last year which resulted in us being the most oversubscribed school in Harrow. If you know someone who wants to find out more about our school please do direct them towards our Youtube channel or school website where you will find our school films. We will premiere our Sixth Form film on 10th November.

    Every year we have a rigorous external health and safety audit. This year amongst many other things they reviewed our Covid procedures. This is an internal document, but given the difficulties reported in the news with a rising rate in this area, I thought it would be of interest to you to see that: “As part of the audit process a summary review of Covid-19 procedures was carried out. There are good arrangements in place which were observed to being followed during the audit. Covid-19 arrangements are a standing agenda item at SLT meetings. There is a regularly reviewed and updated risk assessment, staggered start / finish times, good separation of bubbles with separate canteens and break space, well-spaced classroom layouts and an enhanced cleaning regime with a day cleaner. Good procedures were observed in PE and D&T particularly around sharing resources. Checks have been made of cleaning and catering contractor regarding their arrangements for managing the situation as well. There is good support for staff with individual risk assessments completed for all staff where needed and risk assessments have also completed for higher risk areas such as site, IT and medical. Visors are provided to any staff member who wants one and wellbeing forms have been sent to staff so they can raise any concerns.”

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  • The Governors Blog

    Published 09/10/20, by Chris Woolf

    My name is Andleeb Ahmed, and I am the Chair of Governors at Pinner High School. As we have Parent Governor vacancies at the moment I thought it would be a good idea to write to everyone about the Governing Body and the work we do. This might be of use if you are considering putting yourself forward to join us, and even if you are not it is important to know what is going on behind the scenes at your child’s school.

    Governors are all volunteers who want to support the successful growth and development of the school. I am a local GP- all our Governors have day jobs, and most of us do not have a background in education. When the school first opened we had more Governors from local schools to help steer our development. Once we had appointed a Headteacher and the school was clearly on the right track, the Governing Body has evolved to include a more diverse skill set, but still involves some experienced school leaders. More details of the current Governors are on our website: https://www.pinnerhighschool.org/page/?title=Governance&pid=11 I have learnt so much from being a Governor at Pinner High School and enjoy the dialogue around school improvement and development. Interacting with the pupils via ‘student voice’ is my favourite part of being Governor . My background in the NHS and public service is useful in helping me understand some of the issues in education, but we welcome a diverse set of skills and backgrounds to enrich our Governing Body even further.

    Highlights for me of the last few years include the ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted judgement. Having been a Governor since before the school opened and seeing the journey first hand, it was an emotional moment and a few tears were shed! We were also delighted to learn the school is the most oversubscribed in Harrow. Our local schools are so strong and so supportive that to be competing with them so soon is such a good sign.

    We know the last few months have been challenging for everyone. The role of Governors is to support and challenge the Headteacher and the leadership team and we are particularly keen to provide support through the present time. We are proud of the contribution the school has made to the local community particularly in the last few months; making masks for frontline workers; hosting 3 other local schools on site; donating all their PPE to local healthcare providers; and still providing support for key workers in school and everyone else at a distance. As well as this, we are firmly behind the school’s proactive approach to emphasise Black Lives Matter. We recruited the current Headteacher to lead ‘an inclusive school for the whole community’ and this remains the case; to join our Governing Body you also need to be supportive of this position. We welcome new ideas and diversity, but given the school’s shortlisting for the TES Secondary school of the year award and many other positive indicators, we are not looking to steer a radically different course as we must be doing something right!

    Other than recruiting senior staff, I am sometimes asked what we do. We meet several times a year in different committees and groups to talk to the school leadership team. They report a range of information to us, and we interrogate that data carefully to look at trends and indicators about what it tells us about our children, and any advice we share as a result. In ‘normal’ circumstances we like to visit the school and see it all at work. Sometimes it is easier to talk about what we don’t do. We don’t run the school. We leave that to the leadership team. I remind Governors from time to time that we are ‘eyes on, hands off’.  

    Being a Governor is very enjoyable. It enables parents to have a voice in the development of our school and to help shape its continuing success. What could be more important than that for our children?

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  • Inspiring Learning

    Published 02/10/20, by Chris Woolf

    Year 7 are the guest editors of the blog this week, with their reflections on joining Pinner High School. As our open event film is on Facebook premiere at 7pm this Thursday 8th October it is a good moment to hear their views on starting a new school. We are now the most oversubscribed school in Harrow, so it is good to hear they have settled in so well. 

    Smiling faces

    During the summer holidays I was very nervous, I was so nervous that every time I thought of a new school there was a chill down my spine. When I arrived at school I was greeted by many smiling faces, so felt welcome from the moment I was in the front gate. In class my teacher explained to us what was going to happen and the daily schedule. Everyone was kind so I was able to make some new friends straight away. By the end of the day I was smiling to myself as I walked out of the building! If there is any advice I could give to people nervous to go to secondary school is to remember that everyone is in the same boat. I have only been at Pinner High School for a few weeks, but I could not feel happier.

    Sasha 7MY

    Fun!

    Life as a Year 7… You have teachers, homework and classmates. That’s quite normal.  But there is something unique about Year 7 that not many people realise – it is really fun! The teachers are very good and well educated, and the homework is very helpful and well explained via websites and demonstrations. The breaks are well timed, and it is a very COVID safe environment to be in. Pinner High School is a very kind and nice environment. I like it a lot.

    Vir 7MX

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