Some years ago, there were suggestions that we should move to a much more regular pattern of terms, with six terms of either six or seven weeks, the academic year starting in mid-August and a two-week break in late October. There are all sorts of advantages to this - public exams in April would mean Year 13 could apply for university after receiving results (and public exams would be away from the hayfever season), and we would avoid having such different length of terms as we do now. Essentially, we are still using a system set up to allow school children to help with the harvest before starting their academic year.
However logical and practical a six-term year might sound, there is something nice about having a bit of variety in our over-organised calendars, and having to adjust each year to when the first full moon is after the clocks change in March is no great hardship.
When it does finally get here, I hope everyone has a well-deserved break at Easter and returns on Monday 16 April refreshed and ready for another exciting term!
- School Improvement Plan Half Year Review
- Chromebook Roll Out
- Mobile Phone Use
- Dynamic Classrooms
- KS5 Pastoral Review
- Student Leadership Posts
- Chair of Governors Report
- Health & Safety on or near the School Site
- Berkhamsted Bus to AHS/AGS
- Uniform Fitting & Sales
- 60th Birthday - Save the Date!
- Year 13 Information
- Public Examinations and Testing
- Alumnae Invitation to AHS/AGS Joint Leavers’ Reunion
- AHS Alumnae Newsletter
- Our AHS Alumnae First ‘Women Who Inspire’
- GDPR and Our AHS Alumnae ‘Opting In’
- Building A Brighter Future
School Improvement Plan Half Year Review
Teaching & Learning
We have been working towards improving our marking, assessment and feedback to students this year. Staff have been trying new initiatives such as whole group feedback sheets that enable the teacher to easily share exemplar responses via visualizers and recording verbal feedback on software such as 'Kaizena', which is particularly helpful with pronunciation in Modern Foreign Languages.
We are keen to reduce the workload of our teaching staff whilst still ensuring our students know how they are doing, and how they can progress. This goes hand in hand with our objective to ensure that the homework set is relevant.
In this Newsletter (see the Dynamic Classroom article below) and the previous one, we have provided updates on the Creative Learning Projects that staff have been participating in, to look for new ways to engage our students. We will update you on the third project at the end of May.
Teaching staff continue to amend schemes of work and prepare new resources, making excellent use of Google Classroom, to adjust to new GCSE and GCE specifications and examinations. We are not quite through all the changes yet, as both Politics and Mathematics A Levels have first examinations in summer 2019 and Business Studies and Textiles GCSEs will continue to use the old currency of A* - E for another 12 months.
The use of devices such as Chromebooks will continue to provide us with an opportunity to create new ways of learning and we are grateful to the staff and students who have worked on the pilot initiative this term.
Our aim of finding new ways to improve how we best support our students and how we can encourage them to support one another gained positive recognition from our Student Voice earlier in the year but we will continue to enhance our support systems . You will read below that we have been busy recruiting new student leaders who will enhance our current peer mentoring and support to curriculum areas, in addition to running clubs to promote diversity and inclusion. Finally, as well as gaining a Gold Award for our Young Carers Group earlier this term, we have now also become a Stonewall Champion School.
Plans are being drawn up to update the Mathematics and Geography classrooms within the Tower Block. It will be subject to funding and being able to schedule the work either this summer or next. The project will provide up to date and engaging classrooms with better storage areas for students to place their belongings. We are also pleased to confirm that our retro science lab (S17) will start to be upgraded from April. Finally, work will take place over the Easter holiday to upgrade our IT infrastructure (wifi and cabled networks) to ensure that we have a reliable and effective service.
The Aylesbury Vale Teaching Partnership has continued to work with other primary and secondary colleagues by establishing successful courses in the areas of swimming, leadership and mental well-being. Interviews have recently taken place to recruit more Specialist Leaders in Education, from schools across Buckinghamshire, with the aim of continuing to find opportunities for school to school support.
Our Governing Body meetings and committee meetings have also been reconfigured to ensure that the governors can improve their effectiveness in challenging and supporting the strategic development of the school.
Mrs Nette Hamnett, Deputy Headteacher
Chromebook Roll Out
The purchase window for the first round of our Chromebook roll out (for Year 7 and Year 8 students) has now closed and we have been delighted with the uptake from parents. 97% (and rising) of Year 7 and Year 8 students will have their own Chromebook on 16 April and we will have a busy day ensuring the devices get to those students!
Meanwhile, at school, we are busy making sure that our Year 7 and 8 lessons in the Summer Term take into account the use of the new devices and Subject Team Leaders are working with their teams to incorporate the use of technology into lessons to enhance the learning of our students. We are very excited about the opportunities this offers us in terms of teaching and learning.
The pilot with 8H and 8M has been very successful and the girls have really enjoyed using their Chromebooks. Some of our Year 8 students were even invited to BETT (the UK's annual educational technology exhibition which involves 850 leading companies, 103 new edtech start ups and over 34,700 attendees with 131 countries represented) to present to the public on one of the stalls there. Our students were able to demonstrate the way they are working in lessons, for example, demonstrating their digital exercise books.
The next roll out will be open to current Year 9s and Year 6 students who will be joining us in September. We are finalising the details for these students and will send further communications in April, along with information for Years 10-12 regarding the ability to bring their own devices to school from September.
Mrs Caroline Wilkes, Assistant Headteacher
AHS students practising their presentations at BETT, London
Mobile Phone Use from September
At the moment students are allowed to use mobile phones during the last part of lunchtime. From September, students will not need to use their phones, for example at lunchtime, in the way they may do at present, and we do want to avoid an environment where everyone is engrossed in their phone rather than talking to each other!
We will be working with students on the details, including the position with Sixth Form private study lessons, and will be consulting with Student Voice after Easter to come up with workable guidelines for the use of both mobile phones and devices.
This year I am leading a school-wide project on a method of teaching called ‘Dynamic Classrooms.’
In this model the physical construction of the classroom is split into four sections; the terminal area, the quiet study area, the robust play area and the small group teaching area, where students are guided by a target card to complete tasks suited to their own personal learning needs.
Teachers from different curriculum areas are involved in the project and have come up with different ways of using this method to suit their different subject areas. This term I have delivered a session at the MK and Bucks. PE conference to promote its use across the County.
After the first term of its use in PE GCSE Theory lessons, I conducted a student survey. 95% of students felt they were responsible for their own learning in GCSE PE all or some of the time, with 80% of students enjoying using the dynamic classroom approach to assist learning most or all of the time.
Some comments from the survey include ‘I think it’s a very good method, as there is a variety of activities which incorporate learning,’ ‘It’s better moving around and doing different activities rather than just writing’ and ‘I think the dynamic approach to the classroom is a good way of consolidating learning because there are many different ways to approach the task and so provide a wide range of techniques we can use inside and outside of the classroom’.
In the Summer Term we will be holding an Open Door week, when all staff will be encouraged to try something new in their lessons.
Miss Kirsty Hunter, Teacher of PE
KS5 Pastoral Review
A review of the pastoral provision in KS5 took place at the start of this term. As part of this process we gathered information from students and staff that work within the Sixth Form team through form time observations, questionnaires, assemblies and focus groups. The students responded positively to the majority of themes explored and the list below highlights the main strengths that they identified.
A high majority of students stated that;
- They are well supported and kept informed by their tutor and Head of Year
- They feel safe at school
- They know who to approach if they need support
- Staff and students respect each others differences
- AHS is inclusive and that students are treated equally
- They are able to approach teachers for help and guidance
- Google classroom has been beneficial for enabling them to collaborate with teachers/peers
- Our dress code is fit for purpose
- They are motivated to do their best
We are going to spend some time further investigating the following areas that students and staff felt could be improved;
- Opportunities for Sixth Form to raise themes in addition to discussing allocated topics in 'Student Voice
- The timing of our traditional 'November Tests' for Year 12 based on the fact we have moved to two year linear courses and the best timing for sharing 'UCAS predicted grades'
- Optimisation of the space in the Sixth Form Study Centre
- Improving our L4L Programme for Year 12
- Student Leadership roles and time of office
- Student punctuality to registration and lessons
In the next Newsletter, I will summarise the findings of the Modern Foreign Language Review that took place in the lead up to the Easter break.
Mrs Nette Hamnett, Deputy Headteacher
Student Leadership Posts
The past half term has been very busy with the launch of Student Leadership roles to the current Year 12 students. Initially, they had the opportunity to put themselves forward for Cabinet roles - the Head Girl and four Deputies. Following their self-nominations, 12 students went forward to Cabinet Hustings and had to speak in front of their peers about how they would improve life for students at AHS. Congratulations go to our new Head Girl, Sam Burt, and our four Deputy Head Girls, Mollie Baars, Yasmin Bali, Alina Khan and Hannah Stephenson who take over when the current Cabinet leave in May.
After the Cabinet roles had been decided, students could self-nominate for one of the other leadership roles: House Captain, Student Ambassador or Subject Ambassador. House Captains have taken part in House Hustings this week and Student Ambassadors have had a task and group interview from Mrs Hamnett and Mrs Westcott. Our successful students are shown below.
The final Subject Ambassador roles will be announced after Easter to give Subject Team Leaders a chance to make decisions on the students who have applied for a leadership role in their subject area.
Student Ambassadors: Sarah Piascik (lead Student Ambassador), Katie Arber, Summia Hussain, Iman Jaffar, Joy Kamugisha, Martha Nirmalan, Dunmi Okude, Alanna Webb, Naomi Williams and Pixie Woodus.
Chair of Governors Report
As we approach the holidays I thought I’d give you an update on what the Governors have been up to and what’s been keeping us busy.
Following on from the December '17 appointment of four new Parent Governors,
I’m delighted to report that Alison Pexton (Development Director) has agreed to join the Governing Body as our third Staff Governor. Importantly, this means that we now have a full complement of Staff, Parent, Community and Co-opted Governors.
We have also updated the Governor page on the school website. This now includes links to the dates of the Full Governing Body meetings, Terms of Reference for each sub-committee (Resources, Personnel and Teaching & Learning) and full details of Governor committee membership as well as Governor profiles. The Governor page is intended to give you a better understanding of who we are, our commitment to the school and highlight our key roles and functions in providing the Governance of the school. I am particularly grateful to Mrs Osgerby, PA to the Headteacher, for her assistance in setting up the page. Please take a look and let me know what you think.
I’ve also been considering our overall communications and Governor engagement with parents, carers, students and staff. I would welcome any views and thoughts you may have on how we might improve our overall approach. This is important because next term we will be working with the school’s Senior Leadership Team to develop the 2018/19 School Improvement Plan. We will be looking to identify the key priorities and setting the strategic direction for the school. Please let me know if there are any particular issues you would wish to see addressed.
Earlier this month I took the opportunity to join the Aylesbury High School’s parent-teacher association (AHSA) meeting (which take place on the first Tuesday of every month at AHS). It is made up a group of committed and supportive parents who conceive, manage and support a host of events to provide much needed additional funds to support the school. Please take the opportunity to check out the web link and where possible look to support our AHSA. The AHSA will play a key role as we look to set out plans to celebrate our 60th year and are always on the lookout for volunteers. For further information, please contact the AHSA .
As always, I continue to look forward to discussing the challenges and opportunities the school faces and welcome your views and comments on how we can further improve the school for our students.
Mr Arfan Chaudhry, Chair of Governors
Health & Safety on or near the School Site
The number of cars in the small parking area before the barrier in the Sports Hall Car Park is causing real problems. Cars pull in to drop off, but are then unable to turn because of the number of parked cars which leads to cars reversing out on to Walton Road. We are concerned that this will cause an accident either involving cars, or a pedestrian if students and parents continue to do this. We have reminded Year 13 students that they should not be parking here and we hope parents will also remember that they are not allowed to drive onto the school site at the beginning or end of the school day.
It has also been reported to us that some of our students are taking risks when crossing roads near to AHS and not waiting for the pedestrian crossing signals to turn to green. Can we remind students to be more mindful and to ensure that they are paying attention to what is happening around them.
Finally, we have received complaints about the behavior of students in the local area, including from AHS, who travel on public buses particularly the 61 and 500. It appears that these buses are crowded and the rush to gain a place on the bus is causing other members of the general public to feel uncomfortable. Please can we do a further reminder to everyone who catches school or public buses to be courteous to others;
- by not pushing
- not placing bags on seats or in places that may cause others to trip
- not placing their shoes on the seats.
We would urge students to report any poor behaviour to us so that everyone can have a safe and pleasant journey to and from school.
Berkhamsted Bus to AHS/AGS
We are looking to set up a parent run school bus running from Berkhamsted to AHS and AGS.
As a first step we need to gauge the level of interest in this from parents and also to get a sense as to the number of students who would potentially wish to use the service.
The benefit is that it will cut the commute from an hour to half an hour there and back each day as well as providing a safe school-only environment for them to travel in.
If you are interested, please could you click on the link https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/S6Q7BWP
Ann Marie Costelloe
Uniform Fittings & Sales
We are looking for a number helpers to assist with this year’s New Year 7 Entry, Uniform 2018 sales. As a helper, you will be supplied with fruit, cakes, biscuits and hot/cold beverages throughout the day!
Set up will be in the Dining Hall on Friday 15 June between 14:15 and 18:00 and the Uniform Sale Day will be in the same venue on Saturday 16 June from 08:45 to 18:00.
If you are able to assist with this or have any queries regarding this event, please contact Julie Wanstall by telephoning the school, 01296 388222 or by email, leaving your name and contact details.
Mrs Julie Wanstall, Uniform Co-ordinator
NCS (National Citizen Service) for students in Year 11 and 12
NCS is a government flagship programme which takes place for three weeks during the summer holidays. It helps build skills for work and life whilst taking on new challenges and meeting new friends. On completion, graduates get a certificate signed by The Prime Minister and NCS is also recognised by UCAS. NCS can also be used for the Gold D of E residential and students will complete a First Aid Course whilst on the programme. AHS is the NCS Champion school for the Aylesbury Vale area which means that each year we have the highest number of students participating in the programme. Last year over 50 students participated and we are hoping to increase this even further in Summer 2018.
NCS is heavily subsidised by the government so the full cost of the three weeks, which includes accommodation, food, activities and transport is only £35. On top of this there are two optional induction events prior to the programme starting which cost £15 in total. NCS is open to all young people aged 16/17 years and if the above price is unaffordable then bursary places for £20 are available.
To express an interest in this excellent scheme, please contact the Action4Youth office on 0300 003 2334 or www.action4youth.org for further information and an application form.
60th Birthday - Save the Date!
Our plans for celebrating our 60th year continue to take shape, with events due to take place from September 2018. Can I encourage you to make a diary entry to note that we will be hosting a final celebration for students (past and present), parents, staff, governors etc. on Saturday 6 July 2019. We hope to bring a summer festival to AHS to celebrate the achievements of our community over the last 6 decades. House events next year will focus on our theme of 'Comparing and Contrasting the Role of Women since 1959' and our aim is to ensure we provide an event or two that will appeal to everyone. It is not too late to join our working party - contact Nette Hamnett if you have any ideas or if you can offer us your expertise in setting up a festival or sharing potential contacts with us!
We have received a significant number of entries for our 60th logo competition, which carries a prize of £60 worth of Amazon vouchers - do not miss the deadline if you are wanting to take part (students only)!
Mrs Nette Hamnett, Deputy Headteacher
Year 13 Information
Year 13 are entering the final weeks of their school careers, and we are planning how we celebrate their time at AHS. Our customary last-day events will continue in the creative, celebratory and occasionally-chaotic way that they always have, so we anticipate costumes, photographs and lots of tears but we are exploring whether parents want to have a place in these events too. So in the usual way, we'd appreciate some response to the following to help guide our thinking:
As a parent, which of these statements most applies to you:
(i) Would you like to join us for a formal Celebration Evening the week before the Year 13s break-up for study leave?
(ii) Would you like to join Year 13 for the closing assembly on their last day at school before study leave?
(iii) Would you rather not attend either of these events?
Feel free to give an honest answer! Responses by email to Mr Ochiltree by the end of the Easter Holiday please.
And thank you for all you have done - and will still do - to help get your daughters through this exciting last-lap of their school careers.
Mr Ian Ochiltree, Head of Sixth Form
Public Examinations and Testing
Students entered for public examinations this summer will have received an electronic Statement of Entry. It is essential that the information shown on this document is carefully checked and that examination dates are noted. Testing timetables for both Years 10 and 12 are available under the exam section of our website.
Mrs Kerensa Burchell, Examinations Officer
Alumnae Invitation to AHS/AGS Joint Leavers’ Reunion
We are delighted to confirm our first ever Joint Leavers’ Reunion on Saturday 14 July 2018, for Aylesbury High School and Aylesbury Grammar School students who left the schools between 1997 and 2017.
Invitations have already been sent to AHS Alumnae, who we have email details for, that left between these dates but we hope many more would like to attend! If you know any AHS Alumnae who have not yet received an invitation, they can contact Mrs Pexton either by phone 01296 388222 or by email for their invitation.
Alumnae can also purchase tickets for their partners to attend too but please be aware that tickets are sold on a first come, first served basis!
AHS Alumnae Newsletter
As a result of our recent Mailing, we were delighted to hear back from so many of our Alumnae!
Sadly, over the years, we had lost contact with many of our former students and only had old addresses to work from. We were therefore especially pleased to receive our Alumnae Contact Forms and to find out more about our former students’ exciting career pathways and choices since leaving AHS!
We have also been using LinkedIn to connect with our former students too and created a new LinkedIn Former Students & Staff Group to encourage Alumnae networking and to connect with us: Aylesbury High School Former Students and Staff .
The image below is page one of the March Alumnae Newsletter, please go to our website to view the full document.
Our AHS Alumnae First ‘Women Who Inspire’
To support British Science Week and our initiative to promote STEM subject choices to our students, we were pleased to welcome Alumna Dani Loughran (Moulin), Managing Director of Aston Chemicals, to our school to meet and to be film interviewed by our Sixth Form students on her motivation, inspiration and her career success in science.
It was also an excellent opportunity for her to meet Mr Rosen and have a guided tour of our recently refurbished science laboratories and also S17, the last laboratory to be updated and the focus of last year’s Elements Campaign, which Aston Chemicals supported.
We were also very pleased to receive an insightful film interview from Alumna Claire Lillywhite, Applications Engineer at the Keyence Corporation, about her career pathway and choices. This was played at our themed assemblies for British Science Week and students were interested to find out more about the varied role of an Applications Engineer. Claire filmed an excellent presentation which explained in detail why there should be no barriers for women embarking on engineering careers.
We greatly appreciate Dani and Claire’s participation; they are truly Women Who Inspire!
GDPR and Our AHS Alumnae ‘Opting In’
Forthcoming changes to the Data Protection Act 1998, to become Europe-Wide General Data Protection Regulations, means that we have to ask Alumnae for written consent to use their personal information to contact them. With that in mind, we recently mailed all our Alumnae to ask them to complete and return a Contact & Consent Form with this permission.
Alumnae who have made contact via LinkedIn have also been requested to complete one of these forms, so we may email them Newsletters, invitations to events, as well as other school information.
After 25 May we will be unable to send information to Alumnae who have not completed and returned the Contact & Consent Form, or ‘connected’ with us via LinkedIn.
If you know Alumnae who have not yet made contact, please encourage them to email Mrs Pexton.
Building A Brighter Future
Did you know that less than 15% of current parents donate to our School Fund - can you help us increase that?
We understand and appreciate that there are many financial demands on families nowadays but we would be very grateful if you could consider donating to our Building a Brighter Future School Fund; regular giving and one-off donations are equally welcomed!
This fund is vital to support our development projects which improve and develop the school’s equipment, resources and facilities. Your kind donation will go towards ensuring that every student is able to fulfil their potential, wherever their strengths lie. Without parent donations such as yours, it would not be possible for us to achieve this and we greatly appreciate your help and support with this initiative.
Mrs Alison Pexton, Development Director