December 2017

Newsletter 2

Welcome

Hopefully you will have noticed that you have the option to select the interface that you are using to view this site, this will enhance usability as the format will automatically be reformatted to support your viewing option.

Our previous Newsletters are stored on the AHS website; for ease of access the September 2017 Newsletter can also be found here.

As always, we welcome any feedback you may have to help us to communicate AHS-related information with you in both an easy and accessible manner. Please email nhamnett@ahs.bucks.sch.uk, with your feedback or suggestions.

Contents

Headteacher's Update

An Update from the Chair of Governors

Fundraising Update

Contact with our Alumnae and Former Staff

Matched Giving

AHSA Autumn Update

Post 16 Provision

Internal Appeals

Likely to Achieve Grades and Target Data

Chromebook Pilot

Bucks. Emotional Wellbeing Conference

Safety to and from School

Anti-Bullying Week, November 2017

KS4 Pastoral Review

ParentMail

Design Technology Technician Vacancy

Headteacher Update: 2017 - an interesting year!

Of course, 2017 is slightly interesting as the last prime number year until 2027 (which is 2017 + 2 + 0 + 1 + 7) but for AHS it is more memorable as another incredibly busy and productive year. As well as the tens of thousands of lessons, all of the trips, exchanges, field trips and expeditions, dance, drama and music performances, assemblies, sporting and subject-based competitions have ensured that there is never a quiet day throughout the year.

I would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard to keep the school buzzing, both in and out of lessons. The school unashamedly benefits from the dedication of around 150 members of staff who, in their many different ways, give so much of their time, energy and enthusiasm to making each day at AHS worth getting out of bed for. The end of this term is a good opportunity to acknowledge and applaud their part in the success of Team AHS.

Many thanks also to all the parents and governors who support the school in so many ways throughout the year - we couldn't do it without you.

Finally, a well done to each and every student for the massive and diverse contributions you have made to AHS this year. No-one said it was going to be easy getting from the start of Year 7 to the end of Year 13 and it's certainly not a smooth journey all the time, but the way that each year group develops its own identity and adds to the life of the school as the years progress is delightful to see.

This term always seems very long by the time we get to December but, as long as you are an optimist, you are heartened by the fact that we are now just a week away from the winter equinox and then the sun has promised to start waking up earlier and going to bed later.

As a sign spotted today in school says, "Only one more sleep until the holidays", and the beginning of the end of 2017. I hope everyone has a really good break and returns refreshed in January to see how interesting we can make 2018.

Alan Rosen

An Update from the Chair of Governors

Since my last article for the AHS Newsletter I am delighted to have been re-elected as Chair of Governors and join James Chandler, Kate Weir and John Clarke who have been appointed as Chairs for the Resources, Personnel and Teaching & Learning sub-committees respectively for this academic year. I am also pleased to announce that following the recent Governor elections we now have a full complement of Parent, Co-opted and Community Governors for the school. We welcome Mrs Helen Bush, Mr Neil Esslemont, Mr Mark Francas and Mr Antony Woods as Parent Governors to support the development of the school. Their first formal role took place on Monday 04 December at the full governing body meeting.

As we come to the end of the first term of the academic year, I thought I would give you a flavour of the issues we have been reviewing and considering as a Governing Body.

We have already had 2 meetings for the Personnel, Resources and Teaching & Learning sub-committees, met with the School’s auditors and held a half-day session of the Strategic Working Group. The Strategic Working Group was specifically set up to consider, establish and drive through the long term future of the school. The Group reports directly to the Full Governing Body and includes chairs of the sub-committees and members of the school’s Senior Leadership Team.

At the second of our Resources Committee meetings this term we reviewed the school’s budget, the annual report and audited accounts. Once formally submitted to Companies House, the audited accounts for 16-17 will be available on the school’s website. We also received an update on the facilities improvement projects for Financial Year (FY) 16/17 and plans for FY 17/18. During the last FY we undertook projects to update the kitchen facilities, add new windows, initial preparatory work on the S17 Science Lab, add a green house, undertake major repairs of the flat roofs and the replacement of the main block boiler house. Whilst these projects are not all visibly obvious improvements, they are considered essential to maintaining the fabric of the school and in these difficult financial times we have had to manage these projects very closely. Funding for these projects has been from a combination of schools funds, the development programme (including the ‘In Our Element’ campaign) and various charitable organisations. In the next FY we are considering a number of projects including a refurbishment of the Tower Block which will aim to build on the successful refurbishment of the Science Block. The work of the Resources Committee, chaired by James Chandler and ably supported by Keith Marshall and Sara Taylor has enabled us to ensure we remain on track and crucially on budget.

The Personnel Committee, chaired by Kate Weir continues to review and address the key policies of the school. This term the Pay, Appraisal, DBS, Retirement and Whistleblowing Policies have been reviewed alongside the Governors Code of Conduct.

Equally, the Teaching & Learning Committee, chaired by Parent Governor John Clarke has reviewed the Drugs and Incidents Policy and the Admissions Policy in preparation for the consultation process. The Committee also heard from the Head Girl who provided an update on the Cabinet’s School Improvement Plan which focused on the theme of self-confidence.

Details of all our school policies can be found on the school website under the ‘About Us - Statutory Information’ tab.

As part of our continued commitment to wider school engagement, members of the Governing Body intend to be regular contributors to the Parents’ & Students’ Newsletter and Highlights Magazine updating you on our work. We are also updating the Governor page on the school website which will include links to the dates of Governor meetings, Terms of Reference for each sub-committee and full details of Governor committee membership, as well as Governor biogs.

The Governing Body also takes the opportunity to attend the school’s events including the Consultation Evenings and meet with staff and parents. We aim to ensure that we have at least one Governor at each Consultation Evening, so please feel free to come and have a chat – we have AHS ID badges and Governor lanyards.

I continue to look forward to discussing the challenges and opportunities the school faces and welcome your views and comments on how we can improve the school for your daughters.

Arfan Chaudhry, Chair of Governors

achaudhry@ahs.bucks.sch.uk

Fundraising Update

For many years now we have sought to raise money from parents and other supporters of the school, in addition to the much-valued funds raised by the AHSA.

So many of the fantastic facilities around the school are only there because of the generosity and engagement of former and present parents, ranging from the sound and lighting systems in the Main and Harding Halls to the Sports Hall, Sixth Form Centre, and the refurbished Library and Science Laboratories. Wherever a student's interest lie in school, we can point to the substantial improvements that parental donations have made.

Forthcoming projects are:

  • Refurbishment of our final science lab (S17) taking place between April and May 2018, funded by kind donations to 'In Our Element' and 'Girls of S17', grants from the William Harding Charity and the Garfield Weston Foundation, and school funds.
  • Refurbishment of the Tower Block classrooms, taking place next summer, subject to funds and planning, to transform the ten classrooms into much better teaching spaces. Focusing scarce funds on the Tower Block makes sense as every student will have lots of lessons there during their time at AHS.
  • A major initiative to tie in with our 60th birthday which is in 2019 - a feasibility study is currently taking place

Regular readers will be only too aware, that AHS has been, for many years, one of the lowest-funded schools in the country (absolute lowest in 2014-15, consistently in the bottom dozen or so out of ~3000 secondary schools) and while it is true that we should be less favourably funded than schools with high levels of need (in terms of low prior attainment and deprivation), it is the gap between us and comparable schools elsewhere in the country that has finally gained the government's attention. The National Funding Formula, being phased in over the next three years, does provide a new minimum funding level for every student across the country, and we will see an increase in our annual funding as a result, although all schools are rightly pointing out that there is absolutely no provision for inflation, public sector pay increases, increases in pension and National Insurance etc, and we won't see the full implementation of the NFF until 2020-21. Despite our reservations, the NFF is relatively good news for AHS in the long run.

Almost two years ago we surveyed parents about their views on school fundraising and the short summary is that there was a genuine willingness from parents to support their daughter's education and the school's development campaigns in a variety of ways.

Since then we have asked parents to support the school at reasonably regular intervals and are very grateful to all who have responded so kindly.

For everyone else, here's a gentle reminder to parents to consider whether you can play your part in providing the best possible facilities for your daughter and for generations of AHS students to come. The Supporting Us page of the website is HERE. As I have said to lots of parents this year, every donation of whatever size helps, and every penny is put to good use, ultimately benefiting the education of every student at AHS, so please do take the time to consider how you can help .


Alan Rosen

Contact with our Alumnae and Former Staff

We are delighted to confirm that we have just mailed individually almost 8,000 of our alumnae and former staff, as part of our initiative to establish better links with all former members of the AHS community. We are always thrilled to learn what our students and staff have been up to since leaving us, and are conscious that we haven’t managed to keep in touch with everyone over the years; hence this letter. We also included a few old and not-so-old photos to possibly jog some memories; if you have any photos or ‘memorabilia’ from your time here, it would be very much appreciated if you wanted to add them to our archives which we are hoping to organise (and possibly digitise) by the time of our 60th Anniversary.

Matched Giving: Please don't forget to check if your employer will match your donations to our AHS Fund!

Many companies help charities through a matched giving scheme as a part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In this way they match pound for pound the donation their employee makes to a registered charity.

If you are donating to the AHS Fund (a registered charity), your donation may be matched by your employer through Matched Giving. Please enquire with your HR or Payroll Department for their support.

For an updated list of companies we know are committed to Matched Giving, please email Mrs Pexton, Development Director, at apexton@ahs.bucks.sch.uk.

Alison Pexton, Development Director

AHSA Autumn Update

The AHSA has supported a number of events this term including our very popular and eagerly anticipated House Dance performances, Year 7 Disco, our annual Quiz Night and more recently the Christmas Concert. As an example of how beneficial these events are, we are delighted to share that the Quiz Night alone raised an enormous £2,400 for the school. The AHSA supplies drinks and snacks and on occasion a raffle, all of which are appreciated by the audiences who come along to enjoy our successful events.

In addition to the events organised for this term, the AHSA is looking forward to building on their previous activities and working collaboratively with Alison Pexton, AHS Development Director, to create a three year strategy. This strategy will include fundraising to meet both requests for support from individual departments and for bigger, longer term projects in the school, such as our recent upgrade of the facilities in the Harding Hall.

In 2016-17 the AHSA donated £7,000 worth of equipment, which included;

  • A glass washer for the Harding Hall
  • LED stage lights for the Harding Hall
  • Hurdles for athletics competitions
  • Two 3D printers

The AHSA's aim is to significantly increase funding beyond the £10,000 donation it hopes to make in 2017/18. To meet this target it will clearly need your help.

There are a number of ways you can support the AHSA and ultimately the students at AHS:

    • The Giving Machine - an online quick and easy way of raising funds for the ASHA with no cost to you, every time you shop online (details below). Please help us whilst shopping online in the lead up to Christmas.
    • Donations to our raffles - do you work for a company that could donate a prize, either vouchers or an item? Or can you donate a prize, big or small, all donations are welcome. Wine, champagne, spirits, prosecco, chocolates, smellies, stationary etc. make ideal prizes. Please ask your daughter to leave any items at the school office marked 'AHSA Raffle'. Alcohol must be dropped at the office by a parent/carer and given to a member of staff.

Support AHSA events by clicking here to see what it has planned.

Getting Involved

Supporting the AHSA is a great opportunity to help the school, meet other parents and staff and enjoy our events. We are always looking to welcome new committee members and we currently have a vacancy for a new secretary. If you are interested in this vital role, please email AHSA@ahs.bucks.sch.uk and one of us will contact you with further information.

Together we can build a strong school community and raise funds to enhance our daughters' education.

Follow us on twitter @AHSAssociation

The Giving Machine - pain-free donations to the school when online shopping

To Register :

  • go to thegivingmachine.co.uk
  • click on 'join' at the top of the page
  • type Aylesbury High School into the search box to register AHS as the beneficiary of the donations from the retailer each time you shop
  • choose AHS when it is suggested and click JOIN and SUPPORT
  • fill in your details and you will be registered and AHS will receive your donations

So you don't forget to use the GivingMachine portal, follow the simple steps below to install a pop up which reminds you to use the Giving Machine portal when on participating retailers' websites!

  • go to your account settings, click on 'install shop & give'

Post 16 Provision

The Autumn Term is always an exciting and busy time in the Sixth Form. We have welcomed a whole new cohort into Year 12 and at the same time, we have started the process of helping Year 13 make their first plans to leave us! They are now just embarking on the road to choosing universities or looking at different career options. If that was not enough, the recent Open Evening introduced Year 11s to what our Sixth Form has to offer. It is a source of much pride to us that so many new students want to join our Sixth Form, alongside our own students that make the step-up from Year 11.

Since September, our Sixth Form students have - in no particular order - made new friends, started new A Levels, embarked on Community Involvement placements, presented House Assemblies, planned Fundraising week, hosted visiting speakers, celebrated their GCSE achievements, sat November Tests, taught in Primary Schools, applied for universities, practiced interview techniques at Somerville College Oxford, written a pantomime, welcomed countless visitors to the school and attended many many lessons. They’ve played sport and musical instruments, made a mess, made much popcorn and made a lot of noise; they’ve tidied up and cleaned up, and made many people laugh along the way. They are a constant delight and a continual challenge and our time here would be much poorer without them. We celebrate them every day.

If you want to get a sense of what life in our Sixth Form is like, you could always have a look at our brand new online prospectus here.

Mr Ochiltree, Head of Sixth Form

Internal Assessment Appeals

It seems to be too early in the academic year to be discussing public examinations but we have already completed Transition Testing for Year 6, University entrance examinations for our current Year 13 and last week we published our Year 11 internal Mock Timetable for January.

The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) has recently informed us of a change regarding appeals against marking. The process remains unchanged for appeals against Awarding Bodies' marking but a new procedure is now in place to enable students/parents/carers to appeal against any internal moderation.

The procedure adopted by Aylesbury High School follows the guidance offered by JCQ and can be found under the Exams tab on our website.

Mrs Hamnett, Deputy Headteacher

Likely to Achieve Grades and Target Data

By the end of this term you will have received either a written report (Years 11 and 13) or a data sheet (other years) to update you on how your daughter is progressing. Please remember that we have a number of data presentations on our website to help you understand how we use data at AHS.

In previous years, students now in Years 8 and 9 were given targets for each subject which featured + and - grades, eg 5+/6-. As we informed you in the summer, for the purposes of targets and LAGs (Likely to Achieve Grades), we have decided to remove the +/-. This means that all targets have been re-calibrated for Years 8 and 9, ie if your daughter originally had a 5+ it will now be a 5, whereas a 5+/6- will be a 5/6. We hope that this will simplify the process.

Students in Year 7 will also have targets and LAGs under the new system.

Mr Baird, Data Coordinator

Chromebook Pilot

On 30 October, students in 8H and 8M collected a shiny new Chromebook as we launched our 1:1 device trial. These two classes and their teachers are now busy experimenting with using Chromebooks in lessons and for homework to help us decide whether to roll this out further. It was great to welcome 8H and 8M parents into school to look at how Chromebooks can be used to enhance teaching and learning. They learnt how to take part in Quizlet and Kahoot quizzes, how to collaborate on a presentation on Google Slides and how to do a Geogebra assignment set on Google Classroom.

Our Year 8s have certainly enjoyed using the Chromebooks in lessons, here are some of the benefits;

  • Students can use Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, etc to collaborate with each other and with teachers. The picture below shows Year 8 doing a collaborative Google Slide presentation in Geography, where each group added their research on rising or falling populations in their chosen country.
  • Teachers can share resources on Google Classroom and students can submit work and receive feedback.
  • Being able to quickly bring out Chromebooks when needed in lessons avoids the need to relocate to a computer room.
  • Educational apps such as Kahoot, Quizlet, Geogebra, Kaizena can enhance teaching and learning. Students love testing their knowledge through fun Kahoot quizzes; Quizlet offers very effective ways to revise material and Kaizena allows teachers to record individual feedback to send to students.

As Mr Rosen explained in his letter a couple of weeks ago, plans are now underway to extend the use of Chromebooks to other classes and we will be using the experiences of 8H and 8M to inform how we do that. There will be information sessions for Year 7 and Year 8 parents next term and other year groups in the summer.

Mrs Queralt, Assistant Headteacher

Year 8 Geography Lesson

Year 8 Art Lesson

Creating and Promoting Positive Mental Wellbeing

The 2017 Buckinghamshire Emotional Wellbeing Conference was held in November with the theme 'Schools in Mind'. Nette Hamnett, Deputy Headteacher, and Lisa Westcott, Student Welfare Coordinator, delivered a workshop on 'Creating and Promoting Healthy Emotional Wellbeing in Secondary Schools' in addition to attending other workshops held by organisations such as CAMHS, MIND and the Educational Psychology Service.

The aim of the event is to inspire and remind schools that partnerships are key and that organisations are available to support educational establishments and young people in Bucks. Clearly the information gathered can be used to support any of our students and not just the ones who live in Buckinghamshire. Support services do differ across counties but the knowledge that we share with young people to aid healthy mental wellbeing is common to all.

We have taken the opportunity to listen to our students via Student Voice at the start of this academic year and it was pleasing to hear their thoughts on the support systems currently in place at AHS and how we can further improve. Part of the feedback involved ensuring that everyone is aware of the support available and we hope that we are already on our way to improving, following whole school assemblies on 'Accepting Support', 'Anti-Bullying' and 'Blame Culture' - our Student and Subject Ambassadors will be leading and delivering an assembly this month on the peer to peer support that they offer on a daily basis. Our next aim is to improve the signposting that is currently available on our website.

It may surprise you to hear that there is no national expectation for teachers to receive training to raise awareness of emotional wellbeing as part of their initial teacher training or as part of their ongoing training. At Aylesbury High School, we are committed to promoting staff training in this area as part of our School Improvement Plan and it formed part of our compulsory training for all staff at the start of this academic year. In addition, our teaching school, AVTP, is currently running a 6 week training package for both our local primary and secondary colleagues. Please see the AVTP website for further information.

Mrs Hamnett, Deputy Headteacher

Safety to and from School

As the dark nights and mornings have now set in, it is a good time to remind everyone about how to stay safe to and from school or clearly about how to stay safe in general.

Here are some simple tips for your daughter to consider;

  • Ensure her earphones are not set too loud, to ensure that she can still hear what is going on around her
  • Not to advertise expensive or 'desirable' items such as phones, electronic devices, purses by holding them when walking
  • When walking alone, try to stay close to other groups of students or families
  • Stand close to a family or groups of students whilst waiting for a train or bus
  • Don't advertise your location on Instagram or other social media group
  • Don't post where you are going and at what time when on Facebook, Instagram etc.
  • Ensure you keep your parents updated if your plans change about staying at school late, visiting a friend etc.
  • Ensure that you know to report any inappropriate behavior that you may witness, for example on the school buses
  • Remember to walk on the pavements and be mindful of moving cars in all school parking areas

You can also help us in keeping your daughter safe by not parking on the yellow zig-zag lines before and after school and by not bringing your car onto the school site when you are dropping off or picking up.

Mrs Hamnett, Deputy Headteacher

Anti-Bullying Week, November 2017

Thank you to Betty McLaren and Amy McMunn, our HEART Ambassadors, who prepared and presented assemblies to the whole school in November to raise awareness of Anti-Bullying Week.

You can view their presentation here. The link will enable you to watch two of the videos that they showed as part of this assembly but unfortunately we are unable to share the excellent script that accompanied their presentation.

In addition to raising awareness of the national anti-bullying theme of 'All Different, All Equal' the two students are responsible for running half termly meetings with both KS3 and KS4 students focused on Healthy Equality and Rights Together (HEART).

Next term they will be looking to set the next set of equality objectives for the school. If any student would be interested in helping, please do get in touch with Mrs Hamnett.

Mrs Hamnett, Deputy Headteacher

KS4 Pastoral Review

As part of our self-evaluation process we have an annual timetable of both pastoral and academic reviews. KS4 was under the spotlight in October which meant that over a two week period we observed form times, conducted student surveys and focus groups, in addition to work sampling and tutor surveys.

The students in both Years 10 and 11 responded most positively to the following statements:

  • Tutors share the daily notices enabling them to be aware of clubs, room changes and other events each day
  • Students feel safe during the school day and they appreciate the wide range of extra-curricular activities available to them
  • Tutors encourage students to do their best
  • The learning environment suits students' needs
  • Teachers clearly present information that students need to learn

Conversely it was highlighted that KS4 students would like more opportunities to learn about both national and global issues with the opportunity for further debate. It was also noted that our process of Active Tutoring could be improved to ensure that more students are seen more regularly.

A review of the Creative Arts subjects has recently come to an end and a summary will be available in the next Newsletter.

Mrs Hamnett, Deputy Headteacher

ParentMail

Dear Parents of Aylesbury High School,

Please allow me to apologise for any difficulties you may have experienced since the launch of ParentMail at Aylesbury High School. We are working with the school to investigate solutions to all issues which have been brought to our attention. With the launch of any new system, there is always the risk that there will be some teething problems and although the vast majority of these issues have been identified and ironed out, there are still two issues being reported.

1) Some parents can see a duplicate version of the ‘dinner top-up’ option within their smartphone app. This issue does only affect Android devices and the solution is to clear the App’s Data within your phone settings. If you have tried to do this and you are still able to see two Dinner top up options, please remove the ParentMail App from your phone and re-download it from the Google Play Store.

2) When attempting to make payments, the payment hangs and does not seem to go through. We are investigating this issue which seems to happen intermittently and most users are able to process the payment successfully if they attempt it again after a 30 minute wait. We will provide a further update to the school once we have identified a solution.

We appreciate your patience whilst we work towards solutions to the above issues.

Kind Regards

Rob Brown, Operations Manager ParentMail

Design Technology Technician

Pay Range 2 (£8,489 - £9,536 actual salary per annum)

Part time, 20 hours per week, term time only plus INSET Days

We seek a technician from 1 January 2018 or as soon as possible afterwards who can provide support to the DT Department in preparing lesson materials and looking after the workshops.

For further information and to download the application form, please visit the AHS website. We are committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expect all staff to share this commitment. The successful applicant will be subject to an enhanced DBS check.

Mrs Osgerby, Head's PA