December 2018

Newsletter 3

Contents

  • Update from Alan Rosen
  • KS4 Pastoral Review
  • English Academic Review
  • Cake Off!
  • The Cabinet: Update on our 60th
  • Alumni & Development News
  • Supporting Marcella
  • Information from Marshalls Coaches
  • School to Home Transport Consultation
  • Autism Information Events
  • Google Reference School
  • Health and Well-being Courses for Parents
  • Student Welfare at AHS
  • Safety around School

Term 178 at AHS

Another action-packed term is ending in traditional style, with our three lunchtime fund-raising events giving us all a chance to let off steam while raising money for causes that the students have voted for.

Well done to everyone who has performed, organised and entertained us this week, and a special thank you to all the audiences for their fantastic behaviour.

I hope everyone has a good break - you have earned it!

Alan Rosen

KS4 Pastoral Review

A review of KS4 took place in the first half term of the school year. The tutor teams have changed very little from last year which is clearly beneficial to the students, as knowledge on how best way to support them and levels of progress made, have been established. Learning Walks, on the whole, highlighted how well tutors knew their form groups and how they help create a positive start to the day.

It was pleasing to note that students felt that their overall experience at AHS has been a positive one, so far this term, but that they would like to further improve some areas such as the use of email and Google classroom, in addition to how teacher’s feedback to improve student progress. In response to this, we have undertaken an investigation of email and Google Classroom use within the school and completed additional student focus groups to gain information on types of feedback that are or are not effective, to update teaching staff.

Uniform was pleasing on the whole but some further effort is needed to ensure students are wearing appropriate footwear and adhering to the jewelry rules.

Mrs Nette Hamnett, Deputy Headteacher

English Review

In November I completed a review of the English Department.

Lesson observations confirmed most of the feedback from students, who stated that lessons are clearly explained, homework is meaningful and that teachers are supportive and encouraging towards student learning. Categories commonly noted during the lesson observations as strengths were planning, use of ICT and questioning. Student engagement was pleasing in the majority of lessons and progress was evident throughout the review period. What stood out was the teachers' passion for the texts being studied and the creative ways in which they gained the interest of their students. In all of the lessons observed, lesson planning was clear, as teachers routinely facilitated learning through structured and well-resourced activities. Prior learning tasks were key and used effectively particularly following the half term break.

There is a mixed view from students on whole class feedback but it is pleasing to note that English teachers are finding the work required to feedback to students more manageable, in line with our aim to reduce teacher workload. Mr Elgin, the Curriculum Manager for English, will explore this area further with his team as an outcome of this review.

Mr Elgin is in his second year as the Curriculum Manager of English and to his credit he has worked really hard to provide direction and support for his team. He has a clear vision for how lessons should be taught and has created a new system for feedback and modelling exemplary work.

The area dedicated to English is a little shabby and in need of a bit of paintwork here and there. Despite this the team has made a significant effort to ensure that staff and students work in a welcoming environment, created through organised rooms with some outstanding displays; nearly all of the classrooms display interesting and engaging information, including the work of the students.

The English team organises a number of extra-curricular trips to enhance learning and it was great to hear about the success of the Rotary Club competition at the end of the review. The team post information using their AHS Twitter feed so do take a look.

Mrs Nette Hamnett, Deputy Headteacher

AHS @60 Update

As I’m sure most of you are aware, 2018-19 marks the highly anticipated 60th anniversary of Aylesbury High School and the students of AHS would like to invite you to celebrate with us! The celebrations are well under way with our sell-out House Dance shows in October having been enjoyed by present and former students, parents and staff alike.

This however only marks the start of the fun with events planned for virtually every month next year, some revolving around the 60th Anniversary theme ‘The Changing Role Of Women’. For many of the House Events this year our talented Year 12 Captains have been tasked with creating Music/Dance/Art/Drama from a stimulus centering around this theme. If House Dance is anything to go by the performances promise to be as thought-provoking as they are entertaining, a true showcase of the passion and creativity that the young women at our school harbour.

In addition, to mark the special occasion, the school is launching a range of products all branded with our school’s 60th Anniversary logo, designed by Chloe Roberts in Year 7 who won a school-wide logo competition as voted for by students. The products include notebooks, mugs, portable chargers and water bottles to name but a few. In particular we are excited about the launch of House T-Shirts, which sport the 60th logo in each of the school house colours. In creating the T-Shirts we hope that students will have something to wear at house events to showcase their house spirit (not that this needs any work as I’m sure those of you who have been to our house events are well aware!).

All of this is a year-long lead up to our main event on Saturday 6 July 2019. The day will begin with our annual Music, Muses and Movement concert that this year we have moved from a week night and re-named as our Summer Showcase. Annually this celebration champions the individuality, the expression and the vast talents of the students and combines Music, Dance and Drama.

Following on from this into the afternoon, we are currently organising a ‘festival’ with a range of bands performing in addition to food, drink and House stalls to nourish and entertain students, staff, parents, friends of the school and alumni. As it’s a whole school effort we want to attract as many people to the event as possible, to make the day as vibrant as we know it has the potential to be. Wristbands will be sold for entry to really give it a festival feel.

For those more interested in the school’s history we’ve been ardently searching the school’s records and working our way through filing cabinets of paperwork in an attempt to reach out to former students. This has been a challenge to say the least, particularly having to look through physical records before everything was digitalised! All of our phoning and emailing has allowed us to collect a good range of photos and artefacts from the school’s 60-year history which we shall use to create a showcase for visitors to wander around on 6 July. In addition, a project is underway to put a large proportion of our archives online and the AHSA has generously agreed to fund the setting up of the website - watch out for more information in the Spring.

The overall aim of the 60th is to celebrate the school’s achievements and history of being a springboard for young women to succeed in whatever they choose to do in life. A number of former students have come into the school over the past few weeks, giving stimulating assemblies about their time at AHS and what they went on to achieve afterwards. While the routes they took were really varied, the common theme that we observed is that AHS allowed them to flourish and equipped them with the skills to face whatever they went on to do next.

Another aim this year is to refurbish the Tower Block which, having lived through all 60 years of the school, well... needless to say it has seen better days. Personally, I have traumatic memories of my Year 8 form room being flooded when a pipe burst; completely soaking the displays, the carpet and textbooks in the classroom. The scent of it still haunts me to this day.

In many ways the Tower Block is the hub of the school, home to the staff room, offices, computing, geography and maths departments. Thus, an improvement to the Tower Block will have a really positive impact on the education and working environment of everyone in the school. You only have to look at the way that the refurbishment of the Science Block over the past three years has transformed the learning in that area. Discussions are currently taking place with potential builders and we hope to have a decision on whether the project can go ahead in mid to late January, so look out for the announcement and a request to parents to help us afford it!

Our school has always reinforced to its students that the sky’s the limit. It’s the generosity of those in the community that has allowed us to do this thus far and we wish to provide the same resources and opportunities for generations of young women to come.

We hope that you will be able to join us in many of these events, we’re certainly looking forward to having you.

Here’s to a fun-filled celebratory year ahead.

Yasmin Bali, Year 13 Cabinet

House t-shirts are on sale for £5

You can order a mug here for £6.50

Alumni

1950s - 1980s Alumni Afternoon Cream Teas

We were delighted to welcome back Alumni from the 1950s-1980s, including former staff, to our Afternoon Cream Teas last month. Many people had come from quite far afield and had not been back to the school for some years. It was lovely to see them back at Aylesbury High School and for friends and former teachers to catch up. Our Sixth Form students helped to host the event and spent valuable time finding out more about how AHS used to be. They could also share what life at AHS is like now and the changes in education and aspirations for women. We were pleased to display some of our AHS memorabilia, and were very grateful that former students kindly offered us additional items including magazines, photographs and an authentic red beret for our collection. For more information on our 60th Birthday celebrations, our Archive Project and our growing Alumni community, please see our Alumni page on the AHS website.

Growing our Alumni Community - Spread The Word!

We are delighted that we now have over 2,000 Alumni contacts. However, we have recently discovered that there are many more former students and staff that we need to include in our Alumni community. If you are still in contact with Alumni from your time here at AHS, we would be very thankful if you could ask them to email Mrs Pexton with their contact details.

1970s - 1980s 60th Birthday Student Assemblies

To celebrate our sixtieth year we have been organising decade assemblies for our students which reflect our school’s history, women’s education and the issues that were important at that time. In November, we invited Alumni from the 1970s and 1980s back to AHS to share with students their school experiences, what AHS meant to them and how it influenced their future decision making.

We were delighted to welcome

  • Lisa Westcott, who is now the AHS Student Welfare and Young Carer Coordinator;
  • Rebecca Ridgway now a Freelance Realtime Court Editor, and
  • Abbie Howson a Solicitor and Partner at her legal practice.

Our students were very interested to find out more about what AHS and Aylesbury was like in the 1970s and 1980s, and we are very thankful to Lisa, Rebecca and Abbie for returning to AHS, for their inspiration and for taking part in our filmed interviews for our ‘living history’ and forthcoming 60th Birthday book of AHS.

AHS students from the 50s/60s and 70's/80s returned for a cream tea reunion in November

Building A Brighter Future In Our 60th Year!

In the season of good will, please consider donating to our AHS Building A Brighter Future Fund. This fund is vital to support our development projects which improve and develop the school’s equipment, resources and facilities.

This year we aim to refurbish our Tower Block classrooms in the summer of 2019, subject of course to having sufficient funds. The ten classrooms in the original 1959 Tower Block are all in need of refurbishment to improve the learning environment for the core subjects of Mathematics and Geography. The rooms are very intensively used for lessons and as form rooms, so investing in them will benefit the maximum number of students.

Without parent donations such as yours, it would not be possible for us to achieve this and we greatly appreciate your help and support in this festive season. Please visit our dedicated web page for more information on how you might donate.

Mrs Alison Pexton, Development & Alumni Relations Director apexton@ahs.bucks.sch.uk

Please support Marcella!

Brave The Shave

Hi I'm Marcella Just. I'm 14 years old and I'm in Year 9. I am going to do Brave the Shave on 19 December to raise money for Macmillan. This means I am going to shave my hair off to help people with cancer.

Unfortunately my mum’s aunt died of breast cancer before I was born and I am devastated that I never got to meet her so when my mum showed me a photo of her friend who had done brave the shave, I thought it would be an excellent way of remembering her as well as raising money for such a worthy cause. While I do quite like my hair, helping people with cancer is so much more important to me.

I would like to say a big thank you to all the students, teachers & parents who have shown their support so far by generously donating. It means a lot to me. If you would like to see the rest of my story and help support Macmillan by sponsoring me then you can can visit this link and see the picture of me with my current long hair. After I shave all my hair off on the 19th December (yikes!), there will be a picture of me with no hair!

Please help raise as much money as we can for this very worthy cause.

Thanks again so much for all your support.

Marcella Just, 9S

Marshalls Coaches

Marshalls run school transport services and is looking to expand its network of routes from Milton Keynes/Outlying Villages to the Grammar Schools in Aylesbury. They are aware that some of our students come from these areas so would benefit greatly from their services.

These routes will be very competitively priced and parents will be able to track the progress of their child’s journey. Please see the above flyer and contact Marshalls if you have any questions.

Bucks Home to School Transport Consultation

Bucks are undertaking a major consultation about home to school transport. If you haven't look at it then please click here.


Google Reference School

We were recently invited to put forward an application to become a Google Reference School after being recommended by the Google Partner we work with on our 1:1 scheme, Haptic Networks.

Our application had to detail our vision and describe the journey we had taken so far, as well as to focus on the impact this is having in the classroom. Following the submission of our application, we are delighted to have been awarded Google Reference School Status and Google has noted the ‘exemplary things we are doing with Google Tools’.

According to Google a Reference School is ‘a school that has opted in to connect with other schools and educators interested in using Google's products in their classroom. They are here to provide advice on everything from professional development to device deployment best practices.’ We have already started to use our status to link with other schools and share ideas on the best use of Google tools in the classroom.

Some of our teachers have attended an evening event at Tring School recently where we shared ideas for the use of Technology in the classroom with other teachers and we have also opened our doors to local Buckinghamshire schools that are considering developing their use of technology shortly.

We have been able to offer additional staff training as a result of our links and hope to do more of this over the year. It could also potentially lead to us being asked to test products or pilot products. Watch this space for next steps!

Health and Wellbeing Courses

The Health Living Centre, Aylesbury, is coordinating Free English Courses across Buckinghamshire: English for Health & Wellbeing (6 weeks) and Women’s Health & Wellbeing (13 weeks) which are commissioned by Bucks CC Public Health Department.

The courses are designed for those individuals who don’t have English as a first language to increase their confidence in speaking English and independence when engaging with local services.

English for Health & Wellbeing (6 weeks)

Mondays 9.30-11.30am @ The Healthy Living Centre, Aylesbury.

Starting Monday 7 January 2019.

The English for Health & Wellbeing Course is a 6 week course open to both men and women (18yr+) to build their confidence in English language skills. Topics include making doctor’s appointments and accessing health services, parents evening, diet, physical activity, mental health, smoking and alcohol, body parts and key phrases in medicine, transport in Bucks and Volunteering and Guidance for work.

Women’s Health and Wellbeing (13 weeks)

Fridays 9.30-11.30am@ Elmhurst School, The Harding Room.

Starting Friday 11 January 2019.

The Women’s Health & Wellbeing course is 13 weeks and includes all of the above as well as pre and post pregnancy including breastfeeding, weaning and child benefits. This is open to all women 18yrs+ and they don’t need to be pregnant to attend.

Student Welfare at AHS

With all the recent reports in the media regarding the increasing numbers in young people struggling with their mental health and the Governments recent Green Paper; Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision, I thought it would be a good opportunity to introduce myself and highlight some of the work we are doing in school.

I worked for the NHS in primary care for over twenty years, before moving into education focusing on young people’s mental health and well being. At AHS I work closely with staff and students offering support for students on a one to one basis and also in small groups.

I oversee students who provide peer support; these include the Year 9 Buddies who support Year 7 students through their transition to AHS and Student Ambassadors who are ten students selected in Year 12. They receive training from the mental health charity MIND and offer drop in sessions and one to one support, as well as running groups such as Young Carers.

A key part of my role is to liaise with external agencies who are supporting individual students ensuring that consistent support is in place. This can be challenging at times due to the stigma that unfortunately continues to be attached to poor mental health and mental illness. At times there can be a reluctance to share information which can result in a student not being supported appropriately.

At AHS we are working towards eliminating the stigma for anyone struggling with their mental health or diagnosed with a mental illness. This is through peer-led assemblies, L4L lessons and ensuring we nurture a non - judgmental, supportive environment for all. You may find it useful to read our Mental Health Strategy found here.

If have anything you would like to discuss, please email me lwestcott@ahs.bucks.sch.uk.

Mrs Lisa Westcott, Student Welfare and Young Carer Coordinator

Safety around School

A local employee of Thames Valley Police contacted us yesterday to report that at accident involving a young mother and her baby and a car was narrowly avoided yesterday at the end of the school day. The incident occurred due to the fact that students are taking up the whole width of the pavement when walking to and from school, resulting in members of the public stepping into the road to pass. We will take the opportunity to remind students of the need to be mindful of others in January but can we ask that you also discuss this at home? Clearly this is not everyone but if everyone is aware then they will encourage others to behave appropriately if they are blocking the route for others.