January 2019

Newsletter 4

Contents

  • Transforming the Tower Block
  • The Great AHS Cake Off!
  • EU Travel Implications for School Trips
  • Medical Information
  • English 5 a Day
  • 60th Birthday Mugs & House T-Shirts
  • New Ways for our Alumni to Connect with Us!
  • Chair of Governors Update
  • Support for Parents
  • Holiday Courses

Transforming the Tower Block, age 59½

I am pleased to report that we are going ahead with the refurbishment of the Tower Block this summer, to transform the ten 1959 classrooms into modern, attractive spaces for the best possible learning, suitable for the next sixty 'generations' of AHS students.

The plan is to commence the project at the end of May, starting with the top two floors, and hand over the remainder of the block to the builders at the start of July. Re-housing ten classrooms and the offices for up to six weeks is going to be a challenge but students and staff agree that the pain will definitely be worth the gain. By the end of August, we will take over the new classrooms, ready for the new academic year.

As I am sure the students will confirm, the classrooms have definitely seen better days. We need to strip out the existing lighting, heating, flooring and electrics, as well as the old cupboards and other furniture, and make the rooms more suitable for modern ways of working. We are not going to be able to make them bigger, and they are the smallest general classrooms in the school, but by using the space more effectively they should be much better for students to learn in and teachers to teach in.

At the same time, we are aiming to tackle the heat gain that a number of the rooms experience each summer, and equip each room with a large interactive display screen to replace the present data projectors. The AHSA has kindly agreed to support this aspect of the project.

As you will appreciate, all of this costs money, and that's where you can help!

We are focusing this year's fundraising efforts on raising money to support this project, linked to the Sixtieth Anniversary celebrations. Our aim is to raise at least £75,000 from parents, alumni and friends of the school, in addition to funds raised by the AHSA, so in the next week or so we will be sending home the leaflet explaining how you can get involved. I am pleased to report that we already have £38,000 donated or pledged for this project; please consider adding your contribution, whether small, medium or large, to help us reach (or exceed!) our target.

There are three ways to contribute:

'Buy' a memorable number - it could be your house number, someone's birthday, or perhaps you are interested in the properties of that number: did you know that 77 is the smallest number requiring five syllables in English? (yes, we have around 199 more facts to rival that one - and, by the way, 199 is an 'anagrammatic' prime, meaning that 919 and 991 are also primes)

'Buy' a country - it could be that you have a connection with it, or you have a link to its internet code, or you like a fascinating fact about it: so Jamaica (.jm) might attract you because your name is Jemma, Jemima or James, or because (we think) it's the only country in the world that doesn't have red, white or blue in its flag...

Make a regular contribution, over 5 or 7 years, or a period of your choice (and 'buy' both a number and a country if you want!)

Donations can be at whatever level you wish, and it will be possible to make your donation on paper, online and at a number of school events over the next few months....watch out for the leaflet coming home soon, and thank you to all donors, past, present and future.

Alan Rosen, Headteacher

The Great AHS Cake Off!

WHEN: Thursday 07 February 2019

VENUE: Harding Hall

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO ENTER?

Entry forms are here and will be available via the student homepage - please apply by 06 February.

You are invited to bring into school 6 identical cupcakes created to match the theme of AHS.

Please note that this competition is open to staff and students. Cake entries with your name clearly indicated on the container are to be delivered to the Harding Hall by 9am on 07 February.

Eight finalists will then be invited to take part in a SHOWCASE CHALLENGE in the food rooms on Saturday 06 July.

EU Travel Implications for School Trips

Due to the ongoing delays with the political process of the UK leaving the EU, there are now a range of uncertainties for school groups planning to travel into the EU after 29 March 2019. However, we see no reason why the trips we currently run will not be running in the future, as long as both the school and parents/student make a few adjustments to our planning and procedures.

If a deal is confirmed in time, the transitional arrangements should mean we can travel as usual for a period of up to 2 years. However, in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, there are a number of major issues that could affect travel which are outlined below.

1. Rules for passports and visas

Students will need to have at least 6 months left on their passports from the date of arrival. Please can we ask all parents to check their daughter’s passport now, if they are going on an EU trip this academic year, as there may be cost implications in having to update passport information with travel operators if passports are not renewed before passport details are sent to the travel operator prior to the trip. There may also be the need for visas (similar to the US ESTA) to allow for an online, in-advance, electronic check before travel, which will incur a cost.

2. EHICs

It is likely that the EHIC system will be honoured in the short term but eventually the costs will be picked up by travel insurance as time goes on, leading to a potential rise in the cost of insurance for the school which will be added to the cost of the trip.

3. Travel Operators

Costs for trips may increase due to additional fees charged by travel operators to cover changes to exchange rates, fuel increases, border or road tax fees, insurance etc

4. Customs checks at Dover and Calais

Customs checks at ferry ports could create significant backlogs.

5. Coach Travel

In the short term it is possible that UK coach operators may not be able to take coach services into the EU and will need to sub-contract part of the coach travel to EU-based operators.

6. Air Travel

We expect UK airline operators to continue flights between the UK and EU as at present but there could be disruption.

For trips travelling at the start of April 2019, we will be identifying where any disruption to travel might occur and are currently checking insurance policies to ensure losses will be covered by them if we experience any significant delays or travel problems.

We will keep you updated with any further information given regarding travel implications for school trips, but the overall message is that we have no reason to worry about the future of our trips.

Miss Amanda Brigden, Assistant Headteacher

Medical Information

Please could I remind all parents to pass on any new medical details to me so that our records remain up to date.

In addition, it is essential that girls returning to school after an operation/significant illness, including any breaks or fractures, come to see me for a risk assessment and if applicable, we draw up a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan.

If the student needs referring to the SEN team for assistance accessing learning, they will be referred to Mrs Crafts, SENDCo.

Please refer to the medical page of our website for further information (under students and student support).

Mrs Sam Nix, Matron snix@ahs.bucks.sch.uk

English 5 a Day

The English Ambassadors and English Department cordially invite you to take part in our inaugural "5 a day". It is our epic quest to complete an epic book by reading just five pages a day. This year we are tackling George Eliot's Middlemarch, argued by some to be the greatest English novel of the Victorian period. Now's the time to find out.

Starting on 25 February we will simply read the first five pages. And then five pages the next day and then five more the day after. And that's it! Of course, if you are thoroughly enjoying yourself, we certainly wouldn't want you stop at the juicy bits - read on - but there's no expectations to have it all done and dusted in any amount of time. We're only asking for a minimum of five pages a day.

We would love for you and your daughter to take part. The text is available in all good book shops, free online, and downloadable in audio form - you could listen along whilst travelling to and from school or work! Expect events, celebrations, would-you-believe-its, fortnightly catch ups, and no doubt a tearful get together for the emotional bits. There will be a grand Middlemarch day some time before the end of Summer Term for the big finale.

Our English Ambassadors, Amy and Millie, will be tweeting @ahsenglish5aday each day with an update or word of encouragement, so everyone can follow online. It would be fantastic if you could join us and grab a copy of the book for yourself, your daughter, grandparents, uncles and aunts!

In the mean time, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Mr Matt Elgin, Curriculum Manager for English

60th Birthday Mugs and House T-Shirts

We are continuing to sell House t-shirts and mugs displaying our 60th Birthday logo. Students can purchase both items from school and the mug is also available to order from our uniform shop, using the link shown. We will also be selling items at events such as Year 11 Consultation Evening and House Music.

All profits will go towards the development of the Tower Block.

DON'T MISS OUT!

House T-Shirts £5

(also available in black)

You can order a mug here for collection from school

for £6.50

New Ways For Our Alumni To Connect With Us!

At the beginning of January we launched our new Alumni Twitter and Alumni Instagram, in addition to our LinkedIn presence. We are delighted to confirm that as a result of these, more of our Alumni are reconnecting with us and subscribing to our monthly Alumni Newsletters. This is excellent news, as we have many ongoing Alumni initiatives and are busy preparing for our 60th Birthday Celebration Day on 6th July.

We are planning a special Alumni Reunion at the school on our 60th Birthday Celebration Day and are keen to contact as many of our former students and staff as we can to invite them to attend. If know you know any Alumni, who may not have already been in touch with us, please ask them to contact me.

More information on our Alumni initiatives can be found on our dedicated page on the school website, or via LinkedIn 'Aylesbury High School Former Students and Staff' group (please 'connect' first with Alison Pexton), Twitter @high_alumni or Instagram aylesburyhighschoolalumni

We really would love to hear from all our Alumni!

This month we have been very fortunate to have the continued involvement and support of our Alumni for our 60th Birthday and Careers initiatives. As part of our Alumni Women Who Inspire initiative, our 60th Birthday 1990s student assemblies had guest speakers Alumni Sally Williamson (Adam), Louisa Allen (David) and Vanessa Mayhead-Carter. They shared with students their memories and insights of what AHS was like back then, their career choices and subsequent career pathways. Our students and staff were very keen to hear about their inspiration and significant achievements and we are very proud of what they have accomplished. Each of these Alumni also took part in Living History interviews which is another one of our 60th Birthday initiatives.

Continuing with Women Who Inspire, Alumna Valerie Owen OBE visited the school from her home in Dover, Kent to talk to engineering and business studies students about her architecture career and her role as Managing Director of an innovative consultancy, specialising in sustainable development and community regeneration. Alumna Ellena Tangi also supported our career engagement by arranging for her company, Carmichael UK, to promote STEM careers and careers in civil engineering at a student Lunch & Learn. We are very thankful to Valerie and Ellena for making these events possible and so enjoyable. They also took the time from their busy schedule with us to contribute to our Living History interviews.

The Living History interviews are us film interviewing our Alumni and former member of staff about their memories of AHS. These interviews will later be available as podcasts, and we will be using interview information to contribute to our 60th Birthday commemorative AHS History book.

One of our very special contributors to both of these projects was the very popular former member of staff, David Chaplin, who visited AHS for an afternoon and was our first 'green screen' candidate, with a photo of the school inserted as the background, which makes the interview even more interesting to view! Interviewed by Alumni Projects Assistant, Miss Harty (also an Alumna), Mr Chaplin provided us with a rich source of valuable information and anecdotes of his 50 years at AHS. His recollections were insightful of the times and the changes in education and society. We really appreciate the time he spent with us and for his support.

For more information on our Alumni projects and initiatives, please visit our dedicated Alumni page on the school website.

Mrs Alison Pexton, Development and Alumni Relations Director

Thank You To All Our Alumni Volunteers in January!

Chair of Governors Update

I hope you all managed to have a relaxing break over Christmas.

The start of the new academic term has certainly been a busy one for the Governing Body. Following the appointment of the new Headteacher (Mr Giles Scoble) at the end of November 2018, I hope you received his introductory letter and my update on the conclusion of the appointment process that I led. If not, copies of the letters are available on the Governor page of the school website.

Since my last Newsletter article, we have held two Full Governing Body meetings, Teaching & Learning, Resources and Personnel sub-committee meetings, undertaken a review of the school data and formally met with Mr Scoble to outline our respective key priorities and how we plan to work together.

As well as a review of school policies, we have also considered proposals for a major school refurbishment programme, of which you will be hearing more about over the coming months.

Following the appointment of a Development Governor (Mrs Gill Sharman) earlier this year and as part of our own on-going evaluation process, the Full Governing Body recently undertook a skills audit. This was done based on the six features of effective governance identified in the Department for Education’s 2017 Competency Framework for Governance: strategic leadership, accountability, people, structures, compliance and evaluation. There are both essential and desirable skills for governance and these can be acquired through a range of life experiences – noting that no one governor can be expected to have all the skills listed in the audit. Essentially, the Governing Body is a team and the purpose of the audit was to ensure each skill is covered by at least one of the governors.

The skills and knowledge sought from governors are those which enable governors to ask the right questions, analyse data and have focussed discussions. The outcomes of this audit will help identify the areas where the AHS Governing Body as a whole, would benefit from further ongoing training to improve its knowledge and experience in the different aspects of governance. This is in addition to assisting in the recruitment of new governors, assigning governors to the various sub-committees and also helping with succession planning for the different roles within the Governing Body.

The audit is important to us because at present we have 3 vacancies: 1 x Parent, 1 x Community and 1 x Co-opted Governor and I want to assess the skills set we will ideally be looking for in our new Governor appointments. Following the outcome of the skills audit, I will look to update you on the Governor appointment process and crucially, identify the skills set we are looking for to complement the Governing Body.

As you may be aware, every two years AHS undertakes surveys to elicit feedback from students, staff and parents/carers on their views of how the school is performing. The results of these surveys help direct future planning and priority setting for the school. The next surveys are due later this year and to ensure that we are still asking the right questions, some qualitative work, undertaken by the Governors, is planned to help inform the survey design. Qualitative research has a two-fold purpose:

  • It helps enrich survey data by getting ‘beyond the numbers’ to understand the reasons behind the opinions expressed.
  • It helps elicit new and emerging issues that are important to stakeholders and should be included in the surveys.

As part of our approach, a series of focus groups – with staff, students and parents – are planned through the month of February. The focus groups will be conducted by members of the Governing Body to ensure a degree of independence from the school Leadership. The input of all stakeholders is critical so we would really value your cooperation if you are asked to participate in one of these sessions.

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

As always, your views are important and I am keen to ensure that governor engagement with parents, carers, students and staff is as effective as it can be. I therefore continue to welcome your views and thoughts on how we might improve our overall approach to governance at AHS and crucially, improve the school for your daughters and the following generations.

Arfan Chaudhry, Chair of Governors

Support for Parents

HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT...IF ONLY I KNEW THEN WHAT I KNOW NOW?

Now you can help in a really practical way.

We're looking for volunteers to work in a structured way with families in your area with parents struggling with children under the age of 8.

If you are interested in working with families and have experience of looking after children you can make a difference.

If you can spare about 3 hours per week, we'll train you in how to pass on your precious skills and knowledge and we'll support you in doing a really worthwhile job.

Want to know more?

Telephone Banardo's Support 4 Parents for an informal chat on 07715 428 690 or email support4parents@barnardos.org.uk

Holiday Courses at Tring Park School

Holiday Courses run throughout the year and offer diverse experiences for a broad range of ages.

Courses vary in length from one day, to weekend non-residential, to our Easter and summer residential courses which are four or five days, depending on the genre. Residential courses are not limited to boarders – day pupils are very welcome.

There is no audition requirement for any of the courses, however each course does stipulate ages and recommended experience on the information and booking page. All booking takes place via the online page relating to the course and courses remain open until the stated closing date (on the booking page). However, residential course bookings may close sooner than initially advertised if all available dormitories become full, so early booking is advised.

The teaching staff are recruited for their experience within the profession and their teaching skills. Some staff also work at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, whilst others are guest teachers solely on the Holiday Courses. All courses are tailored to provide a valuable experience within the given genre.

Day Courses

Day courses open at 9.30am for registration and classes usually run between 10.00am and 4.00pm.

Cost for a day: £61.00

Weekend Courses

Weekend courses run within the same times as day courses and are not residential. Attendance is required on both days.

Cost for the weekend: £127

Residential Courses

The residential courses vary in price depending on the course.

Acting and Dance:

Day pupils £352; boarders £473

Musical Theatre, which is one day longer:

Day pupils £442; boarders £551

Pastoral staff assist with the residential courses and student helpers are recruited from the Sixth Form within the school. Evening activities are arranged, which are also open to day pupils if they wish to attend, and a theatre trip is arranged for all participants.

Further information about how to find the school and parental accommodation, if required, can be found here:

tringpark.com/the-school/about-us/contact