October 2018

Newsletter 2


  • Update from Alan Rosen
  • School Funding, again
  • AHS is approaching 60!
  • AHSA Quiz Night and easy ways to support the school
  • LEAP/MIND Mental Health Workshop
  • Development and Alumni News
  • Chair of Governors Update
  • AVTP Training for future teachers
  • Duke of Edinburgh Award

Update from Alan Rosen

What do they do at AHS all day?

Mrs Hamnett and I did a tour of the school last week to see what was going on. We observed:

  • Angles and parallel lines
  • Artist research for photography
  • Basketball
  • Brain teasers helping computational thinking
  • Brechtian piece on ‘Anyone can wear sunscreen’, set in a prison
  • Choreography
  • Columbus Day (12 October) x 2
  • Comparing transition metals and alkaline metals
  • Composing music with four beats
  • Cubase for melodies
  • Designing pyjamas
  • Differentiation of composite functions
  • Equilibrium and yield
  • Essential requirements of being a human
  • Examining an onion cell
  • Globalisation and Multinationals
  • Greek myths x 2
  • Heating copper carbonate
  • Lighting cues
  • Magnetism
  • Making a background using paper in preparation for a collage
  • Maths and moles
  • Maths test
  • Painting for their stimulus
  • Percentage error
  • Propaganda in Nazi Germany
  • Quizlet in German
  • Quizlet on learning completed → poster to address weaknesses
  • Sequences
  • Spanish customs
  • Testing for a chemical
  • Tone of speech used by Neil Kinnock and Harold Macmillan
  • Types of pastry
  • Upper, middle and working classes at the time of Lord of the Flies

Around a third of the lessons were using devices when we visited; there's no right or wrong proportion but it was interesting to see how and when they were being used.

Over the past week we have had around 80 families also touring lessons and their feedback has been entirely positive: "Bubbly" (my favourite!), "Engaged", "Friendly", "Honest" and "Interesting" are just some of the comments. Thank you to all of the much-praised Year 7 and 9 tour guides who showed them around.

School funding, again

You may or may not have been intrigued to see over two thousand headteachers marching through London in support of the WorthLess? Campaign last month. It was described as potentially the best behaved march ever, which is a nice comment on the profession, but has only happened because of a collective frustration over the long-running school funding situation, which regular readers will be very familiar with. A particular difficulty when trying to have intelligent conversations with politicians has been the language used by ministers when challenged over funding, and we were delighted when the UK Statistics Authority wrote to the Secretary of State to point out where figures were repeatedly being exaggerated or misrepresented. See the letter here.

At the end of this month the Budget will (possibly) establish the overall level of funding for public services but more detailed figures for the various parts, including education, may not be clear until the Spring of 2019. Schools across the country do not in any way expect special treatment over any other public service, but do want the merits of investing in education considered rationally and decisions to be evidence-based.

Schools have a number of points to make regarding funding and it is important that parents are aware of the national position:

  • An 8% real terms cut to school budgets since 2010 (Source: Institute for Fiscal Studies)
  • A 20% real terms cut to post 16 budgets since 2010 (Source: Institute for Fiscal Studies)
  • There are well over half a million more pupils in schools since 2010 (Source: Department for Education)
  • The Government has missed its own teacher recruitment targets for six years running (Source: Department for Education)
  • (As noted above) The UK Statistics Authority has had cause to publicly write to the Department for Education with concerns on four occasions in the past year. “I regret that the Department for Education still does not yet appear to have resolved the issues with its use of statistics.” (Source: Sir David Norgrove, Oct 2018)
  • the National Funding Formula (NFF) has been a helpful step in the right direction but has left some significant anomalies in place, and its full introduction has been delayed by at least a further year.

AHS will always make the most of whatever funding it receives, maintain a balanced budget, and will continue to provide the best-possible education. Our budget at the moment is tight but manageable, and we have been able to use money from the first phase of the NFF to increase teaching time in larger classes in Year 12.

We are very conscious that parents face their own pressures with the cost of education (transport, uniform, trips and even 1:1 devices), and we are committed to not asking parents to fund 'basic' education, but fundraising to develop the premises and facilities is a way in which we can move the school forward, so please do consider the development campaigns with that in mind (and thank you to everyone who has supported Building a Brighter Future to date).

Within Bucks, school funding decisions are ultimately made by the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills each year, but his decisions are strongly guided by the recommendations of a group called Schools Forum, which exists in every local authority, and represents early years, primary, secondary, special schools and pupil referral units, whether they are LA maintained or, like AHS, academies. I have been elected Chair of Bucks Schools Forum for the year and part of my mission is to make sure that funding, however tight, is allocated across all Bucks schools as fairly as possible.

AHS is approaching 60!

Our 60th Anniversary plans are underway...

Many of you will have attended one of the House Dance evenings this week, with the stimulus of Female Empowerment. Good luck to all for the final performance tonight and a huge thank you to everyone involved in making this event such an entertaining and impressive showcase of dance at Aylesbury High School.

Our attention is now moving to the Annual AHSA Quiz on Friday 23 November, see flyer below, and remember to book your place sooner rather than later as, like the Dance show, this event sells out quickly. The AHSA is always keen for new volunteers for events like the ones noted here, so do please sign up if you can help, by clicking on the links sent to you last week.

Cake Off!

We will be holding a Cake Off! Competition for both staff and students on Monday 21 January so please start looking at your recipe books and planning your designs to celebrate our 60th year. If you have the necessary skills to act as a judge for this competition or you can offer an appropriate prize, please contact me at nhamnett@ahs.bucks.sch.uk. Rules and entry details will follow in the next Newsletter.

Mrs Nette Hamnett, Deputy Headteacher

Website Accessibility

A quick reminder that it's possible to see the AHS website in over a hundred different languages so, given the many languages spoken at home, please see if using the dropdown box in the top right-hand corner would be helpful to anyone in your household.

We can't guarantee the accuracy of the translations but it might be on interest to anyone studying a foreign language as well!

LEAP/MIND Mental Health Workshop

It was great to see so many parents at the LEAP/MIND Mental Health Workshop last week.

We regularly hear or read alarming statistics about they way in which some young people are using unhealthy mechanisms to cope with matters such as inappropriate use of social media, body image, school, family issues...the list goes on. To remove the stigma that can sometimes be connected to mental health, we need to encourage young people and adults to talk about mental health as easily as they can physical health and to recognise that everyone has mental health.

We need to ensure that our young people have access to the right vocabulary and know how to gain support when they feel overwhelmed by day to day matters or unable to come up with a way to move forwards, regardless of the issue. We have used this animation, at school, to encourage our students to understand their experience and to seek help and help others who need it. You might find it useful to watch the video in addition to viewing the 'A-Z of mental health' guide produced by MIND.

Please do contact the appropriate Head of Year or our Student Welfare Coordinator if you wish to discuss student support, and visit the student support section of our website.

A big thank you to all parents who participated in this event and made the evening so successful.

“We all have mental health. It’s as vital as our physical health so there is nothing more important in life than to take care of it."

Mrs Nette Hamnett, Deputy Headteacher

Development and Alumni News

Over 1,000 AHS Alumni Contacts!

We are delighted to confirm that we are now in contact with many more of our Alumni (over 1,000 now) and reconnecting with so many of our former students and staff. It has been inspirational finding out more about their lives after AHS and we are pleased to have welcomed Alumni back to AHS to support our Women Who Inspire initiative. A pivotal part of our 60th Birthday celebrations has been reaching out to our Alumni to invite them to join us in our birthday celebrations in this academic year. We are looking forward to seeing a number of Alumni again at our forthcoming events:

50s & 60s Alumni Afternoon Cream Tea on Wednesday 20 November 2.45 pm - 5 pm

If you attended AHS in the 50s and 60s, please join us for an Afternoon Cream Tea and to review our school archive materials from your time at AHS. Tickets for this event are £5, payable on the day.

Please confirm your attendance with me by Friday 16 November

70s & 80s Alumni Afternoon Cream Tea on Thursday 21 November 2.45 pm - 5 pm

If you attended AHS in the 70s and 80s, please join us for an Afternoon Cream Tea and to review our school archive materials from your time at AHS. Tickets for this event are £5, payable on the day.

Please confirm your attendance with me by Friday 16 November

Save The Date: Joint Alumni Party with Aylesbury Grammar School on Saturday 1 December

We are pleased to confirm that we have organised an informal, fun AHS Alumni party with Aylesbury Grammar School Alumni on Saturday 1 December from 7 pm at Aylesbury Grammar School. This event is free of charge and there will be a cash bar and snacks. All Alumni are very welcome to attend; partners too!

Please confirm your attendance with me by Friday 16 November.

July 1975, outside one of the legendary Huts

Form 3D, 1972/3

1964 track team

70s and 80s Assemblies: Tuesday 30 October, Wednesday 31 October and Friday 2 November 8.45 - 9.10 am

We welcome any Alumni who attended AHS in the 70s and 80s to join us for our morning assemblies where we will have Alumni guest speakers from that time, sharing their memories of AHS and their careers after AHS.

Interviews and Filming For Our 60th Birthday Archive Project

With a wealth of historic school documents and photographs and to commemorate our 60th Birthday, we have set ourselves the task of creating our first AHS Archive. We would like to display these archive materials at our forthcoming 60th Birthday celebration events, and are also currently producing a 60th Birthday Commemorative Book on the history of AHS.

We have been delighted to welcome so many Alumni back to AHS already and many of you have been taking part in filmed interviews as part of our 60th Birthday Archive Project. Over 100 Alumni have so far expressed an interest in helping us with our Project and we will be in contact with you soon, as we collate decade information.

If you would like to be interviewed, or if you have photographs or documents of AHS which you would like to donate to our Archive, please contact me.

Mrs Alison Pexton, Development & Alumni Relations Director


Chair of Governors Update

Since my last article for the AHS Newsletter I am delighted to have been re-elected as Chair of Governors and join James Chandler and Kate Weir who have been appointed as Chairs for the Resources and Personnel sub-committees respectively for this academic year. We are, however, currently seeking a Chair for the Teaching and Learning sub-committee but I am pleased to report that Gill Sharman has taken on the role of Deputy Chair. The work of the sub-committees includes the important task of updating, monitoring and evaluating the school’s policies. Details of all our school policies can be found on the school website under the ‘About Us – Key Information and Policies’ tab. I would encourage you to take a look in order to get a better understanding and appreciation of the range of issues the Governing Body deals with and crucially the support we provide to the Senior Leadership Team in reviewing and assessing the policies.

I’d also encourage you to view the Governor page on the school website which includes 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 biographies. 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.

Following the October 2018 Full Governing Body meeting, I’m sorry to report that two of our longest standing Governors have tendered their resignations from the Governing Body. Julia Spencer (Community Governor) played an important part in the development of the school and took a key role when we moved to Academy status in 2011. She was also a founding Member of the Academy Trust. Revd Stephen (Co-opted Governor) was our Development Governor for a number of years, as well as serving as a member of the Personnel and Resources Committees. The Governing Body is grateful for their many years of loyal service to the school.

As mentioned in my previous article, another important role of the Governing Body is responsibility for the recruitment and appointment of the Headteacher. This process has already begun. Following the formal endorsement of the Full Governing Body, an Appointment Panel (made up of members of the Governing Body) has been established to lead on the recruitment process. In order to support us in this process, we have secured the services of a professional Educational consultant. I will, of course, keep you informed as the recruitment process develops and we are also considering how best to mark Mr Rosen’s time at AHS.

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. If you would like to contact the Governing Body, please visit the Governors' page of the website and you will find contact details there.

Mr Arfan Chaudhry, Chair of Governors

We are pleased to announce that Aylesbury Vale Teaching Partnership, based at Aylesbury High School, has been designated as a Lead School Hub for the Astra SCITT which means we will be able to train our own teacher trainees in Aylesbury Vale schools from September 2019!

We will be working with a range of secondary schools to host trainees in a broad range of subjects. During the lead up to September 2019, we will be interviewing prospective trainees with the aim of securing at least 15 trainees for our first year.

If you or anyone you know has a degree and may be interested in a career in teaching, please visit our website for further details http://avtp.co.uk/teacher-training/teacher-training-routes/ or contact Amanda Brigden on avtp@ahs.bucks.sch.uk

Duke of Edinburgh Award

Richard Torpey is stepping down from his long term commitment to the Duke of Edinburgh Award. He has been an advocate for the scheme for over 10 years at Aylesbury High School and his dedication has led to its huge success, from about 40 girls at Bronze and a handful at silver to the numbers we are getting today. He has given up a huge amount of his own time in evenings and at weekends to help out all levels of the award, and has been an inspiration to other staff in volunteering to give our students opportunities beyond the classroom. Mr Torpey is incredibly knowledgeable and skilled in all aspects of the Award but in particular about expeditions and we are grateful to him for all of his contributions.

We would like to say a huge thank you to Mr Torpey for his dedication, enthusiasm and endless energy in making DofE such a fundamental part of Aylesbury High School.