Spring 2019

Newsletter 5


  • Headteacher Update
  • KS5 Pastoral Review
  • Stonewall Role Model Visit
  • AHS Anti-Bullying Strategy
  • Uniform Sales - help needed!
  • School Funding (again)
  • 60th Birthday - Sounds Amazing and more
  • Alumni Assemblies
  • Head of Year 8
  • Student Leadership
  • Thames Valley Police Newsletter
  • AHS Eco News
  • School Transport
  • Young Carers Festival

Headteacher Update

We are working hard to get everything in place for the refurbishment of the Tower Block, starting at the end of May with the top two floors being handed over to the builders and then the rest of the block handed over at the end of June. These projects are always even more complicated than a new build, but the planning is going well at the moment. The prize, of ten refurbished classrooms, four improved offices, four more welcoming foyers, enhanced IT facilities, renewed heating and electrics, and more, is undoubtedly going to be worth the inevitable inconvenience for half a term.

A huge thank you to the parents, staff and governors who have already donated either by Regular Giving, or by buying a Country or Number. The recent evening events have seen donations of over £5,000 and around 80 of the countries and numbers are now 'sold'.

You won't be surprised that we are asking every family to consider helping out in whatever way they can to support this project! You could choose a country because its internet code matches your initials, choose a number because it's your house number, date of birth or shoe size(!), or because you like the weird facts students and staff have compiled about each country and number. Which countries are doubly land-locked (surrounded by countries with no sea or ocean border)? How many years is roughly a billion seconds?

See the leaflet sent home for more details, and online giving is via this link. Also, see us at the various evening events this year.

Thank you.

Alan Rosen, Headteacher

KS5 Pastoral Review

It was a pleasure to work with the Sixth Form Team in January to complete an annual review of the pastoral provision available to both Year 12 and 13. The review included tutor and student surveys in addition to student focus groups, learning walks during morning form times, assemblies and meetings with the Sixth Form Team.

Sixth Form Team

Head of Sixth Form and Year 13 - Mr Ochiltree

Head of Year 12 and Transitions Coordinator - Mrs Sutton

Pastoral Assistant - Mrs Dalby

Year 12 and 13 Tutors

Learning Walks demonstrated how well the staff knew their form groups and that tutors routinely shared room changes and notices, to create an informed start to the day. It was disappointing to note so many students wearing coats inside classrooms and the team will re-visit the finer details of our Sixth Form dress code before the induction process for current Year 11 students begins.

It was pleasing that the suggested actions from the previous review had been achieved and that survey responses from both students and staff highlighted significant improvements, since 2018, in a wide range of areas. The Sixth Form Team is also to be congratulated for its outstanding guidance and dedication in supporting over 185 students with university applications.

Feedback from students and tutors is overwhelmingly positive. The Sixth Form Team is reflective and keen to improve further; it has common aims and a clear vision for what it wants to achieve in the Sixth Form. It has been instrumental in making improved changes this year, such as the new format for the Year 14 Presentation Evening and establishing an improved L4L programme for Year 12.

Students feel that we have appropriate leadership positions for them to participate in and that they know who is available to support them if they need any assistance with day to day matters, Post 18 queries or concerns about their physical or mental well-being.

It was a delight to observe the well-prepared, interesting and fun assembly from 12B based on The Great British Bake Off!

The next set of Academic Reviews start next week and will focus on our Humanity Subjects.

Mrs Nette Hamnett, Deputy Headteacher

Stonewall Role Model Visit

In a KS5 L4L lesson in February, journalist James Ingham visited to talk about Stonewall and LGBTQ+. Aylesbury High School is a Stonewall Champion School and is very proud of its own LGBTQ+ group, called Spectrum. James told us about his life growing up as gay and feeling as though it was “wrong”. Although he had a tough time growing up, he has many impressive achievements under his belt, from running marathons, raising money for charity and sharing his story to support young people. It was an eye-opening presentation into the life of someone growing up gay in a less accepting society and helps us realise how far we have come in the last couple of decades. We thank him for sharing his personal experiences and for finding time to visit us during LGBTQ+ Awareness Month.

If you would like to know more about Stonewall visit their website here or read The Stonewall School Report 2017.

Year 12 Student

Anti-Bullying Strategy

In November as part of the National Anti-Bullying Week we created a new Anti-Bullying Strategy. The strategy was shared with students via HEART (Healthy Equality and Rights Together) to gain their feedback. The current document is available under Key Information on our website. In addition we launched a new facility for students to share any incidents of bullying (or other issues) called 'Raise a Concern' which is available via the Student Homepage.

Mrs Nette Hamnett, Deputy Headteacher

Can you help with this year’s uniform fittings & sales?

Dear Parents/Carers

We are looking for a number of helpers to help assist with this year’s New Year 7 Entry, Uniform 2019 Sales. If you haven't helped previously you should find it a really rewarding time. As a helper, you will be supplied with fruit, cakes, biscuits and hot/cold beverages throughout the day!

Set up only - Dining Hall Friday 14 June

Flexible anytime from 2.15 pm and finishing by 6 pm

Uniform Sale Day –Dining Hall Saturday 15 June

Flexible anytime from 8.45 am and finishing by 6 pm

If you would like assist with this or have any queries regarding this event, please contact me using the information below.

Mrs Julie Wanstall, Telephone 01296 388222

School Funding (again)

Last Friday saw a large number of schools sending home letters on behalf of the WorthLess? campaign and asking parents to write to MPs. We didn't do so (partly through lack of time to co-ordinate our communications with other Bucks schools rather than not wishing to do so).

There are three main strands to the messages:

  • The fact that school funding has been seriously reduced as part of austerity over the past few years: around 8% in real terms for 11-16 year-olds, and 20% for Sixth Form funding. We have no problem with playing our part in balancing the country's accounts (and other areas of the economy have been hit harder than education), but the pain is not evenly shared and there are lots of examples where the position nationally is critical. AHS has always managed its finances extremely carefully to stay afloat, and will continue to do so, and while we are asking parents for help with building projects (and IT indirectly) we have no intention of asking for help with day-to-day running costs. We are the 9th lowest-funded secondary school in the country this year, out of just over 3000 (we were the absolute lowest a few years ago). We are a beneficiary of the minimum funding level introduced via the National Funding Formula, but balancing the books in these circumstances is always at the expense of something, whether it is the curriculum, staffing, workload or facilities.
  • The fact that schools are being asked/required to pick up more and more responsibilities over and above 'normal' teaching - we are definitely the fourth emergency service in many ways, not least as the local authority's ability/capacity to carry out its responsibilities has suffered in recent years. Locally and nationally, this is especially critical for the most vulnerable - disadvantaged families and students with Special Educational Needs.
  • The huge frustration with the DfE and ministers who have repeatedly denied that there is any problem at all, despite being told off at least four times by the UK Statistics Authority who wrote to, "raise with you [Damian Hinds] serious concerns about the Department for Education’s presentation and use of statistics".

The Guardian produced a video last week setting out the position clearly and Education Minister Nick Gibb was challenged over school funding on BBC Breakfast on Saturday https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/education-47507587/schools-minister - judge for yourself how he did!

60th Birthday : Sounds Amazing

Following the success of our recent Cake Off, we are starting to plan for our AHS Music Battle. Current students will be invited to audition for our Sounds Amazing event between 23 - 25 April, as a solo artist or as part of a group, please see the poster below.

Our aim is to select 5 acts to perform 3 songs each, at our FINAL on Saturday 06 July. If you feel that you can commit to judging either the auditions or main event for this competition, please email me for further information.

Students will need to complete an 'expression of interest form' by Friday 29 March 2019.

We look forward to hearing the AHS talent and hope you will join us to support this and many other events on Saturday 06 July.

60th Birthday Mugs and House T-Shirts

House t-shirts and mugs displaying our 60th Birthday logo can be purchased via our Uniform Shop or at evening events this half term.

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

Raffle Tickets

We are planning to print and share raffle tickets with you and our Alumni early next term, to help support our 60th Birthday Tower Block Campaign. If you are able to donate any prizes (small, medium or large) to encourage participation in this in-frequent AHS event, please contact me by clicking on my name below.

Mrs Nette Hamnett, Deputy Headteacher

You can order a mug here for £6.50

House T-Shirts £5

(also available in black)


Our Final Set of 60th Birthday Student Assemblies!

February saw the last set of our 60th Birthday Student Assemblies, covering the 2000s, and once more we were delighted to welcome back Alumni 'Women Who Inspire' to speak at our student assemblies: Paralympian Gemma Collis McKann, Louisa Johns and Becca Harty. Each of these Alumni shared their memories of AHS and the inspiration and influence it had on their future careers and aspirations. Every former student speaking at our decade assemblies has chosen their own career pathway and eventual career destinations have been very varied! However, the common strand has been the core values of our school and how these values have been the lasting legacy to our Alumni, impacting every aspect of their lives.

We would like to thank all our 'Women Who Inspire' for coming back to AHS to speak at these assemblies and for taking part in our Living History interviews. Through meeting and talking to our Alumni from the past 60 years, we have gained a better appreciation of our school's history and even more reasons to celebrate our sixty years of success!

For more information on our 60th Birthday Student Assemblies and our our Alumni news, please go to http://www.ahs.bucks.sch.uk/supporting-us/

Mrs Alison Pexton, Development and Alumni Relations Director

Paralympian Gemma Collis McKann

Head of Year 8

Mrs Taylor, Head of Year 8, returned from Maternity Leave after half term. We would like to take this opportunity to welcome her back but also to say a huge thank you to Mr Stanley for his commitment to his role as Temporary Head of Year 8. We thank him for all his work in supporting this year group, contributions to the pastoral team and for his organisation of the successful trips to Aberdyfi earlier this year.

Please remember to contact our Pastoral Support Assistants, Miss Harty (Y7-9), Mrs Faulkner (Y10/11) and Mrs Dalby (Y12/13) if you have any queries.

Mrs Nette Hamnett, Deputy Headteacher

Student Leadership

Our students continue to go above and beyond when it come to taking on the leadership of events at school. From organising an evening with Economist, Tim Harford, to arranging and performing in House events, to offering to run clubs at primary schools, our students never fail to impress us. We had 94 Year 12 students who took on roles as Subject Ambassadors in January and they are making their mark already.

This half term sees the election of a new school Cabinet who will take over when our current Cabinet leave in May. Following a student and staff vote, our shortlisted Cabinet candidates will be presenting to their peers in KS4 and KS5 in assemblies. This will then allow our Year 10 - 12 students to vote for the person that will best represent the student body. Shortly after the Cabinet elections, Year 12 students will have the opportunity to put themselves forward as a House Captain or a Student Ambassador.

We wish the applicants all the best of luck over the next few weeks and I look forward to reporting on the new Student Leaders in April.

Mrs Caroline Wilkes, Assistant Headteacher

Thames Valley Police School Newsletter

Thames Valley Police have produced a School Newsletter with the aim of keeping parents, students and school staff up to date on matters relating to screen time activities and the position of the law in matters relating to the internet. We work closely with our School Officers from Thames Valley Police to gain advice and support for students who have been victims or perpetrators of inappropriate online use and PC Smith kindly visits AHS to speak to our students as part of the L4L Programme. Please access the TVP School Newsletter here.

You may also find the March edition of Ditto an interesting and helpful read, this month it covers viral challenges, miscommunication, YouTube repulsive comments and popular apps.

Mrs Nette Hamnett, Deputy Headteacher

AHS Eco News

This year, we are working to achieve the Eco Schools Green Flag award, an international award given to schools in recognition of their environmental action and awareness. It aims to develop students’ skills, raise environmental awareness and improve the school environment.

The committee of over 20 members conducted an environmental survey of the school and used the findings to decide on their 5 main aims:

    • Reducing our water usage
    • Decreasing our waste production and increasing recycling
    • Reducing energy consumption
    • Decreasing the amount of litter
    • Becoming more health conscious

They have drawn up an action plan and are well on their way to achieving their goals. So far they have held whole school assemblies and planned a monthly campaign for each of their aims.

This month’s focus is litter. As well as ordering new recyling bins and promoting their use, the committee has organised a Great Big School Clean for the week of 25 March and a tidiest form room competition, where the winners will earn valuable house points. They are also busy working with the canteen to improve recycling and healthy eating.

As part of their push last month to get students to save water, they urged them to consider ways of saving water at home. Do have a look at the sites such as ‘save water save money’ which offer lots of free water saving products like hippos, shower regulators and tap guards and you could help us by doing your bit for the environment too!

Mrs Harriet Queralt, Assistant Headteacher

School Transport

Please take some time to read about the planned changes for home to school transport in this letter from Sarah Callaghan, Service Director for Education at Buckinghamshire County Council.

We have also been approached by Masons Coaches, asking us to make parents aware of their updated routes for September. The link to their website is https://www.masonscoachhire.co.uk/school-buses-transport-2019-20.

They have also had a number of enquiries to provide a Woburn Sands/Heath & Reach/Leighton Buzzard route and are taking a register of interest to identify if there is a need for this. You can contact them via their website.

Young Carers Festival

20th Young Carers Festival: 28 - 30 June 2019

The Children's Society is celebrating 20 years of the Young Carers Festival - the only one of it's kind in the UK and it would like young carers from AHS to join them.

For 20 years, the festival has provided a great opportunity for young carers' voices to be heard on issues that affect them. This year will focus on the support they need to be 'Fit for the Future' - mentally, physically and as they move towards adulthood.

Young Carers can gain two nights camping in the beautiful grounds of YMCA's Fairthorne Manor; taking some time out from caring duties to relax, have fun, meet new people, enjoy music, good food, games and lots more.

If you are a Young Carer and would like to be involved either apply now or speak directly with Mrs Westcott, Student Welfare and Young Carers Coordinator.