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June 2019 Blog

I appreciate that I am a week late with my blog this month and I can assure you there is a very good reason why! To say that June has been intense would be to say the very least. The primary focus for the first three weeks was, of course, the GCSE exams and getting the students through all their exams. It would be fair to say that there was definitely exam fatigue by the end, but who can blame the students since the average number of hours sitting in the exam hall was about 32 hours and if you were an Art or Photography student not only can you add 10 hours onto that taking it up to 42 hours. Consider as well that from May 1st, the students were in a constant stream of exam and revision, 7 days a week for 45 days. It truly was a marathon and one that all our younger students need to be aware of so that they really engage in the preparation and training from Year 7 onwards, taking the need for independent study very seriously.

For the first time, as our new curriculum structure works its way through, we had the Year 10 students take their early entry GCSE exams in either history, geography, catering, DT, dance, art or PE. Overwhelmingly we were very impressed with the serious attitude the students adopted towards the preparation for their exams and the way they managed the pressure of the exam hall. Hopefully, the experience this year will help them as they go into Year 11 since, they now have one GCSE exam done, and this will mean one less subject to study for next year and fewer hours of exams. 

Once the main pressure of the exams eased, we were straight into the preparations for the Headteacher Rewards evenings. Now the great news is that this year we had more students nominated for awards than ever before. Over the two evenings, a total of 287 individual awards were handed out. It was also a record-breaking year for Platinum winners as we had 147 Platinum winners this year compared to 65 the year before and 50 Governors’ Award winners compared to just 16 the year before. For Platinum, this is a 123% increase and for Governors’ a 213% increase. 

All of this has meant that I and the Heads of House have been incredibly busy making sure that each child is celebrated in an individual way for their application and determination to succeed this year. In fact, it is absolutely brilliant when you look at the breakdown of different achievements of so many of our students from across the year to see just what they have done and how they have committed themselves to the attributes of the Crookhorn Learner and had success as a result. My full congratulations go out to all students who are finishing this academic year in a stronger position than last year, either through awards gained, a challenge completed on the challenge award, improved attendance or through an improvement in their academic report and effort grades gained. So many of our students have now put themselves in the strongest position to start next year which is a great way to end this year!

Amidst all of this, we had two trips go out to France. The first one went to Boulogne on a very long day trip, but the students had a wealth of experience and opportunity to practice their speaking and listening skills in French. The second trip went to Picardy and was a residential for students in Years 7-10. One of the members of staff who accompanied the trip said how amazed they were at the number and variety of activities that were organised, from croissant making to raft building: what a truly wonderful experience for the students who went. As the trip included so many year groups it was also a great opportunity to build or re-enforce cross-age friendships, with many of the older students doing a fantastic job of mentoring and encouraging the younger students on some of the tougher activities. 

I was also pleased that we were able to facilitate the Portsmouth University Residential for thirteen Year 10 students who stayed on campus for three days during which time they had the chance to experience university life, staying in halls of residence and attending both academic lessons and social activities, as well as gaining independent skills.

Whilst this was going on 75 of our Year 10 students spent a day at HSDC (Havant and South Downs College) to experience the vocational route and 36 students visited the Havant Campus to experience the academic route.  All reports were that the students were extremely well behaved and enjoyed the chance to see what college life is actually like. I hope all these experiences, coupled with the work experience earlier in the year, really start to build the ambition and aspiration in our students, to give them the motivation to work through the rigours of next year and their GCSE exams.

Mr Bezant also ran a great event for some of the higher attainers in Year 7-9. The event was called the ‘Great Bear’, and the students knew nothing about what would unfold on that day, except that they were working with Mr Bezant all day.

Mr Bezant has sworn me to secrecy about what happens on this day but suffice to say it involves a map of the London Underground:

Image result for tube map london

Consideration of star constellations followed by consideration of Simon Patterson's lithograph 'The Great Bear’ that uses the Tube map as its inspiration:

See the source image

How is this a work of art as well as a literary masterpiece? Well, that is for you to look into…

What I love about this event is not only the challenge behind it but also the cultural enrichment it brings to the students. They seemed to relish the opportunity, as you can see from some of the feedback Mr Bezant shared with me afterwards, about whether the day had challenged them or made them think differently:

“It has changed the way I have thought about art and how people express their artwork.” - Kiera

“Yes, because it has made me think about maps in a way I have never really considered.” -Karishma M

“Today changed the way I thought of ‘art’ and seeing things not the way they are, but what they could be or mean.” -Amy W

“The day has changed how I think about interpretations and the idea of connecting with an audience, especially in art and literature.” - Chloe W

“It has challenged the way I think but not necessarily changed it.” - Will W

Bring on the challenge- Crookhorn students love it - that’s what I say - so thank you Mr Bezant! 

With July moving rapidly on- we will have much to celebrate in the next blog, from Transition for the new Year 7’s to Sports week; the College production; Year 7 camp and of course the Golden Time trips and the Whole College Assembly at the end of the year.

I need to sit down…