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June / July 2021 Blog

As we approach the end of this very challenging and unusual year, we have at least been able to enjoy some of the Crookhorn events that are so important to our College year.

At the end of June, we were able to run two COVID safe Headteacher Rewards events, celebrating the extraordinary achievements, resilience, and tenacity of many of our students. Although parents could not attend the event, we made sure that the citation that supported each child’s achievement was sent home for the parents to read as part of their individual rewards pack. We also adjusted some of the awards this year, to incorporate the celebration of those students who had tried so exceptionally hard with their independent learning during Lock Down 3. In total 61 students were awarded this and a further 26 students achieved their Governors’ Award, for being awarded over 300 commendations. All of our subjects nominated their most inspiring student within each year group, and we also celebrated students for the most effort and highest achiever awards as well.

It was really wonderful being able to congratulate these students individually for being fantastic Crookhorn Learners this year and I shared with them the following quote, as I believe that in adversity each of them made their choice, accepted their responsibility, and took hold of their destiny:

My will shall shape my future. Whether I succeed or fail shall be no man’s doing but my own. I am the force. I can clear any obstacle before me, or I can be lost in the maze. My choice, my responsibility. Win or lose, only I hold the key to my destiny.

Elaine Maxwell

We were also able to hold our Sports Week and our Sports Day. Again, everything was done slightly differently so that we were COVID-19 safe as far as we could be, but it was absolutely brilliant to see that the House competitive spirit was not just alive, but absolutely busting at the seams with ALL Year groups, including our now Year 8s (since rollover on the 21st June) who have yet to experience the true nature of the Crookhorn House system. Below is from Mr Watson’s  write-up of the Sports Week just prior to the Sports Day held on the Friday:

“The first two-year groups completed their long-distance track and field events under blue skies and a hot sun last week; year 11s on Thursday and year 8s on Friday.  Any doubts that the current year 8s may not quite understand the passion or ethos that runs through each House, was soon put to rest on Friday, as the 4 corners of the gym were packed with students chanting the names of their individual houses that almost took the roof off!  It was a great sight to see the smiling faces of students enjoying the fun of competing and the excitement of finding out how each of their fellow students had got on at the various events taking place around the field.”

Sports Day itself was a triumph of logistical planning and having the belief that it would all work out! Each year group completed their track events separately over 4 periods and each year group buzzed with the excitement of the event and the competitive spirit. Records were smashed and new sporting heroes were born, but by far one of the biggest pleasures for me was running the staff relay 4 times! The Heads of House rose to the challenge every time as did members of their House staff team to the absolute delight of the students.

As with all things COVID, because we were forced to do things differently many good learnings came from the process, which will undoubtedly shape our Sports Week and Sports Day for many years to come. Congratulations must be given to Arundel House who reigned supreme on the day, but with an ever-competitive Petworth House hot on their heels!

Our Student Senior Team elections came to culmination during the week of the 14th of June. The campaign run by each student was thorough and engaging and resulted in the election of Courtney C as Head Girl; Alfie G as Head Boy; Karishma M as Deputy Head Girl and Joe B as Deputy Head Boy. We had our first meeting as the new combined leadership team of the College this week, and I have asked the student leaders to focus on the promotion of student voice within the College. Not being able to run the House Councils or College Council over the last year has given us time to realise that our process for student voice needs to be looked at afresh and now is the time to do it. Raising the status and role of the House Council is the first priority and something the Senior Student Team will now do with Heads of House, so that we can create a far more effective student voice system.

Mr Bezant has been champing at the bit for most of the year to relaunch the English enrichment programme, and he got the chance to do just this on Monday 14th of June with Year 7 (prior to roll over) and Tuesday 15th of June with Year 8. In Mr Bezant’s own words — here is a recap of how the events went:

“At last! After a year’s suspension, the English Department has re-launched its ‘Opening Doors’ enrichment project for More and Most Able students in Y7 and Y8. Working in year group bubbles, groups of students from Y7 and Y8 have started exploring the theme of ‘Make Believe’, examining how writers and performers can make the supernatural real to a reader or an audience." 

Two thrilling mornings of text study and putting ideas into action were enjoyed by all:    

A sample of Year 7 feedback:
‘I enjoyed exploring new ideas and pushing myself to create a piece that shows what the author wanted the reader to understand. If given the option, I would definitely do this again.’
‘The main part of today’s learning that I enjoyed was when we were acting the script and making it come to life. This is because it was exciting and I enjoyed being able to act it out and to help show the feelings and emotions of the characters.’
‘I particularly enjoyed the large discussion element of the learning, since it gave us a chance to stretch ourselves and think, yet we didn’t have to write detailed paragraphs about it on paper. I also liked the drama section where we acted out the script. Overall, it was enjoyable, and I learned lots of valuable information — a key point that I remember is dramatic irony. I was unfamiliar with the phrase beforehand, but now I can recognise the term and understand that it is an important part of acting, since it creates suspense in the audience.’
A sample of Year 8 feedback:
‘I really enjoyed this morning as there haven’t been many opportunities over the last year to be able to take part in interesting activities to expand our learning. I think that having a range of discussion, thinking, writing and drama tasks made this morning interesting because it gave us different things to think about and consider, while linking the overall idea of the make-believe theme together.’
‘The physical learning and discussions also held a sense of inclusivity and fairness as everyone was equal in both aspects. By this, I mean that everyone had equal opportunities to speak and share their opinions.’
‘I learnt lots of new skills this morning as the topics we were discussing were really fun and interesting. I now know more about how certain authors use their designs to help draw readers in and why they make different covers to books targeted at different audiences.’
‘I really enjoyed today’s lessons, because it was different, and I got to work with people, who can help advance my learning…. Annotating and doing the drama piece, was good because it made me really think, how could I represent something, that the main character couldn’t see.’

Science Club has also been able to run for most of the summer term and has been really well attended. Their last event was the amazing bottle rockets which took place on the field and taught Mr Collins the valuable lesson of not getting in the way when one fires off — even for the purpose of getting a photograph. The subsequent thorough drenching was well deserved!

Our Year 11 transition programme ran right through to the 18th of June. The majority of the subject taster sessions were well attended and many students were extremely grateful for the opportunity to come in and experience what KS5 learning will be like, in their chosen discipline going forward. My heartfelt thanks to Mrs Mack, for the outstanding organisation and to all the teachers who ran the different subject sessions for the time and effort put into the planning and the delivery.

With regard to the Centre Assessed Grades process this year for all our public exams, we have heard as of this week that our standardisation and moderation process across all subjects has passed the exam board’s scrutiny, which is truly excellent news and is a testament to the hard work and commitment the teachers in each subject area put in, to make sure the process was as rigorous and accurate as it could be.

We had to cancel some of our July activities such as our Year 6 second transition visits and the transition evening, due to the rising number of COVID cases in schools generally. However, in true Crookhorn style, what we have not been able to do face to face we have done virtually and so hopefully our new Year 7s  and their parents have accessed all the information and videos on the website, which will help prepare the new students for their September start. We are of course running our Summer School as well for these students, starting on the 23rd of August, and I am delighted that 118 of our new Year 7 students have signed up. This week will offer the best transition opportunities possible and so many of the staff have signed up to be here too — so it will undoubtedly be a fantastic week!  

The Year 11 prom which we had to cancel on the 25th of June has been reorganised for later this week. I am so pleased about this and I hope it will be a real chance for us to celebrate as a College the culmination of secondary education for Cohort 16, who, let's face it,  had both of their GCSE years disrupted in such a seismic way.

We have one week to go, and God willing we will make it to the end of term, with as many students in College as possible and all our COVID safety systems in place to try and ensure as far as possible that this will happen. This has been a year that I will care to never repeat, but that being said, it is a year when I have learned the true understanding of the words: ‘Opportunity’ and ‘Never Give Up'!

Have a Fantastic Summer!