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November / December 2023 Blog

November and December seemed to fly past. We had the mock exams for Year 11 in their core subjects and Year 10 had their early entry mock as well. All students displayed excellent behaviour, and the mocks did their job in the sense it helped many students realise the importance of revision. To this end, we have been working really hard with students on revision techniques, using all the advantages that are available to them now, such as ‘itslearning’, from which they can extract all the resources that have been used in their learning to date, and SENECA, which is an excellent tool for testing their knowledge and practising the all-important retrieval techniques. In particular, I have worked with groups of Year 11’s to model to them how they can use SENECA to build revision mind maps in English Literature.

We have made it clear to the students that if they are doing an hour a day of revision between now and the start of their final exams, then they will be on track to do the very best they can.

Attendance update

In my last blog, I also said that I would keep you appraised of attendance to the College as this is so important in helping students with their learning. I am delighted to report that by the end of the Autumn term our attendance overall was above the national average at 92.2% compared to 91.7%. Likewise, Years 9 to 11 showed a good improvement on attendance from the summer term, with Year 11 being a whole 2% higher. Years 9 and 10 were both 1% higher. We also had 518 students in the College with attendance above 95% compared to the Autumn term of 2022 when we had 407 students. So, this autumn term we had 100 more students achieving 95% or above attendance than we did last autumn, which is just fantastic.

All of this shows that we are moving in the right direction in regard to that crucial engagement in education, and I want to thank all parents who are working in partnership with us to help each student attend College as much as possible.

STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths)

The main aspect of the College that I wanted to focus on in this blog is connected to the growth of our STEM programme. I am passionate about making sure that students have as much access to as many opportunities as possible, and in the Portsmouth, Havant and Waterlooville area we have a wealth of engineering companies who offer a vast range of opportunities to young people as they come out of education at different stages. As many of you will know, we invest heavily in our careers department and the way they can support students to ensure successful pathways post 16. It was with great delight that we were reaccredited in December 2023 with the GOLD standard for Investors in Careers. This is a real testament to the amount of work that Clare Mack and Beverly Brown do, to provide the best possible advice and opportunities for students. The assessor actually had no areas of recommended improvements for the College, as we were exemplary across the board.

However, Clare Mack and I have a plan to take the concept of preparation for apprenticeship to the next level and this comes in the form of our proposed Crookhorn Engineering Academy, which we hope to launch from September 2024.

Crookhorn Engineering Academy

A key part of this Engineering Academy is our partnership with the Engineering company WASP (part of Collins Aerospace) and Mr Morgan, our Head of Technology and engineering advocate. Mr Morgan has been hugely successful in building the strength of our technology department to what it is today, and at the very core of this is the strength of our engineering teaching team; Mrs Breeze, Miss Kitching and Mr Attwood.  I mentioned in the September/ October blog that our engineering results were some of the best in the country, so I am very keen to build on this area of excellence to benefit more and more students.  To this end, we have continued to invest significantly in this area regarding IT equipment, so we are working at industry level specifications and also in regard to specialist teachers.

I met with WASP Engineering in September, and together we talked about the importance of students understanding the wide spectrum of engineering and the need to break down the myths that are traditionally connected with the subject. However, it was agreed that a good, strong understanding of maths was key to progression, but it is important to understand what this maths looks like and the fact that it can be easily accessibly to most students.

The vision, therefore, for the Academy is: to help students understand the scope and potential within engineering and to have meaningful experiences within the industry to shape future aspirations.

The outline plan to deliver this currently looks like:

Mr Morgan has already done a lot of thinking and preparation to help bring this plan to fruition and with Mr Collins assisting him, I have no doubt that we will embark on a new and exciting engineering journey from September.

Aside from this development, I would just like to take the rest of the blog to showcase what we have achieved already this year in regard to STEM - covering all four of the subjects: science; technology; engineering and maths!!!

Senior Maths Challenge - October 2023

15 Year 11 students took part in the Senior Maths Challenge in October, which is a national competition aimed at students in Year 13 or below.  We are really pleased to say that 5 Crookhorn students achieved awards!

Henery G. (Bronze),  Fadl O. (Bronze), Angel V. (Silver), Ellie J. (Bronze), Archie C. (Bronze).

Williams Racing Trip - October 2023

Year 9 Engineering students visited Williams F1 Racing and every member of the team at Williams commented positively on the enthusiasm and focus they demonstrated.  It was a fantastic opportunity for the students to see how the theoretical and practical implications of engineering come together in industry. Giving the students this broader understanding will hopefully inspire and motivate them in their class work. The students programmed their Lego Mindstorms EV3, refined the code depending upon the circuit, developed a team logo, calculated lap times and presented their findings to the group. At all stages, they had to problem solve to then be able to move on to the next task successfully. They also had an introduction to the history of Williams prior to a narrated tour of the museum, then after a driver reaction test they had the chance to enjoy the F1 simulators.

CEMAST – Iconstruct Event - October 2023

17 Year 10 early entry Construction students visited the CTEC/CEMAST centres to experience what working in the construction trade is really like. Students were able to interview local employers and then put together a presentation about the company and what they offered. Students learned about different roles and the qualifications and skills needed to work for various companies. They then got to experience the interactive zone, use digger simulations and virtual reality platforms. The students also had a go at bricklaying and watched demonstrations of how pumping stations work. 

We were informed after the visit that our ‘The Next Generation’ team (Emma C. and Taylor H.) were selected as the winners of the Most Informative Award at i-Construct 2023. 

This award recognises a high level of engagement and interaction as well as curiosity and enthusiasm for exploring construction careers, pathways, transferable skills and diversity and inclusion in the sector. 

We were impressed by the quality and creativity of the presentation prepared by your students for the contest. They showed a passion for learning, a willingness to take risks and a positive attitude towards feedback and improvement. 

Your teachers and staff deserve much credit for inspiring and guiding your students to excel.

Observatory Trip - October 2023

24 science students in Year 10 and 11 made an evening visit to the Clanfield observatory. Although sadly the clouds didn't allow a single break all evening, the students represented the school beautifully in listening to a lecture from some of the experts in the Hampshire astronomical society. Students got to see the inner workings of a real observatory and speak with the passionate experts on the physics of our universe which link directly to the topics of space, forces and motion covered in the triple science and combined science curriculums.

At the Hampshire Astronomical Group observatory, the telescopes have been used to confirm discoveries of supernovae (exploding stars in distant galaxies), map areas of the sun, and accurately locate and measure positions of asteroids hurtling around the solar system. This means the observations are of high standard and are accepted by the professional astronomers world-wide.

Dragons’ Den Engineering Project - November 2023

In early November, Miss Kitching took her Year 9 engineering class to attend the first part of the ‘Dragons’ Den’ challenge set by PETA Ltd. The class engaged in a workshop and came up with some relevant solutions to a 'modern day life problem' considering concept, design, impact and how to create a business plan. The event is supported by representatives from industry.  Over the next 6 weeks, they put their business plans together and filmed their presentations, which were submitted to the judges in December. We look forward to hearing how our teams got on.

Numeracy Week Activities: Geocache & Countdown - November 2023

Once again, the College had a great programme of activities in place to encourage students to take part in numeracy week. During numeracy week, all KS3 lessons began with a numeracy starter or contained a numeracy activity to highlight the importance of numeracy skills across the board and in everyday life. After-school activities as always included the Geocache and Countdown competitions, which were well attended by students.

Year 7 & 8 took part in Geocache and the first 3 teams to complete the challenges all came from Romsey house, so a fantastic performance from Romsey. The winning team was made up of Holly. S, Molly. S, Daisy. T, and Sophie S. The overall results for the Houses including attendance, were 1st place Romsey; 2nd place Petworth; 3rd place Goodwood and 4th place Arundel.

The Year 9s, 10s, and 11s performed well in the Countdown Competition with the winning team coming from Goodwood house and comprising Megan S. and Taylor S. A team from Romsey were a very close second and only beaten in the final tie-break round. Romsey had an amazing number of students who participated, which resulted in them being the winning house overall. 

The final result with the attendance figures taken into account were:

1st Romsey

2nd Goodwood

3rd Petworth

4th Arundel

STEM Catering Competition - November 2023

November saw 12 students take part in the inaugural STEM Catering Competition. Mr Jones-Taylor supervised the cooking and the students produced some excellent dishes independently, which were judged by Mrs Geddes.

The number of entries combined with the points from the winning dish meant that the Houses were placed as follows:

Joint 1st - Goodwood / Romsey on 24 points

3rd - Arundel on 10 points

4th - Petworth on 4 points.

Aviation Trip - November 2023

11 Year students attended an Aviation Careers Event organised by NATS. They gained an insight into different careers within the aviation industry and heard talks from The British Aerobatic Association and Flylogix to understand different types of aircraft and how they work.  Students visited the airfield where they were able to interview the light aircraft pilots about how they got their licence and how they manage their aircraft. The students enjoyed the day and found it very informative.

We learnt that British Airways have a free pilot scheme and that there are also very few female pilots within the aviation industry.  As well as this, we discovered that gliding is the first step into piloting and that you can start at a young age.


Christmas Science Lecture - December 2023

The annual Christmas lecture by the Science department was a mix of festive fun and cheer with a potentially quite disgusting tour of everything that lives on, in and around our bodies! Our tour guides for the evening were Mr Bailey and Mrs Gough, who both delivered with great enthusiasm and aplomb (especially the disgusting bits!).  Highlights included electrocuting Mr Collins (great idea!) plenty of audience participation and Mr Potts got to have his first ever Monster energy drink (bad idea!), all in the name of science.  The audience of students (past and present) as well as parents and carers thoroughly enjoyed the event. 

Y8 Girls Engineering - January 2024

Girls in Engineering 2024, without doubt, had the highest level of independent engagement in engineering problem-solving to date! Behaviour was flawless and deciding the winning House was the most difficult decision we have had. All Houses showed individual strengths, yet it was the high overall standard of outcomes that led Arundel to be triumphant. Mrs Breeze led the students in completing the ‘Bridge Challenge’. This event has run for several years now and is designed to encourage students to consider studying engineering at a time when they are due to make their option choices.