I have tried hard (honestly!) not to become weather obsessed this half term but goodness me what the heck is going on? The consolation is that temperatures and weather in general is a relative concept and so if it's not as it is today at all next week, we'll all feel blessed. I put the woolly hats, scarves and gloves away last weekend, about 6 weeks later than usual and that now feels a little premature. I guess the exams have been easier without steaming hot exam rooms and wilting children. I've noticed one or two year elevens sneakily wearing tops under their school pullovers and cardies, just to keep the blood pumping in the exam hall (especially in lower hall). The invigilators have never done so much walking around - understandably so! If you're flying away for warmth I fear the airports will be chocker this weekend.
The year elevens are in a good place and the year tens are getting there (the English exam is the first Tuesday back). In addition to that we had a great Induction Day this last Wednesday. We were absolutely full, packed to the rafters! Six year groups in school at once. It is noticeable that year seven (next year) will be fully subscribed. I am told that there are 28 name still on the waiting list for the school. When we operate in a school build for nearer 600 it does create some difficulties, but as always we make the vey best of the lot we are given. The data suggests that the new year sevens are highly talented and the relationships we've got within our learning community will ensure the smoothest of transitions to the school.
'A man is in the front room and his wife is in the kitchen. She says: ‘Smoked salmon or chicken?’ And he says: ‘Oh, love, smoked salmon.’ She says, ‘You’re having soup, Fatty. I was talking to the cat.’' Barry Cryer
Whatever you are up to next week I hope that you enjoy.
We've got a long weekend to look forward to. Traditionally the May Day Bank Holiday is a workers day. It is a day away from school that is well earned and deserved by all staff and pupils. This half term, as we always knew it would be, has been really hard work. Not because the work is hard but because we have all had put a great deal of time and energy into preparing all our children for their up coming challenges. The approach of year 10 this week has been a revelation. I have been very impressed with their general approach to some very challenging activities and testing work. They have risen to those challenges. Talking to a number in the year group they really value the efforts that have been made on their behalf. They really don't want to let the staff, their families or themselves down in the coming weeks. At this stage of the year it is wonderful to hear such commitment and recognise a determination to be successful. The national government talk about 'raising the bar'. The educational culture at Oakwood is such that our children en masse are lifting their gaze and game further and higher than many in 21st century Britain. That attitudinal shift is as a result of years of work - long may it continue and long may it bear fruit.
And to year 11. A worldly worn bunch I'd say. Most recognise where they are at and understand the challenges. Some are coping better with the stresses and strains than others but I rarely meet a pupil who doesn't want to get it right. They do care and they are committed but one or two just find it hard to make that final push. It is to their credit and your credit that we don't get 'kick back'. We do get a little lethargy and we might have to inject some energy on their behalf on occasions but I believe the over-whelming majority of our year 11 pupils do know what we are endeavouring to do with them (not for them anymore I'm afraid - that really is a time passed).
We have the seriousness of a Review Day to come Tuesday. No doubt this will be another quite outstanding day of high quality conversations about learning and progress. We will all approach these conversations professionally. And we will all do our very best to recognise, reward and re-address in appropriate measure. At the back end of the week we will have our Prom, and all the finery that goes with that, before the very special Leavers' Day on Friday. And then it is back in Monday, back into lessons and exams as we push into the exam season.
So with all that said it really is appropriate to wish you all a very restful and relaxing long weekend.
As I write I am reflecting upon a short but significant week. We started with the Review Day and ended with the Leavers' assembly.
I cannot this week, start in any other place than to recognise the significance of leavers' day at school. As adults it is easy to underestimate the importance of this day in the lives of our young people. Together with the Prom, we have the pleasure on an annual basis of witnessing a true rite of passage. It is always a moving and life enhancing experience for all the children involved. It is often a moving and significant experience for all those adults closely involved with the young people leaving secondary school and as they prepare for their examinations. However, this year possibly more than any other year, it is right to identify and celebrate the success of this particular year group. They have over the past few days really made all associated with the school extremely proud. They had conducted themselves in a mature, sensible and quite uplifting manner. After five years at Oakwood they have shown that they're ready and prepared for the next phase on their journey. Those contributing to today's leavers' assembly all took time to recognise that this moment in the young persons life is significant but in many ways it is only a staging post on a longer journey.
Leaving school is a day we all remember. It is our responsibility to make this period as memorable and as positive as we possibly can. Wonderfully I think most people associated with our school will recognise the importance of past few days. I congratulate all those young people and all those adults have supported those young people in getting this far.
We know there is much more still to be done. The hard work starts on Monday with the exam season. We go into the weekend knowing that at this stage many of our young people are ready to face the challenges of the coming weeks. In knowing there is much more to be done we face those challenges shoulder to shoulder with our young people.
'Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.' Winston Churchill
We are all here to make a big difference. It is certain that many of our children have the right attitude.
I do hope that the Review Day was a positive experience and that the conversations were as useful as usual. We have Parents' Evening on Tuesday coming, if you've yet to make an appointment there will be time Monday, just drop us an email or give us a call.
Have a good weekend.
We all at the school have been working hard to prepare resources and sort the organisation for next week's booster week. There are many teachers who have worked to develop and secure materials and other who have prepared to work with all their classes in a different way over the coming week. There are also are a number of professional support colleagues who have endeavoured to work positively and constructively in preparing the ground for next week's booster camp. Both teaching and professional support colleagues will be fully engaged in working alongside children year 10's and year 11's (for their benefit) over the coming few working days. We know that the booster camp does have an impact. We know that the children do appreciate the effort and energy is colleagues are putting into the preparation. The efforts, energy and professionalism at this important time of the year are critical to the success of many of our young people.
For me it has been something of a typical, yet philosophically challenging week. Increasingly I seem to spend my time working with other teachers and educationalists in developing new relationships and new ways of working. I receive on a daily basis emails and communication encouraging me to think differently about the way that schools should work. I have spent time this week in meetings in Rotherham where we have discussed new ways of working and new connectivity between our schools. We discussed the contraction of the local authority. The local authority in the future is clearly going to perform its statutory responsibilities however beyond that there will be little support for outstanding schools.
It seems to me that those institutions that can innovate and change, those institutions that can form new collaborative relationships and find new ways of working will be successful in the brave new educational world.Yesterday looks nothing like today and tomorrow will be different again. It is my responsibility to ensure that we at Oakwood High School can navigate our way through these increasingly turbulent waters. We have a clear picture of what education should look like in this community. We need to continue to shape our vision and our drive to ensure that we not only meet the needs of the learners and community that we serve, but also ensure that we stay protected from forces and organisations who may impose a different ethos upon educational institutions in the future.
All that seems a little heavy. However, I am comfortable and clear that we at Oakwood have that vision and that drive necessary to affect real change for the children in this community. We will need to find new ways of working. We will need to find and develop new relationships. But, I am absolutely clear that we are in fantastic condition to be able to meet those known and yet to be encountered challenges head on.
“Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.” Anon
I hope to see many of you at the science and technology fair tomorrow. If not enjoy your weekend.