Headteacher's Christmas Letter - December 2017
Dear William Perkin Parents and Carers,
Walking quickly from my car each morning to escape the freezing weather, the words of Christina Rossetti’s poem seem very appropriate.
In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
This difference between the cold, dark, frosty morning and the beckoning warmth and light of the building reminds me that the harshness of winter gives us time to look forward to the light and new growth of Spring. Perhaps it is no accident that for Christians, this time of year is also the period of Advent, four weeks when we wait and prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas day.
Walking past our new Year 11 area in front of the school with its new benches and planting, I find myself reflecting on how quickly time passes. The last four years have been spent teaching all our students the academic and life skills to face the future, endeavouring to make them resilient when things go wrong and celebrating their individual gifts to bring joy to them and our whole community.
For Year 11, the time of waiting and preparation for their first national exams is almost over. All indications are that they are on the right path for success and the most recent of those was the way they conducted themselves in their Sixth Form interviews. I was so proud of their maturity in researching other schools and institutions, of being able to articulate the reasons for their final choice as well as their choice of A-levels.
It was very exciting to hold our first Sixth Form Open Evening in November and to have the opportunity at last to reveal our plans to both internal and external students. Continuing in the spirit of William Perkin himself, we intend to be a centre of excellence for both Science and Maths, and have set up a new scholars’ initiative which has proved to have been the attractive proposition which we hoped that it would be with a large number of external students having applied for places and most of our own indicating that they wish to return.
As always with whatever we do, the setting up of the Sixth Form has been a team effort and I would like to thank all staff involved in putting the detail into our vision so that we can continue to offer the highest quality of education post GCSE.
I would also like to thank all staff who have contributed to the IAG (Information, Advice and Guidance) programme for Years 10 and 11. In this term alone, there have been trips to the stock exchange, Imperial College for a STEM careers workshop, John Lyon University fair, Uxbridge College to learn more about apprenticeships, London College of Fashion to learn about careers in that industry and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to learn about careers in HealthCare. This is in addition to the work in school on preparing personal statements and gathering evidence of talents and skills in order to apply for work experience and Sixth Form places.
Living through the busy-ness which is part of daily school life, it is easy to miss the full extent of the opportunities which staff offer to students in order to enrich their knowledge of what is possible, to meet experts in their field, to shine a light on the way ahead. This letter allows me to take stock and marvel not only at the boundless energy and enthusiasm of all the staff working here, but on your children’s capacity for hard work, their enthusiastic response to trying new things and, of course, their many gifts which light up our community.
Here are just a few of the highlights!
English gave students the opportunity to visit Twyford to learn how they produce their termly newsletter, to hear Margaret Atwood speak at the Royal Festival Hall, to give Year 10 the chance to develop their speaking skills with ‘Speak Out’ training.
Science, as always, continue to develop links with experts in their field. Dr Rebecca Holloway from Imperial College launched this year’s Elite Scientist programme while the 2016-17 group continue to work with Helena Bates and Dr Ashley King on the meteor project. KS4 students have entered competitions, one of which is on climate change. Four students have been accepted on to the Year 10 STEM Potential programme and three onto Saturday Science and Engineering club. Next term Imperial College students will join us as part of the student ambassador scheme. In addition, the department continues its outreach to local schools with Horsenden Primary coming in to experience Science at William Perkin.
The Modern Foreign Language department have used the AIM project with Scholars in Year 7 learning a story in French and Year 8 doing a project on French film.Future Linguists are preparing for the International Linguistic Olympiad and for the Oxford French film competition. French club are studying the culture and history of France and we have the Ancient Greek club as a new initiative.
In Humanities, the RE department have attended the Faith Schools’ Conference and speakers from the Centre for Christian Apologetics from Oxford University have visited us to speak to Year 11. Geography staff, including me, took Year 10 on a field trip to the River Chess in Lowndes Park to collect river data, bringing back many memories from my early career. You will be pleased to know that we all managed to stay dry! History made learning about the First World War more interesting with a rap battle between students who had composed and performed their own raps on its causes.Debates on whether the Egyptian Empire was the greatest African Empire and a Year 7 Family History project has extended learning beyond the classroom.
To look further at events outside the work of the normal classroom: Music hosted the National Youth Jazz Orchestra for our own students as well as those from local schools; they also took Year 9 students to see the Barber of Seville, performed by the English National Opera. Drama, incredibly busy with rehearsals for the next school production ‘Schools Will Rock You’ to be performed in March, also took students to see ‘The Play that Goes Wrong’ at the Duchess Theatre as part of their GCSE coursework requirements.
Christmas has become a time when we can become obsessed with material things – the giving of expensive presents, stocking up with more food than we can possibly eat. The last verse of Christina Rosetti’s poem makes us think more deeply about the more meaningful gifts we can offer:
What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.
When we see someone giving of themselves, it is something to remember and treasure. Dr Elizabeth Day, the Headteacher of Oldfield Primary School, is retiring after many years’ service at the end of this week. It has been a pleasure working with her and the staff of her school and we wish her a very long and happy retirement.
In September, we held a memorial service for Karan Cheema. Attended by students, teachers and members of his family, it was a moving occasion and a real privilege to see the strength and courage of Karan’s Mum, who comforted all those who wanted to speak to her. We continue to pray for her and her family at this difficult time.
Finally, as Year 11 complete their last mock exams and begin to smile again as they look forward to a well-earned rest over the holidays, staff prepare for the final push in supporting them to achieve the outstanding GCSE successes which we know they are capable of and thoroughly deserve. Our very own trail blazers!
They have led the way to William Perkin achieving its recognition by Ofsted and others of being an outstanding school. It is this reputation which has contributed to the opening of Ada Lovelace High School within the Twyford Trust and more importantly, for its first 2 years, within this school.
Recognition of the outstanding work of some of our teachers has, as you know, led to some transferring their talents to Ealing Fields. I am delighted to announce that our own Mr Bedford, known as ‘Mr WP’ amongst the staff, is to be the new Associate Headteacher of Ealing Fields. This is a very well deserved promotion reflecting his outstanding work here.
Today, we are about to begin our end of term celebration assembly. As we light the candles on our Advent wreath, representing hope, peace, joy and love, may I, on behalf of all the staff, wish you and your families a very happy and safe Christmas holiday.
With Very Best Wishes,
Mr Keir Smith
All students should return at 11.00am on Tuesday, 2nd January 2018 and I would like to remind you of the dates of parents’ evenings when you will all have the opportunity to discuss your child's progress with their teachers at this midyear point.
Year 11 – Thursday 11th January 2018
Year 8 – Thursday 25th January 2018
Year 9 Information Evening – Thursday 22nd January 2018
Year 10 - Thursday 8th February 2018
Year 9 Parents Evening – Thursday 22nd February 2018