Headteacher's Easter Letter - March 2018
Dear William Perkin Parents and Carers,
At the end of our 14th term, and the last before our first ever GCSE examinations, I still feel humbled that parents five years ago entrusted their children to 12 staff, a corridor of 7 classrooms, a sports hall and our dream that all our students would “live life to the full” as part of the Twyford Academies Trust.
“Living life to the full” covers a broad spectrum and everyone will have their different interpretations.Mother Teresa wrote these words in her poem, “Life is …”
Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Year 11 have led the way throughout the last 5 years; their energy and enthusiasm, together with that of my wonderful team of staff, have made the school what it is today. Our aim has been to give students every opportunity to ‘intelligently engage with the wider world’, to learn both inside and outside the classroom; to think and debate challenging situations they may meet now or in the future; to see beauty in their surroundings as well as the beauty that comes within, from friendships, from self-confidence, from the knowledge that they have done things to the best of their ability.
Life is an opportunity, benefit from it…
It has become apparent just how many opportunities we provide with our educational visit programme. At the last count, there have been 43 trips so far this year, 27 in this term alone. Many of these add real value to work done in the classroom. Year 7 visited the West London Synagogue bringing Judaism to life and Year 9 greatly benefitted from seeing ‘Animal Farm’ performed at Questors Theatre. The Battlefields trip for Years 8 and 9 put WW1 into poignant perspective, whilst the visit by Year 10 to the Greenwich Royal Observatory enhanced learning about Space. Art trips to the Saatchi gallery and the V&A Museum helped Year 10 and 11 students prepare for their GCSE coursework. Other trips gave the opportunity to learn new skills or improve on existing skills such as coaching at Lords Cricket ground, rock climbing at Brunel University, skiing in Andorra and public speaking in the Sherriff’s Challenge.
One of our strongest intentions is to show our students the choices open to them and hence prepare them for the future. Trips to Uxbridge College, London Metropolitan University, the Guildhall, Harrow school, and the Barbers Surgeon’s Hall made Years 10 and 11 much more aware of the future pathways they can take and the steps they need to take now to achieve them. Furthermore, a weekend taking part in the United Nations Conference at St Paul’s school gave our older students the opportunity to consider the wider world and add their voice to international debate.
My thanks go to all the staff who have run these educational visits, many giving up their own time in order to do so.
Life is beauty, admire it…
Rather a difficult line to speak about, but there is plenty that is beautiful within William Perkin!
Our third school production, “Schools will Rock you” displayed the work of the Drama, Music, PE (Dance) and Art departments as well as that of our technical team. Students and staff worked tirelessly for months after school and, on occasions, at weekends to learn words and dance steps, make costumes and produce the set with professional standard lighting and sound. My thanks go to all who were involved. I am sure that everyone who watched it will agree that the result was brilliantly entertaining and led many of our older staff on a trip down memory lane!
Our spring concert last night was also a beautiful performance, showcasing the singing talents of Years 7 and 8 and also the instrumental prowess of some older students. Joseph and The Lion King are now becoming a William Perkin tradition with everyone joining in at the end.
Other ‘beautiful’ highlights have been the Lent Labyrinth which provided a peaceful and harmonious space for younger pupils to reflect, to think and to pray if they wished, as well as artwork produced by art students with which we beautify Holy Cross church during Easter week.
Our pupils have very many talents for us to admire!
Life is a dream, realize it…
Our assembly for the year is ‘Looking Outwards’ and the theme this term has been looking at world religions, science and humanism to see what we as individuals can learn from them in our search for our own identity, our own truth. In order to achieve our dreams, it is important that we all think about our personal values so that we are confident in our identity and achieve the strength to make our dreams happen.
Having the opportunity to work with, listen to and work with experts in their field is something we are proud of providing to inspire all our students. The science department continue to benefit from working with staff of Imperial College – this term on lung function and quantum dots. We are also particularly proud that three Year 11 students have been accepted onto their ‘pathways to medicine’ programme. Dr Bothwell of the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge University gave a lecture and held a Q&A session with Year 8 and future scientists had a Pfizer workshop and one from Bath university staff on architecture.
The English department have extended the learning of Year 11 with their SHINE lecture series, giving students an insight into academic life at university. We have all heard of STEM subjects, but now Art have launched the STEAM project to ensure that Arts subjects are not forgotten.
PE continue their huge programme of internal and external competition allowing those with a sporting ability to show their gifts. Highlights have been participation in the Middlesex Borough Athletics competition, the London Youth Games dance competition and the Middlesex CCC Sketch programme as well as matches in rugby, football and netball. Currently the Year 10 football team are top of the Borough League and are in the semi-final of the Middlesex Cup.
Life is a challenge, meet it…
It has been our challenge to ensure outstanding standards since we opened. With no external examinations, we have constantly checked that teaching and learning has been of the highest standard through lesson and book checks, weekly professional development sessions for teachers at all stages of their career as well as comparison of results with our sister school, Twyford.We know that our strict rules are a challenge for some, but they result in our pupils being prepared and ready for learning. Our visitors continue to comment on the attitude of all our students in the classroom, their desire to do well and the rarity of disruption to the learning of others.
As parents, you had the opportunity to discuss your child’s progress in the five parents’ evenings we held in January and February, to discuss and plan how staff and parents can work together to help overcome any difficulties your child might be facing.
Our emphasis on planning ahead has meant that Year 11 have been researching colleges and schools to decide which institution they want to attend for the next stage of their education. Staff have been working hard to put in place all our ideas for an amazing Sixth Form here and are delighted that so many of our own students as well as external students have applied – over 250 for 150 places. The Sixth Form is an exciting development that we look forward to sharing with you over the coming months and years. We are also looking forward to supporting the growth of the new school in the Trust, Ada Lovelace, and Dame Alice will be delivering parent information evenings to keep you all fully updated.
In this challenging period for Year 11, their experience of the classroom this term has been one of revision,consolidation and exam practice and it was good to hear two of our Year 11 students tell governors that this has led to them feeling much more confident and prepared and much less stressed! They know that by continuing this work independently outside lessons they will be in a good position to do their best next term. I do hope that they have found inspiration here for their dreams, courage to put in place a plan to achieve them and resilience to overcome any setback.
On behalf of all the staff, I thank them for being our trailblazers and wish them well in their exams and in the future, whether that continues to be with us or elsewhere. Wherever they find themselves, I hope they will always remember to “live life to the full.”
With Very Best Wishes,
Mr Keir Smith
William Perkin CofE High School
Reminder: All students should return to school at 11:15am on Monday 16th April 2018.