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Headteacher's Blog - Autumn Term 2017

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8th December 2017
 
Enthusiastic year 11 students could be seen in the foyer of Asda last weekend selling handmade products as part of their applied business studies GCSE course. Over the two days, our students raised £1,333.00. We have received some lovely feedback from the community who praised our students for looking so smart and for the professional way they represented the school.
 
On Thursday evening, our year 13 business students hosted a quiz night as part of their coursework module, raising £150.00 which will go towards the sixth form summer ball. Congratulations to all the students involved for all their hard work leading up to these events and thank you to Mrs Ilett and the business and economics department for their help in supporting the students.
 
A group of year 10 students were given the opportunity to hone their presenting skills this week at the Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge workshop. This event gives them training in developing their ability to talk publicly on a topic that they feel strongly about - a valuable skill for later in life. Thomas Campbell, Rachel Chiverton, Nathan Laverack, Elizabeth Rands and Matthew Groves were successful in going through to the next regional round of the competition. Well done to all those who took part.
 
24th November 2017
 
This has been a very difficult week for students, staff and the community of William de Ferrers School. Mr Clacy would like to thank everybody for the warm and kind hearted tributes to Holly which have given some comfort to the family at this very difficult time. We are in close contact with Holly’s family to help and support them. Mr Clacy would like to take away the beautiful floral tribute on Sunday and we are in discussion about how to commemorate and celebrate Holly’s life.
 
The science department has been very busy this week working with our local primary school children. On Wednesday the year 5 primary science club students returned, this time to investigate the science behind building bridges. On Thursday, year 6 students from Trinity St Mary’s School came into William de Ferrers for a science lesson on electricity. They learnt about voltage, current and resistance. Thank you to Mr Mason for arranging and hosting these visits which I know the primary children love coming to.
 
Year 11 parents’ evening took place on Wednesday evening, thank you to all parents and carers who attended. This is an important time as year 11 students need to organise themselves for the coming months, prioritise how they use their time effectively and focus on their key areas to improve in each subject. 
 
17th November 2017
 
A number of parents have spoken to me recently raising concerns about students being allowed to use mobile phones in school. William de Ferrers School has always adopted a relatively relaxed stand on mobile phone use, they are not permitted in lessons unless the teacher directs their use for learning purposes, but students are allowed to use them throughout the school day. However, mobile phones have evolved to become such a preoccupation with young people that they can negatively impact on students’ lives during the school day. 
Concerns about mobile phones were also raised at parent forum this week – an open invite group that gives parents the opportunity to offer constructive feedback for school improvement. Views that were expressed were that mobile phones discourage conversation and positive social interaction. I am sure parents will also be aware of the hazards which can occur with constant access to social media. In response to concerns raised by parents, which reflect concerns of staff, we will be reviewing the use of mobile phone technology in the coming months.
If you would be interested in joining the parent forum please contact the school.
 
Following the theme from last week which has received some popular feedback, when asked about a teacher who makes a difference a student said about one of our teachers:
- This person has boosted my confidence by saying no one will laugh at me when I get things wrong.
- By telling me that mistakes will help me learn and that I don’t have to get something first time, practice makes perfect.
- This person helps us express ourselves by encouraging us to come up with our own ideas.
 
10th November 2017
 
This week has been remembrance week at William de Ferrers School and assemblies have been taken to remind us of the importance and history of the Royal British Legion poppy appeal. Students demonstrated a mature and thoughtful attitude when discussing remembrance week and associated themes, and it is a delight to see how many wear their poppies with pride.
 
It was a privilege to welcome Hailey Amani from the Teenage Cancer Trust to the school this week to receive a cheque for the money students raised on sponsor day last summer. Hailey said that the Teenage Cancer Trust were once again overwhelmed by the generosity of the William de Ferrers students and their families. Last summer we raised over £14,000 and in the ten years that we have been supporting the charity we have raised almost £100,000.  She added that William de Ferrers is a very special school and that the charity are very proud to be able to work with us. Thank you to everyone that has contributed to our fundraising efforts and raising this fantastic amount for a very worthy cause.
 
Well done to all the students who performed superbly on Tuesday evening’s piano concert. Our musicians as always performed with confidence and flair. Well done to Miss Cooper and the music department for this highly enjoyable event.
 
Year 11 hospitality and catering students prepared a delicious afternoon tea this week as part of their practical preliminary examination. The students cooked a range of cakes, biscuits, sausage rolls and quiches before serving them to the hospitality & catering students in year 10. The food they prepared looked amazing. Well done to the students for their hard work, and thank you to the food department for their help in organising the event. 
 
Congratulations to Callum Taylor from year 11 who is a goalkeeper for Southend United and who recently played for Northern Ireland under 16’s team against Wales, helping to secure Northern Ireland a 1-0 win. A fantastic achievement, very well done Callum.
 
This week I have been asking students about teachers that have made a difference and helped them in their learning. It is delightful to hear them explain what a positive effect teachers can have. This week I will quote a year 11 student who said:
- I was never confident about this subject but the way this person taught me in year 9 really helped me.
- This person made lessons fun and silly and used methods which made me remember.
- I would come back after school and this person would be so patient and kind when going over and over things.
- Thank you.
 
3rd November 2017
 
Year 9 students began the first steps towards choosing their options on Wednesday by attending our options evening. The talks given by Mr McCormack, Mrs Cripps and Miss Datson were very informative, and gave students and their parents/carers valuable details on the different pathways, how the options process works and an insight into what key stage 4 holds for students. The department areas were full of activity with staff giving advice and guidance.  Parents and students I spoke to were very positive about the quality of information provided. Thank you to all the staff involved in this highly successful
evening. 
 
20th October 2017
 
Our highly successful sixth form open evening took place on Wednesday and was very well attended. It was wonderful to see so many of our year 11 students and their parents attending as well as many students from other schools who told me how impressed they were with the school and the information available to them.  Thank you to all the staff and students who helped make the evening such a success, and to Mrs Ozer, Mr Russell and the sixth form team for organising the event.

13th October 2017

Students in year 7 have today taken part in an exciting problem solving day. The outdoor practical activities have been designed to encourage team building within tutor groups and incorporate skills such as planning, communication and perseverance. The students were totally engaged throughout and it gave opportunities for the quieter but more strategically minded students to shine. 

6th October 2017

Last weekend the PE department took a group of students on a superb sports tour to Bath to play netball and rugby. The group also had the opportunity to visit Bath University and experience the facilities available. The PE department have told me that the students were all polite, positive, hardworking and fantastic company. Thank you to Mrs Englebrecht, Miss Edwards, Mr Johns and Mr Ottley for organising this sports tour and very well done to all the students involved.
 
The royal Navy youth engagement team delivered engaging presentations to students in years 8 and 9 on Tuesday to give them an overview of what the navy do. The students confidently asked many intelligent and pertinent questions at the end of the session. In the afternoon, our year 10 engineering students enjoyed a masterclass with a focus on team building and communication, requiring them to create a model using information from staged reconnaissance photographs. Zaine Cooke from year 10 said ‘we were given clues on certain parts of construction then we had to build it from an information sheet in a tight time limit of thirty five minutes. I found it was a very rewarding experience and I enjoyed working with people in my team alongside the Royal Navy Youth Engagement Team’. Thank you to Mr Dimopoulos and the design and technology faculty for organising this informative and worthwhile event for our students.
 
Excited year 6 students from four local primary schools joined us on Thursday afternoon to see a practical science show on the theme of ‘air’. The show was filled with experiments and fun facts, which quickly got the children learning, understanding and using scientific technology without even realising! It was great to see the pupils knowing our science staff from previous events and lovely to hear them still talking about the experiments and dissections that they had seen at our recent open evening. I hope they continue sharing these memories when talking about science at William de Ferrers School. Thank you to Mr Mason for putting on this wonderful show, and to the science department for their help in organising the event.

29th September 2017

William de Ferrers School came alive on Wednesday evening as our highly successful open evening took place - please see the separate news item for the full story.

I was delighted to attend a presentation for a group of year 10 students who either sat MENSA examinations or who took part in an archaeological dig last summer. Following their fantastic results, all the students who took MENSA examinations were judged to be well above average and eleven students who were in the top 1 or 2% have received an invitation to join MENSA.

Our young archaeologists all received certificates from the University of Cambridge for their work in Southminster last summer and for their 3000 word dissertation. Thank you to Mr Stamp for assisting the students and congratulations to all the students involved for their hard work and amazing results.

22nd September 2017

A reminder that we are holding our annual school opening evening on Wednesday 27 September. This is always a fantastic event where visitors enjoy the buzz and excitement created by our departments. Thank you to the many students who have already volunteered to take part by demonstrating learning activities in departments and to the year 8 students who will be our tour guides for the evening. I would be grateful if you could share the news of our open event with friends, family and contacts who may have children currently in years 5 or 6.

Many of our students took part in National Citizen Service (NCS) activities over the summer. We are very proud that Sophie Warman, Carla Jenkins and Abbie Milsom won the outstanding social project award. The team they were in produced an impressive video that promoted cancer charities and encouraged the audience to donate to good causes. Well done to everyone that took part in the NCS projects this summer.

Well done to Casey Pearson from year 8 who recently received an outstanding Jack Petchey achievement award for his services to badminton. Casey was nominated for the help and mentoring he has been providing to the younger players in the Essex Badminton England performance centre.

Congratulations to Jack Fisk from year 10 who has been selected to play in the inter-counties golf league final Essex vs Surrey. To be chosen from all the players in Essex is an achievement Jack should be very proud of. The event takes place on the 07 and 08 October 2017, and we very much look forward to hearing how Jack gets on.

We always love to hear and celebrate the successes and achievements of our students outside of school. If you would like to share details with us please email headspa@wdf.school. 

15th September 2017

The pupils have started the new year looking extremely smart and wearing their uniform with pride. I have noticed however that a tiny minority of students are wearing training shoes in school. These are not part of the uniform and are not accepted around the school. Parents and carers are expected to support their child by ensuring they are wearing the correct school uniform. This will avoid our pupils having to have difficult conversations when challenged about their uniform.
 
8th September 2017

I hope you have all had a lovely summer. It has been great to welcome all our students back this week and in particular to welcome our new year 7 and year 12 students to the school. I am pleased to say the term has begun with a really smooth and positive start, and all the students have settled in brilliantly to the new academic year.

I would like to congratulate all the key stage 4 and 5 students who celebrated their exam results in August. It is always a great pleasure to share in the student’s excitement on results day as they reap the rewards of their hard work. We are extremely pleased with our summer examination success this year. 51% of A levels were awarded A* or A; 98% of level 3 diplomas were awarded either Distinction* or Distinction, and 70% of our year eleven students achieved a level four or higher in both English and maths. Well done to all those students and thank you to the staff that have supported their success.

Our new year 7 students have settled in superbly this week and have told me when I have seen them around the building that they are loving being at William de Ferrers School. I am particularly impressed with how quickly they have adapted to their new classes and have got to know their fellow students. It has been lovely at break and lunchtimes to see many new friendship groups forming.

A reminder to all parents that you may report your child’s absence from school in one of the following ways: by telephone: 01245 326359 for years 7-11 and 01245 326350 for years 12-13, text: 07860002615 or by email: attendance@wdf.school

 Best wishes

 Mr M Applewhite MA NPQH                                                                                                                                                  Acting Headteacher