Principal's Blog

Principal's Blog - Friday 15th November 2019:


It was good to welcome back our pupils for the second half of the autumn term following our two-week break, which I hope was enjoyable for our families across the Alliance.  This half of term usually shoots by in a whirlwind of preparations for the – dare I say it – Christmas activities.  I know the junior pupils are already preparing for their nativity productions.  

Winners - National Award 2019

Outstanding Provision in Learning Support. Some children will thrive once they are given additional support and we are delighted that Rushmoor has been recognised by the ISA for our provision. The Award recognises how we can support each child’s needs, how we monitor progress and how we encourage all our staff to have an input into each child’s development.

Across our Alliance of Rushmoor and St Andrew’s Schools, we have always strived to provide the very best provision for those with particular learning needs and those who show a particular gift or talent, so to receive national recognition for our continued efforts is wonderful. The Award was presented by former Olympic athlete, Derek Redmond, at a ceremony held on 7 November 2019 in Yorkshire.

We were delighted to welcome back our former pupil, Matthew Cook, to Rushmoor School last week.  Matthew is a professional league rugby player with Castleford Tigers and he was keen to pass on his expertise to our year 11 boys and girls.   

It is always a great pleasure to welcome back former pupils as our alumni is important to us.  If you are a former pupil (or know somebody who is) who would like to get back in touch, please let the school office know.  We want to ensure that the history of the two schools forms part of our planning for the new school.  Whilst it might not be the same site in future, we will retain the ethos that Rushmoor and St Andrew’s have always had.   

In my last blog, I wrote about how we have been looking at the literacy skills across all the curriculum areas to update our whole school policy, and following on from that, the senior leadership team are now focusing on pupils’ attitude towards learning, ICT skills and communication skills, both written and verbal.  Attitude towards learning is an extremely important element in education, effort being the key to better attainment levels, so it is an area, to which we pay a lot of attention.     

Mrs Djukic recently attended a meeting hosted by Bedford Borough Learning Exchange, where the keynote speaker was Roy Leighton, an international speaker and activist for educational and social transformation.  Roy grew up in a working-class community with seven brothers and sisters, so knows the challenges faced by children in such circumstances and the importance of high expectations and aspirations, and the need for creative and compassionate approaches in the classroom.  Roy believes that a more considered and challenging approach to the curriculum and to personal and professional development can show benefits that stretch beyond exam results.  He embraces and confronts the challenges thrown up in the 21st century, believing there are many ways for us all to reach our true potential – a sentiment we have always shared at Rushmoor and St Andrew’s Schools.

Last Thursday, 7 November, was the sixth form consultation evening, which I hope was informative for parents and students who attended.  With our year 13 students having just over 5 months left before the start of the exam season, and with mocks in January, the observations and advice should help students to really focus on their goals.  Our year 13 students who are planning to apply for university places should now be working on their personal statements and UCAS application as the deadline is 15 January 2020.

Year 10 pupils at Rushmoor also had their consultation evening and, again, I hope parents and pupils found it informative.  Please do remember that we have an ‘open door policy’ so if you have any queries you can get in touch with the subject teacher at any stage throughout the year either by contacting them using email or by telephoning the school office.

Once again, as part of our careers programme, we held mock interviews for our year 11 pupils from both schools.  Thank you to all the parents and associates linked to the school who came along to help on the evening.  This type of role-play situation is of huge benefit as our senior pupils start to consider their futures and how they should conduct themselves in interview.  My thanks go to Mrs Johnson and Mrs Barnes for arranging the interviews and to all the volunteer parents and friends for helping on the evening.

Children in Need is always a great fundraising event at Rushmoor and St Andrew’s, but this year it was really extra special, with a flying visit from the fabulous Rickshaw Challenge team.  Thank you to all pupils and families that came and stayed late to meet Pudsey,

Matt Baker and the team, you all made it a wonderful atmosphere.  I’m proud to say that we raised £2000 for Children In Need! Matt Baker and all the inspirational riders have taken eight days to cycle 400 miles from Holyhead to London. Visiting Flash, the highest village in the UK, and tackling the steepest street in the world in Harlech, Wales… and they visited Rushmoor School along the way too, which was such an honour.  We are very proud to support this worthy cause and thank all the pupils for their enthusiasm and donations.  Thank you to our former pupil, Oliver Sadd, for acting as DJ and providing a disco in the playground.  Thank you to all the staff for arranging activities throughout the day.

On Monday 11 November, we had a meeting for parents and children who are attending the ski trip to Les Menuires next month.  This always proves to be a great trip, so if you are interested in attending next year, please contact the school office as places are going quickly.  Snow has already fallen in the Alps, so fingers crossed for some good skiing conditions this year.   

France was also the destination for our first residential food technology trip, which took place from 6 - 8 November.  The Alliance students in year 9 and 10 visited the Opal Coast region of France and the trip gave students a unique opportunity to observe and take part in traditional food production methods. They visited Boulangerie Le Fournil - a traditional family-owned bakery, where they watched a baker at work.  This was followed by the ‘Pain Show’ where they learned how to make speciality pancakes. They saw the traditional French patissiers working with marzipan.  They visited Bec-a-Suc Sweet Factory for a sweet making demonstration and tasting and P&J Calais for an interactive chocolate making workshop and tasting. Finally, they visited La Gaufre du Pays Flamand an old-fashioned waffle maker.  A great opportunity for all and thank you to Mrs Couzens for organising the trip and to Mrs Bradshaw, Miss Cripps, Mr Fryer and Mrs Andrews for accompanying them.    

Maths week England 11-16 November 2019

Our Mathematics Department are always keen to look at ways to encourage our pupils and we have signed up for the 2019 Maths Week initiative.  This is an organisation set up to share the joy of mathematics with everyone. They are providing resources and online competitions to help encourage children in mathematics.   

You can see on our social media pages what the pupils have been doing for maths week in all subjects, not just maths.  I hope you have had a go and some of the questions Mrs Crannis has put on, they are quite tricky!  

It was great to see Year 5 pupils at Rushmoor and St Andrew’s combining maths week and Children In Need yesterday.  They call it Pudsey maths!      

Maths in Action  

Thursday saw 12 Year 10 boys visit the University of Warwick for a Maths in Action day.  They were treated to a number of speakers, including James Grimes who talked about codes, codebreaking and the maths behind them, a session on probability and how sometimes things that you think are incredibly unlikely are, perhaps, not so unlikely after all.  There was also a brief talk to explain the 'Dark Web' and what it is exactly.  The afternoon was presented by two fairly well-known figures.  Bobby Seagull of University Challenge fame and also Monk and Seagull from BBC2, encouraged the boys to be proud of being mathematicians and gave an entertaining talk and finished with his 'maths rap' and the day finished with puzzle solving with Alex Bellos, puzzle writer for The Guardian and author of several books on puzzles and maths.  The boys even managed to get a quick photo with Bobby Seagull, before returning to school!    

Youth Speaks

Isabelle Burt, Lily Eade and Jessica Serrell represented St Andrew's School this week in the Youth Speaks competition organised by the Rotary Club.  Thomas Kilroy, Ben Wookey and Oliver Frame represented Rushmoor School at the event.  

The girls delivered speeches giving the reasons for and against the use of mobile phones in school. They wrote their and learned their speeches with enthusiasm, showing much commitment to practising both at home and in school. Their performance was of a very high standard.  

The boys debated the motion - This house believes we should vaccinate against the flu. Thomas argued for the motion. Ben argued against the motion and Ollie chaired the evening. The boys were superb, used quick wit and humour to engage the audience and were praised for their confident presentations.  

We are proud to say that both teams are going through to the District Semi-final in the New Year. 

Congratulations to Tegan Mabbit and Lily Eade, the winners of the KS2 and KS3 poetry competition at St Andrew’s, they will now be entered into the ISA poetry competition.                          

Sports Roundup

Huge congratulations to our year 7 rugby team who completed an unbeaten season in the local year 7 league.  Tremendous effort by all players!  

There have been a lot of rugby fixtures over the past two weeks, with matches for our year 5 boys against Bilton Grange and year 6 against Bedford School.  Year 3 took part in a tag-rugby festival at Akeley Wood School and were unbeaten during the day. The team were victorious over BMS and Warwick Schools! Year 8 played at a Rugby Sevens Tournament hosted by Mark Rutherford and year 9 went over to Samuel Whitbread School to take part in the rugby 10s tournament.   

Well done to the U13 hockey players who reached the finals in the Inter-Schools Hockey Competition on Monday – excellent effort by all players.   

Year 2 pupils from across the Alliance took part in a multi-sports event hosted by St Thomas More. Year 9s competed in the District Badminton Tournament.  Our year 7 and 8 girls played hockey against Goldington, year 10 and 11 went to Bedford Academy for netball and years 5 and 6 took part in a dodgeball event at the Bunyan Centre.  The U14 team played at the hockey tournament organised by the Independent Schools Association and the U15 netball team competed at the County tournament.  Well done to all the pupils who have represented the schools over the past couple of weeks.   

The Alliance swimming squad have been training hard this term and I’m pleased to say 8 boys and 5 girls have qualified to complete in the ISA Nationals at the London Olympic Pool on 30th November.  I wish them the best of luck!  

More detailed sports news is available on our Twitter and FaceBook pages.  

St Andrew’s pupils studying GCSE Drama visited The Place Theatre in Bedford last Thursday to watch a performance of ‘Oh! What a Lovely War’, which is a satirical attack on military incompetence during World War I, in particular, the disregard for human life. It also acts as a reminder of just how costly war can be to so many people. Presented in the form of a seaside entertainment of the period, ‘Oh! What a Lovely War’ expertly blends elements of live dance, song, music and sketches, which will help the pupils in their studies.  

The Year 11 GCSE girls had their practical Drama exam, all were fantastic performances by the girls to an audience of Year 7, 10 and 11 students.  

On Monday, pupils at Rushmoor and St Andrew’s lined up on the playground for 2 minute silence on Remembrance Day.  We remember those who lost their lives on active service in all conflicts; from the beginning of the First World War right up to the present day. We also remember all those who have served and their families.  

Nursery and Junior School News    

At St Andrew’s, the Pre-school children have been spending a lot of time outdoors making clay faces, bird feeders and mud pies.  The children in Owls have been using a bow saw and hand drill to make their own tree cookies.  

At Rushmoor, the children came into school to discover Robbie the Robot had one final challenge for them, before he had to be returned to the Science Lab. Robbie the Robot had heard loud banging and crashing sounds in the night and seen the bright colours in the sky and asked the children to explore colour mixing and see which colours they could make. It is great to see the children getting creative and enjoying making firework pictures using a range of techniques.

Junior School Stars of the Week  

Week ending 8 November:

St Andrew’s School   

Reception – Harris Pacuka Y

ear 1 – Isabella Ianiri

Year 2 – Fox Choy

Years 3/4 – Perpetual Nyamtowo

Year 5 – Mimi Gardner            

Week ending 15 November:

Reception – Veer Mills

Year 1 – Isla Gleeson

Year 2 – Khushi Masih

Year 3/4 – Bronwyn Phillips & Helen Weston

Year 5 – Elsie Francis      

Rushmoor School

Week ending 8 November:

Reception – Jesse Bates

1ET – Tom Hall

2KGL – Erin Eaden

3JM – Lawrence Johnson

3ST – Henry Wooddisse

4ET – Woody Brown

4ZL – Ruby Stoughton

5CR – Leonard Owino

5RS – Archie Fisher  

Week ending 15 November:

Reception – Eloise Perry

1ET – Arthur Lees

2KGL – Kieron Kirkham

3JM – Valentino Ianiri 3ST 

4ET – Kieran Kali-Rai

4ZL – Errol Bogacki

5CR – Sam Moffat

5RS – Oliver Elphick

Principal’s Awards

Tegan Mabbitt in year 6 for her excellent book review and poem about the First World War.

Evie Martin in year 3 for showing great resilience.

Cerys Holley who emptied her money box and gave £31.31 to Children In Need.

Murray Gates for working incredibly hard in school and at home, studying towards his Further Maths GCSE.  More importantly, he has been incredibly supportive of his peers, spending time helping them with their maths, and sharing his understanding of the work in his own time at lunchtime and at maths club.

Jack Allen, Miles Morris, Arman Treis, Alex Timpau-Rat, for their geography projects.

Kieron Kirkham for his hard work in literacy when writing his fireworks poem.

George Jackson for his comical story in English.  Teachers have compared it to work by David Walliams!

Beau Johnson for his creative poem in English.

Kind regards

I M Daniel, BA (QTS), NPQH

Principal

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