Principal's Blog

Alliance Blog 9:

Welcome to my first blog of the new academic year. Firstly, I would like to thank all the families and staff who attended the Alliance Barbecue on Friday 7 September. It was a delightful way to start the year.

The pupils seem settled into the routines of their new classes and I am pleased that they have taken up the opportunities of the extra-curricular clubs offered throughout the alliance, everything from horse riding and skydiving to gymnastics, drama club, scrabble club and table top games club. Sporting clubs and fixtures are already underway.

A quick update in relation to the ongoing battle with Bedford planners regarding approval to build on our Clapham site. Throughout the summer, we have been in constant communication with our barrister and everything is in place for our appeal, so we hope to have some positive news shortly if common sense prevails. It would be incredibly helpful if you were able to offer your personal support to our new school by completing the attached letter, including your address and signature. Please feel free to amend this letter in any way you wish or if you would like to add any other points, please do so. We would like as many parents, grandparents, neighbours and local residents to offer their support to this so please feel free to forward to others as you wish. So many times parents have asked us what they can do to support our plans …this is now the time you can help. Please could I ask for all responses to come back to the schools as soon as possible, but at the very latest by Wednesday, 31 October 2018. We look forward to receiving your responses shortly.

Thank you to everybody who has come along to the curriculum information evenings. Feedback suggests they are helpful to you in order to understand what topics your child will be covering this year.

It was good to see year 9 pupils and parents at the Duke of Edinburgh information evening on Tuesday and we hope this is an indication that a good number of them will take part in this worthwhile and rewarding Award.

At Rushmoor and St Andrew’s, the senior school transition evenings were also helpful and gave parents a good understanding of what is expected of our senior pupils, with discussion taking place about recent GCSE and A-level successes to encourage them to think about their future options. Poppy Ackroyd, the Academic Prefect at St Andrew’s spoke extremely well in front of parents and pupils.

There was also a meeting for the Alliance geography field trip to Sicily, which I am sure the pupils are looking forward to and will be a fantastic way to reinforce what they are learning in the classroom.

You may have seen last weekend that I sent out a letter about our ski trip in December. We have a few spaces available because some people are now unable to attend. Pupils from year 4 can attend unaccompanied, or pupils from year 3 can attend with an adult family member. It really is a great trip, with doorstep skiing, good food and entertainment and a great way for the children and adults to socialise. Please contact the school office for full details.

A quick reminder that uniform and personal belongings need to be clearly named as this helps us to return lost property quickly.

The virtual learning environment accessed through the schools’ websites provides parents with information about homework tasks and we would encourage you to have a look at it. Please contact the office if you do not have the necessary access codes.

As I said in my welcome letter sent to you all on the first day back, we will not be having Newsletters in future because the blogs are published instead. However, I would encourage you to follow us on social media platforms as we do regularly publish updates using FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram.

We have a wonderful PTFA which is superbly co-ordinated by Gina Ciuro based at the Rushmoor site. If you would like to be involved in the PTFA, please contact Gina. We are happy for any type of support.

We value the views of parents and invite you to attend the Parent Council Meetings that take place throughout the year. The next meeting will be on Thursday 11 October at St Andrew’s and on Thursday 18 October at Rushmoor. Please contact Mrs Abruzzese or Mrs Heaney if you would like to attend.

Our friendly office staff across both sites are happy to help you with any queries, so please feel free to call or drop in to the reception. They can take messages for the teaching staff or you can contact teachers using their email addresses, found on the school websites.

We are pleased to welcome Marina Sanderson who will be working as the school counsellor across the alliance, supporting our pupils with any concerns they may have. Obviously, if you feel her services may be of benefit to your child, please feel free to contact Mrs Barnes, Mrs Djukic or Mrs Stott.

We are extending our curriculum this year in terms of careers advice, so careers lessons will be held throughout years 6 to 13. We want to prepare our pupils well for life beyond their school years, and will teach them about expectations in the workplace, how to create their own curriculum vitae, what to do in interview situations, how businesses operate in terms of ethics, etc. We hope this will prepare them well for their future. We have introduced the Cambridge Technicals in Business for our year 12 students, which is equivalent to 3 A-levels and split 60% coursework, 40% examinations. This is an exciting addition to our sixth form curriculum and will be taught by Mrs Morris who comes to us from Bedford Sixth Form.

We are pleased to say that new members of the Rushmoor and St Andrew’s communities, both staff and students, have made fantastic first impressions and already seem well settled and part of life at each school. At St Andrew’s Miss Ralph has made an enthusiastic and committed addition to the PE staff and it was good to see her supporting the teams this week. Mrs Turner has settled into the art department with style and girls are enjoying the working environment she has created. Miss Lambert has made a seamless transition from Rushmoor and we value her cheerful and experienced presence in Reception. Dr Blackie is a valuable addition to both Rushmoor and St Andrew’s and we look forward to her experience and guidance supporting the girls and boys further.

At Rushmoor Miss Bamber, Miss Croft and Mr Fryer have made a positive impact on the English and humanities department. Mrs Morris is a great addition to the Sixth Form staff with teaching the new subject, Cambridge Technicals in Business. Our Year 2 parents met Miss Glennon earlier this week at the curriculum meeting and she is already very popular with the pupils. Miss Collins has also joined our team of Learning Support Assistants working with our junior pupils and has formed a fantastic rappor with them all already.

Sadly, we have one member of the Rushmoor School team leaving us today. Jamie Stevenson has been working as a learning support assistant for the past year, but is now moving on to work for the RSPB Charity at their headquarters in Sandy. There he will make good use of his degree in animal sciences, an area that he enjoys. Jamie has been a great support to many of our pupils, helping them in class and doing a good job of assisting with GCSE revision too. He got fully involved in school life by attending the trips to the Frontier Centre and Wales last term. Not only has Jamie worked for Rushmoor, he was a former pupil here too, so I wish him the very best for the future and thank him for his hard work. I am sure he will stay in touch with his colleagues here.


St Andrew’s Nursery have had a very busy summer, as the pre-school children have returned to their new refurbished rooms. The aim was to make the rooms reflect natural colours and naturally flow to the outdoor area.

I would like to congratulate Ms Dempsey on completing her forest school training; Ms Dempsey is passionate about learning through the outdoor provision and once the children have settled into pre-school, she will be opening up forest sessions for parents to attend and will publish dates in the near future.

The undercover area used by the baby unit has been refurbished and the babies now enjoy a soft, grassed area which is also awaiting the finishing touches of a giant sandpit and natural mobiles. We would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank Mr Giles Perry, a parent of three girls in Junior School, who donated the grass for our babies to enjoy.

During the summer, we have also said goodbye to our oldest children who moved on to other schools. It is always a difficult time as we grow attached to our families, but we know that each and every child has headed towards school with confidence and independence and we look forward to the occasional visit from them in their new uniforms!

We look forward to sharing with you all the great adventures that our children will have over the forthcoming blogs and we welcome you back to a new term. Our next parent stay and play session will be held on Saturday 29 September from 10.00am-12.00. We look forward to seeing you all there.

Rushmoor Robins welcome back pupils after the summer break. Pupils in Reception Class have settled in quickly and enjoyed their first swimming lesson on Wednesday. As expected all children were happy their weekly yoga sessions started again. I will keep you updated on the Rushmoor EYFS activities in future blogs.

Sports News

There was an excellent turnout for the first cross-country club at St Andrew’s on Tuesday. Well done to Lillie Morris and Mia Gross who were the only girls from Junior School. The club runs every Tuesday, 4.00-5.00, and is now open from year 3 upwards.

All sports clubs are now up and running, and the PE staff would like to encourage more year 9, 10 and 11 girls to attend netball practice after school on Tuesdays, and year 3/4 pupils to turn up for hockey practice after school on Wednesdays. The Gymnastics club has proved very popular this term and has a waiting list.
St Andrew’s have their first year 5/6 netball match of the season today at Oakley Primary. Good luck girls.

Extra-curricular PE clubs also began at Rushmoor this week. Excellent numbers attended the majority of clubs including rugby, dodgeball, basketball and x-country. Lunchtime clubs were particularly popular with high numbers of junior school students taking up the opportunity to get some more exercise in the day. We would still like to encourage more students to after school gymnastics club and Friday morning dodgeball.

Year 8s played their first rugby fixture of the new season against a very strong Lincroft side. After a slow start, the boys really started to test the Lincroft defence and played some exciting rugby, ultimately winning the final third 2 tries to 1. A very well done to the whole squad. Some special mentions go to Luke Wilson and Charlie Maudlin for some excellent tackling and running with the ball, Shea O’Donnell for his first Rushmoor fixture and Will Stuart for his last minute try saving tackle.

Some pupils in Year 2 have begun their tag rugby training this term. They enjoyed their first session and I look forward to see them progress throughout the term.
The Cross Country Team from Year 5-8 will be taking part in a fixture at Browns Wood in Clapham today. We wish them luck!

Junior School News

It is great to see that Rushmoor Junior pupils have started this academic year with a positive attitude towards learning. They have settled in well into their new classrooms and are already rehearsing for the Harvest Festival assembly which is being held on Tuesday 2 October.

Principal’s Awards:

Natasha Edwards in year 9 for her positive attitude since returning to school this term.
Tabitha Crocker in year 10 for going out of her way to help the year 7 pupils settle into Senior School, and for her excellent achievement in Science.
Poppy Ackroyd in year 11 for her role as Academic Prefect and addressing the year 9 parents at Senior Transition Evening.
Tamsin Mansell in year 11 for helping to run the touch typing course on Thursdays.

Junior School Stars:

Rushmoor School
Reception – Harvey Reynolds
1TS – Tom Marshall
2KGL – Ethan Kenna
3JM – Tanishk Barve
3ST – Sebastian Raddan and Noah Wetherell
4EB – Archie Fisher
4ET – Callum Scobie
5CR – Oliver Millard and Oliver Weir
5RS – Noah Etti

St Andrew’s School
Reception – Oliver Barber
Year 1 – Sophie Retout
Year 2 – Grace Perry
Years 3/4 - Scarlett Barber, Carmen Forton, Helen Weston, Charlotte Allen, Elsie Francis, Shenay Muirhead-Stewart, Hannah Woodruff
Year 5 – Kimora Darragh and Sophie Weston
Year 6 – Isabelle Burt, Poppy Corner and Lillie King

Running Free! Thank you to Mrs Colbert for providing this picture of the chicks that hatched at Rushmoor last year, now grown and enjoying their free-range life at the Hutcheon family farm.

Well done to Heath Clarke who played cricket over the school holidays and represented Bedfordshire at Knebworth, Dunstable and Braintree in Essex. Heath captained the County for one of these games, which they won. Excellent effort Heath. Heath also represented Bedford in the side that won the final of the County Cup against Luton and Indians on Bank Holiday Monday.

I was very pleased to hear that Seb Hendrix decided to join Olney Rugby Club and is thoroughly enjoying it. He has had a lot of good fitness training, which is great. Seb was awarded the Player of the Week, so his hard work and determination paid off. Fantastic effort Seb and I look forward to hearing more about your rugby triumphs.

I would also like to congratulate Tom Ulvert who was part of team GB competing in the World Championships for his martial art - Tang Soo Do - at the Copper Box arena at the Olympic Park in London in August. With over 20 countries taking part, Tom won 2 golds which makes him a double world champion at 8 years old! We are all very proud of you Tom, well done!

We are proud of our pupils in many different ways; most recently, I have been extremely pleased to see the social media frenzy surrounding Ellie Chick’s post. Ellie joined St Andrew’s School with specific learning needs and flourished here as a valued member of the school community.

Ellie is a fabulous gymnast and wants to work in this field. Ellie and all her teachers were pleased when she sat her GCSEs last summer, something that Ellie openly admits she found challenging. Ellie achieved grades at 1-3, which was an accomplishment for her and she is proud of her efforts. However, in the current system, Ellie feels disappointed with the government’s stance and the fact that she has struggled to access a suitable course. Ellie’s campaign was picked up by Look East news and South Today, as well as The Times Educational Supplement, Schools Week and the Times and Citizen.

I believe that Ellie’s message resonates with many young people around our country and I commend her for being honest about her feelings. Ellie is most certainly kind, polite, unique, helpful, funny and caring, as her post describes. All wonderful qualities which will help her succeed. Click the link below to watch one of Ellie’s interviews.

Congratulations to Giorgia Mitridate who gained a distinction in her Grade 4 LAMDA Solo Acting, which she undertakes in her own time.

Congratulations also to Caroline Demuth who took part in the Junior National Outdoor Archery Championships during the summer. On the first day she competed in the under 16 category of the Bristol 3 Shoot and came second, even though she was an age category up. On the second day Caroline competed in the under 14 category of the Metric 4 and again came second. During the Championships, Caroline broke six county records which are waiting to be verified. An amazing achievement, well done Caroline.

I would like to say how proud we are of Thomas Tredray and Elliott FitzPatrick who both gave up some of their holiday time to volunteer for the Mencap Playscheme in Bedford. What a fabulous thing to do and a great learning experience for them. Well done boys.

Kind regards

I M Daniel, BA (QTS), NPQH


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