Thomas Alleyne's High School
Weekly News Roundup

Week Commencing- 16th March 2015

Headteacher's Blog

Mrs Catterall, our Assistant Headteacher, Student Well Being, and I have attended the National Conference for School Leader’s Annual Conference in London this weekend. During our time at the conference we have had the opportunity to listen to a range of experts in their fields who, in some cases have deepened our understanding of areas which we are responsible for, or in other cases introduced us to completely new thinking.

Perhaps most striking for me personally, was listening to Professor Steve Peters who has worked with the British cycling team, Steven Gerard and Ronnie O’ Sullivan on improving their performance. This was not a session focused on telling us what we should do to improve the performance of children in our care; instead it focussed quite brutally on improving our own performance.

Some of you may have watched TED talks before and whilst I cannot share his talk from yesterday there is an earlier talk available at the link below from 2012 for anyone interested:

As our students will know, receiving 18 hours of education over 2 days can be exhausting and in the end we are left with the challenge of utilising at least some of what we have learnt back at school.

What remains with me now is the relevance of our vision statement which we share with young people.

‘Progress, Individuality and Opportunity.’

We have certainly made progress this weekend and now have the opportunity to develop what we have heard to our individual contexts to make a difference. This vision statement will remain constant whatever the outcome of the general election which we are approaching. When we listened to the political candidates present their education manifesto we knew that whilst the political landscape may change our role is to ensure staff are well prepared for to support students through their education regardless of change.

One very practical action that we were able to make this weekend was to purchase revision guides for every GCSE subject for every student in the school. These will come in the form of downloadable podcasts. Evidence shows that in other schools these have contributed to significant improvement in student performance. There is no charge to any student. Please tell your sons and daughters, who are on GCSE courses, to look out for our GCSEpod launch. If you would like to know more please join me on the 16th April when we will be running our revision tips for parents from 10.00am until 1.00pm. I hope you are able to join us.

On this note, last week a parent asked me for the times of Science revision sessions for Year 11. Please see below:

Prior to Easter, the current revision sessions are:
Triple Science Biology on Thursday lunch times
Triple Science Physics on Wed and Thu lunch times and Wed after school

After Easter these will continue and in addition there will be:
Triple science Chemistry revision on Tue and Wed after school (tiered)
Triple science Biology on Wed pm
Additional Science revision on Tue pm and Thu pm.

At the start of this week we received a monitoring evaluation visit to check on how effective some of the recent training offered to our teachers has been embedded. I was heartened by some of the findings which included:

‘The lessons of the teachers who had experienced the Outstanding Teacher Programme were outstanding in most respects. These were heads of departments who were clearly leading their colleagues to develop exemplary practice. Evidence of this was seen in their meticulous planning, including differentiation, assessment for learning, variety of challenging activities, student engagement and their responsive marking. In the best lessons, students took the lead at times, teachers' questions were carefully directed and open-ended, and students’ answers were articulate, sustained and thoughtful. Their use of responsive marking in the form of SWANS (strengths, weaknesses and next steps) was exemplary, with the students working hard to improve their work and understanding.’

Our Heads of Department are a reflective and passionate group of staff making sure that we do the best we can for all our students. This week in their curriculum meeting they looked at the difficult question of whether we should start GCSEs in year 9. I will be discussing this with any parent who joins us on the 1st April PTA meeting. (If you choose to join the discussion you are not committing yourself to attendance at all PTA meetings!)

Quality of teaching is our first and central focus and whilst as you can see above we have areas of real strength as with any school, there are areas where we want to improve and these were also clearly identified for us in the report.

At our partnership meeting with Middle and First School Headteachers this week we worked on improving transition from one school to the next. Many of you attended our open week last year and we will be running this again. I will also be making sure that year 8 pupils have the opportunity to ask any questions that they may have when I visit the middle schools in the Summer term.

Working with Headteachers in our local area of Uttoxeter is very important for me as is the work that I do with the East Staffordshire Secondary Headteachers who also meet half-termly to discuss educational issues that directly impact on us. This week we discussed assessment changes and how we would be introducing this across our schools.

As, regular readers know, my blog last week dealt with the difficult topic of child sexual exploitation. This week all students will get the opportunity to see an excerpt from a play dealing with this topic, performed by our own students. I will also remind them that everything they type on our school computers is monitored. Please support us in reminding your child about the importance of staying safe on-line at all times.

Finally I would like to personally thank the Headteachers of the Middle schools who have agreed to send this blog out to Middle School students to further assist transition. If you are one of these parents reading my blog for the first time and have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to contact me. We currently have over 800 readers and always welcome our readers' feedback.

House Drama

Last Friday saw a very successful house drama competition.Due to requests from parents, there will be a showcase of both the Torrance and Elkes house drama performances on Tuesday 24th March.

Both houses will perform half of the play 'Too much punch for Judy' a play that teaches audiences about the dangers of drink driving. Performances will begin at 6pm and end around 7pm. There is no need to purchase a ticket, just turn up at the theatre on the night. Please feel free to bring any family members or friends to this event.

See you there!

Lessons from Auschwitz

On the 25th February, Kara Fletcher and I, Emily Dent from Year 12 flew to Poland with 200 other sixth form and college students from the Birmingham area for a one-day visit to the former concentration camp Auschwitz. The experience proved to be both a physically and emotionally draining day. We left home at 4am for our flight to Krakow, only to return to Birmingham at 11pm on the same day. Despite our tiredness, the trip was incredibly fulfilling and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that allowed us to truly experience the terrible conditions that 1.3 million people died from.

The concentration camp was split into three parts; Auschwitz, the death camp with gas chambers; Auschwitz-Birkenau, the concentration camp where the able were put to work; and Monowitz, the farm that provided for SS Nazi soldiers who ran the camp. The former two we visited, and the sight of glasses, suitcases, hair and prosthetics that had belonged to the victims really shocked all of us. Truly, it feels as though we could not fully acknowledge the atrocities that were committed at Auschwitz without seeing items that belonged to ordinary people, like any of us.

The Holocaust – in which 11 million people were killed by the Nazi regime – resulted in the deaths of 6 million Jews from around Europe. Accompanied by Rabbi Shaw from London, a memorial service on the train tracks of Auschwitz emphasised the importance of the individual over the collective groups of people killed. We learnt about the individual people, rather than just statistics. On the plane back to the UK, we were each issued with our own independent cards with the information of a young Jewish victim who was killed at Auschwitz; mine being a young man named Leendert Goudsmit, who was born in Amsterdam in 1922 and died at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1422, aged 20 years old.

At our Next Steps Seminar back in Birmingham, we were encouraged to go out into our local community to share our experience and to pass on the message that history cannot, and should not, repeat itself. We hope to do this by writing to a local newspaper, as well as writing this for students, parents and teachers in the Friday Round-up. Despite being harrowing, if you ever get the opportunity to visit Auschwitz, then we would recommend that you do so.

As students, we learnt that the key lesson from Auschwitz for us was education. Hitler’s hatred for innocent people – the Jews, as well as minorities such as Poles, political prisoners and homosexuals. This cannot ever be allowed to occur again.

We would also like to thank Mr Wright for making this trip possible for us.

By Emily Dent and Kara Fletcher

"Smash Alley - Educating children on the effects of drugs and alcohol abuse."

Staff & Students at Thomas Alleyne's would like to thank the following businesses for sponsoring and supplying copies of this resource for our use in school.

The Hare and Hounds - High Street Uttoxeter

Station Taxi's - Burton-on -Trent

TAHS Horse Riding

On 8th March, 6 students from Thomas Alleyne’s High School took part in the Area Championships at Beaver Hall. Harry Kelly and Holly Carnall entered as individual riders in the 70cm event and a further 4 students also took part.

Two teams of students have now qualified for the NSEA County Challenge Show Jumping Team Championships which will be held on 17th and 18th April at Bury Farm in Buckinghamshire.

The riders who have qualified for the competition are Charlotte Townsend, Lucy Ford, Chloe Boothby and Holly Ball. They are entered in the 80cm and 90cm events.

A Couple of Reminders

1. Please can all orders for the Y11 whole group photograph be handed in to the front office by 9am, March 27th. The photograph is on display in the exam noticeboard which is located in the quad nearest the medical room.

2. Date for your diary: Thomas Alleyne's will be hosting a pyramid-wide parents' information evening on E-safety, with a focus on cyber-bullying on June 25th at 7pm in the theatre

YESS Easter Egg Bingo

On Thursday 2nd April at 6.30pm in Thomas Alleyne's theatre is the annual Easter Egg chocolate bingo evening. Any profits raised will help support the work of Youth Emotional Support Service in meeting the emotional needs of young people in the Uttoxeter area. Please consider coming along for a fun and exciting couple of hours. No tickets needed, just turn up on the night. Bring the whole family, bingo cuts across all age boundaries! Hope to see you there!

Science Week

Again we had a very busy science week with a different speaker each morning in assembly talking to students about their daily lives using science. The speakers were from a range of disciplines including engineering, veterinary medicine and biochemistry; two of them were also ex students which will hopefully help to inspire tour next generation of school leavers.

Following the sixth form assembly on blood donation, twenty five students signed up to become future donors which was a fantastic response.Throughout the week year nine students have been treated to a range of different lessons including an insiders look at the bloodhound land speed record attempt, a rat dissection and a geological history of Uttoxeter.

The climax of the week had to be the solar eclipse on Friday. This clearly inspired some of our students during the annual millionaires quiz, especially the Elkes team of Alex Rock and Harry Underhill who came first with Alex Canning and Harry Cooper from Orme, a close second. The middle school competition was attended by 32 students with the eventual winners being Oldfields Hall.

Finally, a large number of very excited students squashed into room 52 at lunchtime to watch Mr Crum perform his chemical spectacular. This was thoroughly enjoyed by all the students present as well as those in the quad below who may not have been able to see what was going on but could defiantly hear it!A very big thank you to all the staff who helped make the week such a success and we will hopefully build on this for next year.

Key Dates Reminder

PTA meeting - Wednesday 1st April 7.30 pm

Easter holiday - 3rd - 17th April

School opens on 20th April for students

Girls' Sports

U15 Girls' rugby - Regional Runners - Up

On Wednesday the team traveled to Dudley Kingswynford Rugby Club to compete in the Regional Rugby Finals. Having qualified as Staffordshire champions, they were placed in a pool with Wodensborough, Belvedere & Hereford academy. The standard of competition was very high and we all felt quite apprehensive watching the opening game. Those nerves soon subsided when we got on the pitch to play Wodensborough, the games were 8 minutes each way and we led at half time 1 try to nil. In the second half, our speedy players exposed some of the gaps in the oppositions defensive line and we ran out 4 - 0 winners.

Further victories against Belvedere & Hereford Academy saw us top the pool by lunch time and qualify for the cup competition.The afternoon saw as play Wodensborourgh again. This was a much closer affair with Thomas Alleyne's winning 2-1. Our only defeat came next when we played Nunnery Wood next, we battled hard but found them a bit more experienced and we lost 4-1. In our last game we had to avoid defeat to finish Runners up, our squad was depleted due to injuries ruling 3 players out. In a really close, hard fought game we managed a 3-3 draw against Church Stretton.

A massive well done to all of the girls who participated. Caitlin Arnold again captained the side brilliantly and she made a lot of tactical decisions both on and off the pitch. Some tough tackling from Katie Edwards, Antonia Lee- Jones, Hannah Thacker and India Wilson protected our defensive line. Some quick feet from Mylene Bepole, Rhiannon Kenny, Niamh Miller, Hannah Whittaker & Vicky Brookes helped us to gain ground further up the pitch. Ellie Chatfield, Alisha Hudson, Georgia Apperley & Chloe Kerr supported both the attack and defence magnificently, helping to bring down players and keep possession of the ball.

A massive well done to all that competed and a thank you to Mark Tolley who has been in to coach the girls on a Monday night. Many of the girl's had not played before and have made huge progress in a short space of time.


Our netball season came to an end with both the Yr 9 & 10 teams losing in the semi-finals. The year 10's had a remarkable season to even qualify for the semi-finals in the Year 11 league. The girls lost 21-12 to Deferrers.The Year 9 semi final saw a 28-21 defeat to John Port. Hopefully both teams can go one better next year. Well done girls, an excellent season.

Post 16 Transport Consultation

Can the parents of pupils in year 11 please take time to look at the consultation regarding transportation for post  16 students. You have until April 2nd to comment on the proposals.

House Chess

Yes the competition you have all been waiting for starts Monday 23rd March room 47 8.45am.

Each House is represented by 4 competitors. 16 players play in a knock-out competition throughout the week in room 47.

Last year Michael Wright 11W2 beat Hamish Haas 10O2. The final is expected to be on Friday 27th March.

Spectators please book early to reserve a seat.

Ski Trip 2016!!

We have not even gone on this year's trip and it is time to start planning next years!

The trip is booked for the Easter Holidays, 2016 and letters are now available from Mr Cartwright in room 43. In the first instance this is open to pupils in year 9 and 10 on a first come first served basis.

The deposit is on ParentPay, reply slips need to be returned to Mr Cartwright. For further details please do contact me at the school.

As the pupils who have been before say #bestweekofyourlife

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