I am delighted to present this, my thirteenth edition of Headâ€™s Corner, which is published in both leaflet and web form. Each term in the school year has its own characteristics and similarities, some seasonal and some dependent on other external events, such as the examinations calendar. This autumn term has been characteristically busy and productive in all areas of the school, and this is of course, our first term under our Specialist Mathematics and Computing Designation. Visitors to the school are already seeing some of the more visible signs of our specialist status due to the increase in facilities and resources, including new ICT suites and the installation of ceiling projectors and interactive whiteboards in many areas. We are looking forward to installing our new plasma screen which will certainly set the right tone in our school Reception area!
The term began on a real high because we maintained our recent high profile of GCSE results and we were delighted that these were the best in the area. This is testament to the hard work and commitment of both students and teachers and is an indicator of how our school improvement programme continues to go from strength to strength. Shortly after the half-term break we held the Shakespeare in Schools project culminating in a very well received performance of â€˜Pericles, Prince of Tyreâ€™. Since then we have had our annual Dance competition and Dance Showcase. At the end of November we hosted our second Christmas Fair which even eclipsed the success of last yearâ€™s in terms of fundraising and community support. I am very grateful to the Harrow Way Community School Association for their fantastic hard work in preparing for this and other fundraising and community opportunities throughout the year. As we prepare for Christmas there are shows, concerts and presentations taking place and new staff to welcome to the school, as well as some to whom we are saying goodbye.
At the time of writing this edition of Headâ€™s Corner, we are looking forward to the Music Concert and the BTEC Performing Arts presentation during this final week of term.
One of the real successes this term was our gaining of Healthy Schools Status, which was announced only last week. This has been something for which we have been planning for well over a year now and endorses the standards that the school community has reached with regard to all aspects of the award including curriculum, environment, food and lifestyle factors.
A real highlight of the term was our Rights, Respect and Responsibilities day which took place earlier in December. We are applying for Rights Respecting Status as part of the Unicef Rights of the Child Convention and our RRR day was a cornerstone of our progress towards this. We are already recognised as a school which is characterised by good behaviour and discipline in a supportive and considerate environment and these are the values that are enshrined within the Convention. We were joined on our RRR day by representatives from local schools and we were delighted to welcome and hear the message of two Holocaust survivors, Walter Kammerling and Josef Perl.
Our large Year 7 cohort settled down extremely well in September. They were able to do this so quickly because of the excellent preparation for transition that we operate in very close partnership with our family of primary schools. The school has grown once again this year and figures for 2009, although not finalised, indicate that the school will grow yet again next September. Since September 2004 there has been a 78% increase in the number of families making Harrow Way their first choice of secondary school in Andover. I am delighted by the confidence and trust that the families of Andover are placing in our school community. We take our commitment to our school community very seriously and we are always looking for ways to improve our service.
Leavers this term include Mrs Deborah Bourne, LSA, who has secured another post, Mrs Vicky Bentley, Humanities teacher, who has left us to spend more time with her family and Miss Claire Dudman, Head of Dance, who is leaving us at the end of the term following the termination of her fixed term contract. We wish all these colleagues well for the future.
We are also saying goodbye to Mrs Mary Whitworth who has been a member of the Harrow Way Governing Body for 5 years. Serving as a School Governor is an important and interesting role, and on behalf of Mrs Becky Burbidge, Chair of Governors, and me, I would like to express sincere thanks and appreciation for the huge contribution that Mary has made over the years. We wish her every success for the future.
In January 2009 we are looking forward to welcoming Miss Karen Green, Head of Dance, Mrs Helen Banyard, Modern Foreign Languages teacher, who is joining us on contract after a period of supply work, and Mrs Alison Tilling, Learning Support Assistant.
We have recently regained access to our newly refurbished Sports Hall, much to the relief of the PE department. This is now a superb facility for both the school and community use. Following the laying of new flooring and decorating of the foyer area, there will be an official opening of the Sports Hall which is scheduled to take place at the end of January.
Since my last Headâ€™s Corner we have established and opened our new smallholding/livestock facility. This has proved an immediate hit, particularly with students and adds yet another dimension to the rich curriculum at Harrow Way.
I continue to receive many favourable comments about the smart appearance of our students throughout the school. It might be worth reminding readers, particularly at this time of year when students need to wear additional clothing that, in addition to the wearing of trainers which has now been virtually eradicated students are not allowed to wear hoodies or hoodie type garments. Outer coats should be dark in colour without heavy logos. In addition, parents are asked to ensure that any scarves worn by students should be plain black. For information, the full school uniform list is available on our website as well as on relevant school literature. Please remember that students are required to wear full school uniform on the way to and from school as well as throughout the day.
I thoroughly recommend a visit to our excellent website at www.harrowway.hants.sch.uk where you can find archive material and details of future events as well as a very wide range of school related matters of information and interest. You will also find there a link to our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) which is rapidly becoming embedded as an essential feature of our teaching and learning culture.
It just remains for me to wish all members of our school community a restful Christmas break. We are already looking forward to continuing our developments and improvements throughout the next academic year and beyond.