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Head’s Corner – Easter 2009

April 3rd, 2009

logoI am writing this, my fourteenth visit to Head’s Corner on a warm spring afternoon. It is surprising to remember that only a few weeks ago we were beset by some of the severest snow this part of the country has experienced for many years. This bout of severe weather necessitated the closure of the school for two days. It is rare for emergency closures such as this to occur. However, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that at these times families should tune in to Andover Sound on 106.4 FM and on line at www.andoversound.com, which is of course our local commercial radio station serving Andover and North-West Hampshire. Please use this link to the Andover Sound website. In addition, emergency notices are issued through school e-mail and on our website.

This is the time of year when our Year 11 students are under their greatest pressure as they prepare to get their heads down ready for the home straight in preparation for their GCSE and other Key Stage 4 examinations. I would like at this point to pay tribute to these Year 11 students. They are a terrific group to work with and I have a special affinity with them because they started here at Harrow Way at the same time as me. I will certainly be sorry to see them go next term. On behalf of the staff and governors, I would like to wish all of our Year 11 students who will be revising and preparing during the Easter holidays and beyond, all the very best for their forthcoming examinations. GCSE results will be published to students on Thursday 27th August. Please see the back page of this newsletter for further details. At this point I would like to remind parents of the availability of ‘SAM Learning’. We have bought into this interactive learning tool which is accessible to students in all year groups and is designed ultimately to enhance their performance in examinations. Please follow the link www.samlearning.com to have a look at ‘SAM Learning’ for yourself and do encourage your child to use this valuable resource as much as possible. Research has shown that students who regularly use ‘SAM Learning’ can improve their GCSE result significantly. For example, in a study, students with over 10 task hours use of SAM Learning achieved 4.6 per cent more 5+ A* – C GCSE grades than expected based on prior attainment. The value added gain was equivalent to one quarter of a GCSE grade per subject.

School Population
We have recently received our admission numbers for the Year 7 intake for September 2009 and I am delighted to be able to report to readers that due to the increasing success and popularity of the school we will be welcoming 180 new students to Harrow Way. This is our maximum intake and I am delighted that there has been an 80% increase in the number of families making Harrow Way the first choice for their children during the last 5 years. I fully subscribe to the ‘you don’t have to be ill to get better’ school of thought, and I take nothing for granted at Harrow Way as we continue to work extremely hard with our students and with our primary schools to secure and expand the confidence and trust of our existing and future families.

Specialist School
Since I reported in my last Head’s Corner how our specialist status in Mathematics and Computing was having an immediate impact on our facilities and resources, developments have continued apace as we implement the first year of our plan. The list of activities completed since September is quite astonishing. The additional resources are being used to enhance teaching and learning across the curriculum, as well as bringing improvements to management processes, such as electronic registration of all classes. Apart from the obvious outward signs wherever new technology has been installed, both staff and students are benefiting from the new opportunities open to them. We are delighted that so many of our students have commented that they appreciate the way in which our specialist status has had a positive impact on the way the curriculum is delivered. We are looking forward to the next phase when further funding is released to us later this month.

Staff
This term we have said goodbye to Mrs Cathy Loveridge who has been teaching a Year 7 group since February 2008. Mrs Julia Tidmarsh will be joining us from the summer term in a change of role within the Learning Support department as a Year 7 teacher. Also I am delighted to confirm the permanent appointment to the post of Assistant Headteacher (Inclusion) of Mr Richard Peters who has been fulfilling this post on a temporary basis for the last two terms. In another change to existing staffing I am pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Ian Ashbolt to the post of HLTA (Higher Level Teaching Assistant). Mr Ashbolt has previously been employed within the Learning Support department as a Learning Support Assistant. As the number of students on roll increases so is the number of staff we employ and we have recently appointed Miss Sonja Tkach who will be joining us from September as a full time teacher of Science. We have also recently welcomed Mr Ben Turner as a Learning Support Assistant.

Premises
We are delighted with our newly refurbished Sports Hall and Food Technology Room which have made huge contributions to the quality of provision for our students and also for the wider community. Planning for the beginning of the next academic year includes a long overdue upgrade and refurbishment of the Staff Room and my own and my secretary’s office areas. In addition we are planning considerable improvements elsewhere in the school, including the Library as well as classroom improvements, such as carpeting, painting, etc.

Partnerships
We continue to work in close partnership with many other educational institutions and local businesses. For example, our collaboration with our family of primary schools goes from strength to strength with a huge amount of transition work going on for pupils in Years 5 and 6. This is especially rich and varied in relation to our Maths and Computing Specialism, with particular emphasis on our Gifted & Talented student programme which is aimed at supporting and challenging our most able Harrow Way students and primary pupils. We now have significantly increasing numbers of very able students attending Harrow Way and it is really important for us to ensure that we continue to provide appropriate resources and facilities for all of our students. Our Primary Transition programme is also developing very strongly with regard to PE and Sports as well as artistic and other curriculum areas. On this last point, I hope many of our readers were able to see our production this week of ‘Jack the Ripper’. This has been a fantastic show and I would like to congratulate the staff and students involved.

We are also a very active member of our local 14-19 Consortium which is working hard to develop enhanced provision for our Key Stage 4 students, most notably perhaps with the introduction of the new 14-19 Creative & Media and Environment & Land Based Diplomas.

As part of our widening and developing commitment to the community I was very pleased at the beginning of the year to take on the role of Chair of the Management Committee at the Andover Education Centre. The Centre makes superb provision for a number of students across the town and we work closely with them in this regard. Also we have very strong professional links with Andover College as part of our Consortium and I am delighted that the huge improvements at the college in recent years mean that it is increasingly becoming the institution of choice for students leaving Harrow Way.

We are also continuing to develop our work with local businesses. For example our professional partnership with Le Creuset continues to grow from strength to strength with a long list of high profile events and activities planned for the remainder of this year and next which will benefit our students and the staff of both workplaces.

Many readers will be aware of Harrow Way and other schools’ work towards securing the Rights Respecting School Award as enshrined within the UNICEF Charter on the Rights of the Child. This is about looking closely at the issues around human rights and also the importance of the responsibilities that go with them. Our partnership working is now looking at securing Rights Respecting status not just for individual schools but for Andover and District as a whole. In this, as well as in many other areas, we are benefiting from our work with Andover Vision which is doing an enormous amount of very good work for the Andover community under the leadership of Sue Sheppard, the Manager of Andover Vision. I was delighted last year to be invited to join the Board of Andover Vision and I have been able to see first hand the leadership and provision that Andover Vision is offering the town.

One of the important partnerships that we are keen to continue to develop is that which exists between the school and the local police. Our local Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) is Rebecca Williams who is a frequent and welcome visitor to the school. Rebecca will be operating a lunch time ‘drop-in’ session from 12.40pm to 1.20pm fortnightly beginning on Wednesday 22nd April 2009. These sessions are for students to receive advice and support on relevant matters and are made available as part of our wider student support services within the school.

And Finally…Could I please draw readers’ attention to a separate letter I am writing to all parents, making clear the school’s policy on the use of mobile phones in school as well as other matters. This letter can also be viewed on line on our school website.
I would like to wish all readers a happy and peaceful Easter break. School begins again at 8.45 am on Monday 20th April 2009.

Charlie Currie, Headteacher – April 2009

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