Happy New Year to all our families and a warm welcome back to the new term.
This is a crucial term for Year 11 and 13 in the lead up to the summer exams. Traditionally, students who start to build a routine of revision in addition to the extended learning tasks set by their teachers, make a significant amount of progress in the 12 weeks we have before the Easter holidays. The mock exams provide a useful source of feedback for students to focus their efforts and this is a time when young people require resilience to continue to strive for their best. Supportive and encouraging discussion at home can make a tremendous difference to easing some of the pressure and concern felt by students. Please do not hesitate to contact your child’s Form Tutor or Head of Year if you feel they require additional support.
I am delighted to let you now that the GO 4 Schools App is now available for parents and students. You will shortly be receiving a letter which explains the information that is available through the app as well as how to access it. I know that many parents have said that they would like this facility and I hope you will find it convenient and helpful.
A very busy end to the term has meant that there are so many students and staff to thank for their contributions to a number of events.
Firstly, I would like to thank all the staff involved in our production of ‘School of Rock’ last week. They have worked tirelessly all term and put in many extra hours over recent weeks to ensure that all who came along were thoroughly entertained. Some parents also gave their time and expertise to help and I was delighted to see some ex-students as well as former Stratton staff coming back to help with the set and technical aspects of the show. Of course, the cast and crew were fabulous showcasing the amazing talent we have among our student body. There was a real sense of community coming together to produce something quite spectacular. Many thanks to everyone who came along to watch and support.
On Thursday, Year 12 students hosted an afternoon tea for local senior citizens. This was a lovely event very much enjoyed by the guests as well as the students. I would like to thank the following Year 12s for giving up their time to fund raise for this event and for putting on a wonderful spread and entertainment. I am delighted that they chose to give back to the community in this way. Dan Humberstone, Zak Stevens, Ellis Jackson, Connie Ryan, Lauren Scott, Olivia Whitby, Maisie Condron, Edward Dellar, Josh Staynor, Tyler Turner, Jack Welsted, Bailey Doggett.
The following students also represented the school admirably on Tuesday night, singing for the Rotary Club at John O’Gaunt Golf Club. Alex Robinson, Jake Caldera, Cali Henebery, April Dyer, Daniel Magee, Kayleigh Henegan, Elizabeth Turnock. In spite of the keyboard cutting out on them repeatedly they carried on beautifully. The Rotarians have given us a donation of £100, which we will put toward a new portable stage piano that works!
Year 10 dance students impressed us this week with their extended learning project based on the professional work of A Linha Curva. Well done to (first names only as there are so many!): Millie, Chloe, Emma, Aoife, Darren, Grace, Morgan, Elise, Daisy, Flo, Bel, Ellie-Mai, Katie, Bronwyn, Alexandra, Sadie, Emily, Ella, Freya. These students have demonstrated exceptional engagement in their learning and developed useful revision resources in the process.
The minutes of this term’s Parents’ Forum meeting are now available to view below. You will see the actions that the school are taking in the bullet points in bold. Thank you to all who came along as well as the parents who submitted some comments by email that we are also taking into account.
As this will be my last blog before Christmas, I would like to wish all our families a wonderful Christmas and a peaceful New Year.
Our musical ‘School of Rock’ opened last night to an energetic performance by a cast of 30 students supported by a team of 15-stage crew including some committed ex-students. Effi as our lead as Dewey Finn raised the roof with ‘stick it to the man’ and Isobel Frost used spell binding character work in her emotional solo. Tonight a cast of Year 9 students will have their turn to shine. Many of whom attended Biggleswade Academy and they would love to see you there. It’s not too late to buy tickets for tonight’s performance and the two on Saturday by booking online at Ticket source, https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on/biggleswade/stratton-upper-school and on the door. Please come along and support the students who have worked so hard – you won’t be disappointed!
The end of term is fast approaching and you will be aware that we have an early closure on the last day, Wednesday 19th December. This will also be a non-uniform day in aid of Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day appeal. We ask that all students arrive wearing a Christmas Jumper and pay a contribution to the charity. There will be hot chocolate to welcome students as they enter school and thank them for their work over the term.
Year 11 begin their mock exams today and we are proud of the attitude and approach the students are taking to preparing for these important exams. The exams will take place over the next week and this experience is crucial for getting into the right habits for the real exams in the summer. Revision and exam practice should now be part of the routine for all Year 11 students and a permanent feature of their personal extended learning.
Sixth Form Open Evening The Sixth Form team and I were delighted to see so many year 11 students and their parents at last night’s sixth form Open Evening. Stratton has a post-16 provision to be proud of, and one which offers a wide range of courses and levels that can be accessed by all our students after their GCSE studies. I would like to thank the Sixth Form team for organising such a successful event, as well as all the subject staff who contributed to the evening. Thanks are also due to the head students for being excellent hosts and in particular Alex Scholes and Emma Royston for taking their first step into public speaking by sharing their experiences during the talk. It is very nerve wracking to stand up and speak to a packed hall the size of ours and they did a great job.
Parents’ Forum We also had a good turnout for our first parents’ forum on Tuesday evening and the feedback we received is very valuable. We will circulate the full minutes in due course, but I have highlighted here some of the areas of discussion: It was pleasing to hear that lots of good quality Extended Learning is being set across all year groups but some issues were raised about the setting of homework on Go 4 Schools and recording its completion, which we will discuss with staff. It is apparent that some students are struggling to manage their workload and we will be considering how to help them learn to manage their time as well as looking at the timing and flow of homework across the week for each year group. It is clear that both parents and students feel that behaviour in lessons is very good in most areas of the school, but we are aware of a couple of pockets of poor behaviour, which we are actively addressing. We had an in-depth discussion about the process for trips and visits and we will be posting the full trips calendar on the school website so that parents can have an overview of all the trips available and can make informed decisions. There was a strong feeling that the process for signing up for a trip is lengthy and involves a number of steps and forms. Parents have also raised that our current ‘first come, first served’ practice is not as inclusive as it could be and we have committed to looking at the whole process to make it sleeker and fairer for all. Please look out for future communications on this.
School of Rock Tickets are still available for the four shows on Thursday 6th, Friday 7th and Saturday 8th December. Please support the school by booking online at Ticket source, https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on/biggleswade/stratton-upper-school.
This week you will have started to notice changes to our website, letterhead and other forms of communication within and outside of school. These changes are being made to promote a consistent modern image of the school which has drifted over recent years. The school uniform will not be changing and in fact the changes made to the school badge on our communications are more consistent with the badge on the school jumpers. I would personally like to thank Mr Kilby, Head of Computer Science and Miss Phillips who is responsible for marketing, for their commitment to developing and rolling out these improvements. Also working alongside Mr Kilby is a team of students, we call the Tech Team, that will be taking on some of the management and technical side of the website, with a new Student News service appearing soon. A special thanks to Mitchell Kettlewell and James Langridge for their help with the photography for the new website and prospectus, and to all the students that have appeared in the photos.
Sixth Form Open Evening We are looking forward to welcoming students and parents at our Sixth Form Open Evening next Thursday 29th November. All Stratton Year 11 students have had an assembly and letter to inform them of the evening and will be receiving information and guidance packs early next week. Comprehensive information is also available on the website for Sixth Form https://www.stratton.beds.sch.uk/sixthform and applications should be made on line through the website before the end of term.
Performing Arts This is a very busy time of year for the school and particularly the Performing Arts Faculty. On Monday evening a group of Year 10 students performed at Bedford Modern School. Assistant Headteacher Mr Evans went along to support and said that he was incredibly impressed with the level of performance shown by Year 10 students. “The theme of political drama is a challenging one but Stratton students did themselves proud. Special thanks to Lorna Wood and Amy Amies for organising and directing the performance.” Doors will open in just under two weeks for our production of the musical School of Rock. The cast and crew are now working late into the evenings and at weekends to rehearse and prepare to launch this exciting and energetic production. Tickets are still available for the four shows on Thursday 6th, Friday 7th and Saturday 8th December. Please support the school by booking online at Ticket source, https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on/biggleswade/stratton-upper-school. If you would like a free taster, our students will be performing some songs from the musical in Biggleswade this evening, Friday 23rd November, at the Christmas light switch-on.
We are very excited to launch our new website today. I hope you will agree that it is professional, modern and user friendly.
Headteacher news will now be posted on the website as the Headteacher blog and you will receive InTouch messages to alert you when this is updated. If you could spend some time looking at our website, we would be grateful to receive any feedback you may have.
As we approach the end of any school term we inevitably have to say goodbye to some teachers who are moving on to exciting new opportunities. At Christmas there will be teachers leaving us in both Maths and Business Studies and we have been actively recruiting and working on the timetable to ensure that we maintain high standards of teaching and learning in all classes. Our plans will be finalised this week and we will be writing to parents of students affected by these changes. We wish those colleagues leaving Stratton every success in their new roles.
Congratulations to the Stratton boys under 16-basketball team who won the District Final on Tuesday night. It was a tight beginning to the game but the Stratton boys dominated the second quarter with a string of baskets meaning a half time lead of 16-4. Although Sharnbrook came back to win the third quarter, Stratton took the game in the last quarter with a final victory score of 34-21.
Great teamwork won the day and this should mean that the boys will go forward to the County Finals. Well done to Sean Blackburn, Miles Darlow, Kai Dawson, Cameron Godfrey, Danny Jarvis, Jovan Krstic, Sam Oakins & Elliott Swinburn.
The Year 11 football team have been incredibly successful this term, finishing top of their league by a considerable margin. Impressive wins against Bedford Academy (6-1), Etonbury (5-0), Bedford Free School (9-0), Biddenham (6-1), Sandy (3-0) led to 5 wins being secured out of 6. The only fly in the ointment was a 2 - 1 loss to Samuel Whitbread with a depleted squad.
Congratulations to all the boys who have represented the team this term, they are an absolute credit to the school.
You will be aware that this year is the centenary of the end of the First World War and Remembrance Sunday this year falls on the anniversary of the Armistice on 11th November. The Education department at Shuttleworth have arranged an art exhibition in the hangers for Armistice Day and Year 9 Stratton students have been making a series of Batik panels to contribute to this exhibition. These are inspired by the poems ‘Exposure’ and ‘Poppies’ from the GCSE Anthology and the work of Henry Moore and will be displayed for public exhibition on the 10th and 11th November in the Discovery room of the Shuttleworth Collection Hangers. Year 9 parents will have free entry to the hangers for the duration of the weekend, so please do visit if you can. Our Head Students have also recorded a voiceover to be played in the hangers remembering the fallen of WW1 and we are very proud of the work of all of the Year 9 and Sixth Form students who have contributed to this exhibition. We are grateful for the work of Ms Edwards and the art department in making this happen. History teachers Mr Macwhinnie and Mr McIntosh wanted to create a visual tribute to local servicemen who lost their lives during WW1. With permission from the Town Council and the assistance of history and technology staff, 14 profiles of these brave men have been made and displayed around Biggleswade as close to their home addresses as possible. Please look out for these tributes around the town; they are very impressive and moving. Many thanks to Mr Macwhinnie, Mr McIntosh and Mr Sampford (technology) for their creativity and determination to see this project through.
This half term we have opened a new outlet called the ‘Snack Hub’ where students can buy food at break and lunchtime. This is situated in Room 3 where there is also space for students sit, eat and socialise with their friends. Students’ first impressions have been very positive and we would like to hear their views on how we can develop this provision.
Media and Film studies students are given the opportunity to carry out internship projects during their final year of study. The current interns had just one week to create a short film on the subject of remembrance. We are very impressed with the final cut, which will be shown to all students in assemblies next week; you can also take a look via the school website https://www.stratton.beds.sch.uk/. The students have worked hard to research and produce this video which I am sure you will agree is a thought provoking and fitting tribute. I would like to acknowledge the work of these students Georgia Giddings, James Langridge, Lucy Jones, Emma Royston, Effie Balogh and Kieran Cooper as well as the staff and other students who took part in the film. It shows just what can be achieved with great teamwork.