Dear Everyone

We have reached the end of another term across the Trust, and one that has been very different again from our norm. The five schools returned to full on-site delivery three weeks before the end of the term, and have settled into routines to manage the safety of young people as well as deliver high-quality learning. For the secondary schools there have been additional challenges, with over 13000 lateral flow tests conducted on students and staff and the wearing of face masks in classrooms. The investment in time and effort with the testing has been considerable and I would like to thank all of the staff involved across the schools for their professionalism in working on this project.

This Newsletter contains a lovely range of articles showcasing the activity of our schools in the Spring Term. These activities come about as a result of the dedication and enthusiasm of staff in the schools, and I would like to thank them all for their work in providing such rich opportunities for everyone.

Finally, I would like to introduce Julie Richardson to you all. Julie has been appointed to replace Paul Ramsey and take over the headship of Verulam School from September. The staff and governors at Verulam are looking forward to working with Julie in the years to come, and we also look forward to her involvement in further developing the Trust. Welcome Julie.

I hope you all have a lovely Easter break and that the summer term is more normal than the one last year.

Best wishes

Alan Gray

Wellbeing & Community

Sandringham School - St Albans Museum

Year 9 student Lily D has been selected to dance in a new exhibition at St Albans Museum. Lily was one of 10 selected to take part in workshops in movement, sound, film and technology that will launch a new Augmented Reality installation at the museum. This is a fantastic opportunity so well done to Lily for being selected. We look forward to seeing her feature in it in the future.

Sandringham School - Photography Competition

There were over 400 entries to the Easter House Photography Competition last month. As you can see from the exhibition film below, the level of participation and outcomes were exceptionally high and really captured the arrival of spring. The competition provided our participants with the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors at this time. The picture above was taken by Emily G, the winner in Year 8.

Exhibition film

Verulam School - Wellbeing Weeks Challenges

Our 'Feeling Good Week' in February was even more important due to the lockdown.  During the week of 8th-12th the week’s activities allowed us to promote students’ emotional wellbeing by raising awareness of mental health.

A number of Verulam staff made short videos for students to enjoy over the week, encouraging them to take a break from the new normal. The challenges cover a wide spectrum including Brain Training, Music, History, Storytelling, Creativity, and Cooking as well as Physical Challenges. Perhaps most importantly there is the final challenge to carry out a random act of kindness for a friend or family member.


Ridgeway Academy - Wellbeing

At Ridgeway Academy, students receive 2 hours of Personal Development over a fortnight. 1 hour of this is Well Being, which is led by the PE Department. The primary objectives behind this is to develop students in six key areas: Physical ME, Creative ME, Social ME, Healthy ME, Future ME and Thinking ME. These ‘MEs’ have been selected as we believe these contribute to a student’s Well Being.

Year 7, 8 and 9 have been focusing on ‘Creative ME’.

Year 7 started by looking at problem solving, social media and mindfulness activities. The student’s second half term focused on encouraging them to communicate with each other in order to problem solve.

Year 8 have also looked at mindfulness as well as investigating the expectations of social media!

Year 9 have been looking at what positivity and the meaning of being confident. This then linked to a lesson in which students set SMART goals, which were specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.

Year 10 have also been looking at ‘Creative ME’ developing creativity through creating their own objects. Students were reflective in their final session, examining what they had learnt In Well Being so far.

Finally, Year 11 have been looking at ‘Creative ME’ completing a ‘Bloom’ session looking at resilience. The Well Being faculty have been delivering sessions in partnership with the charity ‘Mind’ who have released a series of sessions as part of their ‘Bloom’ programme. Year 11 students have also been looking at problem solving; these sessions are led to prepare the students for their mock examinations.

Overall, students have been working incredibly hard within their Well Being lessons. It has been fantastic to see thought-provoking discussions, as well as students pushing themselves outside of their usual comfort zone. 

Sandringham School - GOSH

Gabz Farrugia is a patient at GOSH and is very actively involved in fundraising for them. The GOSH charity approached her to record a sea shanty for a new fundraising initiative taking place on TIKTOK, with the game ‘Sea of Thieves’.  Gabz was sent the lyrics but devised the filming and harmonies herself and produced the fabulous rendition here which has already had over 11,000 views.  

Wonderful work as always Gabz! We hope that you enjoy watching and that it helps to raise a lot of money for a fantastic charity.

Verulam School - School Council

The Verulam School Council has continued to thrive this term with the initiative that our school council representatives were invited to join The St. Albans Youth Council. Our boys were very pleased to have this opportunity and have their voice and opinions heard at county-level!

The County Youth Council is a group of young people selected from all the local schools keen to make a difference in their local area whether it is looking for somewhere for young people to meet; improving facilities for young people in the local area or raising awareness of wider current issues such as climate change, mental health, transport and personal safety. Currently, due to lock-down, the meetings are being held virtually every Monday evening - our boys are delighted to be involved and be part of making a positive impact in their community.

Wheatfields Junior School - Food Bank Donations

We were delighted to receive a certificate of thanks from St Albans Food Bank for the donations of 325kg of donations collected at Harvest, providing approximately 774 meals to people needing support in our local community. Thank you all so much for your generosity.

Wheatfields Infants' and Nursery School - Frog Watch

There has been great excitement in school with the arrival of frogs in the school pond. They were first spotted by Mr Evans and some of the children who noticed some frog spawn in the pond. This is the seventh year that the frog spawn has appeared in the pond during the second full week in March!

Wheatfields Infants' & Nursery School - Feel Good Week

Mrs Fitzgerald applied for a grant for £500 as part of supporting children’s wellbeing at school during Feel Good Week. We are delighted to say that she was successful in her bid and we will be purchasing some new tepees for the playground as part of the theme of “Into the Woods” which fits in really well with our new theme for next term of “Once upon a time”.

Well done Mrs Fitzgerald and thank you.

Sandringham School - Christmas Card Appeal

Miss Chapman, one of our English teachers, asked Year 7s to take part in a Christmas Card appeal making and signing Christmas cards for care home residents who wouldn’t have any visitors this year due to Covid. She was amazed to receive 183 cards, filled with kind and thoughtful messages to bring cheer to people at this difficult time. Pictured are just a selection of the cards created. What a lovely Year 7 we have! A huge thank you to everyone involved and we are sure they will have brought a lot of joy to the care home residents. 

Curriculum News

Ridgeway Academy - Music

Musical Masterclass - Written by Freya Bye, Year 12

On 3rd March students were given the opportunity to join a musical masterclass with Nicky Swift who has performed on the West End as many characters from musicals such as footloose, Les Miserables, Mamma Mia and more. We did a vocal warm up to begin with, then Nicky played the song Mamma Mia on her piano and went through in detail the lyrics of the song and how we sing it on a stage. After that, we learnt a piece of choreography that she taught us to the song, and it was great fun. A range of students from across the years took this opportunity and we did not regret it! It was very interesting to see how Nicky Swift taught us because she said this was exactly how she was taught when she played the Role 'Rosie' in Mamma Mia. I cannot fault the experience it was amazing, and everyone who joined cannot wait for the next class. Thank you to Miss Standage for allowing us to have this opportunity with such a talented woman, Nicky Swift.

Wheatfields Infants' & Nursery School - Science Week

The children have enjoyed a week of interactive science experiments, from unpopable balloons to  popping frogs, finding their inner scientists, fizzing ice cubes, to glasses that can lift a tray!  Thank you to  Mr Rush for all of his effort in organising this week and the staff team for making science week so much fun for everyone. 

Wheatfields Junior School - Science

We celebrated British Science week with lots of activities themed around biodiversity and the natural world. Across the year groups, children conducted tree identification and biodiversity surveys, observed wildlife, created prototypes for wind dispersed seeds and made camouflaged creatures and birds’ nests. We also took part in a STEM competition to design and create an insect using our paper engineering skills. We launched an 'innovate for biodiversity' homework and a natural world photography competition and some amazing and beautiful photographs celebrating nature and wildlife have been submitted already.

Year 6 children were also set a challenge of designing a tower structure, trying to make it as tall as possible whilst using as few sheets of paper as possible. Their structure needed to be built to be strong enough to hold the weight of a can of beans for 60 seconds. They all worked well within their teams and accomplished this goal with creativity and perseverance.

Ridgeway Academy - Drama

Q & A Session with Julie Hesmondhalgh - Written by Tilly Morris, Year 12

On 22nd March, Year 12 Performing Arts students were given the amazing opportunity to have a virtual one to one Q & A session with the well-known actress Julie Hesmondhalgh. You will probably know her from playing the beloved character Hayley Cropper on Coronation Street, who was a revolutionary due to the fact she was the first transsexual character in a British soap opera. Our class, however, were given this opportunity to ask more about one of her more recent roles, Mother Courage. Year 12 are currently studying the play Mother Courage and her Children.  It was originally written in 1939 by German poet and dramatist Bertolt Brecht, but in Julie’s version, it has been rewritten by Anna Jordan and has been made into a modernised and unique retelling of a classic. She was able to give us fantastic insight into the play, the ins and outs of such a complex character and gave us such detailed and analysed answers to our many questions. It is helping us massively in analysing the play in lessons and help us understand it in a more complex way.  It was an incredible opportunity and we are so grateful to have been given the chance to talk to such a fantastic woman!

Verulam School - English

Ironically some activities have been conducted better virtually than they have in the past as face to face activities. Mrs Avery and the English Department were stunned this week by the quality of the presentations Year 11 students made for their English Orals. Our students are always confident and articulate but the speeches the boys made on a variety of topics this week were of a significantly higher calibre than in previous years. Clearly our students feel confident in presenting virtually which I am sure will be of benefit to them in later life. Students presented a 3 minute persuasive speech on one of the following topics:

 Should the death penalty be reinstated?

 Happiness is....

 To what extent are zoos inhumane and therefore should they be banned?

 In a future world where driverless cars are the norm, should those who choose to drive themselves pay higher insurance?

 Why don't teenagers care about the environment? Discuss.

Mrs Avery described the boys work as “Phenomenal” and was pleased by the variety of views and approaches displayed. We would like to congratulate Year 11 on their superb achievements with 74% of students achieving a distinction in their orals and 26% achieving a merit. This underlines how confident, articulate and thoughtful our young men are. 

Sandringham School - BTEC Certificate

A huge well done to Theodore in Year 9 who gained a BTEC Certificate in ICT Systems & Principles L2 (IT Fault Diagnosis & Remedy) just before Christmas. He completed 120 hours of online learning at home in just 11 months to achieve this qualification. What a fantastic example of resilience and determination on top of all his regular school work! Well done to Theodore, we are really impressed that you managed to complete this qualification at such a young age.

Wheatfields Junior School - Languages

Mother Language Day

Recently our children had the opportunity to find out more about International Mother Language Day celebrated on 21st February. Children could share, and find out more about the many different languages that are spoken in our community. Year 6 explored learning other languages, in particular Spanish. They also had fun recording short videos of themselves  speaking other languages.

Sandringham School - Art & Design

Inspired by the thank the NHS online with the blue heart symbol, students at Sandringham were asked to make a heart of their own being as creative as they could be with their designs. These were completed during art and design technology lessons and students used Padlet to digitally submit their image into a gallery. Students used a huge variety of different materials and techniques to create their hearts including water colour or pen and ink. Others opted to create their designs digitally using a variety of CAD programs and some even used materials they had at home such as applique, embroidery, lego or recycling. Some students took the opportunity to get outside and created hearts in the snow and some students even made edible hearts.  The poster size version is now on display at various surgeries in Hertfordshire

Wheatfields Junior School - French

Years 3 and 4 have been exploring the story of the 'Very Hungry Caterpillar' in French: ‘La chenille qui fait des trous’. This has been a wonderful familiar story through which the children rediscovered several topics including numbers, colours, food, days of the week and the weather. Activities have included creating storyboards, spot the missing word and bingo!


Verulam UKMT Challenge

70 of our Year 9, 10 and 11 students sat the UKMT intermediate challenge virtually in February this year. The Maths department are delighted with the results:

Gold awards - 9

Silver awards - 19

Bronze awards - 17

Total award percentage 64%

13 students are through to the next round.

Ridgeway Academy - Sports Centre

Saracens Mavericks
As you will have seen on the TV, professional sports are exempt from current restrictions as they are able to keep their players safe in ‘bio-secure’ bubbles. We are absolutely delighted that we will be hosting the Saracens Mavericks Netball team throughout March to help with their preparation for Super League matches which are shown on Sky Sports.

Wheatfields Junior School - World Book Day

World Book Day and our love of books was celebrated in true Wheatfields style with staff and children, both at home and in school, dressing up as book characters and taking part in a variety of activities related to the joy of books. As always, the variety and creativity of the children’s costumes and ideas were amazing. The reason that we celebrate World Book Day is to promote a love of books and reading with the children. We hope that the children enjoyed taking part in the ‘Mystery Reader’ quiz and identifying which staff members were reading. Some of them were so well disguised that they also had staff  stumped in trying to identify them!

Awards & Achievements

Verulam School - International Women's Day

Boys were invited to take part in a Typography Challenge by Mrs Johnson, to celebrate International Women's Day on 8th March, 2021.

The typography artwork showcased this years campaign which was #ChooseToChallenge, and reflected an international competition set up by the organisers of International Women's Day.

The entries were of a very high standard and we would like to say congratulations to Michael in 8P, Elliot in 7J and Syan in 7P for their outstanding contributions.

Sandringham School - Teaching School Hub

Sandringham School has been selected to become a teaching school hub, providing  high-quality professional development to teachers and leaders. 

Teachers across the country will benefit from vital developmental support and expert advice The teaching workforce will get best-practice and expert advice on how best to engage with pupils, lesson planning, and classroom management, as the teaching school hubs programme is rolled out across the country.

Sandringham School is one of 81 schools in England selected to be designated as a new teaching school hub. The 81 new hubs will be rolled out in addition to those six existing test & learn TSH, meaning there will be nationwide coverage for the first time, and that every school in England will now have access to a local centre of excellence for teacher training.


Sandringham School - World Class School Ambassador

Nabrissa in Year 12 has been selected as a Student Ambassador, helping to assess participating students in becoming World Class. Her role is to consider the applications from students designing an outdoor 'relaxation zone' for their school that has a positive impact on the environment and mental health of the young people. We asked Nabrissa a few questions on what it means to be an ambassador:

What do you think it means to be a World Class Student?

I think it mostly means being considerate to others and to value the learning of others as much as your own. 

Why do you think Sandringham is considered a World Class School?

Definitely the extra-curricular activities. There is always so much going on beyond the classroom and something for everyone. 

What do you hope to achieve as an ambassador for World Class Schools?

To help students recognise that they are world class too. It will be rewarding for them and for me.

Is there anyone that you look up to as an inspirational figure?

Musician Jacob Collier. I find it inspiring to see someone so passionate and dedicated to their art. He is extremely talented at such a young age and even through his increasing success, he appears to be consistent in his humility and passion for music.

How do you think fellow students at Sandringham can show World Class attributes?

They can be World Class by saying yes to everything! You never know where it will take you. 

Ridgeway Academy - Inaugural Charity Day

Following on from the success of last year’s inaugural Charity Day, Ridgeway Academy held their second Charity Day on Friday 18 December 2020. 

The day was held virtually in school bubbles and the staff and student fancy dress theme was Heroes and Villains. Students enjoyed participating in the Head’s Quiz, fairytale quest and making Christmas hampers which were delivered to local residential homes and food banks.

Sarah Mitcherson, Headteacher said “we are delighted to have raised £989.68 on our second Charity Day; everyone had a great time and it was an excellent way to finish a busy and successful term”.

Proceeds from the event will again go to the nominated school charity Isabel Hospice. 

The school also held House charity events throughout the year and raised £2,364.93 which will also be given to Isabel Hospice.

Wheatfields Junior School - Football Success

Congratulations to Oliver in Rosen class who has been awarded ‘Players’ Player of the Year’ for Harvesters Under 9's, scoring an amazing 24 goals in 6 games! In one match the team won 13-0 with Oliver scoring 7 goals. What a talent!

Verulam School - St Albans City FC

We are delighted to announce that Huw Dawson has signed first team contract with the St Albans City FC. Huw, 17, plays a central midfielder and makes the step up having progressed through the ranks of St Albans City Youth and Harvesters FC.