The Spring term has been another busy time across our seven schools. This edition of our termly newsletter showcases many of the amazing activities, achievements and strengths of our schools, and is a delight to read.

I would like to thank all the headteachers, staff, governors and our families for helping the 5100 young people who attend school within the Alban Academies Trust, and making their experiences so unique and powerful. We know that we are stronger together, and the combined efforts of many professionals and volunteers really does make a difference to life chances.

Whilst it has been business as usual for the schools, behind the scenes we have been working on the merger with ATLAS multi-academy trust. The regional Director has given permission for us to merge, and we have appointed solicitors to act on our behalf to carry out the legal aspects of the process. We have also launched our LOGO design competition to find a logo to represent the Ambition Education Trust. I am sure there will be many amazing designs and I look forward to seeing them after Easter.

We also need to congratulate Sandringham School on managing its graded inspection in February and receiving and being graded Outstanding in every category. I am sure the staff, governors, students and families should be extremely proud of the outcome. Well done!

Finally, we say goodbye to Julie Richardson as she leaves Verulam and takes up her new role as Principal at Goffs – Church Academy.  We would like to thank Julie for all her work during her time at Verulam.  Julie has made many significant improvements and we are very grateful for her work with the school. We wish her all the best in the future.

We are also looking forward to welcoming Fergal Moane to the Trust as Headteacher at Verulam, and look forward to working with him in the future.

As we move into the Summer term, there will be plenty more activities taking place – so I am sure the summer edition of our newsletter will be a bumper edition.

Enjoy the read and thank you once again everyone for your contributions to our lovely community.

Best wishes

Alan Gray



Sandringham School - UKMT

In February students from Years 9, 10 and 11 sat the Intermediate Mathematical Challenge run by the UK Mathematics Trust.  This was a fantastic opportunity which offers students the chance to develop their mathematical problem-solving skills. It encourages mathematical reasoning, precision of thought, and fluency in using basic mathematical techniques to solve interesting problems. 

Students that perform well are awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze certificates, with the best performing students being invited to take an additional challenge, including the Intermediate Mathematical Olympiad.

Overall, the school achieved 5 Golds, 24 Silver and 34 Bronze awards, with 8 students qualifying for the Kangaroo follow on round and 3 students qualifying for the Olympiad. Congratulations to both Oliver C and Oliver S for achieving Best in Year 9, Peter F for achieving Best in Year 10 and Vova Z for achieving Best in School.

Well done to all students involved

Wheatfields Junior School - Young Voices Concert at the O2

42 members of our school choir from Years 5 and 6 took part in a fantastic performance alongside approximately 9000 other children in the Young Voices concert at the 02 Arena. The children performed brilliantly and had a wonderful experience. They were a joy to be with and an absolute credit to themselves and our school, throughout what was an exciting but long and very busy day.

I was very proud indeed to be approached by a teacher from another school who wanted to tell me how impressed she was by how friendly and polite our children were towards the children in her school. I am sure that the memories of the day will stay with the children for a very long time. I would like to thank Miss Coupe for all of her hard work and dedication to providing children across the school with the opportunity to enjoy being part of the choir and to Mrs Goff for all of her support in the organisation of the event. 

Janice Tearle, Headteacher

Wheatfields Infants' & Nursery School - NSPCC Numbers Day

It was great to see all the children wearing their numbers in school for the NSPCC Numbers day, the children were involved in lots of different number activities during the day, including some involving rainbows and aliens to name but a few! Thank you to our Chair of Governors for giving me a t-shirt to wear! 

Clare Cockburn, Headteacher

Garden Fields JMI School - Young Voices Concert at the O2

At the beginning of term in January I had the pleasure and privilege to accompany our Year 4 children on the exciting experience of performing at the O2 Arena. They had an amazing and fantastic time taking part in a massed choir of over 8,700 children. They had been rehearsing the songs and dances throughout the Autumn and beginning of the Spring Terms and were ready to take part.

It was a long day with rehearsals all afternoon and then the concert in the evening. The children thoroughly enjoyed themselves and will remember this experience for many years. Thank you to all the parents and staff who supported and allowed this opportunity to take place for the children.

Paul Sutton, Headteacher

Wheatfields Junior School - World Book Day

We had a wonderful time celebrating World Book Day recently. The children enjoyed a whole school assembly followed by a Book Bistro where they sampled tasters of a wide variety of books with different staff members. Children also had the opportunity to participate in a BBC Live World Book lesson and they thoroughly enjoyed our 'Whose Line is it Anyway' style quiz. This involved working out the title of a book from the opening line. There were 16 book titles to collect, hidden on the back of teachers' lanyards. Throughout the day, the children immersed themselves in books and there was a fantastic buzz around the school. It was lovely to see the Year 3 and Year 6 children buddy reading at the end of the day too.

Awards & Achievements

Ridgeway Academy - Basketball

Well Done to the Year 7 Basketball Team on winning the District Basketball Tournament

Garden Fields JMI School - Tennis Tournament

Marie in Year 4  took part in the Herts LTA 9U Hit Tour Singles Tournament before February half term. With tough competition from Harpenden and some truly heart stopping matches, she battled through to come from behind to out on top. This is an invite only event and Marie went on to win the tournament without losing a match. This was also her first Singles gold medal !  

What an amazing achievement !

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - National Story Writing Competition

We are so proud of Matilda, in Year 4, for her amazing achievement of being shortlisted in the top 50 for a national story writing competition. To put her achievement in perspective, over 100,000 children entered the 500 word short story competition. Matilda’s story was about a girl called Evie, who found a miniature dragon in her school locker. She named her dragon Teddy but, as it was so small, she kept losing it! Eventually she decided that the safest bet would be to take it home. But what would her parents think about a pet dragon in the house?

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - Swimming Success

Two incredible swimmers from our Year 6 and Year 5 classes have built further on their amazing success. Olivia picked up winners medals for the 50 metre, 100 metre and 200 metre backstroke, along with the 100 metre individual medley. She also picked up silver for the 50 metre, 200 metre and 400 metre freestyle, and a bronze for the 100 metre freestyle.

Catherine must also be congratulated in smashing some of her personal bests; she took 15 seconds off her PB in the 400 metres freestyle, 5 seconds off her PB in the 50 metres front crawl, 2 seconds off her PB in the 200 metres front crawl, and equalled her PB in the Butterfly.

Well done to both girls, these are fantastic achievements!

Sandringham School - University places

We had some fantastic news at the beginning of term regarding our university applications with 6 students now having received offers from Oxbridge- another impressive year for Sandringham School. They are as follows: Jack P (Biochemistry), Jack McK (Chemistry), Annabel H (PPE) for Oxford and Keerthana A (Law), Alika K (Law) and Isabel A (English) for Cambridge.

Well done to these brilliant students and thank you to all of the staff involved in supporting students through the interview process for these universities and all of the other successful applications.

Verulam School - Sporting Success

Among the school’s recent achievements are the U14 football team competing in the ESFA National Cup Quarter Finals and the athletics squad finishing third in the County League. The school also won the district badminton tournament, with their KS4 side finishing second in Hertfordshire.

This comes as the school has been voted as the 199th best sports school in the country out of 3,444 secondary schools nationwide in School Sports Magazine.

Liam Errington, Verulam School’s Director of Sport, said: “I am so proud to have made the top 200 sports schools in the country. A huge thank you must go to the students, parents and staff to make this possible. It’s great that huge numbers of boys are attending clubs and choosing PE as an option at Key Stages 3 and 4. This dedication to sport is showing with the successes we have been having in fixtures not only in Hertfordshire, but nationally, combined with the great GCSE grades we obtained last year, with 95 per cent of the boys getting a Grade 4 or better!”

Garden Fields JMI School - Football

On Wednesday 28 February, Garden Fields played in the National League Trust Regional Final (North London and Essex), representing St Albans City FC and wearing that club's colours. This was the prize for winning our district competition in November.

The team's first game was against the Barnet representative team and the Boys won 1-0; Oliver scoring a lovely goal after breaking out of defence. The second game was against the Avely team and a close match finished goalless.

In matches 3 and 4, GFS won 3-0 and 2-1 against Borehamwood and Chelmsford.  There were goals from Rasmus, Nick (3) and Lewis, thus winning the group and setting up a rematch with Avely in the final.

In the final, the team dominated from the start and pulled off a relatively comfortable 2-0 win, with goals from Rasmus and Thomas. The team performed brilliantly throughout and now go forward to the South Area Final in March to play for the right to play at Wembley.

We are extremely proud of their achievement!

Sandringham School - Piano

We would like to congratulate one our our wonderful Year 7 student, Dave T, who recently won 1st place in Grade 7 piano competition at Watford Festival of Music, Speech and Drama.

What a fantastic achievement- well done Dave.

Ridgeway Academy - Football

I would like to take this opportunity to personally congratulate the Year 9 Boys Football team on their impressive victory in the District Football 7-a-side tournament. Their hard work, teamwork, and perseverance have paid off, and they have represented our school with great pride and sportsmanship.

Well done, Alan, Dominic, Dexter, Frankie, Ehis, Louis, Tyler and Sam.

Wheatfields Infants' & Nursery School - Music House Challenge

Our Music House Challenge took place on the last day before February half term. The children all collaborated and performed songs and musical arrangements to the rest of the school. Nursery impressed everyone with their rendition of ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ which was delivered with tambourines, which built to a crescendo as each verse was delivered more loudly each time! They were unanimously declared the winners. 

Sandringham School - Netball

Huge congratulations to our U19 squad who are 4th in the region! We are so proud of this team and what they have achieved this year. Hard work, determination and so much belief! They have represented Sandringham so well and inspired all of our younger squads! Well done girls.

Wheatfields Infants' & Nursery School - Gold Mini Duke Awards

This term, we are incredibly proud that our first cohort of children to undertake the Junior Duke Award have all achieved Gold Mini Duke Awards. This is a new scheme that we have recently introduced for our Year 2 children and encourages the development of valuable life skills. Students gain confidence, resilience and adaptability when embarking on the programme and by taking part in the award, the children become better equipped to deal with everyday challenges. Children love to do things without help, they simply need the time and space to explore, learn from their mistakes and to learn to be safe.

The children have had great fun participating and have carried out group tasks including washing the school windows, planning and then making sandwiches, taking part in a strategic game (our children chose Battleships), writing thank you letters, learning to play a tune on a glockenspiel and learning to make a cup of tea for other people

Mrs Debbie Carlin, one of our Learning Assistants, has led the initiative and says “ Working together in a small friendly group promotes independence, belonging and achievement and also gives the children a voice.”

The children who participated have gained huge benefits and a second cohort of children will soon be beginning the challenge.

Garden Fields JMI School - Cross Country

On Sunday March 3rd,  three of our children, cross country athletes, travelled to Prestwold Hall in Loughborough to compete in the National Primary School Cross Country Championships. This is the best level of competition in the country!

Team GFS took on the mud in their usual style and performed outstandingly!!

Year 5 -Eloisa K 69th

Year 5 - Tom NW 57th

Year 6 - Maisie G 105th

Sadie in Year 6 also qualified but was unwell. 

We are really proud of all of them. It was 2.5km of fast and furious from the best in the country!! This was an amazing experience and they represented Garden Fields to a very high standard at this event. 

Well done to you all.

Verulam School - National Tennis Tour

Noah, in Year 8,  won all his qualifying matches taking him into the main draw of the National Tennis Tour.  The Lexus Junior National Tour gives best young players in the country the chance to play and compete against each other. Noah beat another boy ranked 8th in GB and finally came 6th out of the top 28 GB boys. Every player he beat was also Year 9, and given his competitors come from private tennis schools or train in Europe tennis academies and train for hours and hours everyday Noah is doing extremely

He superseded any of our expectations, and we are all extremely proud of him.



Sandringham School - Sporting Achievement

We are delighted to announce that Sandringham has been placed 67th in the top 200 Sporting Schools of the year 2023 by School Sports Magazine. This is a huge leap from our rating of 163 last year and is based on our national finals and regional finals success in cross country, tennis, netball, athletics, basketball and our strong seasons in football. This means that we are now in the top 20 state schools in the country for our sport, an impressive feat which is a huge testament to our amazing students who are showing hard-work and commitment in sports across the board.

As always, they are supported by our hard-working PE department who work tirelessly to put on training sessions, arrange matches and support our students inside and outside of school hours. Finally, this couldn't be done without the parents who drive their children around the country and stand on the freezing sidelines to support them- so we appreciate you all immensely as well

Curriculum News

Verulam School - History

Year 11 GCSE Historians visited Berlin at the end of January to enrich their Cold War GCSE course. On the first day of our trip, we started at the end of the Second World War - our first ‘activity’ was to visit the area above the ‘Fuhrer Bunker’ where Hitler committed suicide on 30th April 1945. We then walked to the incredible piece of commemorative artwork: the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe. Our next stop on our walking tour was the Brandenburg Gate - the symbol of Berlin. Following this, we moved onto the Soviet War Memorial - a structure left by Soviet rule over East Germany, expressing the long-lasting effect the USSR had on Eastern Europe. After dinner, we visited the Reichstag - the famous government building of Germany.

Day two largely consisted of a visit to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp located just outside Berlin. Here, we walked around the outlines of the old barracks and learned about  the horrors that occurred. Following lunch, we drove to Cecilienhof Palace, the site of the famous Potsdam Conference - the last of the WW2 wartime conferences. In 1945, Joseph Stalin, Harry S. Truman and Winston Churchill came together in this building to discuss the future of Europe and, thus, the world.

On the last day, we toured Berlin’s resident Stasi (East German secret police) prison and learnt about the horrors and inhumane activities that had occurred there. Following this, we took a walk through central Berlin, past the city’s key buildings: the Alexanderplatz Tower, the city’s main cathedral, the reconstructed Kaiser's Palace and most meaningfully, the square at which, on the 10th May 1933, students of the National Socialist Student Union burnt over 20,000 books that had been banned as a part of Hitler’s opposition to the freedom to think and express one’s own views. The destination of our walk was the main checkpoint between East and West Berlin - Checkpoint Charlie. Here, we entered the famous museum covering Berlin’s role in the Cold War.

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - History

Our Year 1 pupils enjoyed a wonderful trip to St Albans Cathedral to support their local history project on Saint Alban and the history of Saint Albans. They started the day off by learning all about the Roman town Verulamium and how the Romans were known for their beautiful mosaics. Did you know the Romans thought that the Gods were the only perfect thing in the world so they made sure to make mistakes in their mosaics? The children then got to make their own mosaics. After lunch, the class were split into two groups and got to bring the story of Alban and Amphibalus to life by venturing back in time and acting out the story. They finished the day off by touring the Cathedral and we were proud to receive such positive feedback from staff at the Cathedral, who noted the fact that our class were well informed, incredibly enthusiastic and beautifully behaved.

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - Art

Giacometti-Style Sculptures in Year 6

Year 6 have made some incredible sketches and maquette sculptures based on the style of Albert Giacometti as part of their art unit on Sculpture. A maquette is a miniature sculpture that sculptors will often create before taking on larger scale works, a bit of a practise model! Our Year 6 pupils have looked at the elongated style of Giacometti’s drawings and sculptures and used modelling wire to create some fabulous maquettes. Here are a few fantastic examples of the high quality of their work

Verulam School - Maths

We finished our Pi week in March with a paper chain Pi created by our lower school maths club!  Each colour was a different digit and we had a lot of fun with the “randomness” within the order!

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - Design & Technology

A Soup-er Day at Sandringham!

Our Year 5 class had a fantastic afternoon at Sandringham earlier this week making vegetable soup. This was as part of their food technology curriculum (which comes under the umbrella of Design Technology) The children learnt some valuable skills for preparing the ingredients and cooking their soups. Many thanks to Mrs Flahive and her team of Sandringham staff, who gave up their time to support our budding Year 5 masterchefs!

Wheatfields JMI School - Science

Year 4 have been studying a new topic in Science: ‘Electricity’ .  The children were set the challenge of creating an electrical circuit which would light a bulb. They really enjoyed the task and achieved great success. All bulbs were lit and there followed lots of teamwork to try to create bigger circuits from the components. We look forward to some more exciting investigations to come.

Garden Fields JMI School - Science

We've had a great time this Science Week using 'Explorify' across the school to delve deeper into our science. Some of us explored what the artist used to make their artwork - recycled small plastic objects! We didn't realise how much science we could spot!

Many of our pupils are now on their way to completing their Big Plastic Count tally and some of them have brought their sheets in already and are looking forward to inputting the data collected. 

Year 5 scientists have been undertaking an investigation to answer the question "Does washing plastic create plastic waste in water?" They've also been creating posters from research into how plastic is both good and bad, but it's how we use it that's important.

 Great to see all the amazing scientists at work at GFS!

Wheatfields JMI School- English

The children in Year 3 have been discussing the features of a fable in their English lessons at the beginning of this Spring Term. They identified these features when they read a variety of fables from around the world in class and learned that a key feature is that fables often end with a moral. The children chose a favourite fable and shared what they thought the moral of the story was.

Ridgeway Academy - Geography

Students in Year 8 have created some very imaginative and high quality work as part of their Japan Projects. We asked them to try to create something that they are proud of and try to emulate the way Japanese work very hard and for long hours.

Many people in Japan spend their whole lifetime mastering the art of something e.g. Martial Arts, Painting, Ikigai, Samurai and so we asked students to try to really focus on this work for longer than normal and try to ‘master’ a technique. Some students have really gone the extra mile and been hyper-focussed on their projects which are some of the best pieces of work that we have seen for a long time! One student made a model Pagoda, a Toyota garage, a crocheted sushi complete with recipe, Ikigai, Samurai swords, an incredible painting of ‘The great wave off Kanagawa’, cherry blossoms, a Nintendo games console and so many more. Well done to all of these Year 8 students.

Ridgeway Academy - English

Year 9 students at Ridgeway Academy have got off to an absolutely flying with their annotations of Poetry to explore the idea of internal conflict. 

Well done Year 9!

Ridgeway Academy - History

This term our Year 7 pupils are currently studying the Crusades, they have been looking at the 200 years of the Crusades and exploring how they started, key battles, influential individuals, such as Saladin and Richard the Lionheart, as well as the lasting legacy of the Crusades by looking at what the primitive Europeans learnt from the advanced armies of the Muslim world.

Year 8 pupils are currently studying about revolutions in the 17th and 18th centuries. They have looked at the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and asked to what extent it was a revolution at all and then also the French Revolution and how it lived up to its grand ideals. These topics are fundamental to explaining how our democracy was formed and understanding how our country works.

Our Year 9 pupils are studying about how the Nazis first rose to power and then kept power through intimidation and violence. They have looked at how the historical context of the time gave the Nazis their chance to gain popular support and have touched upon the ideologies of Communism, Fascism Capitalism and Democracy.

Year 10 began studying their first unit of the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany topic. So far, they have looked at the different political ideologies that were Subject Focus - History prevalent at the time such as Communism, Fascism, Socialism, Conservatism and Liberalism. They have looked at economic history through the study of Hyperinflation, and political theory through studying the pros and cons of proportional representation in a political system. 

Year 11 pupils are currently studying Early Elizabethan England. They look at the challenges that Elizabeth I faced when she first came to the throne as well as the wider historical context of England at this time. This includes how the English government was set up and functioned, the economic situation in England and the religious tensions that made England a very volatile place to live.


Sandringham School - Music

Our lovely Year 7s have enjoyed exploring loops using music technology using the software package Ableton.  They looked at concepts of chords, bass lines and drum loops. It was fantastic to watch them having fun making musical masterpieces!

Sandringham School - Extended Learning Day

As part of Year 7s ELD the focus was on maths. Students were given a cartoon family and had to spend the day trying to find the best house for them based on their specific criteria. Tasked with finding a house for their cartoon families students had to consider location and designing within a set budget. At the end of the day students gave presentations using bar charts comparing what houses they had chosen. It was a useful and fun exercise in budgeting. 

For Year 8s the focus on Geography and Urbanisation. They went to Verulamium Park, through St Albans city centre, stopping at various points to collect data such as how many cars went by, how many trees there were, parking spots. This was to ascertain how eco friendly St Albans is and it was interesting to note that overall St Albans is very eco friendly and has good sustainability efforts. Students completed a booklet and created posters on urbanisation using the information we had gathered. 

Year 9s focus was CSI, learning about forensic science and crime investigation. They learnt many interesting processes and methods used to collect evidence, such as fingerprint detection and how to use magnetic powder to reveal them. Students also learnt about shoe and fibre traces, using a sticky sheet to see the shoe marks and a tape to see the fibres on our blazers. Students got into full CSI kit, complete with what looked like hazmat suits, masks, gloves and shoe covers! They learnt about how crucial extracting evidence from a crime scene can be for building a case.

Year 10 students took part in Alternative Interhouse Sports choosing between Badminton, Table Tennis, Swimming or Netball and Ultimate Frisbee. During ther last session students all took part in tug of war, splitting into two teams and competing against other forms.  Students said they enjoyed this day very much as it was nice to spend time as a form and it didn't feel overly competitive. 


Wellbeing & Community

Verulam School - Art Week @ Bernards Heath Primary School

At the start of February, the year 10 art group were lucky enough to be invited to Bernard’s Heath Primary School to help student’s complete art during their art week.  All Verulam students were asked to bring some work and give a little talk to the primary pupils about how they made their work, the different materials they used and how they are inspired by other artists.  The pupils (and staff) were so impressed with the quality and range of different work.

This year, Bernard’s Heath were lucky enough to have a visiting artist join them: Rana Begum.  She spoke to the pupils about how and why she creates her artwork and her influences from Bangladesh.  Verulam students then got stuck in helping the pupils make artworks of their own in the style of Begum.  Students were taught about colour mixing through layering different acetate colours, they looked at creating different textures by manipulating paper and painting techniques. 

 It was a fantastically artistic afternoon!  A big thank you to Bernard’s Heath for having us

Verulam School - Alumni Visit

We welcomed the opportunity in February to give a tour to a alumni, John Sparrow, who has just had his first book published, titled  'Automatically Driven: My 50 Years in the Car Industry'.

We are thankful for the copies given to the library and also of an original copy of a letter from the first Head Master, Mr Bradshaw!

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - learning about Wales

Nursery find out all about Wales!

Nursery Friends were very excited to welcome Ieuan’s Mummy into Nursery earlier this term. She told the children lots of interesting facts about Wales and they found out that Wales is one of the four countries that make up the United Kingdom, learnt that some people think Wales looks like a pig’s head on the map! (Must now take a closer look!) They also found out that the Welsh flag has a red dragon on it, the national flower of Wales is the daffodil and the national vegetable is the leek.

Welsh people dress up in traditional clothes on St David’s Day and eat Welsh cakes. Wales also has its own language and Ieuan’s Mummy taught the children how to say ‘Hello!’ The Welsh are well known for their beautiful singing voices and Ieuan’s Mummy is no exception. She gave Nursery Friends the most wonderful rendition of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’… in Welsh!

Garden Fields JMI School - Poppy Appeal

We are delighted to report that Garden Fields raised £156.94 for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. Thank you so much to everyone for your support.

Wheatfields Junior School - Art in the Community

Local artist Mandy Johnson came to one of our assemblies in March and talked to the children about her work and passion for art. Mandy will be designing and creating a mural in St Albans and has invited the children to share ideas of what they would like to see included so that she can incorporate these into the design. She will also be communicating dates when she will actually be painting the mural so that families can come along.

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - Clubs

Dance and Games Clubs organised by Upper Juniors

We are incredibly proud of the fact that some of our older children in Years 5 and 6 have taken the initiative to organise lunch time extra-curricular clubs for older children. Although, from a safeguarding perspective, a teacher has to be present in order that these clubs can take place, they are very much driven by the children and the Year 2 Dance Club have really enjoyed their first two sessions, whilst our Year 3 & 4 Board Games Club (organised by Year 5 pupils) has also got off to a really positive start

Verulam School - KS3 STEAM Club

Our KS3 STEAM club (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths)  has had a very busy term researching, building and testing water rockets!  Our rockets are made out of recycled materials and during initial tests one of our rockets landed on the sporthall roof!  Our students used their steam skills when designing rockets including considering size, weight, aerodynamics and the angle of projection.  One group even added a separate mechanism within the rocket to propel it further whilst another has been 3D printing parts outside of school!  Our rockets were so impressive we are hoping to enter into a National Competition later this year!

Our club is led by a dedicated team of year 12 students who support and guide our STEAM club students, including educating them about the science behind their creations. 

Wheatfields Infants' & Nursery School - former pupil visit

We recently had a fantastic visit and performance from the Electric Umbrella.  The performance was co-presented by a team of learning disabled and professional musicians and challenged the staff and children to think differently about learning disabled people and explored how we can celebrate difference and help to build a world that is more inclusive. We also had a very special visitor who joined us to watch the Electric Umbrella performance.

Jacob is a former pupil at Wheatfields who was in one of the first classes Miss Cockburn taught when she joined the school. Jacob’s mother had asked if they could visit the school to see Electric Umbrella and visit Jacob’s old school at the same time. Miss Cockburn was delighted to welcome them and was able to give them a tour of the school so that Jacob could see if there were any changes since he had been a pupil here.

Jacob had a fantastic time and said "I liked how it was bringing back nostalgic memories of what classes I went to. I liked recognising different areas in the school such as the Library. I liked seeing how much changes there have been made, including new tablets, refurbishment of different rooms, new technology and new books. I was impressed to see some students wearing ear defenders and I would have loved that to happen to me back when I went to Wheatfields. I also loved it that there are touring companies like Electric Umbrella to entertain everyone and teach them about different disabilities. Thank you Miss Cockburn!"

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - Chinese New Year

Our Reception have inspired us all through their learning about the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Dragon, which forms part of their topic on ‘Our Wonderful World’. The children made Hong Bao (lucky red envelopes), painted Chinese dragon masks, made lanterns and also had a go at some Chinese writing. The highlight, however, has to be their Chinese dragon, which is hanging proudly from our classroom ceiling. After listening to the Zodiac story, the class then acted the story out in their Small World area and found out more about the customs and traditions associated with this time of year. The children were especially taken with the Dragon and Lion dancing.

To finish the week, the children took part in the ‘Reception Chinese Restaurant’ experience, where they tasted a selection of Chinese food including egg fried rice, chicken balls, chow mein, spring rolls, prawn crackers, crispy seaweed and banana fritters! Some of the children really surprised themselves by liking foods they had never tasted before (even the seaweed!), but the prawn crackers and chicken balls were officially declared the favourites in the children’s vote!


Wheatfields Infants' & Nursery School - Gardening Club

At the beginning of term children in gardening club made the most of the dry weather and planted some bulbs. They are looking forward to Spring and the beginning of the growing season

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - Dead Hedge Project

Our school Eco-Group, led by Miss Branagan, were incredibly productive earlier this term when they came together to tackle the next phase of our Dead Hedge Project. A big thank you must go to the families who donated their Christmas trees, along with the St Francis Hospice, who also donated several trees for our project. Our Eco-Group enjoyed the opportunity to place the trees within the hazel framework of our dead hedge, along with the task of laying bark chip into an area that will become our outdoor classroom in the summer term and will support a range of forest school-style activities. The dead hedge is part of a wider plan to increase levels of bio-diversity within the school grounds, and follows on from the creation of a school pond last year.

Mr Cameron has also been busy tidying up our Environmental Area and preparing for some more extensive work in our ‘stick area’. We will be creating some raised beds and have laid some woodchip down to re-define and tidy up the existing path. We will be removing the old palettes and our Eco-Group will be building some bug hotels.

Taking on the next phase of our outdoor classroom project, we will be creating some benches from tree trunks and wood (or sleepers) and laying a slab border around our outdoor ‘fire pit.’

We are grateful to Robinson’s Tree Services and local tree surgeon Eddie Gray, for donating a significant amount of wood chippings for this area. Mr Gray has kindly agreed to help us with further donations of wood chippings as our plan is to eventually wood chip the entire wooded area, making it more accessible all year round and creating a specific den-building area for our children.

AAT working together

AAT Conference 2024 - Inclusion Matters

Thursday 15 February  2024 saw over 400 delegates from across the schools in the Alban Academies Trust come together for our annual conference where the focus this year was Inclusion Matters.  Colleagues were inspired by workshops dealing with subjects as diverse as ‘Navigating Language in the 21st Century’; ‘Pooh’s Guide to Adaptive Teaching; ‘Personal Budgeting’ and ‘Building Menopause Awareness’.  We celebrated diversity with our key note Shappi Khorsandi and explored the importance of an inclusive culture in our schools.  We had overwhelmingly positive feedback from delegates and facilitators alike:

‘Another very good year with a variety of workshops. I think a particular note was from listening in at lunchtime to how staff were buzzing from the workshops they had attended. Expressions such ' best workshop today,' 'that's made re-think' etc….I would also say that you can see how the evaluation from last year's inset has influenced this year’s conference reflecting the feedback staff have given. This adaptable and listening approach gives confidence in the team.’

‘Loved the final keynote, all being in the hall for this session together was a nice touch and the speaker was engaging, funny and down-to-earth and gave something that we could all take bits from.  I was grateful that the offer for non-student facing support staff had been expanded from last year as I really felt ‘included’.’

‘I thought it was a fabulous day! There was a real buzz around the place and it was a pleasure to be part of it all. I can only imagine the level of organisation that went into it. Wow! I present at lots of conferences but yours was remarkable in how much you had on offer.’

We’re looking forward to Conference 2025!

Penny and Claire