Dear everyone,

Welcome to our celebration of activity across all schools in the Alban Academies Trust.

I would like to start by extending a very warm welcome to our newest members of the AAT, Wheatfields Infants’ and Nursery School and Wheatfields Junior School. You are most welcome and we are really excited about the journey ahead as a cross-phase Trust.

This addition is significantly larger and in electronic format. The reasons for this are the growth in size of the Trust and our ambition to be more sustainable as an organisation, by reducing the amount of paper being used. I hope you enjoy reading the numerous articles and the new format.

The core aim of the Trust is to share educational excellence for the benefit of everyone associated with each school. This extends to the children as well as their families and the staff working across the Trust. As a growing organisation, the potential to develop is significant and there are exciting times ahead. We are working hard behind the scenes to establish the systems required to support each school, which include Safeguarding, Human Resources, Banking, Network and IT and appraisal. The front facing aspect of our work involves improving the performance of each school through joint staff development, sharing good practice, co-constructing aspects of the curriculum and opportunities for joint events. The three secondary schools have been working on these areas for two years, and we are now starting cross-phase projects with the two Wheatfields Schools. There will be more to report on these projects in the Spring edition.

With best wishes

Alan Gray
CEO
Alban Academies Trust

Awards & Achievements

Ridgeway Academy - Shell's National Schools' Competition

A Ridgeway Academy student has been recognised as the winner in Shell’s National Schools’ competition – The Bright Ideas Challenge.

Scarlett Beskeen in Year 9 won the competition with an amazing entry using Minecraft to design her future city. Students were tasked with using their science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills to come up with creative solutions to the energy challenges that cities will face in 2050. Scarlett worked on this in her Geography lessons in lockdown and came up with some fantastic ideas for future designs.

The school received £10,000 from Shell that will go towards STEM projects at Ridgeway Academy.  Scarlett also won an exciting prize pack.

We will be working with Scarlett and a group of Year 9 students to decide how to spend the money.

Sarah Mitcherson, Headteacher, said ‘we are all extremely proud of Scarlett’s achievement, many congratulations to her – a future engineer.

Wheatfields Junior School - St Albans ARC and ARC, competition winner

St Albans Archaeological and Architectural Society (Arc and Arc) held a competition inviting entrants to come up with creative ways for how visitors to the Clock Tower could descend from the top whilst complying with social distance rules. Winners were selected for their creative and imaginative ideas. Huge congratulations to Hazel in Year 3 for her winning entry!

Verulam School - Remote Learning

Ms Rosler recently conducted a survey of Year 7 students regarding their experience of the BYOD tablet computer initiative so far this term. The results were extremely positive with 87% of students enjoying using their devices in lessons and at home. The use of these devices has also enable 100% of students to access their lesson materials through Google Classroom. The devices have been used across the curriculum but use has been most pronounced in History, Geography, Drama and Modern Languages. Across the curriculum the boys have been using a wide variety of apps and uses including Kahoot and Quizlet for quizzes, Hegarty Maths, Accelerated Reader in English, Linguascope in Languages , sketching in Art and to watch educational videos, take photos of work and of course for research.

Sandringham School - BBC Composer of the Year

Congratulations to Zac P in Year 11 for winning his age category in the prestigious BBC Young Composer of the Year competition 2020. This is an annual competition for 12 to 18 year olds across the UK who create their own original music.

Winners will now participate in a tailored development programme working with a mentor composer on a project with the BBC Concert Orchestra which will be performed and broadcast in a special young composers concert at the BBC Proms in 2021.

Zac said ‘During lockdown I worked on a piece of music to be entered for the BBC Young Composer of the Year Competition 2020. I really enjoyed challenging and pushing myself throughout the writing and recording process but I didn’t expect to win! When I found out I was one of the winners I was so excited. This is such a huge opportunity for me, as composition and music production are such a big part of my life.‘

Well done on all of your hard work Zac. We look forward to hearing about more of his successes in the future and seeing the final performance at the BBC Proms in 2021

Wheatfields Junior School - Blue Peter Badges

We were delighted to hear that some of our children have earned themselves a green Blue Peter badge over the summer. Green badges are awarded for sending in letters, pictures and ‘makes’ that are about the environment, conservation or nature. Freya W received her green badge for her planting and growing vegetables. Tommy received his badge for building a bird house and writing a poem about the weather.  Isla received her green badge for her wildlife collages, a silver badge for her hobby: gymnastics , a music badge for her violin and her sport badge for football. Well done to all of them!

The Maltings Art Prize 2020

The art competition, which was based on the theme of ‘History St Albans’, saw 300 entries from school pupils aged 4 to 18 from across 13 local schools compete for the chance to win a cash prize of £1,000 for their school’s art department and a £250 cash prize for the overall winner.

SANDRINGHAM SCHOOL – Congratulations to Penny Kyriacou for becoming a finalist in the Age 13-18 category of the Maltings Art Competition

VERULAM SCHOOL - Congratulations to the following students who have been shortlisted for the Maltings Art prize: Edward Brown, Roan Hoggarth, Tom Bailey and Harry Brandt.

WHEATFIELDS JUNIOR SCHOOL – Congratulations to Ben, Eleanor and Christopher in Year 5. 

Ridgeway Academy - Hertfordshire Community Awards

We are delighted to announce that Ridgeway Academy PE Department and Sports Centre have been awarded as a finalist for the category of Charity Champions. The Hertfordshire Community Awards is a celebration of community achievement in the local area of Hertfordshire.

The Charity Champions award is for any person or group that are committed to raising money for good causes. Ridgeway has been recognised for our efforts during Sport Relief and the Christmas Toy Collection for Lister Hospital.

A huge thank you to all of our students, parents, staff and community for your continued support.

Mr R Carolan
School Games Organiser
Physical Education Department

Curriculum News

Wheatfields Infants' and Nursery School - Science

We had some very engaging assemblies as part of our World Space Week.  The focus of our assemblies has been celebrating satellite technology.

Verulam School - Science

National STEM Club Filming

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Club at Verulam School has been chosen to participate in a National STEM Club project run by STEM Learning, the UK’s largest provider of education support.   The National STEM Club runs live, on-line sessions every fortnight, enabling young people, families and schools to take part in practical and hands-on STEM activities.

By working in “year group bubbles”, Verulam has been able to keep its STEM clubs running, despite the practical constraints imposed by COVID-19 this term.  Being able to share their learning with others, on a remote delivery basis, is helping to make a real difference to other young people nationally at a time when they need it most.

Year 9 students at the school have been busy researching, preparing and filming a range of their favourite activities to showcase the importance of STEM subjects in our everyday lives.  Their first film, experimenting with balloon rockets, went live on Wednesday 25 November.

Students have designed a range of further experiments using basic household objects so that those participating in the clubs at home can easily replicate what they are shown.  Verulam students explain to their viewers how the results translate to the real world, helping bring the subject to life.  The boys’ passion for, and knowledge of, the STEM subjects is clear.

Wheatfields Junior School - Science

Just prior to half term, we enjoyed a whole school Science Day, organised by Mrs Lewis, our Science Leader. Each year group had its own science or engineering focus; some of which related to learning from last year missed during lockdown. Lots of investigating and exploring took place throughout the day with some real ‘Wow!’ moments.  For example, in Year 4, children explored some of the principles of magnetism and in Year 5, they investigated the science of sound and how we hear. We also had a virtual visit from a STEM ambassador who talked to Year 6 and 5 about his work on Light and on Sound and Sandringham school also kindly lent some stunning equipment to demonstrate the light spectrum.

Verulam School - Spanish

Pen Pal Project 

The MFL department at Verulam is very excited to announce the start of a pen pal project with Institut La Roca, a mixed  secondary school in Barcelona. This project will encourage our Year 9 and 10 Spanish students to put into practice the language  learnt in their MFL lessons to communicate with Spanish students through emails, presentations / videos, etc. Both schools will  be collaborating in the creation of a google site where their presentations will be published. This is a great opportunity for the  Verulam boys to learn about life in a Spanish school and to interact with Spanish students.

Wheatfields Infants' and Nursery School - History

The children in Year 1 had a fantastic day, as we celebrated international “Talk Like a Pirate Day” in school. The children enjoyed some amazing pirate learning with art, stories and poems. It was lovely to see them all dressed up and the teachers threatened to make them walk the plank!

Sandringham School - Art

We have been completely overwhelmed by the truly outstanding efforts of all of our artists with Drawing week 2020! Students participated through lesson times and Google meets during the week in order to develop their own personal response to this year’s theme ‘A Climate of Change’. We are currently reviewing and responding to all of the stunning pieces of artwork which have been submitted and will be collating these into a virtual exhibition. As a taster of the beautiful work submitted, please see these stunning pieces by Nico C and Lauren D. I would like to thank all of our students for their outstanding participation and to all of the Visual Arts staff for their wonderful teaching to support such a creative range of outcomes.

Wheatfields Junior School - Football

The first football match of the year took place this week when a team of girls from Year 5 played against Skyswood School. We were thrilled to get off to a great start, winning 4 – 1. Well done to them!

On Thursday, despite Skyswood winning the game 5 – 2, the Year 6 girls side showed great determination by not giving up until the end. Both sides contained girls representing the school for the first time and as you can see by the huge smiles on their faces, I think it's safe to say they thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you to those who came along and supported following our social distance restrictions.

DISTRICT FOOTBALL TRIALS

A host of Wheatfields pupils were invited to take part in the annual St Albans Primary Schools District football trails. All the children involved showed a good account for themselves and can feel very proud. Congratulations to the following players who have been invited to play for the team for the upcoming 2020/21 season: Samuel; Nathan; Thomas; Ollie; Nell; Jasmine; Toby and Fin. Good luck to all of them in all future games!

Sandringham School - Hill Climb

A huge congratulations to Ellen B in Year 13, who came an amazing 2nd in the Junior Women event at the National hill climb championship. Her second ever open event and her first ever hill climb event! She completed the 700m course in an impressive 3 minutes 17.46 seconds. 

Ellen has experienced national success on the road, track and cyclocross and here at Sandringham.  We are all very proud of her achievements. 

Wheatfields Infants' and Nursery School - National Skipping Day

Here are some of the children celebrating National Skipping Day; many mastered skipping for the first time.

Ridgeway Academy - Sports Leaders

The Year 12 Sports Leaders have made a fantastic start to their Level 2 Sports Leaders UK qualification, of which they do every Friday morning during enrichment time.  During their first session, students were given the task to plan and lead a fun warm up activity that would be suitable to deliver to a pupil in Year 5 or 6. They then led these to each other and received feedback from the group and their tutor.  It was brilliant to see the group use effective communication skills, enthusiasm and prior organisation to follow their task and lead FUN sessions.  We now look forward to moving onto the next stage of their scheme of work which will include learning about leadership skills and behaviours.

PE Department/Leadership

Wheatfields Junior School - New Cooking Area

We are absolutely thrilled with the new cooking area installed in the dining room  over the summer. A huge thank you to the PTA and to everyone who supported fundraising events across the year to fund this project, which will really help us to provide opportunities for the children to learn about food and nutrition and to develop their cookery skills. Who knows we may well have the next Mary Berry or Jamie Oliver in our midst!

Verulam School - Latin

Congratulations!’ to the following Year 11 boys who all achieved A* in the Welsh Board Latin Level 1 Certificate this summer:  

  • Myles O’Connor 
  • Alex Calatrava 
  • Alex Maiden 
  • Jonny Wilding 

All the boys started learning Latin in the lunchtime club with Mrs Bienfait in Year 8. The top grades they achieved are testament to their hard work, perseverance, and commitment to fitting in their Latin studies with all their other subjects.

Well done to all of them!

Sandringham School - French

On the 12 March, days before total lockdown, Anneline P went to the French institute to pass DELF diplome étude langue française level B1. She passed with flying colours scoring higher than 80%.

Following that, during lockdown while completing online classes, Anneline prepared for DELF B2, which she passed after a gruelling 4 hours of written and oral examinations in London. Her sister, Lucile P in Y11 also passed the same exam with both girls achieving a 70% pass.

Congratulations to both girls on working so hard and such fantastic results!

Wheatfields Junior School - History

Due to lock-down, each year group missed at least one of their history units so we thought we would spend some time trying to look at some of the key features of the period they missed. We all took part in a whole school History focussed day organised by Mr Rafot, our History Leader. It was wonderful to see that so many of the children took the opportunity to dress as a historical character.

Year 4 focussed on the Ancient Egyptians, looking more closely at how the Egyptians perceived death as the pupils followed the journey of a soul through the underworld and beyond.

Year 5 spent some time considering how our local area had played a part in Roman history looking at Boudicca's rebellion and the importance of Watling Street before spending some time learning about life by Hadrian's Wall.

Year 6 viewed Viking life through the lens of a saga.

Meanwhile, Year 3 spent their afternoon reliving life in a Bronze Age village.

Teachers also took the opportunity to explore how the civilizations of Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome overlapped each other as well as Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age Britain creating comparative timelines and helping the children develop their sense of chronology. It really was a day of memorable learning.

Verulam School - Cyclo-Cross

Well done to Oli Stockwell taking Silver in the Cyclo-Cross Nationals in very challenging conditions!!!

Events

Ridgeway Academy - Remembrance Service

In addition to our annual Remembrance Service, we held a distanced service at our memorial garden, including students from service organisations.

Many of the feelings, emotions, and challenges faced by the Second World War generation, while different in their causes and extent, have echoes for many today during the COVID pandemic; shortages of goods, feeling socially isolated, familial dislocation, a sense of the unknown, a feeling of being forgotten, and the collaboration of nations and communities to face a common foe. And as the entire nation relied on our service personnel and public servants then, so we do again today. Service and sacrifice helps make our communities safe, saves lives and protects our freedom in times of crisis – like during the Second World War and more recently, during the coronavirus pandemic.

Remembrance is about saying thank you and not forgetting those who gave in all in service and sacrifice. We give thanks for the many different people who serve and the work they have done during the pandemic, the danger they faced to help us and fight the virus on behalf of their communities and their country all the lives they saved by doing this.  The collaboration of Britain with our Commonwealth friends and Allied nations in 1944 continues to shape our society today. Many communities, whose ancestors served side by side, now live and work side by side in a multicultural Britain, not least in our NHS. To honour the sacrifice made by the peoples and nations who fought alongside each other 75 years ago, our service reflects our shared communal heritage. 

Mrs Sarah Mitcherson
Headteacher, Ridgeway Academy

Wheatfields Infants' and Nursery School - Remembrance Day

On Wednesday 11 November many of our children wore their Rainbow and Beaver Uniforms to school and all children and staff observed two minute’s silence at 11 o’clock to show respect for those who have made and sacrifices during times of conflict. Thank you for your generous donations for The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.

Wheatfields Junior School - Remembrance Day

We all paid our respects on Wednesday, 11th at 11am by being silent across the school. Thank you to Caleb in Year 5 who played a moving rendition of The Last Post for us all on the cornet. We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who made a donation online to the Poppy Appeal, raising the generous sum of £396.

Verulam School - Remembrance Day

Verulam School celebrated Armistice Day with a whole school Remembrance assembly.  A 2 minutes silence was observed whilst listening to Jac Evans 9P play The Last Post

Sandringham School - Remembrance Service

We celebrated Remembrance Day 2020 as a whole school. Like most things in school this year, the annual Remembrance service had to be adapted to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions, however the importance of the event was no less keenly felt. On Wednesday, all students had an assembly led by the Director of Learning for History, Mr Leat, encouragng them to remember those who have given their lives in conflict to protect others. The Last Post was played by Year 11 student, James C, before students and staff alike observed a two minute silence to honour the fallen. More than ever, we are grateful to unite as a school community to remember the service and sacrifice of the Armed Forces community.

Verulam School - Annual Thanksgiving Service

VERULAM’S ANNUAL SERVICE OF DEDICATION AND THANKSGIVING.

Restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic this year meant we were unable to celebrate in St Albans Abbey for the first time in many years.  Rising to the challenge, individual year group services were held at school.

Students read and performed to their peers, maintaining the importance and continuing the traditions of the Service.  We also welcomed keynote speakers from Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths, who each addressed our theme of ‘FEED’; feeding our minds, bodies and community.

An important part of our celebration was the charitable effort for the foodbank, FEED.  At the service, students heard of the realities of food shortages, with Head Girl, Charlotte Conium, giving a passionate speech about the appeal and the impact our efforts will have for families in need locally.

Over a £1000 was raised on the day and our fundraising for FEED concluded in November with a non-uniform day for staff and students which raised £1,290.

Sustainability

Verulam School - Insect Hotel

Verulab club have repaired and replenished the bug hotel that we built 2 years ago. We discovered a whole ecosystem of insects and spiders including wood lice and spider eggs that had begun to hatch! It’s great to see it working as it should.

Sandringham School - Woodland Trust Tree Planting

Our Sustainability programme continues to gain momentum. We have taken delivery of 420 saplings from the Woodland Trust and the plan is for our Year 7 students to plant these around the northern perimeter of the school field. The species of trees are all native to the UK and have been specifically selected to provide habitat for a wide variety of animal species. This is phase 1 of planting. We have bid for a further 420 saplings for March 2021, and if successful, will ask our lovely new Year 12 students to plant these to finish the project. This will provide a wonderful tree line in the future and something that will significantly add to the quality of our physical environment.

Wheatfields Infants' and Nursery School - Recycling

We continue to collect crisp packets and batteries to be recycled.  Thank you to everyone who has been sending crisp packets into school. 8kg of packets have just been collected and sent for recycling, when previously they would have been sent to landfill! Thank you for your help.

Ridgeway Academy - Eco-School Award

The Eco-Schools Award is a new initiative at Ridgeway Academy inviting our students to become Eco-Ambassadors.  It is an excellent opportunity for to develop leadership skills and demonstrate impact as part of the student Eco-Ambassador team. The scheme will be led by students who investigate themes such as waste, biodiversity and energy.  Through the Eco-School Award, they will have the chance to report on the ecological footprint of Ridgeway Academy and suggest how the school can become more sustainable.

Wheatfields Junior School - Year 5 Woodland Meadow Visit

Last week, our Year 5 classes each took a trip to Jersey Farm Woodland Meadows and enjoyed some active, rich cross-curricular learning. The purpose of the trip was to begin to study the same spot through the 4 seasons and to inspire cross-curricular work.  The idea for this project comes from the book ‘A Year in the Wild’. The children also used the book ‘The Lost Word’ to see some truly beautiful art and poetry inspired by nature.  As they revisit, teachers intend to bring in more geography elements but for this first trip the children combined their learning about the artist Georgia O’Keefe with their learning about figurative language in their English lessons to produce a group piece of work to describe Autumn. On this trip, they also focussed on looking north and will focus on a different compass point for each visit. 

Wellbeing & Community

Verulam School - Odd Socks for Anti-Bullying

The theme for Anti-Bullying Week 2020 is United Against Bullying. Anti-Bullying Week took place Monday 16 - Friday 20 November and started with Odd Socks Day to mark the first day of Anti-Bullying Week. We joined in with our own ‘odd socks’ day to raise awareness for the campaign and to celebrate what makes us unique.

Sandringham School - Duke of Edinburgh Scheme

In mid October 132 year 11 students successfully completed their Bronze expeditions which had to be postponed from the summer. Due to COVID restrictions, we couldn’t carry out our expeditions in the usual format. Maximum group size was reduced to 6 and the students were unable to camp out, completing two day walks instead.

In spite of these changes, the students rose to the challenge and completed the two days successfully. The weather was dry but a bit chilly and most of the mud from the downpours the weekend before had started to dry up. We still had some damp feet following some slips on the stepping stones near Redbournbury Mill and a few temporary misplacements of groups who must have decided the planned route wasn’t long enough and added a few kilometres by going the wrong way!

As always we were impressed by the attitude of our students and it was lovely to see them enjoying themselves with their friends. A massive thank you is due to the 24 staff and volunteers who gave up their precious weekend time to support the students.

Wheatfields Infants' and Nursery School - Sensory Room

We are delighted to report that we have reached our target of £1,500 for our sensory room. Our ethos is to include children with Special Educational Needs in a mainstream school environment but recognize that these children need extra help.  In order to do this we need a place for the learning to happen, children with special needs usually do not learn in the same way and need individual attention.  

Our sensory room will also be available to local families outside of school time.  Both parents and children often find it difficult to be around other children and there is rarely enough 'safe' space for these children.   While also providing a safe space for children that need it, the room will also have an abundance of equipment designed to stimulate learning  

Thank you to everyone who has helped support our crowdfunding through Aviva, and enabled us to achieve this goal

Ridgeway Academy - Prefects

We are delighted to announce the new prefects for 2020/2021 have been selected from Year 11. They have been selected on the basis of excellent attitude and embodiment of the Ridgeway FORCE attributes. They will be very visible around school with the new badges displaying their roles. They will assist on any Ridgeway events and continue to represent Ridgeway positively. The new prefect team is:

Oxford    Tamarin Hendriks, Holly Abbott , Megan Wiseman, Jake Leese

Edinburgh    Lia Tafa, Mohammed Isa     

Kings    Megan Singleton, Jack Saggers

Cambridge    Mia Thompson, L'Roux Van Niekerk, Vivian Marazzi

Wheatfields Infants' and Nursery School - Police Visit

Before half-term our local Community Police Officers PCSO Stokes and PCSO Comet visited our children to talk about their roles, and how the children can keep safe.

Ridgeway Academy - Charity Fundraising

Students took part in the HELLO YELLOW fundraising event to support young peoples mental health by dressing in yellow for the day.  

Thank you all for your support to help raise money for, so far we have raised £270 for Young Minds Charity

Wheatfields Junior School - School Dog, Angus

One of our most recent highlights has been to welcome Angus as a new member of our school family. The smiles on staff and children’s faces as they met him were wonderful to see and his tail wagged non-stop! He will be gradually introduced to the whole school over the coming weeks and I am sure will have a positive impact on all of our wellbeing.

Wheatfields Infants' and Nursery School - School Dog, Koby

Koby is our school dog and belongs to Mr Paul Evans, who is our Outdoor Sustainable Learning Assistant.  Koby is in school on the same days as Mr Evans – Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Koby is a cockapoo and has an ideal temperament as they are, by nature gentle and friendly.

Dogs teach children responsibility, patience, compassion, socialisation and bring a sense of fun. As Koby gets older he will undertake training to work with children who have special needs, suffer bereavement or who are upset in any way and in need of calm, comfort and space before being able to tell an adult what has upset them.

Koby will also be available to work with children who have had bad experiences with dogs or other animals. With parental permission, over a period of time children who react fearfully to dogs will be supported in approaching, handling and gaining confidence in managing their fear.

Verulam School - Supporting FEED

It has been heart-warming to see the students of Verulam School embrace the annual FEED collection supporting St Albans Food Bank.  This year of all years supporting our local community has been at the forefront of our minds.  Despite the difficulties surrounding collecting donations safely, the students have risen to the challenge and shown true character in providing a whole range of non-perishable goods to donate. We have had everything from tinned soup to toothpaste, all of which will be used to stock the Food Bank and help those who find themselves in difficult circumstances at this time.  The Year 11 House Captains really stepped up co-ordinating deliveries and some taking it further with their own contributions such as Jean Esterhuysen securing 200 items to donate! This year’s collection totalled 4,600 items which is close to our school record and once again shows the degree of respect for others shown by the Verulam school community. 

Geoff Sutton, who co-ordinates the school’s FEED project added: ‘Every year students from Verulam School excel at collecting items for Feed - the foodbank at The Vineyard Church, and this year was no different. Thank you to all those who contributed to the 4,630 items given to Feed. Each donation is vital for helping many people in our community who are in need of a bit of support for various reasons. Step organises these collections in schools, not only to provide much needed items to Feed, but also to give the opportunity for young people to grow in character as they respond to the needs of others in a respectful and generous way, especially during this particularly difficult time for many families.’

Wheatfields Infants' and Nursery School - Sharing our Learning

Despite not being able to have class assemblies this half term each class shared “virtually” with the rest of the school some part of learning that they have been really proud of. It is always great to see the varied learning opportunities that they wish others to see. Forest School is always one of these with of course jumping in muddy puddles being a highlight!! Nursery shared Autumn Leaves, Reception shared phonics, Yoga and being a pirate, Year One shared Exploring time, poetry and forest school and Year Two shared their own poetry, a mask parade and some glockenspiel music playing. It was a real joy to see all of their lovely faces really engaged in this learning.