AAT working together

Welcome Garden Fields

Welcome to our latest edition of AAT News, which covers our work in the Autumn Term 2021.

It has been wonderful to welcome Garden Fields to the Trust, and we really look forward to the work we can do together in the years to come. The Headteacher, Mr. Farrugia and all of the staff, students and governors have been incredibly welcoming and excited about this new partnership. The photograph above shows the six headteachers at their latest joint meeting discussing key issues with core members of the Trust team.

We are also excited to be welcoming Skyswood Primary School in the Spring term. They are due to convert on 1st February 2022 and, like Garden Fields School, there is a lot of excitement with them joining the Trust.

As you will see from this edition, there has been an amazing breadth of activity taking place across all of the schools despite the constraints of Covid. I would like to thank all of the schools for their work with young people and in helping to improve outcomes for everyone.

May I wish you all a very enjoyable Christmas and Happy New Year.

Best wishes

Alan Gray

Wheatfields Infants' & Nursery School - Governor Vacancy

Wheatfields Infants’ and Nursery School is looking for volunteers to join its Governing Board as community governors. A governing board has three key tasks:

  1. Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent
  2. Holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils
  3. Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction

You would work with the other governors, the headteacher and the senior leadership team to ensure that our school is the best it can be.   We have a couple of in person or video meetings each term, and well as regular visits to the school.  They welcome applications from everyone and from all sections of the community. There are no fixed requirements but you need the right attitude, enthusiasm, and some time to devote to the role.  It is an opportunity to use your existing skills to make a real difference, as well as develop new ones.  You also don't need any prior or historic connection to the school.   We are looking to build a diverse board that represents our local community and ensures we always have a mix of experience 

If you would like to find out more about becoming a school governor, please email rstorkey@wheatfieldsinfants.herts.sch.uk for more information. 

AAT Director of School Improvement - Primary

We would like to congratulate Penny Laskar-Brown who, after a rigorous recruitment and selection process, has been appointed as Director of School Improvement Primary with Alban Academies Trust. Penny will carry out this role on a part time basis, working with the primary schools in the Trust, helping all of us to share expertise and best practice with each other and will continue her valuable role as Assistant Headteacher at Wheatfields Junior School alongside this new role.

AAT - Meet the Core Team

From left to right:

Claire Oakes - Director of School Improvement, Secondary.  Sarah Warren - Project Manager.  Penny Laskar-Brown - Director of School Improvement, Primary.  Lesley Dunkley - PA to CEO & Clerk to Trust Board.  Julia Shaw - COO.  Alan Gray - CEO.  Tina Crafford - AAT Administrator.

Awards & Achievements

Verulam School - Football

Well done to Year 10 student Kai who has been selected in the upcoming England U15 Football Squad.

Ridgeway Academy - Lawn Bowls

My name is Rhianna Russell and I play Lawn Bowls, which not many of you will have heard of. I have been playing bowls since I was 10 years old and till this day I still enjoy it. During my time bowling, I have won many competitions for District, County, National and now bowl for England. I am probably the youngest person to win any competition like this. And recently across the summer holidays, I qualified for one of the biggest competitions ever, the one that everyone strives to get to. I first qualified for the National Finals at age 11, I then qualified again in 2 competitions at age 13 and in 3 competitions this year at age 15. These National finals are held at one of the largest venues ever and that’s called Lemington Spa. I unfortunately lost 2 of my games but I came second in England with the others, which is called the Amy Rose, which is under 31s. It took me 4 years to get on the podium and finally win the medal I’ve been striving to get for years and years. The way I did this was with force, optimism, resilience and determination. And one day, with FORCE, I will win. By Rhianna, 11D

Sandringham School - Creative Writing

Five Creative Writing club students who entered the Young Writers Unsolved competition (Franky D, Ariella F, Emilia H, Aatiqa S and Beth Y) have had their stories selected for publication and have received a certificate for excellence in writing. The brief was to write a crime story mini saga in no more than a hundred words - a difficult task! Students worked hard creating tension, suspense and intrigue, and ensuring they made every word count. Young Writers received in excess of 6,500 entries and have chosen 244 stories to be published in Unsolved – Crime Scene Stories. We are thrilled all five Sandringham students who submitted have been chosen from such a large number of entries. Well done!  

Ridgeway Academy - National Geographic Competition

We received some very exciting news last week with regards to Year 10 pupil Amy O.  Amy entered the National Geographic Kids Future Cities Competition a few months back and Amy’s drawing was chosen as one of the winners! It was stated that within the hundreds of entries they received, Amy’s artistic design really shone through and she is a very deserved winner. For her winning design, Amy has scooped a £200 voucher for ethicalsuperstore.com and her very own lab coat and goggles! Huge congratulations to Amy.

Wheatfields Infants' and Nursery School - Pupil achievement

Congratulations to Emmeline for achieving 2 swimming awards, Jackson for his karate award, Isabelle for her gymnastics award, Lauren for undertaking the guided reading challenge and also to Sufyan for completing a charity walk for Brain Tumour Research.   

We must also mention Oliver who scored a hat-trick in his first football match for Harvesters, Connie for winning a medal for the Wild Heroes Reading Challenge and to Sophie for achieving her 10m swimming badge.

We are super proud of you all.

Ridgeway Academy - Young Coach of the Year

I was delighted to be invited to Lords Cricket Ground by Hertfordshire Cricket on Tuesday 28th September, to receive the award of Young Coach of the Year. This was awarded in recognition for the coaching work I do to encourage more women and girls to play cricket.

Miss A Price Teacher of Physical Education

Sandringham School - Boxing

Charles B in Year 10 competed in the finals of the national UK boxing tournament on the 30th and 31st of October. Charles boxes for West Ham amateur boxing club London and was part of a nine strong team who all went through to the semi finals. Charles won his bout in the semi finals and then went on to win the finals. He is now number one in the UK for his age and weight and is now part of the England boxing team. What an amazing achievement!

If you would like to watch Charles' fights, they can be found on YouTube if you type in (England Boxing Junior Nationals 2021.) On day 1, Charles was fight 23 in Ring C and on day 2 he was fight 21 in Ring C. Well done Charles and good luck in your next match!

Sandringham - Powerlifting

We are hugely proud to mention Ollie P, who has been selected to represent Great Britain in the World Powerlifting Championships in Lithuania. What a fantastic achievement Ollie. We are really proud of you!

Garden Fields - Table Tennis

Table Tennis Success! Congratulations to our girls team who finished an impressive second in their pool at the St Albans and District table tennis tournament and many congratulations to our boys team who were overall winners in the boys section of the tournament. We are very proud of you all.

Sandringham School - SMSC

We are delighted to announce that Sandringham School has been awarded a GOLD SMSC (spiritual, moral, social and cultural development)  the National SMSC Quality Mark and have been asked by Young Citizens to be an SMSC Beacon School. Pictured below are just some of the students from Years 8, 10 and 13 who took part in interviews to help us to secure the gold rating. 

Thank you so much to Ms Coy for all your hard work!

Garden Fields - Tag Rugby Festival

We took 4 teams from Garden Fields to the St Albans district tag rugby festival at Old Verulamium’s Rugby Club. It was a festival rather than a tournament so there was no overall winner.

The focus was very much on participation and getting everyone playing and enjoying rugby. It was so great to get back to a big sporting event after so long and most importantly the children seemed to have a thoroughly good day out and even the weather was fantastic!

Verulam School - Archery

Congratulations to Midas who won a silver medal in the Archery GB National Indoor Championships .

 

Verulam School - Fencing

 

Well done to sixth form student Thomas H, who came 23rd at the U17 European Fencing Circuit in Bulgaria.  With a combined 221 fencers from across the globe Thomas performed amazingly with some great victories and was the second highest GB fencer at the event

A superb achievement

Curriculum News

STEM - Collaboration

On Thursday 14 October, pupils from Year 8 from Ridgeway Academy and Verulam took part in the Faraday Challenge at Sandringham School. They were given an unknown scenario and asked to come up with a solution using physics equipment. The pupils showed great teamwork and problem-solving skills and gave excellent presentations at the end of the day. Congratulations to all that took part, it was lovely to see Year 8 students from the three schools working on the challenge, and thank you to Mr Tattersall for helping to arrange it. 

Sandringham School - Visual Arts

Year 13 Textiles students recently visited Wheatfields Infants' School. They had been invited to share their portfolios with the three Year 2 classes who had been involved in creating their own junk fashion outfits just before half term.  By presenting their work, our students explained the process of developing their individual projects from the initial inspiration of artists and designers, through drawing and recording to sampling in a range of textiles techniques and creating a refined outcome.  They answered lots of interesting questions from the children and were treated to a video of the class junk fashion show. Thank you to all the children in Year 2 for inviting us to your school and to our wonderful students for taking the time to speak to them. Our students really enjoyed the experience!

Wheatfields Junior School - Science

The second half of Autumn term got off to an exciting start when we held a whole school Science Day. The theme of the day was ‘Space’ and the children enjoyed taking part in lots of fun rocket based experiments. They launched rockets using the power of the chemical reaction between vinegar and bicarbonate of soda as well as by harnessing air pressure to provide the thrust to lift a rocket mouse into space. They also designed and refined their rockets to make them travel as far as possible. Some children investigated what happens when a spacecraft arrives at its destination and needs to make a slow and controlled descent and had a go creating landing craft which could withstand high impact, just like the Mars Rover.

Thank you to Mrs Lewis, our Science Lead in school, for all of the planning and organisation of a day of enjoyable active learning.

Wheatfields Junior School - Sports

This week, a Year 5 team went off to Samuel Ryder Academy to play in a friendly football match. Nine out of the ten boys were representing the school for the first time. Despite the fact that they had never played together as a team before, they went on to win with an impressive 6-1 score. Well done to them! . 

Wheatfields Infants' and Nursery School - House Challenge

This week the children took part in the first house challenge of the year. They have been designing and creating their own fashion ranges from recycled materials. Each class chose their own class house winner and then we all enjoyed watching each class’ fashion show; each class then voted for their favourite. It was a very close challenge as there were three favourites - voted for by the children.

However, we could only have one winner. The winner for this challenge was:  Oak Class - The Wick

Garden Fields - Reading fluency

Garden Fields recently led a trial with Herts for Learning of our KS2 Reading Fluency Project with very promising results. Read the outcome of the project on the Institute for Effective Education's website

Verulam School - Science

Bonfire night came to Verulab. Year 7 learned how we put the colours in to fireworks and the best metals to make sparklers.

Magnesium have the whitest and best sparks!

Sandringham School - Music

Our Year 9 Music Tech module students spent some time with the music departments brand new electronic drum kit. They had a go at some drumming patterns, as well as connecting it to Logic to add a drum beat to their own projects and did brilliantly!

This was funded by the money raised from the music concerts we were able to run last year, so thank you to everyone supported them by buying a ticket.

Garden Fields - Black History Month

In October we celebrated Black History month in assemblies and in the classrooms, exploring many significant contributions made by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (B.A.M.E) scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, politicians, writers, artists, musicians, sports men and women, to both our country and the wider world.  Our art subject leader Miss Gurney organised a Black History Art Week for this final week of the half term. She organised it as an opportunity to explore the works of some leading black artists and use them as inspiration to learn new techniques and artistic styles. 

Year 1 made masks inspired by drawings from the Notting Hill Carnival. Year 4 were inspired by Veronica Ryan who has created marble and bronze sculptures of custard, apple, breadfruit and soursop which can be seen in Hackney Central. Inspired by her work, Year 4 made their own food sculptures based upon their own ‘cultures’. Using clay Riccardo made an Italian pastry called a Cannoli, Teah made Ethiopian curry, Ethiopian hot chocolate and some bread and Harry made a roast chicken with all the trimmings!

This year is actually the 34th year that Black History month has been celebrated in Britain

Ridgeway Academy - History

On 23rd September we welcomed Frontline Living History into school to work with Y10 and Y11 historians on their GCSE study of the historic environment of the British Trenches in World War One. David and Richard, dressed in original uniforms of a Tommy and an Officer, helped students to understand the context of life in the trenches and how the weapons of war developed. This then showed students how this led to advances in medicine in response to the injuries that resulted from shrapnel, machine guns and gas.

Students also were able to handle the artefacts, try on the uniforms and generally deepen their understanding of this fascinating topic. The ‘highlight’ of the workshop was being able to smell the Phosgene and Mustard gasses that soldiers would have endured. The Y10s were also able to take part in a gas mask drill to illustrate how this technology advanced as the war progressed. Students really got a lot out of the experience and feel more confident about this aspect of their GCSE as a result. Thank you to David Allton and Richard Townsley of Frontline Living History for a fascinating day.

Wheatfields Junior School - RE

On Tuesday 19th October, Year 4 visited the Hindu Temple at Bhaktivedanta Manor in support of their learning in RE. The children learned about all about the Hindu gods and beliefs, joined in a classical dance workshop and visited the lovely, peaceful gardens. They had a ride on a cart pulled by oxen and met the beautifully cared for cows in the Goshala. They dressed up as the Trimurti and had the privilege of seeing the shrine. Everyone agreed that sharing a wonderful meal was the highlight of the day and it was universally agreed to be delicious. The children represented our school brilliantly and we were very proud of everyone.

Wheatfields Junior School - Music

Year 4 Cornet Players

We were delighted to welcome parents and carers of Year 4 Milne Class to an assembly when the children gave a special musical performance. The children have been learning to play the cornet in music lessons this term as part of the First Access Music programme for which we were pleased to receive funding for this year through Herts Music Service. We were all impressed by their accomplishment over the last 10 weeks from being complete beginners to being able to play so well together.

Well done to each of them! 

Events

Wheatfields Junior School - Remembrance

Each class marked Remembrance Day this week by holding a two minute silence at 11am on Thursday morning. Year 5 children also learned about local history by watching a documentary outlining Hertfordshire’s story during WWI. The documentary took them from the happy days of 1913, through the call up when no one knew what to expect to trench warfare and the changes in the role of women in society at that time. This was also a cross curricular lesson with the historical information providing a basis for poetry. Below is an example of a poem written by two of our children, Bella and Catherine:

Running for my life,

I slip and fall.

I shout with fear,

“Help me boys!”

I struggle to get back up

As I realise the poisonous gas

Falls upon me.

I twist and turn with all my might

As I realise, it’s just too late.

Garden Fields School - Remembrance

On Thursday (11th day of the 11th month) at 11 a.m. we marked Armistice Day with a minute’s silence to remember those who have lost their lives in warfare. The children observed the silence very respectfully. We also had an assembly all about remembrance.

Ridgeway Academy - Remembrance

On Thursday 11th November, Ridgeway Academy marked Remembrance Day with a whole school service and two minutes silence. This year marks one hundred years since our nation's collective Remembrance traditions were first brought together. With our school community assembled, our order of proceedings began with a procession of cadets followed by Mrs Mitcherson, our Headteacher, The Reverend Paul Seymour, of Panshanger Church, Dr. Thusu, Haldens County Councillor, Mr Andrews with Ms Devine, our local PCSOs, Mr Rowe and Ms Wilson, from the Waveney Valley Academies Trust, and Kamil, a Sixth Form student and member of our Student Council.

In preparation for the two minutes silence, the school reflected and honoured the sacrifices of those who have and continue to defend our democratic freedoms and ways of life. This included the reading of a poem, written by one of our Year 10 students, and speeches from Mrs Mitcherson, the Reverend Paul Seymour and Kamil. Charlie, a Year 11 cadet for St. Johns Ambulance, led the cadets to our Remembrance Tree where we placed our school wreath, alongside six commemorative icons from The Royal British Legion.

The Last Post sounded to remind us of the military lives lost and mark the two minutes of silence. The students marked the occasion with utmost respect and diligence. It was a moving experience to witness the unitedness of the school and local community. Thank you everyone.

Sandringham School - Remembrance

On Thursday 11th November we held our Remembrance Service for the whole school at 11am. Because of the size of the school, and prompted by lock down restrictions last year, we now broadcast this service live to all students and their tutors in tutor rooms across the campus. This works really well and allows everyone to see the service ‘close-up’ and gain a full experience of the moment. I would like to thank all those students who came in uniforms representing their various external groups such as the cadets, St. John’s Ambulance, Guides and Scouts. You represented your groups incredibly well. And a special thank you to James Cooke who provided a wonderful rendition of the Last Post.

Verulam School - Remembrance

We marked Rememberence Day as a whole school where we gathered at the front of the school where a magnificent poppy display adorned the windows  -  this was a stunning and beautiful collaborative effort between our History and English Departments. Students took time to remember those who had served, had fallen and had protected us. After the service we listened to our own students playing the last post. 

 

Wheatfields Infants' & Nursery School - Remembrance

We celebrated during assembly by remembering soldiers and service people who have protected us in the past and in the present.  The Royal British Legion, which is 100 years old this year, help us to remember our service people.  We discovered different ways of remembering such as visiting a memorial, 2 minutes silence, wearing a poppy or taking part in a remembrance parade. Poppies are specifically a sign of new life after conflict as they were the first flowers to bloom in the fields of the first world war. 

Remembrance is hope for a peaceful future and a time to reflect and give thanks.

Sustainability

Ridgeway Academy - Football Rebooted

Earlier this term we hosted the national launch of the Utilita Energy Football Rebooted Campaign, which recently went live. 

Created with the mission of rehoming one million pairs of good quality football boots and saving them from landfill, the campaign saw former England and Premier League goalkeeper David James MBE return to Ridgeway Academy (Sir Frederic Osborn was his former secondary school) to officially launch the school collection programme. Every pair of football boots reused is equivalent to avoiding the carbon footprint of around five school runs completed in a standard, nonelectric car!  

We’re extremely proud to have such high achieving alumni such as David James MBE, who, with his green lifestyle credentials is so well-placed to launch football’s biggest ever environmental movement throughout the nation’s schools. 

Wheatfields Infants' & Nursery School - 'Switch Off Fortnight'

Our Sustainable Ambassadors held their first meeting in November to organise this year’s ‘Switch Off Fortnight’. Our Ambassadors this year are Freddie and Lily from Maple, Jasper and Rowan from Beech and Isla and Logan from Ash. Miss Cockburn held a special assembly to talk to the children about how important it is to save energy. We have special meters in school that enable us to check how much gas, electricity and water we use so we will be able to see if we can reduce the energy used in school. The children have been checking that lights, taps and computers are turned off in each class to see how we can help save energy.

Wellbeing & Community

Garden Fields JMI School - St Albans Action for Homeless

Isaac in Year 6 and his younger brother Owen have been designing (and packing) snack bags for St Albans Action for Homeless.

Wheatfields Junior School - Eco Garden

At the beginning of September we saw the opening of the Marshalswick Baptist Church Eco Garden and we were thrilled to hear that the garden was designed by Liffey in Year 6  and officially opened by local councillor John Hayes.

Liffey has been working with the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust to build her garden which includes a bug hotel, a hedgehog house and a small pond. Anyone who visits the garden will be inspired with ideas of how to create mini eco-systems in their own gardens, which is the message the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust want to share.

We are so proud of Liffey and what she has achieved.

Wheatfields Infants' & Nursery School - Sensory Room

We would like to say a massive thank you to the team from Goldman Sachs who have been decorating our Sensory Room. It won’t be long before this room is completed and we can enjoy using this calming space.

Garden Fields School - Pumpkin Carving Competition

Thank you to everyone who carved, painted and decorated pumpkins and to everyone who came along to the pumpkin trail. The pumpkins looked amazing and it was such a fun evening, we hope you all enjoyed it too!

Verulam - Verulam Orchard

The wonderful Mrs Wright, Liam & some of our Year 8/9 boys spent the day preparing the ground and then planting columnar trees & hundreds of bluebells. Such a wonderful activity.

Verulam School - Relationship workshops

Boys at Verulam School have been  learning about sexual consent in response to the murders of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard. The partnership between Verulam School and sexual abuse charity, Survivors UK, aims to teach young men about appropriate relationships. 

Julie Richardson, the school’s headteacher, said  "I want our students to pursue their dreams, be emotionally, mentally and spiritually secure and successful, as well as achieving strong academic results. Bringing in expertise and people who are used to answering some of the really challenging questions that young people will sometimes have will help tenfold.”

Outreach and engagement lead for Survivors UK Sam Thomson added: “This is exactly what every school in the country should be doing, taking a proactive approach to a very important issue. I was very pleased with the boys' responses. They showed great maturity and seemed to take onboard what we were saying.”

Sandringham School - Extended Learning Day

Year 12 spent ELD considering some really big issues which are often of concern to young adults. They engaged in sessions and discussions on; the climate crisis, movement of people, extremism and gender equality. They also participated in a presentation which is shown to all Year 12 students in Hertfordshire ‘Learn2Live’ about key considerations as a lot of them start to learn to drive. The students were fantastic, engaging fully in lively debate and considering the a range of very big issues which face the world today. Thank you to Miss Potter for leading the day and to all staff involved.

Verulam School - Smile-ing Boys' Project

The Smile-ing Boys’ Project is the creation of internationally acclaimed artist, Kay Rufai, to promote positive mental well-being for BAME (Black and Minority Ethnicity) boys and has been running at Verulam School in St Albans. The purpose of the project is to encourage engagement and reflection of one’s identity as a young black male growing up in England, allowing the boys the opportunity to explore issues around stereotypes, pressures, a sense of belonging, representation in the media etc. so that they are able to feel a sense of self-worth and pride, making positive choices as they come of age. The exhibition, which has been running at St Albans Museum, has been hugely successful at improving Verulam boys' sense of self-worth enabling them to recognise the importance of embracing ones' culture and uniqueness and in allowing them a safe space to explore issues around race and identity.

Wheatfields Infants' & Nursery School - Little Leaders

All Year 2 children are given the chance to be a Little Leader and share their skills and interests with others. Little Leaders help to make lunch play a fun part of the day for all children by helping shy or nervous children to be engaged in play.

If a child wants to join in a game but doesn’t know what to do or is too shy, they just need to find a Little Leader who will be identified by a red or blue cap and PE bib. The Little Leader will get them started in a game or be their buddy. Little Leaders provide an opportunity for children to take ownership of their lunch play activities, as they can determine what resources to use and how they would like to use them. It also promotes an empathetic and caring environment.

Each Year 2 class has a day to perform their role and they are supported by a member of staff, and for this they are acknowledged through the school reward system.