Dear Everyone

Welcome to our autumn edition of the AAT Newsletter and I hope you enjoy reading about each of our schools. The autumn term is a time when we settle into routines, complete a significant amount of learning as well as enjoy some lovely events, particularly in the lead up to Christmas.

One of the magical things I have seen this term is our reception children getting to grips with their reading and writing. It is amazing how much progress they make from the start of term and I look forward to seeing how they progress through the rest of the year.

I would like to thank the staff in each school for their work this term, and the governors and trustees for supporting them in helping children to make progress. Enjoy the Christmas holiday and let’s hope that 2023 is a great year for us all.

Best wishes

Alan Gray


Wellbeing & Community

Sandringham School - D&T Work Experience

We are pleased to share a fantastic article discussing the value of work experience placements within D&T in the new edition of Futureminds written by Abi F in Year 13.

In it she talks about the valuable skills she learnt and reflects that "the whole experience was a fantastic opportunity that benefited me in so many ways. I am so grateful for it and have a huge sense of achievement as Ocado is now using the components I designed for them within their robot design. This is exactly what design and technology work experience should be about: having a student's work realised and taken seriously." 

You can read the full article here. We are really proud of her!

Sandringham School - community support

Sandringham School Year 12 students are enjoying volunteering at ATT primary schools Skyswood, Wheatfields Infants School and Wheatfields Junior this year. Spending one hour per school week as volunteers in the primary schools, the students have been helping teachers by hearing regular readers, preparing children for performances and supporting in everyday lessons..

This ATT community programme will amount to more than 1200 hours of volunteering by the end of the academic year as well as helping Sixth Formers learn new skills.



Garden Fields JMI School - Odd Socks Day

Monday 14 November we had our Odd Socks Day. This is a day when, as part of anti-bullying week, we acknowledge the fact that although we are all different we all deserve respect. 

Verulam School - Enrichment Project

A group of Year 7 students enjoyed the sunshine and had fun developing the Memorial Garden whilst honing their soft skills in team-building; communication; planning; creativity; time management and organisation. The boys then designed their ideal gardens and had a tea party and bonded as friends. The feedback has been wonderful. One student said “Wednesdays is now the high-light of my week”; Another student commented “This makes my week!”

Extra-curricular activities and projects are such an important part of Verulam school-life and offer students an important space to have fun and relax away from the pressures of the classroom. It has been a pleasure to watch the boys grow in confidence interacting with each other whilst developing life-skills. It has been fun.

Verulam School - Virtual Art Galleries

As part of our Primary Outreach programme we have worked with both Fleetville and Garden Fields Primary Schools to create virtual art gallery exhibitions. The primary schools sent over a number of artworks from a variety of their students to be uploaded into the virtual gallery. These were completed with the help from our partnership of Vortic VR with a superb end product of some very professional looking artworks. The gallery for Garden Fields can be found via the link below:

Garden Fields Primary



Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - Green Fingers

Our Year 2 class have been learning all about plants and have successfully grown their own sunflowers. The children have also enjoyed working on their ‘allotment’ space in the environmental area which is looking great. 

Ridgeway Academy - Christmas Toy Collection

Ridgeway Academy is collecting gifts to give to the children’s ward at Stevenage-based Lister hospital, after making a donation of 150 items last year. 

Ross Goodship, sports centre manager at Ridgeway said: "We are delighted to announce that Ridgeway Academy will take part in our sixth Christmas Toy Collection". 

Sandringham School - Christmas Box Appeal

Since September, Year 7 have been reading Charles Dickens’ Christmas classic: A Christmas Carol. Dickens’ timeless message of helping those in need has inspired Year 7 to take part in the Christmas Box Appeal. English classes all worked together to get boxes ready to help to spread Christmas cheer to vulnerable children across Europe. Our original aim was to donate two boxes from each English class, but the students exceeded all expectations and we donated over 90 boxes!  A big thank you to all the students, parents and staff in their generosity and enthusiasm towards this project.

'‘I really enjoyed making a Christmas Box (for a 11-15 girl). I found it fun to look for presents for someone my age. I decorated my box in shiny Santa paper and on the inside, wrote 'Merry Christmas!' in 10 languages. It's important to help those who are less fortunate than us, especially at Christmas time.’ Isabella P 7H

Wheatfields Junior School - Choir

Over twenty of our Year 5 children who are members of our school choir, took part in the St Albans Primary Schools Carol Service at St Albans Abbey. They were a credit to the school and it was fantastic to attend this festive occasion after two missed years due to Covid.

Well done to all who participated!


A Christmas Carol

Two Ghosts of Jacob Marley, two Tiny Tims and two Scrooges!  Both Sandringham and Verulam chose to perform A Christmas Carol this term.  Both performances were excellent and explored Scrooge’s journey of self-discovery skilfully.  Moments of celebration included the opening solo sung by Claude O’R (Y7) and the harrowing arrival of the Ghost of Christmas yet to come in Verulam’s performance as well as the tension and presence established by Jacob Marley in the Sandringham performance. 

The set in the Sandpit was particularly effective in evoking a sense of Dickens’ Victorian setting and Scrooge’s gravestone played a starring role in both performances!  The fact that the protagonists of both events were related, brothers:  Henry and Benedict G, enhanced the performances as their portrayals of Scrooge were eerily similar yet personalised by each. 

If you, like me, had the privilege of seeing both performances there is no doubt that you would have had a fabulous time and would be ready to enjoy Christmas without a single ‘Bah humbug’ in sight! (Review by Eliza P, Sandringam School)

Wheatfields Junior School - Year 6 Careers Fair

We were delighted to host our first ever Wheatfields Juniors Year 6 Careers Fair. The main aims of the event were to: engage children in meaningful discussion about their skills for learning, life and work; inspire children to think about how their learning can apply to the real world and their future; raise their understanding of the range of different jobs available; encourage diverse thinking in children to consider a broader view of subject choices, career options and job opportunities and to use the event as a springboard to further develop parent and community engagement.

Our aims were absolutely fulfilled and the children were thoroughly engaged in talks from various fields of work: NHS Homeless Recovery Practitioner; Management Consultant; Solutions Architect, Sports Commentator; Google; Innovations at Tesco; Police Officer and Engineer.

Comments from children’s feedback included:

  • “I learnt that there are so many interesting jobs that you can become when you’re older.”
  • “I learnt why people like their jobs and what they need to do to get them.”
  • “The thing I liked best was that I got to learn about jobs I didn’t even know existed!”

A big thank you to the volunteers who gave their time to support the event and share with the children aspects of their world of work: Jez Cox, Chris Stokes, Ken Tune, Steve Platt, Andy Charles, Razia Ahamad, Patrick Awiah and Jillain Lidgate. We hope to be able to run similar events in the future. Please do get in touch if you would be interested in getting involved

Verulam School Remembrance Day

Sandringham School Remembrance Day

Verulam School - Christmas Jumper Day

It was wonderful so see so many of our Year 7's taking part and enjoying themselves on Christmas Jumper Day!

Celebrating Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day was celebrated across all the AAT Schools with many students wearing their uniforms for the day. A two minute silence was observed to allow all assembled the chance to remember and to commemorate military and civilian service, from veterans of the Falklands War and WW2 to those who continue to play a vital role in service to Britain today.

Ridgeway Academy - Visiting Costa Rica with Camps International

We travelled to many different areas in this highly diverse country, experiencing much it had to offer. There were many moments of joy and achievement. I recall the students pulling out all the stops to build a cultural centre, chopping bamboo to make stairs for elders to safely walk down a steep slope, and mixing and laying concrete to support local communities playing football. It was truly rewarding work, and we could see the positive impact we were making straight away. Fortunately, we worked alongside people who care deeply about the planet and who live their lives in balance with nature. Something you don't get to see just going on holiday as a tourist were locals who open their world out to you and share their way of life.

Phillipo, took us on a hike to a forest he planted 25 years ago, eager to show us we can make a difference and live life in peace and harmony in nature. By far the highlights of the trip revolved around the extraordinary animals. The group were desperate to see the infamous sloth and toucan, knowing they are rare to see, we were overjoyed by the sight of them in their natural environment. There were plenty of caimans, howler and spider monkeys, lizards, vultures and tarantulas, even sharing showers with scorpions. We learnt to sleep in hammocks with the natural noises of frogs croaking under the stars and believe me when I say the size of some creepy crawlies has cured some fears. We went scuba diving in a bay off the Pacific Ocean, where students saw so many sea creatures including white-tipped sharks and rays. After all that hard work, we were able to rest on a heavenly beach, or play games.

It is fair to say, the team that went out there in July 2022 are not the same people who came back. They have grown in confidence, gone on their own journey of self-discovery and challenged themselves. We learnt a lot about each other being together 24 hours a day. This trip showed me how resilient our team was and how fortunate we are to have one another. We share memories for a lifetime and made friendships with the other teams who went exploring too. I wish them every success and know they can face any obstacle they face. 

Miss S Syed, English Teacher

Ridgeway Academy Remembrance Day


Ridgeway Academy - Sustainable Hertfordshire YouthCOP22

On Monday 26 September, Ridgeway Academy joined a selection of schools from across the country in the very first Youth Conference of the Parties at Hertfordshire County Council Chambers. In the run up to this event, students from across the school were invited to write a letter of application to explain their views on climate change and substantiate why they would like to represent the school at this event. After reading pages of passionate letters, the 5 students selected to take part in the conference were Dalila F, Lucy B, Xander B, Kaci L and Kamila K. During the event, students from across various schools were grouped together to represent the stakeholders in the climate change debate. These included developing and developed nations, clean and convention energy firms, agricultural and industrial corporations. Thinking through these contexts, groups debated over the appropriateness of strategies available to mitigate climate change, aiming to reduce global temperature rises to no more than 1.5 to 2 degrees celsius by 2100. 

Using the EN-Roads Climate Solutions Simulator, students quickly discovered that there were a range of strategies to reduce global temperature rises but that any solution requires global cooperation and investment. Some of the more popular routes involved technological carbon removal, improving the energy efficiency of transport and buildings, as well as reducing methane production. Increasing the price for carbon was also a favoured option. Students were happy to have ended the debate with a global temperature rise of 1.7 degrees celsius and left with a renewed sense of stewardship over the role we each play to protect and conserve our planet.

Sandringham School - HDPE bottle tops recycling

Thank you so much to all the families who collected HDPE bottle tops over the last half term. We have been so impressed with the number collected and are excited to have the raw materials to be able to do some exciting projects using HDPE in the D&T department and in the D&T Sustainability club. We have collected a whopping 12,484 bottle tops all together. 

In the D&T Sustainability Club we have started to use the bottle tops to make recycled poppies which will go on sale on behalf of the Royal British Legion.

We then plan to make some Christmas decorations to sell at the Christmas Fayre. 

Sandringham School - Eco-Schools Award

I am pleased to say that we have recently won the International Eco-Schools Award. This is presented to schools which demonstrate continued excellence in improving performance and learning in sustainability. We are very proud of this award and will continue to work to improve our work around sustainability. This week we have submitted a bid for almost £400k under the national decarbonisation scheme, to replace some existing boilers with air source heat pumps and photoelectric panels on roofs. Fingers crossed we are successful and can further reduce our carbon footprint.

Curriculum News

Wheatfields Infants' & Nursery School - Science & DT

In our Science and D&T lessons our pupils have been making boats and testing them in water to see if they would float.

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - History

Our Year 5 class enjoyed an excellent trip to the Tower of London earlier this term. As well as seeing the White Tower (famous for the story of the two princes), and the Crown Jewels, the children found out a lot about the history of the Tower of London and the trip really helped to bring their Tudor topic to life. The children also enjoyed their walk. The weather was delightful and the class took in The Jubilee gardens, crossed over Tower Bridge and also saw HMS Belfast. An added excitement was that the class decided to travel by train rather than hire a coach. The children were impeccably behaved and we would also like to thank the parent helpers; Mr Knowles, Mr Moxham

Ridgeway Academy - MFL

It has been a busy Autumn term in MFL. We took a group of students to Paris for a week which the students thoroughly enjoyed and I hope has given them some great life long memories. It truly was a fabulous 5 days, the weather was great, the excursions were interesting and fun and the kids, as always, were impeccable and such great fun. Hopefully, we will be able to go again next year.

In the classroom students are working hard. Year 7 are already writing in complete sentences, with negatives and colours. Year 8 have moved onto the past tense and are honing their skills writing in three tenses, whilst the Year 9 have now learnt 4 tenses and will be learning another two in the weeks to come. We have also been enjoying watching foreign language films as a treat at the end of the lesson, in the foreign language of course. The students find the Spanish and French films interesting as the style of the films are very different compared to the films they are accustomed to watching.

Sandringham School - Music

On Wednesday 9 November, we were delighted to perform to a sold-out audience in the Sandpit Theatre. This was our first large concert of the year and all of our large choirs and ensembles were featured. The music was really varied and featured a film score by John Williams, a Hungarian dance by Brahms, Elton John’s Saturday Night’s Alright for fighting, jazz classics including Birdland, some musical theatre hits and some traditional celtic folk music.

It was great to feature some smaller bands including the Year 12 A Level musicians, GCSE musicians and Year 8 band ‘Different Shades’. This was a real celebration of music at Sandringham!

Wheatfields Junior School - Netball

On Thursday 13 October, the Year 6 Netball Club played in an away netball match against Skyswood School, winning 10 goals to nil. All involved played exceptionally well showing good aptitude for both attack and defensive play. The Skyswood team chose Isla as the ‘Most Valued Player’ at the end of the match. Well done Isla!

Garden Fields JMI School - Cross Country

The cross-country league has began again and we would like to thank all who participated. We had some excellent results including Josie (Y6) and Sadie (Y5) finishing 6th and 7th respectively in the girls’ event and Oliver H (Y5) finishing 3rd and Victor finishing 1st in the boys event! 

Well done. 

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - DT

Pop up book Research

On 10 November we began our DT unit of ‘Spooky Pop-Ups’. Before we could start making our own, we looked at several different pop-up books and really thought about the mechanisms within each page and how they worked. Did the reader have to do more than just open the page for it to move? Was there a tab to pull or slide? For our piece of writing, we each studied one of the pop-ups and wrote about the intended audience in relation to content but also size of font, and theme.

Mrs Koter and Miss Branagan were very impressed with out sustained focus, engagement and quality of written work!

Wheatfields Infants' and Nursery School - Art

Giuseppe Arcimboldo was an Italian painter best known for creating imaginative portrait heads made entirely of objects such as fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish and books. Some of our pupils have been making their own portraits in a similar style.

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - RE

As part of their learning in R.E, Year 3 have been investigating traditional foods that some religions may eat during various festivals. On Thursday 20 October we successfully made Jewish Challah bread and have also been making Coconut Ice which is a sweet dessert that Hindi people enjoy during Diwali.

We would like to thank Mrs Hodgkiss and Mrs Carter who came in to help us.

Wheatfields Junior School - Music


It was very exciting to see that the first session of our newly launched school orchestra was such a success and we all look forward to seeing the members perform together at some point in the future.

Verulam School - Curriculum Enrichment Day

The boys enjoyed a trip to Museum of London as part of their curriculum enrichment day. 

Garden Fields JMI School - History

The Year 5 children opened their classrooms as museums at the end of the school day where the children acted as curators, and taught their parents about the Ancient Chinese Shang Dynasty, which has been their class topic this term.

There were lots of displays of work, a souvenir shop and even some podcasts that the children made that could be listened to on headphones.

Thank you Year 5 for sharing your excellent work with us!

Verulam School - Maths

We had a fun day in the maths department learning about moments by making seesaws and with Year 8 answering the question “did Premier league wages predict finishing league position last season”.

Some interesting charts were produced (with outliers!)

AAT working together

AAT Middle Leaders Conference

On Tuesday 11 October the AAT held a Middle Leaders training event.  The event was a networking opportunity for Middle Leaders and Leadership Teams in the Trust to work collaboratively with colleagues cross phase to consider the learning journeys our children and young people experience from the start of their time with us in early years right through until they leave us at the end of Key Stages 4 or 5.  As a Trust we encourage learning and working in partnership, enabling professionals from all phases to work together to raise standards.  This was very much seen at the event where colleagues worked together to share expertise, resources and ideas.

Some of the key takeaways from the event included:

“Definitely see the benefit of making stronger connections with primary schools”

“Ways in which primary schools can prepare pupils for this subject at secondary school, how to use different resources and where to get them from, and how secondary schools can support primary.”

“All of us have similar barriers. We have decided to share good practice and shadow each other in each other's school next term too.”

We know that many colleagues are planning further engagement with each other and we were delighted at the enthusiasm and motivation that staff across the Trust have to develop their leadership areas and ensure the best experience and provision for children and young people in the Trust.  A big thank you to Garden Fields staff for hosting the event.

“Thank you for arranging this. I honestly found it one of the most useful and enjoyable sessions I have attended. The passion for maths across the schools was clear.”


“It was really useful to form links with the other SENDCOs across the AAT - allowing us to work together and support each other in our roles.”

Awards & Achievements

Sandringham School - National Team Championships

We were delighted that our senior boys put in a heroic effort at the English Schools Swimming Association's 64th National Team Championships, held at the London Aquatics Centre, and secured a top-10 position in England. 

The medley relay team qualified for the final in 10th position. But while that was already impressive, they then went even better in the final to secure eighth spot, making them the fastest school in Hertfordshire and the fastest state school in England. 

Sandringham's freestyle team faced stiff competition too and finished 24th. 

Assistant head, Mr Cracknell, said: "Wow. I just don’t have the words for what this means for the boys, our school and our PE department. Having another chance to compete at a national final against some of the most prestigious schools in the country is such a great opportunity for these boys. The team once again showed the height of professionalism and if they had any nerves beforehand these were not visible to myself or my colleagues. Our school aims to support all its students as best we can in whatever sporting endeavours they take part in, and competing against the resources of some of the country’s top independent schools is always difficult. However, we will always make sure our voices are as loud as any other to cheer our students on. I would like to thank the PE department and Mr Smith who have help organise our school's participation in this event and most of all thank the boys. You have done yourselves, the school and St Albans proud."

Verulam School - UKMT Senior Team Challenge

On Thursday 20 November, Matthew, Dominic, Jack and Joseph competed in the UKMT team challenge against 17 other Hertfordshire schools. This is always an extremely tough competition and the commitment shown by our students both before the event, in practising as a team, and during the challenge was outstanding, resulting in being awarded 4th place; a fantastic achievement.

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - Stars of the Week

Each week we like to celebrate our young pupils by awarding them 'Star of the Week' status.  This is just a snapshot of one of our weeks stars' and their achievements.

Nursery, Thomas - For his wonderful enthusiasm in everything he does 

Reception, Luna - For her increasing confidence, and her wonderful use of the ‘invisible words’ cards in child initiated learning.

Year 1, William - For always being a wonderful role model and for his outstanding knowledge and interest in the Year 1 Geography topic on weather.

Year 2, Vivi - For her fantastic growth mindset and giving the ‘tricky challenges’ a go!

Year 3, Maria - For her fabulous progress in English and Maths, along with her natural kindness towards others.

Year 4, Tom - For his ever-increasing determination to write as well as his infectious sense of humour.

Year 5, Ava - For her determination across all areas of learning, including the determination shown in the netball match against the Girls’ High School.

Year 6, Jessica - For her level of focus and progress across the breadth of the curriculum, as well as positive contributions to extra-curricular activities such as Pottery Club.

Sandringham School - Outstanding D&T Teacher

Our brilliant D&T teacher, Ms Barrow, recently won the ‘James Dyson Foundation Excellence Award Recognising an Outstanding D&T Teacher’. This is a thoroughly deserved achievement which recognises what an inspirational teacher she is and how much she gives not only to Sandringham, but to other schools and teachers too.

Tony Ryan, CEO of the Design and Technology Association, said of her, “Trudi Barrow is to be congratulated on her well-deserved award and celebrated for going above and beyond what might be expected her contributions to supporting the subject of design and technology.  We know that employers across the advanced manufacturing and creative industries are already concerned about the real shortage of engineers and designers, and we need more people like Trudi to inspire future generations of young people.”

Amazing work Ms Barrow! 

Garden Fields JMI School - Rugby

Theo began playing rugby for St Albans rugby club in September and in October played in his first tournament, winning the under 8’s festival! What a great start!

Congratulations Theo. Enjoy your rugby!

Wheatfields Junior School - Reading Challenge

Over the summer all Hertfordshire libraries ran a reading challenge called 'The Gadgeteers'. There was a prize draw in each of the Hertfordshire libraries. We were really delighted to hear that Lydia in Year 4’s name was drawn as the winner for Marshalswick library! She was invited to a special event with each of the winners across Hertfordshire to meet the author Iona Rangeley. Iona spent time talking to the children about how she became an author and then talked about her book 'Einstein the Penguin'. At the end of the event Lydia was presented with her own signed copy of the book. Well done Lydia!

Garden Fields JMI School - Table Tennis Tournament

Congratulations to all of the children who participated in this week’s St Albans and District table tennis tournament. For the second year running we came back with ‘silverware’ with the boys winning their half of the tournament. They will now represent the district at the county finals.

Wheatfields Infants' & Nursery School - St Albans District Schools in Bloom Competition

Results from the judging that took place in July last year were announced at the beginning of term, and we are delighted to report that we were runners up in two categories, ‘Super Sunflower’ and ‘Water Wildlife’. Mr Evans and Miss Cockburn together with Petar and Andrew received the awards at a special ceremony at St Albans District Council Offices. The certificates are now proudly on show in the entrance hall.

Wheatfields Junior School - Charity fundraising for BLISS

We were so proud of the fantastic fundraising that Eloise and Joshua in Year 4 have been doing on behalf of the premature baby charity Bliss, for babies born prematurely or sick.

Eloise and Joshua organised a Halloween themed cake sale for Bliss. They prepared posters to advertise the event, baked cakes and biscuits and helped prepare the stall and decorate the driveway. For two hours they then served all their customers bagging up cakes and taking money, working out the change and serving all their customers politely.

They were very successful and the event raised over £600 which takes the total raised by the children and their family to over £13,000, well on the way to meeting their target of raising £18,000 by the time the children are 18. They were very proud that they could do something to give back and help others. Congratulations to them!

Ridgeway Academy - Rugby

I play for Welwyn Rugby Club under 16 girls’ group. We played a match on the 9 October and our team won 8-2.  Every match a girl is chosen by the coaches that they think has made good effort and contribution to the game and for this match I was chosen. I got the team mascot for a week to look after.                                       By Honey A, Yr 10