Welcome to our Autumn 2023 edition of the AAT Newsletter.

The purpose of our Newsletter is to highlight some of the very many activities and achievements of children and staff from across our seven schools. It is not possible to mention everything – there is simply too much going on, however this will give you a flavour for what has been happening in the AAT this term, and how we celebrate the successes of our young people.

I would like to say a massive thank you to all the staff across our schools for working so hard this term, and helping children succeed. It has been very busy, particularly the lead up to Christmas and everyone needs a well-earned break. I would also like to thank the senior leaders, and headteachers for continuing to lead our schools so effectively, and for generating incredibly positive environments for learning.

Garden Fields JMI welcomed their new Headteacher, Mr. Paul Sutton who has quickly settled into his new role. We also welcomed Mrs. Michele Geddes as Director of Education to the Trust. Michele has already influenced the standards in all our schools with her expert understanding of what constitutes high-quality learning for all.

Next term we look forward to our annual Trust Conference for all staff, taking place on Thursday 15th February 2024. This provides an opportunity for us to reflect on issues that are common to all our schools, and for 2024 will focus on the Disadvantaged children. I am sure this will be a wonderful event that further cements our collaborative approach to working and builds on those important networks across the Trust.

I hope you enjoy the read and have a wonderful Christmas holiday.

Alan Gray


Awards & Achievements

Garden Fields JMI School - Acro Troupe

I just wanted to let you know how proud I am of our Acro Troupe which consists of Year 6 Gardenfields students ( and ex students too) who performed at the prestigious His Majesty's Theatre in London's West End on Sunday 19th November. The girls have been working hard on two routines and a finale number. I am so proud of their commitment, kindness and teamwork- and of course their talents! They were incredible onstage and off! They danced alongside six other theatre schools from across the country. Well done to Matilda, Isabella, Marni, Emelia, Millie H, Norah, and Poppy.

Sandringham School - Police Cadet

A huge congratulations as well to Kelsi W in Year 10 who has completed 3 rounds of difficult trials to be selected as a fully established police cadet. This is a huge step towards the career path that Kelsi would like and it takes immense dedication and hard work so we are incredibly proud of her. Responsibilities will now include parades, among other things, and we are very much looking forward to Kelsi sharing her experience with younger students in school to help inspire the next generation of cadets. Well done Cadet VPC Kelsi!

Verulam School -Rugby

Well done to the Y11 Rugby team (including a few Y10s) who finished 3rd in the Herts Rugby League Tournament

Ridgeway Academy - Cross Country

Students from Ridgeway Academy have been focussing on cross-country running. They were taught valuable skills such as pacing themselves and setting personal targets. Students have been striving to improve and surpass their individual goals.

The culmination of this activity saw students choosing a course to run from five options and challenging themselves to beat their target.

We are impressed by their determination and commitment to personal growth.

Garden Fields JMI School - Dance

A bit about my dance life….by Matilda (Osprey)

Through the summer I went to several dance camps that were awesome, I also attended an audition for the St.Albans pantomime. My Sister, Scarlett, attended as well with her friends. We learned a dance and repeated it over and over in groups. They then chose those who they wanted in the pantomime. Luckily, Scarlett, Eliza, Gaby and myself were selected. I also attended a competition in Essex and had to stay over night in a hotel. My dance teacher, Miss Sara also came to the competition. After I performed I watched the other 14 contestants. Watching them made me feel I had not performed well - seeing flexibility and tricks they were doing. However I still found the courage to go back on to the stage and perform again. The most exciting news is that I am ready to go ‘en-point’. I have had to work hard at strengthening my ankles to ensure I am strong enough. I am going to London in a couple of weeks to buy my first ‘pointe’ shoes.

Sandringham School - Underwater Hockey

Another Sandringham student who continues to impress us with her vast array of talents is Lauren P in Year 12.  Lauren competed in the national adult underwater hockey competition in Sheffield. She was the only female and the youngest player in her team, yet still managed to be their top goal scorer!

Playing against lots of teams from all over the United Kingdom they managed to be placed 6th and Lauren was also voted most valuable team member by the rest of her squad.

What a fantastic achievement Lauren. We are super proud of you.

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - Blue Peter Badges Award

Congratulations to James and his younger brother William, who were both presented with a Blue Peter badge after applying through two fabulous letters and wonderful poems. James was inspired by the book ‘Fly, Eagle Fly’ and included a magnificent drawing of an eagle to go alongside his poem. Oliver wrote an imaginative poem about the colour ‘Blue’ and included a series of illustrations in his letter; the highlight being a superbly detailed picture of a Blue Peter badge! The Two poems are featured below;

Blue is…

Blue is the big, great sky,

Fast camouflaged dolphins,

Shiny bright highlighters,

Wet slimy fish.

Floating bouncy balloons,

Salty sea water,

Tasty raspberry prime.

Splashy, lovely swimming pool,

Shiny Blue Peter badge,

That’s what blue is to me.



Fly, Eagle, Fly

The king of the sky, Gliding in the heat.

As the light glimmers on the shimmering water

The eagle rose.

He is free.

Free forever,

Free for life,

Free to fly.

Soaring away,

He masters the air,

He is king,

Flying into the night sky.



Verulam School - Table Tennis

A huge congratulations to our Year 8 boys who came3rd at the County Table Tennis Championships.

Well done boys, a great achievement against some amazing opposition from across Hertfordshire

Verulam School - Judo

Well done to George R who gained a silver medal in the British Judo Championships for his weight class & age!

A great achievement, congrats from us all!

Garden Fields JMI School - Football

The A team played its second league game just after the half term break, away at Fleetville. The final score was 6-1 to GFS but it was not the easy win that the scoreline suggests. Our team started well, scoring first (Thomas), but Fleetville came back strongly and we needed Cameron in goal to make several big saves. Ollie added a second before halftime but after the break, the game was very close. Fleetville got the next goal but Garden Fields pulled away in the final minutes with goals from Rasmus (2), Thomas and Kai. Another great performance.

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - AI app

Arth, one of our Year 5 pupils, has been working incredibly hard on an amazing AI initiative over the summer break. Arth has always enjoyed IT and is fascinated by the possibilities of using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to support learning within the school. Over the summer, Arth has been working on an App to enrich the current geography study on Brazil. He modelled his App to Mr Bridle and our IT technician, Jon, from the AAT. We are currently looking at ways to safely transfer the App onto our hardware in the hope that the Year 5 class can all benefit from Arth’s ambitious initiative. Well done Arth, we have been blown away by your technology skills and you should be extremely proud of your achievement!

Wheatfields Junior School - Achievements outside of School

We are always really pleased to share news of children’s achievements out of school. Well done to Eloise and Keira in Year 5 who took part in a dance competition in Aylesbury. The girls, as part of their dance competition squad, won 1st place in the Junior Lyrical Group with their performance of “Wonderland” .

Congratulations to Charlie in Year 6 who proudly shared a trophy in Celebration Assembly which he earned in a race when he finished 10th out of ninety eight 9-15yr olds in Cambridge.

Jake in Year 5 had the exciting opportunity of proudly stepping out as the Everton mascot in their recent premiere league game against Luton!

Well done to Sohan in Year 5, who got successfully got through area cricket trials and has been selected to represent Hertfordshire North Area.

Wheatfields Junior School - Leadership Roles

We have been delighted by the number of children across the school who have put themselves forward to take on an aspect of leadership in our school.

Our School Council for 2023/24 is made up of 

Year 6: Hazel, Flynn and Alara

Year 5: Joshua, Zack and Will

Year 4: Alfie, Joshua and Jude

Year 3: Andrew, Tom, and Jake


Our Eco- Warriors for 2023/24 are

Year 6 -Charlotte, Max, Fox and Sheadon

Year 5 - Mihika, Annabel, Joan, Alby and Tommy

Year 4 - Lily, Millie, Spencer, Lucy, Clarrie and Alexander

Year 3 - Oliver, Daisy, Teddy, Etta and Lucas

We were also delighted to announce that Alice, Thomas, Ella, Sean, Anya and Ben are our Sports Ambassadors for this year.

Congratulations to everyone!

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - Table Tennis

Our table-tennis team did the school proud in the district tabletennis competition, held at Verulam School earlier this month. The boys came top out of six teams, with Matty winning all four games and Oliver rising to the challenge of being our top seeded player and coming up against the top seeds from our rival schools. The girls played well against tough opposition to finish fourth in their group, with Annabel D finishing as the top points scorer for our girls’ team. The boys’ success means that they will now move forward to represent St Albans’ schools in the Herts County Tournament.

Sandringham School - Netball

We were super proud of our amazing squads who took part in the Anne Miles County Tournament at the beginning of October. The U16s finished shield runners up - 6th in the county! We are extremely proud to coach such talented, hard working and supportive young people. Fantastic performances from Mia O & Hannah G but POT goes to Millie W for outstanding defending!

Our U19 finished Cup runners up - 2nd in the county! They won the hearts of the tournament with their semi-final performance demonstrating belief, determination and outstanding teamwork. They move on to represent Sandringham at regionals - POT - Maddie B. 


Wheatfields Junior School - PGL trip

At the beginning of term 89 children from Year 6 headed off on a 5 day residential trip to PGL at Caythorpe Court in Lincolnshire. We were so proud of all of the children for really challenging themselves and taking themselves out of their comfort zones in both the activities and in being away from home, as well as for how they looked out for and supported each other throughout the week. They really were a pleasure to spend time with.  A big thank you to all the members of staff who were involved in the trip, without whom we would not be able to offer these sorts of experiences to the children.

Ridgeway Academy - Remembrance Service

Thank you to Marion Brown (Deputy Lieutenant), Pankit Shah (Mayor of Welwyn & Hatfield), FS Arwen Adriaans (Mayor’s cadet), PC Anne Lopez and Piper Stephen Marshall for attending as our guest of honour at our annual Remembrance Service.

Remembrance honours those who serve to defend our democratic freedoms and way of life. We unite across faiths, cultures and backgrounds to remember the service and sacrifice of the Armed Forces community from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. We remember the sacrifice of the Armed Forces community from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. We pay tribute to the special contribution of families and of the emergency services. We acknowledge innocent civilians who have lost their lives in conflict and acts of terrorism.

Well done and thank you to the cadets who led our parade.

Mrs S Mitcherson Headteacher

Sandringham School - Remembrance Service

On Friday 9 November we held our annual Remembrance Service for the whole school. This built on the main assemblies this week led my Mr Leat, considering the role of music in Remembrance.  Thank you Mr Leat for very inspiring assemblies and to the students who performed in them. The Remembrance Service was held on the tennis courts and included various students who were representing their groups such as Scouts, Guides and Cadets. We also had the last post played by Jason C in Year 13 and the Brass Ensemble performing an arrangement of ‘Abide With Me’ . Thank you to Mr Bloomfield and Oscar S for the photographs and our entire community for taking part and showing so much respect during the service. 

Verulam School - Wizard of Oz production

Verulam School Creative Arts Faculty are proud to be bringing another Christmas classic to our stage, ‘The Wizard of Oz’. We have such a broad range of talent at the school which made the decision to mount such a famous and challenging show quite an easy one. 

It is very usual for Year 7s, who have just arrived at the school, to have them play minor or supporting roles to develop confidence. But when Archie H came into the audition and sang ‘Over The Rainbow’ not only note perfect, but with beautiful character, there was only one choice to make. He has worked so hard, and is a complete natural. His acting talents are also superb.

One of the things I have been very impressed with Verulam students is their commitment to things they want to do. So getting the cast to turn up is no problem. And when there, they show patience and resilience. The nature of the show means there is a lot of hanging around and waiting, but there is never a complaint. 

This show also launched our new lighting rig which was installed in October. The new lights are very impressive and allow us to do an endless amount of effects and colour schemes that will really give the land of Oz a special feel. And we had an exciting way to show the Yellow Brick Road.

We were also able to bring back a live band to the production under the leadership of Dr Imanishi who has settled into the Music department with enthusiasm and gusto. Staging a musical is a huge feat and it is thanks to Dr Imanishi that the students had the confidence to deliver. Sets and design have been achieved with ingenuity by Mrs Tomlin and Mr Phillips who have really out done themselves under pressure to ensure the show was the amazing success it deserves to be.

As ever, thanks to the support from Miss Richardson and school leadership, as well as all staff who stepped up to help in any way. And to those who came along and sang along with these classic songs and were hopefully reminded of their own childhood.

As the movie says, this is a story for the young at heart, regardless of age.

Verulam School - Remembrance Service

The entire school gathered together for Remembrance Day to remember the victims of not only the two World Wars but also every conflict around the world

Verulam School - Cantonese Parents Evening

On October 5th we hosted a practical workshop and information evening tailored specifically for Cantonese parents. It was a great opportunity to connect, share valuable insights and foster a sense of community.

The workshop, provided an insightful overview of how we test and support the growth of their boys at our School. We introduced parents to Parallel reading, a unique approach that bridges both languages. The storybooks are written in Cantonese with English text, and aim to create an enriching Linguistic experience for their children. It was a pleasure sharing this engaging method, fostering bilingual development and the love of literature.

As a School, our commitment remains unwavering in supporting and breaking down learning barriers. We're excited about the prospect of more engaging events in the future, fostering a collaborative and enriching educational environment for all. Here's to continued growth and success together!

Ms Naji

Curriculum News

Wheatfields infants' & Nursery School - Nursery Art

 Children from Wheatfields Infants' had fun drawing and making animal face masks.

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - English

Our Year 2 children have been writing some fabulous poems and will look forward to reciting them to each other as part of National Poetry Day. The children used chronological structure to support their writing. Some of the children wrote about the days of the week, whilst others chose to write about the seasons.

Wheatfields Junior School - PE

Our first football game of the year saw the Year 6 girls' team take on Bernards Heath Junior School at home. After going 1-0 down in the first half, the girls fought back and with two goals from Isla, they secured a 2-1 victory showing amazing team work and perseverance for their first game together. A great start to the season!

We also saw the start of the cross-country season, and with Year 6 away at PGL, twelve Year 5 pupils got the opportunity to experience it for the first time running up against a field of Year 6. They all did themselves incredibly proud on a slightly slippery surface where they all kept their feet and their heads. Well done to all who took part.

Wheatfields Infants' & Nursery School - History

At the beginning of November children in Year 1 enjoyed a visit to the British School Museum in Hitchin. They experienced a lesson that was delivered by a Victorian Teacher and it is safe to say that they were very surprised at the level of discipline that Victorian children were subject to ! The children were fascinated by the Victorian toys, including the yoyos and kaleidoscopes and they applied their scientific knowledge of materials when comparing them to modern toys. Many of the children commented on how cold it was in the classroom and how hard the benches were to sit on. It made them really appreciate their own modern classroom when they returned to school.

Verulam School - Computing Science Competition

Verulam pupils recently took part in the The Bebras Computing Challenge which introduces computational thinking to students. It is organised in over 60 countries and designed to get students all over the world excited about computing. Last November over 365,000 students took part in the UK, and over 3 million worldwide.The top performing students will be invited to the next round of challenges hosted by Oxford University.

We opened this competition to as many students as we could, taking place during during Computing / Computer Science lessons.  All Year 7, 8 and 9 students participated in this challenge along with pupils in Yr 10, 12 and 13 who take Computer Science.

We are delighted with the Results:

Junior Competition (Year 7) – 117,481 students who participated nationally. At Verulam we had 28 students achieving a Merit certificate and 30 students achieving a Distinction certificate. Congratulations to Thomas B who was Best in School.

Intermediate Competition (Year 8 & 9) – 209,745 students who participated nationally. At Verulam we had 69 students achieving a Merit certificate and 71 students achieving a Distinction certificate. Congratulations to Thomas W who was Best in School.

Seniors Challenge (Year 10 & 11) –  38,413 students who participated nationally.  At Verulam we had 24 students achieving a Merit certificate and 23 students achieving a Distinction certificate. Congratulations to Jacky P who was Best in School.

Elite Challenge (Year 12 & 13) –12,881 students who participated nationally,  At Verulam we had 6 students achieving a Merit certificate and 6 students achieving a Distinction certificate. Congratulations to Alexander S who was Best in School.

The Oxford University Challenge

The top 10% nationally get invited to take part in the next round of this competition hosted by Oxford University. 54 Verulam students have made the cut this year. This round will take place at the end of January and I look forward to updating you their progress in the next newsletter.

Mr. P Schalker

Head of Computer Science

Sandringham School - Music

After half term, the Music Faculty held their Autumn Soiree of thirteen different performances covering a wide variety of genres of music, including Reggae, Irish dance, Jazz, pop, Classical and Rock. It was great seeing new Year 7 students involved for the first time, enjoying performing on a professional stage alongside their elder peers.

Thank you so much to Ms Stothard and the Music Faculty for delivering the Soiree and well done to the large number of musicians for performing so expertly, and with such enthusiasm

Ridgeway Academy - Art

In October we launched a competition in the Art Department for KS3 students to enter. They were tasked with creating a sketchbook title page for their year group. Over 25 pupils entered the competition and we chose three winners.

Their designs will be copied and presented in their year group sketchbooks to introduce the new academic year!

Well done to those who entered and congratulations to Gracie 7M, Lily  8P and Amelia 9L who can be seen below receiving their certificates from the Headteacher.

Miss R Smith Tech / Art Teacher

Verulam School - English/Drama Workshop

Year 7 had a very exciting day on Tuesday 17th October when they worked with the Altru theatre group for an interactive workshop on ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. Every class had an hour in which they revised their understanding of characters, staging and recapped the plot of the play. 

It was fantastic to see the students flourish as they embraced the activities and endeavoured to show the best of their ability and knowledge by developing the freeze frames, character statues and whoosh.

It was clear that they were able to develop confidence and their understanding through Altru’s creative workshop.

Ms J Wilson

English and Drama Department

Wheatfields Junior School - Geography

At the start of this academic year Year 3 took part in their first Geography lesson at Wheatfields Juniors. They took advantage of the fine weather and learnt how to use a compass on the school grounds. First, they identified the ordinal and cardinal points on a compass. They then used these compass directions to describe the location of different features on school grounds. 

Wheatfields Infants' & Nursery School - Art

Year 1 children in Chestnut Class enjoyed taking their art outdoors and making some very dramatic splatter paintings.

Ridgeway Academy - Music

Over the summer the Music Department has moved block and we are very lucky to now have 2 large and lovely classrooms, a music technology suite, 3 practice rooms and a recording studio.

In Year 7 we are learning about the musical elements and have had some fun making some short percussion pieces on the djembe drums. Year 8 have been learning about the history of rap and are now creating their own raps. Year 9 have been learning about Harmony and Tonality and how this affects how music sounds in film. Whilst in Year 10 and 11 we have been doing a mixture of performance, composition and music theory.

Sandringham School - Mathematics UKMT

In October, 40 students from Years 12 and 13 sat the Senior 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. Students that perform well are awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze certificates, with the best performing students being invited to take an additional challenge, including being invited to participate in the British Mathematical Olympiad.

Overall, the school achieved 7 golds, 20 silver and 10 bronze awards.  Congratulations to Chace C, Nico C, Gabriel D, Maxim R, Christy W and Hayden W for achieving gold and qualifying for the Kangaroo follow on round.  Special mention goes to Hayden W for achieving best in Year 13. 

Special congratulations to Will M as well in Year 12 who scored full marks in the challenge and achieved best in school.  Will qualifies for the First Round of the British Mathematical Olympiad.

Congratulations to all students who took part

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - RE

Our Year 1 pupils recently enjoyed their trip to the Islamic Centre, which was linked to their current R.E. topic on Places of Worship. The children found out about the role of the Imam, the importance of washing before worship, and also learnt about the importance of Muslim prayer. They were given an informative tour of the centre, finding out about its many functions and asking some thoughtful questions.

The children were an absolute credit to the school and clearly enjoyed their trip.

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - History

All of our Year 2 children have joined in with the ‘Shine a Light’ art competition run by the St. Albans museum. The children’s artwork was linked to their History topic on ‘Florence Nightingale’ as she was known as ‘The Lady of the Lamp’. Florence would walk through Scutari hospital during the Crimean war holding a lamp to light her way as she checked on the injured soldiers. The three wonderful pictures below were created by Oliver, Elliot and Elsie. We are hoping that our designs will be included in a Shine a Light trail later this year organised by the museum. Light will also feature in some key learning about religious festivals after half term. Every child will make a special diva lamp in celebration of Diwali and we will also be producing a giant advent calendar to help us find out about Christmas Around the World, and celebrating the festival of Hannukah.

Garden Fields JMI School - History

Year 5 went to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. We visited to learn more about our topic, ‘The Shang Dynasty’. This was a Chinese era around 1600BCE - 1046BCE. The museum was huge with very high ceilings. We enjoyed a workshop by an expert from the museum. There were many artefacts to enjoy, including oracle bones, ceremonial structures, jade objects, bronze bells and many more fascinating things! In our classes, we learnt a song in Mandarin about making friends. One of our favourite parts was handling artefacts such as silk cocoons, bronze axe heads and a seal made from jade! After our lunch, we got to enjoy the museum a little more. We explored other parts of the museum such as the Victorian era, Ancient Greece, Islamic Middle-East and Ancient India. It was a great day out - we were all exhausted when we got back on the coach. We rate the trip 10/10!

By Max A, Nicholas , Noah

Wellbeing & Community

Wheatfields Infants' & Nursery School - Diwali

We would like to say thank you to Mr Kunal Bandekar who shared with Reception how he and his family celebrate Diwali. Thank you also to Mrs Manjeet Ohri for visiting. The children enjoyed watching their peers re-enact the story Rama and Sita, which is the story behind why some Hindus celebrate Diwali.

Talia said "Diwali is the festival of lights, they make rangoli patterns outside their door and light up the house."

Thomas said "The bad one had ten heads but he was bad and he lost."

Verulam School - Primary Visit

Well done to these 4 ambassadors who delivered an assembly talk at their old primary school in October.  They discussed their experiences to date and answered a host of great questions.

Amazing work!

Wheatfields Infant's and Nursery School - Carols

On Monday 4 December the Children from Year 2 walked to the Quadrant and sang Christmas Carols outside of St Mary’s Church raising money for the St Francis Hospice.

Also the same week, we were pleased to welcome 3 local church members to school. Kate and Dilys from St Mary’s and Darren from the Baptist Church talked to the children in Year 2 about being a Christian at Christmas and what it means to them.

Verulam School - Diwali

As a non-faith inclusive school, Verulam recognises and celebrates festivals and events from different religious traditions. This half term saw two festivals of light: Diwali and Hanukkah. Diwali is a festival of light celebrated primarily by believers of Hinduism but also some followers of the eastern Dharmic religions Jainism and Sikhism. Each religion marks different historical events and stories. Diwali takes place over five days; this year from 10 November to 14 November with the main day of celebration on Sunday 12 November.

Diwali is a festival of new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. Hindus celebrate the return of deities Rama and Sita to Ayodhya after their 14-year exile. They also celebrate the day Mother Goddess Durga destroyed a demon called Mahisha.

Sikhs particularly celebrate the release from prison of the sixth guru Hargobind Singh in 1619. But Sikhs celebrated the festival before this date. The foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar, the most holy place in the Sikh world, was laid on Diwali in 1577.

The founder of Jainism is Lord Mahavira. During Diwali, Jains celebrate the moment he reached a state called Moksha (nirvana, or eternal bliss).

All students across the school received an assembly about Diwali from Ms Hart. On Friday 10th November some members of staff celebrated Diwali by dressing in traditional clothing and sharing traditional foods.

The school community looks forward to celebrating many more religious festivals this academic year.

Best wishes for the festive season,

Miss L Nicholls

Director of Social Sciences, Ethics & Philosophy

Ridgeway Academy - Diabetes Charity Fundraising

To celebrate the 100th Year Anniversary of the discovery of insulin treatment for type 1 diabetes, Ridgeway held a "type onesie day" where students paid £1 to come to school in a onesie or mufty with an item of blue clothing.

A total of £592.10 was raised.

Garden Fields JMI School - Litter

The school has taken a phone call from a local resident, who felt the need to call us to praise Grace in Medway class for her community spirit as she noticed her collecting litter on her way into school. She said she does not know Grace but was really pleased with her attitude.

Well done, Grace, for demonstrating this act of kindness in the local community

Sandringham School - Volunteering Programme

This term, we are delighted that over 70 of our Year 12 students have joined our volunteering programme. By the end of the year, these Sixth Form students will have collectively given 3,000 hours for free to help others. Sandringham School’s established volunteering scheme helps our students build their confidence, acquire skills and make new friends while giving back to our community.

Our placements are based in local primary schools in our trust, KS3 lessons at Sandringham or our school’s Wildlife Garden. The volunteers’ responsibilities so far have included hearing pupils read, supporting students with their learning in lessons and even building a compost bin.

Thank you so much to all our volunteers for all their effort so far.

Sandringham School - Fundraising for Partner School

Following a sixth form visit to our partner school in Farafenni, we had been fundraising to get chairs for their school hall, as they were spending money to rent them out. We were also fundraising so that they could get exam desks. When the students sat their trials and formal exams, the rest of the school would close as the desks from the classrooms were being moved from the classrooms, meaning there was nowhere for other students to work.

At the beginning of November we received an update from the school to say that they have been able to buy 225 chairs and get the materials for the students to make 225 in their design lessons.

This has meant that the school is able to remain open during the Year 11 trials, which you can see pictured here. From both myself and Farafenni Senior Secondary High School, we would like to say a massive thank you to all of the staff, students and families that supported us in our fundraising. The impact that you have made is huge.

Garden Fields JMI School - Bake Sale

Anya and Marisa (Y5, Moorhen) with help from their sisters, Isla (Y3, Lea) and Elena (Y2, Pine) ran a hugely successful bake sale at the beginning of term to raise money for charity. They baked lots of cakes and, due to the rain on the Sunday afternoon, they advertised to local neighbours and classmates via WhatsApp, offering a delivery service.

The cakes sold out and the girls raised an amazing £200, which they are going to split between Garden Fields and the DEC committee to help with the awful flood situation in Libya.

This act of kindness reflects the school’s values.

Well done girls.

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - Advent Calendar

This year Skyswood Primary School have enjoyed opening their huge ‘Christmas Around the World’ Advent Calendar during assemblies on each day of the month. The calendar, which covers an area of approximately twelve square metres, features Christmas traditions from twenty-five different countries . Each window opens to reveal a relevant object, a national flag and a short text summary of Christmas in that particular country. The calendar has been made ‘bespoke’ to Skyswood, with many children and families contributing information and resources to really bring each window to life! The countries are then located on a large world map. Two windows are opened every Monday and Friday in order to cover weekend dates. The calendar will reach its finale with a six-window opening on the final day of term.

Skywsood Primary & Nursery School - Penpal Partnerships

Following on from the period of lockdown when around fifty of our pupils were set up as pen-pals with older people linked to St Mary’s Church, the Marshalswick Baptist Church, and residents of Park View House, we have continued to build our links and our upper juniors have performed carol concerts at St Mary’s and Park View as a result of this initiative.

We are now looking to re-ignite the pen-pal scheme and around forty children from years 5 and 6 have put themselves forward. Tara’s Retreat in Sandridge have also come forward to build a partnership with the school and we hope that all of our upper juniors who wish to be involved with be paired up with a pen-pal by the end of term.

Ten children have already been partnered up with residents at Tara’s Retreat, based on a profile of common interests and hobbies. Our aim is for the children to regularly write and receive letters (maybe once a month) and for us to forge stronger links with Tara’s Retreat, St Mary’s Church and Park View. 

Wheatfields Junior School - Ambassador Training Day

After October half term Year 6 Sports Ambassadors went to the University of Hertfordshire to take part in the annual Ambassador Training Day.

Ella, Shaun, Thomas B, Alice, Anya and Ben took part in a day of fun activities learning how to promote sport in our school.

We look forward to implementing their ideas this year.

Garden Fields - Mayoral Visit

The Right Worshipful the Mayor of the City and District of St. Albans. 

The school welcomed the Mayor, Councillor Rowlands,  to an assembly on Monday 27 November.  He explained to our KS2 children what the position of Mayor is about and the types of events that he attends. 

The Mayor is the representative of His Majesty The King for the City and District and the elected Mayor becomes First Citizen.  The First Mayor of St Albans was John Lockey in 1553, Councillor Anthony Rowlands  is 479th Mayor of the City and District of St Albans. 

The City is  St Albans  and  the District is  Harpenden, London Colney,  Colney Heath,  Park Street, Bricket Wood, Redbourn and Wheathampstead. 

For asking such a good question, Samuel (Y6 Nightingale), was allowed to put on the official robes and chain.

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - Community Afternoon

We held a Community Afternoon on Sunday 12th November and invited some of our elderly neighbours into Skyswood for a social afternoon to enjoy a range of activities. A range of activities were be set up in the library area, classrooms and school hall. These included craft activities, quiet activities (such as board games), and table tennis. It was an informal afternoon and visitors were free to choose and swap between activities.

The theme for the St Albans Mayor this year is also linked to developing inter-generational partnerships and our current Mayor, Mr Anthony Rowlands, also accepted an invite to come along and join us on the day. 

Sandringham School - Peace Doves

We have been delighted to work with all of our KS3 students to contribute to the ‘Peace Doves’ installation which will be exhibited at St Albans Cathedral in the New Year. We delivered over 700 completed doves back to the Cathedral at the weekend and they were extremely pleased to receive our contributions.  Each completed dove contained a message of peace, love and hope, written by each of our students and it was an opportunity to reflect upon their thoughts and feelings at this time. 'Peace Doves' is a large-scale art installation by Sculptor Peter Walker, featuring around 10,000 hanging paper doves on display at St Albans Cathedral from January 3 to February 13, 2024. Lit and set to music by Composer David Harper, the artwork encourages community participation to contribute to the display of hope and peace.


Garden Fields JMI School - Outdoor Learning

Garden Fields has achieved its very own ‘Field of Dream’s’ moment! Our vision was to provide our school community with a therapeutic, green therapy space which could be used all year round. Garden Fields are privileged to have a very large Forest School area, however during lockdown a number of our larger trees became diseased and had to be removed. Whilst this had an impact on the eco system in the area, out of adversity came opportunity for a redevelopment of the space a wider offer for our children.

We wanted to enrich both our use of the site for forest schools during inclement weather and winter months but also further enhance our wellbeing offer for children, staff and our wider community. Our vision for the development of the area included a Yurt as a learning space and wellbeing/forest schools base. The Yurt’s wood burner means that it is cosy even in the coldest days meaning that the forest school space is now utilised all year round.

This is just the first stage of the development, aided greatly by the donations from the PTA who paid for the Yurt and the Alban Academies Trust who supported us with necessary tree works on the site.

Sandringham School - Wildlife Garden

We are delighted with the progress we are making on Sandringham School’s Wildlife Garden as part of our school’s sustainability efforts. Last summer term, lots of students volunteered to help revamp our garden and we now have a beautiful gravel circle seating area thanks to donations from Ayletts Nurseries and Carpenters. There are also now picnic benches for students to sit at and a newly painted storage shed. This year, we have lots of ambitions to renovate the garden including raised beds and creating a small orchard with donations of Fo$$. Improving this space will enable more outdoor learning for our students about sustainability and gardening.

Skyswood Primary & Nursery School - Eco Group

We are delighted to announce the formation of the School Eco-Group. Over the past couple of years we have raised the profile of our outdoor learning environment with recent play equipment in Key Stage 1 and the development of our school pond last year. We are now eager to take this a step further; The Eco-Group will be looking at ways to further increase bio-diversity within the school grounds and will be leading a dead-hedging project later this term. The group met with Esme Staunton-Howe (Wildlife Trust) earlier this week to share some ideas. Miss Branagan will lead the group and the intention is to meet at least once every half-term and focus on projects that will enable us to maximise the use of our outdoor learning environment as well as becoming more eco-friendly. Congratulations to Joshua, Annabel E, Elliott, Matty, Daniel, Shraddha, Maxwell J-C and Filip for their successful applications to join our Skyswood Eco Group.

Ridgeway Academy - Installation of Solar Panels

Having engaged with Earthpoints and following structural surveys, DNO applications and planning permission requests, the first systems were installed at Ridgeway Academy in November.  A total of 441 panels are being installed on site with an overall capacity of 187.43 kWp. 

The CO2 saving will be 31.91 t and we are estimating first year energy savings to be around £8000. Ridgeway are now generating their own electricity helping towards our carbon reduction and also to save money on our energy bills.

AAT working together

Ridgeway Academy - Autumn Conference

Ridgeway staff have been very busy working on their curriculum planning and developing the core learning for every lesson. This will ensure that all students are focused on securing the most important knowledge and skills for their educational journey. Subject Leaders participated in a Autumn conference with guest speakers Michele Geddes, the AAT Director of Education, Salma Riley-Haque, Deputy Headteacher Adeyfield Academy and Katie Wills from Sandringham.

It was a great chance to spend some time discussing the subject journey’s we want our young people to explore. We have also had further staff training on ensuring all learners, especially under served learners, achieve their potential and have high aspirations for their future studies and employment.

AAT Trustee Visit to Primary Schools

The focus of the visits this term was to gather information about each school’s current development priorities and see in action some of the great work being undertaken to ensure that the curriculum is being effectively adapted to meet the needs of all learners. At Garden Fields pupils were observed receiving some high quality phonics teaching. At Wheatfields Infants’ and Nursery School pupils were being supported to develop their reading and writing skills through a range of carefully scaffolded activities. At Wheatfields Junior School pupils were observed in Maths lessons. Teachers’ expectations were high but pupils were successful in their learning due to the adaptations in place for them. At Skyswood trustees learnt more about the school’s work to embed curriculum drivers. Pupils were fully engaged in their learning across a range of different subjects.

What a great opportunity for trustees to see some of the impact of this valuable work to ensure adaptive practice is embedded in our schools.

Michele Geddes, Director of Education.