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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 30

Relationships and airships

This weekend sees the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Like me, many of you may be watching their big day and enjoying all the pomp and ceremony of the event.

I hope that their relationship is one that lasts and as a new royal couple they build strong relationships with the public.

Managing relationships is a key part of our role in schools, whether that is a friendship fallout, boyfriend versus girlfriend or even helping our students to appreciate that their parents aren’t the enemy… just being caring and protective!

Eleven to sixteen are certainly interesting ages and our role is to support our students through their physical, emotional and moral development through these years, helping them to learn to respect themselves and others.

What is special about secondary education is that your sons and daughters join us as children and leave as young people who will hopefully go on to live confident, healthy and successful lives, be that independently or part of a happy couple.

As Harry and Meghan walk down the aisle, I fondly remember my own wedding day – not quite Windsor Castle, but just as much fun! I know that marriage isn’t for everyone, but what we ensure our students do know is the importance of a strong, mutually supportive relationship. Whilst family can mean many different things to each of our students, the definition of family will always include care, love and respect.

At Kingsway, we have a mantra “It’s good to talk” and encourage our students to talk to any member of staff if they are worried about their relationships with others in school or outside. If you have any concerns about your child’s feelings, please get in touch with their Pastoral Head of Year or Form Tutor.

From relationships to airships… On Friday, The Kingsway School was Joined by Iain Grant, Head of Sales for the Pacific Region of Airbus and his father Professor Grant, Professor of Medical Biochemistry at Manchester University.

Iain, an ex student of The Kingsway School, visited us as our latest Partnership Working Industrial link, to chat to a new generation of Kingsway Students about his journey from Kingsway student to this most senior position within the largest aviation company in the world. Iain started at Airbus as an engineer and moved in to sales, he now sells Airbus aeroplanes to airlines in Australia, New Zealand and the beautiful islands of the Pacific. Students were keen to learn from Iain about the range of careers available within Airbus, a growing industry due to the meteoric rise in aviation travel over the next 20 years.

Our students were inspired by his lecture and left feeling far more informed as to where a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths could take them in the future. Last week, our Year 9 students were issued with their option choices for next year; I hope some consider STEM careers for their future. Iain made clear that this pathway can open many doors and like Iain, may result in a career selling $33million aeroplanes!

Our thanks go to Iain - we hope to see Iain again at The Kingsway School very soon.

Finally, school leaders and student leaders joined together last week for a photo in the May sunshine. Unfortunately, Deputy Head Girl Grace O’Shaughnessy missed the photo due to representing the school in the Stockport School’s Athletics Championships, where she won first place in the Javelin. Well done Grace. This week we say goodbye to the class of 2018 student leadership team, who leave on Thursday and I hope their role as senior students will assist them on the next stage of their journey. The new senior leadership team are already stepping in to their shoes and I have every confidence they will be the best team yet!

Our new Student Leadership Team

Have a lovely week everyone


Mrs J. Lowe
Headteacher

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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 29

Crystal clear about Kingsway

Did you have a nice weekend?

I spent a lovely day on Saturday in town with my family enjoying a very late Christmas present! We were all treated to the Crystal Maze experience followed by afternoon tea.

I am thrilled to report that having accepted the mental challenges, I won both crystals for our team. Fortunately for me they were both mathematical puzzles and so I had the skills to solve the puzzle, but found myself flapping trying to solve them under the pressure of (a) time and (b) being humiliated in front of my family peering in from outside the room.

If you’ve not seen the 90’s TV show, the point of the game is to collect as many crystals as you can by undertaking mental, skill or physical challenges. Each challenge takes place in a room and you have 2 minutes to complete the challenge or you get locked in, meaning your team has one less player to collect the golden tokens in the crystal dome at the end of the game. Whilst we didn’t win all our crystals, we kept our team together until the end.

It was great fun and made me think about all the skills that we used in those couple of hours: teamwork, resilience, problem solving, stamina, creative thinking and many more. Skills that we require our students to exhibit each lesson and learning experience.

This is something we are passionate about at Kingsway - not just teaching our students knowledge and facts, but giving them the skills to set them apart in the future. Many skills are developed through wider curriculum opportunities and that is why we encourage all our students to take part in extra-curricular activities such as joining our sports teams, learning to play an instrument or contributing to the school council.

There are many opportunities for students to get involved in the wider life of school and develop the skills that are valued by employers and universities as equally as GCSE grades. This was reinforced to me last week when Frank Robinson, Director of Human Resources, at CDL (a large software provider to the Insurance industry) came to Kingsway. Frank came to discuss ways CDL can support the teaching of Computer Science and ICT to provide students with real-life scenarios the will encounter in industry. We are also looking to run a series of enrichment opportunities to be credited by CDL which will show employers that our students are "work ready" and have the skill set that employers want from their engineers and designers.

Later this week, we are being visited by Iain Grant. Iain is the Vice President of Airbus Pacific and an ex-Kingsway student. He has kindly offered to come and talk to our Science and Technology students and STEM cadets about his experience and the skills he has developed along the way. More information about his visit in next week’s blog.

With schools under continuing financial pressure to make less go further, many are reducing extra curricular opportunities for students as these can often be an expensive cost to school budgets. However, we believe that there are benefits that far outweigh the cost and that is why we continue to invest for example in the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

This past weekend 40 year 10 students, supported by 10 members of staff, undertook their Duke of Edinburgh practise expedition in the Peak District. They were all excited as we made our way to the start location in Whaley Bridge. The students set off with enthusiasm and began to navigate their way around the countryside. ‘It’s a 50/50 chance we’re heading in the right direction’ was the best starting quote I heard. However, as the days progressed students were then able to improve their navigational skills and became much more accurate with their map reading skills... ‘We travel through the middle of two fields, until we reach the third field where we walk along the wall, until we come to a stile..’ (So much better!) Once we arrived at the campsite in Buxton, students dropped their bags and began to pitch tents, with some of them experiencing camping for the first time. Students also cooked their own meals on small stoves and although 2 lots of pasta were thrown across the fields, whilst trying to drain the water, the meals were a success! Students then navigated another 10km on the Saturday to their end location, back in Whaley Bridge.

Throughout the entire experience the students all showed the key attributes of leadership, teamwork, self-motivation, communication, confidence, consideration and the ability to learn - all of which employers are looking for. They were a pleasure to take out on the practise expedition and we’re hoping for the same (if not better) on their assessed expedition in July.

So I am crystal clear about why Kingsway is the best choice for the children in our community - because we care about them, because we teach them lots of stuff and because we help them to grow in to skilled young people, who will impress the best employers in the future.

Just for fun… here’s a problem like the I faced at the Crystal Maze.

By moving just 2 matchsticks can you make these 5 squares into 4?

 

 

 

 

Have a lovely week everyone


Mrs J. Lowe
Headteacher

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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 28

I hope you are all having a lovely bank holiday weekend - the hottest on record, or so the papers say. It has certainly been beautiful in North Wales for me this weekend, hence a brief blog today folks!

It was another busy but successful week at Kingsway last week.

Our Year 10 Geography field visits came to an end on Monday, with the last group of students spending the day in Edale gathering data from rivers. The whole programme has been a huge success with over 200 GCSE Geographers studying the local areas of edale and Salford Quays. Now the fun begins back in the classroom with lots of hypothesising and analysing.

On Tuesday, a group of Year 11 students attended a Hi-5 English & Maths conference at The Village Hotel, Cheadle. Teachers from both departments delivered sessions to support students in achieving a grade 5, the new STRONG PASS. It was hugely successful and students came back feeling more confident about their forthcoming exams and appreciative of the opportunity to address some key learning objectives.

Mrs Thompson (Governor and Trustee) joined Mr O’Shaughnessy (Chair of Governors) and myself for breakfast with our new senior student team early Wednesday morning. The year 10 team Jess (Head Girl), Ethan (Head Boy) and Deputies Youmna, Judy, Hannah, Grace, Owen B, George, Owen F and Meji shared with us their aspirations as senior students to bring about change at The Kingsway School. They had lots of great ideas that they will begin to turn in to reality over the coming months.

After the May half term, the Senior Students will be working in pairs to offer a 'student drop in'. This will take place once a fortnight on both Campuses. With the support from Mrs Maxey (Assistant Headteacher); the drop-in will be a space where students will be able to talk freely about school or other concerns to their senior student team.

Other areas they plan to work on over the year include: Community Partnership; Student Wellbeing and mental health; development of school Rewards system as well as Media and marketing opportunities. The terrific ten are certainly going to be busy but I am confident they will leave a lasting legacy for future generations of Kingsway students.

Mr Hammersley and Ms Khan held interviews were held on Wednesday morning for a new STEM CEO to replace year 11 outgoing CEO, Liam Pollard. Liam has held the role for two years and has done some tremendous work promoting STEM across the school and leading the STEM Industrial Cadet Programme. I am delighted to announce that Dylan O'Sullivan 10C has been successful and has been appointed to this new role. Congratulations Dylan!

Liam and Dylan

Later on Wednesday, Mrs. Angela Rowley of Rowley Projects came into Kingsway in her capacity as our link to our sister school The Kolweny Kingsway in Kenya. Angela has become the Year 9 STEM Industrial Cadet’s client in the Kingsway's latest STEM project with EDT Go4SET. These students will create a project report and develop a design solution to the specification and science and engineering problem that Angela has presented them with, working towards a sustainable water solutions in Partnership with John Crane Engineering.

Finally, just to let you know summer uniform officially starts this week meaning it is now optional for students to wear their jumpers, though blazers are still required. We will of course allow students to remove their blazers in lessons if they wish to do so, but expect them to continue to dress smartly around school. Students are also encouraged to bring a water bottle in to school to keep themselves hydrated.

Have a lovely week everyone.


Mrs J. Lowe
Headteacher

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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 27

Distraction, danger and disputes

I’m sat here writing this blog on a Saturday afternoon in school (at least it’s not sunny outside)! We have opened our Broadway doors for our year 11 students to come and have a quiet place to revise away from distractions.

I’m pleased to say we’ve got quite a few students here today.

As I mentioned last week, the main distraction for me aged 16, was my younger, noisy siblings or wanting to go out with my friends instead of studying at home. But times have changed and by far the biggest distraction our young people face these days is technology.

Whether it be Snapchat on their phones, netflix on their iPads or Fifa 18 on their X-Box, prising our teens from their technology is a constant battle.

Distraction is just one likely harm caused by technology; another is the potential danger that our students are putting themselves in. Social media can be the channel by which our children are subjected to bullying, grooming or radicalisation. It can force children into isolation, cause doubt about their self-image and encourage them to learn about the darker side of adult life much earlier than they should.

I’m not saying technology is all bad! In fact, most of the students in the classroom next to me are working on the school computers completing coursework (last minute lads!) and revising on websites that have been exceptionally well designed to prepare our students for the forthcoming GCSE examinations.

I am aware that technology is moving at a pace, far faster than I can keep up. I wish I was more tech-savvy. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are all vehicles to market our school and celebrate the achievements of our students as well as communicating instantly and effectively with our parents and local community. On this I am making slow progress! Thank goodness for the likes of our younger and better informed staff.

Perhaps you believe we should relax our rule and allow students to have free use of their mobile devices during the school day? Not on my watch! It is not just because I’m a bit of a luddite, but I am committed to protecting our students from the dangers of technology, particularly online bullying during the school day. Unfortunately, I cannot do this when they leave school. I also feel that having access to their mobile devices will be a distraction they don’t need. School is hard work - there’s a lot to learn every lesson, every day and they need to be able to concentrate. The forthcoming exams will total around 33 hours of sitting in silence, concentrating and regurgitating all the knowledge they have accumulated over the last five years.

And of course, there’s the disputes caused between students and staff when they do have their mobile devices out in school. Our rule is simple - students cannot have their phones out from the school gates at the start of the day to the school gates at the end of the day. If a member of staff sees a student with their phone out, it is confiscated and handed to reception where they can collect it at the end of the day.

So how much time should our young people be spending on their digital devices? Noël Janis-Norton, a parenting coach and author of Calmer, Easier, Happier Screen Time, says parents need to set their own guidelines, and wean their children away from screens gradually. “If a young person is in front of a screen for six hours a day, then getting it down to three hours is a huge achievement. I recommend focusing on times of day; for example no screens before school, no screens at mealtimes, no screens at bedtime.”

Easier said than done, I’m sure. But by having a timetabled approach will be better preparing them for many careers, like teaching, where they are unable to have their phone by their side. You may even be brave enough to try a digital de-tox in your family?

If you feel that the school can help you to help your child with any issues caused by technology, please get in touch.

Finally, a few updates from last week:

I had a brilliant day out with the year 10 GCSE Geographers on their field visit to Salford Quays on Thursday. The students were excellent ambassadors for the school and I was really proud to see them approaching members of the public for their views on the regeneration of the Salford area.

On Tuesday, I met with some of our feeder primary headteachers to talk about ways in which we can build on our current transition work with year 5 & 6. We also discussed how I can convey the message to our primary parents that Kingsway has changed for the better since they were students here. Our results continue to improve, and our students successfully progress to some of the best colleges and universities in the country. If you are a parent impressed with what our school has done for your child, please drop me an email (headteacher@kingsway.stockport.sch.uk).

I received an inspiring email last week from a colleague at Loreto sixth form college who advised that they have been participating in a mooting competition with the University of Law over the last couple of months. Mooting is the skill of making a legal argument on a point of law in front of a judge. The final took place in front of a very scary QC who was more than happy to interrupt the advocacy of our students! Loreto was represented by ex-Kingsway students Niamh O’Shaughnessy and Keira Golds who were crowned champions and have won a mini-pupillage at leading Human Rights set Doughty Street Chambers as well as a humungous trophy! Niamh O’Shaughnessy also won the individual prize for the outstanding advocate on the night. Well done girls, you did Kingsway proud!

Niamh O’Shaughnessy and Keira Golds

To top off a great week, on Friday, I popped in to a year 7 boys PE class where they were having their dance lesson. Yes, dance! Under the excellent tutorage of Mr Duffy and Mr Howarth our year 7 boys have all been strutting their stuff to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ and other 80’s hits. See them live below.

Have a great week everyone!


Mrs J. Lowe
Headteacher

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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 26

Here comes the sun?

At last, the long winter is receding.  We’re skipping through spring and the summer is creeping in.

There’s something uplifting about the sun. I love being woken up by the birds, before my alarm clock goes off. I love arriving to work in the daylight and the sun beaming through my office window for most of the day. I love getting home and there’s still enough daylight left to feel that there is a separation between work and bedtime!

The sun brings a positive vibe around the school. Students can play outside at break time, some even enjoy  their lessons outside. This is important - school is hard work. We expect our students to work hard every lesson; letting off steam at break time helps them to burn off that physical energy and recharge their mental energy ready for learning again.

It’s a particularly tough time for our year 11 students whose GCSE examinations have already begun. I sat my GCSEs (O levels then) back in 1983 and I remember it being a really hot summer. I would sit in my bedroom revising whilst my younger siblings ran around the garden having a great time with my dad’s hosepipe. I would glare at them venomously, occasionally shouting my frustrations at them from out of the window (I was a typical moody teenager after all!).

So, I do spare a thought for our year 11 students. The sun isn’t always a welcome friend. We held our “Help your child revise” evening for parents last Thursday on the hottest evening which was sadly not well attended. If you missed it, perhaps due to getting the first barbeque of the year on the go, you will find the resources below.

On Saturday, Ms Linnecor (Deputy Headteacher) and myself opened up our Broadway campus for students to come and revise from 10:30am to 2:00pm. A handful of year 11 students came and carried out their revision. We will be repeating this until May half term, to provide students with a place where they can sit quietly and focus on their revision.

We appreciate the challenge for our year 11 parents of providing their child with moral support and at the same time encouraging (nagging) them to do their daily revision. We don’t hide from our students that success in these GCSEs is down to hard work in school and outside of school. If you feel that we can support your child in any way with their forthcoming GCSEs please get in touch. Mrs Clarke, their Raising Standards’ Leader, would be more than happy to help (k.clarke@kingsway.stockport.sch.uk).

One issue that can come with us opening the fields out to students at break time is the litter that is left on the fields, particularly plastic bottles. There has been a lot of publicity lately about the impact of plastic on our environment and at home we are moving to a milkman to deliver our milk in glass bottles to do our bit for the environment. We are considering to ban the sale of drinks in plastic bottles in school, and making a refillable drink bottle a core piece of students’ equipment. This is something that many primary schools do. What are your thoughts?

I know it may seem crazy when it is 24 degrees outside, but we don’t officially move to our summer uniform (no jumper) until May half term. This is because our weather is so unpredictable and we want our students to be smart and warm at school. If there are periods of ‘hot days’ in the meantime, we allow students to remove their jumpers around school and in lessons. We do continue to expect them to wear their tie and have their shirts tucked in. We continue to place value on looking smart in and around school, regardless of the weather.

I had the lovely surprise of being presented with some amazing castle constructions by the year 7’s last week. Here are just some examples:

Daisy Gandy (7C), Emily Berahmand (7Y), Hugo Gill (7C), Alfie Ward (7C) & Bayaan Tikrity (7Y)

I also had the pleasure of awarding the monthly merit total winners their certificate and badge. The March winners were: Emily Foster (7H), Rocio McGillivray (8H), Lola Howson (7N), Maria Iftikhar (8K), Megan Walker (8E) and Izzy Chalmers-Morris (7G).

Well done to all our students who are currently working really hard in school and at home. I am very proud of you all.

Have a great week everyone!


Mrs J. Lowe
Headteacher

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