I have just sat in the middle of the Year 11 photo, trying to work out how long I’ve been here. A bit of research, rather than memory, found that governors took up references on me 22 years ago today and that makes 21 photos. Parents are starting to show Year 7 kids their child-bride parents’ photos.
We had our 15th annual staff conference last weekend. Every year I ask whether it is worth doing but this year was the best ever. We train ourselves at Chauncy and 53 different staff presented on a mass of educational things. I’m still uninformed as to what went on late at night in Room 43 but everyone was bright and enthusiastic for the Saturday sessions.
Last Monday I had to close the school as there was no power to heat the water for teachers to make tea. No heating, light, cooking as well. The children seemed pleased and the teachers disappeared before the power came back on.
Our Netball girls won three different trophies last week and the 60 on-tour girls had a great time in Swindon. Two boys’ teams in district semis this week so we hope for more success. The Year 7 teams for the area Maths challenge this evening have just returned as qualifiers for the Hertfordshire final.
Last night we beat my wife’s school in the Young Apprentice final for East Herts with the youngest team in the tournament, and the best. I told her about it twice last night and again this morning but there were no signs she heard me. I’ll probably tell her again tonight as it was a great victory.
We will do our Year 8 Apprentice Challenge next Friday on our Careers Day. 33 employers are working our Mock Interview Day and it is so good to see ex-students coming back as adults in good jobs. Whatever your job, we can always use your help sharing information, prospects and work demands of your job with our students. 16 year olds sometimes have some strange ideas about working and their expectations of luxury cars, homes and holidays and retirement by age 30 are quite entrenched, so it is important that you come and help them with reality and ambition. Contact Karen Gray to see what you might offer.Those 22 years ago a man called Alan was certain I could help him with his admission appeal for another school. Anywhere rather than Chauncy. There were 57 kids in Year 7 and a malaise throughout the school based on low expectations and an over-riding concern for rules and discipline.
We will be taking 210 children into the school again next year and I have an embarrassment of 70 or so waiting for a place. Sadly, we can no longer offer a place to everyone who wants one but Ware families, siblings and staff children are safe. Train to be a teacher with us and your children will get a place. Contact Craig Burnett for details.When we were planning the sports hall Dazza and Gazza (cheeky little pen names for Wareonline) did all they could in opposition. I am sure they will be delighted that we took up their suggestions and will have 1200 Chauncy students at this outstanding school in September and that local people are so well served in this thriving community. We are building a new 8 roomed block to accommodate expansion. I always said I want everyone in Ware to want to come to Chauncy.
Our students have responded magnificently to our mobile phone policy. The phone holder idea has been a massive success. One girl brought in a spare phone, but her mates told me. Another substituted an old phone, but her mates told me. Three refused to hand in the phones so I sent them home, with their phones. Some students tell me that they are liberated from the media dominance of their lives and the rest put up with it. I was surprised to see how many parents text their children during lessons – my eldest daughter once phoned for a chat before I realised she was in a History lesson. Our reception staff live to answer the phone and they want to keep their jobs, so ring them if you need to contact anyone in the school.
A cross mother told me that I am not qualified to give her advice on how to help her son achieve his best at school. Here’s some advice on Homework and Revision (or, How to help your kids achieve their best at school):
1. Get your children to turn off their phones and put them away for half an hour or so.
2. To prevent distractions, have them studying where you can see them.
3. Talk to them a little about their studies or school day.
In the last few weeks I have extended my media profile to include a slot on the BBC2 Victoria Derbyshire programme to talk about children taking their kit off to send a photo to another child. I told them I was against it.My last blog criticised schools spending fortunes on Executive Headteachers and layers of senior staff in schools. My favourite 3 Counties Radio gave me a real go at truancy and I ended by saying that 9 out of 10 naughty children are the product of poor parenting. So new friends all round.
I’m not sure I can do the next 22 years but whilst this is such a great place with the most amazing staff I’ll give it a go.
Dennis O’Sullivan (Headteacher)