Wheatley Park School
“A tree with strong roots can withstand the most violent storm, but the tree can’t grow roots just as the storm appears on the horizon.” So says the Dalai Lama.
So far, Wheatley Park School has withstood the ‘storm’ of the COVID-19 pandemic, anchored firmly to the ground by the ‘roots’ of our well-established school values: Everyone Learning and Everyone Caring. And I’m pleased to say that our strengths in both learning and caring have been recognised at a national level since the start of the school year.
In terms of learning, we have been designated as an EdTech Demonstrator school - one of only fifty nationally - due to our expertise in digital learning. As such, we receive government funding to help other schools implement their own remote learning programmes.
As well as using our rich experience in this area to support other schools, we continue to advance our own practice. When a third of Year 11 had to self-isolate recently, our staff taught the students who remained in school while simultaneously live streaming the lessons to their self-isolating peers at home - our best effort to keep Everyone Learning.
And when it comes to caring, we are very proud to have won the UK Secondary School Alex Timpson ARC Attachment Award. Sponsored by Sir John Timpson (Chairman of the Timpson company who, with his late wife Alex, fostered over ninety children), the award recognises and celebrates best practice in attachment- and trauma-aware schools.
While we were nominated for this award specifically for the strength of our work with our most vulnerable children, our approaches here reflect the caring culture that we strive so hard to embed across the whole school at all times.
In fact, this year the culture of Everyone Caring is burning more brightly than ever at WPS. Students, parents and carers, staff, governors and members of the wider community have demonstrated extraordinary concern for those affected physically, mentally or financially by the pandemic. The staggering response to our Christmas Care Packages initiative is just one example of this.
So, as hope grows that the worst of the COVID-19 storm will blow over when vaccines are rolled out in the new year, I’m confident that our roots of Everyone Learning and Everyone Caring will hold firm and see us through the rest of this crisis and any that follow.
Best wishes for a happy and safe festive season,
Terms 1 and 2 Newsletter
We extend a warm WPS welcome to the following new staff who joined us either at the end of last academic year or at the beginning of this school year.
Lucia Adamou joined us at the end of November as our new Student Welfare Officer.
Alison Bennett joined us as our Careers Lead from September. Alison previously worked as a Careers Advisor with Adviza and is no stranger to Wheatley Park.
Jamie Browning joined us in September as a Progress Coach.
Anne Chaza joined us at the beginning of October as a Cover Supervisor.
Katie Carson joined us as a newly qualified Teacher of Science. Wheatley Park had been one of Katie’s training placement schools.
Lucy Flexen joined us in September as a newly qualified teacher of History and Geography.
Sam Foster joined us in September as a newly qualified teacher of Music and Drama.
Eve Harris joined us in September as a Teacher of Geography from the Ashfold School in Aylesbury where she worked as a supply teacher. Eve is covering a maternity leave period.
Sophia Hollely-Barik joined us in September as a Progress Coach.
Deirbhile Holt joined us in April as a new Cover Supervisor.
Jesse Lawrence joined us in September as a newly qualified teacher of Science. Wheatley Park had been one of Jesse’s training placement schools.
Karina Nanchahal joined us at the beginning of November as a Progress Coach.
Sophie Plested joined us in September as a Progress Coach.
Adrian Scott joined us at the end of September as a Progress Coach.
Ellie Mae Steele was here at Wheatley Park last academic year doing her training. In September she joined us as a newly qualified teacher of Business and Economics.
Curtis Trudgeon joins us as a teacher of History and Sociology from the Lampton School in Hounslow.
Rachael Twyford joined us at the beginning of October as a Cover Supervisor.
Luke Wilmshurst joined us at the beginning of November as our new Art Technician.
Welcome to new (and nearly new!) staff
We are really pleased to see your children back at school and currently our attendance stands at 93% This is slightly lower than this time last year. Even during these uncertain times it is essential that students are in school, learning in their lessons every day. The only exception to this would be if students are showing Covid systems or isolating waiting for a test result.
In the first two terms at school there have been 67 school days, to reach our school target of over 96% attendance, students would have needed to have been present for 129 out of the 134 sessions. This is an achievable achievement for all students at Wheatley Park School.
As mentioned previously by Mr Pearson, achieving 96% or over means students are more likely to perform, on average, significantly better in their exams providing them with many more opportunities when moving on to their next destinations. The great news is that:
Well done year 8 you have the highest attendance across the school, keep coming to school and working hard
We still have over 300 students on 100% attendance across the whole school
Over 400 students improved their attendance this week, all of these small improvements will have an impact on their overall outcomes and achievements at school
The number of students classified as Persistent Absentees (under 90%) has also reduced this week, keep up the great work
It is important to mention that if your child is off for Covid related reasons this does not impact negatively on your students attendance. For example if a child has 100% attendance but is asked by school to self isolate, this will not impact on their individual attendance. When they return to school after their isolating period they will remain on 100% attendance.
As a school we have a tutor time focus of attendance on a Tuesday - ‘Target Attendance Tuesday,’ students are able to ask their tutors questions around attendance and see where their tutor group and year group are in relation to other groups in the school. This is also a perfect opportunity for tutors to have conversations with individuals around attendance at school.
Thank you for your continued support with attendance and encouraging your child to come to school, on time, each day.
Miss E Vear
Dear Students, Staff, Parents and Carers,
To say that 2020 has been rather different to the year we envisaged in our Christmas newsletter is stating the obvious. To all of our community who have suffered a bereavement as a result of COVID-19, your Governors extend our sincere condolences and for those of you who have been struck down with the virus, we hope that you have made, or are making a full recovery. Likewise we hope that in a year’s time, when many of us will have been vaccinated, we will once again be reflecting on how your school is improving and moving towards its vision of providing a sustainably outstanding education for all our students.
Instead, your Governors would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to all the staff of Wheatley Park for just keeping going in the face of the extraordinary challenges that this pandemic has thrown at them. When we began to introduce Chromebooks for all students 4 years ago no one could have anticipated just how useful a decision that was going to be. Teachers have embraced the technology and adapted their teaching methodology to permit lessons to be streamed live. Students and teachers alike have embraced online learning like ducks to water so studying has continued. Governors would also like to thank parents and carers for giving space and internet access to your children at home so that they can learn remotely.
We do not underestimate the damage done to the nation’s children by this pandemic, both in terms of their learning and their mental health. Righting these wrongs will take time, effort and dedication from everyone, but your Governors firmly believe Wheatley Park School’s students want to excel, as do parents and our staff, and furthermore our mental health provision is now recognised as being amongst the best anywhere. So everything is in place for us to meet our vision once normality returns.
With best wishes for a safe festive season, plenty of rest over the holidays and a Covid-free New Year.
Philip Baillieu & Richard Cave
Chair and Vice-Chair of Governors
Senior Student Leadership Team Message
Since being elected to the 2020-21 Senior Student Leadership Team in November, we've been working hard to see a positive end to 2020. Over the last half term, we've been co-ordinating and getting involved in a number of projects across the school, all with our overarching aim to do what we can to spread a bit of hope in an otherwise difficult term. We've helped raise money for children in need with a Sixth Form pajama day (which our head students were interviewed about on BBC Radio Oxford), decorated the separated year group bubbles for christmas, and helped put together our virtual christmas concert and assemblies. We've got involved in many things across the term and seen many great successes, but chief among them is the Wheatley Park School Food Bank Initiative, which we were very privileged to be able to help Mrs Collier and her team with. Following on from similar projects over lockdown in the spring and summer, we were a part of a project to provide WPS families struggling financially with a Christmas Care Package, a little gift from us at the end of a long, hard year. We put out a message via ParentMail asking for people to get involved and send in donations, and the extent of the generosity from our community has blown us away. Thanks to members of the community spreading the word on social media, we received donations of food far, far in excess of what we ever could have possibly imagined - equipping us to do much more with the food bank project going forwards and meet the needs of our community. It is truly fantastic to see how much we are able to achieve when we look out for each other and care for our community, and we want to say a profound thank you for the abundant generosity demonstrated this term.
Going forward, we'll be continuing to take every opportunity that arises, despite the difficult circumstances. On the immediate horizon, we’re looking to expand student involvement in the Space2Be mental health service, and hopefully see some of our 2021 6th Formers get involved and trained in the student mentoring program, supporting younger students. We're looking forward to seeing what 2021 holds, and what opportunities it holds to make student life at Wheatley Park that little bit brighter.
Sixth Form News
Whilst Covid has put restrictions on all of us, it has been business as usual in the Sixth Form. We are in the middle of the university application process, over 50 have applied so far, whilst those looking for employment have had practice interviews with local employers.
The last two week of this term have been dominated by virtual interviews for our students applying to Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College and others. This year, as last year, we have had 7 students shortlisted for an interview at either Oxford or Cambridge, this percentage success rate is significantly above the national average and is a huge testament to our students.
Our Sixth Form has enjoyed continued growth in numbers, this year increasing by 12%; this has been from both internal and external students. We are now in the middle of our application process and look forward to seeing this growth continue.
Mr G West
Head of Sixth Form
Children in Need - Friday 13 November
Friday 13th November was Children In Need day. This year, more than ever, we wanted to do our bit to raise much needed funds for this charity.
There was a lovely assortment of Pyjamas, onesies, dressing gowns and slippers. We even managed to get a slot on BBC Radio Oxford where Izzy Bartlett and Samuel Hinks were interviewed live on air.
We were restricted as to what we could do because of Covid but still managed to raise £135.39.
Christmas care packages
We've been astonished and touched by the generosity of Wheatley Park students and their families with their donations to our Christmas Care Package initiative. We have been able to use your donations not only to deliver really comprehensive Care packages (containing essentials and Christmas treats) to 37 families but have enough food and funds left over to continue this into 2021 which will no doubt continue to be an especially challenging year for some of us. The photos in these pages do not do the scale of your donations justice.
Sara Collier and Val Wolstenholme
It has been wonderful having our year 10 students back in school. We are extremely proud of the way they have conducted themselves in these unusual times, they have shown maturity and resilience both in lessons and during social times.
As their Head of Year, I have received many positive messages about the year group and I am pleased to see that our school values of Everyone Learning, Everyone Caring are imbedded in our year group culture.
We have nearly 50 students taking part in our rewards experience on Friday, these are students that have shown a high attitude to learning in all their subjects.
We hope that year 10 continue on this positive path as we move into the spring and summer terms.
Well done year 10, Mrs Jones, your tutors and I are extremely proud of you and know you will achieve amazing things in the future.
Have a lovely break and see you all in January.
Head of Year 10
Although this year's Prize Giving is not going to be the same as in previous years, we are happy that we can still celebrate the incredible achievements of our Upper School students.
Due to Covid related logistic reason, this year's event has been pre-recorded, but we hope that as many families as possible will watch the event and share in their children success.
Please click the image right to view the event.
We would like to thank our sponsors that, even at this difficult time, have chosen to support us. Thanks to them, the awarded students will receive £10 book tokens together with their certificates.
Thanks to the Emma Wilson Memorial Fund, one student who helps others in the community, will receive a donation of £150.
Within Wheatley Park School, we have a hub which specifically supports children identified as facing challenges with Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs - at times, this could be anyone of us. The provision available to students covers 1-2-1 mentoring, Emotional Literacy Support Intervention, classroom support, transition support in addition to much more. We have also been able to support our families with care packages over the period of the lockdown.
We were thrilled to hear that we had been nominated for the Alex Timpson Award which recognises and celebrates best practice in attachment and trauma awareness in schools. To hear that we had won the secondary school category for the UK was incredible.
This is an award which recognises the work of every single adult in our community: our teaching staff, our support staff and also our families who work so closely with us to ensure the best outcomes for all of our children. We want to take this opportunity to thank every single one of you for your contribution to our work.
We are looking forward to continuing our work in supporting everyone in our community and we have big plans for our £1,000 prize money to further enhance the provision available to our students.
Wheatley Park Wins National Award
This term in careers….
We have been concentrating on the Year 11 one to one careers meetings and helping students to understand their pathways at the end of this year. All Year 11s will meet with the careers adviser at least once and are expected to have a Plan A and Plan B in place.
As usual, colleges and sixth forms have held open days, but most have been online so far this year. Dates have been advertised via tutors, on the careers notice board in the Year 11 bubble and on the new careers website.
For students considering apprenticeships, workshops in the Spring term will support them to find vacancies, finalise their C.Vs and make applications. Finding an apprenticeship is usually very competitive and we advise all students seeking this pathway to apply to college or sixth form as a back up.
Year 13 students who are looking for apprenticeship or work when they leave school have taken part in job and apprenticeship workshops and will have a mock job interview with external HR specialists who kindly volunteered to support our job seekers.
All students can now access a new Wheatley Park careers website with lots of useful information about their options at 16 and 18, information about different careers, finding work and job and apprenticeship vacancies, and other student careers related opportunities. It is accessed via the Student Portal.
New careers hubs are in place in the Year 10, Year 11 and Sixth Form bubbles where students can find a range of careers literature to take away.
New information for parents and carers is now available on the careers section of the school website. The pages also include an overview of this year's programme, which has adapted owing to Covid restrictions, and an introduction to our new careers hubs in the Year 10, 11 and Sixth Form bubbles. You can see the new pages here Careers at WPS
You are welcome to email the careers adviser at firstname.lastname@example.org with any queries or concerns you have about your son or daughter’s next steps, or to book a time to talk through options.
World Challenge to Madagascar 2022
More information from our team coming soon!
“Physical books are tough, hard to destroy, bath resistant, solar operated, feel good in your hand: they are good at being books, and there will always be a place for them” - Neil Gaiman
Due to the current year bubbles, the library has been turned into two Year 11 classrooms for the time being. But reading and Reading For Pleasure lessons continue! The library has become mobile and books are making their way into the hands of students with the aid of a large trolley. Students can order books through the library system or by emailing Mrs Lanczak.
Reading For Pleasure lessons in Years 7, 8 & 9 are focused on individual reading, discussions about books and the Accelerated Reader program. This is a program that is designed to help students find the right level of book, encourage wider reading and experience rewards as they improve their key reading skills. A parent’s guide to Accelerated Reader can be found on the Renaissance Learning website:
Congratulations to Samantha Morrison, Eva Thatcher, Elsie Loch and Isabel Rosewarne for becoming Word Millionaires. They have read over a million words, based on the book quizzes they have successfully completed.
A Big Thank You to the WPS PTA who gave the library funds to buy new books at the start of term. The new books are currently being enjoyed by students who really appreciate the opportunity to read newly published and engaging titles. This is from a Year 8 Student:
“We just wanted to say how much everyone in the school appreciated the ability to read some new exciting books of all different genres. Reading means a lot to us. One of the benefits of reading lessons in school is that it is a relaxing stress-free time where we can think about things other than ourselves.”
Local Libraries are closed at the moment, but it is still possible to access books. You can join Oxfordshire County Council libraries remotely - Apply to join the library.
It is then possible to access ebooks and audiobooks through the Libby App. For information about books, students are encouraged to use Lovereading4kids . It has lots of information, extracts, reviews, author videos, etc. On the website students can register and join the Kids-Zone, where there are activities and competitions.
Year 7 Gothic Writing Competition - Lots of students entered the competition. The judge enjoyed reading all of them and had a very difficult decision to make. CONGRATULATIONS to Isabel Rosewarne, Kitty Barulis, Robby Tidmarsh and Malak Shohaieb for sending in winning entries. Book token prizes will be awarded. Opening to Isabel’s story - “The gates were moving. Gradually, little by little, they creaked open. But it was not me opening this gate. It was as if the choking mist, the thick, impenetrable mist, was reaching out its long tendrils and opening this gate for me, beckoning me closer.”
The library has a new look - we are very excited about the newly installed wall graphics on the outside of the library in the John Milton Centre. We can’t wait for all year groups to be able to see it for themselves in the future.
School Librarian and Careers Administrator
Some parents, and even the odd grandparent, of our current students might remember being taught music by Nigel Phillips.
After 48 years of service, in one form or another, Nigel has returned for retirement back home in Cardiff.
Nigel started teaching at the newly formed Wheatley Park Comprehensive School in September 1972, moving into the newly built Music Department at the then Lower School, originally the Shotover School (Wheatley Secondary Modern School 1951-1971). The Music Department (now The Registrar's Office, alongside the John Watson end of Wheatley Primary School) was a purpose built music suite with a main performing space, and peripatetic teaching rooms. Nigel was delighted to be appointed to the post of Music teacher there after completing his Music degree in Cardiff, where he had also been Organ Scholar at Llandaff Cathedral.
Soon after, Roger Simmonds was appointed as Head of Music for the whole of Wheatley Park School, and so began a very successful partnership between Nigel and Roger which was to span 30 years. So many students will remember their lessons which encouraged students to compose as well as learn instruments. By the mid 1980s the school had two orchestras, several choirs, including the Madrigal Choir who toured in Canada, France, Japan, and Prague as well as around the UK for a period of ten years.
The wide encouragement of new composition by the department led to Roger’s musical ‘Release’ (1978) even appearing at the West End with WPS students repeating their school roles for a few very special evenings. Continuing with this individual approach, Nigel and Roger taught and encouraged many school and local bands during the 70s, 80s and 90s. One of these, originating from The Jennifers, transformed itself into ‘Supergrass’ the internationally acclaimed rock band of the 1990s &2000s, still local and occasionally performing today!
Nigel taught music in the Old House up to the early 2000s and then part time while he also worked within the wider Arts Team when the school was a Specialist Arts School. Nigel’s second love was design and display and this led to a string of art specialist exhibitions up to 2010. He was also in charge of the school’s growing archive, and when I returned to the school in 2006, we both worked at extending the archive and setting up Archaeology Club. Nigel continued this work on a purely voluntary basis for the past few years, and without his input I would have not been able to continue with its work. Between 2008 and 2019 we have hosted numerous exhibitions, and helped launch four books related to our marvellous site (by John Fox, Marilyn Yurdan, and Nicki Lillie).
Nigel has been a constant supporter and believer in the uniqueness of Wheatley Park over nearly five decades, he has inspired and supported hundreds of students during that time with his individual and spirited teaching style. He has encouraged and challenged young people and adults to think ‘outside of the box,’ and stretch their abilities further. He always expected commitment and hard work, as that was the way in which he saw his own contribution to education. Spending hours and hours on aspects of projects to ensure they were perfect was Nigel’s expectation of himself, and he encouraged the same in others. His intellectual capacity and thirst for learning has never abated, and we wish him well for many years of purposeful retirement in Wales. I know he will keep in touch with us, and we hope to welcome him back in the future when life returns to normal.
Thank you Nigel for all you have done for Wheatley Park and it’s students during the past 48 years!
Kevin Heritage, School Manager
Nigel Phillips ~ Wheatley Park 1972-2020
Upon the occasion of the One Hundred and Second anniversary of the signing of the Armistice which ended The Great War of 1914-1918
In Westminster Abbey in London are buried some of the greatest figures in British History. It is the home to over a thousand years of our history and is the resting place of some of the most significant, influential Britons - men and women who shaped our history and our culture. Kings, Queens, Statesmen, National Heroes; the most venerated are memorialised there.
In the Nave of the building - right up at the front, in the centre - is an engraved slab of black marble, surrounded by poppies. It is The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.
Buried there is a British Soldier who died in service of King and Country in The Great War of 1914 to 1918. The identity of the Warrior is completely unknown - taken at random from the remains of the hundreds of thousands of unknown, identityless, fallen soldiers. He was taken from the blood-soaked fields of France and brought to London, where crowds lined the streets in silence as the funeral procession passed. The Warrior was buried among the kings, in the heart of the capital. "Thus", reads the gravestone, "are commemorated the many multitudes who, during the Great War, gave the most that Man can give, life itself, for God, for king and country, for loved ones at home and empire, for the sacred cause of justice and the freedom of the world".
100 years ago to this day, on the 11th of November, 1920, The Unknown Warrior was laid to rest. He represents the sacrifice of millions - those beside him, before him, and many more who would come after him - countless souls who died that we may live.
The Tomb is a memorial to the hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who gave it all up to fight for our future and who were never found again or who's bodies were rendered unidentifiable. They leave not even a name behind. They are scattered across the globe in unmarked graves, but the legacy of their sacrifice is that we live in a country that is safe and free.
Every year, on the anniversary of the end of The First World War, we are asked to uphold a tradition of silence, to remember the sacrifice of these men and women who gave their lives for us. This is an increasingly difficult thing to do. Remembrance day becomes harder every year. We have new fights, new threats and challenges. The First World War ended 102
years ago - well beyond our living memory. How is it possible to remember a war that was so long ago?
100 years ago, Britain was emerging from the Spanish Flu pandemic which lasted from 1918-1920 - the worst pandemic Europe had ever seen. It infected 500 million people and took anywhere from 20 to 50 million lives. The victory celebrations had been replaced with the realisation of how damaging The War had been, as war-torn families came to terms with the tragic loss, before losing yet more loved ones to the virus.
But at 11 O'Clock, Britain - both its island and its empire overseas - fell silent. For them in 1920, the loss was personal. Although the country was still suffering, they knew that their loved ones had gone to their deaths to protect them from greater suffering. They knew clearly that the very fact that they could be together as families and as a nation was only possible because of that sacrifice. For them, the Warrior buried in Westminster Abbey was Known: their father, or their brother, or their friend, whom they would never see again.
A century on, and we are once again in the midst of a pandemic. Covid-19 continues to ravage the world, claiming lives every day. In the suffering and loss of 2020, the First World War is distant from our minds. Yet I think now more than ever, we can appreciate the sacrifice others have made for us. In the madness of the pandemic, we cannot afford to lose sight of what we do have - a safe country, where we are free to live, to have an education, where we have inalienable rights to speak freely, to hold our beliefs, and to all be protected by the law. What they saw in 1920 is still true in 2020 - our society's safety is not a given but was secured by the sacrifices of countless men and women.
Yet for us, every one of those sacrifices is an Unkown Warrior. We cannot possibly remember them in a personal way, because we are too far removed. In the same way, when they went to their deaths, they could not possibly have imagined us, but still they "gave the most that man can give" in order that you might be free, and the freedoms that we take for granted are only possible because of them.
At 11 O'Clock today, I implore of you, to take two minutes of silence and recognise the sacrifice of the Unkown Warriors, whom we can never know, who could never have known us, and without whom our society would not stand at all.
Ryan Helsby, Year 12
To read the full article in the Oxfor Mail please follow this link:
Wheatley becomes a Fairtrade Community
KS3 Interform Cross Country results
Well done to all students in years 7, 8 and 9 for taking part in the annual interform cross country.
Santa Run 2020 - 2nd December 2020
Year 7 and 8 have taken part in a Christmas themed team relay for charity. This is a Santa run with all participants being given a Santa hat. We managed to raise an amazing £700, this will all go in aid of Katharine House Hospice, which provides specialist palliative care for adults with life limiting conditions across North Oxfordshire, South Northamptonshire & South Warwickshire.
We hope that this has started the festive season off, as well as raising money for a good cause.
INSET DAY 4
Beginning of Term 3
For the full calendar please refer to our website or follow this link:
Year 9 Parents' Evening, 4.30-7.30pm
Sixth Form Application Deadline
THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT TERM
END OF TERM 3
Year 7 Parents' Evening, 4.30-7.30pm