True to form, we ended the half term with a very busy week, packing lots in before we finished for the mid-term break. We spent a lot of time with our Trustees and members of our Local Governing Body reviewing the work of the school and discussing ongoing developments. It was a particular pleasure, however, to have two of our Governors in school to accompany us on this term’s learning walks and an opportunity for them to see first-hand the outstanding work of our pupils and staff in classrooms around the school; it’s fair to say they were inspired by what they observed!
For those of you who don’t know, this Friday was our Rewards Morning at the school site, which we have introduced after a brief review of how our Rewards Points system works. The School Council, representing the views of the pupil body, had come up with new ideas for fun and exciting activities they would like to do during a morning off timetable as a reward for their hard work in lessons and throughout the day during each half term. There was a bit of negotiation around which ones were affordable and practical to do (we’d all love to go to Alton Towers every half term!) and then our staff team magically came up with a varied menu of amazing activities ranging from Mad Science Experiments to Xbox tournaments to a trip to the Museum of Science and Industry. So, when the Rewards Morning finally came, it was inspiring to see our pupils having a such great time having earned their reward; we think the staff possibly had just as much fun, if not more!
Equally as inspiring was the attitude of the small group of pupils who hadn’t earned enough points. They embraced the opportunity positively and maturely to spend some time reflecting on the reasons why and planning what they would do differently next half term before spending the rest of the morning working productively on team building activities. In the afternoon, we held our usual celebration assembly, another opportunity to celebrate the achievement of our pupils. An addition this week, however, was the awarding of our 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes for the number of points earned which went to Danielle Kelsall, Catherine Obi and Liam Williams. All in all, a hugely positive way to end the half the term, none of which would have been possible without an incredible effort by all pupils and the entire staff team. Team New Bridge strikes again!
As you know, our Year 13s had a fantastic time on their residential to the Calvert Trust last term and they were delighted to be presented with their certificates of achievement in the Learning Centre’s Friday afternoon assembly – well done everyone, we’re very impressed with how you rose to all the different challenges throughout the week and tackled all those new activities!
Many of the conversations we have been having with our young people recently have been about their worries for the future as they prepare to move on to a new stage in their lives – will they be ok, will they like it, who will they be with? Some Year 9s are getting ready to start a new pathway while others have chosen their options, our Year 11 pathway pupils will be moving up to Medtia while our other Year 11s will be moving up to the Learning Centre. Some of our older students are preparing to join our own Bridging the Gap programme or pre-internships while our Year 14s will be leaving us to join either Future Finders, our Horizons provision, different colleges or employment routes.
We continually encourage our young people to talk through their concerns with staff and families. We are also starting transition support groups at the Learning Centre so students can share their worries and hopefully realise that they are not the only ones getting anxious and that it’s okay to feel nervous. We want them to know that sharing and talking through things can really help and our recent assembly focused on effective ways to cope and support each other with the theme, ‘We are not defined by what happens to us, we are defined by how we respond.’
Ellis is looking to move on to our Bridging the Gap programme in Year 14 and has himself admitted to feeling anxious. He bravely shared his thoughts on how he is trying to manage this process and encouraged students to talk to others, whether to friends, family, staff or groups like Andy’s Man Club. Ellis feels so strongly about the importance of talking through your worries that he has asked us to share this message with you..
The Year 9s had a Maths lesson with a difference on Tuesday looking at shapes, longest and shortest, biggest and smallest using team work….and giant bubbles!!
On Wednesday Activ8 paid a visit to the Gift your Gear depot to collect a very kind donation of outdoor equipment for our Duke of Edinburgh’s groups. We have Bronze, Silver and Gold qualifying expeditions coming up before the end of term so the equipment has come at the perfect time and will be put to very good use. We’re very grateful to Sarah for organising the donation and making us feel so welcome..
On Thursday morning, 11 of our young people sat the first of three papers in their Maths GCSE. For the majority of them, this was the first time they had sat a GCSE exam but you wouldn’t have been able to tell from watching them – they all coped brilliantly with the formal exam conditions and worked really hard, we’re very proud of them!
This week Mr Hanif has an update for us on the History lessons he has been teaching..
For this term’s History blog I thought I would concentrate on some class groups that are new to me. I have gained a whole new insight into teaching by working with our IB classes and Communication Groups. As I always tell my pupils, History is just full of really good stories, whether they’re stories about Pharaohs, medieval knights or great explorers. The themes for this year are Ancient Civilisations, The Middle Ages, and Travel and Transport through the Ages.
For the topic of Ancient Civilisations we undertook a case study of Ancient Egypt. Pupils explored the sights, sounds and smells of Africa. We took a journey down the River Nile, stopping off at the ancient city of Giza; we explored the Sphinx as well as the pyramids. We investigated the importance of the River Nile for the people of Ancient Egypt. We also managed to stop at a souk and experienced the sights, sounds and smells of a market place..
The pupils looked at the ancient ritual of mummification and made their own death masks..
For the topic of The Middle Ages, we found out how difficult life was for medieval people. We created crowns to wear as we decided the best place to be was at the top of the feudal system. We also got a chance to make our own knights in shining armour, as well as creating a coat of arms for each class. Let battle commence between House of Warner, House of Ward and House of Jackson!
The pupils have also been investigating travel and transport through the ages. We have studied the different ways people have travelled from walking, horse and cart, to steam boats and airplanes..
The Year 8s have been looking at Victorian times, exploring life from a child’s perspective and experiencing a typical Victorian school day..
The Year 9s have studied the African Slave Trade, finding out how slaves were captured, learning about the Trade Triangle. The pupils have recreated the journey on their own maps and they have also learnt about how horrible life was on a slave ship, slave auctions and working on a plantation..
At the Learning Centre, we are always looking at ways in which to personalise our offer in order to meet individual needs. Shazia and Tamzin are developing their independence and living skills by working on their cooking, cleaning and home management skills. They identified a number of recipes that they like with Mrs Gillett and worked out the costings from the Tesco website before Miss Wilson took them shopping to buy the correct ingredients within a certain budget. Their confidence grew throughout the shopping trip – Shazia took control of the shopping list and was able to ask a member of staff where she could find the coconut milk while Tamzin asked for Halal chicken from the butchers. They navigated the self-checkout like pros, weighing out peppers, garlic and onions on the scales and making sure they had the correct money to pay. They then returned to school and Shazia spent the afternoon creating spaghetti bolognese and chicken curry – she was very proud to take the meals home to share with her friends.
Activ8 had a fantastic morning out at the Football Museum in Manchester for their Rewards Morning, travelling there and back by tram. They enjoyed exploring the different eras in football and playing some of the interactive games..
..as well as lifting the Premier League and FA Cup trophies!
Until next half term, when it all begins again, we’d like to wish all our young people and staff a well-deserved rest; enjoy the sunshine! We hope you have a wonderful break and we look forward to welcoming everyone back on Monday 4th June, including our Year 8s who will be heading off to Disneyland Paris first thing while the rest of us are still asleep on Tuesday 5th!
Gavin and Dawn
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