17th March 2023
The last few weeks have seen a couple of very special events that I think show Therfield firmly putting the pandemic times behind us and to get back to doing the things that make our school special. Parents often told me how much they value the rich variety of trips we offer and our recent 'new' trip to San Francisco and Silicon Valley was a stunning example of this. Every student I've spoken to said they had a simply amazing time and you can read more and see more below with the video and write-ups Mr Pettitt produced for the trip.
17th February 2023
Good morning from San Francisco!
Yesterday was a phenomenal day!
Students were treated to a city wide tour of some of San Francisco’s most prolific landmarks. Starting, of course, with an up close look at the Golden Gate bridge, where we learnt about how its iconic colour came to be. It turns out that it was originally supposed to be painted yellow and black. However, after they covered the bridge in the primer paint, they decided that was much better and left it, which resulted in the rustic red that now makes it so recognisable across the world.
Following this, we took a trip up to Ocean Beach and walked along beautiful trail, taking in the breath-taking sight of the largest ocean on the planet, the Pacific.
Twin Peaks was our next stop, which did not fail to deliver a stunning view of the entire city of San Francisco. I have attached some scenic photos to this email. Hopefully your child has forwarded some photo’s of this to you already, If not then I am sure they will be eager to show you when we are home.
Yesterday also marked our visit over to Alcatraz island, AKA “The Rock”. We have been incredibly lucky with the weather conditions, and everyday has been clear skies and sunny. This has meant that the iconic fog that usually surrounds Alcatraz was not there, resulting in a clear view of the entire island and a view of the Golden Gate bridge as we crossed over on the ferry. Students were provided with a headset, and taken on a audio assisted tour of the prison including information about some of the most infamous prisoners incarcerated on the island. We all walked out of the tour in amazement of the history of the places we had just walked.
We visited Pier 39 following our ferry back from the island, where some students purchased items like personalised hats, ornaments and more food! We were also treated to an excellent view of a group of sea lions that occupy the jetty at the end of the pier.
We have been ensuring we check in regularly with every student and all seem to be in very high spirits and have thoroughly enjoyed every day. When I asked a student in year 10 if she had enjoyed herself so far, she welled up and said it had been the trip of a lifetime, and she doesn’t want to leave.
Mr Das and I have been filming and photographing our excursions and will be providing a trip video to all students to keep as an additional souvenir, we have some incredible footage and photos of the students that we can not wait to share with you also!
18th February 2023
Good morning from San Francisco!
Today marks the beginning of our return journey. However, it is not over yet!
This morning students will have one last opportunity to buy souvenirs as we visit the West Fields San Francisco Centre.
Yesterday was another incredible day, we visited Tech Interactive, which featured lots of coding related challenges, including in-depth exhibitions demonstrating how the developments in Computer Science are driving innovation in the medical sectors across the world. In addition, students had a chance to learn about genetic engineering, vehicle automation and virtual reality roller coasters to name a few things. Following this, students were treated to an IMAX showing of a documentary about the very rare Spirit Bears of Northwest British Columbia, narrated by Ryan Reynolds.
The Intel Museum was next on the agenda, which did not disappoint. Students learnt how the devices they use every day have come into existence, and what the future of computing may look like in 2050. The Museum had lots of interactive experiences demonstrating the speed of current processors, including a challenge where students had to attempt to wave quicker than a sensor could detect, which was practically impossible. The on site gift shop also provided students with the chance to buy some souvenirs including stickers, hats, t-shirts and notebooks, all Intel branded.
Upon speaking with the local San Franciscans, they highly recommended we visit the city’s Arena for the Giants basketball team, which coincidently was hosting a promotion event for P!NK’s new tour. So of course, it would have been rude not to! Many students purchased clothing and basketballs from the Giants official shop and had an opportunity to speak to local fans of the basketball team and P!NK.
At the start of the trip, I pro-actively purchased 70 dollars’ worth of sports equipment just in case we end up with some spare time at the hostel, and yesterday that opportunity came around! As the sun set over the golden gate bridge, (which we can see from where we are staying) the students played a full 90 minute football match with staff, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. Needless to say our legs are a little sore today!
Please click the video link to see more: San Francisco - Silicon Valley Trip
The end of February saw our first musical since the spring of 2019 with an absolutely stunning Bugsy. Cast, crew, directors and musicians produced a fantastic production which was enjoyed by everyone (even those of us lucky enough to be splurged!) who has able to get hole of a ticket. It's wonderful to see this team of students come together from every year group in the school to create something that we will all remember for a very long time. I know that Miss Owen and her team are already homing in on next year's musical choice so I'm already looking forward to that.
Our Year 8 students had a brilliant day of reflection with the Human Utopia Team which provided great opportunities for thinking and talking about relationships, bullying and future ambitions. We were very impressed by the way the students went about the day supported brilliantly by Year 12 students too.
In terms of our academic side of the school it has been great to see students in all year groups having great success in exams. Our Year 7 students recently took part in French oral exams which is all part of building their confidence for their (long way in the future!) GCSE exams in 2027! The GCSE Food Technology exams require a Masterchef style performance from each student as they race against the clock to produce a two-course meal. The standard has been exceptionally high!
It has been a pleasure to catch up with Year 10 parents in the last week as well as seeing Year 11 and Year 13 parents for our curriculum evening as we build up to the summer examination season. Our focus turns to Year 9s in the coming weeks as we have both parents Evening and Options Evening as the adults work together to guide the students regarding their choices about futures.
And speaking of futures, last week saw tens of thousands of individual conversations about careers and the world of work at our annual career fair. With over 60 business and organisations represented this event provided a terrific insight for our students as well as providing a great opportunity for developing the softer skills involved in speaking to adults. We are hugely grateful for everyone who gave up their time.
10th February 2023
I’m writing having just spent a fantastic Friday afternoon watching our Year 9, 10 and Year 11 football team compete in the Dorking Wanderers tournament. It was a brilliant tournament with our ‘Invincibles’ yet again living up to their name with a terrific group stage where they won three and drew one. That performance qualified them for the final against Reigate School who had topped the other group. What followed was an exhibition of skill, effort and some really great football with a sublime hattrick from Bella too, a 5-1 victory for Therfield. All of the girls represented Therfield exactly how I would expect them too and it made me very proud to watch them win some silverware (As a Portsmouth fan I’m not used to this!).
It’s been another great half-term of sporting achievement with fixtures in table tennis this week. Our extra-curricular offer has never been stronger and it’s been a pleasure to see the commitment, energy and enjoyment for so many students. I enjoyed meeting some of our sporting stars (with tennis, diving, netball, rugby and football all mentioned in our meeting) for a celebration hot chocolate this week.
I’ve also caught up with students in different year groups to say ‘really well done’ based on nominations from Tutors and Heads of Years, and thanks to our admin team for creating the hot chocolate (with marshmallows) for our students. Our students are our biggest asset of course and it’s amazing to think they’ve earnt over 356,215 house points already this year. There are lots of opportunities for celebrating success to follow in the second half of the academic year with House Colours, Presentation Evening, Prizegiving, Sports Day medals and the Headteacher Reward Trip too!
Like most schools Therfield remembered the Holocaust last month with thoughtful sessions in tutor time and for our Year 9s there was a webcast with a holocaust survivor. There will be only a handful of future year groups who will be able to hear directly from eyewitnesses to the horrendous events of the Holocaust and it was a privilege to be able to see the reflection from our students.
There is one event every year at Therfield which doesn’t really involve any students directly, but which nevertheless is very important to improve everyone’s learning, our Annual TeachMeet. We were able to run this for the first time in three years and it’s an absolutely fantastic event where teachers come together to share their good practice and to really think about how to create great and engaging lessons. We had over 20 schools represented and over 120 teachers coming together to think, discuss and enhance their teaching skills. It’s a real privilege to work with a group of staff who are so committed to spend their time into the evening, thinking creatively about how to ensure even better learning opportunities for our students.
Our Year 11 and Year 13 students have been working tremendously hard on their mock exams. It has been very impressive to see the youngsters coming together spending their time revising and really giving this set of exams their ‘very best shot’. Of course, their education has been impacted by the pandemic and yet they will face a full set of GCSE or A-level exams this summer. For tackling these preparations with great effort, with togetherness and with plenty of hard work they are making us all feel very proud.
Revision techniques and study skills are essential tools for students taking exams. Elevate Education have been in school to deliver motivation sessions to our Year 11 students in January and study skills this week to our Year 10 students. The aim of the session is to share a range of study skills and revision techniques and give students the opportunity to practise them. This will be followed up by using these skills in weekly tutor times to explore the techniques in more detail. There is also parent access to a series of webinars on how to support your child at Key Stage 4.
Thank you to Milestone Infrastructure who came in to speak with our Sixth Form for National Apprenticeship Week. Students were advised on routes into engineering, electrical infrastructure and the business side of the company. It was a good insight into the great opportunities out there.
On Thursday, 26th January, the KS4 and 5 Drama students travelled to London to watch Frantic Assembly’s Othello at the Lyric, Hammersmith. The performance was outstanding; it was a blend of Shakespeare and modern-day life which was enjoyed by all. The students had a fantastic experience and it was wonderful to be back at the Theatre. All of the students who attended behaved impeccably and were a credit to Therfield.
This week was our Hyundai event for Year 8 students. It was a brilliant day and included a fantastic team of Hyundai staff who visited Therfield to talk about the future of driving sustainably and their innovation in driving. The Year 8 students were tasked to design their own ideas using greener energy. They had to work on their business skills presenting and creating their ideas as a team. A big thank you to everyone at Hyundai for visiting and creating excitement surrounding future technology.
It’s been great to reconnect The Blog after a few years away and I hope everyone has a great half-term and I’ll include information about the Silicon Valley trip in the next Blog.