I hope this update finds you and your families well. We are well into the final straight of the academic year, but still with so much to do. End of Year assessments are in full swing and in some years even drawing to a close and final arrangements for Sports Day are in full swing. We also have our Year 11 and 13 proms, Trust Sports Day, our Art exhibition, our Matilda production, new year 7 induction days and a summer school to come. Our ready to learn gate continues to provide a welcome and more positive start to the day allowing students to arrive on site fully prepared for the day resulting in an increased focus on teaching and learning and ultimately improved outcomes and rewards. Despite the national rail strikes we have also seen an impressive stability to our attendance which has long been over the national averages, so for that we thank parents and carers for their efforts in ensuring students were still able to attend. Whilst frustratingly resulting in longer queues for cars in the mornings and afternoons this week, the reasons behind it are entirely positive.
We say goodbye to Year 11 and Year 13, and next week we welcome Year 11 back again (as Year 12!)
After the final year 11 exam yesterday, we said goodbye to our year 11 and year 13 students who have finished the longest ever, and first public examinations series in 3 years. The conduct of the students throughout has been exceptional showing a focus and determination above any I have seen in over twenty two years of teaching. Without stating the obvious too much, it has been a challenging approach to this point for all students involved and has at times tested staff and students alike, but they made it and we are incredibly proud of how they conducted themselves throughout. In August students will open their envelopes and look towards the next stages of their journey, but it is not merely those results that make us proud, they measure a point in time. Their character now governs the next steps. What has been so impressive is how much the students have grown, developed their character and resilience. I can safely say both the year 11 and 13 students have proven to be the most wonderful year groups we have waved goodbye to. We have laughed, cried and occasionally fallen out but nevertheless we are proud that we have been part of their journey and wish them all the luck in the world both for August and far beyond. We will welcome more students than ever back for our sixth form induction next week and for those in other years the shift to your next school year has already begun. The bar has been set high!
High-Performance Academy: Year 8 visit the Natural History Museum
On Wednesday this week, students in Year 8 enjoyed the opportunity to visit the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. After a somewhat protracted coach journey enlivened by the masterful commentary on London sites by tour guide extraordinaire Mr Neve, the students arrived keen to explore the vast treasures of the museum. Students began their journey in Hintze Hall under ‘Hope’, the blue whale skeleton, and the elaborate ceiling tiles that form what Victorian scientists and architects intended to be a ‘cathedral to nature’. From there, students explored galleries related to mammals, the earth’s complex composition, human evolution, and of course the ever-popular dinosaurs (some managed to see ‘Dippy’, the diplodocus making a temporary return to the museum). Memorable exhibits included spotting fossils uncovered in a Maidstone quarry, finding out about insect communication through chemicals, and discovering the intriguing differences between horns and antlers. Other popular displays included the giant sloth, the 8 metre-tall termite mound, the earthquake simulator, and the rather unclad models of Homo sapiens. Students made connections between their existing learning at Mascalls and the displays, spotted rare finds, and reflected throughout on information that was new to them. Of course, no museum trip would be complete without a gift-shop segment, and students’ enthusiasm over magnetic stones, plush animals, and thoughtful gifts for parents and loved ones was brilliant to see. Our students were pleasant, inquisitive and well-behaved, and we were extremely proud of their attitude and presentation. Many special thanks to Dr Pollack, Mr Neve, Mr Burton, Ms Roberts, and Mr Cornwell for accompanying students on such a fantastic trip – there will be others to come!
Performing Arts shines further afield
Our National Area of Excellence continues to grow its catchment area with a performance at Broadwater Down Primary School in Tunbridge Wells for their summer fete.
Students and parents/carers from Broadwater were treated to musical and dance performances from students in years seven to twelve. Once again showing our strength in this area and with all students involved representing the Mascalls community superbly. Thank you to all the staff and students involved. Students will also be performing at the St Marks fete in a few weeks’ time.
Year 12 Geography Field Trip
A group of dedicated geographers set off last Sunday morning for Juniper Hall on Box Hill where perceptions were made in advance about the centre itself and Dorking town. The internet plays a big part in Geography as it did in setting out students’ sense of place. The day included theory in the classroom, various surveys around Dorking, walks to the River Mole, Broadwoods Tower, and Denby’s Vineyard. After dinner the students returned to the classroom for a couple of hours then had time to socialise and enjoy several cups of tea on the terrace, while awaiting pizza delivery – a stand in for Will Munday’s wish to celebrate his GB cycling success with a night time barbecue!
Monday began with some coastal theory and then in the very capable hands of Miss Beckett, we drove to the coast at Newhaven to apply a number of measuring techniques learnt. Hot work followed on the beach by a visit to contrasting Seaford enabled discussion on flood risk and preference as to whether to live in Seaford or Dorking. Thanks to all the students for their exemplary behaviour, good humour and application throughout.
Finally, as with every update, my thanks go to the parents and carers who have made the approach to the end of the year actually feel like the start of a new one. There has been absolutely no relaxation in your approach or indeed ours and that is just how it should be, making the most of every moment in school. Thank you for continuing our drive to excellence.
Mr W Monk