Welcome to our termly review of everything that's been happening at Salesian School. Between July's Duke of Edinburgh expedition and Mr Kibble's Christmas message, we seem to have packed in more than ever. Here's a summary of our best bits - click on the links to follow up on news you missed or view photo galleries from events like our Christmas Carol service.
For the first time, in October a Maths residential was organised by Ms Lydon for Year 8 and 9 students to explore shape, number and data topics while abseiling and quad biking! Stretching their minds and exercising their bodies, the students were really positive about their PGL experience.
With record numbers of students signing up for A Level Maths, some of our Year 13s attended a Maths Inspiration Day in London in December, hearing famous speakers such as Simon Singh talking about 20 years since the proving of Fermat's Last Theorem.
Also this term, we hosted teachers visiting from Shanghai who took over two classes and demonstrated maths teaching Chinese-style. The maths department got a lot of new ideas from observing Miss Zhang's and Miss Liu's lessons, and the students enjoyed the different experience too.
Later this academic year we have Masterclasses, Team Challenges, Year 10 Maths Feast and the ever-popular National Maths Challenges... so plenty of good news to come!
In September, Year 9 students had a special assembly to promote foreign-language-learning, hosted by Deborah Workman, a Languages Executive at British Airways. She ran an interactive workshop of activities based around the work of cabin crew and their dealings with the public, which greatly increased students' understanding of languages in the workplace.
In December, Year 12 Languages students visited the University of Surrey for a Christmas-themed taster afternoon. They attended a taster lecture and talked to subject ambassadors, lecturers and tutors, then joined a Chinese beginner lesson which they absolutely loved.
RE department trips have included a Year 7 visit to St Dunstan's church in September to learn about modern church design (before they designed their own places of worship) and, in November, our first visit to the sisters at Tyburn, Marble Arch. Students went to find out about a life of devotion to God. They also celebrated Mass in the crypt and – two days after the attacks in Paris - prayed for all those who suffer around the world for their faith.
Following a summer of fantastic exam results for both our GCSE and A Level students it was a pleasure to welcome students and parents to our annual Awards Evening at Christ the Prince of Peace church in Weybridge. It is always a joy to celebrate our students' successes, and especially to hear about the progress of students who have moved on to new adventures.
Ten of our sixth formers gave up two weeks of their summer holidays to volunteer in Thailand for the Thai Children's Trust, supporting children and young people with disabilities. It was a rewarding experience for all, and great evidence of Salesian spirit in action.
Thank you to everyone who came along on to our Abba evening to support our fundraising efforts for the children of Don Bosco Ashalayam. An Abba Tribute band entertained, and guests were persuaded to part with over £5,000 in our charity auction.
The annual House Rowathon competition in aid of Baraka Community Projects was a huge success in November. Students raised more than £12,000 for the charity, so thank you very much for your support!
The six Young Salesian Cooperators that started their work in Year 9 have all agreed to continue their mission in Year 10, and renewed their vows in a simple ceremony in the chapel. Their latest initiative is to write a short reflection on the Sunday readings each week which is then put out on the Chaplaincy blog.
Thank you to everyone who helped us put Don Bosco into the UK music chart this year for his Bicentenary. In addition to appearances on Premier Radio and in the local paper, news of the single by 'The Boscos' has now been reported in India, Poland, Italy, Spain and Brazil (where it was used for a Don Bosco Expo in October) and the Youtube video has now received more than 10,000 views in over 100 countries. The Boscos are hosting an evening of Jazz and Swing in January in aid of the Don Bosco Ashalayam, although tickets are already sold out.
In September we were visited by Rt. Rev. Richard Moth, Bishop of Arundel & Brighton, who blessed our new Sixth Form chapel and our new centre to support autistic students, the NAS Cullum Centre. The Cullum Centre was formerly opened a few weeks later and has had a very successful first term supporting its first eight occupants.
The Bishop was followed, in November, by Fr Tadeusz Rozmus, who came as part of his extraordinary visitation on behalf of Fr Angel Fernandez Artime, the 10th Successor of Don Bosco. He was most impressed with all that he saw and was particularly taken with the welcome from students and the dedication of our staff.
Our Eco project to minimise waste is now well under way with Eco Prefects and House Captains running the majority of room checks. Staff and students have made a good start at turning off lights, projectors, computers and recycling paper, with special congratulations to the RE, Geography, Science, History and Maths departments who have come out on top for saving energy and paper.
It has been an exciting first term in the Art and Photography department with new facilities, schemes of work and creative opportunities for our students to enjoy. In KS3, courses have been made more developmental and structured, guiding students towards GCSE-style learning. Year 7 are responding well to the new challenge of observational drawing, while years 8 and 9 have been encouraged to take on more experimental approaches to their work.
In KS4, Year 10 students have settled into their 'Woodland' projects and Year 11 are finishing their final piece of coursework so that they can begin their exam project in January. The School Christmas card competition had a large number of excellent entries but the winner, which was selected by Mr Kibble, was Annabella Hopkins, who produced a wonderful piece of collage work (right).
Record numbers are taking Art and Photography in the Sixth Form. The digital facilities are improving all the time, with the full Adobe Creative Suite, including Photoshop, available for all students, and at home via the school's 'Citrix' system. AS students have created exciting work based on their day trip to Brighton. In Art, all students have their own personal working space and Year 13 have been refining their skills and their portfolios through a new series of life drawing sessions, in our own studio. A number of Year 13 Art and Photography students are currently preparing for interviews at Art schools and universities, and we wish them the very best.
Hats off to our budding bakers! In September, students competed in a 'Euro bake-off' to design cakes on a European theme. The quality was fantastic – and we guarantee one look at the pictures will make you hungry! Then in December our Year 10 catering students produced some stunning Christmas cake decorations, including a prize-winning poinsettia made completely out of sugar.
The Drama department have been busy showcasing a wide range of student work this term. At the end of November, in front of an audience of family and friends, the year 7 Drama Club put on a fantastic night of 'Fairy Tales' showing fantastic creativity and an array of talents. Many thanks to all parents who donated money, which will be used to fund a stage makeup workshop after Christmas.
In December Year 13 students staged three powerful exam pieces which they had devised themselves around real-life human tragedies, which made for a gripping evening. And over two evenings, Year 10 students put on workshop performances of short films and monologues (pictured) they wrote themselves about the experiences of First World War servicemen and their families. These were spine-tingling examples of creativity and empathy, performed with real heart and commitment – well done to all who took part.
Students have also been experiencing theatre. Drama/Theatre students have been to performances of Oresteia (Year 13) and Medea (Year 12) and the English department took Year 10 and 11 students to Wimbledon to see Stephen Daldry's imaginatively staged production of the play they've been studying, 'An Inspector Calls'. Meanwhile, Year 7 have been busy studying Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' in English, and enjoyed a fantastic performance of the classic tale in the school hall by touring theatre company Tiny Giants, who really brought the story to life for the students.
Our musicians have also been busier than ever. The Salesian Scholars choir thoroughly enjoyed seeing Phantom of the Opera in London as the first school trip of the year. In October, they returned to Denham Garden Village Residential Home in Buckinghamshire to perform their Christmas repertoire and some wartime favourites for the residents (right). Also in October, InspireWorks ran a Japanese Taiko drumming session for our GCSE and A level students, to which keen musicians from Years 7-9 were also invited.
Ahead of our performance at the Woking Festival, we used money won from Waitrose last year to hire in a professional choral conductor, Christopher Goldsacks. Christopher spent the day here and workshopped four of our choirs. It was very useful to have a fresh pair of ears scrutinising our choirs and Miss Clarey and Miss Jenkins certainly enjoyed sitting back and listening for a change! At the festival itself, Salesian musicians left with five prizes and a host of Distinction certificates for instrumental and choral performances.
Finally, our Nine Lessons and Carols was our biggest event yet: 170 pupils and staff performed for over 400 guests with the wide-ranging programme featuring traditional carols, opera, pop and musical theatre.
The summer holidays had barely begun and a group of intrepid explorers were bestriding the sunny hilltops of the Lake District for their Gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award expedition or training in the mountains (right). Except that this was England in July, and the lakes did not disappoint, with winds up to 50mph and enough rain to fill each and every mere (and boot) to the brim. The students completed a 4 day and 3 night expedition through some of the toughest conditions the mountains could throw at them, navigating their way from Keswick to Ambleside with aplomb!
Meanwhile, 45 of our Year 8-into-9 students and six brave staff had a rather sunnier time in La Fosca on the Costa Brava! It was an action-packed week-long water sports trip enjoyed by all.
It's been a successful and promising start for all of Year 7: students have thrown themselves into all things Salesian, with a record number joining extra-curricular activities. Head of Year Miss Begg has enjoyed choosing a weekly 'Good Egg', and these students and our PRIDE award-winners were treated to an evening of bowling with Miss Begg, Mr Newman and Mr Fullbrook. It was a great way to celebrate the achievement of our hardest-working students we look forward to doing the same again next term!
December's House trip to Bluewater was a complete success with Rinaldi students (last year's house cup-winners) enjoying activities like Ice Skating, Cinema and Crazy Winter Golf – as well as shopping, of course! Head of House Miss Carlile wants to thank all the members of staff for their help on the day, the Rinaldi students who were a credit to Salesian throughout the day.
This has been the most successful start to the Salesian Sporting season in many years with students performing extremely well in a wide range of sports – we've rarely progressed so far in so many competitions, which is a credit to both the commitment of the students and the dedication of their teachers.
Ever since we installed the outdoor Table Tennis tables in the Yard, the sport's popularity at Salesian has rocketed. This year we have acquired three indoor tables from Ashford TTC, and the increase in participation has been startling, although we still have many more boys than girls playing. In the year of the 'This Girl Can' ad this is something we plan to address! To help the students progress we have been blessed to secure the coaching of former Salesian student Joanna Drinkhall, a Commonwealth Mixed Doubles gold medalist. 40 boys are trialing to join her coaching sessions, which will make choosing a team for the District tournament in the New Year a real challenge.
We are exceptionally proud of all our sports teams who are either progressing rapidly through their competitions or working with real commitment despite a few challenges. There's a full report elsewhere on this site. And that goes double for our cross-country-running girls, who ran the race of their lives to become our highest placed female team ever.
Our new School-Centred Initial Teacher Training programmes kicked off in September, with an impressive 72 trainee teachers attending a three-day induction programme (right) before embarking on their school placements. The SCITT is being delivered by Teach SouthEast, a new teacher training partnership led by Salesian and St John the Baptist (SJB). We provide tailored teacher training programmes for aspiring secondary school teachers, trained by experienced staff from Salesian and SJB and applying what they learn in the classrooms of our network of partner schools.
Trainees attend core teacher training sessions every Friday morning at one of the two lead schools, and then subject-specific training in 'subject hubs' in a selection of lead schools. The commitment from the Salesian staff who have been mentoring, observing lessons and delivering presentations has been phenomenal, and the trainees across the partnership are doing very well. The hard work brings enormous benefits to our students, ensuring a high calibre of teachers continue to enter the profession and teach our children!
As ever, we are hugely grateful for the support of all our parents in our endeavours as a school to help both our students and the wider community.
A great night was had by all at the parent 'back to school' disco on Saturday 10th October. The food was delicious, the Prosecco flowed and thanks to your generosity we managed to raise an amazing £1,200 to buy new bibles for the students. A special thank you to the FoSS parents who work tirelessly before, during and after our events to ensure their success, to Linda Floyd who kindly provided the DJ, and to the many parents who could not attend the event but made generous donations anyway.
A massive THANK YOU also to all that got involved in the Foodbank collection and Orange Day. We collected 27 boxes of food which have been delivered to the Addlestone Foodbank to help local people this Christmas. Then on 'Orange Day' (December 11th), Year 7 students raised a fantastic, £176 for the Bethlehem Project just by wearing an item of orange on their school uniform.
Finally, thank you to all the parents who responded to our recent survey. Your feedback about teaching and the pastoral support provided by the school and its staff was extremely positive and welcome. A key area for development for some parents was the ways in which we communicate with you. We've taken that on board and are investigating the use of smartphone technology to improve and streamline the way we get messages to you. Expect more news in the New Year.