Welcome to our latest review of everything that's been happening at Salesian School. With a host of creative events, overseas trips and exciting new developments, it's a lot to keep up with. Headteacher Mr Kibble has written his annual summer news letter, and you can also enjoy our digest and follow the links below for news or photo galleries of you events you want to follow up in more detail.
In January, 30 A-Level Literature students attended a performance of 'King Lear' at Holy Trinity Church in Guildford, starring renowned Shakespearean actor Brian Blessed in the lead role. Blessed's Lear was a joy to behold: full of pomp, an inflated sense of self and hubris heightened by Blessed's trademark resonant voice. His daughter Rosalind played one of Lear's children which really added to the dramatic intensity of the evening. Students were especially fortunate as it turned out this was Blessed's last performance in the role because of his health. The production was another example of why it is so important for students to see dramatic texts performed on the stage, brought to life by skilful and passionate actors.
Once again this year we hosted 'Celebrating RE Day' for our Deanery schools. The theme for this year's celebration was God's Family. About 60 pupils ranging from Year 3-6 came with their teachers for a day of fun, friendship, creative activities and prayer, working with a wonderful team of Year 9 students. Fr Marco Villani ended the day with a prayer service in the chapel.
St Augustine's care home in Addlestone welcomed some of our Year 11s recently, as part of our studies of issues surrounding health and euthanasia. The manager, Sister Isabel, told students that residents came to the home "to live, not to die", and explained what they do to make sure their clients are cared for and valued. Students even danced and sang with some of the residents, and left with a clear impression of how the elderly can be valued rather than being seen as a 'burden'.
Language students have been putting their skills to use in a Thai Culture Club this year, learning some basic vocabulary and a little about Thai culture. Year 8 students also also tried out their foreign tongues with a trip to British Airways back in January, while in June, Year 9 Languages visited the University of Surrey for a World of Work themed taster day. Students attended mini seminars on the advantages of having a language in the workplace, and spoke to ambassadors, lecturers and tutors, or sampled more 'exotic' languages like Portuguese and Arabic.
Other unusual trips included an A Level Psychology/Sociology visit to Her Majesty's Prison Downview in Sutton, as part of their studies of crime, criminality, law and order; Year 9 and 10 IT students visited Bletchley Park to find out more about the birth of computing.
Many students were interested in this year's General Election and took part in a mock General Election on May 7th, debating policies and making speeches better than the real deal!
Finally we should doff our caps to our Year 11 students. As we now know (August 2015) they achieved terrific GCSE results, and rightly celebrated all of their hard work as their exams finished in July, with their Prom at Silvermere Golf Course.
Your continued support for the children of Don Bosco Ashalayam saw £30,000 and €15,000 transferred to Kolkata in April. This money will cover the upkeep of 150 children in six of the Ashalayam homes in Battar Nagar, a district in Howrah. Fr Jose, the bursar, sent a letter last month expressing his thanks for all that has been done for the children of Kolkata. Every year, our Sixth Form visit reveals the valuable work being done for children who have nothing; we are so grateful for your generous support.
In March, a group of staff and students joined thousands of other young people at Wembley Arena for the inspirational national Catholic Youth Congress.
The Fairtrade Bakeoff showcased our commitment to Fair Trade in March, and this was followed in June by a Fairtrade Bake sale in and in July by the news that we have now achieved 'Fair Active' status for using Fair Trade products in our Mass.
About 40 pupils from Year 7–10 travelled to the shrine of Our Lady at Aylesford on Saturday 6th June, to provide provided music for the Mass, servers, ushers, liturgical dance, etc. It was a joyful experience, but in particular it was wonderful to see pupils from different Year Groups all looking out for each other and mixing freely – they'd have made Don Bosco proud! Eleven students also represented the school at the Diocesan Good Shepherd celebration.
Father Marco and Mr Bryce now have a well-organised programme of Retreats in operation for students. Years 7 and 8 took an afternoon out of classes for reflection time while 21 Year 9s attended a 24-hour residential retreat at St Cassian's in Kintbury, followed in the last week of term by Year 10s.
On a sadder note, we held two memorial services this year: for student Chloe Wakefield, who passed away last summer, and for our former chaplain Ina Coles. Trees have been planted in both their names, one at each site.
Finally, it's a year of birthdays. A few weeks ago we helped the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton celebrate its 50th Anniversary with an exhibition of student are at a birthday bash in Brighton. It's also the 200th Birthday of the Salesians' founder, St John Bosco, this year. We've already contributed to a celebratory exhibition of photographs and hosted a play about the life of Don Bosco. On 16th August we'll mark the day itself with a tea party at our Sixth Form site - we'd love to see you there. And don't forget to download the fantastic song our students have written and recorded in his honour – you can get it from iTunes.
It has been another exciting and very busy year in the Art Department.
In KS3, Students have been drawing inspiration from GCSE work and working with KS4 assessment criteria. Clay has featured heavily in the work of year 7 students as they developed their 'Sweet Things' project towards a conclusion, and all year groups have been encouraged to really push presentation of their artwork and research to a higher level.
The Salesian Christmas card competition had hundreds of entries and it was a very difficult judging task for Mr Kibble. Congratulations to Marielle Espinet (Year 8) for this fantastic image.
Trips have included the GCSE students' own choice of Science, Natural History, or Victoria and Albert Museums, depending upon their chosen project, which resulted in some really interesting work. A level students returned to Brighton to capture images and artistic inspiration for their respective projects. The resulting work was highly rated by the visiting examiner who had come to visit us from his home town – Brighton! Meanwhile, Year 12 Photographers also visited the 'Drawn by Light' exhibition at the Science Museum, featuring iconic photographs of the last 180 years, and the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy.
All these visits, plus a thriving Art Club, have inspired some outstanding work this year: more than 250 Art and Design/Technology works were on show in five exhibition spaces at Highfield Road earlier in July. This was our biggest and most popular exhibition yet; if you missed it, you can view highlights in our online exhibitions of GCSE and A Level Fine Art and A Level Photography.
In Music, the year kicked off with Battle of the Bands in February, a closely fought contest with some truly expert judges and an outstanding winner.
A little more sedately, in March, members of Junior Choir once again visited St Peter's Church in Chertsey to perform for the annual Women's World Day of Prayer. This was a fantastic opportunity for the choir to sing for the wider community and in reward they were treated to a lunch in the hall afterwards! (Thanks to Pat Barnes for inviting us.) The Salesian Scholars and the Salesian Quintet also performed at the Art Gallery in Woking, The Lightbox.
The music department ran separate 'Brightsparks' music trips for key stage 3 and 4 students to hear performances by the London Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall in February. For GCSE students it was a chance to hear some of their set works performed live, while the members of Junior Choir and Orchestra's programme encompassed a London theme. Their concert included works by Haydn, Vaughan Williams and the soundtrack to 'Sherlock Holmes'. Students behaved impeccably and responded extremely well to the experience.
Inspired by all this professional practice, in March our seven choirs, orchestra, African drumming group and newly formed ukulele group treated audiences to our annual Spring Concert. We're grateful to Waitrose for their donation of £700 towards more exciting musical workshops next year.
The Drama department have coached and coaxed some extraordinary performances out of their GCSE and A Level students this year, and those of us who've been privileged to see them have been 'blown away' by the talent and maturity on show. The culmination of all this hard work and training, however, combined the best of the Drama and Music departments in the summer production of 'Calamity Jane' - our best show yet.
The support we give to students exploring their futures continued to develop this year. On February 11th, Year 13 students were invited to Guildford Road where they were faced interviews with experts in their chosen career field. Students were provided with support from Innovate to create a successful covering letter and CV, and we're really grateful to all the parents and friends of Salesian who gave our students a grilling!
For slightly younger students, on March 13th we opened the Sixth Form to Year 11 students from Salesian and other schools for a Taster Day. Students were able to pre-select potential A Level subjects to trial, enabling them to experience a day in the life of a sixth former ahead of their September start.
Of course, as we prepare to welcome new arrivals we say goodbye to our Year 13s. A final Mass led by Fr Marco before half-term marked the official leaving day for our Sixth Form students. Joined in the church by parents, they were individually presented with a Salesian memento by their tutor, and given inspiration messages by Miss Ingram, the Head of Sixth Form, and Miss Haworth, Head of Year 13.
To celebrate the completion of exams and as a formal gathering for the last time as Year 13, our Sixth Formers attended their annual Dinner Dance at Oatlands Park Hotel in Weybridge. It was a superb evening: staff and students mingled over drinks, enjoyed a three-course dinner and then strutted on the dancefloor. It was a terrific way to say goodbye to our students - at least until we see them again on Results Day in August.
Meanwhile, the Year 12s have begun preparing for their life away from school. Sixth Former Louise Farrell writes: "On June 26th we all attended a 'Post-18 options day', where Meg and Steve from the Life Skills Company gave students information and advice about the choices that we have after Sixth Form, and how to present ourselves in writing and in person for interview. I found this very beneficial, as attending the workshop and going through all the content needed in order to write an appealing personal statement, gave me the confidence to write my first draft. We then had a talk from Natalie a careers adviser, about post-18 options, covering apprenticeships and what employers are looking for in an employee. Then former student Jonathan Sinclair-Williams, who attends Cambridge University, gave us a talk on university life and his personal experience of applying for university. I would like to thank Meg and Steve, Natalie and Jonathan, and the Sixth Form teachers for organising this fantastic day!"
We've run another two highly successful ski trips to Austria this year. At February half term, Year 10 rocked the slopes on Saalbach, in the Salzburg region, in perfect skiing conditions. Then at Easter, the Sixth Form discovered outstanding skiing conditions on the glacier at Kaprun.
Other foreign excursions have included our annual weekend trip to Dieppe for Year 8, and the Year 7 day-trip to France, both of which had student linguists hard at work as they pratiquaient leurs française.
In March, Year 9 Textiles students took the Eurostar to Lyon to discover the history of the opulent woven fabrics known as 'Jacquard'. Later in the year, twenty-five young historians spent a long weekend in Ypres in July visiting the Battlefields of the Great War, which gave them a much greater understanding of the scale of what they had been studying in class
It's been another bumper year of Sporting activity for Salesian. You can keep up to date with match reports and all the latest news on our Salesian Sports Website . However, our last-minute rearrangement of Sports Day merits a special mention of the PE team, who had to relocate the entire event in 24 hours as a result of bad weather.
Salesian School is embarking on two exciting new adventures in the year ahead. Our School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) programme, run in partnership with St John the Baptist School in Woking, starts work in earnest in September, with dozens of trainees recruited and learning to teach with us and our network of partner schools. This demanding project will benefit many local schools – including ours - by developing the next generation of teachers trained predominantly in the classroom. We look forward to welcoming them all on board.
The Cullum Centre is now finished and has already welcomed new students for induction. This new initiative, run in association with the National Autistic Society will provide additional support for children on the autistic spectrum as they are integrated into mainstream secondary education. Salesian School already has an established record of success working with children with autism and Asperger's syndrome, and we are excited to be able to develop this work further in the coming year.
And we look forward to working with our friends at the Bourne Academy Trust as work begins in earnest establishing The Runnymede School, a Free School for Chertsey approved in the Spring and due to open in 2017.
Now it won't be long until we welcome back all of our students, and say a special welcome to, not eight but nine new forms of Year 7. Photos of those first-day smiles are just a few weeks away...