Welcome to our review of everything that's happened at Salesian School since Christmas. As ever, it’s been a jam-packed year of creative events, trips and developments. 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.
The highlights of our academic year are always our results days, and with exams such an important focus it can be easy to lose sight of just how much else goes on throughout the school year to provide a rich and varied curriculum for our students.
Take Key Stage 3 Geographers, for example. In January, Year 9 students benefited from a visit by an expert volcanologist, while younger students in Geography Club were learning how to build earthquake-proof houses (pictured). Mapping skills were brought to life for Year 7 with an afternoon of Orienteering in April, and how better to understand environmental and human geography than with field trips to the Eden Project in Cornwall and to Lyndhurst in the New Forest?
Year 9 Historians had a day at the Imperial War museum in June to study life in Nazi Germany. The museum had artifacts from the time which the children were able to hold and examine, and letters between German and US pen-pals which brought the history to life in a new way. After lunch, students entered the new Holocaust exhibition: a shocking experience which the students really embraced and absorbed with respect.
The English department have been encouraging students to engage with public speaking, debating with member of other schools and composing interesting talks on all manner of topics at very short notice! Well done to all who've been taking part so far - we're sure this will grow in the coming years. Extra-curricular activities have also extended beyond our own students, with two teachers taking Shakespeare into one of our Deanery Primary Schools to mark the Bard's 500th anniversary.
Building links with primary schools is more important than ever with the imminent launch of the new Multi Academy Trust. So hats off to Mr Curson and his Year 10 Scientists for taking their own Science Fair on the road and into the Year 6 classrooms of local schools.
Mathematicians have also been getting out and about. In March, four Year 10 students competed at a Maths Feast at the University of Surrey in Guildford. In July, 78 Year 7 students spent the weekend at a combined Maths/Science activity camp run by PGL, designed to help them see the practical applications of what they had been learning in school.
Salesian students live their faith, through prayer and worship, and through looking for ways to help their neighbours. This has been very evident this year.
Our first fundraiser of the year was a well-attended Jazz Evening for the Don Bosco Ashalayam in January, which raised over £1000. Students have also done their bit directly, joining in with our You Can Dance evening in April and helping to raise another £1000. Sales of the single 'It's Not Enough' by school band The Boscos also made a contribution.
Another fundraising effort was the production of a book of children's reflections to mark the Year of Mercy. To date it has raised over £1500 to help Christians in the Middle East. There were also fundraisers on St Patrick's Day, St George's Day, and our own 'Red or Black' lunch in which staff competed with each other in the world's silliest sports (that's Mr Corry, right, proving he can stuff the most marshmallows into his mouth...)
Salesian is a fairtrade school, and in March we raised £150 for the Fair Trade foundation with a bake sale. This was followed by a 'thank you' visit from a banana plantation owner to explain to students the importance of the movement.
Of course, our biggest fundraising event is always RAG Day, which as ever brought Sixth Formers out in a variety of outlandish costumes to collect money for the House charities.
In matters spiritual, a competition was held for Key Stage 3 students to represent St Mary through art, and you can see a selection of their work here. And speaking of Our Lady, our May procession was able to set out from the newly covered statue of Mary, thanks to the gazebo kindly donated by an ex-student. In July, a group of students visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation, the only such Catholic establishment in England, where they learned more about the Year of Mercy as well as the history of the church.
Students represented the school at the annual Arundel & Brighton Good Shepherd celebration event at Arundel Cathedral in June. And for the first time, two of our students were selected to be the Altar Servers at the Diocesan Mass of Thanksgiving in Worth Abbey. Other spiritual events have included retreats for every yeargroup this year, including the Sixth Form, and our Corpus Christi procession in June.
Usually, the two most poignant masses of the year were to bid farewell to our brilliant Year 11 and Year 13 students. This opportunity to formally mark the end of these stages of their education is an important part of our school identity - as are the inevitable (if slightly less holy) Prom and Leavers' Ball that follow the exams a few weeks later!
However, the Mass for Father Andrew Ebrahim (pictured), who is leaving the school after 15 years of sterling service, gave the students a serious run for their money. Former students and staff joined current members of the school and many members of the local community to honour his time at the school and wish him well in his new adventures. It's possible a tear or two was also shed: we will miss you deeply, Father Andrew, but the stained glass window mounted in the Loft in your honour will always be a happy reminder.
We'd also like to acknowledge here all the work done by the Friends of Salesian, our PTA, who have held a variety of events this year to raise money for the school to help us do more of what we do, including a fantastic Irish Night in March, and a Quiz night in April.
Despite all the pressures on the curriculum, at Salesian we've always made room for the creative and performing arts to thrive. This year, we've made a particular push on creativity in general, across the whole curriculum. So it's fitting that we start this section with a visit to the Technology department, where GCSE food students laid on a feast for both the eyes and the tastebuds when they completed their assessments in January. They really should be hung in a gallery - our digital version will have to do!
Those with more horticultural instincts have won the school a new award - Best Newcomers in the Runnymede Greenfingers Award - for their innovative recycled garden outside the Learning Resource Centre.
Our musicians have been busier than ever, it seems. January kicked off with the annual Battle of the Bands competition, which featured a wide range of talented young musicians - and also the staff band! Our professional panel of judges were incredibly impressed, but blown away by Brendan Soane, Corinna Herriot and Callum Mitchell who won by singing their own composition. Then in March our choir once again performed at the Women’s World Day of Prayer in St Anne’s Church (pictured); it's always a lovely opportunity to give something back to the local community.
Then in the summer term, choirs performed twice - first at the Spring Concert at Highfield Road Hall, then a few weeks later in a specially curated concert of French music, at St Anne's church, led by some of our most experienced singers, with outstanding results. Not to be left out, in June our Music Academy instrumentalists held their own concert to celebrate everything they'd learned, too, and the musical year ended with our Young Musician of the Year competition - another closely fought contest!
Stage-struck students made their way to Miss Neal, who directed a production of Roald Dahl's The Witches in July, to hilarious and spellbinding effect, even juggling two casts to give more students the chance to perform. And visitors to our brand new Creativity Evening the week before could have got a sneak peak of what was in store as students rehearsed scenes while parents strolled by. This event included displays of work from across the curriculum, but as ever the highlights were the exhibitions of GCSE Art, A Level Art and A Level Photography. If you missed the exhibition, please do take a moment to visit our galleries. Particular congratulations are due to Year 13 student Tyler Reed, whose artwork was shortlisted by the Royal Academy of Arts for exhibition.
The support we give to students exploring their futures continued to develop this year.
On February 10th, Year 13 students were invited to Guildford Road where they 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! Meanwhile we started preparing for the next Sixth Form intake with our annual taster day for Year 11.
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, followed a few weeks later by their annual Dinner Dance, this year at Beaumont Estate in Old Windsor (right).
Meanwhile, the Year 12s have begun preparing for their life away from school. This started with a visit to Sir William Perkins's School in February where the students visited a Higher Education Fair where they were able to speak to a wide range of universities and attend workshops on applications and student life. On June 29th students attended a Post-18 options day, where Meg and Steve from the Life Skills Company helped students identify pathways to follow after school, and how to plan for them. This was followed by an information evening for parents.
Students have been also able to get out of college to explore their choices further. Many have visited university days in their own time, but additionally there has been a trip to Oxford for those interested in applying to Oxbridge, a successful work experience for our World of Workers and the whole year group attended a day trip to Portsmouth University where they got a taster of lectures and student life. Now they have lots to research and a personal statement to perfect before applications are made in the Autumn.
Meanwhile, our busy curriculum has, like the rest of the school, made room for some exciting trips and visits. Business students have been out to hear specialist speakers and attend workshops, A Level Historians and Psychologists have attended curriculum conferences and Year 12 Geographers have had a field trip, to name but a few. In March, 15 A Level Chemists were privileged to spend a day at A Level Chemistry Live in London, hearing about the latest developments in research and applications of their favourite subject. It's also been a year for culture: Drama students saw Macbeth at the Young Vic while English students saw Orwell's 1984 at the Playhouse, and the Salesian Scholars (our only auditioning choir) took in Madam Butterfly at the Coliseum.
There have been a wealth of opportunities for students to spread their wings beyond our borders this year. Our Austrian ski trips for Year 10 and the Sixth Form remain popular and the slopes provided some excellent snow in February.
However it was April when the passports really came in handy. First there were trips to Turin to retrace the footsteps of Don Bosco (the founder of the Salesians) and to Barcelona for some serious Spanish practice. Not content with seeing Spain first hand, we also hosted an exchange with students from Madrid with a return visit over the May half term. Then in June it was the turn of Year 8 French students to travel, with a weekend in Dieppe.
Finally there's our annual trip for Year 12 to work with the Fr. Ray Foundation in Thailand, supporting orphanages and children's homes, a school for the disabled and a drop in centre for street children, which set out in the last week of the summer term. The students raised £1500 for the Foundation earlier in the year with a highly successful quiz evening and auction, and will running sessions for the Thai children in arts and crafts, sports, swimming and play.
The PE department have had another busy and successful year. The whole-school highlight is, as ever, Sports Day, which was held off-site for the first time in many years, at the track in Stompond Lane, Walton-on-Thames. Congratulations, Savio house, for your winning performances on the day. This was hotly followed by the annual Sports Awards of the year, for which this video of sporting successes (below) was produced. Enjoy!
For the second year running, we look forward to welcoming nine forms of Year 7 this September, following another successful two induction days in July. Our continued expansion means we will be breaking ground on a new classroom building this coming year - we'll keep you posted on developments.
We look forward to welcoming our second cohort of teacher trainees in our growing Teaching School, as well as welcoming some of our first-year trainees onto our own staff full time, following their successful graduation. If you're interested in training or returning to teaching, please do get in touch.
In response to parent feedback we launched our new parent app to improve our communications between school and home. We're continuing to explore ways to improve this further, and we'll let you know as these investigations develop.