Looking forward, looking back

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Janus: the Roman god of transitions, beginnings and endings

This week, at the end of the academic year, I have been conducting my assemblies with students and talking about the Roman god Janus. Janus was always depicted with two faces: one, looking forward into the future; the other, looking back into the past. I have been doing some Janus-like reflection as we reach the end of this year and look forward to the next.

Olympic lessons

I started this year on the Headteacher’s blog with Lessons from the Olympics. Inspired by Rio 2016, I looked back on the inspiration of Ruby Harrold, a Churchill alumnus who represented Team GB in gymnastics. This week it was my pleasure to meet Ruby, who passed on her inspiration to some stars of the future.

Churchill at 60

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We have all been looking back this year on the history of Churchill Academy & Sixth Form, both on this blog and on the dedicated page on our website. This week, I had the great privilege of meeting Ivan Devereux, our first ever Head Boy, who joined the brand new secondary school in 1957 from the old V.C. Church of England school which used to stand by the crossroads. He remembered starting in the very first classes, including the names of the teachers listed in the School Log Book! He was given a tour of the Academy by our new Tudor House Captains, and showed us the dictionary he was given as Head Boy with a signed bookplate from the first Headmaster, Reginald Dennis. I was fascinated by the old school badge: like our current one, it reflects the four houses of Windsor, Stuart, Hanover and Tudor, but using symbols instead of colours. House pride has been part of the school for as long as there has been a school here! It was fitting, therefore that this week I have officially welcomed our new House Captains with their embroidered polo shirts at our Celebration of Success events.

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Looking ahead, we have our 60th Anniversary Gala Evening to mark 60 years since the official opening of the school taking place on 23rd September. You can buy your tickets here for what promises to be an incredible night to celebrate the history and the future of Churchill.

The Academy Site

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Looking back over the course of this year it’s hard to believe that the Alan Turing Building was an empty patch of earth in September, and is now a fully operational facility for our students with brand-new computer rooms and classrooms. Looking ahead, work is due to start in August on our fourteen-classroom Science and Technology building, which will transform the opportunities for students in those subjects and lead to the decommissioning of the original 1956 Tudor building.

Over the summer there are lots of other works going on across the Academy to redevelop our learning environment, including the new Student Services facility above the Library and brand new study facilities for our Sixth Formers.

Rest, relax, recharge

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The students and the staff have worked really hard this year, pushing themselves to go that extra mile every single day. At this week’s Celebration of Success events, it has been a privilege to recognise some of those hardworking, dedicated students and present them with their certificates. I wish everyone in the Churchill Academy & Sixth Form community a restful and relaxing summer break, and look forward to seeing you in September refreshed, recharged and ready for the next challenge!

Activities Week 2017

Activities Week is a great opportunity for students to learn something new, beyond their “normal” curriculum. I am really proud that Churchill continues to run such a diverse, engaging and exciting Activities Week programme, which this year has included (to name a few) animation, archery, art, beauty, bushcraft, cake decorating, candle making, chess, circus skills, cookery, computing, crafts, cycling, dancing, driving, film studies, first aid, football, frisbee, golf, horse riding, illustration, jewellery, journalism, sailing, shooting, skiing, snowboarding, surfing, textiles and a trip to the zoo! We’ve also given students experiences abroad, with trips to France, Belgium and Italy as well as the popular Surf Trip to Cornwall.

Activities week shows that learning isn’t just about what goes on in the classroom, but stretches far beyond. As well as learning to surf, or ride a horse, or make a scented candle, students are learning about collaborating with others who they may not usually get the chance to work with. And, of course, to enjoy themselves in the process!

Ten things I loved about Sports Day 2017

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30th June 2017 was Sports Day. For the full results – including the fifteen house records broken on the day – please see the Academy website. Here are ten things I loved about the day.

1. The taking part

It was great to see the winners, but what was even better was to see those students mopping up points for their house by taking part. Even if they walked the 1500m, they still got a point for finishing, and this kind of commitment is fantastic to lift the spirits of the houses.

2. The sporting spirit

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In the high jump, competitors who were out of the competition stayed on to cheer their opponents on as the bar was raised. In the track events, when one competitor stumbled their rival in the next lane stopped to help them up. When athletes were struggling to finish, friends  would step up to run alongside them. Sports Day was about kindness alongside competition.

3. The video

Will Maitland-Round (aka Boris) was wandering round all day with a camera, loading a GoPro onto Jack Panicucci for the sprint, and interviewing competitors and supporters alike. The end product, as the video says, is EPIC.

4. The music

Mr Smith is never happier than when he’s behind the wheels of steel, providing the tunes to soundtrack Sports Day. There was an impromptu outbreak of disco at one point, and One Direction and Carly Rae Jepsen were unexpected hits. Naturally, my personal highlight was not one but two Taylor Swift tracks – although Mr Hart interrupted¬†Love Story¬†so the competitors could hear the gun to start a race. I must speak to Team PE about their priorities… A special mention also to the fantastic Sports day band who put together some brilliant music.

5. The Sixth Form Council

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The Council always do a great job with their Sports Day refreshment stand, but this year they expanded their role, deputising for Mr Smith to DJ (loved the Stevie Wonder!) and throw some shapes of their own. They showed great initiative and teamwork, and were every bit the role models for our younger students to look up to.

6. The House Pride

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It’s a big tradition to deck yourself out in house colours for Sports Day, and as the day went on the extravagance of the face-paint increased. I love the creativity in some of them – and the house pride!

7. The organisation

I love a well-organised event, and Team PE run a very tight ship on Sports Day. Everyone has a job to do, everything runs to time, and everyone pitches in. It’s because every detail has been planned for – and is executed so well – that the day is such a success.

8. The barbecue

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Our catering team put on a fantastic barbecue every year, and this year’s was absolutely delicious – and very popular!

9. The community

More families than ever came along to enjoy Sports Day with us this year, and it was great to bring the Academy community together to celebrate the successes and cheer on the competitors. We were also joined by several of our Academy Governors – our Chair of Governors, Mr Poole, even treated me to an ice-cream!

10. The atmosphere

No photograph or video can truly capture the wonderful atmosphere of a Churchill Academy Sports Day. The warmth and respect in the relationships between staff and students, the teamwork and trust between the staff, and the kindness, sportsmanship and friendly rivalry between the students themselves shone through. It’s one of those rare occasions when the whole student body gathers together, and looking out at everyone as I announced the results it was quite awe-inspiring. Team PE are already planning Sports Day 2018 and they have promised it will be even bigger and even better. I can’t wait!