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The Piggott School

A Church of England Academy

Piggott Blog

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  • September Welcome Letter

    Published 20/09/22, by David Thatcher

    Following a warm and sunny summer break, the month of September is progressing at a rapid pace. The darker mornings and much needed rain certainly signify the start of autumn. It was wonderful to welcome our students back to school last week. Year 7 look extremely smart in their new uniform and they have continued to impress us with their commitment, resilience, and determination to manage all that is new. I know that they are going to become valued members of our school throughout their Piggott journey. I would also like to welcome our new Year 12 cohort. On the back of some fantastic GCSE results, we were delighted to enrol many internal and external applicants to our 6th form. We look forward to getting to know them all over the coming term.

    It has been my privilege to lead our worship assemblies this week. All year groups have a formal assembly in the main hall every week, during which they are encouraged to pause, reflect and take some time to invest in their spiritual growth. As a Church of England School, our worship assemblies are based upon a passage from the bible, but the assemblies are invitational and inclusive in their nature. If a young person has a faith, they can use the time to grow their faith and pray. For students with other world views, it is a time to consider and reflect on their own values and beliefs, focusing on the moral message of the assembly. Whilst our school is wholly committed to academic excellence, our priority is to educate young people holistically and ensure that they have ‘deep roots’ and stability in order to weather the challenges that they will experience in life.

    Our Christian Vision is based upon The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37). I would encourage you to read the passage in full, but I would like to take this opportunity to remind our families as to why we chose the directive of ‘Go and do likewise’ for our school community. The passage begins by sharing the word that is written in the law. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. And love your neighbour as yourself’. We want the foundation of our school to be based upon love and compassion. A school where everyone actively seeks the opportunity to show empathy and deep understanding for each other, with no discrimination or prejudice. A community where acceptance and the celebration of diversity is at the heart of its practice. The story of The Good Samaritan is one of selfless charity for a neighbour in need. It is our hope that all members of our community will use the school values to offer charity to those in need but also be brave enough to seek help for themselves when they need it. We are extremely proud of the students in our school, and we know that they are the generation who will be positive advocates for change. It is the directive from Jesus to ‘Go and do likewise’ that will empower our students to model empathy, compassion and love whilst leading the world towards improved outcomes.

    As the period of national mourning comes to an end on Monday, the world will join to offer thanks for the life and service of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. As the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, she would always refer to her strong, deep faith when addressing an assembly. Her faith gave her purpose, strength and clarity as a leader. Her kindness, empathy and warmth has been described by all who met her. She was a humble leader who accepted her destiny and described herself as ‘your servant’. Dutiful, faithful, and constant. The Queen dedicated her life, through her faith, to ‘Go and do likewise’. May she rest in peace.

    Throughout the school week, there are many planned, and unplanned, opportunities for our students to experience personal growth and be still. Every morning, we will come together for a collective act of worship during tutor time at 8.40am. The school will be collectively silent for two minutes, allowing all its members to have time to pray, be mindful or reflect on the day ahead. Some silence and stillness can be very powerful in restoring positive mental health. During this time, students will be reminded to forgive themselves for mistakes that may have been made and to focus on celebrating success, noticing what is going well. Encouraging our students to notice, ponder on the bigger questions in life and share is a fundamental part of their development and wellbeing.

    Over the past two years, we have been overwhelmed by the support of our parents and the wider community. There have been challenging times for us all, but we have been grateful for the faith and trust that you have had in us whilst we have navigated through unknown waters. We are extremely proud of the resilience shown by staff and students through this period, and we remain committed to you, our families, to provide the very best partnership and learning experience for the young people in our care.

    As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can be of any support. We look forward to welcoming you into school across the year at some of the exciting events we have planned.

    Thank you for your on-going support of our school.

    Yours faithfully

     

    Rebecca Alexander

    Deputy Headteacher

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  • End of year 2022

    Published 13/07/22, by James Fisher

    As the end of term approaches, I write to reflect on such a positive year. The journey out of Covid remains a challenging one and we will continue to meet barriers and restrictions as we try to return to some normality. It does, however, feel really good to start to re-connect with others, enjoy social time together and remember the benefits of meeting face to face.

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  • World book day

    Published 07/03/22, by Andy Riley

    Dear Parents and Carers

    As we enter the month of March, Spring is on the horizon. Longer hours of daylight and the beauty of snowdrops and daffodils offer a promise of warmer weather and brighter days. We hope that the stormy days and rain are behind us and that the sun will eventually break through. The spring term in school is normally a short but busy term. I am writing today to share with you some of the highlights so far and also to bring our community together to consider how we can show empathy and solidarity with those in crisis.

    Yesterday was World Book Day and it was brilliant to see the costumes on display and ‘book talks’ taking place across the school. We would like to show our gratitude to the newly formed PSA for their commitment in supporting us with this. At breaktime and lunchtime, they sold hot chocolate to raise funds and hosted a ‘book swop’ for students to explore new texts. Thank you to all the parents and staff involved. We are all aware of the importance of reading and how it can open the world to us, broadening our understanding on a wider map.

    As the Covid restrictions begin to lift, we have been excited to return to some of our normal practice this term. The re-introduction of face to face assemblies has been welcomed. We know that this learning time is crucial when building a sense of identity and community spirit in each year group. It is also a time for personal growth, the development of values and the consideration of support for one another. We are acutely aware of the impact that the last two years has had on the well being of members of our school community and in line with our vision, we will be using assembly time to build resilience, self-belief and security for our young people.

    The pace and immediacy of the world that our students live in can present challenge. Digital platforms and social media can provide learning and debate for us all, but as adults we are aware of the negative aspects that can also be generated. As a school we remain committed to ensuring that we address these concerns, challenge misconceptions, and educate young people to be safe, informed and courageous in the decisions they make. In recent months we have benefitted from visits by professional organisations and charities to support us in this work. ‘Soulscape’, a Wokingham charity, gave a workshop with our KS4 students regarding understanding pornography in society and, on Tuesday this week, all students from Year 7 – 11 enjoyed a performance from the boy band, ‘Here At Last’. They offered an unplugged concert and spoke to the students about cyber bullying and online safety. The feedback from these sessions has been extremely positive.

    We have also valued a series of workshops with the local charity, Brave Minds. This charity has a range of goals centred in supporting schools and sports organisations in keeping the promotion of positive mental health at the heart of their community. This charity has been founded by the Rugby community and it has a number of professional Rugby players as its ambassadors. Their aim is to address the cultural challenge for young men and explore ‘toxic masculinity’ in the broadest sense. They have given a small group of Year 10 boys space to talk, learn and reflect on their mental health and behaviours whilst learning about themselves and who they want to be. We hope to continue our partnership with this charity - #togetherwecan.

    Finally, I would like to share with you our response to the conflict taking place in Ukraine. This week, tutors and teaching staff have been ready and prepared to offer time and space for our students to discuss the situation. Using the ‘Windows, Mirrors, Doors’ structure, we have encouraged the students to begin by ‘looking through the window’ at the facts. They have been encouraged to explore the historical and political context, whilst ensuring that they are using reliable sources. Following this, they ‘look into the mirror’ and consider their own thoughts, reflections and questions regarding what they have learned and the impact of the situation. Finally, ‘the door’ supports the students in considering what steps they might take next in response to their learning. In line with our vision of ‘Go and do likewise’, they consider what opportunities are possible in order to make a difference.

    We would like to show love and compassion to those who have been affected by the events in Ukraine. This morning, the Student Voice Council will meet and discuss how they believe we should respond as a school community. We are aware that many organisations are accepting donations of resources but we will also consider the possibility of a donation of funds to The British Red Cross or UNICEF, as an additional way of getting support to those who need it. The Student Council will be writing to parents and students to share their intentions and will ask for your support in due course. We hope that you will be able to support their plans, should you be able to. We will continue to pray for all of those in need, focusing on strength, love and hope to carry them forward.

     

    Thank you for your on-going support of our school.

    Yours faithfully

    Rebecca Alexander

    Deputy Headteacher

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  • Christmas is coming!

    Published 15/12/21, by Allison Holloway

    As I write, I am looking out of my office window at the students enjoying the Mince Pie Relay on the Wargrave field. It is wonderful to see them having fun and showing team spirit but the best part is hearing their laughter at the end of a long autumn term.

    Christmas is coming!

    It has been a busy term, and despite the obvious challenges from COVID, the school community should be really proud of all that it has achieved. Staff and students alike have worked very hard to set the pace for this new academic year, determined to keep expectations high and achieve the very best outcomes for everyone. The pace has been fast and the commitment to learning has been relentless. You have all modelled our school values of courage and dedication superbly. It can be hard to maintain stability in school, when the COVID landscape is so unpredictable, but together we are stronger and we will continue to plan for the very best learning experience in school for everyone.

    The Autumn term is traditionally the busiest for events in the school calendar. This year, events have included Virtual Welcome Evenings for prospective Year 7 and Year 12 students, Post-16 career interviews with friends of the school from the world of work and visiting drama companies educating our students about the dangers of peer-on-peer abuse.

     

     

    There has been success in sport and music and we were able to, once again, enjoy offsite learning on activities day. Our students have supported us with tours around the school and their feedback has been very much valued when interviewing prospective staff. They remain our very best ambassadors and we are extremely proud of them.

     

     

    In November, it was with a heavy heart that we decided to cancel the Christmas Fayre due to safety concerns. We know that all of the students, and the staff, really enjoy this event and it is usually a very strong fund raiser. With a newly formed PSA (Piggott School Association), this was particularly disappointing for the parents who had come on board this term to support us. Not to be beaten, we looked for alternative options and, on the 3rd December, the new PSA co-ordinated an ‘Outdoors and COVID friendly’ Christmas Fayre for Year 7. It was wonderful. It had to be seen to be believed but approximately 220 students designed, managed and enjoyed a variety of stalls in the netball courts raising money whilst having fun. There was a hot chocolate stand, a chance for Christmas selfies, lots of cake and even a chance to shoot a goal. It was a brilliant afternoon and we are so grateful to all of the parents and friends of the school who made it such a success. We are looking forward to the next project!

    On Friday, at approximately 12.40pm, our school will close for the Christmas break. A well-deserved break for all. There will be mixed emotions from staff. The prospect of a pause from planning and marking will be welcomed but I know that they will miss and think of our students many times over the two-week period. The partnership and relationships built in a school are the foundation of why teaching is so special.

    Our Christmas Service this year has been recorded and it is my pleasure to share it with you today. This year the theme focuses on peace and being ‘stronger together’. Periods of isolation have been difficult for us all and we must remind one another that we will find strength in each other when we need it. I hope that you enjoy it.

    Finally, I would like to say thank you. We are so grateful to have such a supportive parent community. It has been a difficult time for us all, in many different ways. Each of our challenges are real and we must never be afraid to ask for help. As the holiday season begins, many of us will pause in gratitude for all that we have but there will be those who find this time difficult. Worry, stress, grief and loneliness can be significant hurdles in our lives and we must stay vigilant to those around us, showing kindness and compassion when it is needed. We may also carry COVID related anxiety. For this, I turn to Charlie Mackesy for guidance.

    He says ‘When the big things feel out of control, focus on what you love right under your nose’. Surround yourself with those you love. Some might say that it is not about the journey or the destination in life but more about the company.

    We wish you a wonderful and restful Christmas. We will look forward to seeing you in the new year.

    Yours sincerely

    Rebecca Alexander

    Deputy Headteacher

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  • A break from the norm - Activities Day 2021

    Published 17/11/21, by Allison Holloway
    Activities Day 2021

    The week before half-term was full of fun and adventure for students who have long awaited a trip beyond the school gates!

    On Thursday 14 October, more than 710 students across Years 7, 9 and 13 had the opportunity to venture out of the classroom to enjoy a change of scenery with friends. Meanwhile, students in Years 8, 10, 11 and 12 took part in a range of activities on site.

    Marwell Zoo – Year 7

    215 Year 7 students visited Marwell Zoo and were mostly excited about the freedom they had to explore the zoo with their friends. I enjoyed “getting to go around the park with my classmates and having some freedom over what we did over the day.”

    The giraffes and sloths were a particular hit.  “I enjoyed seeing lots of different animals but especially the sloths and the giraffes. Sloths are my favourite animals” and “I enjoyed the rainforest section because it was realistic, and I saw a really cool sloth!”

    Business and Media Day – Year 8

    Year 8 students stayed onsite on activities day but had a busy day engaging in creative group tasks and learning more about the GCSE subjects of business and media. Below is an account of the day by three Year 8 students:

    The purpose of this day was to create interest and let us learn what some of the most common GCSE topics were about. This included Business and Media. During the day we worked on creating a pitch and presentation for our own custom subscription box, which included aspects of Business and Media during each of the sessions. We switched between the two subjects adding different elements to each of them until the end of the day when we decided who had created the best pitch and subscription box out of the year group. This day has taught us how to create an effective and persuasive pitch, come up with reasonable prices, target audiences and advertisements. We also showed compatible cooperation within our team and worked together so that everyone could achieve more. We all enjoyed activities day because it brought out our hidden problem- solving skills and our teamwork together.

    By Milla, Chloe and Archie, Year 8

    Year 8 Activities Day Gallery 2021

    Thorpe Park – Year 9

    192 students Year 9 students had an adrenaline pumping day riding the rollercoasters of Thorpe Park on Activities Day and many students surprised themselves with their courage to try something new.

    One student commented, “The best thing was coming way out of my comfort zone and trying new things. (In this case it was rollercoasters)”. Another student admitted that the best part of the day was “going on rides that I would not normally go on as I am scared of heights, but I enjoyed them and my friends helped me get over my fear.”

    Students relished the freedom of walking around the park without supervision, for one student the highlight was “being able to do anything once we got there with friends and being able to be on our own without teachers.”

    Overall, this student summed up the day as a success because it was a “chance to take a break from learning and spend time with my friends outside of an educational environment.”

    Positively Mad – Year 11

    Positively Mad motivational speaker, Jay had Year 12 students eating out of his hand by the end of the day with his inspiring and dynamic delivery providing a multisensory, interactive experience challenging students to see learning in a new light and to see their learning as a positive, enriching experience.

     

    Bath and Royal Holloway University – Year 13

    Most of our Year 13 students had a glimpse of university life with a visit to Bath and Royal Holloway University. While there, students had first-hand experience of a university lecture, had the chance to ask students and staff questions in a Q&A session and were about to take a look around the campus facilities and get a feel for life on campus.

    The highlight was “talking with some of the students about their experience at Bath”, “asking the ambassador questions about my specific subject” and “experiencing a lecture to get a feel for how they are given.”

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  • It's good to be back

    Published 10/09/21, by Allison Holloway

    As I write, I am looking out of my office window at the rain falling. It appears that summer has gone! I am writing to offer a warm welcome to all of our families at the start of the new academic year. I hope that the summer break provided our students with some time for relaxation and recuperation. It has been such challenging 18 months in many ways for us all. We are mindful that the pandemic has taken its toll on the mental health of many members of our community and we will continue to do all that we can to facilitate our students and staff in securing their resilience through partnership, friendship and support.

    It was wonderful to see all of Year 7 to 11 arriving for school this morning. Beautifully presented and ready to learn. We are very much looking forward to a full house on Monday when Year 12 and 13 join us. We have been grateful for your patience and understanding regarding the staggered start to term. Safety remains our priority and we are committed to following the guidance from the Department for Education. The testing centre has, once again, been instrumental in ensuring that we have identified asymptomatic cases and minimised the risk of transmitting the virus amongst the school community. We have registered 39 positive cases amongst the staff and student body. This large number could have resulted in a local outbreak in school but the staggered start has prevented that from happening. Our risks assessments have been updated and are available on the website if you wish to view them. We will continue to ensure that we are focused on hygiene, distancing and ventilation as crucial control measures on our site. The wellbeing and safety of all will remain at the centre of our decision-making and planning moving forward.

    The return of the students today has brought laughter, energy and renewed purpose back into our school. We are extremely proud of the young people we work with and our staff consider it a privilege to be part of their learning journey. As a Church of England School, we have a strong vision for the personal development of our students. Our vision comes from the teaching of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It is ‘Go and do likewise’. We will encourage and empower our students to live their lives with love and compassion whilst asking for help when they need it. As a school, we are focused on the very best outcomes for our students, both academically and personally. All that we do aims to provide opportunity for personal growth, spirituality and happiness.

    The Piggott Church of England School is a company limited by guarantee Registered in England and Wales, registration number 7682284 The Piggott Church of England School is an exempt charity. Through our curriculum, assemblies and tutor time, we will be encouraging our students to develop their own values and beliefs. Our school values of Courage, Respect, Honesty, Dedication, Equality and Love define our behaviours towards each other. This year, we will continue to provide space and time for our students to learn about the world around them. We will encourage them to be curious, articulate and forward thinking. They will learn to advocate for what they believe is right, listen to others and develop an understanding of how to lead change through educating those around them. All of these skills will empower them to ‘Go and do likewise.’

    Whilst it has been impossible to welcome you into school in recent months, we are committed to the partnership that we have with you as parents. We are a team around your son or daughter and we value working alongside you to support them holistically with their learning and development. I am extremely lucky to work with a committed and hardworking pastoral team who take pride in doing all that they can to support the students in their year groups. If you are concerned about the welfare of your son or daughter, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Your child’s tutor is the first point of contact and then relevant Head of Year will support moving forward. If your concern is a safety related, please contact Jo Colby, our Safeguarding and Child Protection Officer. We are ready to support you. Please be assured that all contact and information will be managed sensitively and next steps will always be agreed in partnership.

    Thank you for your continued support of the school. We are excited to see what this term will bring. I believe that I speak for the majority of students, staff and parents, when I say that we are hoping for some ‘normality’ to return. We shall see! I hope that you have a restful weekend.

    Yours sincerely

    Rebecca Alexander

    Deputy Headteacher

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