I am sad to say that at a full staff meeting held on Monday January 7th I announced my retirement from Minsthorpe in April 2019.
Minsthorpe Community College – like all schools – is facing an unprecedented financial crisis and has to make dramatic cuts in order to guarantee its future survival. As the highest paid teacher at the College I have decided to take early retirement so that my salary can be saved. The Governors have agreed to an exciting succession plan that will see my two Vice Principals, Rachael Merritt and Mark Gilmore, step up to become the new Joint Principals of the College. This move will save money but, more importantly, it will mean that there will be no loss of energy or momentum as both of these leaders have been crucial players in the success story of the College and will hit the ground running after Easter in order to continue to lead the College forward on its exciting and transformational journey.
From the moment I joined Minsthorpe in January 2014 I knew that this would be my last job as a school leader – simply because any other school would suffer by comparison. Leading this College has been an honour and a privilege and I am desperately sad to be leaving. The leadership team is the best I have ever worked with in my 36 years as a teacher and its staff the most dedicated and hard working group of people who care passionately about giving the students every opportunity to make a success of their lives. I will miss the students a great deal – their humour, their bluntness, their energy and their determination to be all that they can be has inspired me on a daily basis.
For me, the last five years have been proof of the adage that if you are in a job that you love then you will not do a day’s work in your life! Every day has been exciting and energising and it has been an absolute pleasure for me.
It has been said that you never truly leave a place that you love as you leave something of yourself behind and take something of the place away with you. This is so true! My whole career has been leading me to Minsthorpe and, for me it has been a source of enormous pride that I was chosen to lead this College and I will look back at my time here with a huge amount of pleasure and satisfaction.
During November 2018, the Computer Science department at Minsthorpe Community College took part in an international competition called "Bebras". The competition was run with over 500 students in Years 7 & 8. All students who took part will receive certificates for ‘Participation’, ‘Distinction’ and ‘Best in the School’. A special mention goes to Millie and Sally who both achieved results in the top 10% of the country. These students are now eligible for entry into the TCS Oxford Computing Challenge. This will take place in March 2019. If successful, both girls will be invited to Oxford University.
Mr Mallinson (Head of Computer Science) said "This was a great way to promote more students, especially girls, into the computer science industry. The tasks were delivered online and were fun, engaging and based on problems that computer scientists often meet and enjoy solving. With curriculum content becoming more challenging, this was an exciting opportunity for students to put their logical and computational thinking skills to great effect."
On Thursday 22nd November Post 16 students from Minsthorpe attended the graduation ceremony for the Progression Module Plus. This is a qualification that is supported by many West Yorkshire universities and involves students doing research on their intended career route in order to make an informed choice about whether to enter the profession with A-levels or a degree.
The Progression Module Plus course tutor was none other than the College Principal, Mr Henshaw, who was invited to form part of the Academic Honour Guard who applaud the graduates out after gaining their certificates. Mr Henshaw is himself a graduate from Leicester University and can be seen in the colours, cap and gown of his awarding university.
As you are probably aware, some of our students (and their teacher, Dean Jones) performed as the Minsthorpe Soul Band at a Go Higher West Yorkshire funded event, at Headingley Stadium, Leeds on Wednesday of last week. The event was to highlight some of the events/activities that young people, who are in GHWY postcode areas (which tend to have low rates of progression to University) have taken part in over the past year. The Soul Band originally performed and wowed, at the ‘Access All Areas’ event that took place at the Backstage Academy, South Kirby, earlier this year. The Band was so well received, that they were asked to perform at the event this week, as the headline act, both opening and closing the Event, with 2 further performances during the Event.
If you have seen/heard the Band perform, you will know what an amazingly talented group of young people make up this Band. On Wednesday the accompanying staff lost count of the number of people who approached them to speak about the ‘amazing’, ‘awesome’, ‘talented’, ‘fantastic’ (to name just a few adjectives used) students who performed. The students themselves were an absolute credit to Minsthorpe, their families and themselves. They were courteous, polite and their behaviour was impeccable throughout the day. As a group, the older students are perfect peer mentors, especially to the two youngest members of the Band, who have themselves integrated in to the Band, with seemingly effortless ease. They all obviously have a fantastic relationship with Dean Jones, who also performed with the band and who gives up so much of his time, to support these young people and nurture their incredible talents.
The students who make up the Band are: Neve, Alister, Ella, James, Matthew, Lucy, Abi, Terry and Ryan.
The College offers special thanks to Dean Jones for all his time in helping make this a truly memorable event.
Students from Minsthorpe Community College paid their respects to all those who have lost their lives in conflicts across the world in a number of ways in the week leading up to Remembrance Sunday. Students from the Year 7 Nurture Group made a wreath to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice and each planted an individual poppy in The Oasis Garden – an area set aside in the College to remember the staff and students of Minsthorpe who have sadly passed away.
The Humanities Team have created a huge Thank You display in their curriculum area that has been decorated by students who have placed their poppies there to remember members of their family who have lost their lives in war or simply to say thank you to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. On Sunday November 11th two students, Alicia Davidson and Kamil Wilczak, accompanied the Principal in the Remembrance Parade and laid a wreath of poppies from the College at the South Elmsall and Moorthrorpe War Memorial to honour the fallen.
A group of our students visited New York during the half term break. Here are some of the social media posts they made during their trip:
On Thursday October 18th the College was proud to receive a visit from Jon Trickett MP. Jon has been the Member of Parliament for Hemsworth since a 1996 by-election. He was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government under the (then) new Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn in September 2015, before being appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills in July 2016. He held this position until the shadow cabinet reshuffle in October 2016.
Jon is a passionate advocate for social mobility and champions the role of schools in opening up opportunities for young people – especially those which serve disadvantaged communities. Thus he wanted to see the excellent work that Minsthorpe Community College is doing in raising the aspirations of its students and providing them with successful progression routes into employment, further and higher education.
During his visit he was able to visit a number of lessons and talk to students and, as you can see from his video message, he was clearly impressed by what he saw. The qualities that he saw were recently acknowledged by Ofsted in May 2018 and the College continues to shine as a beacon of opportunity for students from the SESKU region.
The College has been given the opportunity to take part in a new project that will run jointly between schools, Wakefield Council and West Yorkshire Police. The project aims to support children who are living in households where there are incidents of domestic violence and abuse.
Witnessing or even hearing domestic abuse is distressing for a child or young person. They may see the abuse, hear it from another room, see a parent’s injuries or distress afterwards or can be physically hurt trying to stop the abuse.
The domestic violence and abuse school notification project has been designed to provide confidential notification to schools on any incidents of domestic violence and abuse which occur within a child’s household that might have an impact on a child whilst they are in school.
The project will ensure that a member of the school staff is trained to allow them to use the information that has been shared, in confidence, and ensure that the school is able to make provision and allowances for possible difficulties experienced by children, or their families, who have been involved in or witnessed a domestic violence or abuse incident.
We are keen to offer the best support possible to our students and we believe this is going to be very useful and supportive for all those involved. I believe this project demonstrates Minsthorpe Community College’s commitments to the safety, welfare of students and families. In the meantime, if you would like to speak to someone further about the project or require further information please contact a member of the Safeguarding Team via the College number.
Mrs J Collins
A three year national research study into the benefits of arts and cultural education was presented to senior ministers and policy makers at The House of Lords on Monday 15th October, and Mrs Sally Thompson from the English Team was there to support Minsthorpe’s contribution.
Funded by Arts Council England, and conducted in secondary and special schools, the TALE (Tracking Arts Learning and Engagement) study analysed 6,000 responses from young people aged 14-18, tracking students and 63 teachers over three years.
Led by the Royal Shakespeare Company, Tate and The University of Nottingham, the study brings to light the voices and opinions of young people, and the depth and breadth of the research gives significant new insights into the positive difference that sustained engagement with the arts and cultural education has on the lives of young people.
Minsthorpe is proud to be an arts and culture rich school, developing the 6 Rs through a broad and balanced curriculum, as well as offering wider opportunities through the English and Creative Teams visits, productions, residentials and Shakespeare Festivals.
The TALE project is now calling for the government to protect funding for an Arts and Culture Premium, and ensure all arts subjects are valued equally in every school across the country.
For further information of the research study findings and to see their five key recommendations to ensure every young person can learn in an arts and culture rich school, go to www.researchtale.net or click on the document below.
A year ago we wrote to you inviting your child to take part in a national research project called My Resilience in Adolescence (MYRIAD), along with the rest of his or her class. Your child’s school has agreed to work together with the University of Oxford to take part in this project, which is looking at wellbeing and resilience during adolescence.
If your child participated they have already given valuable information towards this project by completing questions about their own resilience and wellbeing.
We are writing to you again as the classes progressing onto the next stage of the project have now been allocated. These classes are selected randomly and are not affected by how pupils answered their last set of questionnaires. If your child’s class has been randomly selected to take part in the next set of measures, you will have received a separate letter explaining this. If you have not received this letter, it means your child’s class will not be included in the next stage.
Please note, if you previously let the school know that you don’t want your child to take part, no matter which class they are in, they will not be approached by the MYRIAD researchers.
Professor Willem Kuyken (Chief Investigator)
Elizabeth Nuthall (Trial Manager)