Principal’s Blog – 4th November 2016

  • Peer Tutoring
  • Debating Matters
  • Spencer Walker


Peer Tutoring

This week sees the start of our Peer Tutoring programme. A group of Year 9 students have been trained on how to support reading in younger students and, before the half term, the mentors and mentees met up to introduce themselves and to talk about the books that they are currently reading. As you can see from the photograph, the conversation flowed during the get together. Each week the Year 9 students will meet their Year 7 mentees in order to encourage their reading. Just a reminder that the Parent Reading group is also going on this week – get involved if you have not already done so.

Wakefield Young Achiever Of The Year

We are proud to announce that our very own Kai Brooke in Year 9 has won the Wakefield Young Achiever of the Year Award. Kai has been helping youngsters at the Oak Forrest School & Wilderness Skills at Howell Wood in South Kirby for the past five years. Every Saturday morning he has selflessly given up his time to work with students from Key Stage 1 upwards and the students nominated him for this prestigious award. Kai won the award over thousands of other nominees and we salute this young hero.

Debating Matters

Before half term four of our Post-16 students pitted their oratory skills against students from Benton Park School, Notre Dame Sixth Form College and Abbey Grange Academy in some very hot topical debates on Wednesday October 19th. Courtney Birks, Kavan Price, Harry Elstub and Faye Cartwright did the college proud and were able to mount some compelling arguments against some very skilled opponents. Unfortunately they didn’t win, but they can hold their heads up as it was a very close decision where they were praised for their understanding of their topic and ability to vocalise this. Well done, folks.

Minsthorpe Down The Toilet!

Over a year ago our STEM students pitched an idea to build a compost toilet to Natural England. Based on the cleansing action of reed beds, their idea was to use natural filtering processes to clean up the sewage from the toilet. The judges were so impressed by the idea that, together with Leeds University, they have made a grant of over £12K to the college for us to build a working prototype of the toilet. Mr Lewis and the STEM students will be working with undergraduates from the university and engineers to scale up the idea so that Natural England can install these toilets in all of their nature reserves in the UK. What an incredible idea!

Farewell, Spencer

The funeral of Spencer Walker was held at St Mary’s Church in South Elmsall on Thursday 3rd November at 10.30am. Hundreds of students and members of the local community joined Spencer’s family to bid a farewell to Spig. It was a beautiful service with Spencer’s coffin transported to the church in a white carriage pulled by a pair of white horses. Spencer was a hugely popular student and his death has had a huge impact on both the community and the school. The college granted a leave of absence to students who wished to attend the funeral and their behaviour was impeccable and respectful. Many students dressed in black sportswear – Spencer’s preferred attire – and many donned his trademark red bandanna as a tribute to his memory.

After the funeral Spencer’s body was laid to rest at a private ceremony at Carr Lane Cemetery and then mourners went on to a reception at the Westfield Lane Centre.

At the college we send our warm messages of love and support for Spencer’s loved ones at this time. Spencer’s birthday would have been on December 15th 2016 and the college will mark this with a number of memorial events on that day. He will never be forgotten.

Ray Henshaw

Principal’s Blog – 21st October 2016

  • Parent and Child Reading Group Image 1
  • Parent and Child Reading Group Image 2
  • Parent and Child Reading Group Image 3
  • Parent and Child Reading Group Image 4
  • Minsthorpe Students At Boston United FC
  • School Games Logo
  • Girls Rugby Team Vs Hemsworth


Looking Back

It has been an eventful half term. We started September on a high, celebrating our best ever A-level results and GCSE results that put us above the national pass rate. In terms of sports, Minstorpe students have continued our proud tradition and continue to win the right way. On Tuesday October 18th the college received the Bronze School Games Award in recognition to our dedication to curricular and extra-curricular sport for all Minsthorpe students. The college was also hit by a number of tragedies, with both past and present students sadly losing their lives. However, these dreadful events brought us even closer together and we have got through these testing times by caring for one another. Time remains the best healer and I wish both staff and students a well-deserved break in which to rest and re-charge their batteries.

Parent and Child Reading Group

The first meeting of this group took place on Monday October 17th. As you can see from the photographs, it was a lovely evening and a pleasure to see parents reading with their children. Learning is complex; it begins at birth and continues throughout life. Parents are the first teachers and role models for their children, and therefore have a strong influence on their learning. Literacy is one of the areas where parents have the simple facilities (a book or other reading materials) to become involved and to make a difference and helping your child to success in reading is a gateway to success in other academic areas as well. So join this group and give your child a head start – contact Katie Gibson at the college for more details.

Boston United FC

This year Minsthorpe has gone into partnership with Boston United Football Club and Virtual Learning UK to provide an educational platform for students studying Level 3 BTEC National Sport at the Boston United FC Sports College. Established in 2008, VLUK have an impressive record of co-delivering educational courses with schools and colleges and professional sports clubs.

This is a new, exciting and innovative approach to education where the three partners provide a quality educational service to learners aged 16 and over. We currently have 22 students registered at the Boston site which is now classified as a satellite of Minsthorpe Community College! Within the next year the club will be moving from its existing ground at the The Jakemans Stadium to a new purpose built stadium – complete with state-of-the-art new educational facilities – on the outskirts of Boston. We are currently in the process of arranging a number of exciting joint events between our different cohorts of students both here and at Boston. So next time you are Lincolnshire bound give the Pilgrims (Boston United FC’s nickname) a cheer!

Over the year, we hope to open up new Minsthorpe sports academies in and around the Wakefield area in both professional football and rugby clubs.

Girls Rugby

Congratulations to the Year 8 girls rugby team on their first match and first win in a local derby against Hemsworth (32-18). They were quality on Wednesday night and represented the college exceptionally in a tough, physical battle.

Ray Henshaw

Principal’s Blog – 14th October 2016

Balloon Release - Image courtesy of Yorkshire Evening Post

Balloon Release

On Wednesday October 12th friends of Spencer Walker came up to the college field and released red balloons in his memory. Each carried their own personal message to Spencer or his family. It was a touching event organised by Kim Boddy as a tribute to Spencer.

Oh me lads, you should’ve seen us gannin

This from Mitch Cameron…

Michael Newton-Mann, Martin Stringfellow and I took the lads to London last weekend. We made our way down to Cheshunt in Hertfordshire where we defeated Edmonton Football Academy 4-2 (Manny’s previous school) in the early evening. A great performance from the lads, goals from Callum Whitehouse, Joel Guest, Jonny Elvidge and, Y11 starlet, Joe Baker.

After a nice stay in the quaint, local Youth Hostel, we made our way to Stamford Bridge on Saturday morning. An intimate little stadium in the heart of the city. A good tour with an interesting (though sparse) museum.

It was then onto Wembley! England v Malta. The game, although a little dour as a spectacle, turned out to be a satisfactory 2-0 score line to the hosts and a pleasing result for the boys, who thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The trip was topped off with some fantastic vocals to Absolute 80s Radio on the way home. All in all, a fantastic trip and the lads were a credit to the college.

Spaced Learning

In an earlier blog I told you about our involvement with the Spaced Learning project that is being led by Sheffield Hallam University, Queens University Belfast and The Sutton Trust. The project uses the principles of neuroscience to help students learn and retain knowledge by breaking up learning periods with distractor activities that demand different cognitive functions such as juggling and Lego building.

In other words, learning periods are spaced out so that the cognitive effort required by the brain when students return to the activity is greater and this strengthens the neural pathway to the information. The results are compelling with students learning and remembering information far quicker than the control groups. There is a link to the project newsletter below which features quotes from Minsthorpe’s Pete Williams and Martin Royds-Jones.

Ray Henshaw

Resource Download
Spaced Learning Project Newsletter Issue 2 Download File

Principal’s Blog – 7th October 2016

  • Macmillan Coffee Morning
  • No Pens Day
  • National Poetry Day
  • Courtney Waterhouse


Ready, Steady, Baaaaake!

On Friday September 30th, Minsthorpe staff held a Macmillan Coffee Morning in our Training & Conference Centre. Staff had baked a whole variety of cakes (the quality of which would have impressed Paul and Mary in the Bake Off tent) and these were sampled over a cuppa during Snack Break 2. Over £260 was raised for Macmillan from the generous donations of staff.

A Book Is A Dream That You Hold In Your Hand

So said the fantasy author, Neil Gaiman. We believe in his sentiment and here is an opportunity for you to get involved in a new initiative described by our Head of English, Katie Gibson.

Research proves that children who enjoy reading do better at school in all subjects. Furthermore, as a parent, reading with your child not only increases the literacy skills of your child it helps to build a strong and loving relationship between you both. As a College and an English Department, we are committed to doing everything we can to help support your child and the Parent and Child Reading Group is a way of coming together to improve your child’s confidence and reading skills.

We will be running the Parent and Child Reading Group in your local library in South Elmsall (Barnsley Road, South Elmsall, WF9 2AA – 01977 723 220) every Monday evening from 6-7 pm.

Within the weekly session you will be able to select a book together, read the book together and enjoy a book together. You will be able to discuss plot, characters and meanings behind the books. We welcome all! Parents, grandparents, siblings to come along and enjoy this exciting new reading initiative.

Please contact Katie if you want any more information.

No Pens Day

On Wednesday October 5th we took part in No Pens Day. This is when we put down pens and encourage our students to speak and listen instead of writing. We recognise that poor language skills are often linked to poor behaviour in children and the aim of the event was to promote the speaking skills of our young people.

National Poetry Day

We also took part in National Poetry day on Thursday October 6th. This is a mass celebration of poetry and all things poetical in order to encourage people to read and appreciate poetry. Staff and students read the poem The Lake by Roger McGough over the course of the day, discussing during each teaching period what the verse they had just read might mean and how it fits the theme of this year: Freedom. Ask your child what they thought about it.

Minsthorpe – The Next Generation

The Year 6 Open Evening was really well attended on Wednesday October 5th. Parents and students were able to look around the college to see our well rounded offer. We provide academic, sporting and artistic excellence and staff and students showcased this to prospective parents. For the last two years our Year 7 numbers have gone up and up as more parents and children want to become part of the Minsthorpe success story. Many parents stopped me to say how impressed they had been by the college and by the work that they had seen.

Raw Recruits: Squaddies At 16

We are very proud of former student Courtney Waterhouse who followed a programme of Alternative Provision at Minsthorpe in Years 10 & 11 on the Military Preparation Course (MPC) in Wakefield. Courtney continued her studies into Year 12 at MPC and was then accepted onto initial phase 1 training with the Army at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate. During her time at Harrogate AFC Courtney, along with 45 other recruits, took part in a ‘fly on the wall’ documentary for Channel 5 called Raw Recruits: Squaddies at 16. The series started to air on Monday 3rd October at 9pm on Channel 5. In the first episode Courtney began her training and has demonstrated great strength of character to get through the first few weeks of training.

Courtney graduated from her initial training at Harrogate AFC (see attached picture) and is now on her 2nd Phase of training at The Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut in Surrey. We wish her well for the future.

Be Safe, Feel Safe

My thoughts about Spencer are separate to my blog. This weekend, cherish your children and please, please talk to them about the dangers that surround railway lines.

Ray Henshaw

Principal’s Blog – 30th September 2016

  • EGX 2016 Image 1
  • EGX 2016 Image 2
  • EGX 2016 Image 3
  • Joe Brondel
  • European Day Of Languages 2016 Image 1
  • European Day Of Languages 2016 Image 2
  • European Day Of Languages 2016 Image 3
  • European Day Of Languages 2016 Image 4
  • European Day Of Languages 2016 Image 5
  • European Day Of Languages 2016 Image 6
  • Margaret Hughes


EGX Gaming Convention 2016

A number of students from Minsthorpe attended this year’s EGX Gaming Convention at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. The convention went on for 4 four days starting on Thursday the 22nd September. This was a launch for indie games, retro games and for new PlayStation releases etc. There were also merchandise stalls and tournament areas, the biggest one being the GFinity tournament area where two teams of 5 played the First Person Shooter title Counter Strike: Global Offensive for a cash prize and a cup.

Students report that their time there was absolutely fantastic and everyone had a great time.

Come Hell Or High Water

No, not the new Jeff Bridges movie – but a tale of derring do and charitable enterprise from one of Minsthorpe’s students, Joe Brondel, who is in Year 7. Last weekend he swam 3 miles in the open water of Derwent Water in the Lake District. A huge task for anyone – let alone an 11-year-old! With his friend (and co-swimmer from QEGS) Joe raised almost £1,000 for the Prince of Wales Hospice in Pontefract where, sadly, his grandfather spent his last days before passing away in December 2015. So far in total approximately £11,000 has been raised through The Mighty Swim and we are proud of Joe’s contribution. Not only has he honoured the memory of his grandfather, he has also helped raised money to enable the hospice to help others. We salute him!

‘Allo, ‘Allo!

As you can see from the scrolling pictures, staff at Minsthorpe fully embraced the European Day of languages on Monday 26th September. Students were perplexed by the sight of me dressed in a Kolpak fur hat greeting them in Polish at the gates at 08:00 but, as they events of the day unfolded, they learned a great deal about the variety of languages spoken in Europe. We may be post-Brexit but we remain European.

A Fond Farewell

Sadly, Margaret Hughes has been forced to retire this week due to ill health. Prior to starting at Minsthorpe she worked as a Packer at Mills in South Kirby from September 1968 to October 1978. From October 1978 to May 1983 she took time out to raise her family. She started at the College in May 1983 as a Cleaning Assistant and then took on the additional role of Litter Picker in 2000. As a Cleaning Assistant she spent the vast majority of her time based in Design Technology and the team have missed her massively since she has been off ‘because nobody looks after the food rooms like Mags’.

Mags has served this college loyally for 33 years and I will miss her greatly. I remember wandering about the college on the second day of my interview in September 2013. I came across Mags cleaning up the Carnegie Quad area and I talked to her about the college. Her love and passion for Minsthorpe shone through and I thought that I would be privileged to lead a school with staff such as this and it made me even more determined to get the job. Mags was clearly prescient, saying to me on that day that I would be successful as I was the right person for Minsthorpe! Everyone here at Minsthorpe will miss her cheerful smile – she is one of the good guys. Have a long and happy retirement, Mags.

Ray Henshaw

Principal’s Blog – 23rd September 2016

  • Post 16 Open Evening 2016 Image 1
  • Post 16 Open Evening 2016 Image 2
  • Post 16 Open Evening 2016 Image 3
  • European Day Of Languages


Post-16 Open Evening

On Monday September 20th we welcomed Year 11 students and their families to our Post-16 Open Evening. Susie Lewis, our Director of P16, gave a passionate and inspirational talk on the benefits of remaining at Minsthorpe and joining our thriving, successful Sixth Form. Staff and students were on hand to talk to Year 11 students about the courses that we will be offering in September 2017 and the Post-16 Leadership Team made sure that the event ran like clockwork and. As ever, our students are the best ambassadors for Minsthorpe.

European Day of Languages- 26th September 2016

There are over 6000 languages spoken in the world. And behind each and every one of them lies a rich and diverse culture. That’s what the European Day of Languages aims to celebrate – by showing people across Europe how important languages are, and what fun can be had learning them.

On Monday 26th September schools all over the country will celebrating the European Day of Languages in different be ways. At Minsthorpe this year students will be taking part in activities to do with a range of languages in all different Curriculum Areas in college and in P&A time.

People with bilingual (and multilingual) brains have better memories, can multi-task (and concentrate) more, maintain cognitive functions and avoid dementia for longer that monolingual brains. Learning another language does strengthen the brain.

We hope that students have a great day and go home having learned lots of words in lots of different languages. At home you could try to say ‘hello’ in a different language using this list:

Language Greeting
French Bonjour
Spanish Hola
Italian Ciao
German Guten Tag
Greek Γεια σαζ (Yas as)
Swedish Hej (hay)
Czech Ahoj (ahoy)
Danish Goddag (gud-day)
Dutch Hoi (hoy)
Finnish Hei (hay)
Hungarian Jó napot(yon na-pot)
Icelandic Hallo
Norwegian Hallo
Polish Cześć (che-st)
Portugese Olá
Russian Pri-VET (pri-vyet)

Have a great day on Monday and enjoy having a go at another language – Ciao!

Minsthorpe teams off to a flyer

We are celebrating the first matches of the Year 7 Minsthorpe Rugby and Football journey; the footballers beat Ossett 8-1 and the rugby team beat Hemsworth 40–0. The star performer in the rugby was Taylor Baddeley described by his proud coach, Mr Max, as a ‘small lad but an absolute beast’! I think he means beast in a good way????

Ray Henshaw

Principal’s Blog – 16th September 2016

Dressing The Minsthorpe Way

New Staff

This year we have a number of new staff joining the college who have quickly found their feet and are already making quite an impression and I would like to introduce them to you. What a talented bunch they are! On the document below you will find a pen portrait of each new member of Team Minsthorpe and we offer them a warm welcome to the college.

A Growth Mindset

This week, the follow-up to my assemblies last week on the lessons we can learn from Team GB have focussed on the growth mindset that we want students at Minsthorpe to adopt. Longitudinal studies of intelligence, talent and ability are suggesting that only 25% of this is genetic – the rest is learned. People with a growth mindset believe that they can continually improve and see challenges as a way of improving their performance. Above all, like our Olympians, they believe that rewards demand commitment and effort. This is a message that we have been giving to students for the past three years and it can be summarised in one simple formula: Success = Talent + Effort + Mindset. Intelligence is not set in stone and, at Minsthorpe, we believe that the talent of every student can be developed and improved.

Uniform Matters

Our students generally look very smart and I’d like to thank parents for helping us by ensuring that your sons and daughters are attending college in the correct uniform. However, we are still seeing some girls in bodycon skirts (made from elasticated, tubular material) and these are not acceptable. If in doubt our uniform policy is on our website – School Uniform.

School Holidays

Wakefield LA is currently carrying out a public consultation on two school calendar options for 2017/18 as it considers whether to align its school calendar with neighbouring authorities. If you want to have your say then you will need to complete the online form that can be found here on the Wakefield Council website.

Mathematics Mastery

Our Year 7’s have had a successful start to their Mathematics Mastery lessons. We are starting the year investigating place value and have had some great discussions. We have used a variety of manipulatives to ensure a concrete understanding. Once the mathematical skills and concepts have been explored, using a CPA (concrete, pictorial and abstract) approach, students will be able to represent the skill or concept in a variety of ways, including solving problems, to give pupils a richer and deeper learning experience.

Have a go at one of our challenge extras!

Challenge Extra

Ray Henshaw

Resource Download
New Teaching Staff – September 2016 Download File

Principal’s Blog – 9th September 2016

Team GB

The Class of 2016

Well, we return celebrating the achievements of both Year 11 and Year 13 over the summer. Our GCSE results saw a significant improvement in the number of students achieving A*-C grades in the new key performance indicators such as the basics (English and Maths), EBACC, Attainment 8 and Progress 8. There were many individual student successes, but in particular congratulations go to Libby Griffiths who achieved 5 A* grades and 5 A grades. Chloe Key also achieved 5 A* grades, whilst Joseph Barron, Chloe Crisp, Jamie Todd and Luke Toulson all achieved excellent results including multiple A* and A grades. At Post-16, students posted the best ever A level results at Minsthorpe with a significant increase in passes at A*-A, A*-B and A*-C.

The statistic that fills me most with pride is the fact that EVERY student in Year 13 who made a HE application got their first choice university! Superb stuff and evidence of what we are doing here at Minsthorpe and proof that the college has a significant impact on student achievement over both five and seven years of education with us. Just as with the GCSE results, there were many individual student successes, but in particular special mention goes to Ben Ramsbottom (AAB), Hannah McDermott (A*BB), Jessica Harnell (A* B Dist*) and Ross Brough and Amelia Hawkins who both secured a triple Distinction* in their BTEC Extended Diplomas.

We are delighted in congratulating all of our students, parents and staff for their hard work in achieving such an excellent set of results! Now we look forward to celebrating the results of the Class of 2017!

Rio Bravo

My theme for student assemblies this week was the lessons that students can learn from the incredible success of our Olympic athletes in Rio. The triumph of Team GB has been built on the idea of the Triangle of Change. This idea has been drummed into the athletes – that the reward demands suffering, that you need a growth mindset and that you have to commit yourself to your dream.

This is what we want our students to understand and for them to want to succeed and be prepared to make sacrifices in order to do so.

Ray Henshaw

Principal’s Blog – 15th July 2016

  • Year 11 Prom 2016 Image 1
  • Year 11 Prom 2016 Image 2
  • Year 11 Prom 2016 Image 3
  • Year 11 Prom 2016 Image 4
  • Year 11 Prom 2016 Image 5


Active Brains

The summer can be a long break for young minds that need to be kept active. It can also be a testing time for parents who have to deal with bored young people on rainy summer days. There are many websites that might come to your rescue and that can educate your kids as well as entertain them. Dip in and out – it might just save your sanity!

Fond Farewells

No school stands still and on Friday July 15th we will be losing a number of talented staff. Year 12 will be sad to lose Jane Bourne having guided them all the way to Year 11 and into the sixth form. In Maths we say adieu to Becky Worrell. We say farewell to Jennie Chapman from PE and in Science to Mark Dwyer who starts a one year sabbatical and to Isabel Forrester, Paula Shannon and Hannah Martin. Targeted Pathways says farewell to Steph White (née Raikes) and English to Rachel Rodgers and Clare Watson. Kieran Murphy is also leaving from Humanities. From the associate staff we wish all the best to Sue Bradford, a TA, and to David Mansfield, a HLTA and also to Tony Gray, a Maths tutor. Simon Newton, our SSPO, has been promoted as has Liz Fairhurst who becomes the new Principal at Airedale Academy. Our longest serving employee, Gill Earith, retires after serving the college since 1987! Minsthorpe, like all schools, has to continually reinvent itself and as one door closes, another one opens. In September, I will be providing some introductions to the new staff who will be joining us and bringing new ideas and enthusiasm to Minsthorpe and, in the process, reinvigorating the college by adding their story to our proud history.

Students Shine at Minsthorpe!

The Shine project has been an incredible success this year. Those boys identified as underachieving in Year 7 have made incredible progress in Year 8 compared to a control group. 7 out of the 15 participants reached a level 7B with two participants gaining a 7A and one participant reaching a level 8B in a Shine Assessment! A further 4 students reached a level 7 and were one sublevel behind their target. 3 students achieved a level 6A with only one student achieving a 6B. The students reported on a disaster, wrote poetry about space, produced creative writing on the theme of war, experimented with Gothic writing and visited the Beamish Museum where they immersed themselves in a role play that showed them what life would have been like for a child in the workhouse in 1800. Now we hope that they continue to shine in their first year of GCSE!

The Talent That is Minsthorpe

Two great annual events took place last week. On Wednesday July 6th we had the Sports Awards Evening and our sporting heroes and heroines were honoured for their prowess and dedication. Then on Thursday July 7th we held the Summer Concert and, as ever, our students showcased their extraordinary musical and dancing talents. A great end to a great year!

Having a Ball

The Year 11 Prom took place on Thursday July 14th at Tankersley Manor near Barnsley. The students – as ever – did us proud and looked absolutely magnificent dressed up to the nines and arriving in all manner of transport. There is always a danger that an event like this can become too stressful for students to actually enjoy – the need for the perfect date; the need to look one’s best; getting the coolest transport – sometimes the occasion can seem too important to be able to relax and enjoy! For Year 10 parents who will be embarking on the preparations for the 2017 Prom my advice is this: Keep the financial investment modest, the arrangements simple, the expectations moderate and the companionship focused on friendship. Then, not only will your son or daughter go to the ball – they will also remember the Prom with pleasure as one of their important Rites of Passage.

Life on Mars

On July 15th 1965 the unmanned spacecraft Mariner 4 passed over Mars at an altitude of 6,000 feet and sent back to Earth the first close-up images of the red planet. NASA’s current mission to send an astronaut to Mars is driven by development of the Orion crew exploration vehicle. The capsule spacecraft is being designed to take humans back to the moon by 2020. In later years, by rendezvous with Mars-bound vehicles assembled in orbit, it may actually take the first humans to the Red Planet. However, future Mars missions are already in development and will take place long before any human visits the planet. Scientists hope that robotic craft can delve far beneath the Martian surface to return data, and possible samples, of the planet’s geology. Such missions could even find signs of the water and, perhaps, life that may lie hidden beneath the planet’s forbidding exterior.

Ray Henshaw

Principal’s Blog – 8th July 2016

  • CHOICE Certificate Ceremony
  • TeachMeet Logo


Choices, choices

The Pontefract Education Trust CHOICE programme has shown every year for the past 4 years what a positive impact comes from giving young people the opportunity to make the right choice. The CHOICE programme allows students to identify the consequences of behaviour, it inspires learning and highlights career opportunities. CHOICE is a project for young people aged between 9 and 11 based in the Pontefract and South East areas. The programme is in its fourth year and has been hugely successful with young people visiting police stations and courts, taking part in firefighter training and learning about the consequences of making bad choices. I was privileged to be asked to present the certificates of achievement to the young people in a Certificate Ceremony held at the Westfield Centre on July 6th. The hall was packed with parents and relatives of the children all rightly proud of their achievements. Many of the CHOICE students came from Minsthorpe feeder primary schools and it was good to see them being rewarded for positive behaviour.


As part of their continuous professional development, teachers at Minsthorpe are either doing a personal enquiry into an educational issue and applying it in the classroom or are working in triads that focus on improving the progress of specific students in a lesson study programme. On Tuesday 5th July teachers showcased their projects in a TeachMeet event and presented on the impact that their programme had had on student achievement. It was a great event as we learned about immersing students in history through the sights and sounds of the event. We saw how interspacing learning with unconnected physical activity has a proven effect on memory. New techniques for teaching subtraction were shown and many other innovative ideas. At Minsthorpe we are passionate about learning and teaching and staff regularly share tips and learn from each other in a culture of infectious pedagogy in which we all seek to improve as teachers in order to improve the quality of education that our students receive.

Good fences make good neighbours

In today’s world, security is a top priority in all types of places. From government buildings to small businesses to residential areas, more and more security equipment is being put in place on a daily basis in order to keep people and their property as safe as possible. Although security should certainly be taken seriously in any situation, there are few situations when it is more important to keep people safe than in a school setting. The Ofsted inspection of March 2014 highlighted a number of concerns about the openness of the site at Minsthorpe Community College and how easy it is for members of the public and unauthorised visitors to gain access to almost the entire site without immediate detection. Taking proper security precautions can help keep others who go to the college, such as teachers, parents and guests, as safe as possible from danger and harm. The increasing number of unauthorised intruders that we have had on site in 2015 and 2016 means that we have to act and we will be installing an access controlled perimeter fence around the college over the summer in order to make the site safer for students and staff.

We can never make Minsthorpe 100% secure and we do not want to make it look like a fortress. We are a community school and want to be open and allow the community to access our site. This will not change. However, we have to balance our desire to be an open, welcoming college, with the fact that not all visitors come to the college with good intentions and the fencing will be aimed at preventing unauthorised people (and those with malicious intent) from having free access to the site. It will not prevent people who need and want to access the college from doing so.

Ray Henshaw