Review of my first term at Verulam School by Mr Flack, Deputy Headteacher

The first term of the 2018-19 academic year has come to a close with a week of celebration events where we have highlighted the excellent progress and contribution students have made at Verulam. You will have seen on our Verulam Facebook page pictures of the celebration assemblies we have had each morning for years 7 – 10 and 12 – 13 for Academic progress; form tutor and head of year nominees for those who have contributed to the extracurricular life of the school and for those who have consistently met or exceeded the Verulam Values.

Years 7 – 10 have also enjoyed a reward afternoon this week attended by the students with the highest total of reward points. Over 33,000 rewards have been given to students in Years 7 – 13 so far, compared to around 9,000 consequences. We hope that the ratio of rewards to consequences will rise in the new calendar year giving us the opportunity for further celebration.

Individual totals also make for interesting reading: over 100 students have reached 500 reward points and nearly 400 have reached 250. The race to be the first student to reach the magical 1,000 points is on and we wait with anticipation to see who this will be!

Year 7 have been thinking about those ‘unsung heroes’ of Verulam by producing ‘shout out’ cards during form time this week. We must not forget our Year 11 who have been busy taking their trial examinations and a celebration of their progress and attainment will take place at the end of January once they have their results.

During December we have also had a drive on attendance. This has had the desired effect with attendance for December higher than the previous month. Students have been competing in forms to improve their attendance as a group from their previous average for the year to date. It has been remarkable what a bit of friendly competition can do and we will be continuing with this drive in the New Year.

Reflecting on my first term at Verulam, it has been one of many highlights. The Abbey Service is of course high on the list, but also the remarkable work the Senior Prefect Team have done in raising nearly £3,000 for Herts Young Homeless through the Abbey Service, non-uniform day and the festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. On the theme of student leadership, the Student Council have met regularly and discussed a range of topics from ECCO clubs to Year 11 revision sessions via lockers for Year 10 and Year 11. We are pleased to announce that ‘hot locking’ will be available for Year 10 and 11 from the end of January once the additional lockers have been installed. This is in part with thanks to the PTA who have done a fantastic job in raising much needed funds for the school. They have also kindly agreed to supply some equipment for use at lunchtime for all years, although this should not detract from footballs and tennis balls appearing high on lists for Santa! (The Equipped for Learning document can be found at the end of this newsletter for your reference).

We have re-launched our ECCO provision and are pleased to say that we now have over 40 activities for students to take part in. Facebook again has been a regular source of information about what boys get up to at clubs such as VeruLab and STEM club. Also led by the Senior Prefect Team, the ECO Club has begun to meet regularly and are currently conducting an audit around the school in order to devise an action plan ready for the new term. Welfare Prefects have been appointed from Years 12 and 13 to support Year 7 students in their first term. They meet on a regular basis and provide an opportunity to develop their confidence in a new environment.
Although not immediately popular with all the boys, the banning of mobile phones has led to a more purposeful learning environment across lessons and boys engaging in recreational activities or clubs at lunch and break times. An increased level of expectation with regard to uniform has resulted in an improvement in boys appearance and has had a positive impact on their movement around school.

It was not only Ofsted who noted this during their visit in October stating: “Around school, pupils maintain positive behaviour. They are polite and show respect for others, they move purposely and calmly around the site”, we have also had welcome visits from the Albans Academy Trust and the Local Authority. There is still further work to done in this area as we wish for the students to demonstrate greater self-regulation and the ability to make appropriate choices. This will remain a key priority for us over the coming terms.

We wish all the students an enjoyable and relaxing holiday over the Christmas period, they certainly deserve it! We hope that the New Year is one of further developments at Verulam and an opportunity to celebrate further successes and achievements. To start the term the right way, please can we remind you at this time for giving that students should be appropriately equipped for learning with necessary stationery, kit and resources. Students also need to be dressed in the correct uniform with black leather shoes. Please also note that no jewellery is allowed except for a watch and boys should not have any piercings. We are also considering only having white shirts as part of the uniform from September 2019 and would welcome your comments on this should you feel strongly about retaining the blue option.
From January we will be adding further opportunities to celebrate the accomplishments of students. This will be through curriculum and pastoral students of the week together with individual departments’ shout out boards and postcards home.

Please can we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and remember to check out our Facebook page for regular updates on life at Verulam.

For advice regarding gaining a place at Verulam School for your son via the Continuing Interest process, or for queries regarding appeals, please contact Ms K Bonass on 01727 754102 or [email protected]

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