Headteacher Blog - 18th February 2022Posted on: 18th Jan
Dear Parents and Carers
We have now come to the end of the first half of the spring term, albeit a day early! I am delighted that so many students are embracing this term by attending the many extra-curricular activities and school performances, and by representing the school in sporting activities that are now being made available to them.
Miss Duckham and our BTEC dance students were invited to perform at the Break Out! dance platform at the Arlington Arts Centre. Break Out! is an opportunity for performers from several schools in West Berkshire to share high quality dance work created in class and in extra-curricular clubs. The performance opened with a curtain-raiser performance from the Senior West Berkshire Youth Dance Company. I attend this event every year and can honestly say, I have never been so impressed. It made me realise how much I had missed these events. It was such a privilege to see our students dance with passion and to such a high standard: they did both themselves and the school very proud.
We also had some of our students taking part in the completely sold-out production of Matilda Jr at The Corn Exchange in Newbury. The girls demonstrated their abilities to act, dance and sing to such a high standard. The demands of a performance are great, with numerous rehearsals, whilst still keeping on top of all of their school work. I would like congratulate Year 8’s Helena L, Ishana C, Polly A and Year 11 Sophie S, who were part of the hugely successful performance. In addition, I would like to give a special mention to Year 8 Amelie B, who was cast in the leading role of Matilda in the performance: an incredible achievement. It makes me extremely proud to see our students get involved with these fantastic opportunities outside of school.
The annual Presentation Awards ceremony was held in school on Thursday, 27 January. Whilst we were incredibly disappointed that we could not welcome parents and carers into school to enjoy the ceremony together, we were delighted that we could celebrate the amazing achievements of our students. This is one of the highlights of my year and it is a huge privilege to be celebrating the successes of our talented and inspirational young people. In a normal year it would be a huge achievement to be receiving an award so, when you consider how challenging the last couple of years have been, these achievements are truly phenomenal. The successful students truly epitomise our values of Courage, Responsibility, Equality, Ambition, Resilience, Creativity and Integrity.
In recent sporting events, we had over 80 students represent the school for the County cross country at Newbury Showground. All the students ran extremely well, despite the bitter cold, and as a school we fielded at least two teams in each group. All teams were placed in the top 10. Massive congratulations to our U15 boys who were 1st as a team. We also had three students who made County teams, Ethan R, & Will O in year 8 and Tom B - year 10. Well done to everyone who embraced the cold weather and gave their all.
Our other sporting successes this term include:
- Netball - our Year 8 girls beat Trinity 10-2 and drew 5-5 with St. Gabriel’s
- Football – our Year 10 boys beat JOG 3-0
- County XC – Year 8&9 boys team - County Champions, Ethan R and Will O (both in Year 8) were selected and Tom B in Year 10 was also selected for the Inter-Counties Championship at Reigate, Surrey in February
I am sure many of you will have seen in the local press that The Downs School as been very fortunate to be allocated £2,500 of funding to purchase a high-jump bed to support our PE activities. This is from the West Berkshire Community Fund, supported by the West Berkshire Lottery.
Recently, we held a very productive Parents Forum which focussed on the required changes to the uniform policy brought about the Education Act passed at the end of 2021. This followed a consultation with students through the House Council. For more details of the proposed changes please see the news section on the website.
Although there has been a relaxation of the COVID protection measures, we are encouraging students and staff to continue wearing face masks in communal areas. I would ask for your continued support with ensuring your child/children continue to take Lateral Flow Tests regularly.
I hope those of you who are hoping to get away do so safely, and wish everyone a relaxing half term.