Rough Notes – November 2023

Welcome to the latest edition of Rough Notes and thank you for taking the time to read the content.

Our staff and students continue to do fabulous things both in and out of school. We are delighted to be able to share the stories, activities, and events that are a part of our school life and hope that you enjoy reading about them as much as we enjoy participating in them.

In November we take time to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice as well as remembering those affected by conflict past and present.

During our remembrance assemblies, we focussed on refugees and in particular the tragic impact of conflict on children whilst remembering our former students killed in action.

Whilst thinking about children, remember that young people, like you, at Woodroffe, soon became soldiers themselves. The children of the Great War became the soldiers in the Second World War. Some sat in this hall as students like you and gave their lives in that conflict.

The Headteacher at Woodroffe, at the time, lost his own son in the conflict. With his deputy he wrote words of encouragement to those fighting abroad in the school magazine.

“We at your old School, a bit of England, are proud of your fine service, and send you our thanks. We also thank you for your letters, and those who come this way, for your visits… John Dawson must have done some gallant work to be awarded the MC. Of course, he is as closed as an oyster about it, and probably thinks it came by accident. We are most relieved to hear that Lillington is alive, though a prisoner. I have just heard from George Wiscombe that he has a job in his prison camp post office. He is, of course, very pleased to have a useful occupation.”

The second extract is even more poignant since by then the head’s own son had died.

“John Hussey and my boy, David, have joined those who have given their lives for their country. John had the sad misfortune to be killed in an air-raid. David was one of the gallant band of parachutists who, fighting as infantry, did such fine work in Tunisia last winter. He fell in German territory somewhere…. I wish I could make so fine an end. At least five of you have now gone from us (including John Goodfellow, Kenneth Blackmore and Sidney Henderson). We salute them, and will remember them. May the rest of you return safely and with honour. The new and inspired England will need you.”

Hetty Christopher in Year 13 joined us for the remembrance assemblies and played The Last Post beautifully on the trumpet during our time of reflection. We are very grateful for her poignant contribution to this important event.

We were delighted to welcome back to the school former student and Chelsea Flower Show gold medallist, Hugo Bugg. During his time in school, Hugo visited our gardening club and looked over their work before taking time to talk to students interested in hearing his story and grabbing a few tips to success.

The gardening club continues to grow (excuse the pun) under the watchful eye of our wonderful grounds person, Mr Johnson-Hills. He has built a band of willing helpers from across the year groups, and they are keen to support his work whilst developing their own green fingers. Little Green Change are due to be in school soon and we look forward to them supporting students and the work of the gardening club. The club have recently had a visit from @grownupmushrooms where they enjoyed hearing about the different types of mushrooms that grow in the area and those which can be eaten safely.

He’s only gone and done it again. Serial careers award winner, Mr Holding, has secured the most recent award from the Dorset Careers Hub after demonstrating the attainment of all 8 Gatsby Benchmarks. The Gatsby Benchmarks of Good Career Guidance are a framework for worldclass careers provision in education that has been adopted by the Government. Congratulations on the continued outstanding work.

On Wednesday the 14th of November we held our 6th Form Open Evening and welcomed current Year 11 students and those visiting from neighbouring schools. We were delighted by the turnout and look forward to welcoming a healthy intake in September. This year we have taken our largest number of external students into the 6th Form and hope that this number continues to grow moving forward. Currently, we are offering 36 qualifications, more than any other local provider, and are confident we can provide something of interest and challenge to most learners who are keen to expand their education locally. Quote of the night; “what you are offering the students is amazing, I wish I could come back.” Thanks to all those who joined us on the night.

On Thursday the 15th of November, those attending our Autumn Concert were wowed by some fantastic performances from soloists, ensembles, groups, and the choir. It truly was a fantastic night of music. My thanks to the music department who have worked tirelessly to make this possible. I would also like to thank the Woodroffe PTFA for their support and for the provision of the bar at the event.

The Jurassic Maths Hub (Woodroffe are the lead school) ran a conference recently at the home of the Exeter Chiefs. The day focussed on problem solving and delivery in the classroom. This was the first of the conferences for the year with more to follow. The rugby followers amongst you will note the lack of posts, these were taken down as storm Ciaran approached. Whist there was little wind, I am reliably informed that there was no shortage of energy from the delegates in attendance.

The Woodroffe School has a long history of participation in the UK Maths Challenge. Recently, students from our 6th Form competed in the Senior Maths Challenge and achieved some incredible results which can be seen below. In addition, Hetty (yes, Hetty who also plays the trumpet beautifully) entered the Maths Olympiad for Girls and out of 4000 entrants came in the top 10% which earned her a Distinction. Congratulations to all those who were involved.

Senior Maths Challenge Results

Gold: Hetty, Harry, Finn
Silver: Noah
Bronze: Flynn, Arnavaz, Freddie, Harry, Joshua, Kael, Josh, Sam, Josh, Bailey, Dylan, Amelie

Woodroffe participated in Children in Need and raised a whopping £926.00 for good causes at home and abroad in support of children and young people. Whilst the students enjoyed the opportunity to come to school in non-uniform clothes, the 6th Form put on a series of events to help raise funds across the day. Thank you to all those who took part and helped to organise the day.

I am delighted to report that former student Eddie Moore has been selected by Great Britain Cycling Team. Eddie is now a full-time athlete with British Cycling and is with the Podium Potential Squad. We wish Eddie all the best and look out for his results in the coming events.

In July 2022, we said a fond farewell to several long-standing staff members including one teacher who had done an amazing 50 years at Woodroffe. Chris Sweetland, who many of you will know, achieved something that may not be repeated, with those currently joining the world of work, expected to work in 14 different places during their careers. I would like to extend my thanks to Chris for his dedication to the school over the five decades here. We were delighted to be able to invite him back to the school this month as we officially named the new library after him and his service to the school and the community. Our library and literacy team added “it is fitting that such an achievement is marked by the naming of such a fantastic resource for the school where students can read and study in a well-stocked, purpose-built library”. Congratulations Chris on your fantastic achievement.

Chris said, “I really enjoyed my time here and wouldn’t have stayed if it hadn’t been such a wonderful place to work.”

Just before the October half-term break, the Department for Education (DfE) released the school performance data.

HERE is a link to the page for our school

Despite the return to pre-pandemic examination standards, the recognition of the ongoing impact of COVID-19, and the national reports covering a drop in performance, I am delighted to say that Woodroffe students achieved incredibly well and when compared to others nationally, we were in in the top 25% of all schools.

Our Progress 8 figure (the main performance measure) of +0.29 was our third best on record (beating 2019) and reflects the wonderful achievements of our students.

We are immensely proud of our students, and we wish them the very best for the future. These have been challenging times and together we succeeded.

I hope you enjoy our latest edition of ‘Rough Notes’. Should you wish to find out more about our school, news, or events, please visit the school website which I am sure you will find useful. In addition, for regular updates, why not look at our social media outlets:

Woodroffe can be found on Twitter & Instagram.

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Best wishes,
Dan Watts