NEWS FROM TESTBOURNE

The end of the summer term was a busy one at Testbourne.   We were pleased to receive our KS3 SAT results for our Year 9 pupils - with 88%, 89% and 92% of pupils reaching Level 5+ in Science, English and Maths respectively.   These are very high results and meet or go beyond the ambitious targets agreed with the LEA. The debate continues about the validity and effectiveness of the SATs system but it is important that we help our pupils achieve as well as they can, whatever the system at a particular time.

Pupils have been succeeding in other areas of school life too.   Our Magistrates' Court Mock Trial team represented us superbly at the National Finals in Birmingham. They reached the last 18 from 350 schools across the UK, winning both of their cases on the day. We also held our first Sports Day and Swimming Gala under new House colours, with Beech House taking the honours on both fronts, and by only 5 points in the Athletics.   The spirit of competition would seem to be alive and well - although cooperation ruled in the opening event, a sponsored   “Mile in Style” run by literally hundreds of the pupils to raise money for our Specialist Arts Bid.  

Pupils   (and their parents) have been magnificent    in their fundraising efforts - ice-pops on sale on Sports Day, lunch-time manicures, a bring and buy sale, sponsored silences (bliss!), cake sales, and a sponsored swim and Summer Soirée musical evening. We also have a good number signed up for our sponsored   “In Tandem with Testbourne” team cycle ride, following a route linking the primary schools who will be joining us as specialist school partners - Longparish, Overton, St. Mary Bourne and Whitchurch to date.   Mr Stevens, the Deputy Head, and I had the pleasure of unveiling Daisy the tandem, our secret fundraising weapon, with an unexpected tour of the Sports Hall during whole school assembly.   Look out for us on Saturday September 25 th (weather permitting), when we will be embarking on our sponsored “ In Tandem with Testbourne” bike ride around the catchment area.    All offers of sponsorship welcome.

There has been a lot of publicity recently about young people and healthy eating.    There is already a good variety of   ‘proper' food on sale each day, much of which is low fat, low sugar and low salt.   We have now removed cans of sugary, fizzy drinks from sale, replacing these with bottles of healthier options. The drinks vendor has also gone. There was concern    that pupils would vote with their feet and bring in their own cans, defeating the object of the exercise and reducing profit margins, some of which are ploughed back into improvements at the school.   We decided, however, that you do need to start somewhere and make a positive stand. We shall see how it goes.

Oakley Hall provided a fitting setting for our Leavers' Ball this year.   Pupils left - or should I say arrived - in great style.   Modes of transport this year included chopper bikes, a Morris Minor, the odd stretch limo and Rolls Royce or two, a Ferrari, a horse and carriage and a helicopter. I think they'll go far.

As the new school year starts we are pleased to welcome 6 forms of smart new Year 7 pupils and five new members of staff to Testbourne.    David Wood has moved with his family from Woolston School in Warrington where he was Head of ICT and Technology. He has joined the Senior Management Team in the new post of Assistant Headteacher and will also be teaching ICT. Louise Chorley has taken up a full-time post in the English Department and Rosemary Hughes White and Hazel Goodier will be working part-time in the Geography and Science departments respectively. This will be a return to Testbourne for Rosemary who is a past pupil of the school and was inspired to be a geography teacher by her own teacher of that subject –our Deputy Headteacher, Mr. Dick Stevens. Natalie Ayres will also be joining the administrative team in the school office. We are pleased to be fully staffed although we would still welcome someone who could teach a few hours of French and/or German a week in the Modern Languages Department. Do get in touch if you would be interested in this.

Even though it is the start of the 2004 school Year 6 pupils and their parents will soon be asked to consider their choice of secondary school for September 2005. Our Open Evening to help with this choice will be on Thursday 30 th September from 6.30-9.00pm, with Open Mornings every day the following week. There will be tours of the school in action on those mornings and families who are interested in this are asked to ring Mary Soper (01256 892061) to book a slot.

There has been a change nationally in the admission arrangements. Parents will still have to submit their application forms in October as previously but will not be informed of the outcome until March 1 st . This applies to all schools, not just Testbourne. It will mean more of a wait for families but is intended to help make the process a fairer one and should, for example, help avoid the situation we found ourselves in this year. We had more first choice applications than places and regrettably were not able to accept everyone who applied. Gradually a number of pupils who had been given first choice places withdrew (some due to moving out of the area and some to take up places in the grammar or independent sector). We were then able to offer these place to children on the waiting list – but not before some of them had been through an upsetting time or decided to settle for their next choice school and leaving us, ironically with a couple of spare places for September. We will all have to see if the new system works well for all concerned.

Our Jubilee Garden is coming along well and is used regularly by the pupils. We now need an individual or small business who would be interested in taking on a maintenance contract to help us keep it in shape and well planted. Please contact the Head if you would be interested in discussing this.

Thank you to parents and members of the local community who have supported us so well in the past year.    We are looking forward to a lively and interesting year ahead, including developing our bid for specialist status.

                                                                        Hilary Jackson