We had an extremely busy and challenging time last week. I am sure that you heard about the IT difficulties we experienced at the end of half term. Our email system suffered a serious problem which meant for some time we were working on a temporary system. If this was not enough, at Olney over half term a power cut had a serious impact on our phone system. Therefore, we returned from half term to find we had no phones and no email. I am pleased to say the engineers came out to Olney last Tuesday and were able to fix the problem quite quickly. It will take a few weeks to restore all aspects of the email system so we ask you, and your children, to be patient. Some staff have said a day without email was heavenly and I am sure those of you who receive a considerable number of emails per day can understand where they are coming from - we had to talk to people - it was a very nice change.
Last week, I planted trees in aid of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. We worked with the Rotary Club of the Brickhills and MK Council to plant 400 trees in Great Linford Park. It was a windy and wet morning, but the Year 11 students who accompanied myself and Dave Wilkes did an excellent job. We are grateful to Councillor Alan Richards, Mayor of Milton Keynes, for supporting the event. I am the dishevelled one on the left!
We have also been busy making staff appointments. I am pleased to announce that Jane Burton will be joining the Science Department at Easter as Director of Science. Jane is a very experienced leader of Science and has worked at a high level in a number of local schools and for the LA. She is also a trained Ofsted inspector and will therefore bring considerable insight into the process. Claire Penny has been acting Director of English this term and will take on the role permanently in June and Debbie Barker will continue leading Mathematics. We are very pleased to have in place three very strong leaders with an outstanding track record, both as a leader and teacher. They will all join the extended leadership team and work at both campuses.
The school is in a very good position at the moment, supported by outstanding, record beating, results in the 6th Form. A 6th Form of almost 400 students looks increasingly likely in September as we continue to receive a record number of applications from external students. This year we have found that they are not only applying for subjects not offered by their current school but they are increasingly asking to study subjects that their current school does offer. Clearly our reputation and outstanding track record in a number of academic subjects goes before us. We are never complacent and continue to explore further ways to raise achievement in the 6th form.
We shall be making some further appointments in the core subjects over the next few weeks. As I outlined in my consultation with parents and other stakeholders last year, the additional monies gained from academy status are being used to invest in additional leaders and teachers in the core areas and to support the planning for capital investment in the Newport Pagnell site.
Last week I also attended the Young Musician of the Year competition at the Chrysalis Theatre. It was a fantastic evening, organised by Rotary and the Music Service, with playing of a very high standard. I am pleased to report that an ex-student, Hannah Slavin, won the event; playing with incredible passion and skill Rhapsody no.2 in G minor by Brahms on the piano. We wish her all the best as she prepares for the next stage in her career. She plans to study music at the Conservatoire in Birmingham. A number of our students, including James Cosby and Sam Miller, played in the Advanced Jazz group - a great sound and something I would like to develop at Ousedale.
Therefore, I ended the week in a very upbeat mood and I look forward to meeting parents at the Year 10 Parents’ Evenings this week.
Students from Olney campus helped at Olney's annual pancake race on Tuesday, 22nd February. Some of our GCSE Food Technology students were able to put their skills to the test, helping to cook pancakes, or making and selling refreshments. Other students helped sell programmes, took photographs of the event and a couple were helping the radio network, MK FM. The weather was kind, providing a beautifully clear sky, without being bitterly cold.
The event was really well attended by local schools with twelve children's races; the Ousedale contingent from Year 7 ran in the final two races. Both races were closely run affairs, with Tara Lewis winning the girls' race and James Houghton, the boys. All the children who participated took away a souvenir from the event ranging from small frying pans to aprons and headscarves which had been donated by Dupont, one of the main sponsors of the event.
Congratulations to Madeleine Hamilton, Joshua Rose, Alex Colson, Kieran Gould, Sarah Gould and Toby Holden (pictured from left to right) who all performed the ‘ Leonore Overture’ no.3 Op.72b by Beethoven in a ‘side by side’ concert arranged by Milton Keynes Music Service. Students performed the overture in a live concert alongside the professional Milton Keynes Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sian Edwards (pictured above) at Milton Keynes Theatre, giving each student the taste of life as a professional musician. Thanks must go to the Music Service staff for their time and dedication in organising the project.
The Music Department
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