USH Newsletter

15th November 2013

  • Headteacher's News

    So much rests on today's entrance exam in South Korea that planes are grounded, roads are closed and places of worship are thronged with parents praying for divine intervention. Such is the all-or-nothing emphasis pinned on gaining entry to one of a handful of the top higher education institutions in the country (anchored in the so-called SKY Trinity of Seoul National, Korea and Yonsei universities) that the entire Korean education system is geared towards success on this single day of the year.

    It’s somewhat understandable that schools go to these lengths when the stakes are so high. In an environment where modular testing is becoming extinct, Upper Shirley High will continue to develop new strategies to prepare students well for testing. We have many subjects which excel here at USH but I want parents to know that we are stepping up the work we do in helping every student achieve their aspirational target in English and Maths against the growing pressure of terminal exams. Many students find one or both of these core subjects a challenge so our school leaders, Mrs Hough and Ms Rasey, are now working closer than ever to identify the similarities and differences, and close the gap in achievement for all groups of students. Our strategy is to perfect the balance for developing a genuine love of a subject whilst helping students master key technical skills which will ensure success in assessments. Confidence and competence in English and Maths are essential so look out for our subject specific evenings (a request originating direct from parents), new reports, workshops and mentoring programmes. Some measures will be bold and while I won’t close Bellemoor Road for exams, we will afford our students every chance to demonstrate their ability and get the grades they deserve.

    Update on staffing at USH
    Farewell to Claire Heyes from our Inclusive Learning department, and a warm welcome to Julie Prince, our new Business Manager, Maxine Fox, Guidance and Achievement Coordinator, and Helen Hartshorn, Guidance and Achievement Mentor, Paul Wyse, Cover Supervisor, and Lisa Harding, Management Information System Lead.  Miss Macnamara has now formally joined us in the English Department.

    Stuart Woods, Headteacher

  • Parent Action Group

    To catch up with developments from our new Parent Action Group, click on the button under Parents on the website

    Thanks to our parents for their ongoing support.

  • Parent Director Election - Jefferys Education Trust Board

    This week voting packs have been sent home via students in relation to the Parent Director vacancy that exists on the Jefferys Education Trust Board.

    Each parent has the right to vote so you should receive a voting pack each. If you have not received your voting pack by Monday 18th November please contact Mrs Mawby on

    The deadline for voting is Friday 29th November at 12 noon and the result will be announced during the week commencing 2nd December.

  • Remembrance 2013

    Our Remembrance Display is in the Entrance Hall and thank you for the information about local families who were affected by the First and Second World Wars.  The display includes twenty crosses which are dedicated to individual soldiers linked to our community and a poppy wreath which we will take to Belgium with us and lay on 11th November on behalf of the school community.  There is also a range of memorabilia including a trench lantern, shell case and war diary. The most touching and personal items are the  trench diary of A.S. Turner and a telegram notifying relatives that their loved one was ‘missing’.

    Last weekend we visited Southampton Old Cemetery where there are graves to 114 British soldiers from World War 1 and 21 Belgian servicemen.  We paid our respects and took some photos which have been passed on to our twinned Belgian school. The graves are maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and it is striking to see how well tended they are. 

    There are many individual stories of soldiers linked to staff and students and we were able to give Albany Rowan a copy of the certificate showing where her relative, W.F. Boulter, was buried.  Similarly, some relatives have seen pictures of the graves of their relatives for the first time.  ‘The Gathering of the Soil Ceremony’ was streamed live from Ypres on 11th November on this link: So if you are interested please have a look.

    Lizzie Laybourne, Year 10, early November 2013

    Photos from Southampton Old Cemetery: a Belgian grave, a British grave and the Cross of Sacrifice.

  • Remembrance Events

    It was an incredible experience to attend the Gathering of the Soil Ceremony in Ypres , Belgium on 11th November.  Many of you will have seen the events on television and representatives from all the schools who were chosen to attend felt very honoured. 

    Throughout the day Ypres was awash with marching bands playing tunes like ‘Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag’ and ‘Danny Boy’ and their music echoed around the square.  After visiting the Cloth Hall which houses a tremendous museum dedicated to World War One, Lizzie and I, together with representatives from two Belgian schools, went to the Menin Gate where we laid a wreath on behalf of our school and local community. We also laid the twenty crosses which were individually inscribed and dedicated to relatives of staff and students who had died in World War 1.  Lizzie read the ‘Ode to Remembrance’ and the people who stopped to listen were visibly moved.  It is worth noting that we were the only school in Southampton to attend, the only school to lay a wreath and, while representatives from  some other schools laid individual crosses,  none had anywhere near the number that we had. This had a profound effect on Belgian teachers and students.

    The Gathering of the Soil Ceremony took place in the afternoon and was attended by the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Laurent of Belgium. They laid wreaths and then watched as the British and Belgian students helped to carry sandbags of soil from seventy war cemeteries.  The soil was put onto a gun carriage and carried away as part of its journey back to Britain to form part of the Memorial Garden near Buckingham Palace in London.  The ‘corner of a foreign field that is forever England’ is symbolically coming home.

    Back in school the two minute silence was held at 11.00am and poppy seeds were scattered in the flower bed by the main car park, hopefully to bloom for next year’s centenary.  Thank you to all who sent in names and/or donated items for the display which was at the front of the school.  It set the tone of a truly memorable experience for many in the community and a weekend that Lizzie and I will never forget.
    Mrs Laybourne, 12th November 2013

  • Remembrance Day at USH

    USH commemorated Remembrance Day on Monday 11th November with a poignant and profoundly moving rendition of 'The Last Post' played by Josh King from Year 10 (in the rain!) followed by a two minute silence across the school community. 

    Josh was joined by Alicia Simpson (Year 11) who came into school wearing her RAF Cadet uniform, at her own request, so that she could salute all those who fell.  Alicia has been a member of the cadets in Totton for about eighteen months, "I go along twice a week and we have lessons, drill and projects to do.  I was made a Corporal ten months ago.  We took part in Totton's Remembrance parade last Sunday and next year we are hoping to take part in the parade at Buckingham Palace!  I want to be a mechanical engineer in the RAF after I have taken my A levels."

  • Abigail Wins Prestigious Music Competition!

    Abigail Caveney, Year 9, from Southampton was one of two overall winners, with her song ‘Greater Gabbard’ in Aldeburgh Music’s competition to mark the centenary of the birth of British composer, Benjamin Britten.

    As part of a year of celebrations young people aged eighteen and under have composed the music for new songs, with lyrics specially written by acclaimed author and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz (author of ITV’s Foyle’s War).

    Abigail’s music teacher at USH, Mr Griffiths, said, "It is a testament to Abigail’s commitment and passion for the subject that she has written such a mesmerising piece of music. Its outstanding musical quality is both moving and inspiring and leaves a chill down your spine. A piece not to be missed!"

    Aldeburgh Music is an arts and music education centre founded by Britten in his home county of Suffolk over sixty years ago.  The two winning songs will be performed on Friday 22nd November, the 100th anniversary of Britten’s birth, at Snape Maltings Concert Hall in Suffolk.

    This concert is the culmination event of the Friday Afternoons project, part of a world wide celebration which now spans four continents and involves over 100,000 children singing the Friday Afternoons songs on this day.

    Phillipa Reive, Aldeburgh Music’s Head of Education, commented, “We were very pleased to have received over thirty entries and the standard was exceptional. All the winners and runners up will have their songs recorded and published on Aldeburgh Music’s Friday Afternoons website”

    Abigail worked on her composition all over the summer holidays, "My mother drew my attention to the competition so I thought I would have a go.  I was delighted to win!  The prize is to play my composition in the Snape Maltings Hall which is where Benjamin Britten used to perform, so I am going up to Suffolk on 22nd November to do this.  There will be quite a large audience of people, including many schoolchildren, so I am a little bit nervous but I am looking forward to the experience.  I am considering taking music at A level; I would love to make my career in music."

  • Friday 22nd November 2013

    Next Friday will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Dallas, Texas.  There have already been a lot of articles in the press and documentaries on television surrounding the controversial theories surrounding JFK’s death and not wanting to miss out, the History department, in collaboration with USH TV, decided to recreate the assassination of JFK last July.  Since then Ryan Higdon in Year 10 has worked tirelessly to edit, produce and direct our short film. 

    Ryan said, “I would have liked to have said that the editing process has been easy and without glitches but this hasn’t been the case. It has been a long process to get this far but it has been an experience which I will never forget. I would like to thank Mr Parsons and Mr Hind for all their help and advice.  I really hope that everyone who watches the film enjoys it and appreciates the great lengths it took to make this happen!”

    USH TV's Rob Hind said, "Shooting this film was one of the best days I've had in my teaching career. Dozens of students got involved and threw themselves into the spirit of the project. We filmed the recreation from a huge range of angles to make sure we looked at every aspect of the assassination. I've been very impressed with Ryan's dedication to the project and the resulting film is looking fantastic".

    Students from Upper Shirley High will be given the first chance to see what Ryan has produced on Friday 22nd November.  Subsequent viewings of the film will be able to take place by visiting the USH TV website.  Please let us know your thoughts.

    Mr Parsons

  • Year 10 Art Students Visit Gunwharf Quays and Southsea

    On the 22nd October Year 10 Art students visited Gunwharf and Southsea.  The students started at Gunwharf and then walked along the Millennium Mile to Southsea, stopping to sketch and take photographs on the theme ‘Beaches and Boats’. They improved and developed observational drawing skills, creating some great sketches in pencil and biro.

    The students had a great time and the work produced has been presented in their sketchbooks as part of their first coursework project.  We hope that the experience will encourage all art students to take a sketchbook with them wherever they go as recording experiences and insights is a crucial part to developing as an artist.

  • Year 11 Half Term Art Workshop

    During half term Year 11 GCSE Art students took part in two workshops, A/ A* presentation skills and landscape painting skills.  Mrs Cadle and Miss De Ruiter were impressed with the dedication and enthusiasm shown by the students who made improvements to their GCSE coursework and learnt valuable new skills.   Comments included:
    - Dominic, “I am really proud of what I have achieved. I’ve finished my final painting using the new techniques I have learnt today.”
    - Keira, “I’ve had a chance to experiment with my own style.”
    - Lottie, “I’ve learnt painting techniques.”
    - Booky, “I’ve become more independent with my artwork”

    Mrs Cadle said, “This is the first workshop I have run at USH and I am pleased with the results. It was a great opportunity for the students to have a whole day to explore landscape painting in depth. The skills they have learnt will improve their GCSE coursework and give them confidence to develop into independent artists with their own styles and creative abilities.”

  • Theatre visit to 'The Woman in Black'

    Jack Coster and Fabio Manuel were part of a group of students from Years 10 and 11 who went up to the West End of London last week to see 'The Woman in Black' (the most terrifying live theatre experience in the world!)

    "We went up by coach and arrived in London at about 5pm, so we had time to have a walk around Covent Garden first.  We were really excited about seeing the play, although people were telling us it was really quite scary.  We went into the performance full of trepidation, especially as the small theatre was rumoured to be haunted!  The play was terrifying and there was a very nervous atmosphere in the audience as we were so full of suspense.   It was one of the scariest things we have ever seen; however it was also a wonderful experience."

  • Dragonfly Open Day, University of Southampton

    On 5th November I accompanied a group of Year 9 girls (Charley Davis, Shannon Harding, Charlotte White, Lara Hicks, Shay Manchip, Charlie Such, Alice Bellows and Savana Dennett) to the Dragonfly Open Day at the University of Southampton.  The aim of the day was to raise awareness for the urgent need for more women in the Science and Engineering profession.

    We were kept well entertained with talks about how females made a difference to this field, as well as taking part in a number of exciting experiments which included the manipulation of custard, using liquid nitrogen to demonstrate cryogenic freezing (not using humans though!) and making our own spectroscopes.

    As this was a first school trip for me, the experience proved to be very interesting and a fun day out with the girls.  I enjoyed getting to know them!  As a science technician, I am now looking forward to seeing the impact this workshop has had on the girls as they return to their science classes with fresh ideas for hands-on experiments and a keen interest in the subject.

    Mrs Robinson

    Charlotte White (pictured) wrote: "Last week I was chosen, along with seven other pupils from Year 9, to go to the University of Southampton's Dragonfly event.  At the university we got involved in three different workshops which aimed to try and inspire us, as girls, to take a job in the sciences.  The first workshop showed us how soil impact and erosion affects our everyday lives.  The second workshop was a lecture on lights, lasers and wavelengths.  During the last workshop we watched a demonstration involving liquid nitrogen and household items.  I found this day very enjoyable"

    Alice commented, "The whole day was set up to make Science more interesting."

    Shay, "I enjoyed the day because I like Science.  We did three workshops: soil erosion where we had to roll a custard ball, light and the science behind fibre optics and one on liquid nitrogen, which was my favourite."

    Savana, "The University put a lot of effort into this day.  I enjoyed the trip because it demonstrated how they are looking for girls to become more involved in Science."

  • The Great Upper Shirley Bake-Off!

    Welcome to Upper Shirley High's inaugural Bake-Off.  This exciting competition will take place over a three week period and is open to all students and staff at USH.

    The first part of the competition will require bakers to create twelve bite size treats. These treats can be either savoury or sweet or even a combination. Bakers will have ninety minutes to complete this bake. Bakers will be judged on uniformity, creativity, technical ability and eating experience.  Five bakers from lower school and five bakers from upper school will progress to the final.  Staff will be judged separately.

    The final show stopper challenge will require the finalists to create a breath-taking centrepiece for enjoyment after Christmas dinner. The finalist will have two hours to create their Christmas themed show stopper and will be judged on originality, technicality, finish and eating experience.

    If students love baking and would like to take part they should come to the food room and sign up without delay!

    The dates are as follows (but may be adjusted depending on numbers):
    - KS3 Signature Bake – Tuesday 19th November 
    - KS4 and Staff Signature Bake – Tuesday 26th November  
    - Final – Tuesday 10th December.

    Mr Davies

  • Paris 2014

    Letters will be coming home soon regarding the visit. We have found a suitable hotel and agreed a price with the holiday company.  The letter will include information about payment dates and information we need regarding the collective passport and EHIC cards.

    Please contact me by email if you have any questions regarding the visit. 

    Mr Perry

  • Sailing Experience of a Lifetime!

    The Sail Training Awards 2014 are inviting nominations to give inspirational young people the sailing adventure of a lifetime in recognition of their personal achievements in the face of adversity.

    The winners will spend five days living and sailing on board an Ocean Youth Trust South training yacht and will become involved in all aspects of life on board, including hoisting sails, helping with maintenance, sailing the boat at night and cooking and cleaning with the rest of the crew.  This is an unforgettable sailing experience, departing from and finishing at Southampton between 16th-21st April 2014.

    We shall be taking nominations from our Leaders of Achievement so if parents wish to nominate an USH student between the ages of 12 and 18, please contact the Leaders of Achievement directly by 13th December.  Nominations should be children you feel should be rewarded for their achievements or inspiration and support to others around them, or who have overcome adverse personal circumstances, or shown other exceptional accomplishments.

  • Careers News

    Careers Fair
    Thank you to those who attended our recent Careers Fair.  I hope you found it informative and helpful in supporting your child through the various stages of their education .  Attendance during the first half of the event was particularly good: approximately 55% of Year 11, 25% of Year 10 and 23% of Year 9.  If you have any comments on how you found the event or any suggestions on how to improve it please do not hesitate to contact me. 

    Year 9 Careers Day, Thursday 5th December
    As part of the careers education programme and to help with option choices and the transition process from Year 9 to Year 10, we are planning a ‘Go To Work With A Parent (family member or friend) Day’ on Thursday 5th December.  The aim of the day is to raise awareness of the world of work.  This opportunity will allow your son/daughter to gain valuable first-hand experience of the workplace, an important element of the careers programme which we are unable to offer in school.  If you are unable to take your son/daughter to work please arrange for him/her to go to work with a family member/friend.  Paperwork has now been issued, please complete and return by Monday 25th November.

    College Open Days/Evenings – November
    Sparsholt - Saturday 16th November 10.00am-3.00pm  
    Itchen College - Monday 18th November 5.00-8.00pm

  • Duke of Edinburgh Award

    Year 11

    Please encourage participants to complete their log books and submit information on the eDofE website.  The Awards Ceremony is in February and everything must be sent off to Hampshire for authorisation by Christmas.

    Year 10

    Meetings will be held every Friday until Christmas to plan final expeditions.  All participants must attend (or communicate with their group if they are unable to).  Assessed weekends are planned for either the 26th/27th April or the 17th/18th May.  Please let me know as soon as possible if you have a preference.

    Year 9

    There will be a meeting prior to Christmas for any students interested in the Award.  More information to follow soon.

    As ever, please contact me with any queries.

    The DofE Team

  • Spanish Dictionaries

    We have a small amount of Spanish dictionaries for sale at the Finance Office.

  • When your Child is Unwell

    It is very important to ring the school if your child is going to be absent.  Please
    report any absence directly to the Attendance Officer, Alison Small, on 023 8052 2721.

  • Dates for Your Diaries

    Dates to note for this academic year:

    • Monday 18th November - Staff training (Inset) day
    • Tuesday 3rd December - 4-7pm, Year 7 parents evening
    • Wednesday 18th December - Christmas Carol Concert, St James Church
    • Thursday 19th December - School breaks up for Christmas holidays
    • Friday 20th December - School closure
    • Monday 6th January 2014 - Return to school
    • Wednesday 22nd January - 4-7pm, Year 11 parents evening
    • Thursday 30th January - 4-7pm, Year 9 parents evening
    • Wednesday 12th February - 4-7pm, Year 10 parents evening
    • Monday 17th-Friday 21st Feb - Half term
    • Friday 21st March - Staff training (Inset) day
    • Friday 4th April - School breaks up for Easter holidays
    • Tuesday 22nd April - Return to school
    • Monday 5th May - Bank Holiday
    • Tuesday 20th May - 4-7pm, Year 8 parents evening
    • Friday 23rd May - Staff training (Inset) day
    • Mon 26th-Fri 30th May - Half term
    • Thursday 19th June - 4-7pm, Year 7 parents evening
    • Monday 30th June - Staff training (Inset day)
    • Wednesday 23rd July - School breaks up for Summer holidays