USH Newsletter

7th November 2014

  • Introduction

    October was as ever a month of sport and culture at USH, students exhibited their Artwork at Southampton City gallery, enjoyed success in the mini monologue competition, and saw the launch of our new Art Photography website.  Our sporting success continues with great successes in netball and Duke of Edinburgh Award.

    November sees the start of our new half term and is the month in which USH joins the nation in remembering the brave heroes of war. Our doors are opening to the grandparents of students to commemorate with us on the 11th; it promises to be a moving community event. 

    We said goodbye to Fran Cull, Senior Science Technician, retiring after 22 years of service at the school, and Louise Woodall, Special Educational Needs Coordinator, who joined the school in 2005.  We wish them well and thank them for their contributions to USH.

    Taz Curtis Assistant Head

  • Grandparent Open Morning on 11th November, Remembrance Day

    On Tuesday 11th November we would like students to invite their grandparents into school to give them the opportunity to see our Remembrance Day commemoration. Grandparents are to arrive at 10.50am, so that they are ready to observe a one minute silence with staff and students at 11am. Once grandparents have seen our poppy display (weather permitting) they will be able to enjoy a personalised tour of our school given by their grandchild.  Refreshments will be available at the end of tours and we will close our doors to visitors at 12.45pm. 

  • Remembrance 2014

    Thank you to those of you who have sent in information about relatives involved in World War One.  We have started to dedicate individual crosses to them and they are included in our Remembrance Display which is now in the entrance hall at the front of the school.

    Over the last week before half term your son or daughter has dedicated at least one poppy to a soldier from Southampton or relative who was killed. They will form part of the Field of Poppies on November 11th.  If you have yet to send in any information on any personal links please give these to your son or daughter so that they know the names to write on the poppies.  The regiment, place and date of death would also be good to include.

    Personal links and connections to the World Wars are becoming more and more distant, but they help to make Remembrance so meaningful to the younger generations.

    Please also remember to get in touch if you know of any relatives who died in the First World War and you would like a wooden cross to be laid in their memory.  You can contact me by email at with the soldier’s name, regiment and date of death so that I can arrange the crosses to be inscribed.  We will lay the crosses in London with a wreath on behalf of the school and the names will be added to the school’s Book of Remembrance.

    Jo Laybourne, Humanities department

  • Making Poppies for Remembrance Day

    At USH we are proud of our diversity. Both children and staff come from different countries, speak different languages, and have different or no religion.  We like to learn about places, cultures and people.

    On the Friday before half term break a group of students who have recently arrived in England from other countries were making poppies out of black and red cupcake cases for Remembrance Day.

    This is what they learned:
    Remembrance Day is held in the UK to remember soldiers who have died in the line of duty, as well as all those affected by war and conflict.  As the First World War was formally declared over ‘at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month’ (11:00 am on the 11th of November), millions of people all across the country stop whatever they are doing and bow their heads in silence for two minutes in respect of those who have lost their lives.

    John McCrae, a Canadian soldier and doctor during the First World War, wrote a poem In Flanders Fields describing the devastation he saw on the battlefields in Belgium and France. Many men died and were buried there, but the wild poppies that bloomed all around survived and became a symbol of hope.

    Every year, over 40 million of people choose to buy and wear a poppy sold by the Royal British Legion and all the money goes to support war veterans.

    These are some of the comments the students made about the day:
    • “I had fun making the poppies and they came out really well.”
    • “We should remember the soldiers who died for us.”
    • “The pictures are funny!”
    • “Remembrance Day is a day that we need to remember.”
    • “The poppies look real.”
    • “The poppies are very beautiful, making them was very nice and we remember those who died.”

    Joanna Wojcik, EAL Coordinator

  • Invisible Difference Workshops

    Is it right to stereotype?
    “As students enter our gates, they will feel safe…safe to truly be themselves” (S. Woods)

    From the 6th-10th October USH experienced an initiative that enabled students to experience discrimination in a safe environment.  Entitled ‘Invisible Difference’, the project was administered by Ms Dibden and delivered by our dance teacher Mr Jones, in partnership with Forest Forge Theatre Company.

    Devised as a result of personal experiences, the initiative was delivered to Years 7 to 10 and explored the stereotyping of genders through the delivery of dance, drama and discussion.

    The team, led by Mr Jones, allowed the students to initially learn a dance.  Once mastered, the students were then instructed to perform it as if they were members of the opposite gender.  This simple exercise sparked discussion once the participants had seen each other’s interpretation.  The experience allowed students to question stereotypical views of different social groups as well as query the serious issue of social banter.

    The last session culminated in all the groups discussing their journey in an assembly.  It was during this that Mr Jones chose to share his experiences of being stereotyped as a Jamaican and the effects that social banter have had on his daughter’s wellbeing in the past.

    Clearly disturbed by the effect it had on his daughter, Mr Jones and Forest Forge asked the students  to write down and celebrate what they felt was special about themselves and what they will change in regards to stereotyping and negative social banter. The following statements were contributed by some of the students involved in the sessions:
    I celebrate that I am……..
    • “I celebrate that I am Polish.”
    • “I celebrate that I am a Muslim and I like myself.”
    • “I celebrate that I am me.”
    • “I celebrate that I am different.”
    I will change………
    • “I will change the way that I react if I see stereotypical abuse. I will do something, not just stand there.”
    • “I will help that person as much as I can.”
    • “I will stop stereotyping.”
    • “I will ask them if they are all right and help them.”

  • On Saturday 18th October Matthew Salway and Grace White (Year 11) were at the opening of the exhibition at these two prestigious galleries.  Their work was displayed amongst the very best of Southampton Schools and alongside professional artists.

    Upper Shirley High is very proud to have two such talented artists!

  • News Updates

    New Parent Link to our Information System
    We are pleased to announce a new information system to enable parents to access real-time information about their child; it is called SIMS Learning Gateway. This launch is following a successful pilot of the system with the Parent Action Group over the summer term.

    The main benefits to you will be:
    • It will give you access to a range of information, including assessment grades, behaviour points, student reports and attendance details.
    • The system is easy to use and most of the data is displayed visually in tables and graphs.
    • The system is compatible with tablets and smartphones.
    • You will be able to update your personal and contact details online.
    • The system contains a homework facility; eventually you will be able to view all homework set by subject, completion dates and resultant status. The recording of homework will begin this week and you will start to see the homework information being populated over the coming weeks. We aim to have all aspects of homework recorded on SIMS from January 2015 onwards.

    Parents will shortly be receiving a letter introducing them to the system; this will include a copy of our new SLG Acceptable Use Policy. On return of your reply slip confirming your acceptance of this policy we will issue parents with their unique log in details and details of how to use and access the system.

    Parent Action Group
    On Friday 21st November we are holding our first day meeting for the group. It will run from 9-10.30 am in the school pavilion/canteen. We hope that this new timing will attract some new parents, especially those who find evening meetings difficult. I thought it would be useful to both inform and remind parents about the importance of this group.

    Who? We welcome all parents to attend; our aim is to have representation from all groups within our community. Everyone has a role in achieving this. No commitment is required; parents can choose which meetings they wish to attend. The meeting is organised and managed by three parents, and is attended by a representative of the school leadership team and other staff as required.

    What? Each meeting will have a theme or themes. Topics are decided by the parents and an agenda is displayed on our website in advance of each meeting. The meeting on 21st November will capture ideas from parents on what they wish to discuss during 2014-15.

    Why? The Parent Action Group have influenced over fifteen new developments in school this year ranging from the improvements to the format and delivery of our student reports, to the development and review of our new rewards system. We continue to welcome new members to this group to improve the parent voice.

    Communications, Concerns and Complaints
    We recognise that from time to time situations may arise where parents wish to raise a concern or complaint to the school. To help parents understand who to contact within the school we have updated our Complaints Policy. The policy contains four documents which are all displayed on our website under the Parent/School Policies tab:
    • Complaints Policy
    • Complaint Form
    • Communication and Complaint Flowchart. This document provides a recommended procedure for parents to follow, and relevant points of contact, depending on the nature of the communication/ concern/complaint.
    • Staged Approach to Handling Complaints. This explains the various stages within our complaints procedure; in the majority of cases contacting the Headteacher is stage two after parents have contacted a tutor/class teacher/subject leader/business manager (depending on the issue).
    Please take the time to familiarise yourself with the process and accompanying documents.

    I would also like to take this opportunity to direct parents towards our Mutual Respect Policy (this is located on our website under the Parent/School Policies tab).

    Catering Provision
    Staff and students are thoroughly enjoying the exciting new menus and excellent food as a result of our change in catering provision. I wanted to remind parents that copies of menus are displayed on our school website under the Parent/School Meals tab. Allergy information is also displayed on our website but our caterer, Chartwells, are very happy to speak with parents to discuss individual students dietary needs.  Let me know if you wish to access this service. The improved quality and choice means more people are using the canteen; as a result of this three more lunchtime staff have been taken on, along with a new serving station.

    Cashless Catering, topping up
    We have an increasingly number of students who are regularly coming to school without a sufficient balance on their catering account to buy their lunch or snack. The canteen works in the same way as any shop, and students should have adequate funds to make a purchase. Our caring ethos means we will never let a child go hungry but we do not wish this approach to be abused.

    Julie Prince, School Business Manager

  • Chocolate and Educational History in the Making!

    Year 6 Open day is always an exciting time at USH where new prospective students come and decide that USH is the place where they will shape their futures for the next five years. This year was especially exciting and really rather special; not only was there the brand new food room to marvel at but in a small section of the new build two students were literally making history!

    Isaac Mittoo and Florence Stone, Year 9, were the first young people to ever make chocolate from raw chocolate bean to delicious chocolate bar.  Being the first to do things is what Learning without Limits is all about and this historic event is really only the beginning for the USH chocolate academy. 

    The onsite chocolate factory is all about motivating young people to learn.  We here at USH are always very excited about learning and as young people are always enthusiastic about all things chocolate we decided to put the two together.  Aside from the exciting opportunities to work in the factory itself, the programme will be spread out across the school to as many departments as possible so that many more students can benefit from the chocolate project.  A few examples of some future projects are an advert competition run by the Film department, finding all about chocolate origins by the Geography department and the winners and runners-up of this year’s Great USH Bake-off being offered the chance to join the new USH chocolate academy baking team. 

    Listen out for news about a few special USH Christmas treats.

    Joseph Davies, Subject Lead for Catering

  • USH Art Photography Website

    The Art department would like to launch our Photography website at This contains coursework information, examples of student work, inspiration and photography students can track their progress. Here’s a preview:

  • New Faces around the Geography Department

    We are delighted to welcome two new faces to the Geography Department:  Miss Caudwell and Mr Gill will be working with us until Christmas - they are both enthusiastic and highly skilled Geographers and will be an asset to the team.

    Miss Caudwell
    I am currently studying for my PGCE at The University of Portsmouth. As part of the course I have joined Upper Shirley High School where I will be teaching up until Christmas.  I graduated with a BSc in Geography from the University of Birmingham in 2011, and then went on to study an MSc in Global Environmental Change at King’s College London, which I carried out part-time alongside my position as an Environmental Scientist at The Water Research Centre.

    I am passionate about all things geographical and environmental and in July 2008, I was fortunate enough to gain a place on a five week climate change expedition to the Arctic Circle.  The expedition was an immense challenge and extremely ‘chilly’, however the skills, friends and memories I came away with are invaluable.  I’ve already shared some of these experiences with Year 9 pupils as they have been studying polar ecosystems.

    I am very excited to be part of the Upper Shirley High team, and with the help of their expertise I am confident I will inspire and engage pupils.

    Mr Ian Gill
    I am a final year student, studying Environmental Science at the University of Southampton, and am currently writing my dissertation on the sustainability of leading UK supermarkets.  As part of my studies, I am undertaking the University Ambassador Scheme, a programme designed for University students to go into schools and gain an insight into teaching.

    I will be helping out in the Geography department every Thursday until Christmas.  I’m also going to be running an after school Geography Club in room 29, ‘Sights, Sounds and Tastes from around the World’, where each week we will look at a different country, experiencing their cultures, cuisines and Geography.  The club is aimed at Year 7-9 students and starts this week.

  • Mini Monologue Competition 2014

    1 person; 1 point of view; 100 words’

    Last year, the English department at USH entered all Year 7s into the 100 word monologue competition. The brief was to meet the following:
    Challenge yourself with Mini Monologues, an inspiring and fun creative writing challenge. Can you adopt a persona and write from one person's point of view in just 100 words? Choose a real person, a fictional character or a figure from history!’

    As a result of our entries, 87 students were chosen to have their monologue published within a book, and the best ones from each book will be published on the front cover. We hope to see an USH student feature.

    The top prize for a student will be a Kindle Fire HD and the winning prize for the school is £1000. Every student that entered will receive a bookmark and those selected for the books will receive a certificate.

    We are awaiting the results for the winning entry and winning school - so watch this space and fingers crossed!

    Sophie Dunne, English department

    Noah Bates was inspired by Bear Grylls as he likes watching his programmes and seeing what he does.  Noah said, "I think it is amazing the way he puts his life on the line."

    "Hi, I'm Bear Grylls, the leader of the Scouts; the ultimate survivor!  When I'm in the wild, there's no turning back and you never waste your time, just a second is like gold when you're in the wild.  You have to be on the ball the whole time, if it's food, water or a place to camp for the night.  No matter where you are there are endless opportunities to be a true survivor.  You have to know how to go rock climbing and even know you have a good sense of direction.  Can you also be a true survivor?"

  • United Nations Flag Raising Ceremony

    On Friday 24th October Kim Alipio, Deputy Head Boy, and I watched the Flag Raising Ceremony to celebrate United Nations day with Ms Dibden.  There were many other schools at the ceremony and Springhill School choir performed while the Mayor raised the flag.  Afterwards we went into the Civic Centre to have lunch and were able to have a look around before heading into the Council Chamber.  A representative from UNA-UK, Hayley Richardson, spoke to us about Women’s Rights and what the United Nations has been doing about them as there are still issues related to women’s rights within our world.

    I enjoyed the ceremony and the talk and found the whole visit very educational.

    Emily Yeates, Deputy Head Girl

  • Carol Concert, 17th December - and Parent Choir!

    It’s that time of year again and the carol concert is rapidly approaching!  This moving musical event will continue to be held at St James’ Parish Church and will start at 6pm on Wednesday 17th December. All are welcome and there will be no entry fee.  Refreshments will be provided at the end of the concert and it will, once again, serve as a wonderful opportunity for us to meet as a community prior to the Christmas break.  If you would like to take part in the concert then do read on!  I look forward to seeing you at the concert.

    Parent Choir 
    Following the successful formation of a staff and parent choir for the JET prom I would like to reform this wonderful musical ensemble for the carol concert! The USH school choir are singing part of Handel’s Messiah and I would like us to join together with any willing parents to sing this traditional piece. If you would like to be part of the choir then please email me at the address below. All rehearsal details will be sent out once I have an idea of numbers so do get in contact if you are at all interested. Male and female voices are needed and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Phil Griffiths, Head of Music

  • Science Year 11 Period 6

    The following dates are revision for Core GCSE Chemistry (C1)
    • Wednesday 12th November
    • Wednesday 19th November.

    All Year 11s will sit a C1 practice exam paper on Thursday 20th November to help prepare for the upcoming mock exams.

    Please support your son or daughter with revision at home and attendance at these sessions.

    Geri Adams, Subject lead Science

  • Southampton Junior University (SJU)

    SJU is a collaborative project run by the University of Southampton and Southampton Solent University.  A small group of students from Years 9, 10 and 11 will take part in a number of activities throughout the Autumn and Spring Term all aiming to highlight the importance of GCSE subject options, careers and employability skills such as team working and leadership.  The students will be invited to share their experiences of the programme with their peers.

    The following comments were made by Year 10 students following the 2014/2015 SJU Introduction session they attended earlier this week:
    • “I think I’m definitely going to Uni.” 
    • “I will be working independently and as part of a team.”
    • “The skills we learn on this programme will help me in the future”.

    Carey Anderson, Careers Adviser

  • U14 Netball Team are Still Winning!

    Congratulations to the U14 netball team their on continuing success in netball.  Their latest results are:
    • St Anne’s 3 – USH 6
    • Redbridge 0 – USH 11

    Claire Marks, PE department

  • DofE Expedition

    All our Year 10 students have now completed their qualifying expedition which is one of the sections for achieving their Bronze DofE award.  The students were praised by their assessors for their behaviour, navigation skills and how well they worked together as a team.  Staff who have been working with the students throughout the year have had a great time and enjoyed watching  them grow more confident .  The students now need to log into their eDofE accounts to upload their information onto the site and start working on completing the other three sections in order to complete their Bronze Award.

    Students need to look at their eDofE account regularly or their accounts will become inactive due to lack of activity; the account can be reactivated if requested by the administrator.  If students don’t sign into their accounts until they have completed all the sections they may find that some of the sections that they have previously completed are no longer valid as sections can only be backdated three months.  If students have forgotten their details they should see Mrs Murphy who is currently working in the general office.

    Year 9 students are already showing interest in doing the DofE and a number have already asked when they are going to be able to start.  Once they have signed up and their places have been purchased from the Duke of Edinburgh Trust, a meeting will be held to give them further information.  Training takes place regularly and it is important that students can commit to this if they wish to complete the award.  We hope to hold an assembly soon to give them more information.  For those who wish to take part in the DofE a letter for parents, enrolment form and medical form will be sent home to be completed and returned with the enrolment fee. 

    Jenny Murphy, DofE Coordinator

  • Paris 2015

    Thank you to everyone who has sent in passport information so far.  The due date for this was last Friday so if you haven’t provided us with this information as yet, please do so as quickly as possible.  A reminder that we need only one of the two following options:

    • A valid passport – we will make a copy and return it straight away, or you can send in a copy or a scan if you wish.  Mrs Cookson on reception will happily make a copy for you if you wish to bring it in personally.
    • If you do not have a passport, please complete the Nationality Questionnaire sent home with the last letter; you need to complete as much information as possible on this form.  We need two passport photographs as well.  Please email me for an electronic copy or send your son or daughter to me for a new one if necessary.

    If you son or daughter was born outside of the UK, they will need to travel on their own passport.

    The final balance for the visit (total £340) is due by the 21st November.  We must pay the full amount to the travel company shortly after this date so please contact me as soon as possible if this is likely to cause an issue.

    An EHIC card is required for each student going on the visit – this can be obtained for free at

    It would be useful at this stage if you could inform me of any specific dietary requirements or medical conditions we need to be aware of so we can start making plans for this.

    As ever, please get in touch if you have any issues or queries.

  • Display of Lost Property

    As we are inundated with lost property, this will be put on display in the school hall next week from Monday 10th until Wednesday 12th November.  Any unclaimed items will have to be disposed of after that time.
    Please can I asked that you put your child’s name in every item of clothing that they wear to school as this will help us to return any lost item to your child.  Thank you.
    Pat Allen, PA to Senior Leadership Team

  • Dates for Your Diaries

    Tuesday 11th November - Remembrance Day.  Grandparents morning 10.50-12.45
    Thursday 13th November – Year 11 Parents Elevate Education Seminar/Exams evening
    Tuesday 18th November – GCSE Presentation Evening for last year’s Year 11
    Monday 17th November – Staff training day, school closed for students
    Monday 24th November to Friday 5th December – Year 11 Mock exams
    Wednesday 17th December – 6pm, Christmas Carol Concert, St James Church

    Inset day/school closure dates for this academic year:
    Monday 17th November
    Friday 19th December
    Friday 23rd January 2015
    Friday 20th March

    Dates of parents’ evenings:
    Thursday 11th December – Year 10 Progress evening
    Wednesday 21st January 2015 – 4.00-7.30pm Year 11 parents’ evening
    Thursday 29th January – 4.00-7.30pm Year 9 parents’ evening
    Thursday 12th February – Year 8 Options evening
    Tuesday 24th March – 4.00-7.30pm Year 8 parents’ evening (*please note change of date)
    Wednesday 1st April – Year 9 Options evening
    Thursday 23rd April – 4.00-7.30pm Year 10 parents’ evening
    Thursday 18th June – 4.00-7.30pm Year 7 parents’ evening
    Tuesday 30th June – New intake parents’ induction evening