USH Newsletter

27th March 2015

  • Introduction

    At USH we are committed to ensure your sons and daughters have experiences which deepen their understanding of the world.

    It’s worth remembering that school life should broaden horizons and afford our children the chance to learn from people who have had a profound impact on society.  The extended piece in this edition will give you a sense of one such momentous example.  Mr Farley; congratulations for organising this.

    Stuart Woods

  • Visit of Chris Lubbe (Former Bodyguard to Nelson Mandela)

    Habits of Mind: Listening with Empathy and Understanding
    On Thursday 19th March, the History Department was delighted to welcome Chris Lubbe to USH to share his incredible story with our students. Our vision in History is that it should be a fascinating and life-enhancing experience, encouraging students to be curious, develop their own opinions and values based on evidence, and to build a deeper understanding of the present by learning about and questioning the past. Chris’s visit enriched our vision.
     Our students were immediately engaged as Chris began by talking about his time as Nelson Mandela’s bodyguard where he not only became a close friend to this extraordinary man, but met the most powerful people in the world including the Queen, Princess Diana and Bill Clinton, and famous celebrities such as Michael Jackson, Beyonce and the Spice Girls.  Chris used this as backdrop to reveal that in his life he has had to overcome extreme discrimination and hardships growing up in South Africa during apartheid. 
    As he went deeper into his story, the students listened intently as Chris revealed that his life had changed when he was just eight years old. On a segregated bus his mother had begun to feel faint as a result of having diabetes. Unable to stop in a white only area, the bus driver was eventually able to let them out in the city of Durban where she was helped on to a white only bench due to the seriousness of her condition. As Chris waited with his mother, two police officers threw her off the bench and onto the pavement, knocking her unconscious. Chris was shocked by how this could be allowed to happen. His mother came out of her coma in hospital three months later and Chris began to question his parents about what the system of apartheid was, when it was introduced and why. Chris discovered that his fate had been decided at birth by a pencil! Having lighter skin to his parents, officials were unable to decide what to put as his ‘race’ on his birth certificate. As a result, he faced the ‘pencil test’, where if the pencil had fallen, he would have been classified as white and taken away from his parents and placed in an orphanage. Luckily the pencil got stuck in his hair.
    Students appreciated how lucky we are as Chris spoke about his childhood: he was educated in a shack packed with sixty students, only one teacher and no books or equipment. He overcame this by searching for books thrown away by white people at the local dump. He began to use literacy to protest against apartheid by making banners and slogans. These non-violent protests were always disrupted by the police and Chris’ first arrest came whilst leading a protest against an English footballer who came to play in an all-white football league…his name was Roy Hodgson! Chris informed students that he has been invited to speak to the FA about discrimination.
    Amazingly, Chris passed his equivalent of GCSEs and A Levels and applied to become a pilot. His birth certificate returned to haunt him when he received the reply from South African Airways that this was a position reserved for white people. This led Chris to work on the railways with his uncle, where on one fateful day he experienced another turning point in his life. As the train he was working on pulled away from the station Chris noticed a black person running for the train. Stood in a white only carriage, but realising the next train wasn’t until the next day, he made the decision to open the door and let the man on before walking him down to the non-white carriage. On their way, they came across two policemen who attacked Chris for letting the man on in a white only carriage before beating them both up severely. Shockingly, we then heard how the man was thrown from the moving train and how Chris only survived the same fate due to the intervention of his uncle. Chris revealed that this was the time when he made the decision to join Nelson Mandela’s then banned party, the ANC. As a result, he had to leave home as a wanted man, eventually being arrested and spending some time in prison.
    Eventually released, Chris never gave up and it was during this time that new President F.W. de Klerk ordered the release of his hero, Nelson Mandela. After meeting with him, Chris became his bodyguard. Incredibly, one day he found himself in a room with one of the guards who had tortured him in prison. Now expected to work with this man, Chris’ first intention was to gain revenge. He then revealed how Nelson Mandela taught him the power of forgiveness and reconciliation and how it was through this process that he truly found his freedom.
    The concluding messages for our students from Chris were extremely powerful: anybody can make a difference, never give up, the power of education and reading, appreciate what you have, forgive people and don’t hate, stand up to discrimination.
    Overall, the day was an amazing success. The reaction from the students was incredible and they listened to Chris’ talk with great maturity and empathy. In each session you could hear a pin drop and all year groups were a credit to the school. Many students came back at break and lunch to ask Chris a question based on his talk. For example, Zishan Tahir asked him about whether his life is better now because of what he went through, Shay Manchip wanted to know how he could forgive people who had tortured him in prison and Charlotte Browne made him reflect on whether he now considers himself a free man.
    Chris left feeling overwhelmed by the reaction of the students and looks forward to returning to USH in the future:
    “Thank you so much for inviting me to your school. I was so touched by the very positive responses of the students. I spent most of last night responding to Twitter and Facebook messages and trust me they were all positive.  I had such a great day yesterday and it was so amazing to watch the students’ responses. I know that Nelson Mandela is smiling.  Thank you for your very kind hospitality and kindness.”
    I would like to thank all staff and students who made Chris’ visit a very special day and a big thank you to Chris for inspiring our students in such a great way.
    Stuart Farley, Head of History 

  • Red Nose Day at USH!

    Friday 13th March was Red Nose Day and fundraising events at USH included a cake sale, face painting and staff vs staff netball.  A very good team effort across the school raised £78.58.

  • All School Rugby Champions!

    Bristling with pride our triumphant Year 7 and 8 mixed rugby team have recently been crowned Millbrook Rugby Club all School Champions!

    The team, resplendent in their newly-designed Caterbury rugby shirts, completed the four week series undefeated. 

    As part of our involvement in the RFU’s ‘All Schools’ programme,  we have been taking part in a weekly five school tournament at Millbrook RFC.  Each week we have formed a team made up of Year 7 and 8 students, all new to rugby, to take to the battlefield against our local rivals: Redbridge, Regents Park, Cantell and Oasis Lordshill.

    At the start of play yesterday we were leading the table by five points, but with five points awarded for a win it was imperative we didn’t let our standards slip.  The first fixture against Redbridge ended in a draw with two tries apiece, but we regained composure and romped to victory in our final two games against Oasis and Regents Park respectively to take the overall championship with an eleven point lead over the 2nd placed team.

    A magnificent achievement by all the boys and our first rugby trophy!

    Congratulations to squad representatives from Year 7: Ryan Brown, Jacky Li, Mohammed Chowdhary, Ethan Munday, Adam Falkowski, Stefan Hristosov, Josh Glasspool, Filip Prus, and Ben Puleo and from Year 8: Tom Brokenshire, Will Carrington, Henry Rowden, Joe Sherliker, Will Hyde, Dan May, Karim Arahji, Allan Pope and Toby Budd.

    Rick Staples, PE department

  • Netball News

    The U12 netballers had another good set of games last week at the Sports Centre, beating
    • Cantell 9-1
    • Bitterne Park 2-1 and 6-0.
    Special thanks to Amelia Brindley-Wootten for helping out.

    The U13s continued an excellent run, winning all their games
    • Bitterne Park 16-4
    • St Anne’s 5- 2
    • St George 8-5.

    They currently sit top of the league with one match to go!

    Well played to all.  A superb effort from both our teams.

    Claire Marks, PE department

  • World Book Day

    Here at USH we encourage reading for pleasure every day with our Drop Everything And Read sessions, but it was good to have an excuse to further celebrate books and reading on World Book Day on Thursday 5th March.

    The day started with a special quiz for tutor groups, challenging the students with questions about books for children and teenagers.  Many tutor groups did exceptionally well - our students are very knowledgeable about books – so we had to draw the winner out of a hat.  The winners were M3 who were awarded a selection of prizes.

    The Library was turned into a busy book stall for the day, and all lower school students were given £1 tokens to spend on the specially published World Book Day books or to put towards the cost of a selection of other titles.  We are very grateful to October Books in Portswood for supplying the books.

    There was also a picture quiz in the Library for students to identify the members of staff hiding behind their books.  All that could be seen of the staff were the tops of their heads, so this was much more tricky that it sounds, and only four students got all the answers correct.  The lucky winners of Easter Eggs were Ryan Higdon, Albany Rowan, Luke Duncombe and Erin MacManus.

    Finally, USH TV made a film of Year 7 students, staff and members of the Year 9/10 Book Group talking about their favourite books, and this was shown throughout the day.

    Rosina Mount, Senior Librarian

  • Sustainability Adventures in the New Forest!

    A group of Year 7 and 8 students recently had the opportunity to stay at Minstead Study Centre in the New Forest for two nights.

    The focus of the centre is environmental education and students were able to learn about different themes including recycling, biodiversity, global citizenship and sustainable transport through a range of activities.

    During their stay students had the opportunity to hike in the New Forest, learning about bio-diversity and the ability of mud and water to get into your boots however hard you try to keep it out!  Our accommodation was in a purpose built eco-dormitory with rain water harvesting, solar panels and a woodburner to keep our carbon footprint to a minimum.  Students were also able to monitor their energy use for the duration of their stay.

    The group came away with a greater awareness of environmental issues, generating lots of ideas that USH can start to work on to become more sustainable and had a lot of fun!

    The Eco Council will keep you posted as our action plan develops!

    Sam Mawby, Eco Council Coordinator, and Daniel Hughes, School Council Coordinator

  • Hollywood Bollywood Quiz Night

    Many thanks to everyone who supported the PTFA Hollywood Bollywood quiz night on Friday 13th March.  Just over 100 people attended and everyone had a good time; we managed to raise just under £500! 

  • Students on School Site after 2.40pm: Clarification

    To clarify the paragraph in the last newsletter about students on site after 2.40pm; we are not wishing to stop children attending clubs and period 6 sessions or waiting for siblings to walk home with.  However all other students are expected to leave the school site promptly.
    Whilst we are proud of our extra-curricular offer, the school cannot adequately supervise students remaining in school without our knowledge or a legitimate reason for being here. Therefore, we are ensuring all of our students are aware of this and we would further appreciate your support in reinforcing this message.

  • DofE Expedition News

    Our Year 9 students doing their Duke of Edinburgh award have been meeting every Friday this term and working on their cooking skills, compass reading and navigation skills.  The volunteering, physical and skills sections of the award are organised by the students themselves although if they need advice we are always here to help, or they can go to the Duke of Edinburgh award official website.

    After the Easter break students will be given their Duke of Edinburgh welcome packs and will be able to log in to their eDofE accounts. We will hold a training session on how to set up their profiles, and what kinds of activities they can do for the physical, skills and volunteering sections.  Many of the students may already be doing an activity that they can use for these sections and so they will not need to find time to commit to something else. The DofE room situated in the music block has some helpful posters giving students ideas and guidance on the different sections and Mrs Murphy in the General Office will also be able to help with any queries that students or parents may have.

    We will soon be taking the Year 9 students on their first expedition training weekend in the New Forest.  They will be practising navigation skills, map reading and compass work and will be accompanied by adults at all times.  The students will be placed into small groups during the weeks leading up to the training weekend and will need to plan a group menu; this should include an evening meal, breakfast and lunch.

    The cost of this training weekend is £17; this helps to cover the cost of the campsite, minibus and maintaining equipment.  The preferred method of payment is through the online payment system under DofE Training Weekend.  However  if you wish to pay by cheque please make your payment out to JET, clearly stating your child’s name and what the payment is for and return to the finance office.

    Jenny Murphy, DofE Coordinator

  • Paris October 2015

    We’ve had massive interest in this year’s visit – it looks like we’ll be taking two buses again!

    The final price will be £330, a very similar amount to the past two years.  You will be informed in due course of when further payments need to be paid by, along with information about passports.

    I you have any questions, please get in touch

    Martin Perry,

  • Sainbury’s Active Kids is back!!

    The USH PE department would like to ask for your help again.

    Last year we collected over 15,000 Active Kids vouchers which helped us buy plenty of new equipment. We are asking you to help us again this year please and donate any vouchers collected up until 5th May 2015.

    Students and parents can hand in vouchers at the collection box at front reception.  If possible we would love to beat last year’s total.  Thank you for your contributions!

    USH PE department

  • Used Postage Stamps

    Many thanks to those of you who have sent in your used postage stamps. Four packages of them have already been sent to the RNIB to fund Guide Dogs for the Blind.  Please continue to give your stamps to Reception in order for us to continue helping in this way.  A 1cm border should be left around the stamps when they are removed from the envelopes.

  • Communicating with USH when your Child is Unwell

    It is very important to inform the school if your child is going to be absent. 

    We have also installed an automatic communication system that will allow you to contact us directly by text message in order to keep the school updated with any information regarding attendance, for example:
    • absences
    • lateness
    • general enquires about your child’s attendance.

    Our school’s dedicated mobile number is 07860 005 066. Please confirm your child’s name at the start of your text. 

    We will be able to text back using the system; the aim is to free up time in the attendance office.  During busy hours the staff receive many phone calls asking questions that are not of an urgent nature, so by using Text Messages In you will be helping the school. 

    Otherwise you can report any absence directly to the Attendance Officer, Alison Small, on 023 8052 2721.

    Thank you.

    Alison Small, Attendance Officer

  • Medical Appointments

    If your son/daughter needs to leave school during the day for a medical appointment, please contact our Attendance Officer, Alison Small, on telephone number 023 80522721 prior to the appointment.  For safeguarding reasons, students will not be allowed to leave the school site on their own if we only receive a note in their planner.

    Whenever possible, please make appointments outside of school hours.

  • Applying for Free School Meals (Eligibility Checking)

    This is to let you know that you can now apply online for free school meals for your child.  Here is web address for the application:
    However, if you prefer you can still complete a paper application and hand it into the school. We can then apply via the web form on your behalf, and let you know the result.
    Applying for free school meals not only gives your child the opportunity to have a meal but the Government also gives the school additional money to help with your child’s education.  In the new financial year this has been increased and it is therefore to your child’s advantage that you apply for free school meals even if your child doesn’t actually take up the offer of a meal.