Our latest newsletter is now available to download.
Newsletter January 2020
Tel +44 (0)1865 428 200 firstname.lastname@example.org
Our latest newsletter is now available to download.
Newsletter January 2020
Y12 biologists visited The Oxford Museum of Natural History to take part in Cells Day – a series of lectures from scientists from the University on the subject of cells.
We were able to get access to the Museum before the other schools and studied the “First Animals” exhibition, covering the first evolution of multi-cellular life around 600 million years ago. This led into the talk by Peter Holland (head of the Zoology Dept) on “Why did cells stick together”. Before that was a talk introducing cells, in particular the cytoskeleton which moves structures around cells on “rail tracks”. There were also two talks on plant cells, one which challenged the pupils’ perception of plant cell structure.
In the afternoon the talks were on using bacterial cells to solve the problem of the over-use of plant fertilisers, and two on diseases. The last one, by Robert MacLaren, was about using viruses (injected by a robot) to add DNA to heal defective eye cells – the students found this particularly fascinating.
Every so often I’ll forward to you the Amazing Apprenticeships parents’ pack so you can see what kind of opportunities may be available for your child in this career pathway. OSA have sessions on Apprenticeship applications for students in Year 10-13, and we encourage students to think about different routes that might lead them to the career destination they are interested in.
Please download the pack here: Parents Pack
If you have any questions on any aspect of OSA’s careers work, please don’t hesitate to contact me on email@example.com.
Dr J Watson
Vice-Principal (Sixth Form, Careers and Enrichment)
The OSA Medical Society has worked hard this term, sorting out work experience placements, booking a First Aid training day and meeting with Dr Jacobs, their mentor, to plan their reading and research. Many students who are interested in a medical career in Year 12, 11 and 10 have also booked on to a January conference at Oxford Brookes. They have also produced the second issue of their magazine, The Scientific – available here.
The Scientific - 11
If any further students are interested in registering for the Medical Conference at Oxford Brookes on 18 and 19 January, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following the English Speaking Union Public Speaking Competition, entered by Year 9 and 10 students at OSA, the next step is the MACE, the national debating competition, largely entered by Sixth Form students. We hosted the first round at OSA last year.
This year our team – Linnet Drury, Felix Henson and Huma Khan – travelled to Abingdon School and joined in an evening of lively debate. Opposing the motion ‘This House believes that people in the UK should be limited to one flight each a year’, the team argued ably against the team from the host school. Though Linnet and Felix reached the national final of the ESU Public Speaking in Year 10, and Linnet was invited to join the UK team, they are building up their debate skills still and on this occasion didn’t get through to the area finals.
We look forward to further Sixth Form debating in the Oxford Schools Competition in January.
Dr Watson, Miss Morris and Mr Hart took a group of students from Year 7 and 8 to compete in the New College Debating Competition against Cheney and New College School. This is the second year the competition has been held and we went into it with the added pressure of having won last year. One of last year’s competitors – Olivia Ward Jacobs – led the training for the Year 7 students with great skill and commitment.
They had to prepare on debate in advance on the topic of “This House believes the cost of space exploration far outweighs its benefits”. After dinner in New College Hall there was a second debate on the topic “This House believes that young people have never had it so easy”. This time students had less than half hour to prepare their speeches. All our students gave excellent performances.
Erik Moseley was awarded the prize for best speaker in the Oxford Spires team and Olivia was awarded both the prize for the best Oxford Spires summariser and the best overall summariser. In addition we were very excited to win the overall trophy meaning we maintained our 100% record in this competition.
On 26th November Miss Morris and Mr Sheppard took two teams of year 7 and 8 students to compete in the Oxfordshire Heat of the Kids’ Lit Quiz. This is an international quiz on children’s literature that is held all around the world with the Internation Final taking place in New Zealand this year. Our two teams had to answer 10 rounds of questions on over 100 years worth of children’s books, requiring knowledge of plots, authors, characters and illustrations. The questions were incredibly challenging and some were University Challenge and Mastermind level. After each round there was a prize for the highest scoring team on that round. If there was a tie then it went to a sudden death tie breaker.
Our B team won the prize after the round on Dreams and our A team won a tie breaker to get the prize for the Legends round. There were also prizes for the audience member that was the fastest to answer a question after each round and Miss Morris and Mr Sheppard were both very pleased to win one of these each.
In the end our B team came 7th out of 22 and our A team came 5th, beating a lot of teams from prestigious private schools. The A team was just 1.5 marks behind 3rd place and worked out that had they played their joker and doubled their score on a different round then they would have come 2nd.
Both teams had a great time and were a real credit to the school – and this competition will now become an annual event!
End of term for the students is 18 December 2019. As usual we will celebrate this occasion with our End of Term Awards Assemblies. Year 7 students will also have the opportunity to watch the Annual OSA Panto.
Students will finish school at the following times:
Year 11, 12 and 13 – will be dismissed at 12.10
Year 7-10 will be dismissed at 14.10
Now in it’s fourth year, our German Student Exchange has had yet another successful trip to Aschaffenburg and Berlin with financial support from the British Council, which we are very grateful for. The students immersed themselves in German culture and really stepped outside their comfort zone by staying with families they had never met before. We are very proud of our students’ willingness to try out new things and experience first hand how speaking another language can open doors to new possibilities you would never experience without giving it a go. Many thanks also to all the staff who supported this trip especially Mr Fanchi and Miss Stober without whom this would not have been possible. We are excited and looking forward to hosting our German friends in July.
On Friday 22nd November, the English department took over 30 Year 7s to the Oxford Playhouse to hear from worldwide best-selling author Jeff Kinney. Some parents may be familiar with his series of books ‘the Diary of the Wimpy Kid’. The children absolutely loved seeing one of their favourite books brought to life with a range of engaging activities and lots of audience participation. The audience, which was filled with local secondary and primary schools in Oxford, were tasked with the challenge of asking Jeff a question he had never heard before during the Q and A. One of our students creatively asked “How many crocodiles have you seen in your life?”. This garnered a laugh from Jeff (who had indeed never been asked that before)and the rest of the OSA students showing their full appreciation of this through cheering an applause!
Thursday 7th November 2019 saw House Drama students ‘Dicing with the Decades as they created performances about key points in our history.
Our Student Captains worked tirelessly to research historical events and create a script which was interesting and presented some of the issues that we have faced or could face in the future.
The houses worked every week to develop their performances and built relationships across the year groups in the process. Each house took a different idea from the topic of dicing with the decades and found inspiration in their research.
Seacole explored the idea of a meteor crashing into the earth and ending the world
Earhart looked at the great depression and the impact it had on the theatrical world
Bannister showed the effect of communist’s vs the rich upper-class and their battle for equality
Tolkien delved into the stonewall riots and the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community
With each house making their plot decisions based on their interests and strengths it made for a difficult decision for the judges on which house they thought deserved the win. As always the House Drama competition showcased the talent of our students here at OSA as well as the developing leadership skills, creativity and perseverance of our captains. The winners on the night were:
All the houses should be proud of the hard work, determination and perseverance that they put into their performances and this year Tolkien walked away the overall winners which was well-deserved.
It’s not easy to be accepted on to a university medical degree, but some of our Sixth Form students are working really hard to make sure their applications next year are successful. They’ve set up a Medical Society and are meeting weekly, booking speaker meetings and working with one of our generous parent-mentors (who works in a local hospital) to arrange work experience and prepare for entrance tests.
One of the first things they’ve set up is a MedSoc newspaper, to showcase their research into medical issues. The latest issue is available here – The Scientific - 8
Year 11 students are welcome to join MedSoc and should let Dr Watson know if they are interested email email@example.com
They, and any interested Year 10 students, are also invited to apply for a medical conference being held at Oxford Brookes university in January. Dr Watson has emailed details to them.
On Thursday 24th October a group of Year 12 A Level Theatre and LAMDA students had a fun filled theatre day in wet and rainy London! We met at 8.45am at Oxford Station, to catch the 9.01am to Paddington – where we then travelled by tube to Temple and the National Theatre Archive. Everything was going brilliantly until we got delayed on the journey in and discovered the National Theatre Archive – isn’t actually at the National Theatre ‘Ooooops’.
After an hour delay on the train and some dodgey navigation we arrived at the Theatre Archive – where we had the opportunity to watch an amazing recording of Christopher Eccleston and Jodie Whittaker (2 Doctor Who’s) performing Antigone. We also got to look at original scripts, costumes and stage designs – with notes from the director!
We then hopped back on the tube and went to Stratford (sadly no time for shopping at Westfields) to see the matinee of ‘Our Lady Of Kibeho’. It was absolutely amazing – it told the true story of a teenage girl who was studying at a RC School in Rwanda who communicates with the Virgin Mary. She has beautiful visions, always accompanied by the smell of jasmine – inexplicably two more girls start to have visions of the Virgin Mary. An envoy from the Vatican comes – to disprove their story but by the end of his meetings and tests he is convinced they are telling the truth. The girls go on National Television as a celebration of an official miracle and share with Rwanda not the beautiful vision of ‘the garden of God’ but of a country bathed in blood, death and destruction! A vision of the atrocities to come, thirteen years later in 1994 over one million Tutsi’s were brutally tortured and murdered during the countries genocide.
It was then back on the Tube to Covent Garden for Street Theatre and food and then to the Peacock Theatre in Holborn, for the second show of the day! ‘Some Like it Hip Hop’ was a complete shift in mood and emotion but equally as fantastic as the first show. Set in a world where woman are valueless, allowed only to do the most menial of tasks. Where men have all the power and privilege – in a world where books are banned and reading is outlawed. Two women set out to prove that the female of the species is just as able as the male. Disguised in suits and fake facial hair they infiltrate the world of the all-male office! The whole story is told through, narration, song, music, hip hop and street dance. Loosely based on Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ the comical tale of love, mistaken identity, cross dressing and revelation was a great way to end a FANTASTIC day!
For National Poetry Day, the wonderful Timi Amusan (in Year 13 last year and now studying at Portsmouth University) is Oxford City Poet. He was interviewed last term on Radio Oxford, but they have also made a film of his National Poetry Day poem for the city – . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ou9wXomWsg
First we heard that two of our students had beaten 16,000 entrants from across the world and were announced as finalists in the Foyle Young Poets of the Year. Congratulations to Annie Davison (Year 12) and Helen Woods (who left last summer and is now reading English at Wadham College, Oxford). Their poems are on the Foyle website at
https://poetrysociety.org.uk/competitions/foyle-young-poets-of-the-year-award/ and they were interviewed by Lily Mitchell at Radio Oxford earlier this month
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p07ndt0s Listen from about 1:36:00
On Tuesday 8th October a small select group of GCSE Drama students went to The North Wall Theatre to see the award winning ‘Square Go’, it was hilarious, poignant and very, very colourful!
We meet Max and his mate Stevie, two thirteen year old boys hiding in the school ‘bogs’ just before the bell for the end of the day – when Max has got to step up for his ‘Square Go’ (a fight, scrap, ruck) at the school gates with the never actually seen, Danny Guthrie!! However, before he can wrestle the school bully, he must first wrestle his own demons. With the help of his weird wee pal Stevie he goes on a journey of self-discovery before learning there are some fears you just have to face and growing up is one of them!
Look out for up and coming trips and events; House Drama – 7th November. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (West End Theatre Trip – KS4) 4th December. Plus a KS3 Theatre Trip TBC
OSA held one of its most successful primary events on Wednesday 2 October when 15 teams of Year 5 and 6 pupils from 9 local primary schools came to compete in the annual team competition.
Although it was after school, all the students showed great energy and commitment to solving their maths problems! Many thanks to all the OSA students who helped Miss Morris and Mr Sheppard run such a successful evening.
Winners this year came from St Andrew’s Primary, followed by a team from Tyndale. Congratulations to them, and to all who took part!
Classical Civilisation is a new A level for OSA this year and 14 students are in the first group. They have to study literature texts from Ancient Greece and Rome, as well as places and artefacts important in classical culture.
On 1 October, they took part in a study day run by the Ashmolean and the Classics Faculty, and attended lectures and workshops on a range of topics from Greek theatre audiences, to coins, to pottery. They also had the chance to see the current exhibition at the Ashmolean – Last Supper in Pompeii.
On Thursday 3rd of October a group of 48 Drama and Music students travelled to the sparking emerald city of Oz, via London’s Victoria Apollo Theatre.
The story begins with Galinda the good witch telling the citizens of Oz that Dorothy, with her faithful dog Toto, has killed the wicked witch of the West – to great celebrations and joy!
The story then leaps back in time and we discover the real story of the Wizard, Tin Man, Straw Man and Cowardly Lion – it tells the tale of two unlikely friends, Elphaba and Galinda, who struggle through opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry over the same love-interest, multiple frilly dresses and reactions to the Wizard of Oz’s corrupt government, and ultimately Elphaba’s public fall from grace and tragic demise!
It was a FANTASTIC evening with a gorgeous group of students whose behaviour and conduct were a credit to themselves and the school!
Look out for up and coming trips and events; House Drama – 7th November. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (West End Theatre Trip – KS4) 4th December. Plus a KS3 Theatre Trip TBC
As the end of GCSE work looms in the distance for Year 11 students, they are beginning to consider their future paths. Later in the term, on Thursday 17 October, they will have an options afternoon, looking at OSA Sixth Form courses and applications, at applying to the City of Oxford College and at finding out about apprenticeships. Almost 40 students have also registered their interest in taking part in New College’s Step Up group, and workshops for that begin in October too.
All students in Year 11 are also seeing our careers advisor, Mr Bingham, individually before Christmas. Students are advised to keep an eye on their school email for appointment times. Parents will be able to see the Action Plan Mr Bingham prepares for them as soon as their interview is completed.
Any questions about progression after GCSEs, please talk to your son/daughter’s Head of House, or contact Dr Watson, who is in charge of the Sixth Form at OSA and also oversees careers work.
Sixth Form students taking Extended Project Qualifications this year had a research skills session on 12 September at Merton College Library. The college, part of the university’s library network, gave our students access to academic resources and students planned their reading for the term ahead on the independent projects they are planning. These are, for most students, 5000 word essays on a topic of their own choice, usually connected with the subject they plan to study at university.
The Merton librarians were most helpful, and thanks to them for their time. Following this session students took part in a research day at the Bodleian on 24 September.
Local group, INTO University, works with many of our students at primary school and as they progress into secondary school. Mentors run workshops for all year groups in the school, and they have begun in September by meeting our Year 12 students. The beginning of the Sixth Form is a really important time for students to develop independent learning skills, so this was the subject of their first workshop.
As the year goes along, mentors will work with other year groups on topics important to them.
House Drama – Thursday 7th November!
Rehearsals are already underway for this year’s House Drama Competition. Whilst there is a strong competitive current to the event and Banister, Earhart, Seacole and Tolkien are desperate for their house to be victorious it is also about, sharing, supporting, resilience and determination with a big blob of creativity and imagination! If you are new to Oxford Spires and want to know what House Drama is all about come along on the evening of Thursday 7th November and support your child or their House! Tickets will go on sale the week beginning 14th October – it’s a great night out!
The most recent GCSE Geography field trip took place on Wednesday 11th September. Study sites included Ballard Down towards Old Harry and the beach in Swanage Bay; all located at the easternmost edge of the Jurassic Coast. Students were collecting field data in preparation for their Paper 3 exam ‘Applied Fieldwork Enquiry’. The investigation questions were ‘To what extent is the coastal management sustainable?’ and ‘How far is tourism economically and environmentally sustainable?’
One student said, “There was a bit of walking but the activities were fun and the coastline and beach were amazing. I didn’t know we had coastal features like this in the UK.”
Trip leader Ms Wilkinson, Senior Leader for KS3 and Head of Geography, said, “We’re pleased to take our students to a natural World Heritage Site. The students worked hard in less than ideal conditions and enjoyed some free time too. The coastline we studied has incredible features and contrasting coastal management styles. It really is a great place for a GCSE field trip.”
Drama kicked off the Year with a trip to the North Wall Theatre to see ‘The Border’ a funny, sweet and humorous production that had a clear political message relating to Refugees and Migrants, Closed Borders and Brexit. As always the students were an absolute delight and despite it being an 80 minute, one act show – remained focused and engaged throughout. Hopefully they gained lots of creative ideas to help shape their Component 1 and Compionent 2 performance work!
On Friday 13th of September Year 7 raised the roof as they sang their socks off during the OSCA (Oxford Spires Creative Arts) BIG SING! The theatre was filled with the amazing talent of Year 7, celebrating the instrument we all have – The Voice. The House event set Seacole, Earhart, Bannister and Tolkien against each other for fame, fortune and House Points!! Whilst Year 7 started a little bit uncertainly, with a slightly wobbly warm up, Mr Devey and Mr Spacksman soon had the students on their feet, clapping and smiling as they sang the ‘Cup Song’ from Pitch Perfect. We then moved onto a magnificent rendition of ‘Shot Gun’ by George Ezra –
Whilst all the Houses did brilliantly and everyone involved felt truly uplifted, there has to be a winner and a runner up and on this occasion Seacole were triumphant with Tolkien coming a very close second!
Please find attached a copy of the letter and guidance for the Climate Change strike on Friday 20th September 2019.
Climate Change Strike Sept 2019
Please see the following letter regarding our upcoming Internet Safety day – Monday 16th September 2019Internet Safety Day Sept 2019
Oxford Spires is delighted to congratulate its students on achieving a fantastic set of results this year.
Oxford Spires’ most able students have achieved outstanding outcomes with a high number of students achieving grade 8/9s. Only the top 3% of students in England achieved a grade 9. At Oxford Spires 15% of our students have achieved Grade 9s this year. The numbers of students achieving grade 9s in English, Maths, Science, Geography and Art & Design is above the national average. We would like to recognise the following students.
English/English Literature 77% of students achieved passes at grade 4-9, and 61% achieving a grade 5 or higher and a quarter of students grade 7 or higher. 7 students achieved the very highest grade 9. A special mention goes to Eleanor who achieved a grade 9 in her English Language and an 8 in her Literature and Mia who has achieved grade 9 in English Literature and an 8 in English Language.
Maths has also performed well and 67% of students have gained passes at grade 4-9, with 45% gaining a grade 5 or higher. The numbers of students achieving the top grades in maths has increased this year with 6 students achieving the highest grade 9.
Overall 72% of the cohort have achieved a grade 4-9 for two EBACC sciences at GCSE. Achievement in the sciences is exceptional with 40% of the Biology cohort achieving grade 8 or higher and 6 students achieving grade 9. In Chemistry 35% of the cohort achieved grade 8 or higher with 7 students achieving the highest possible grade 9. In Physics a third of students achieved a grade 8 and 7 students achieved a grade 9. Special mentions in science go to Earl who has achieved a grade 8 in Chemistry and Physics and a grade 9 in Biology and Oscar who has achieved a grade 8 in all 3 sciences.
We are proud to see the Arts flourishing as well as our EBACC subjects, a quarter of students have achieved a grade 8 or 9 in Art and Design, 84% have achieved a grade 4-9. A special mention to Izzy, Linnet, Rosie and Sofia for achieving their grade 9.
Commenting on this success, Principal Marianne Blake said:
“I would like to join our parents in congratulating our students for the results they have achieved through hard work and determination. I would also like to thank all our teachers for their expertise and for giving their time so willingly to support students. We wish all our students well in the next stage in their academic career and are looking forward to welcoming students back to the Sixth Form at the start of term.”
Tony Brett, Chair of Local Governors, said:
“This is an extremely pleasing set of results, once again showing what a high level of dedication we see in our students and staff. It is particularly encouraging to see so many grade 9s but also such high percentages achieving good passes in the core subjects of maths and English, as well as in sciences, languages, humanities and arts. I am grateful to all who have achieved so well under the headship of Miss Blake and wish them well as they move forward in their education well prepared to flourish through sixth form or college either into University or into other fantastic pathways.”
Sixth Form Press Release
A-LEVEL RESULTS AT OXFORD SPIRES ACADEMY
Thursday 15th August 2019
Oxford Spires Academy is delighted to announce a good set of A Level results again from Year 13. Our top-performing students have done particularly well.
Head boy Mukahang Limbu has met his offer to read English and German at The Queen’s College, Oxford, with his A* in English Literature and As in German and History, joining the A* he already has in Creative Writing.
Helen Woods will also be reading English, at Wadham College, Oxford, with her A* in Creative Writing and As in English Literature, French, and Philosophy and Ethics.
Jasmine Burgess has gained A*s in Maths and Creative Writing, and As in Further Maths and Physics, and will read Maths at the University of Durham.
We are, as ever, proud of the full range of our students, and would particularly like to recognise the achievements of the following:
There were a number of subjects whose performances were particularly strong, especially Languages where all students gained B grade and above. Other subjects of note were Maths, English Literature and Chemistry.
Commenting on this success, Principal Marianne Blake said:
“It is a privilege to lead a school such as Oxford Spires, where students from such a wide variety of social and cultural backgrounds succeed and progress to the full range of universities. Our Sixth Form will continue to be central to our school, as it grows in number, and we look forward to continuing progress in the even wider programme of A levels we will offer from next year.”
Tony Brett, Chair of Local Governors, said:
“I am extremely proud to see our students moving into the next stage of their lives so well equipped by their time at Oxford Spires Academy with many doors open to them. A fantastic reward for their diligent and thorough studies at Oxford Spires. Such good news is a huge tribute to the dedication and professionalism of all our staff, both teaching and support, and to the Head of Sixth Form, Dr Watson, all working under the headship of Ms Blake. Congratulations to all and huge thanks to everyone who made these results possible.
We were delighted to see our students showing their speaking skills in the Norrington Room at Blackwell’s on Thursday 18 July.
Public speaking teams from the Academy Trust competition last week, Shakespeare speakers from the competition earlier this year, and some of our top poets performed for the public in the famous Oxford bookshop to great acclaim.
Mukahang, outgoing Head Boy and prize-winning poet, brought the event to a close reading his poetry, published in England: Poems from a School and his own anthology published this year by Outspoken Press, called Nascent. He commented that all the way through the school he had taken part in the activities showcased that evening, and recognised how they had led him to where he is today. As he leaves, we hope, to take up a place at Queen’s College, Oxford, next year, he wished the younger students well.
He joined Year 12 student, Aisha, to show the sophisticated and engaging poetry OSA students are now, rightly, famous for. Both showed how poetry is more than just the page – and how entertaining and moving performance poetry can be.
Apart from poetry, public speakers from Year 7 and 8 (Zoha, Stella and Zoe) spoke on the impact screen time had on young people’s health. Older students from Year 10 (Daisy, Sami and Toby) addressed the issue of our relationship with waste and its impact on the environment.
Finally, our younger students also showed their acting skills and memory in performing sections of Shakespeare plays. Lizzie and Skyla played Juliet’s scene with her mother from Romeo and Juliet, and Sam played Cesario to Eva’s Olivia in a section from Twelfth Night.
Thanks to all staff and parents who came along to support. We look forward to returning to Blackwell’s again soon to show more of our talented students’ work to the book-buying public of Oxford!
We are very grateful to St Anne’s College, Oxford, for supporting our A level students.
As Year 12s begin Extended Project research, and others undertake History A level coursework projects, they benefited hugely from the guidance of the Librarians at St Anne’s. After a session on search terms, using bibliographies and referencing, they had access to the holdings of the college library and online resources and a session to begin finding books and articles to help them in their own work.
Further research sessions are planned with Merton College library and the Bodleian in September.
The school has featured quite heavily on local BBC radio over the last few weeks.
Following an interview with Oxford City Poet 2019, Timi Amusan in Year 13, earlier this term, presenter Kat Orman’s interviewed another of our talented poets, Head Boy Mukahang Limbu. In a long discussion about heritage, school and poetry, Mukahang talked about his Nepalese background and how his poetry connects with his feelings about family and landscape. Listen to the interview here Kat Orman Interview
A shorter version of this interview was combined with a broadcast of the Steps students’ recent podcasts on the East Oxford Takeover on Thursday 18 July. The podcasts made at the Ashmolean museum, and on their website, explore different objects in the museum’s collection and link them back to the students’ experiences in their countries of origin. Listen to the programme here East Oxford Takeover
Mukahang also featured in a discussion programme on Radio 6 this term, with presenter Cerys Matthews and poet Raymond Antrobus. Listen here Cerys Matthews
Students, parents, staff and friends of OSA were invited for the private view of the GCSE and A level exhibition at the end of term. It was a great opportunity for students to showcase their ideas and talent. The work in the gallery is a range of impressive final outcomes for coursework and exam themes. Visitors commented on the quality and variety of work on display and the great potential of our young artists. The exhibition was a great way to celebrate all the hard work our students have put in during their courses and they should be very proud. The work remains exhibited throughout next term, inspiring our current art students of all ages.
OSA had an extremely enjoyable and successful A-level Physics trip to the CERN facility and Geneva, organised by Ms Hamnett and ably accompanied by Mr Birch – a group of 6 Year 12 and 13 students attended and were fantastic – positive, reliable, funny and especially punctual, it made the whole trip very relaxed. We visited CERN itself with a guided tour and its visitors centres, and also explored the beautiful city of Geneva.
Here is what the students had to say about the trip
“Being at CERN gave me a new perspective of how science can unite people all over the world. If you are ever given the chance to go, take it!”
“Geneva itself a great place for a holiday! If you would like to see an aerial view of a city or go swimming in a lake, be sure to take this trip!
“It was exciting to explore Geneva, taking a cable car up the mountains to see stunning scenery and getting soaked by the famous Jet d’Eau. And I took my first ever plane journey on this trip- it was great!”
“The trip gave me a deeper perspective in particle physics and sparked further interest on studying and researching in physics.
Other than physics, the trip also offers travelling around Geneva and earning free time with trust to explore around. I would definitely recommend this once in a life time opportunity”.
“I gained a better understanding of what they at doing (at CERN) and what happened in the earlier stages of the universe”
“Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
CERN is great
Science is too
You try to pizza
But not the fondue
CERN is not just the LHC
Scientist is what I want to be
Hostels are actually fun
But hope for not a boar that snores
Because then you will want no more
But just make memories at the shore
And the mountain floor
Because roses are red
And Geneva is much more”
We look forward to next year’s Physics trip to CERN!
6am Friday morning 47 students and 5 teachers left school for a weekend packed with activities in Paris. It started with waving goodbye to the White Cliffs of Dover from the ferry. Then a visit to a chocolate factory before settling in to our accommodation at the Chateau. 2 birthdays celebrated with lots of singing in French and English, cakes and candles! Then going 63 floors up to the top of the Tour Montparnasse and trying to steal the Eiffel Tower, lunch under the Eiffel Tower, a boat trip down the River Seine seeing even more of the sites (including the sad sight of Notre Dame after the fire), seeing behind the scenes at Europe’s largest cinema and becoming extras in our own movie, driving up the Champs Élysées and then round the crazy 8 lane (or more) roundabout around the Arc de Triomphe where no one will insure you!!!! Swimming, silly songs and stories and toasting marshmallows around the bonfire, shopping at the local market, wall climbing, abseiling, archery, buggy building, more swimming, eating snails, strutting our stuff at the disco and then a visit to the hypermarket before finally settling down to watch Mr bean’s holiday en route home.
Thank you to all the students who came, Mr Finch, Mrs Minton, Miss Stober and Mr Khan for making it a really special trip.
On Thursday 11th July 14 students and 4 staff had the exciting opportunity to attend Wimbledon. With tickets for Court One and Centre Court, an amazing day was in store. The weather did us proud and the sun shone throughout the day. Some fantastic tennis was witnessed, and with the addition of the exciting past time of celebrity spotting, an amazing day was experienced. David Beckham, Sir Richard Branson, Venus Williams and Greg Rusedski were all on the list of celebrities spotted. Particular highlights of the day were witnessing Serena Williams in stunning form and some very exciting mixed doubles matches. Huge thanks to Miss Baker, Miss Shuttleworth and Miss Hawtin for helping with the smooth running of the trip and to Mr Fanchi for securing the tickets. Hopefully we can return again in 2020.
A large group of our Year 9 GCSE students have been involved in Cowley Road Carnival this year. The theme for the carnival procession this year was ‘Space is the Place’; so we ran a cross-curricular project between Art and Physics. Students initially took part in a Science workshop at school led by Physicists from Oxford University. They learnt about different wavelengths and got to view the universe through VR headsets in Gamma rays, microwaves and visible light. At the end of the workshop students used this knowledge to come up with ideas for structures that they would go on to make with visiting artist Caitlin Howells and show at the carnival.
The students came up with some fantastic ideas which Caitlin took away and used to plan the final designs. The making workshops took place over 3 very busy days and the results were amazing! We had 3 large structures that we showed at the Cowley Road Carnival procession. The carnival was very busy (and hot), so many people got to enjoy seeing what they had made.
The students were imaginative, dedicated and worked solidly each day. They have learnt a lot about working collaboratively, 3D construction, working to a project brief and working with professional artists and scientists, as well as finally presenting their work to an audience at a community event.
It has been great to link the two subjects and students can see how ideas and knowledge can be realised through their artwork to give them a greater understanding. Their work got a great reception and the students really enjoyed being part of the project.
On 27th June we took a mixed Year 8 and 9 Girls Rugby League team to Oxford Cavaliers to compete in the King Charles’ Cup. On a very warm day the competition was fierce. First up was a big challenge against host team Batholomew School. In an extremely competitive match which swung both ways a 32-30 victory was secured. Next up was a meeting with Cooper School, with the chance to secure the trophy. An amazing performance followed and 42-10 victory was sealed, and so to was the King Charles’ Cup.
This was a fantastic achievement for a team in their infancy including many players participating in their first Rugby tournament. The girls are really looking forward to developing further next season.
A group of our Year 10 and 12 Art students have, over the last 6 months, been taking part in a film project with Modern Art Oxford and artist Kate Mahony. They gained technical and creative experience through several film workshops with Kate, where they responded to creative briefs and then planned, shot and edited their own original short films about experiences of daily life in Oxford. Their films were initially inspired by previous Modern Art Oxford exhibitions; Penny Woolcock: Fantastic Cities and Akram Zaatari: The Script.
Students were joined by audiences at special screening events at Modern Art Oxford and the Ultimate Picture Palace, where they presented their films and took part in Q&A sessions.
Not only have students gained so many new skills and built their confidence as artists, but the project allows them to gain their Silver Arts Award. Their work was highly impressive and the culmination of a lot of hard work. They should all be very proud.
There was a real buzz of excitement as Year 7 prepared to leave OSA to head out for the annual Year 7 camping trip. On arrival the Year 7s discovered their tents for the night, unpacked their many belongings (and sweets) and got ready to start a day full of activities. They got the chance to practice for the Camp’s Got Talent show with Miss McGrath and Mr Spacksman leading the way. They also ended up doing activities such as Archery, Bush Craft, Team Building and Soap Box (building and racing)!
The day ended with a delicious BBQ meal and the much anticipated Camp’s Got Talent show. The students really showed off their many different talents to the audience, which ranged from a rap to a dance to a comedy sketch. All students then enjoyed getting involved with the not very secret teacher performance.
Day 2 started with an 6am wake-up call after a chorus of “We’ll never be up by then” (Most were up at 4am…) After a quick bite to eat the Year 7s then carried on with more activities, finishing off whatever they didn’t on day 1. They also took part in a treasure hunt/nature walk, ably led by Mr Brown and Miss Smith. The archery was a real hit.
After another picnic lunch and a quick tidy and packing up of our tents, we got back on the buses ready for a prompt arrival back at OSA. Everyone was ready for a long weekend after a fun filled 2 days enjoyed by everyone.
Thank you to everyone who supported, the kids really got a lot out of the trip.
Once again we welcomed our exchange partners from Aschaffenburg in Germany for a long weekend of fun activities. It was lovely to watch the students form a very tight knit friendship group and the German students were very grateful for our hospitality. A big shout out to Mr Fanchi for picking up the students from Heathrow in the mini bus – Thank you!
The class of 2019 enjoyed their prom at the Oxford Belfry once again this year. After a long year battling with their GCSE exams, the students were able to breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate!
It was great to see so many in attendance as the students came dressed to impress in their prom attire. We were all given a big treat as we were greeted by the arrival of Mrs Dunphy on a Harley Davidson motorcycle!
The students enjoyed their 3 course meal and the awards that followed which included the crowning of our new Prom King and Queen. Congratulations to Aabid Ali and Aaliyah Safdar!
The remainder of the evening was spent on the dance floor with the DJ taking control. Cha-Cha slide proved a big hit with the Heads of House.
We wish the Year 11s well for their long summer break and look forward to welcoming them back in 6th form.
Is your child heading off to sixth form, college or elsewhere next year and no longer needs their uniform?
FOSA are collecting unneeded school jumpers, ties and PE kit to sell at reduced rates to new pupils and growing current pupils. So far we have raised over £100 towards extras for the school (table tennis tables, teachers’ toaster, etc) and have made a lot of parents happy that they don’t have to shell out quite so much for the new school year.
If so, then bring anything that has life left in it to Reception!
On Monday 1st July a group of 10 students from Years 8 and 9 went to Headington School for a Key Stage 3 Physics Challenge organised by the Ogden Trust and coordinated by Claire Hamnett. They were accompanied by Dr Nick Rogers. On the day they took part in a number of magnetism related challenges, including investigating ferrous fluids and building their own loudspeaker. Both teams were a real credit to the school and thoroughly enjoyed the day. Our Year 9 group won overall, beating several private schools.
We are delighted to announce that Mukahang Limbu, last year’s Head Boy, has just had his poetry published in an anthology, Nascent, with Outspoken Press. The book was launched on 24 June – and outcome of Mukahang’s victory in the Outspoken London poetry prize earlier this year. Now a media favourite as well as a school role model, Mukahang is appearing (for a second time) on Cerys Matthews’ Radio 6 programme on Sunday 7 July, and will be reading at the Ledbury Festival on Friday 12 July. He has just been interviewed by Kat Orman for her Radio Oxford afternoon show.
Shakespeare Club students enjoyed a trip to the RSC to see a production of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. After taking part in a fascinating workshop and discussion about the staging of the play, in which they took on the role of director, the students saw a gender-swapped version on stage. It was a memorable experience and they can’t wait to go back!
Y7 and Y8 students took part in the English and Media Centre’s ‘Just Write’ project on National Writing Day 2019. Christina and Taaha Year 8 were thrilled that their creative writing was chosen to appear on the video produced by the EMC, which can be seen on their website. EMagazine editor Barbara Bleiman had one word when she read their work: “Wow!”
Watch the sample video here!
Oxford Spires were lucky enough to host a talk by Prof Chris Lintott of “The Sky at Night” fame who is an excellent speaker and passionate about the public understanding of science. We had a large number attending the talk – teachers, parents and students, about 180 in total and it was thoroughly entertaining, informative and enjoyable. Chris talked about what is in the astronomical news at the moment, the next NASA mission to Titan which was announced that very evening, exploring asteroids, the weather on different planets in our solar system, discovering exoplanets, the importance of curiosity and much much more, a truly inspirational talk. We also had a fantastic range of questions from students, including about intelligent life elsewhere, how the Mars Rovers landed, and what we might find on the dark side of the moon. There were lots of comments afterwards about how inspiring it was and requests for more such talks – perhaps this might be the first in a series
Chris Lintott is a Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford and also a research fellow at New College. As Principal Investigator of the Zooniverse, he leads a team who run the world’s most successful citizen science projects, allowing more than a million people to discover planets, transcribe ancient papyri or explore the Serengeti. He is best known as co-presenter of the BBC’s long running Sky at Night programme. His first solo book is out in October.
Thanks to Chris, to Sandra Poyser for logistics and to everyone who attended.
Oxford Science Learning Partnership
This term Year 8 classes have been working on a ‘Come Dine With Me’ project. Students were given a menu of tasks and worked either independently or in small groups to complete their tasks. Students produced German menus, dinner party invitations, cartoon strips, scripts and homemade videos on how to cook traditional German dishes. We also tasted some typical German foods and some students even tried out some German recipes and brought them into lesson for the class to sample! Thank you Year 8s for the incredible effort you put into this.
In conjunction with the ‘Come Dine With Me’ project, some students in class 8X took part in a German cookery class. Prior to the lesson they discussed types of German ‘Schnitzel’ and translated a German recipe. Then in the following lesson students were able to prepare, cook (and eat!) the Schnitzel recipe. Well done to all students involved for your hard work.
On a lovely sunny Summer Solstice weekend, six groups of Y9 students took part in their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Expedition. They spent two days and one night demonstrating that they could be self-sufficient – this involved walking with all their kit, navigating, cooking, and erecting tents. In the evening, students enjoyed a campfire at our campsite near the Uffington White Horse, and an impromptu game of rounders!
All groups showed great teamwork and support for each other and were able to put into practice the skills they had learned at school.
We are very proud to once again have winning entries in this competition run by Oxford University and the Oxford German Network.
This is the third time we have flourished in this competition, however this year we didn’t just win one but two prizes: Erica, Millie, Tallula, Fatma, Jemima, Molly, Sofia and Tanisha came first in the Open Competition for groups where they made a film in German called ‘The Monster’. Gianluca and Ayana came first for their short video in the Discover German category which was designed for students who don’t learn German in class but wanted to give it a go. The students were very proud of their achievement when picking up their prizes in the Bodleian Library with all parents looking on and congratulating them. This year 70 schools from across the country took part in this exciting competition. Keep your eyes peeled for next year when we will enter the next batch of student to win more prizes.
It was great to see so many students at OSA for Sixth Form Induction on 18 and 19 June. We’re looking forward to our biggest Year 12 cohort so far from September, and almost all those applying from our Year 11, and many from other schools, came along to take taster A level or Level 3 BTEC lessons during Induction. This will, of course, make them more able to make sensible course choices after GCSE results on 22 August.
Teachers were really impressed by their questions and active learning in the taster lessons, and Sixth Form staff were delighted to see so many sign up at the ‘Freshers’ Fair’ for the events and activities planned for the next academic year. Whether you are interested in our planned African Expedition or want to visit Cerne – or join our Young Interpreters programme, or take LAMDA Drama courses – or help with primary school events, or join in debating – or… The list was very long!
The Sixth Form is a growing and successful part of Spires, and students began to plan at Induction, with Mr Bingham, our careers advisor, how they might work towards university and apprenticeship applications. These decisions come along very quickly once students start in Sixth Form!
Next year we will offer new subjects at A level – Photography, Design Technology, Music/Music Technology, Classical Civilisation and Computing – as there will be a larger number of students. From September we have, to focus our funding most effectively, now ceased to offer Level 2 courses – but on Results Day in August we will guide any students who need this level of course.
Students pick up their results on 22 August at 10am, and from 11am Sixth Form staff will start to interview those staying into Year 12 (students have a time slot in their Induction Handbook). Parents are very welcome to come in with students for this interview.
If there are any questions about entry to Sixth Form next year, please email Dr Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring the Sixth Form Office on 01865 595443.
We are delighted to announce that Timi Amusan, who has just completed Year 13, has been named Oxford City Poet for the next year, as we approach this year’s National Poetry Day in the autumn.
He has just written and recited his poetry online in the Hashtag Poems series as ‘What I Say to Mama’, and he will be composing verse specially for National Poetry Day, to be filmed and broadcast on Channel 4.
Timi has just performed his poetry to music at the Tandem Festival (see article) and was recently interviewed by Radio Oxford Breakfast Show about his journey from Nigeria to Oxford, what he thinks of the British way of life and how his poetry-writing career began.
As Timi waits for his A level results, he hopes to go to Portsmouth University and to go into a career in Civil Engineering. His aspiration is to return to Nigeria in years to come, and to help improve his home country’s infrastructure. He’s been a great Sixth Form student and we wish him every success!
No – not the Beatles – but our amazing poets (Timi, Merzia, Halema and Ftoun) returned to the stage at the Tandem Festival, near Witney, on Sunday to read their work against the backing music of the Cotswold Ensemble, conducted by Cayenna Ponchione-Bailey.
The four are consummate professionals by now as they have already performed three times this year (at the King’s Place arts centre in London, Dorchester Abbey and Somerville College, Oxford), reading to the music of local composer, Toby Young, and previously with the full Orchestra of St John. So this week’s performance was a breeze – outside in a barn, with audience sitting on hay bales!
The four began with a planning meeting over lunch on the Friday, followed by some TV interviews for publicity, and finally rehearsals with the musicians in a local church on the Saturday morning.
Year 12 took part in a Keep the Cash game on Tuesday 25 June, to help them manage their own money as leaving school and independent life are on the horizon.
The year group worked in teams to learn about salaries, credit, loans, mortgages and outgoings, writing CVs and being interviewed for jobs as their group needed more cash, and going to the bank to explain what they wanted. Not all managed to convince employers or bank managers, but they learnt a lot about what lies ahead.
Well done to the winning team, captained by Waqas Mehmood, who rather worryingly named themselves ‘The Fraudsters’…
We were delighted to welcome students from six local primary schools to our second annual OSA Primary Shakespeare Speaking Competition.
Students from Wood Farm, St Joseph’s, St Francis, Eynsham, Tyndale and John Henry Newman took part first in a workshop led by Miss Morris and our Year 7, 8 and 9 students to make sure they spoke clearly, confidently and loud enough for our Theatre. They thoroughly enjoyed the mornings games and working together.
Then competitors read their prepared monologues and duologues – from a range of Shakespeare’s plays from popular plays such as Romeo and Juliet and Othello to less well-known ones, such as Two Gentlemen of Verona.
All students performed really well and we were delighted in the level of competition. The winner in the monologue category was from John Henry Newman, with runners-up from St Joseph’s and Tyndale; the duologue winners were from Wood Farm, with runners-up from Eynsham. The overall winners – taking home the bust of Shakespeare! – were John Henry Newman.
We look forward to working with lots of local primaries next summer – and, in advance, plan to take our students into schools who haven’t worked with us before, to deliver workshops and help prepare teams. Anyone from a local primary school who is interested in finding out more, please email Miss Morris email@example.com
Is there a doctor in the house?
Or a nurse, or an anaesthetist, or a paramedic, or an occupational therapist, or a physiotherapist, or…
34 students from Year 10 spent a very enjoyable day at the University of Reading on 26 June, learning about careers in the health service – and how very much in demand they are. Activities were ‘hands-on’ and students loved testing each other’s blood pressure and lung capacity, seeing how their hearts worked through an ECG, and putting on slings for broken arms. Students dressed in a suit, and wore special glasses, to show them how difficult it was to move as a much older person with mobility problems or cataracts.
The new HealthReach facility at Reading enables students to try out giving CPR and the Heimlich manoeuvre (for those with a blocked airway), and using a defibrillator. Then they tested their learning in a simulation of a real-life accident.
The day aims to allow students to know the full range of jobs available in our health system, and to learn more about university study, as well as the kind of qualifications you’d need to apply successfully. Thanks to Study Higher for sponsoring this event, and to Alison Hall and her team at the University of Reading for their enthusiasm and expertise!
It wasn’t exactly the best weather to be showing guests around the Community Garden but students were sure nobody would be keen to hang around for too long. To be fair, the damp weather could so easily have dampened spirits, but the OSA First and Second Steps Students arrived early to Barracks Lane to put the finishing touches to cake decorations – iced fairy cakes with flower heads from plants they had grown and collected hastily between showers; a bit of furniture shifting here and there, and 11am the appointed time came around pretty quickly.
Miss Blake and Miss Dalley arrived first along with several enthusiastic 6th Form students. If the Steps students appeared reticent, it didn’t last long as our guests were keen to have the tour they had been promised. ‘I’ve come to see everything!’ Miss Blake announced and the students took it from there.
The Mayor arrived next and by then all traces of shyness had been shed, and people just chatted. From pond life to pizza ovens, soil analysis to sowing seeds, vegetable growing to memory gardens, the students were able to share what they have been doing once a week for the past couple of years. The final thing to be shared over sandwiches and cakes in the Garden Room (only when the rain became torrential!) were the lovely scrap books that students have steadily worked away at. They are a real record of their hard work and transformation of the garden.
It’s not always the most favoured activity; particularly during the winter months and the difficult days of Spring, dodging the showers, but the garden has provided them with peace and tranquillity, away from the classroom; a place to appreciate nature and work with it for the benefit of the community. We’ve been lucky too to have the voluntary and expert help of Kate and Ruth, whose enthusiasm for all things green has really rubbed off on us.
All in all a lovely event; an informal hour just spent enjoying a garden in all its beauty – students, OSA staff, Barracks Lane volunteers, on a typical British summer’s day…
As you are aware there is a school student strike planned for Friday 21st June in Oxford. This is timed to happen between 11am and 2pm. As a school we have fully supported the student strikes. Students have taken part in 4 strikes and 3 of these strikes have taken place during term time.
I would like us to look at further ways in which we as a school can support our students to impact directly on the changes needed to tackle climate change both within school and within the extended community. As a result we would like to ask for you to support us with the following approaches.
I would like to ask for representatives from Year 7-9 to take part in the KS3 Climate Change Summit being held at St Gregory the Great school on Monday July 1st at 4.30 pm. Craig Simmons will attend this summit to address the students and he is the Lord Mayor but also the Oxford counsellor for the Green Party and specialist on climate change. If your child would like to attend this please do forward the names to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Head Boy for next year, a local organiser against climate change, has also established an Eco group which meets weekly in BI3. Students who feel strongly enough to attend the strike should come along and support this, and they will then be supporting the school to look at how we can reduce our own carbon footprint. This group will be helping to formulate and deliver our Eco agenda in school. We have recruited a governor to support this group and planning ways to extend our impact on our school footprint and how we can improve the situation in the local community.
We are currently reviewing the curriculum content with students to identify any further changes or additions that could be implemented to support and raise awareness of climate change and action that can be taken against it.
We are now concerned at the academic impact of absences, especially as the strikes happen on the same day which can result in students missing a lot of the same subject each time. We would like to work with the student body and families to use this positive energy to make a tangible change in our community in the ways I mention above.
If, however, you would still like your child to attend please email me your permission email at email@example.com. As per previous strikes, students will attend normal lessons in period 1 & 2 and will be released at 10.45am, from this point you will be responsible for your child. Due to the last minute notification, we ask that you email by 7am tomorrow morning – and please advise me of their participation in the Climate Change Summit or the schools Eco group.
Oxford Spires students once again took part in the Youth Climate Strike in the centre of Oxford on May 24.
One of the organisers of the march, Year 12 Oscar Idle, was central to the planning and success of the march, which, once again, saw hundreds of students marching with their home-made banners to show their views about the likely impact of Climate Change on their futures, and on future generations. They showed wit and passion in the creation of these.
Oxford Spires students also joined in the music making at the end of the march in Broad Street, and brought the group together as they protested peacefully and raised awareness of their cause.
As on previous occasions, only students with parental permission and who had convinced Miss Blake through their applications, were allowed out of school early to join the protest. They are real role models and their school is proud of the mature way they have demonstrated their conviction.
Last term, OSA’s team won through to the Regional Final of the 2018-19 Mock Magistrates Competition – and on Saturday 18 May, they were at Reading Crown Court for the next round.
The team of 14 students from Years 7-9 proved themselves articulate and persuasive in their roles as prosecutors, defence lawyers, magistrates and so on – and those playing the witnesses, the victim and the accused were portrayed beautifully! They all deserve congratulations and the feedback from Berkshire Magistrates who ran and judged the competition was very flattering.
The competition allows students to learn from the inside how the justice system works. They have access to court rooms usually denied them, and work with legal professionals to improve their verbal and team skills. It’s a time-consuming and involved process both to take part and to train teams for this competition, and we thank Miss Morris and Mr Birch for their time and commitment.
Despite the OSA team’s talents, in the end this year didn’t prove their year for victory – and we wish teams from Ranelagh and The Holt Schools every success in the National Final.
Preparation for next year’s competition begins in October – and any interested Year 7 or 8 students, perhaps considering applying for Law at university, should talk to Miss Morris.
The school calendar has been updated with the following information:
Year 7-10 End of Year Assessments Monday 3rd -Friday 14th June 2019
Year 10 Mock Exams Monday 10th – Friday 17th June 2019
The annual Spires House Public Speaking competition is a great event in the school calendar. 24 students from Years 7-10 represented their Houses to compete in the Junior and Senior competitions in the Theatre on Thursday 9 May – with an audience of other students, staff and parents.
The competition is, of course, part of the wider public speaking and debating life of the school. From Blenheim Palace’s public speaking, debating at New College to the Shakespeare Speaking in High Wycombe; from English Speaking Union competitions to the Mock Magistrates – many students have already taken part this year and have had training to develop their skills.
The next – and one of the most important – annual events is our Academy Trust’s Speak Out! Competition, this year on 10 July at Somerville College in Oxford. OSA’s House Public Speaking competition is a key part of selecting the school team for this event.
With topics ranging from whether the police should be armed, to the future for feminism, to climate change, as always students addressed some very important topics in their speeches. They spoke persuasively and showed a lot of research – often helped by House research and speech writing teams behind the scenes.
In the Junior Competition, the winning House was Seacole, with prizes going to their Chair (Eva Morris) and their Vote of Thanks (Skyla Woodhill). The winner of the best Speaker at this level was Zoha Asgher from Tolkien House.
In the Senior Competition, the main difference is that a speaker is hosted by another House and is questioned on their speech afterwards by the hosting Questioner and by the audience. The winning House this time was Earhart, with a prize going to their Chair (Summer Wells), who stepped into the position after a fellow student was ill on the day. She did brilliantly! The best Speaker at this level was Sami Asgher from Tolkien House and the best Questioner was Alex Dunn from Bannister.
The panel of judges, Dr Brian McMahon, Dr Jen Sugden and Dr James Marsden, all from Oxford University, were extremely impressed by the quality of the performances.
Congratulations to all of the students taking part. It’s not as easy thing to stand up and present so articulately and confidently to a large audience, and the standard was high this year. Miss Morris, Mr Archibald and Dr Watson will deliberate now on the team to represent Spires in July!
Students in Year 7 have been presenting their humanities projects this week. They have explored a range of issues including the terrifying aspects of the Bubonic Plague and the reasons for the Peasants’ Revolt. Humanities classes were treated to a range of presentations on students’ chosen questions including video documentaries and puppet shows. The highest standards were set and we look forward to the next round of projects.
The end of term 5 newsletter is now available.
Newsletter April 2019
We took two teams to compete in one of the Oxford heats of the Mock Magistrate competition. In total 26 students from Years 7-10 took part. They put in huge amounts of work rehearsing twice a week from December to March and then giving up a Saturday morning to compete at the Oxford Magistrates Court.
We were delighted that Max was awarded the prize for best Legal Advisor and that Ruby and Imaan were jointly awarded the prize for best witness. In addition the Oak Team were announced as the overall winners and will now compete in the Regional Final at Reading Crown Court in May.
A huge thank you to everyone who took part, especially to Katie who kindly stepped in at the last minute and also to Mr Birch who provided huge support at all the rehearsals.
Year 9 are a competitive group of students! Two Science groups had the chance to show this on Wednesday 27 March when Reading University came in to meet them…
Students at the University had designed a University Challenge format quiz – complete with buzzers, starter questions and picture rounds – to test Year 9 on their Science knowledge. It turned out that was rather good.
From identifying elements on the periodic table, to anatomy and physiology, to physical Geography – they weren’t thrown by much.
The two teams who came first and second on the afternoon are now invited to go along and compete on Finals Day at the University of Reading in May.
Last Thursday, Merzia took part in a panel discussion at Somerville College, Oxford, on women’s education in Afghanistan – alongside leaders of Zorah, the Afghan Women’s Orchestra which has played to sell-out concerts in the UK this last week. Congratulations to Merzia – and to the young Afghan musicians whose playing was such a pleasure! We all enjoyed their concert at the packed Sheldonian Theatre on Saturday – and the poets presented their conductor with gifts, including a copy of England: Poems from a School to take back to Kabul!
Four Spires poets – Merzia, Timi, Halema and Ftoun – took part in the recent Orchestra of St John project and performed their work to specially composed music in Oxford, Dorchester Abbey and King’s Place, London. They were interviewed when they did the final concert by a group from SOAS (the School of Oriental and African Studies), part of the University of London, and this is now available for everyone to see on https://curativitylndn.wixsite.com/curativitylndn
I suspect many parents may feel that they can argue very well already, but our articulate and thoughtful debaters astonished their workshop leader from the English Speaking Union on Wednesday 6 March!
24 students from the younger years at Oxford Spires spent the whole day doing something usually done by Sixth Formers – and doing it brilliantly. They learned to form a cogent argument, to use body language effectively, to make incisive and confident Points of Information, to pick holes in other arguments, to provide evidence and examples – by the end they were unbeatable!
The afternoon debates ran smoothly and impressively with Katie, their workshop leader, commenting, ‘It was a great session! The students were fabulous and I really enjoyed my day at Spires.’ Our thanks to her for her lively and intelligent teaching.
Now we have to find more competitions for them to enter…
I pity the parents after this – arguments over the dinner table are going to be even tougher…
Please see the attached letter in regards to the planned student strike on Friday 15th March. I would like to support this issue but also need to balance the impact on the learning and education of all of our students. Please take time to read the letter and conditions of permission carefully.
Student Strike March 2019
36 students from Year 11 visited New College, Oxford, on Tuesday 5 March as part of their ongoing Step Up programme.
Invited to join a programme to prepare them to support high level university applications, students found out about different Oxford courses from current undergraduates and tutors, about entry requirements, gap years, and building personal statements.
During the day they also visited St Catherine’s College and Jesus College, for a better idea of how colleges vary.
They also discussed choosing A levels to help prepare for specific university courses – particularly relevant at the moment as, after their Spring mocks, students go on to Sixth Form interviews.
The programme continues into Year 12, as students have workshops and guidance on building independent reading, writing personal statements and so on.
Oxford Spires thanks staff and students at New College for their ongoing support of our able students!
Tickets are £3.00 and are available via Parentpay. Purchased tickets can be collected from Mrs Crook in the Red Zone
Ten Oxford Spires Year 10 students took part in a University of Oxford Pathways day, at Christ Church and Corpus Christi Colleges, on Friday 1 March.
Together with the group who went to Peterhouse, Cambridge, last half-term, these able young people have been learning about competitive university applications, student life, finance and all the extra-curricular activities you can take art in while studying for a degree.
Part of the school’s careers programme, helping students begin to think about their future choices, these visits sit alongside careers interviews, the Step Up programme starting in Year 11, INTO University workshops, visits to local colleges and employers and work with Study Higher. As an example of the sessions for particular year groups, Year 12 have a session after their mock exams on local apprenticeship schemes.
If a parent would like to speak to our careers advisors, they will be available on parents’ evening/morning each term, and you can book appointments as you can with teachers once the booking system goes live on Friday 15th March.
We have an author (Inbali Iserles http://inbali-iserles.com/ ) attending who will be doing a talk to Year 7 and to Year 8.
She will also be in the library at lunchtime doing book signings and selling copies of her books, the price of these books are £5.99 each.
ARTiculation regional finals were held in the Headley Lecture Theatre at the Ashmolean on Thursday 7th February. For this national public speaking competition students were required to speak for 10 minutes on an artist or artwork of their choice. Janier was up against students from very highly respected private boarding schools and held her own. Speaking eloquently about Paul Gauguin’s art work ‘Vision after the Sermon’, she had researched thoroughly and posed insightful questions to her audience.
We’re so proud of her hard work.
Our latest newsletter is now available.
Please download here: Newsletter February 2019
Please see the important letter below regarding the planned student strike Friday 15th February 2019.
Student Strike Letter For Parents
On a grey day in London town, the intrepid Year 9 historians were poised ready for their taste of experiential history.
The London Dungeon did not disappoint, as the students took in the sights and sounds of London through the ages. The performers feeding their minds with knowledge and a hint of fear. Through the periods of London’s past they explored methods of control such as torture and execution alongside popular historical events such as the plague, the Fire and the Ripper. After a few hours the students made it out safely, their understanding of crime and punishment increased and their experiences deepened. An enjoyable experience of learning for all.
Some of you will have noticed that last week that the 2019 Performance Tables were released. After our Sixth Form Open Evening on 24 January, I just wanted to comment on what they show about OSA.
The measures show OSA Sixth Form to be a good place to take A levels! They also show the school in relation to other local Sixth Forms – and show that we are a better choice than many.
These tables are based on individual progress – something our school values hugely. Our position in the middle of the table shows our Sixth Form students gaining what they call ‘average’ results nationally. This means that each student here (as at Cherwell and Wheatley Park, for instance, that fall into the same category) gains on average A level results that their GCSE results suggest they should do.
The decision to measure schools by Progress, rather than by the numbers of As, Bs, Cs etc. that a Sixth Form achieves, allows OSA to be successful and still an inclusive institution responsive to the needs of its community.
We are not a highly selective Sixth Form. We personalise learning for individuals and their ambitions, and wish to allow access to students who work hard but do not necessarily have a string of Grade 7s and above at GCSE. Some students at OSA, for example, might only have entered the UK quite recently – and their GCSE profile would be affected by that – but they still deserve the chance to pursue their ambitions.
As I said to parents at our packed Sixth Form Open Evening on 24 January, I have been Head of Sixth Form here now for 5 years, and the Sixth Form in that time has improved every year.
We have always had able students at the top who gained A/A* grades at A level, and this year all 3 of our Oxbridge applicants have offers. We do a huge amount of work with more able students as they reach GCSE and Sixth Form to make sure they have supercurricular profiles that impress and that they can move into competitive institutions and courses. One example is our medical support programme, which is properly up and running now that we have a number of Year 12 and 13 making such applications.
Our Sixth Form next year has increased the number of A levels it offers as the numbers entering from next year will be larger. Improvements in staffing and provision over the last 5 years are continuing and are moving things forward again. We are not satisfied with being ‘average’, and the young people from the larger year groups coming up will allow us to offer more, and to develop still further, to their advantage.
OSA Sixth Form teaching and learning allows all our students to thrive, supporting students who are disadvantaged yet hard working as well as those with high GCSE profiles – and I’m proud of that.
Thanks to all Year 11 who have already submitted their application forms for the deadline on 31 January* and who plan to be part of that success next year.
Dr J Watson
Head of Sixth Form
* Later applications will, of course, be considered, but we will prioritise for interviews in March those who applied by the deadline.
You can view the full chart here
Year 12 science students had a visit from Julie Cattermole from the Nuffield Foundation on Monday, OSA students apply for, and undertake, Nuffield Research placements in the summer, after AS exams, usually involving lab work in professional research laboratories. It is really helpful to them to see how the theory they learn in class is applied in the real world of science – and an exciting opportunity.
The students find these placements hugely useful in university applications in Year 13.
After OSA’s victory in the 2018 Churchill Public Speaking Competition, this year’s team and their accompanying researchers visited Blenheim Palace on Monday before this year’s.
Last year’s researchers, Flo and Max, and last year’s Chair, Ruby, all in Year 8, are joined now by three Year 7 students, Stella, Aqsa and Laura. They were taken on a tour of the Palace by education officer, Catherine Talbot, to learn more about the life of Winston Churchill and the history of the Palace.
The morning finished with a public speaking workshop – where they focused on making their speeches – on gender equality – more effective for those judging the competition in March.
As you know we have lost valuable rehearsal time for House Dance. Due to various exchange trips, it is proving difficult to reschedule rehearsal time for the students. To this end I have spoken with a number of Year 10 and Year 11 students who are involved in House Dance. They have requested for the date to be moved. We are therefore moving the evening to Wednesday 13th March 2019, it cannot be sooner due to Yr 10 Work Experience and Year 11 Mock exams. Students, on the whole seem to be happy with this.
I know changing the date is not desirable but it is important not to cause or create undue stress.
We experienced problems with ticket sales yesterday on ParentPay and some parents were only able to purchase one ticket. This has now been rectified. Tickets are restricted to two per family.
House Dance Rehearsals planned for Saturday 9th February have also been cancelled. The new dates for House Dance rehearsals are 9th & 10th March 10am-4pm
Thank you in advance for your support.
Rehearsal for House Dance planned for tomorrow – Saturday 2nd February is cancelled.
Sorry for any inconvenience.
The Year 10 netball tournament scheduled for tomorrow at Marston is cancelled.
For those that have not seen the message on the school’s website or earlier ParentMail, please take a moment to read the information below;
The school will be closed to students today due to the condition of the roads and safety within and around our school site.
The safety of students and staff is our priority in circumstances like this and we have therefore taken the decision to close today. Thank you to you all for your support and your understanding.
You will be aware that the Met Office has issued a regional yellow warning for snow and ice potentially bringing disruption overnight and into Friday. This may affect the school tomorrow.
We will review the state of the roads and school site in the morning before taking the decision to keep the school open, or to close. We only close if it is unsafe to open the school or if roads to the school are impassible. I will post a notice on the school website to update you and my aim is to have that in place around 7.00am and send you a ParentMail to inform you if we have a school closure.
I am writing to you this afternoon so that you can take this opportunity to make provisional arrangements for tomorrow, in case of heavy snow.
Miss Marianne Blake-Principal
We had the pleasure of taking 6 OSA students from Year 9 to The MFL Open Day at Queens College at Oxford University to find out more why you should student Modern Foreign Languages. The students did us proud by answering and asking questions in front of an auditorium full of other Year 9 students from across Oxfordshire.
This is what the students had to say afterwards:
Gianluca: “I really enjoyed the languages day, because it was interesting to see where taking a course in a language can take you, I liked the short film and it was a fun challenge to subtitle it.”
India: “It was good because it really interested me how you can study how languages work in the brain. I also really enjoyed learning Portuguese.”
Phoenix: “It was educational and interesting to listen to the people talking about different language courses. I am now considering taking a language at university.”
Samra: “It was very educational and I really enjoyed the group work during the second workshop.”
Lila: “It was fun to learn Italian and making subtitles for the film helped me extend my vocabulary.”
We are looking forward to going again next year.
A group of 12 Year 10 students went to Cambridge on 29 January as part of Peterhouse’s schools programme.
Looking at university degree courses, meeting students, looking around the college and hearing taster lectures from college lecturers, the students found out about what Cambridge, and other universities, offer and what student life is like.
As students move towards choosing A level subjects, it is important that they begin to consider their futures.
A second group will visit colleges in Oxford as part of a similar scheme in March, and a larger group in Year 11 are due to spend a day at New College in March too – the second stage of the Step Up programme OSA joined this year.
Support for university applicants wherever they wish to go is an important part of Sixth Form work at Spires and days like these help some students think about some of the most competitive courses and institutions.
On Friday 18 and Saturday 19 January, OSA poets Ftoun, Merzia, Halema and Timi took part in performances as part of the Orchestra of St John’s ‘Displaced Voices’ project. It was inspired by reading the Picador volume of students’ poetry, edited by Kate Clanchy, ‘England: Poems from a School’.
Following workshops with composer, Toby Young, and OSJ conductor, Cayenna Ponchione, to set their poetry to music, the four stars read their poetry in front of packed audiences at Somerville College and at King’s Place arts centre in central London.
They gained rapturous applause for their poems that looked at their homelands in Syria and Afghanistan, and, in the case of Timi, a student from Nigeria, gave a wry assessment of the English.
Three of OSA’s poets – Shukria, Mukahang and Ftoun, also had their poems set as songs for mezzo-soprano, Charlotte Tetley, and they were delighted to meet the composers who had set their work (respectively, Sadie Harrison, Shirley J Thompson and Toby Young).
Before the Oxford concert, there was a panel discussion on the voices of refugees at Somerville College, and Mukahang took part in a poetry reading at the Open House venue on Little Clarendon Street. While on the Saturday, the four poets performing in the concert were interviewed by undergraduates from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.
All in all, our poets – once again – did the school proud. It was an amazing experience, and they rose to the challenge!
Thanks to all who attended the packed Sixth Form Open Evening on Thursday 24 January, and the Open Morning on the Friday. It was wonderful to see so many engaged and ambitious young people, keen to work out future pathways and to make the most of all Oxford Spires has to offer its older students.
A presentation from Dr Watson, Head of Sixth Form, and students currently in Year 12 and 13 (Jasmin and Mukahang – Head Girl and Boy – and Year 12s, Oscar, Abbie and Tahira) was followed by visits to teachers and students of the subjects on offer after GCSE.
The school is offering 25 subjects at A level this year – more than ever before – as well as 2 Level 3 BTECs and a Level 2 course. For more information on those, please see the Sixth Form prospectus on the website.
If you would like more information about Sixth Form at OSA, or would like to look around the school, please contact the Head of Sixth Form, Dr Watson, on firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications are due in by the end of January, and there is an online application form on the school website under the ‘Sixth Form’ tab.
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We’re so proud of the hard work these students have put into their speeches for the Art Public speaking competition. They’re required to speak confidently about an artist or artwork for 10 minutes. Our winner, Janier, will be speaking at the Regional finals at the Ashmolean Museum on Thursday 7th February.
1st place Janier
2nd place Amna
3rd place Jahdai