Forward March! | newschoolsnetwork.org

Forward March!

Chris Woolf is Headteacher at Pinner High School, a secondary free school in Harrow.

A pivotal moment for the Trailblazers of Pinner High School: from the start of this half term they are nearer their GCSE exams in Year 11 than they are to their first day of school in Year 7. There is a collective sharp intake of breath when they have this pointed out in assembly. That first first day in September 2016 was surely just yesterday? With over 500 students, nearer 700 by September, and a waiting list of 150 perhaps we might soon be 'the new school' no longer?

The year groups nearer the end than the beginning have thrived on their new challenges. We try to maintain the sense of fun as pressures mount up. Midterm exams alongside planning the growth of the new school. New opportunities for them and their younger classmates as they grow: in a few weeks time our first trip to China, in the summer our first trip to Costa Rica. Personal development is central to a Pinner High School education, highlighted by the Pinner High School Values: a new CCF Army contingent in an exciting collaboration with John Lyon School in the coming months, Police Cadets starting in a few weeks for our Year 7s. Almost half of Year 9 are actively involved in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme. New trails to explore as the students take new directions.

So as the trailblazers pass the half way point towards their GCSEs, what of the rest of the school? A sense of familiarity, perhaps, to the pattern of our new school life: our third ski trip returns successfully, and the fourth expands and fills up within a week. Our third school musical, 'Hairspray' picking up and moving on where 'Bugsy Malone' and 'Beauty and the Beast' left off. The new Year 7 boys football team: borough champions just as the trailblazers were before them. More photos on our Wall of Fame to help us live the history of our new school. 

In 2017 we were featured in the Parliamentary Review, showcasing best practice in education across the country. This year in the House of Lords Grand Committee debate on education, Pinner High School was highlighted as "a credit to those involved in setting them up and the teachers who work there". Our commitment to the Arts was recognised with the Silver Artsmark, leapfrogging straight over the Bronze Award.

And through all this recognition for the students, our community grows ever stronger. Our inaugural Parents Association event took place a week ago with over a hundred people pitting their wits against each other in a quiz night. It was brilliant to welcome parents who have been with us since the start and those who will be joining us in September, when we begin our fourth year.

A midterm report for those past the half way point? The same as for those who will start in September: plenty of challenges ahead, and lots of opportunities to look forward to at Pinner High School.

Blog topic:
Running a school