What a fantastic school year! The last few weeks of term have been packed with events, educational study visits, new intake days, supersessions, Duke of Edinburgh and much more besides.
As you will see throughout my blog our Performing Arts Departments, and specifically the dance students, have been working extremely hard this term in the many events they have been involved in. One such event was the fantastic performance at this year's Formula 1 Grand Prix. Sixty of our dance students joined 500 youngsters from all over the UK to perform trackside at the Formula 1 Grand Prix at Silverstone on Saturday 15th July as part of a mass dance project organised by Pro-Excel Dance in memory of the events that took place in Manchester and London. The group worked extremely hard during their 22-hours of intense rehearsals and their performance, on one of the racetracks at Silverstone, was outstanding. Well done to all of our dancers, you were all fantastic.
After 2 years of planning for the World Challenge Expedition to Malaysia our group made up of 13 Year 11 students, 2 staff and a World Challenge Expedition leader departed for Southeast Asia on Saturday 15th July. The team did extremely well to raise the £3425 each needed to fund their trip, as well as coping with their GCSEs and getting all of their vaccinations. Thank you to The John Fisher Foundation Trust, Furness Lions and Booths Supermarket, Ulverston for your help in raising these funds. As soon as the group arrived in Kuala Lumpur International Airport it was up to the students to navigate their way to their first hostel in Kuala Lumpur before booking the accommodation for the rest of their trip. So far this week the group have been trekking in the Cameron Highlands and whitewater rafting through the rainforest and today they are travelling to the Taman Negara National Park to start their 5 day trek through the rainforest. It only seems like yesterday since our World Challenge expedition to Malaysia was launched. Thank you to the staff who are accompanying them and to parents/carers and friends of the school who have given such fantastic support to the expedition. I have no doubt in my mind that this expedition will be a life changing experience for our students, trekking with heavy backpacks, being self-sufficient, spending time with refugee children helping to improve their quality of life and their learning environment and learning how to navigate themselves around a country so very different to their own. I wish our World Challenge group the very best for the rest of their adventure and I look forward to seeing and hearing all about it on their return. Thank you to everyone who has supported us at numerous school events where fund-raising took place.
This term we welcomed Year 6 students from our local primary schools who will be joining us in September to start their first year with us as Year 7 students. The pupils spent two days with their form, meeting their form teacher and subject teachers as well as eating in the school dining hall. I look forward to welcoming them to Dowdales on Wednesday 6th September.
Over 100 students took part in our dance concert ‘Spring into Summer’. The evening consisted of 22 dances which included A* GCSE practical work, end of year Key Stage 3 assessments, Silver Arts Award choreographies and performances by our dance clubs; Dowdales Youth Dance, Springloaded and Boys Dance. The concert was a celebration of the students work this year and provided the opportunity to develop their performance and choreography skills.
Year 7, 8 and 10 have taken part in learning focused supersessions this term inspiring students to be the best version of themselves. Year 10 were given extra motivation from our Year 11 students who returned to school to give advice about being ready for their GCSE year. Students were engaged, creative and reflective and we hope to repeat the process in the future.
This year twenty-five Year 10 students passed their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award, completing their final expedition in Borrowdale during the summer term in record time. The final expedition was a culmination of students’ hard work and dedication throughout the year. During the final 2-day trek the group navigated themselves around Derwent Water and set up camp in Borrowdale. Interest in next year’s Duke of Edinburgh Award from our current Year 9 cohort has already begun and I look forward to hearing about their successful expedition next year.
Eight students from our student council met with the student council from Ulverston Victoria High School and Furness Academy at a Pupil Conference this term. The event gave the groups a chance to share ideas and as well as planning and collaborating on the organisation of events in the future.
Year 10 GCSE Citizenship students have embarked upon a project working with residents of Staveley House, Abbeyfield and as part of an intergenerational piece for Dalton’s first Literature Festival which takes place on 3rd and 4th November. The aim of the project is to improve community cohesion using the literary arts to bring people together. I look forward to bringing you more information about this project in the new school year.
Our seven Gold Arts Award students have been extremely busy delivering dance workshops in our local primary schools and running their Diverse Nation Dance Festival. They worked as a team to plan and organise the event, which enabled them to develop the independent leadership skills they need to show at Gold Level. The event, which took place on Wednesday 12th July, involved pupils from four primary schools, was a fantastic celebration of the Gold Arts Award students work and the pupils performing put on a brilliant show. Well done to everyone who took part in the organisation and the performances.
Year 7 students spent a day celebrating Chinese culture with Lancaster University Confucius Institute. We welcomed six representatives from Lancaster University who led special lessons giving an insight into Chinese culture. We are keen to develop more collaborative learning with the Confucius Institute and hope this will be the first of many opportunities for Dowdales students.
On Friday 14th July Year 8 students participated in a cultural event day learning about different cultures and traditions as part of their British Values and Citizenship curriculum. Students were split into one of 4 groups: The Americas, Indian Influences, The far East or Eastern Europe and Russia. There were many and varied activities including making Indian food, Indian Dance, Polish language and culture, Russian Folk Tales, Mexican death masks, totem poles, Japanese and Chinese and an opportunity to form links with a school in El Salvador.
Year 10 students visited UVHS to take part in three A level Science lessons experiencing life as a sixth former. The students were also given the opportunity to ask the Deputy Headteacher of the Sixth Form about extra-curricular opportunities and how the school supports students who are interested in Oxbridge University places.
We celebrated Bastille Day with a French Theme Day in the dining room and a French quiz with a prize draw for students who answered the questions correctly.
The theme for this year's Activities Week was the celebration of British Values. A packed programme of events took place with a wide range of fun and thought provoking activities. A large number of students from all year groups participated in residential trips to Cologne, Malaysia, London and the Lake District YMCA. In addition there were day trips to the Imperial War Museum in Manchester, Windermere Outdoor Ed Centre, Preston, Blackpool and a walk up Black Combe and our Year 10 students attended their work experience placements. Throughout this year’s British Values Activities Week students enjoyed themselves, developing new skills and making the most of what was an exciting curriculum offer.
Yesterday all students and staff took part in a 5k Alzheimer Society Memory Walk in the school grounds. The Memory Walk is a nationwide sponsored walk, taking place in August and September, for all ages and abilities to unite together to raise money to defeat dementia and we were delighted to be able to hold our own event for this special cause.
Our 12-page summer edition of our ‘In the Spotlight’ newsletter is now available to view online. The newsletter features all of the events that our students have been involved in this term as well as a Prom photo special. To view the newsletter click on the image below.
Finally I would like to thank each and everyone of you for your support this year, including for me as Headteacher. Our students are our number one priority and I look forward to working with you again next year to ensure the very best for your son or daughter. Thank you must also go to the fantastic staff team at Dowdales who always go above and beyond for our students.
I hope you have a great summer and I look forward to seeing our students back in school on Wednesday 6th September.