APS News

APS Students write the 'dark truth'

By Laura Formby, writing for the Holloway Express.

Students at a secondary school in Muswell Hill have published a novel about l0ve and death called ‘The Dark Truth.’

Alexandra Park School chose a number of 12-year-olds for the White Water Writers programme – publishers who use workshops to help groups of around ten writers to write and publish their own novel within five days.

Students from Year 8 took part in a collaborative writing course between March 6th-10th.

The workshop allows them to use their imagination and help each other write a novel.  They develop their writing and communication skills, teamwork, attention to detail and confidence.

‘The students learnt so much from this experience,’ said Joanna Chadwick,  Assistant Headteacher.

‘They started as usual Year 7 and 8 students with school-age appropriate skills in English. By the end of the course they were novel writers! They learnt how to edit, review, work as a team, use interactive writing software and really proof read, as that was essential to making sure the book was a success. They learnt to express themselves in ways that challenged their usual mentality and entered new rounds of creativity and craftsmanship.’

Ms Chadwick said that she would love to see a few budding writers from this initial project. What she thinks is really important is that has sparked the belief and awareness that being a writer is actually possible.

She said: ‘ You don’t have to be the most fluent or perfect writer – you just need to have passion, the creative vision and the ability to work hard to create something that you are proud of.’

The novel is about characters Jaspar Chapman, who wants to find his sister’s killer, and Milly who is finding it hard to cope with her mother’s death so ends up making the biggest mistake of her life.

The programme was funded by The Shine Trust  who helped get several books published and uploaded onto Amazon.

All the ideas, words, chapters as well as the spelling mistakes are entirely the students’ own work.

‘The school is very proud of the students,’  she said. ‘The ultimate reward is surely the book being published.’

The school is now planning to hold a book signing.  Details will be in the school newsletter and each student is receiving two books. One will be signed by all the teachers involved.

‘What I think went down well with the students was the pizza party lunch that we threw for them to say well done for completing it,’ said Ms Chadwick.

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Careers Fair 2017

03The annual Spring Careers Fair at Alexandra Park School was another great success.  Over forty universities, employers and apprenticeships attended, including Barclays Bank, the Royal College of GPs and Thomson Reuters.

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Exhibitors commented on the conscientiousness of the Year 9 students and were pleased with the throughtful questions from Year 11 students.  Many Year 12 and 13 students also attended to pick up on some important points about next steps and to keep in touch with the ever-changing climate of higher education and advanced apprenticeships.

Students were grateful for the time dedicated to help link their learning to their future options and vicational ideas.

Year 9 students commented:

Until the careers fair, I didn't ralise how many options we have and it really helped me see different choices potentially for the future.Y9 student
I am now looking forward to university and how it could lead me to more options in life.Y9 student
The careers fair was very engaging, and helped me see what I could do for a job in the future.  I have always thought about a job in medicine, and seeing people from the Royal College of General Practitioners immediately caught my eye.  I learnt a lot about what it takes to become a GP; taking a 5-6 year degree, and a 2-year long foundation course in order to take another course to finally become a medicinal doctor. Keshav, 9L
01We were given lots of freedom to search for the universities, forms and colleges that may interest us.  I was really interested in the military as I didn't know that there were many other jobs that can be done in the army.  For example: coding, languages and decoding! Max, 9L
At the Year 9 Careers Fair I was able to talk to a lot of different people in a lot of different jobs, colleges, universities and much more!  I spoke with someone who explained to me how law works and what you need in order to go to law school. This helped me because I want to be a barrister. Chiara, 9L
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Ms. Pearl "Design Teacher of the Year"

Congratulations to APS head of DT, Laura Pearl, who has won Design Teacher of the Year.  The winner was announced at a star studded event at the Design Museum in Knightsbridge.  Ms. Pearl joined APS in 2010 and leads our Design Technology department.  She was joined at the event by a team of year 10 APS designers who had also been shortlisted in the National Ventura Design awards. The team’s design for a practical way to recycle plastic bottles made the top 10 shortlist from the 588 schools that entered. They were pipped at the post to the top prize but well done to them all:

  • Paisley Cole
  • Daniel Dobres
  • Grace Geller
  • Ky Hope
  • Ailsa Robb
All photos ©Miles Willis Photography/Design Museum
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MYRIAD - My resilience in adolescence

The MYRIAD Project

Open to all Year 7 students

myriad 02Alexandra Park School are partnering with UCL on an exciting new project this summer term. The project is being conducted in partnership with the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and will compare the effects of two  social and  emotional  learning  (SEL)  programmes,  which aim  to  improve  young  people’s  study  skills  and wellbeing.  

Students are invited to take part in an 8-week course as well as three data collection sessions, one before and two after completion of the programme.

At the start of the study students are randomly assigned to one of two SEL programmes.  Participants must then attend a 45 minute lesson once a week for eight weeks. These sessions will be led by a trained teacher and will be conducted in APS.

myriad 01Why take part?

  • Learn new skills
  • Work your wellbeing and personal development
  • Earn up to £90

If you are interested, please download the information and cosent forms from below, returning the completed consent form to Ms. O'Gorman in The Bridge.

Download the Information Sheet *

Download the Consent Form *

* Please note: parents / guardians will need to read both the Information Sheet and the Parental Consent Form in order for their child to take part in the study.  Handing in of the consent form does not guarantee a place, as groups will be very small.

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Poetry by Heart Competition

Congratulations to all the students below, who were finalists in the APS Poetry by Heart competition on the evening of January 10th 2017.  All gave excellent performances of two poems - one written before 1914 and one written after.

Our school champion was Liliana Newsam-Smith, who said "The PBH competition was a very inspiring and enjoyable process, which I am very grateful to be a part of.  I have always loved poetry and having the opportunity to recite some incredible poems by Katherine Philips and Alun Lewis was a great experience for me."  Runner-up Keir Chauhan's message to future participants was "To all those who enjoy poetry, literature and drama, this is a wonderful experience and well-worth doing."  Liliana and Keir now move on to the regional stage of the competition.

APS Poetry by Heart Finalists
Sophia Amin Grace Gellar Michael Deane 
Aan Tailor Olivia Bucherer Eva McNeil
Ella Gregory    

Congratulations and thanks are also due to our accuracy judge, Celia Warre, last year's Poetry by Heart finalist, and to our other judges, Anne Turvey, Lisa Marie Utley, Heather Wood and Lauren Cowan.

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Free George Orwell Youth Prize Event

The Orwell Youth Prize is running a free event for young people at the LSE Literary Festival on Thursday 16th February 2017 at 6.00pm.

Run in conjunction with the LSE Library, they will be running a panel discussion entitled ‘Can writing change the world?’.  It will be chaired by Director of the Orwell Prize, academic and Official BBC Historian Jean Seaton, and the panel will consist of writers and journalists James Ball, Rebecca Omonira and Alan Gibbons, an award-winning young adult novelist.

It is an evening event which is open to all - both school groups and young people independently (and their parents). There is information about the panel and the event here: http://www.lse.ac.uk/Events/LiteraryFestival/2017/Early-Festival-Events/Events/Can-Writing-Change-the-World

Booking opens on 31st January and is done directly through the LSE website.  Although the festival is during half term, it is still open (and free) for students and parents to attend.

The event will be a wonderful opportunity for young people interested in a career in writing or journalism, and those interested in current affairs, politics and social justice more widely to hear from established and award-winning writers and journalists about their experiences and their craft, as well as ask them questions and visit a top-class university.

All events in the Festival are free to attend and open to all, but booking is required. E-tickets will be available to book after 10am on Tuesday 31 January via the LSE online store. For group bookings for Schools or groups of students please contact events@lse.ac.uk. For any queries see LSE Events FAQ or contact us at events@lse.ac.uk 0207 955 6043.

It is expected that children will be accompanied by an adult who will be responsible for their safety and well-being.

orwell prize 02

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"APS Vision" - Year 8 Newsletter

Welcome to the APS Year 8 newspaper!

Year 8 is the perfect year to get involved in extra-curricular activities; develop an understanding of global and local issues and get to know even more of your classmates throughout the year.  This newsletter has a wide variety of topics to support that.  A large number of students in year 8 have contributed to the paper and have worked hard to produce different articles for your enjoyment and entertainment.  We do hope you enjoy reading it as much as we have done making it!

Producer: Sienna Mansfield-Davies

Editor: Kiah Cruise

Download the Newsletter

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Another Week Another Award

Congratulations to our very own Ms Stephens who was yesterday named ‘Music teacher of the year’ at the Outstanding for All awards yesterday.

SSTMs Stephens is a cellist who joined Alexandra Park School in its first year of opening back in 1999. Her input to music, as head of department, is underpinned by her commitment to inclusivity, team and partnership working and the pursuit of excellence. Her philosophy is that there are few situations, however challenging, that music-making cannot improve.  Whilst a great spotter and nurturer of musical talent - she has seen recent students join renowned conservatoires in London and Glasgow and graduate from Cambridge University. Ms Stephen’s key characteristic as a music teacher is her advocacy of music as a tool to widen participation, address disadvantage and develop self-esteem. 

As a member of The Mayor’s Music Education Task Force she has been pivotal in helping to develop a music curriculum for London that engages as many children as possible; provides challenge, stimulation and support for London music teachers; and makes explicit how music can be used in the classroom as a tool to address society’s inequities. Her leadership has seen the broadening of APS music curriculum to include BTEC, A level and GCSE which has led to the engagement of many more students.

Ms Stephens was recognised because she has made music a vibrant, inclusive, creative, ever-evolving and absolutely integral part of school life at Alexandra Park School.”

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APS students triumph in PISA tests

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a worldwide study. It is completed across seventy-five developed countries and measures the performance of 15-year-old school pupils' in mathematics, science, and reading. Every three years the tabloids trumpet how poorly the UK countries do against chart toppers such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Finland. Although there are many grounds on which the tests can be questioned, the results have again been accompanied by a bout of hand-wringing, doubting the effectiveness of the British education system on grounds which do not resonate with the experience of students, parents and staff in the vast majority of our schools. 

Last year students at Alexandra Park School were randomly selected to take this test as part of the English cohort. The students received no additional coaching. Indeed, the school played down the importance of these tests as the last thing a year 11 needs during their mocks is more stress. They sat the 3 hours of tests beginning at 7.00am on a cold December morning in the knowledge they could not even expect to receive results. Or so we thought.

Having encouraged the students involved to recognise the value of participating in such a huge research project, which provides all sorts of valuable information, it was initially concerning to see the negative coverage of the UK results this week.  We hoped that the students wouldn’t connect the test that they had done to the stories in the media, that they wouldn’t feel that they had underachieved, and be deflated by the experience.

pisa graph 02

Last week we received the school’s results. It doesn’t include individual student results but remarkably this cohort of APS students topped the chart. Yes, that’s right they topped the chart. Their results were significantly better than each of the 75 countries that took part.

We have long known the performance of our students is outstanding.  APS has previously been recognised as being world class.  And we still have reservations about the value of PISA tests.  But it is pleasing for the students involved to know that their achievements compare so favourably with students across the globe. And it turns out that our students did exceptionally well.  In fact, their average performance far exceeded that in any of the seventy-five countries.


Interview on BBC Radio

Read the full article on BBC News

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