School Reports July 2021

05 July 2021

As the school year draws to a close, both Aldenham and Dame Alice Owen’s Schools have been reflecting on the last term – the fifth which has been affected by COVID-19. There have been challenges, but there has also been a great deal to celebrate and the staff and students of both schools should be commended for the continued resilience and hard work.

The Aldenham Foundation

At the end of a challenging year, the Foundation is in a stronger position than ever could have been expected. The completion of the new Aldenham Prep School building, Vincent House, earlier in the year was just the beginning, allowing for the provision of additional space for Senior School use and the development of excellent new facilities including new departmental bases for Computing, Geography and Learning Support. A major redevelopment of the Science block is also beginning which will give this key area of the curriculum the attention it deserves.

Both staff and students have adapted to a new realm of technology in Teaching and Learning during periods of lockdown, which will be a natural springboard for the introduction of a new School database in 2021 and the introduction of a whole new scheme of pupil devices in the classrooms from 2022. Pupils have been more resilient and adaptable than could have been hoped. Despite the fact that their first year in the School has been so grossly affected, the 84 Year 7 pupils are a shining example of this. Despite the lack of a normal induction programme, the lack of benefitting from the influence of Year 8 students upon them in the normal style, the lack of sporting fixtures, the limit on their activities programme, the fact that they will never have experienced the excitements of whole School Cross Country, the House Music Competition, or Visitation Day, this remarkable group of young people come across to those who meet them as the most enthusiastic and positive group – fully embracing what they have been given to do, making the most of opportunities and working hard in their classes.

While talking to one of the excellent candidates for the post of Head Girl, staff were reminded of the fact that of the School’s students see three things that mark Aldenham for them: unity; community; and family. With these elements in place, it is clear why Aldenham has been able to achieve so much over the last twelve months and can look to do so again next year.

Dame Alice Owen’s School

The gradual easing of restrictions over the last term has meant that, slowly, extra-curricular activities have begun to return and it has been wonderful to see students enjoying being able to play and compete once again. The Under 17 Cricket team made a fantastic start to the season, ploughing through rounds of the National Cup (with the tightest win being against Aldenham where DAOS won by a nail-biting three runs!). The School’s elite athletes have continued to train and achieve recognition, even over lockdown, with one Year 11 student being selected to play football for England (against Wales) at St James’s park, while a sixth form student has represented England in a number of cross country events and another has recently been selected for the England U18 hockey team.

The School has continued to hold Live@5 (virtual) concerts during the last term. These live streamed performances have featured a variety of year group ensembles, orchestras, jazz and soul bands, choirs, wind bands, chamber ensembles and percussion ensembles. Meanwhile, the Maths Department continues to thrive with 350 students recently sitting the Junior Maths Challenge and the School team coming second out of 24 schools. DAOS students have participated in a whole host of other competitions and enrichment activities and have benefitted from extensive, externally delivered PSHRE covering issues such as drugs and gangs, sexual assault and harassment as well as around the hurt that can be caused through poor choice of racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic language.

The staff, both teaching and support, the students and their families did a sterling job navigating through the difficulties the cancellation of standardised exams has brought. The staff worked meticulously and tirelessly to construct, mark and moderate papers and students did brilliantly, taking the process as seriously as needed. Whilst this year’s leavers will find themselves faced with the well documented squeeze in university places, they will be able to leave the School knowing they have a strong foundation onto which any university would be proud to build.