Scruffy Penguin Finds a Home at the Fringe

Shiplake’s first Edinburgh Fringe production in 10 years was a success both on and off stage this summer, with good audiences and excellent feedback.

One audience member wrote to the school: “Just wanted to congratulate your students on the simply TOP job they did in Edinburgh! I attended their performance yesterday during one of my five days at this year's Fringe. I had been very politely persuaded to do so the day before by some good old fashioned 'street persuasion' by the tall member of the group, I was very pleased that he did as I would not have wanted to miss that performance. Despite the early hour, not normally associated with that age group, all the players were 'on song', literally!

As I overheard a fellow audience member on the way out exclaim: 'very powerful stuff'. In my view a privilege to witness and scored 9/10 on my private score sheet. Absolutely VERY well done to all involved!”

The eleven strong cast - travelling as the Scruffy Penguin Theatre Company, performed a new play called Homeless.  The production was about a group of vulnerable young people who have formed a fragile community, while living on the street. Each character has their own story to tell about their past experiences, their current challenges and the dreams they have about escaping their present situation.

Students not only had to perform the show once a day for six days (at 9am in the morning!), but had to hand out flyers to try and sell the show to a paying public, see at least one show a day, and live in theatre digs. The experience gave students an idea of what is involved when working as a small professional theatre company while also storing up ideas for future exam productions by watching a wide variety of plays.

Wasps Bring a Buzz to Rugby Coachclass Course

Shiplake College was proud to host a pre-season rugby Coachclass course at the end of August, run by the Wasps Community programme. The Coachclass saw 28 boys, across the U9-U13 age groups, come together over three days to learn some of the essential individual and team skills required to succeed in rugby. Amongst the clubs represented at the Coachclass were Beaconsfield RFC, Henley Hawks, Reading Abbey RFC and Wallingford RFC.

Ben Smiley, the Schools Programme Officer and Coachclass Organiser, said after the course: "Wasps have some very close ties with Shiplake College, and we were delighted to be able to run a Coachclass at the venue. The facilities, pitches and setting at the College are outstanding, and they contributed to create a fantastic environment in which to coach. Wasps would like to thank everyone at Shiplake College, in particular Neil Walne, for their help in getting this Coachclass up and running, and we hope to be able to run more coaching events at the College soon."

Sir John Jones Inspires at Staff INSET

"We are in the magic-weaving business" announced Sir John Jones, when he visited Shiplake College to present to the staff as part of their INSET training.

Standing at the front of the brand new Lecture Theatre, Sir John went on to provide an entertaining, thought-provoking, enlightening, educational, inspiring and even emotional two-hour talk about the vital role that the teachers at Shiplake play in the lives of our pupils. A role that involves preparing our children for a world that doesn't exist yet and for jobs that haven't been invented. More importantly, a role that involves "eliciting the inner greatness in the pupils - because they are all great".

Knighted in 2003 for Services to Education, Sir John worked for most of his professional life in challenging schools across the north west of England. He has also been invited on to a number of panels and think-tanks. Drawing on his own experiences of teaching and leading, or providing stories and observations from his time visiting other schools,  Sir John illustrated how a single teacher can 'make the difference' to a pupil - often landing that staff member either in the list of three people that changed a person's life, or on the list of those that damaged them.

Sir John's talk looked at the qualities of a good teacher and took the staff through theories that looked at the way someone thinks, how perceptions can be damaging to a child and how to encourage a growth mindset where 'anything is possible' instead of fixed mindset. Providing the staff with 'power phrases' to change their habits of speaking, Sir John illustrated how children may forget how a staff member made them think, but will never forget how they made them feel.

With September the month of New Year resolutions for those that work in schools, there is no doubt that many of the staff went away with lots of new ideas that they will be implementing in the classroom and around the school this academic year. Many staff may also be getting in touch with the 'magic weavers' that influenced them whilst at school and letting these former teachers know the positive impact they had on their own lives.


Expedition Exceeds Expectations

During July and August of 2014, 10 students, along with Miss Unwin and Marcel and Sally Wagner, spent 4 weeks in Kenya for the annual trip organised by the College's Expedition Society. Spending four weeks camping, and up to five days at a time without the luxury of washing facilities, not to mention the huge culture shock for many of the students, the trip was both challenging and rewarding for all involved.

Amongst a packed programme of activities, highlights included meeting the natives of villages and the children at the Kikundu Schools Project, for which they built 36 desks and redecorated classrooms. They also spent five days climbing 17,000ft to reach the summit of Mount Kenya, and enjoyed white-water rafting, fishing and even trying goat cooked by some locals.

Marcel Wagner, the founder of GapAfrica, provides a reflection of the trip:

Our silver jubilee comes next year, 2015, but it will be difficult to match this year's trip in many of the ways in which a trip's success is gauged. The past five years have seen a completely new type of participant, boys and girls who are both interested in where they are going and also take as much from the trip as they can.

There are days when it is really difficult, a sandstorm filling your tent with grit, grit in the food and filling your ears up whilst you sleep, the cold and 0230 start on summit day on Mt. Kenya, those, sometimes, long drives on impossible tracks to get to where you want to be next, heat, thirst and then, the ultimate, the culture shock when arriving at the schools in the Kikunduku Schools Project. Add to all of this a lack of water, other than for drinking, that leaves us all nonplussed at being filthy, dirty... who would put clean clothes on a dirty body?

It is only in the last days - those days designed as a reward, days of late mornings in comfortable beds, hot showers and green lawns and fun things to do – that the realisation slowly dawns on what has been achieved, and seen, and the knowledge that hardly anyone else in all their circle and lives will ever see and experience what they have over this long month. These experiences run very deep and speaking about it to the peer group back home leaves blank faces and lack of interest. It is not their fault, they would not have experienced what the expedition boys and girls will have, so how could they even begin to understand... This 'realisation' carries on, long after that joyous reunion at the airport on their return, and the experience continues to seep into their lives, the consciousness, bringing depth, compassion and a richness of soul. It also changes lives.

The trip was in doubt almost until the day we left. Security issues and terrorism kept cropping up. We did take note of this, we tailored our itinerary to keep us away from Foreign Office 'no-go' areas. In the end all was well, the local bush telegraph worked well and the odd thing is that the only major alteration to our plans was made due to strong winds, not terror. Africa has a way of scuppering the best laid plans, but isn't that half the fun?

Raffle Helps Resources Reach African Schools

On sports day, the College held a charity raffle to win a signed football kindly donated by the current Chelsea FC playing squad. Thanks to the enthusiasm of pupils and staff, this raised over £150. Half the funds will go towards our ongoing support of sports injury charity The Matt Hampson Foundation, while the remaining money has been used for an entirely different project.

Heads of Department were asked to gather together spare learning resources to donate to less fortunate schools in challenging environments. This resulted in hundreds of Mathematics and Science textbooks (equating to 15 boxes) being packed up and sent to educational charity Books2Africa.

Director of Studies Mr Ian Munro explained: “At Shiplake, our curriculum is regularly updated to keep up with trends of the national curriculum and ensure pupils are being taught the most relevant and suitable content in each subject. This can sometimes lead us to choosing a different course specification at GCSE and A Level, or perhaps moving to a new exam board if they appear to provide a superior syllabus.

As a result of this, some course textbooks can unfortunately become redundant and no longer fit for purpose. Whilst most have had many years of use, it would still be a great shame to see them go to waste. Fortunately, charities such as Books2Africa help to distribute books to schools in need across Africa.” 

A Books2Africa courier arrived this week to collect our donation and the books will be distributed to schools across Africa where they can be put to greatest use. We are also planning to continue our support of Kikundu School in Kenya, via various fundraising efforts over the coming academic year.

GCSE Results Reach New Heights

GCSE pupils braved an early start as their nervous wait for examinations results came to an end. Grades were made available online from 6.00am, and in person from 8.00am, for boys in Year 10 and Year 11 to learn their fate.

For the vast majority, it is a day of huge celebration as this year’s cohort has achieved Shiplake’s greatest ever set of results. Thanks to pupils’ hard work, perseverance and innovative teaching, more top end grades were achieved than ever before.

Headmaster Mr Gregg Davies could not hide his immense pride, commenting: “We are delighted with the increase of grades achieved at the higher end of the spectrum, particularly given a national decline in the top marks awarded. We have also maintained a solid A*-C performance of 90%. We are celebrating a record percentage of A*s and A*-A grades (28% compared to 21% in 2013), with the A*-B percentage also rising to 58% from last year’s 51%. Particular congratulations go to seven boys receiving a clean sweep of A*s and As. All departments have demonstrated a positive value-added performance, with many pupils achieving grades much higher than their projections based on nationwide Year 9 assessments.”

It has been a particularly fantastic day for the Fenton family as twin brothers Matthew and James achieved 11A*s and 7As between them. Matthew’s unblemished record of straight A*s is truly exceptional and is a fitting reward for the dedication he has shown to his studies over the last year. Mother Anne Fenton commented: "I am absolutely delighted for the boys. When James joined Shiplake he was a 'C-grade' student, but his hard work and the support from staff has led to these excellent results."

Close friends Greg Holt and Greg Cooke chose virtually identical GCSE subjects, and both achieved fantastic results. Holt attained 8A*s and 1B while Cooke received 7A*s and 2As. They were joined at the College this morning by Dom Allen, Matt Brown and Chris Baker, with staff very keen to congratulate them all on their remarkable, consistent performances. Other high performers include Edward Warren, Louis Bossons Sartain and George Greenaway. Such widespread attainment of exceptional grades is clearly very pleasing, but the College is proud of performances across the board. Boys staying at Shiplake for Sixth Form can begin next year with confidence and an eagerness to maintain the work ethic that has served them well so far.

GCSE Results Day Arrangements

Results from this year’s GCSE examinations are released on Thursday 21 August.

Parents and pupils can access the results online via the Parents’ Portal from 6.00am on Thursday morning. Upon logging in, the results can be obtained by opening the Inquiries tab and selecting External Exam Results. A table will be displayed outlining module and overall grades. Module grades for each unit will be displayed in lower case, while overall subject grades will be in capital letters.

Some parents, who registered to ResultsPlusDirect (for Edexcel results) last year, may have received an email about activating their account. Please note that this service is no longer required as Shiplake College collates all the results from the various exam boards and displays them together via the Parent Portal.

Please contact the Data Manager, Mr Mitran, on if you require assistance with accessing the Parent Portal.

The College will also be open to Year 10  and 11 pupils between 8.00am and 3.00pm for results collection either in person or via telephone. Any uncollected results slips will be posted out at the end of the working day.

External candidates who are joining us in Year 12 are politely requested to email their results to College Registrar Jackie Thomas as soon as possible.

We wish all pupils the very best of luck, and hope the hard work displayed over the last two years has paid off. 



Sixth Formers Celebrate Examination Results

The moment of truth for Sixth Form pupils arrived today as their A Level examination results were revealed. The hard work and preparation put in by our students across their time at Shiplake appears to have paid dividends, as 89% have secured places at their chosen universities. This figure could rise further in the hours and days to come as institutions assess candidates who have narrowly missed the entrance requirements.

Several students have delivered exceptional individual performances and deserve special recognition. Sophie Arnold achieved A*AA in History, English and Media respectively which is a magnificent achievement. She comfortably exceeded the entrance requirements from the University of Warwick, where she will begin studying in September. A* grades were also attained by Danny Rumbelow and Hux Loudon in Art. The Art Department were very pleased indeed to see over 50% of their Year 13 cohort achieve A grades or above.

Other delighted faces on Thursday morning included Freddie Lang (Mathematics, Economics, Biology) and Charlie Hancock (History, Economics, English), who both achieved ABB grades. Charlie will be moving to Bristol to study at the University of the West of England. Meg Barron-Cutts is also travelling west to Bath to study English and Drama, after gaining three Bs.

Headmaster Gregg Davies explained: “We are pleased with the results our Sixth Form leavers have achieved. Across all subjects taken, 8% of candidates gained an average per entry of 120 UCAS points or more (equivalent of A grades), 32% gained an average of 100 UCAS points or more (equivalent of B grades or above), and 78% achieved an average of 80 UCAS points or more (equivalent to C grades or above). These results do not include any further scores gained at AS Level, and put the majority of our students in a strong position to access higher education courses of their choosing.”

Year 12 pupils also learned the results of their AS examinations today. Overall, the module grades look very promising and there is plenty for them to build upon next year. The Headmaster reserved special praise for Freddie Ireland and Jamie Mottram who performed admirably, achieving straight As and three As and a B respectively. Mr Davies commented: "Freddie and Jamie will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Sophie Arnold next year and are both considering Oxbridge applications alongside new Head of College Yeem Chanthanawan."

At the start of term, all pupils will be given guidance and advice on which subjects to continue studying and whether any remarks or re-sits are required.









A Level Results Day Arrangements

Results from this year’s A2 and AS examinations are released on Thursday 14 August. We wish all pupils the very best of luck ahead of collecting their results. The arrangements for results day are outlined below:

A2 Level Results Collection (Year 13)

Results will be available online via our Parents’ Portal from 06.00am on Thursday 14th August. Results can be accessed by opening the Inquiries tab and selecting External Exam Results. A table of modules will be displayed. Letters in lower case represent module grades, while overall grades are represented by capitalised letters.

All pupils applying to university in the UK should log on to the UCAS website to verify whether they have been accepted onto their first choice or reserve courses.

The College will also be open to Year 13 pupils between 07.00am – 3.00pm for results collection either in person or by telephone.  Uncollected result slips will be posted at the end of the working day. Senior staff and careers advisors will be on hand to advise on matters such as university choices, clearing and re-marks.

AS Level Results Collection (Year 13)

Results will be available online via our Parents’ Portal from 06.00am on Thursday 14th August. Results will be accessed by opening the Inquiries tab, and selecting School Reports. Here a Year 12 Results Summary will be found.

It is important to remember that the AS Grades displayed will be provisional. It is possible that pupils may want to re-sit AS modules at the end of Year 13 to improve their grades.

The College will also be open to Year 12 pupils from 09.00am-3.00pm for results collection either in person or by telephone. Please do not contact the school before 09.00am, as staff will be busy with the crucial task of supporting Year 13 pupils with university applications. Any uncollected result slips will be posted at the end of the working day.

John Turner Building Edges Towards Grand Opening

After the worst winter weather in recent memory, our John Turner Building construction team could be forgiven for slipping behind schedule. However, with almost three weeks still to go until the start of term, construction has been completed and they have handed over to interior fit-out specialists bang on time to ensure the building is fully functional for staff and pupils to move in come September.

At this stage in the project, it is becoming very easy to visualise the exceptional facilities pupils will have at their disposal, in the new Music Department and Lecture Theatre on the ground floor, contemporary Thinking Space and Learning Development Department on the first floor, and bright, spacious Art Department on the second.

All flooring has now been installed, including the ‘mood carpets’ and artificial grass in the Thinking Space. Bespoke furniture and technology will soon follow, with state-of-the-art television display screens available to teachers in every classroom to facilitate fully interactive lessons.  

These photographs give you a sneak preview of what to expect, with an ‘open house’ official opening on Friday 19 September. The College would like to thank all those who have generously contributed to our John Turner Fundraising Campaign, which has ensured pupils will have access to the best possible facilities and learning resources. We have now passed the 99% milestone and are just £997 short of the £100,000 target. If you would still like to donate, please visit the development page for further information.