Headteachers Blog

Headteacher’s Blog – 13th January 2023

Retrieval practice has been a focus at Boroughbridge High School over the last year with our understanding that it will really help our students to learn and remember. But what is retrieval practice and why is it important?

Retrieval practice is when you try to recall information without having it in front of you to look at. To give an example, you may be trying to learn the processes that make up the water cycle. You could do retrieval practice by trying to name the processes and draw a diagram to show how they are sequenced without looking at a diagram. Once you’ve constructed all that you can remember, you would then look at your diagram to see what you had remembered and what you had missed to plug the gaps in your knowledge.

It’s important because, as we discussed at the Parent Expectation Evenings, research shows that without revisiting knowledge learnt, after 31 days, only around one fifth of knowledge will be retained. By retrieving, it can be retained. This is, of course, not new. You may remember revising yourself using this technique. What is different now is the growing body of research proving that this is the most effective way of building long term knowledge!

So, in order to ensure that our students have the opportunity to revisit topics and information to build their knowledge, we’ve been using retrieval grids along with a range of other strategies. This encourages students to retrieve knowledge from their short, medium and long term memory.

So in classrooms across the school this week, some of the retrieval grids used include the following, Year 9 Geographers have been using a retrieval grid to recall information from topics throughout the year including Resources and Sustainability and Places in the World. This was to help students to start to think about the knowledge they will need for their Year 9 exams later this term. Questions from topics covered a long time ago secured more marks. At GCSE, student used their grid questions to recap case study knowledge about an earthquake in Italy that was studied last week to see what they could remember.

GCSE Historians were engaged in exploring educational research themselves, at the beginning of the week, looked at the research underpinning what helps us learn and remember things and why retrieval practice and revisiting our knowledge is so important before looking at 3 key secrets of successful revision.

In Business GCSE, students completed a review sheet on strengths and areas to improve as they reviewed their progress to date whilst in Computing GCSE, students completed a list of exam questions covering knowledge from last week’s lessons as a start activity.

In Year 10 English, students completed questions from a retrieval grid on the opening of their Shakespeare set text (Macbeth). Questions ranged in complexity and covered things such as the significance of the setting of the play (Geographical and Historical). Students identified and commented on the themes introduced in the opening scenes and on the significance of the play’s imagery. They identified devices and analysed key quotations. The context (AO3) questions required the students to recall knowledge acquired from lessons and independent research last term. Bonus marks were given for unique interpretation and detailed responses.

In Year 9 Music, the retrieval grid prompted students to remember key vocabulary about the current topic: Musicals; the previous topic: score writing and minimalism; and some topics from as long ago as Year 7. Year 8 Musicians had facts to remember from this term’s topic: theme and variations; the previous topic: reggae; our first topic of the year: the Blues; and even some elements of music from Year 7. Top marks of 24 were available for both year groups with students aiming for the high teens.


Travel and Tourism BTEC students had a retrieval grid focusing on factors affecting global tourism including political, economic, natural disasters, extreme weather and health risks.


So, if you’d like a go yourself, here’s a Year 9 Maths retrieval grid. Good Luck!



Have a lovely weekend.

Headteachers Blog – 20.01.2023

Headteacher’s Blog – 20th January 2023

Schools are hives of activity and if you’d been able to see into every area of school at precisely 10.30a.m. on Thursday, celebrating a moment in time, you’d have seen the evidence.

Over in PE, Year 8 were engaged in inter-form badminton with Mr. Field, learning about working individually to achieve a goal as a team whilst also developing a sense of belonging and responsibility as part of a form group. An excellent way to develop resilience in a sporting context.

Meanwhile in Science with Miss Camy, Year 9 were learning what happens to animal cells when they are put in different concentrations of sugar solution; burst, shrivel or stay the same.  Mrs. Hutchinson was working in the prep room to make sure all of the different sugar solutions were ready for the required practical next week. Year 11 Physicists with Mr. Errington were engaged with equations of motion whilst Mrs. Weston was supporting Year 9 students in Biology, learning about osmosis; hypertonic, hypotonic and isotonic.


In English, Mrs. Wellock reports that ‘Year 8 students were gripped when reading ‘Brother in the Land’ as a shocking explosion and death left then wondering what will happen next and how will Danny (our protagonist) survive now?’ Meanwhile, Mr. Cockerill was reading and marking students’ drafts of their non-fiction piece about Mount Everest before they redraft it.

In Computing, Mrs. Knock and Year 8 were refreshing their understanding of binary numbers, changing decimal numbers into binary and back. Over in MFL, with Madame Reed, Year 8 were learning the immediate future tense and saying what they were going to eat and drink.

In RE, Mr. Woodward reports that ‘Y9 were discovering what support St James’ Church offers the local community as we try to work out whether religious buildings should be sold to help people living in poverty or not.’ Along the Humanities corridor, Mrs. Bauwens and Year 9 were looking at how the rainforest ecosystem works. They used key vocabulary learnt in science to describe how living and non-living parts of this biodiverse ecosystem are linked together.

Year 7 were exploring Surrealism in Drama by looking how our dreams skew our concept of reality. At 10.30a.m. they were watching a very creative and imaginative performance! Mrs. Coates was supporting a group of students who were acting out a scene as a Victorian reporter.

Mrs. Flowers was offering an extra session for NEA 1 for GCSE students who have recently been ill and missed their lessons. Alongside this, Mrs. Leeming was supporting a student to carry out an investigation of different flours and the starch content in them.

Discussing prejudice in PSHCE with Mrs. Murphy, Year 7 considered which things you can change about yourself and which things cannot be changed.

Mrs. Cummins was exploring methods for drawing linear graphs whilst Mr. Richardson was covering a Year 10 Maths group who were finding the equation of a straight line from the gradient and a point.

Up in the SEN base, Mrs. Thompson was supporting a student and Mrs. Collings was carrying out a Dyslexia Gold Literacy Intervention with a small group of Year 7 students.

Miss Stamper was working with the school council who have decided to raise money for Ukraine. One way that they want to do that is to learn Ukrainian. Over in the Bungalow our counsellor, Mrs. Buckley, was working with students along with the Wellbeing in Mind team.

Mrs. Town was having a telephone meeting with an Educational Psychologist to discuss how best to support students. At the main office the admin team were answering the phones, accepting deliveries and administering First Aid whilst the catering team were preparing the mid-morning break snacks! I had the pleasure of doing On-call, walking around the school, and going in and out of classrooms watching all of these excellent activities taking place.

In other news this week, we were delighted to be awarded the Runners Up trophy for a Tenpin bowling event held in York, particularly exciting as this is the first time that Boroughbridge High School has entered such an event. Well done to all and to Harvey who scored more than 100!


Have a lovely weekend!

Headteachers Blog – 06.01.23

Headteacher’s Blog – 6th January 2023

I hope that you’ve had a lovely Christmas break and a good start to 2023. We’ve had a positive start at school so thank you for your support with this. We had extra assemblies with each year group on Wednesday to remind students of our school standards, rewards, behaviour for learning and how we all act to ensure that everyone in our community is safe, happy and successful. We also talked about the importance of high attendance and how our curriculum maps and retrieval practice will continue to support high quality learning throughout the Spring Term.

From Mrs. Knock’s form, Alyssa, Eli, Bella, Lola and Daisy have led assemblies this week on online fraud and keeping safe online. They looked at phishing and push payments before exploring social engineering and the dangers of giving away too much personal information. Their conclusion included top tips to avoid becoming a victim which included never giving out personal or financial information, never clicking on text links or e-mail attachments from unknown sources and making sure that you have different passwords for every site. Students were confident in presenting and have helped us all to be safer online.

Developing their own speaking and communications skills, today Year 10 have been involved in a Speak Out Challenge Day. They’ve worked on skills and techniques before presenting on a topic they feel passionate about. A diverse range of topics were selected and the presentations proved to be of a very high quality. Well done Year 10!

This week we’ve welcomed three new staff to Boroughbridge High School; Mr. Groves has joined the DT department, Mr. Scott has joined the History department and Mrs. Pickering has joined the SEND team.

Have a lovely weekend!

Headteachers Blog

Headteacher’s Blog – 16th December 2022

It was a lovely frosty morning on Wednesday when Year 7 and their teachers set off to St. James’ Church in Boroughbridge for our carol service. We were warmly welcomed by the Revd Karen Gardiner and together we enjoyed singing carols and listening to musical performances and readings. Year 7 were superb throughout.

Staying with Year 7, Mr. Cockerill reports that ‘Year Sevens have taken part in a creative writing competition organised by the English Department in response to reading a selection of short stories from the Iridescent Adolescent anthology, published by the English and Media Centre. The quality of work submitted was of a very high standard. Winning students received a certificate, a writing journal and some chocolate. Some students submitted book cover designs too, for which there was a separate prize. Because of its success and popularity, we’re planning to run another competition again next term on the theme of a ‘journey’.’

Here are some of the competition winners receiving their certificates,

The Readathon has also been completed with students taking the opportunity to read whilst raising £75 for charity.

Wondering whether it was colder inside or outside the group of students visiting Xscape on Wednesday evening had a great time having skiing lessons on the slopes as you can see.

We were delighted to be able to welcome last year’s Year 11 and Year 13, along with dignitaries from the local community to Awards Evening last night. Along with students receiving rewards and their exam certificates, it was a fantastic opportunity to find out how our students are getting on and they also enjoyed meeting up with each other and sharing their experiences of post-16 life.

We’ve carried on with the celebrations today with Christmas jumper non-uniform day where we’ve been raising money for Save the Children. We also had for the first time in three years, our whole school Christmas assembly. Students celebrated their year at Boroughbridge High School, were presented with rewards certificates, awards and prizes and discovered that the winners of the Christmas Door competition were 10BW.  We then finished with a very enthusiastic version of ‘All I want for Christmas is you’.

We say farewell to Miss Whiles, Mr. Cooper and Mrs. Rumbold today and thank them for the massive contribution that they’ve made to the Boroughbridge High School community. We wish them well for the future.

So with the festive season firmly upon us, I’d like to thank you for your support throughout 2022. I hope that you and your family have a peaceful and restful Christmas break and we’ll look forward to welcoming students back to school on Tuesday 3rd January.  

Headteachers Blog

Headteacher’s Blog – 9th December 2022

We’ve had a very tuneful week with not one, not two, but three musical experiences beginning with an Opera North workshop for Year 7 on Monday morning. This is the second time that Opera North have visited Boroughbridge High School and worked with our students. This time students were invited to identify the different groups of instruments within a performance before exploring how to tell a story through music. Tristan was then chosen to conduct aspects of Grieg’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ before we listened to the finale which was a full performance followed by spontaneous applause. It was a great experience for all and we were also pleased to be able to welcome students from Cundall Manor to share the experience with us.

On Tuesday we had our Christmas Live Lounge. It was lovely to have so many performers and their families in school and we had a great evening listening to solos, ensembles and the choir covering an eclectic mix of music from ‘Walking in the Air’ to Nirvana. To complement there was the usual festive quiz with the evening finishing with a rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas. Thanks for your support at this event.

Boroughbridge was at its festive best on Wednesday for the late night Christmas shopping event and it was a great privilege for our Year 7 choir to sing festive songs, around the Christmas tree, for the audience and passing families to hear.

The Dining Hall was filled with the sound of Christmas songs and the pulling of crackers on Thursday lunchtime as Christmas Dinner was served. Our thanks go to the Catering Team who served up hundreds of dinners appreciated by all. The party hats were also a great hit with an occasional one making it through to the end of the school day!

Year 11 have been considering their wellbeing this afternoon as they’ve engaged in a wide range of activities from Bush Crafts with Mr. Woodward, to reading with Mrs. Wellock, Wellbeing strategies with Mr. Lough, Christmas Wreath making with Mrs. Flowers and Boxing with an external coach. It was an excellent afternoon and will have given students both a positive experience and longer term strategies to sustain them in the months ahead.

Thank you for the responses that we’ve received so far to the Parent/Carer Feedback Survey. Your feedback is much appreciated and will help us to both capture the progress that we’ve made and inform future actions. The survey will close at midday on Thursday 15th December 2022.

A reminder that we finish at 1.30p.m. next Friday for the Christmas break. It’s also Christmas Jumper (non-uniform) day. We return on Tuesday 3rd January. Key Stage 3 timetables will have some changes when we return. Your child will receive their new timetable next week.

If football is your thing, then enjoy the match on Saturday and if the England team do as well as our Year10/11 team against Rossett on Monday then they’ll have a 4-1 victory!

Have a lovely weekend!

Headteachers Blog

Headteacher’s Blog – 2nd December 2022

Students in Years 10 and 11 breathed a sigh of relief today as they neared the end of their Progress exams with the final ones on Monday. They’ve had an incredibly focused week and demonstrated a secure understanding of exam protocols. Teachers are now in a flurry of marking with the aim of using these exams to identify next steps for teaching to support students both in terms of building upon knowledge and exam technique. Students will be reflecting on the effectiveness of their revision and gaps in knowledge so that they can continue to improve as we move towards the Summer exams.

Around the rest of the school, our Key Stage 3 students have been continuing with enthusiasm across the curriculum. Year 7 Historians have begun learning about Castles in preparation for their Christmas project. Miss Whiles requests, ‘as Christmas deliveries ramp up this month, please save your children any cardboard boxes or interesting packaging they could use in their models’.  In English they’ve been continuing with their short stories and in Science they’ve been doing a variety of things with some groups looking at elements, mixtures and compounds including how to separate them whilst other groups have been using the microscopes to look at cells from all around the body and plants. In Food Tech, Christmas cakes are being decorated, in DT students are finishing their Alessi and Blockheads projects whilst, in Maths, they’ve been solving linear equations.

Year 8 Historians have been comparing soldiers and weapons in the English Civil War ready for executing the King. In IT they’ve been looking at types of computer malware and the damage they can do from botnets to trojan horses before looking at firewalls and other ways to protect devices. Christmas shortbread has been the focus in FT and child safety bands, ‘flashy bangles’ in DT. Mrs. Bauwens reports that ‘Year 8 Geographers have just finished the earth shattering topic ‘Rocks & Volcanoes’ and have completed an assessment to demonstrate what they have learnt this term.  As part of the unit pupils were asked to produce their own active volcano. The photograph shows just a few examples of the amazing work done.’ In RE, students have been deliberating whether citizens have a human right to dress as they please which will lead onto discussions about whether there should be limitations on wearing certain items of religious clothing in British society and, in English, they’ve been learning how to write compelling non-fiction stories about survival in the great wilderness.

Year 9 Mathematicians have been studying bearings, scales and constructions with a particular focus on how these can be applied in a real-life context. In English, they’ve been writing essays and creative pieces on Susan Hill’s The Woman In Black. In History students have been comparing interpretations of the Christmas Truce of 1914 discussing some of the issues of historical accuracy when an event is popularised for advertising. In FT Year 9 have been developing a Christmas challenge centre piece whilst in DT the focus has been MDF boxes and graphic design.

Feedback was the focus of my assemblies this week. It’s almost a year since our Ofsted visit and, as a school community, we’ve been working hard to make measurable progress on our priorities so, as part of our evaluation, students are being asked to complete a questionnaire on all aspects of school life. Your feedback is also critical to our evaluation so you’ll receive a letter next week with details of how you can fill in a similar parent/carer survey.

Events ahead include a Big Book Swap on Wednesday 7th December at break and lunchtime in the dining hall. Students will be able to purchase second-hand books for a small cost (£1-£3 per book). Alternatively, students can bring old books from home to donate and, if they do so, they will receive a token that they can exchange for any book(s) of their choice. If you would be happy to donate any books from home suitable for secondary school age students or younger then please drop them off at reception. The Readathon, where students have been setting their own reading challenge, is also running until the end of this term. All sponsor money needs to be collected and handed in by Friday 16th December.

And there’s Christmas in the air, with the Christmas Live Lounge next Tuesday 6th at 6.30 p.m. with festive songs from the pop choir, solo spots and a rock band performance. We’ll have the usual Christmas Quiz, mince pies, tea and coffee. As Mrs. Skilbeck says, ‘If you’ve never been before, it’s a lovely relaxed show!’. Entry is £3 or £2 for concessions. It would be lovely to see you there.

Students also have Christmas dinner on Thursday 8th December to look forward to.

Have a lovely weekend!


Headteachers Blog – 25.11.22

Headteacher’s Blog – 25th November 2022

Assemblies this week, led by Mr. Grierson, have started with the statement ‘Scotland won the World Cup in 1966.’ with students being asked if they thought this statement was true or false. With some variance of opinion, Mr. Grierson revealed that it was indeed fake news and discussed with students about how to check out if the things that they are reading on social media are true following four points;

  1. Check the source
  2. Watch out for fake photos
  3. Check the story is in other places and
  4. Look for other signs such as lots of ads popping up when you press the link.

If you’d like to find out more, go to https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/skills/reading/b1-reading/how-to-spot-fake-news

Key Stage 4 students had an assembly on knife crime which has been delivered across schools in North Yorkshire by Martin Powell (Police mentor). It was very powerful message as he shared a case, captured on CCTV, in Scarborough where all five young people involved were jailed for a single fatal stabbing.

As the weather is now decidedly autumnal, a reminder that there are a number of clubs that students can attend at lunchtime. An outline can be found at


A Key Stage 3 History Club has been added this week and will take place every Thursday in B5 at 12.40p.m. Students will have the opportunity to make their own coat of arms.

Progress (mock) exams for students in Years 10 and 11 got underway this morning with the Food Exam followed by Biology this afternoon. They’ll continue next week. The timing of these is critical as it enables teachers and students to identify their strengths and areas that they need to work on and the outcomes will support teachers with their planning in the coming weeks.

In Sporting news this week on Monday we had 39 students participating in a Harrogate and Craven Cross-County event hosted by Ripon Grammar School whilst, yesterday afternoon, Year 10 boys took part in a football tournament hosted by Rossett School. We also took the opportunity on Monday for a school community viewing of the England match.

Year 7 and 8 students are currently in the middle of their Readathon. Watch out for the letter from Mrs. Wellock giving more information about our strategies to support students in developing a love of reading.

Thank you to the parents who attended the Curriculum Information Evening last night. We discussed curriculum but also so much more and it was incredibly helpful to gain feedback on many aspects of school life.

With the festive season almost upon us, this morning Mrs. Skilbeck took some Year 7 students to perform at the Ripon Cathedral Christmas Fair.

Have a lovely weekend!

Headteachers Blog

Headteacher’s Blog – 18th November 2022

Well, what a week for weather! However, showing great resilience were the Year 8 girls’ football team who, on the wettest of wet days, went to Rossett School to take part in a football tournament. Playing against much larger schools than BHS, they finished joint 3rd out of 6 teams with 5 goals scored by Millie, Neve (3) and Phoebe. Well done team!

Building resilience in our school community was one of the themes of our Professional Development Day with sessions led by the Wellbeing in Mind Team who have a base at Boroughbridge High School. We had a reminder of the NHS five steps to mental wellbeing which are strategies relevant for all.

In the afternoon, we reflected on our progress as a school against our whole school objectives since our Ofsted Inspection focusing specifically on Curriculum, Retrieval Practice and Reading. As you’re aware, we now have our Curriculum Maps online (https://www.boroughbridgehigh.com/curriculum/subjects/) and retrieval practice to check what students have learned and remembered is part of our every day learning and lesson planning across the curriculum.

We’ve also continued to develop our curriculum and, if you’re interested in finding out more about our curriculum, we have a Parent Information Evening next Thursday at 6p.m. Please e-mail schooladmin@boroughbridgehigh.com to book a place.

Our focus on reading has been further developed through strategies such as the Readathon and BookBuzz for Years 7 and 8 whilst, across the school, all form classes spend time reading. Departments have developed strategies to promote reading within their areas and we’re currently integrating strategies into our lesson planning.

And we’ve had a great Children in Need day today with our non-uniform day and a break and lunch Bake Sale raising £438.63 which will be used by Children in Need to fund thousands of charities and projects in every corner of the UK, that support children and young people to feel and be safer, have improved mental health and wellbeing, form better, more positive relationships and be given more equal opportunities to flourish.

Have a lovely weekend!

Headteachers Blog – 11th November 2022

Headteacher’s Blog – 11th November 2022

With Remembrance Day on Sunday, assemblies this week have focused on the
importance of Remembrance Day whilst also sharing the symbolism of the poppy
and reminding us of the sacrifices which have and continue to be made. We’ve
also been selling poppies, raising funds for the Royal British Legion who provide
a lifeline for serving personnel, veterans and their families. Today at 11a.m. we
observed the two minutes silence. On Sunday I’ll be accompanied by Atlanta,
Becky, Emily and Savannah at the service at St. James’ before they lay the
wreath at the war memorial. It’s a privilege to participate in such an important
event in our community.

We were delighted to welcome Years 9 and 10 parents, carers and students to
the Duke of Edinburgh Award meeting on Wednesday. Students have the
opportunity to get involved in the Bronze Award in the coming weeks. It will be
led by Mrs. Murphy with Mr. Field and Mr. Lough supporting. Thinking ahead to
the expedition, if you have any walking or camping kit that is in good condition
that we could have to loan to students, it would be greatly appreciated. Please
e-mail schooladmin@boroughbridgehigh.com

Next week, on Friday, we’ll be fundraising for Children-in Need with a non-
uniform day. You can make a donation on Parent Mail. The School Council are
currently finalising the other fundraising events and students will hear about
them shortly.

A reminder that it’s a Professional Development Day on Wednesday 16 th
November when students do not attend school. On that day, staff will be
working with the NHS Wellbeing in Mind team on building resilience across our
school community before evaluating progress made against the school priorities
and identifying next steps for development.
Have a lovely weekend!

Headteachers Blog

Headteacher’s Blog – 4th November 2022

So, we’ve had a busy week following our half term break. Assemblies this week have been a great opportunity to celebrate the positive contributions that students made during the first half term with the top 20 reward point winning students being announced. You’ll have received a congratulations letter if your child is one of them. Students can continue to collect points which will lead to bigger rewards later in the year.

Winning forms were 7MG, 8SF, 9DR, 10BW and 11JW so, as you can imagine, the competition is now on for the top spot by Christmas.

Our excitement on Wednesday was a trip for 47 students and 4 staff to the LNER Community Stadium in York not only to watch two International Rugby League matches as part of the Rugby League World Cup but also, as you can see, to act as flag bearers whilst the national anthems were played. It was a great privilege to do this and students and staff also had a fabulous time watching the two matches; New Zealand Women v France Women and Australia Women v Cook Islands Women.

We’re ready to restart the Duke of Edinburgh Award at BHS. Mrs. Murphy spoke to students in Years 9 and 10 about the opportunities that this can bring and how they can get involved. There will be an Information Evening for interested parents and carers at school on Wednesday 9th November at 6p.m.

We had Year 10 online Parents’ Evening on Thursday and next Thursday, it’s the turn of Year 11. Both of these year groups received information this week about their Progress Exams which start in a few weeks’ time.

As you’re aware, we’ve been working with the Wellbeing in Mind Team for over a year now. Overleaf you’ll find out more information about how we’re working together to support our young people.

Have a lovely weekend!