19 November 2018

College maintains OFSTED ‘Outstanding’ rating in latest inspection

Peter Symonds College’s Boarding Provision has been rated as ‘Outstanding’ in every respect in a recent Ofsted inspection, maintaining its rating of ‘Outstanding’ from its previous inspection in October 2015.

Inspectors noted that ‘boarders live in a supportive and inclusive community which enriches their experiences and positively influences their development,’ and included comments from students in their report: ‘boarders are extremely positive about their boarding experience. They commented on it being “like a big family”, helping to develop their independence, confidence and to take responsibility for themselves.

One boarder commented, “We are treated as adults.”

The College’s Student Support services received high praise, with the report stating that ‘with a focus on treating every student as an individual and responding to their individual needs, support and guidance systems across the college are wide ranging and effective.’ In relation to boarding in particular, inspectors commented that ‘the support given by staff applies to all aspects of boarders’ lives. They recognise and respond effectively to boarders’ individual needs…Exceptional support services help students manage difficulties and develop resilience.’

Sara Russell, Principal, commented, "What makes these boarding inspections especially revealing is the way that they look at care and support for all students across the college. We are thrilled that the inspection team recognised the quality of the support here.”

The inspection report also highlighted the quality of the College’s Boarding Provision’s staff, noting that ‘ambitious and aspirational leadership is reflected in a culture of high expectation in which all staff strive to support and motivate students to achieve to the best of their abilities…all staff share the common purpose to support each individual boarder to achieve their full potential.’

Julia West, Head of Boarding at the College, said ‘our staff in Boarding and across the College work together as a highly committed and caring team, dedicated to providing every boarder with the support and environment they need to succeed, and I am delighted that the inspection recognises this.’

She went on to say that ‘the report highlights the emphasis the College places on each student as an individual. With access to all aspects of College life, including a broad programme of activities, a busy social programme and approachable, extensive support services, we are able to meet the diverse needs of our boarders to ensure each and every one reaches their full potential.’

Peter Symonds is the only state sixth form college in the UK to offer boarding in two co-educational boarding houses, housing 75 boarders in total. Boarding houses are staffed by a team of house parents on-site 24 hours day, 7 days a week and each boarding house has a fully equipped kitchen, laundry and Wi-Fi access to foster students’ independence whilst providing a safe and supportive environment.

29 November 2018

Peter Symonds welcomes Labour peer Lord Adonis for lively debate

Lord Adonis, Labour peer, former Transport Secretary and former Schools Minister travelled to Peter Symonds College to deliver an entertaining and informative talk on the current Brexit negotiations and their constitutional implications to a lecture theatre packed with students and staff.

Lord Adonis' talk generated plenty of discussion and there was a lively question and answer session afterwards, covering both sides of the Brexit debate and some of the wider issues affecting politics today.

Students’ comments included 'Lord Adonis was engaging and interesting'; ‘Lord Adonis came across as very wise in his analysis of the current political situation. He was also very humorous and kept the audience interested’; and ‘he provided an interesting and rare insight into the inner workings of the political world and the second referendum campaign.’ One student described Lord Adonis as ‘an amazing speaker who was compelling, passionate and extremely knowledgeable. Through his speech he not only astounded me with the sheer charisma he showed, but also informed me on the issues facing this country in the imminent future.’

Lord Adonis, who described Peter Symonds College on Twitter as ‘possibly the best 6th form college in the country’ described his visit as ‘…really inspirational - Winchester 6th formers passionately engaged in the Brexit debate.’

Politics teacher Jo Thomas, who arranged the visit, said, ‘We were absolutely delighted to receive Lord Adonis at Peter Symonds College for a very enjoyable and animated debate. The students asked some insightful and challenging questions and displayed real maturity in considering all opinions.’

4 December 2018

Peter Symonds students gobble up Fake Food at the University of Southampton

Students from Peter Symonds College and other colleges across Hampshire and Dorset attended a ‘Question Time’-style event on ‘Fake Food’ at the University of Southampton, where they had the opportunity to put questions on food issues to a panel of experts.

The event aimed to explore the big food issues that matter from the very earliest points of development and across the life course. The panel included Nathan Atkinson, Headteacher and creator of Fuel for Schools; Dr Sarah Jarvis from BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show; Dr Giles Yeo, an appetite scientist; Professor Guy Poppy, Chief Science Adviser to the Food Standards Agency and Ecologist; Professor Sian Robinson, Nutritional Epidemiologist and Registered Nutritionist; and Professor Mark Hanson, Scientist and developmental health advocate.

Biology teacher Julian Foster, who accompanied the students, said ‘this was an illuminating and dynamic way to explore the issues surrounding health and diet. The students asked confident and insightful questions and were able to apply their scientific knowledge to create a lively and interesting discussion. It was wonderful to see them engage with experts in their field and direct the conversation to explore the issues they found most interesting.’

The Fake Food Question Time event followed on from a laboratory open day at the University of Southampton earlier this year, where students took part in experiments on stem cells, big genome data bases, molecular biology and nutrient analysis in the Institute of Developmental Sciences (IDS).

29 November 2018

College Carol Service at Winchester Cathedral

The annual Peter Symonds College Carol Service will take place in Winchester Cathedral on Monday 10th December at 7.30pm. This occasion is shared with current and past students, their families and friends and the general public. Entrance is free but there will be a retiring collection in aid of Ben's Heroes Trust, a charity supporting children with cancer and their families.

The service offers an opportunity to hear music performed by the outstanding College choirs and College Brass, which will accompany the carols and perform a selection of music before the service.

“Interspersed withreadings and congregational carols, the service is a wonderful way to begin the countdown to Christmas” says Head of Music, Rachel Platt.

All are welcome, we hope to see you there.

20 November 2018

Nelson Mandela’s former bodyguard returns to Peter Symonds

Chris Lubbe, a former of bodyguard of Nelson Mandela, returned to Peter Symonds College to speak about his experiences growing up under apartheid in South Africa, and his first-hand observations of the rebuilding and reconciliation that took place in the country under Mandela’s presidency.

Born into a shanty town in the Eastern Cape, Chris began questioning the injustice of the apartheid system at an early age; first arrested for his activism at age 14, Chris continued to struggle against discrimination for the rest of his life. Alongside some unforgettable experiences as Mandela’s bodyguard, including meeting the Queen and various politicians and celebrities, Chris also had to learn to forgive and work with his former oppressors, most poignantly when he was required to work closely with one of the prison guards who supervised his torture in prison. He commented on the lesson he learnt from the situation: ‘Revenge is easy, forgiveness is difficult but it is the right thing.’

Chris described apartheid as a system ‘where the colour of your skin is more important than the content of your heart,’ and drew students’ attention to the parallels with today’s society, noting that ‘a similar situation is occurring on the Mexican border – it seems to me we don’t learn a lot from our history.’

He ended his talk exhorting students to ‘go out, change the world and be the best you can be,’ a powerful message that resonated strongly with the audience. A number of students waited to speak with Chris after his talk and recount their own experiences, with one student describing him as ‘amazing and inspiring.’

Commenting on his work speaking out against racism, Chris said ‘I look at the state of the world today, how divided and isolated it has become, and I realise people identify with stories. If I can tell a story, it makes an impact, and it’s a great way to get the message across. If my story of overcoming racism and prejudice can change one or two lives, save one or two lives, it’s worth doing.’

18 October 2018

Symonds students respond to plea for help

A group of 14 students from Peter Symonds partnered with local charity Community First to help St. John the Baptist Primary School in Waltham Chase with a list of tasks within their extensive grounds. 

The students were joined by ten volunteers from the local community and split up into groups to take on the various challenges. Students and volunteers braved the rain to clear out the allotment area ready for the new growing season and cleared back the overgrown brambles to expose the pond area and forest walk, so that the children could safely use the areas for outdoor education.

Kay Bowen, Head Teacher at St. John the Baptist, was delighted with their help, saying “Our children are lucky to have a range of garden areas to enhance their learning and play. However, this makes for a huge amount of grounds maintenance, which we want to do in the most ecologically sensitive way to ensure our resident birds, newts, and mammals can live alongside us happily. With the help of students from Peter Symonds College, local residents, parents and grandparents, a day has been well spent getting our grounds into shape. We love to use the outdoors for learning and scrub clearance; pond dredging and gardening tasks have all made a huge difference to what we can offer our children. Thank you all!”

Liamn Burns, a student from Peter Symonds, said “This is the second time I have volunteered for a social action day. Both times it has given me a great sense of knowing that I have helped someone in my community. Everyone can volunteer, just a few hours of your time makes a huge difference to your peers and community. I think it’s important to give up your time to help others.”

30 October 2018

Students welcome Bank of England Chief Economist

Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane visited Peter Symonds College to discuss the current economic climate with students. Mr Haldane spoke to a lecture theatre packed with Business students, where he discussed monetary policy including interest rates and their impact on our lives. He also discussed with them the characteristics of a growing economy.

The team from the Bank of England were impressed by the answers Symonds’ students gave to the questions they were asked and the thorough grilling they delivered when it was their chance to ask questions, with much of their interest revolving around the potential impact of Brexit

Alex Stickland, Head of Subject for A Level Business, said “It was a fantastic event. Mr Haldane was extremely informative and engaging, and the students did us proud with insightful questions and considered contributions to a detailed and complex discussion. We all learnt a lot.”

Students have reflected on the experience and how much they gained from it; and were pleased to discover how much of what they study in class is representative of the real world. They were impressed and grateful that someone as high profile as Mr Haldane would take the time to come and talk to them and help them with their studies.

4 December 2018

Symonds students 'Inspired By… Agnes Martin' at Winchester City Museum

A-Level Fine Art students from Peter Symonds College have produced a collection of artworks forming an art trail throughout the middle and top floor galleries of Winchester City Museum. The workshops and art trail form one part of the Inspired By… Agnes Martin project.

During the project, the students had the opportunity to visit the ARTIST ROOMS: Agnes Martin exhibition that was on display at The Gallery, Winchester Discovery Centre, to experience the work of Agnes Martin, “one of America’s foremost abstract painters”. After their visit they took part in a series of workshops led by artists from The Colour Factory, a group of six professional working artists, gaining experience in a wide range of techniques and materials and creating their own work inspired by their responses.

Mark Jones, Head of Art at Peter Symonds, said ‘this is was a great opportunity for our students to work with professional artists to get a real sense of the possibilities a career in art offers. Seeing their work hanging in the City Museum is a great tribute to the hard work and talent they have demonstrated during this project.”

The Inspired By… Agnes Martin project was a creative partnership between Hampshire Cultural Trust, Peter Symonds College and The Colour Factory, and aimed to inspire young people through engagement with the ARTIST ROOMS: Agnes Martin exhibition. It was supported by ARTIST ROOMS, a collection of modern and contemporary art jointly owned by National Galleries of Scotland and Tate as a resource for the nation.

The artwork by students from Peter Symonds will be displayed at the Winchester City Museum until mid-January 2019.

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