Welcome from the Co-Headteachers

Helping develop students into active learners

In our outstanding Year assemblies, students have been reminded about their responsibility to read for pleasure on a daily basis as well as be active learners in the classroom. Active learners complete their work, answer questions, ask questions and build on the answers of others; they also bring their own knowledge and skills into the classroom, sharing personal experiences in order to deepen their learning. Please question your son/ward as to whether he understands the concept of being an active learner.

You can read all the news below including, as part of our commitment to developing well-rounded individuals, items on recent important school trips and two drama-led productions.

The latter events were truly amazing. In our first-ever senior school production, students performed gritty, powerful roles while telling the tantalising tale of a group of stranded boys on an unspecified island. All this played out within our new drama studio, set up in an unconventional and creative format. Thank you and well done to all those involved.

If you have any comments about this newsletter, good or bad, please do complete the quick anonymous feedback form. Just as a note, please don’t put student queries in there, as it is anonymous. 

Simon Fisher and Jo Higginbottom

Think Hard, Work Hard

Training students to become independent learners

Teachers are continually striving to push students to challenge themselves through our “think hard, work hard” approach in daily classroom interactions. This mantra is a very conscious ploy to train students to become more resilient, brave and courageous on their own journey to gain independence in the classroom.

‘Think hard, work hard’ activities involve students translating images into words and vice-versa; there should be very little if any copying out. Students work collaboratively to solve problems; for example, learning how to correctly sequence both theoretical and practical skills. At its best, ‘think hard’ activities involve students prioritizing, memorizing, and summarizing extracts (verbally or in writing) as well as applying new knowledge and skills through deliberate independent practice. To support this objective, the phrase “I don’t know” is banned in the classroom and, instead, students are allowed to select a number of alternative verbal options, namely:

  • “Can I have some thinking time?”
  • “Can you re-phrase the question?”
  • “Can you provide an example?”
  • “Can I have a sentence starter?”

Such in-class verbal support ensures that every student is challenged. No student is left out.

Coming Soon!

Put these in your calendar

  • Thursday 30 November – Friday timetable
  • Friday 1 December – INSET Day
  • Monday 4 December – PPA Day
  • Thursday 7 December – Tuesday 19 December – Written December Exams (Years 11-13)
  • Friday 8 December – Year 7 Induction Assembly
  • Friday 15 December – Flu immunisations for those with consent
  • Monday 18 December – Senior Awards Evening
  • Thursday 21 December – End of Autumn Term (students dismissed at 12.30pm)
  • Monday 8 January 2024 – Start of Spring Term

The full calendar is available at this link.

School Closure – 1 and 4 December

Plus Friday timetable on Thursday next week

Earlier today (Friday), a letter was sent to all parents/carers with changes to school arrangements next week – namely, that school will be closed for students on Friday 1 and Monday 4 December. Thursday (30 November) will be treated as a Friday, so make sure students come to school ready for their Friday lessons.

Read the full letter for more.

Ashford Hospital Open Day

This Saturday from 10 until 3

Ashford Hospital are holding an Open Day for the public on Saturday 25 November from 10.00am-3.00pm. This is a great opportunity for the public to see what goes on and the different services that are available. The open day is free and all are welcome for what they describe as a “celebratory, fun, engaging and interactive day to help local people feel part of the Trust”. There will be a great range of activities throughout the day, including interactive stands and demonstrations, theatre tours and health and wellbeing advice. The hospital’s recruitment team will promote the varied career opportunities within the NHS.

Winter Concert – Save the Date

Our next performing arts extravaganza is coming soon!

Hot on the heels of our Senior School Production (see below), rehearsals are well underway for our next performing arts event – the Winter Concert. It is scheduled for Thursday 14 December, starting at 7.00pm. More information will follow next week but please do put this date in your diary. You will not want to miss this wintry extravaganza of festive music and performance! 

Photo by Jessica Lewis


The importance of being a trauma informed school

Research has shown that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can have a significant impact on a student’s behaviour and ability to learn. Alongside our traditional ethos, it is important that at I&S we are skilled at supporting students who have experienced traumatic events in their lives, such as violence, abuse, or poverty. Staff will be training on this area during our INSET day on 1 December.  

When students who have experienced trauma are not properly supported, they may exhibit sudden changes in behaviour, such as social withdrawal or sudden outbursts. Obviously, this can disrupt the learning environment. It is therefore important for teachers to understand the signs of trauma and be able to provide the necessary support to these students. 

Trauma informed schools take deliberate steps to ensure that all students feel safe, welcomed, and supported. Through providing teachers with clear strategies and addressing students’ holistic needs, trauma informed schools are able to help students thrive academically and emotionally. 

If you have a concern about the safety or welfare of your child, please email the safeguarding team at safeguarding@isleworthsyon.org. If there is an emergency call 999 or, for non-urgent matters that require police attention, call 101.

Pride of House

Celebrating student success

40 students across Years 7-11 have been given the Pride of House award by pastoral staff this week. The award recognises a sustained contribution to aspects of school life. Click a house badge below to celebrate their triumph!


A triumphant school production plus an array of exceptional enrichment

Senior School Production

Wednesday and Thursday saw two magnificent performances of ‘Lord of the Flies’ in front of an enraptured audience in the drama studio.

This was our first-ever senior school production, offering students in Years 11-13 the chance to sink their teeth into a “meatier” text with more complex and mature themes. The cast certainly did not disappoint in their portrayal of a group of school children stranded on an island and attempting to survive both inner and outer demons.

Across the board, the cast were superb, offering real nuance to their performances. Credit must also go to the Tech Crew, who contributed excellent atmosphere to the piece with lighting choices using our state-of-the-art lighting rig. The performance was staged with audience sat in a circle around the performers, contributing to an atmosphere of panic and confusion throughout.

Audience members were suitably impressed; a few feedback comments are contained below:

  • “Fantastic production, so proud of all the boys.”
  • “Truly convincing, some real acting talent on show. Very clever staging and set.”
  • “Lighting well choreographed.”
Co-Headteachers’ Celebrations

Just after half-term, the Co-Headteachers held their first Celebration Meeting with selected students from across the school. This will be a regular feature each half-term to celebrate students who have gone above and beyond in areas of school life.

This time, students were nominated to reward them for outstanding Attitude to Learning and Independent Learning scores. Mr Fisher and Ms Higginbottom met with the students and treated them to food and drink from The Pantry as they aired their opinions about school life. This student voice is so important so that the boys feel involved with our community.

Meet the Author: Nikesh Shukla

We were delighted to welcome author Nikesh Shukla into school on Tuesday. He is the author of ‘The Boxer’, a popular book in school that is currently being read by Year 10 in Study Support sessions once a week. Nikesh’s one-hour talk was fascinating and funny throughout, touching on the overt racism he has experienced in the industry and how he has overcome that to become a success. He also gave advice to students about the process of writing and answered students’ questions at the end.

Kew Gardens Art Trip

As part of the GCSE art programme, the department arranged a very special local trip on Tuesday, with students heading to Kew Gardens. The aim of this recording workshop was for students to gather resources to use in their GCSE coursework. During the four-hour visit, students were able to work both within a team and as individuals, exploring the grounds, displays and exhibitions as well as the surroundings. It was a fantastic visit with students able to put their classroom studies into practice through hands-on learning.

Cyber-Security Conference

Offering outstanding opportunities to all students continues to be a pillar of life here at I&S. This week, the computing department organised a fascinating trip to a cyber-security conference, for Sixth Form students studying the CTEC vocational course.

The conference was called CyberThreat23 and took place at the Novotel hotel in Hammersmith on Monday afternoon. It was a fantastic day, with students learning more about the cyber-security industry from trained practitioners. There was also a series of hands-on workshops, events and talks during the afternoon. All the students were full of praise for the trip afterwards.

Podcast, Episode 3

And finally for this week – in case you missed it on Monday, we have published episode 3 of our podcast. Recorded before the senior school production, Mr McDonnell (Head of Performing Arts) and Ollie (Year 11 drama GCSE student and National Youth Theatre member) join the discussion and share their experiences of reading with performance in mind. It is a bonus extended episode so enjoy!

You can listen via the embedded player below:

A direct link is also available if the player does not work.

Once again, we would love your feedback once you’ve had a listen – please leave any comments in this form.