Open Evening Review
With a great sense of anticipation, we hosted our Open Evening for prospective Year 6 pupils and their parents on Wednesday 29 September 2021.
Our Open Evening was a very exciting occasion and the energy within the school was palpable. It was the first time we had welcomed so many visitors into our school in nearly two years and, while we were quick to harness technology and move events online during periods of lockdown, it was an absolute joy to meet people face-to-face again.
Because it was a genuine Open Evening with no need for parents to book, we had no idea how many families would join us and both COVID-19 and this week’s fuel shortages added a degree of uncertainty. However, as a school, we need not have worried. It was a very busy evening. Our first guests started arriving just after 5pm. They were curious and enthusiastic.
Owing to the pandemic, we made some changes to the structure of this event. However, our ‘can do’ ethos prevailed. While some of the activities were slimmed down and we reduced the number of staff and pupils present, our guests were still able to visit all areas of our school, meet teachers and pupils who were all very excited to talk about our curriculum and share what they were teaching and learning.
'It was a real pleasure to have assisted with the Deer Park Open Evening last night. I was helping in the English Faculty, greeting parents and children, describing the curriculum and helping with any queries. It was a busy night; I talked to 24 families! The atmosphere in the English corridor was buzzing and Deer Park pupils, as well as the visitors, had lots of fun adding to the collaborative story and dressing up for their 'Selfie' with Shakespeare, Dickens or Harry Potter.' Freya, Year 11
To minimise the number of parents and children in our school’s main hall, Headteacher, Chiquita Henson, gave three presentations between 5:30pm and 7:30pm. She was joined on stage by two Year 7 pupils, Abigail and Reece, and parent and Chair of the school’s local governing body, Adrian Danks, who each shared their experiences and perceptions of the school.
Click here to read Abigail's speech (Year 7)...
On the first day in September I was really nervous - but I now know that I didn't need to be. I came to Deer Park with just a few others from my primary school but I've made lots of new friends and they are all in my tutor group.
Lessons are more interesting and varied compared with primary school. My favourite subject so far is Music as I've enjoyed the singing we've been doing in lessons. I'm also doing Cooking in DT and so far I have made pasta bake, fruit salad and scones - it's great fun.
It's nice to be able to have the choice to buy food and drinks from the Canteen if we want to - because it's a large school, you don't have to order your food in advance like we did in primary school which makes it a lot easier. The food is really tasty too.
I'm thinking about trying Badminton Club after school. There are also lots of other things you can get involved with like our school plays. This year is Matilda the Musical.
I've now been in school for a few weeks and am really enjoying every day. I'm glad I come to Deer Park and know that I'll be very happy here in the years to come.
Click here to read Reece's speech (Year 7)...
Before I started school in September I was a bit worried about how I would find my way around school, get on with all the new things I'd be doing, and make friends. On day one I was really nervous about the older kids and how they'd be. It turned out to be a great day: I made friends (some are in the same tutor group as me), the older pupils were nice and I only got lost a few times! Three weeks in and I know exactly where I'm going.
In English we've been doing Mythology and I've loved doing that - it's really exciting learning about the different beliefs they had. In Drama we've used the stage lights - this has been very fun for me - I can't wait for more of this.
I am very happy that I chose Deer Park. It's taught me new things and I've experienced things here I don't think I would have in any other school.
Click here to read our Chair of the LGB's speech...
Good evening everyone. When I spoke at last year’s Open Evening it was a virtual event, so I really must say how good it is to be here in the same room as you all.
I say this because it was an event similar to this four years ago that significantly influenced my daughter, who is now in Year 10, to choose Deer Park even though she had passed the 11+. I hope that through a combination of the pupil-led guided tours you have attended and the content from pupils, parents and staff tonight you will witness, as we did, the ethos, enthusiasm, resilience and camaraderie of the pupils first hand and get a real sense of what Deer Park is all about…
When Martha joined in Year 7, she encountered all the obvious challenges: a timetable, trying not to get lost, catching the bus, but that was soon diminished by the engaging leap forward from primary school. When I asked her at the time what stood out for her, she singled out Science with its practical elements, English especially the Private Peaceful trip, Religious Philosophy, and particularly Music and the Performing Arts. As some of you will experience tonight, her passion for this has really been brought to the fore by the amazing Expressive Arts faculty at Deer Park. I am really looking forward to Matilda next year!
As a parent I now appreciate the things that Deer Park does really well that I hadn’t anticipated would be important until my daughter came here. Things like the regular and clear communication we get through the weekly newsletter, the insight into my daughter’s workload with homework set on the “Satchel One” app and the support we get when contacting the year lead and Pastoral team.
As a governor I have witnessed first-hand the resilience of the school as it has overcome the challenges of lockdown in exemplary fashion. In the first lockdown alone Deer Park teaching staff delivered near 2500 'live' lessons via MS Teams with additional live 'tutor time' sessions and managed to continue wider enrichment activities, such as Young Musician and Young Singer competitions and the Key Stage 3 Celebration of Achievement events to name but a few. As a Governing body, we have given our full support to Deer Park having the IT infrastructure in place to deliver this and supported the use of the Government’s catch up funding to recruit STEM specialist graduates to provide one-to-one tuition to pupils identified as needing greater support through and beyond lockdown.
We have both been challenged and reassured over the school’s implementation and review of Covid controls and similarly have found the school's approach to awarding Centre Assessed Grades in lieu of examinations to be robust, rigorous and handled with the utmost integrity.
Whilst I do sincerely hope that your children join Deer Park under normal post-pandemic circumstances, I am reassured that, whatever may come, the energy and commitment of Ms Henson, her staff and the pupils remains full of desire to teach and learn respectively, and hope that makes Deer Park as good a choice for you as prospective pupils and parents as it has been for our family.
During her presentations, Chiquita Henson, was proud to share our newest short film in which a group of Deer Park parents reflected on their choice of secondary school. Each presentation was exceptionally well attended with both the first and second having standing room only for late arrivals!
It was lovely to see so many people at our Open Evening. I am especially grateful to our pupils and staff who extended such a warm welcome and shared their enthusiasms and passions for life and learning at Deer Park.
Chiquita Henson, Head
Inviting prospective pupils and their parents to attend one of three presentations gave them the opportunity to choose when to hear from the Headteacher and decide how much time they spent visiting the different areas of the school. Many were absorbed in the activities.
During their visits, our guests were able to:
- Play number games in Maths
- Code in Computer Science
- Engage in practical activities in Science and Design
- Order and enjoy continental refreshments in Languages
- Learn new skills and participate in sports in PE
- Meet some literary heroes in English
- Pack a grab bag in the event of an earthquake in Geography
- Explore artefacts in History and Religious Philosophy
- See our pupils perform in Expressive Arts
'It was fantastic to be able to host our annual open evening events once more. The curiosity displayed by prospective pupils (and parents) towards the Roman artefacts and the Y9 WW1 trench homework was lovely to see. The positive atmosphere around the school was infectious!' Mr Ferne, Head of Humanities
Over the course of our Open Evening, 266 Year 6 pupils visited Deer Park and their accompanying parents doubled this number!
Becki Gray, parent and member of the school’s local governing body, who was present during the evening, observed that ‘it was so good to see Deer Park shine again!’
'Thank you to you and the school for putting on such a fantastic Open Evening last week. We were thoroughly impressed and our daughter felt very at home at Deer Park. Both the evening and morning events were valuable and have confirmed our decision to apply for a place at Deer Park.' Year 6 Parent.
‘I came to the Open Evening last night with my daughter, I would just like to say how wonderful it was, the set up and activities were amazing!! My daughter thoroughly enjoyed it and we are pleased to say we will be enrolling my daughter ready for September. The staff and pupils really made her feel welcome and answered all her questions, you have a wonderful team. Thanks again.’ Year 6 Parent
‘Can I just say that we thoroughly enjoyed the Open Evening last night. The staff and students were all a credit to Deer Park, and we came away very impressed! The school created a wonderful atmosphere and there’s certainly lots to talk through with my son!’ Year 6 Parent
'I would like to thank you, your staff and your pupils for putting together a spectacular evening. From the moment we arrived we felt extremely welcomed. Your presentation was most informative and once finished we felt comfortable enough to just roam around the school as we pleased. Every single department we entered was filled with such enthusiasm from not only the pupils but the staff also. The transition from primary to secondary is very daunting and overwhelming for both my daughter and I but we both came away very excited about the next chapter of her life.' Year 6 parent.
The secondary school application deadline for Year 6 pupils is midnight on 31 October 2021 via the Local Authority. If you require further information regarding Admissions to Deer Park, please contact Allison Boucher, Head's PA, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01285 646558.