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Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

Another busy half term is drawing to a close. Last week we held open evening and open mornings. These were well attended by prospective parents and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. I would like to thank all the students who supported these crucial events for the school. I am sure the benefits of this positive evening will be seen when allocations for Secondary School are revealed in early 2017.

This half term we started a number of new initiatives to support our two school priorities of literacy and leadership. Every day Longdean Drops Everything and Reads, (D.E.A.R), for 15 minutes. This has already had a beneficial impact on student leadership. Students are openly sharing what they have read both inside and outside of classrooms and the importance of reading has been highlighted to everyone. We are now looking at introducing Accelerated Reader into our library to support students in choosing the most appropriate books for them and to utilise quizzes and tests to check their understanding of what they have been reading.

Since September homework has been set online using Show My Homework. This has proved very popular with students and has supported their organisation and study habits. It has also improved the ability of the school and parents to monitor and check that homework is being set and completed. This in turn has fuelled healthy discussions between school and home that have been focussed on student learning and outcomes.

This term we have also continued our work on coaching and developing student leadership. The sixth form leadership team and student voice bodies in the school have completed some workshops on their leadership skills that they have then applied to their meetings and work across the wider school.

I hope all parents and students have an enjoyable half term break.

Best Wishes

Graham Cunningham



Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

It has been an exciting fortnight at Longdean. Two weeks ago we held our annual Sports Day and Charity Walk Day. Sports Day, as always, brought with it a high level of participation and competition from the four Houses. Virtually every student in the school represented their House in either a field or track event and numerous school records were broken. The overall winners of the day were once again Pascal House, congratulations to them.

This event was then followed by our Charity Walk Day. This year the event had a slightly different start with the school taking part in a Guinness World Record attempt for the largest reading lesson. Our 800 students joined with students from 75 other schools to set a new world record. The students then set off on the 8 mile course around Dacorum raising large sums for the students’ chosen charities.

The charities chosen by each House are as follows: Hector’s House - Da Vinci, Woodfield School - Gates, SANDS Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society - Franklin and Guide Dogs for the Blind - Pascal.

The World Record attempt was also important to us as a school as it was a great way to introduce students to one of our two school priorities for next year. In 2016 – 2017 we will have a major whole school focus on literacy especially reading and writing. We have reorganised our school day from September and stopped sending students in Year 7 and 8 home early on Tuesday afternoon to support this. From September students and staff will spend fifteen minutes each day reading in a programme called DEAR (Drop Everything And Read).

This programme will be supported by staff being trained in teaching reading and writing strategies that they can use to support students and also by giving clearer guidance to students about how to use the library to choose age appropriate books in order to develop their reading. We will also, over time, introduce assessments to indicate a student’s reading age and outline strategies they can follow to develop their own reading.

Our other school priority is to develop leadership at all levels in the school including developing the leadership opportunities available to students both in and out of the classroom. We will be developing our coaching programme to support this and we will also be training some students as coaches in order to enable them to mentor other students.

Last week was STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) week at Longdean. During this week students undertook activities across the curriculum that were linked to these subject areas. The activities ranged from building and testing battery powered cars and space exploration to investigating plane crashes and how to survive them. Whilst this was going on in school every Year 10 student was on work experience and the feedback we have received from the employers was overwhelmingly positive. Year 11 students who are returning to our Sixth Form in September also undertook their induction.

This week we have returned to normal with all students beginning their new timetable and moving up a year group. For KS3 students this progression was based on them successfully graduating and I congratulate all the students in Year 7 and 8 who have graduated.

G Cunningham



Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

This is an important term for the school on many fronts. The main priority is to ensure that all students in Years 9 – 13 are fully prepared for the Summer Examinations series. Large numbers of students attended revision over the Easter period and many are continuing to attend revision classes now. I would urge all parents to en-sure that their children are revising at home in the lead up to examinations. A little and often is the best option and the school has many on line revision tools to support students such as GCSE Pod, SAM Learning and Bitesize to name a few.

Away from examinations the new building is moving at a rapid pace. There is a new update on the school web-site but the priorities for this term are clearing out items not needed in the new building and also procuring the equipment for the new school as well as finalising room layouts and finishes. We are also planning the physical task of moving from our current buildings into the new ones.

The final area of work this half term is completing the changes to the canteen. In my last edition of the link I summarised the main points from the questionnaire we have carried out since taking our catering in house. Although the feedback was largely positive there are three areas we are making changes in readiness for the launch on 9 May. These are reducing queue time and simplicity of the queue time, meal deals on ranges such as sandwiches and salad bars. I fed this back to students in my last Headteacher assembly to the whole school.

In response we have ordered new balance checking machines and barriers to aid the queuing system. The can-teen staff have also been developing new menus and combination deals to introduce to students. We are also investigating a suitable drinks machine for the new buildings in response to student feedback. Details will be seen on the website and the plasma screens as the date draws nearer and there will be fuller details in the next edition of the Link.

I would like to end with some student successes. Over the Easter break Jade Doran represented England Sen-iors at Tae Kwon do in European Championships where she achieved two bronze medals. In archery Jess Stretton achieved silver in the European Championships. Two former students also scored noticeable successes with Max Whitlock securing gold in the British Championships and Shei Ojo making his Premier League debut for Liverpool. Well done to them all.

Best regards

G Cunningham



Dear Parents and Friends

We have reached the end of a busy term in which so much has happened in relation to field trips, preliminary examinations, dance and music performances alongside the day to day business of teaching and learning.  One of the things I wanted to focus on in this article was the ongoing improvements and changes in the canteen.

In January 2015 we decided to take our catering in house.  This was on the back of a survey completed by staff and students that made it pretty clear they were dissatisfied with the offer we received from our contractor at the time.  We took all of our food purchasing, cooking, menus and outlets in house and appointed our own staff.  We decided we would do this for a year and then repeat the same questionnaire with students to see if things improved before making a long term decision of what to do.

A year on and the changes we have made have been well received.  630 students completed the catering survey and the overall positivity improved by 8% from 2014 when the questionnaire was first completed.  The questionnaire is unique in that it measures not only how good or bad something is to students but also how good or bad it is when measured alongside how important something is to them.  Every area of questioning showed that the catering offer was markedly better now that we run our kitchens ourselves.  Freshness, cost, range of foods, food availability, quality of service, meal deals have all been positively received by the students.

There are however three areas which whilst positive showed less of an improvement.  These areas were queuing time to check balances and for food, meal deals on healthy foods and availability of some options for the whole of lunch time.  It is these areas that we will continue to work on in the Summer Term.  From May 9th we will be introducing the following changes to address the points raised by students:

  • Using a barrier system to clearly mark out to students where to queue for different food options.
  • Installing a second balance checking machine on A Site.
  • Deploying two staff on A Site Café to reduce queue time.
  • Reintroducing noodles and subway sandwiches on B Site.
  • Introducing taster days for students who normally bring packed lunches to school.
  • Introducing meal deals on the salad bar and sandwiches.

Alongside this we are working hard with Interserve on the layout of our new canteen and dining area in the new building.  This will have internal and external dining areas, more till points and balance machines and hopefully we will have hot drinks available all day for students via a drinks machine in the canteen. 

I would ask all parents to encourage their children to try and use the school canteen options for break and lunchtime food.  The changes made a year ago have been very well received and further changes will be made in the Summer Term.

Have an enjoyable Easter break.

Graham Cunningham



Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

The term is in full swing and students have nearly completed all of their preliminary examinations.  The attitude demonstrated by the students towards these has been exemplary and the results, even at this early stage appear to be higher than the same point last year.  I would urge all students to listen carefully to the feedback received from their teachers and begin to act on it from now in readiness for the final summer examinations.  I would also encourage parents to speak to their children about their results and to attend the forthcoming parents’ evenings where they can meet with their children’s teachers and discuss what needs to be done prior to the summer.  We will be holding a second round of prelim exams in March so that students can respond quickly to advice given.

Last week you would have received your child’s school report in a new format.  These have been very well received by staff, students and parents and I thank the small group of parents who attended the workshop we ran this week.  In light of the discussions and the points raised at this workshop we will make the following changes for when the second reports get issued later this year:

1)      Residual graph to show forecast against target minimum grade

2)      We will publish with the reports a list of which assessments have been considered for each subject when writing the report.

3)      Review the checking processes prior to reports being sent

4)      Publish a staff list by department on line so parents can quickly find out the names of their child’s teachers to follow up any enquiries

5)      We will repeat the workshop when the second report is published.

Finally for this week I would like to share with you three successes for Longdean students.  Jack Filan in Year 11 has been accepted onto the prestigious Pathways to Medicine Course.  Seyi Ojo scored his first goal for Liverpool first team against Exeter in the FA Cup and Jess Stretton who last week broke the female W1 Paralympic archery world record.  Congratulations to all three students.

Best regards

G Cunningham - Headteacher

Below are videos of the speeches By Mr. Cunningham, Head Teacher, and Alumnus of the school, Lord Boateng from the recent Senior Presentation Evening Celebrating the Achievements of Longdean Students.



December 2015


Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

Our plans for last week were thrown into the air on Tuesday lunchtime when I received a phone call from Ofsted informing us they would be inspecting Longdean on the following day, Wednesday. The original plan was for an inspection of one day but due to the size of our school one day was not enough time to see everything that needed to be inspected so the inspection continued for a second day on Thursday. Over the course of the two days seven inspectors visited approximately forty lessons, met with students, staff and governors as well as analysing our examination results for last year and for all current students in the school. The report is not due for another fortnight so I am unable to provide any details of the feedback. What I can say is the inspection went well and I would like to thank all the parents who took the time to provide comments on Parent View. Your feedback will contribute to the final report and will feed into the schools continuing improvement cycle. As soon as we have the full report I will provide parents with details from it.

Due to meetings with inspectors I missed the school Christmas show for the first time in my nine years at Longdean. I have, however heard from parents and students how amazing it was and some highlights will be shown in my Headteacher assembly on the last day of term. I am also led to believe that the trailer for the Summer Show, (our final performance in our current buildings), was fantastic and has generated a lot of interest in this show. I would like to congratulate all the performers from the Christmas Show and the parents and friends who supported it.

This week we would also like to share with parents a summary of the feedback they provided through our annual questionnaire. The summary is given below.

Finally for this week I would like to remind all parents and students that it is Christmas dinner on Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th December. The cost is £3.50 for three courses and a drink. Students who want to have this meal will only be served if they purchase a ticket from the finance office. If they do not hold a ticket the only food on offer in school will be sandwiches in the A Site Café.

Best wishes

G Cunningham - Headteacher

Annual Questionnaire/ Attitude to Longdean Survey

A fantastic 898 students and 65 parents answered our annual questionnaire last month and we are delighted to report that families continue to be very positive about their experiences of Longdean School:

 96% of parents say that the school is led and managed effectively.

 97% of responses to questions about the quality of teaching and learning were positive. For example, 87% of students said that they are well taught at Longdean; 100% of parents of sixth formers would recommend Longdean’s sixth form; and 98% of parents say that the one-year option system has been good for their child.

 Students are successful at Longdean. For example, 86% of parents say that their child is well prepared for the future and 91% of students feel that they are making good progress.

 94% of responses to questions about students’ personal development, behaviour and welfare were positive. For example, 92% of students say that they are happy to be at Longdean and enjoy school; 100% of parents say that students feel safe at school; 91% of parents say that the school deals effectively with bullying; and 94-99% of students enjoy our pastoral systems, such as being part of a House and a vertical tutor group.

Thank you very much to everyone who contributed this lovely feedback!

Mrs G Segal Deputy Headteacher

October 2015

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September 2015

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Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

Welcome back to a new and exciting year at Longdean. We are joined this year by new colleagues in the following areas of the school:

Neil Munday – ScienceRebecca Watford – Art maternity cover
Robin Banerjee – Business/Economics        Danielle Freeman – Maths
Colin Jay**s – Technology ADOLSarah Ferris – Teaching Assistant
Ophelie O’Hanlon – MFLAnita Hughes – Teaching Assistant
Susanna Leaver – MFLKerry-Ann Darke - Teaching Assistant
Mark Swindell – MusicMaryann Thompson - Teaching Assistant     

At a time when many schools are struggling to recruit staff it is fantastic to be fully staffed and I would like to extend a warm welcome to these new colleagues.

In addition to this Mrs Unvois will take over as Director of Learning in Modern Foreign Languages from Mrs Ridgewell, who retired last year. Mr May will replace Mrs Hodgson overseeing Alternative Provision and Miss Bolt has moved from being a Teaching Assistant to a Cover Supervisor.

I am also pleased to welcome our new Year 7 students to Longdean. For the first time we are oversubscribed and this is testament to the hard work of staff, students and parents in making it become a popular choice for students in Year 6. It has been great this week watching them find their way around and settle in, supported by older students and staff.

he summer saw a pleasing set of results for the school. Students who are now in Years 10 & 11 achieved well in their one year GCSE option and are well placed to build on those successes this year. In Year 11 more students achieved five or more good GCSE passes and are now moving onto Post 16 courses or work. AS results improved on last year at A-B and A-E level and these students are well placed to complete A2 courses. Our A2 results maintained last year’s improvement and all students who wished to have gone on to university.

The new buildings have really started to take shape over the summer. The power supplies and utilities have been laid on the site and the steel frame has started to be erected along with the lift shafts and staircases. A lot of work has also been done finalising designs for areas such as the kitchens and looking at issues such as CCTV and lighting on the site. The steel frame is due to be completed by November and this will then help us really see the size and scale of the building.

Finally I would like to remind parents of our priorities for this year. These are finalised with input from students, parents and staff and are designed to ensure that we continue to improve. Our priorities for this year are as follows:

  • Develop leadership of staff and students through the work of the East Dacorum Cooperative Learning Trust
  • Ensure a smooth transition into the new building
  • Continue to develop dialogue in marking with students so that they know how to improve and progress
  • Embed our new behaviour for learning policy
  • Develop our curriculum and ways of assessing students
  • Improve the quality of teaching so that more of it is outstanding

As always I look forward to working with you in this exciting year for the school.

Best wishes

G Cunningham - Headteacher

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Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

My latest video blog and Year 11 Leavers' Assembly Speech are above.

This has been an exciting fortnight at Longdean. Last week we held our Sports Day and Charity Walk event. It was great to see the high levels of participation from students in both of these events. Large numbers of students and staff dressed up for the event using the themes selected by the students. Around 1000 students dressed as pirates, superheroes & villains, minions and zombies took to the streets to raise money for their chosen house charities; Guide Dogs for the Blind, The Hospice of St. Francis, Keech Hospice and Age UK Dacorum .This money will be presented to the charities themselves in the final Headteacher Assembly of the year on Friday 17 July. PLEASE CAN ALL STUDENTS RETURN SPONSORSHIP MONEY TO THE FINANCE OFFICE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Sports day was as always closely contested with valuable points in the Race to Thorpe Park up for grabs. The overall winners were once again Pascal House but every House one at least one the year group competitions. There were also a large number of school records broken in all year groups and students in all years were able to compete in either traditional athletic events alongside archery and tug of war.

Remaining on the sporting front, on the back of Jess Stretton’s success in representing Great Britain at archery, Matt Riley won two awards for his diving performances. Matt won the ‘Rising Star Award’ at the Dacorum Sports Awards last Friday.

This week students have been participating in British STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) week. This has seen students understand the relationship between these disciplines and how the skills learned in them can be transferred to other subjects and applied to the world of work. This week students have taken part in forensic science investigations, built four storey marble runs and driven virtual racing cars around grand prix circuits to give a few examples. Year 10 has also used the week to take part in work experience and students in Year 9 have been involved in work shadowing.Things return to normal next week as we begin our new timetable. Students in all years will move to the year above and will begin their new courses with their new teachers for the final three weeks of term. Students moving into Year 9 will begin their GCSE subjects and to support this move we will be hosting Welcome to Key Stage 4 for parents of students in Years 9, 10 & 11 on Tuesday 30th June. Students moving from Year 8 into Year 9 need to remember to purchase their new Key Stage 4 tie in the final three weeks of term. We will also welcome our new intake into school next week for both our Taster and Campus Days.

Best wishes

G Cunningham


May 2015

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Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

The exam period for students starts in earnest this week.  I would like to wish all Year 9 – 13 students taking examinations the very best of luck.  I am sure they have worked hard and will see the benefit of this when they enter the exam hall.  Year 12 left us on Friday to begin study leave, Year 11 have their final day and Year 13 depart on Thursday 21st. Once away from school students should continue to revise thoroughly for examinations, increasing their daily amount of revision.  They will also need to attend lessons if directed to by class teachers.  I know many students are nervous about this significant event in their lives but I would reiterate to all of them that staff are still available to help and support during the exam period and over the Summer when the results come in.

As a school we have been doing a lot of work over this half term on priorities for the next academic year.  All of our staff have held discussions over what they feel we should prioritise for next year.  We will then collate all these ideas into our School Improvement Plan for next year.  If parents would like to contribute to these discussions please could they email <span style="color:#4682b4;">admin@longdean.herts.sch.uk</span> titled ‘School Improvement.’ 

To support this work we utilised support from the East Dacorum Cooperative Learning Trust. Last week we welcomed the Deputy Headteachers from Adeyfield and Astley Cooper to Longdean to monitor two of our priorities for this year especially developing outstanding teaching and creating a dialogue through feedback to students.  During the day they dropped in on 28 lessons and looked at numerous sets of books.  It was very clear that the students get a good deal in lessons at Longdean and that the quality of marking is impacting on student learning.  We will look at the response element of our ‘SIR’ (Strength, Improvement, Response) marking policy for the remainder of this year and during next year.

Students have also contributed through a second project run through the East Dacorum Cooperative Learning Trust.  Last term students from all three schools in the trust met at the University of Hertfordshire to discuss the barriers to their learning in and out of school.  Broadly their ideas fell into the following headings:

  • Lack of affordable activities to do outside of school
  • Lack of access to study facilities outside of school hours where students can meet to study
  • Lack of meaningful opportunities for 18/19 year olds who do not want to go to University
  • Schools not devoting enough time in school to life skills

All students across all three schools then added their own ideas through a form time activity.  These ideas will be incorporated into the Trust Development Plan for next year and built into the improvement plans of the three schools. I will give detailed feedback to the students in my next Headteacher assembly.

Finally for this edition I would like to say congratulations to Jess Stretton who has been selected for the Great Britain Paralympic Archery Squad.  She will now begin training with the squad and will represent Great Britain for the first time later this month.

Best regards

Graham Cunningham



March 2015

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Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

My blog this week includes video from the School Trip to Ypres

Best wishes

G Cunningham - Headteacher

February 2015

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Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

I have been doing assemblies about the East Dacorum Cooperative Learning Trust. I have been speaking to the students in all of the houses about what the trust is who our partners are and the aims that we have for all the students in all of the schools and their wider communities. I have also asked the students to give me their views on what the trust can do to support them. We will develop this over the next fortnight with the first two trust events. We hosted an Internet Safety Event for parents from all three schools. This was held in the Lion Theatre. On Wednesday 11th February the School Councils from the three schools met at the University of Hertfordshire to design an action plan which will formalise what the students from all three schools want the trust to do for them in the next two to three years. These activities will clearly put the key Cooperative values of self- help, democracy, equity, openness and social responsibility into practice.

Students in Year 11 received their preliminary examination results in an assembly. These were handed out as they will be on results day in August. They will also receive a talk about what the implications of their results are should they be repeated in the Summer. For many this experience will be a positive one with results affirming that their hard work to this point has paid off and they are well placed for the Summer. Others will be less happy as the results, if reproduced in the Summer, would have a significant impact on the next steps in their lives. What I would encourage is for all parents of Year 11 students to sit down with their children and their results and discuss why the results were as they were and what they can do both in school and at home over the remaining three months before examinations begin to ensure that all students get their desired outcomes.

One of our priorities for this year are to look at our curriculum in light of the new syllabuses and curriculums that are being delivered in the near future. In recent weeks we have had our Year 11 and Year 8 options evenings where students will be able to look at the new and exciting courses on offer next year at Longdean in light of the research we have undertaken. We have also been working closely with our main feeder primary schools at the impact of the new primary curriculum on these schools and how we can build on it when students join us in Year 7.

We have also held our first Options Parents Evening. We have changed parents evenings this year for Years 9, 10 & 11 by splitting core subjects away from the option. Years 9, 10 & 11 will each have their own core parents evening for Mathematics, English, Science, ICT and Social Sciences. We then held this week the options parents evening where parents from all three years come along to have a single appointment with the teachers of their child’s option subject. The feedback from this event was overwhelmingly positive with 88% of the parents who completed the questionnaire stating clearly that they felt this model was preferable to having all subjects on one night. We will look to develop this model next academic year.

On the sporting front our Year 7, 8 & 9 rugby teams have performed well in the district tournaments. Our Year 7 team 7 came second, Years 9 came second and the Year 8 team won their competition. This is a great achievement and I would like to say well done to all the students who represented the school.

Best wishes

G Cunningham - Headteacher

Christmas 2014

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Dear Parents & Friends

I am delighted to tell you that last week we were informed that planning permission for our new school building has been granted. This is a significant landmark on route to completing the new build by July 2016. We are meeting the contractors in the last week of term with building commencing early in 2015.

Two of our priorities this year are marking and homework. Over the last fortnight we have been monitoring these aspects of our work and discussing how to improve them. We have done this by speaking to students from all Year groups and all subjects about their experience of marking and homework in the school. We have carried out these interviews whilst looking at the students books with them. Last time we did this the students spoke very highly about the new SIR marking policy but felt that the response element was somewhat varied. Since then we have run a staff INSET on what makes good feedback and how to get students to respond. Progress in this area was evident when we spoke to students this time around and students are receiving assessments and detailed feedback at least once per half term in all subjects. Homework appears to be getting set in line with our timetables and feedback is improving all the time. There still seems to be some variation within and across subjects and we will continue to remedy this.

There have been a significant number of events laid on to provide opportunities for the students beyond the classroom. I would like to say a huge well done to the cast of Loserville. I attended the show on Tuesday night and it was great to see so many students from so many different Year groups showcasing their talents in the Performing Arts. It was a terrific event that ran to sell out audiences over three nights and one morning when it was performed for local primary schools.

Technology has run a wonderful STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) event for students. This event was run collaboratively with a group called ‘Bloodhounds’ who are producing a car to attempt to break the land speed record. Educational input came from Atlas Copco. The event required the students to use their knowledge and skills of the three subjects to prepare and race a car in our school hall. A video of this can be found on the Hemel Today website.

I would like to congratulate George Hobson in Yr 10 for passing a six hour grading exam to earn his Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do recently. Well done George!

During a Future Skills day students in Year 8 used all of the Personal Learning and Thinking Skills to design, produce, market and sell bars of luxury soap. Students were placed in teams and worked all day on their branding and recipes before making the final product. This event definitely reinforced the key learning from the competency curriculum students study at KS3.

This term has also been a successful one for the East Dacorum Cooperative Learning Trust. The trust board has met twice this term and all the legal framework surrounding the establishment of the trust is now in place. We have also begun some small scale projects this term. For example the English Departments in the three schools Longdean, Adeyfield and Astley Cooper are working on delivering the IGCSE to targeted students in Year 11 and the Geography Departments of Adeyfield and Longdean are collaborating on the development of resources and schemes of work as well as conducting joint observations of colleagues. Larger projects are also being planned for the next term focusing on developing the ICT skills of the wider community and canvasing the views of students about what they want from the trust.

On a personal level I would like to thank all the parents and residents for their continued support of the school. I would urge you to continue to support your child by ensuring they carry out some revision for Preliminary Examinations in the New Year. Our e-learning resources such as GCSE Pod, SAM Learning, BBC Clips, and BBC Bitesize amongst others are great resources for this.I would like to wish all of you a very Happy Christmas and restful New Year.

G CunninghamHeadteacher

October 2014

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Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

I would like to share with you our School Priorities for the coming year. As an organisation we are always seeking ways to improve and we engage with all our stakeholders so that they contribute to this process. This takes place in the Summer Term and leads to the formation of the School Priorities and Improvement Plan for the coming year. This year our priorities are as follows:

To help students get better grades and to support them to think about their future, teachers at Longdean will:

1. Make sure that every lesson is excellent by:• Looking at what students have done before and what they need to do next• Helping students progress by making the work just right for them• Leading the school well

2. Keep the learning enjoyable for students by knowing what they are good at and thinking about:• How students read and write and what they need to do to improve• New ways of teaching students and letting them know how they are doing• Working with students to help them take responsibility for their own learning

3. Find a good way of doing homework that:• Helps students progress• Helps students get new skills• Helps students become more independent

4. Talk to students about their work• This will help students know what to do next and help them improve and make progress

These priorities have been displayed in all classrooms in the school. They are also very closely monitored by the School Governors, Senior Leadership Team and Directors of Learning to ensure that we are delivering on our priorities as we seek to improve the school.

Part of this monitoring is teaching and learning week. This has taken place this week and involved every member of the school staff, including the Senior Team being observed in lessons. Our judgements are quality assured by our School Improvement Partner. We have all witnessed some great activities and learning this week and I look forward to sharing the main findings with you in a future edition of the Link.

We are also going to be conducting Student Voice interviews with groups of students in the next fortnight to ensure that we are delivering on our new homework model that was outlined in the letter you received from Mr Muskett.

Best wishes

G Cunningham - Headteacher

September 2014

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Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

Welcome back to the start of a new term at Longdean. It is great to have all the students back looking very smart and ready to learn with their new teachers in their new classes. I would especially like to welcome students who are new to the school in Year 7 and also those who are joining Longdean from other schools in the Sixth Form. Next Monday 15 September is an important date for Year 7 parents as it is Year 7 Settling in Forum. I would encourage all Year 7 parents to join us for some refreshments and an opportunity to ask any questions that have arisen over the first two weeks your child has had at Longdean.

These students are joining the school on the back of a summer of success for Longdean students. Our Year 11 GCSE results improved significantly with more students achieving 5 A* - C GCSE passes including English and Mathematics. The one year GCSE option taken by students in mixed age classes of Year 9, 10 and 11 students saw many subjects performing better than nationally. This curriculum offer is unique to Longdean and I would like to congratulate all of the students who took GCSE examinations in Years 9 and 10 on some excellent results. Post 16 also witnessed a 100% pass rate in all A2 courses with many students achieving A* - B grades. I wish all of those students leaving us for University the best of luck and I urge them all to keep in touch with us.

We received notification over the summer that we have been reaccredited the International School Award. This recognises our on-going work with our link school in Ghana and our commitment to embedding internationalism across our curriculum. The award also recognises the great work of Longdean in sharing this practice with other schools both locally, nationally and internationally. This award lasts for three years and we are currently working with Bedomase Methodist Junior High School in Ghana to arrange for them to visit us once more during the Autumn Term.

A final date for the diaries of local residents is Tuesday 16 September. Our annual residents meeting will begin at 6.00pm in the ISC and will provide an opportunity to have a look at the plans for our new school building and to ask any questions they may have about this or any other way the school can work more closely with the local community.

I look forward to continuing to work with all the students, parents and the wider community in what I am sure will be another exciting, eventful and successful year at Longdean School.

Best wishes

G Cunningham - Headteacher

July 2014

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Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

It is the final week of term and there is still so much going on. All students have been following their new timetables for two full weeks now and I am delighted how well they have settled into their new courses and built positive relationships with new staff. I am also delighted to welcome our new staff for next year who started with us on 30 June. Our new colleagues are: Miss F Neelan in Science; Miss C Keith in History; Miss K Lilley in Geography; Mr D Nicholas in Music and Mr R Mellor in PE. I am sure they will have a positive impact on the student experience.

We have done a lot of work over this term determining our objectives for the next year. This extensive work has involved gauging the views of students, parents, staff and Governors. This has all been combined and placed in the School Improvement Plan for next year and our priorities for the year are listed below:

Priorities 2014 - 2015 To raise the achievement and aspirations of all students at Longdean through:

1. Outstanding Teaching that      1. Uses data effectively to support monitoring and intervention      2. Differentiates effectively to promote the progress of all learners      3. Promotes leadership at all levels in the school 2. An effective personalised curriculum that      1. Develops literacy in all forms across the curriculum      2. Responds to the demands of the new syllabuses and accountability frameworks      3. Enables staff and students to take responsibility for their learning in each subject area 3. An effective homework model that      1. Uses homework to support progress, develop skills and promote independence 4. Dialogue in marking that      1. Provides developmental feedback for students to respond to so they know how to progress

There have also been a number of student successes in the last two weeks. Our Year 7 cricket team won the District League and our Boccia Team finished a very creditable 5th out of 13 teams in the National Schools Final. This competition was contested between the 13 best Boccia sides in the country and the standard is extremely high. We have also heard this week that our Rock Challenge Group won the National Award for Cultural and Educational Achievement for their performance of Life Blood earlier this year. On the academic side the Science Department took a number of Scientists to the Big Bang Fair at Duxford RAF Museum to take part in a number of large scale experiments. On an individual level congratulations to Matt Riley who is national champion in both 1m and 7.5m platform diving.

It is successes like these alongside the quality of pastoral care and academic achievement that make me reflect positively on the past year at Longdean. We are a very good school that is getting better and with our new building now submitted for planning and the opportunities that the East Dacorum Cooperative Learning Trust will provide we will continue to go from strength to strength.

I wish all students and parents an enjoyable summer and I look forward to seeing you all in September.

Best wishes

G Cunningham - Headteacher

June 2014

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Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

It has been an exciting week at Longdean. Exams are now virtually at an end and I would like to say well done to the students whose attitudes during this stressful period has been exemplary. I would also like to thank parents for all the work they have done at home supporting the students and ensuring they are well prepared and arriving on time for the exams themselves.

On Wednesday this week we held our annual School Games Day at Jarman Park Athletics Track. As in previous years the standard of competition and participation was very high with many school records broken. It was also good to see so many parents and former students at the track supporting this event. Congratulations go to Pascal House who won the overall competition. The results from games day along with the results from the inter house cricket, won by Franklin, were all fed into the ‘Race to Thorpe Park’ competition. I am delighted to announce that this was won by Pascal and the members of this House and the tutors will enjoy a day at Thorpe Park for their achievements.

We are conducting two in depth reviews of aspects of the school at the moment. Initially we are seeking the views of all stakeholders about the strengths and development areas of the school in order to support school improvement planning for next year. If parents would like to contribute to this please can they email any views on the two questions below to admin@longdean.herts.sch.uk marked for the attention of the Headteacher.

1) What are the three strengths of the school that it can build on?

2) What are the two things the school should do straight away to improve?

Mr Muskett is also seeking the views of parents about homework as he is looking at the homework model for next year. He would be interested to hear from you if you have any thoughts on how much homework your child should receive, how much is currently set and how it should be recorded. We are looking to have our new model in place for September. Again send any thoughts to the email address above but marked for the attention of Mr Muskett.

Today we have our annual charity walk day when all of the students complete a route around the local countryside to raise money for our chosen charities. Students need to pay their £2 for wearing non uniform and they should also be raising sponsorship money for completing the 7 mile route. The theme this year is the world cup so students dressed as something that represents this to them. The charity walk marks the start of Who Do We Think We Are Week, an event which celebrates the diversity, ethos and values that exist within Longdean. Students will complete a week of varied activities with a space theme put on by departments working together or outside speakers who will join us for the week.

Following on from these events we start our new timetable on Monday 30 June with students moving into the next year group. This will be a B Week on their timetables. I have sent a letter home reminding all current Year 8 students to purchase their new Key Stage 4 tie from Monday. Can I also remind all parents that students need to be in the correct uniform at all times when they are on site and that if this is not possible a note must be brought in from home. If a note is not provided the student will be placed in isolation until a note is provided or the uniform issue is resolved.

Thanks for your on-going support and best wishes to you all.

Best wishes

G Cunningham - Headteacher

May 2014

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Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

The exam season is well underway now and this week students from Years 9 – 13 have been taking their final GCSE and AS or A2 examinations in many subjects. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all students taking examinations good luck and to encourage them to continue to work hard at home in preparation for them.

I would also like to use this article to update parents about the development of the East Dacorum Cooperative Learning Trust that we are forming with The Astley Cooper and Adeyfield School. Currently, we are finalising the Articles of Association for the East Dacorum Cooperative Learning Trust and formally approaching potential partners to be part of the trust with us. We are fully expecting all of this to be finalised in time for the trust to come into legal existence from June 2014. We will then begin to plan our initial projects with our partners with these starting from September of this year. This is an exciting development for Longdean School as it will allow us to work in close, structured collaboration with two other schools for the benefit of all. Our work will also reinforce the Cooperative values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. These are very close to our own.

I am also excited to inform you that the planning application for our new school has been submitted this week. This is an important milestone and as an organisation we are very excited about the overall scheme for the building itself and also the development of the school site. Now that the overall principles for the building have been agreed we will begin working on the individual room layouts for the different departments in the school. 
The plans will be submitted to the council for approval shortly and will be on the Learning Platform soon after. I would urge all of you to take a look at these and to provide any comments as you see fit.

Finally I hope that all of you have an enjoyable half term break.

Best wishes

G Cunningham - Headteacher

Easter 2014

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Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

We are delighted to announce that Interserve Kajima have won the contract to build our new school. We will begin working with them next week on the designs and we will endeavour to involve all stakeholders in this process if at all possible. This is a really exciting step on the road to our new school buildings which are due to open in September 2016.

We have had some more student successes in the last two weeks. Derek Britten won a bronze medal in an international Taekwondo competition and our Year 7 Rugby Team won the Year 7 District Rugby League Tournament. They will now take part in the county final before half term. Last week was also Mathematics week which saw students in all Years taking part in a series of Mathematics related activities across the curriculum, including rocket making and celebrating international Pi Day.

Parking on Rumballs Road and Winchdells at school drop off and pick up times continue to be a concern for us as a school. Many vehicles are parking on the pavements of these roads, on the bend of Rumballs Road and Winchdells or are stopping on the yellow chevrons at the front of school. This presents a risk to students, staff and pedestrians and I would urge parents to avoid parking in this inconsiderate and potentially dangerous way. We have highlighted our concerns to the council and they have sent the PCSO and the Parking Enforcement Officer to look at the situation. They are looking into measures to alleviate this problem, including bollards and also the issuing of parking fines. As a school we are also considering closing the school gates to traffic from 8.20am – 8.35am and from 3.15pm – 3.30pm to enable staff and students to access the site safely. Whilst this is going on could I please encourage all parents to consider the safety of the students and to consider others and parking regulations when they drop off and collect students.

We are currently also looking at how we can ease congestion in the evenings when our site is used by Sportspace and other sports teams. We are currently considering piloting closing the large gates at the staff room side of the sports centre every evening at 5.30pm Monday to Thursday and 3.45pm on a Friday. We will also close the small pedestrian gate at the staff room side of the Sports Hall every evening at 5.30pm Monday to Thursday and 3.45pm on a Friday. Finally we will keep locked the entrance gates to the lower playground. This would enable all Sportspace traffic to park in the car park accessed via Hill Common and then use the pathway from there to reach Sportspace.

Thanks for your on-going support.

G Cunningham


March 2013

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Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

At Longdean one of the things we pride ourselves on is supporting all students in the development of their unique gifts and talents. This half term has already seen many examples of this happening and I would like to draw your attention to three specifically.

Having participated in the Intermediate Mathematics Challenge as part of a Longdean Team Lewis Kimber has got through to the individual Mathematics Olympiad. To reach this high level requires an exceptional performance in the competition and to then be invited to attend by the organisers. Lewis has succeeded in this and will now represent the school at this prestigious event.

In the world of dance Longdean School entered the Rock Challenge Competition last week. After weeks of practices the students from Years 7 – 13 performed at Stevenage in the regional final. The performance of Life Blood was excellent and was very well received by the judges. Longdean School were placed third overall and they received many certificates including promoting healthy lifestyles, spirit of rock challenge, excellent concept, set design, culture and education, costume, stage use and entertainment. I would like to say a huge well done to all the students and staff involved. I would also like to thank the many parents who supported the students at this event.

A final mention must be given to the Boccia Team who competed in the National Final in Sheffield this week. Having qualified through the county competition and won the regional final the team finished a highly creditable 8th out of 12 teams from England, Scotland and Wales. In effect this is 8th out of the 400 schools entered in the country. Well done to all involved.

One of our aims as a school is to promote student independence and also to involve parents in their childrens’ learning. These two combine clearly in relation to student preparation for GCSE, AS and A2 examinations. There are now only 9 school weeks until the first written examinations and many students have practical or oral examinations before then. All students in Years 9 – 13 should be undertaking at least two - three hours revision per week in addition to homework during the week and I would encourage all parents to discuss with their children what work they are doing.

Students who took examinations last year have clearly told us that the difference between a good grade and a great one is the work they did themselves either at lunch or after school in revision classes or the revision they did at home under the supervision of their parents. We want all the students to have control and choice over their futures when they receive results in the summer and this will only come about if the students prepare fully for the examinations. As part of this preparation some students are taking a second round of preliminary examinations in the next two weeks in order to refine their examination technique and to experience the examination atmosphere. I would urge all students and parents to take these seriously as they can determine the tier of entry for students in the summer.

Best wishes for a successful half term.

G Cunningham


February 10th 2014


Please find below my presentation to Year 11 from their Prelim Results Assembly

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What do my Preliminary Results mean to me?

17th January 2014

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Parents, Guardians and Friends

Welcome back and a Happy New Year to you all. I trust that you had an enjoyable Christmas holiday and a well-earned rest. We have certainly hit the ground running this half term with students in Years 9 – 13 completing their preliminary examinations. The attitude displayed by the students and their organisation around the examinations are all positive signs that they are being taken seriously by the students.

I wanted to use my article this week to feedback to you the key points from the Student & Parental Attitude to Longdean Survey that was completed by 777 students and 86 parents before Christmas. The 22 separate questions cover the four judgement areas used by Ofsted when they inspect schools. We have now completed the questionnaire for three years in a row enabling us to scrutinise how stakeholder views of our performance has changed in that period.

Parental Responses:

Achievement had an overall positivity of 88.08%. This was an increase from 81% last year. Teaching and Learning overall received 85% positivity, up from 78% in 2013. Behaviour and Safety questions had an overall positivity of 93%, a 5% increase from last year and Leadership and Management was 91% compared to 86% last year. Specific strengths highlighted by the questionnaire are:

• Parents feel the school informs them about their child’s progress

• Parents feel the school helps them to support their child’s learning

• Parents are satisfied with the one year GCSE option and the choice of options available in the school

• 100% positivity to experiences in the Sixth Form

• Every aspect of behaviour & safety has a positivity over 90%

• Leadership & Management are strong and parents feel their views are canvassed and listened to.

Parents also highlighted some areas we need to continue to develop and we have already begun to address these at our INSET day on 6 January:

• Continue to meet the needs of all students at the school

• Continue to refine our Teaching and Learning practice and be the best we can be

• Continue to prepare students for life after Longdean

• Continue to develop our homework model and use of the Learning Journal

• Continue to help parents support their child’s learning at home

• Use the students to market the school

We are very pleased with these results but I want to reassure you that we will not become complacent as we strive for an even greater experience for your children at Longdean.

Student Responses:

Students highlighted the following strengths in the school:

• Students feel they are making good progress

• Students enjoy school & feel safe. They would recommend the school to friends

• They believe the school is led and managed well by all staff

• The one year options and vertical tutor groups are very popular.

However they also highlighted that we need to:

• Continue to promote the house system so all students benefit from it

• Continue to provide opportunities to AGT students

• Continue to challenge the poor behaviour of a minority of students who disrupt learning

• Continue to develop student leadership

We will also be feeding back the results of the student questionnaire through House Assemblies and the Learning Platform.

I look forward to another successful term for the school.

G Cunningham - Headteacher

4th December 2013

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Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

There have been so many student successes over the past few weeks it is hard to know where to start. On an individual level Jordan Duffy last week won the national judo championship for his age group.

Vincent Cheong has qualified for the national final of the Senior Mathematics Challenge, whilst Enas Shuber and Joel Henry in Year 13 have received glowing reports from their prestigious Nuffield Research placements where they have been researching the genetic causes of various forms of cancer.

At a school level Year 8 recently took part in the Behind Closed Doors theatre workshop that focused on appropriate behaviours in different relationships. This was part of their Social Sciences course. We have also had a team taking part in the Mock Trial Competition. The students performed very strongly and enhanced their understanding of the judicial system. We have also hosted the regional round of the National Mathematics challenge that was attended by 26 teams with our Year 10 Mathematics Ambassadors hosting. All our MFL students in Year 11 have also taken part in GCSE orals and all students in Year 11 completed their Science coursework. All in all a very busy, exciting fortnight that has given students many opportunities.

In my assemblies I have been talking to students about the importance of having a strong, personal learning culture where they seek to take advantage of every learning opportunity in school and do whatever they can independently to boost their achievement. This message was based around a quote from Martin Luther King, who highlighted how no matter how difficult a task is you have to move forward towards achieving it. I hope students will reflect and act upon the advice given to them that it is the work they put in, rather than what the school provides them with, which will help them achieve a great grade that gives them maximum opportunities when they leave us.

Finally for this week I would like to draw your attention to our Parental Attitudes to Longdean questionnaire that is now open and accessible on the Learning Platform. We invite all parents to complete this every year, as your responses along with those of students help to focus on how well we are doing and what we need to do to improve. I will provide feedback to parents in a later edition of the link.

Best Wishes.

G Cunningham


16th October 2013

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Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

There have been a number of great achievements for Longdean students over the last two weeks. On the sporting front the Year 7 boys maintained their unbeaten start to the year in any sport. In the space of three days the football team comfortably won their county cup football fixture, beating Hertswood 6-2, and the rugby team won the district rugby league tournament. They then went on to beat Hemel Hempstead at rugby union. Year 7 girls also got their season underway with a netball fixture against Kings Langley. This was their first competitive game and they narrowly lost in extra time. I would like to congratulate all the students who took part in any of these fixtures or gave up their time to support the teams. I would also like to extend my thanks to all the parents who joined me in cheering from the touchline.

The PE department also joined forces with the Art department to put on a cross curricular event last Friday. Longdean welcomed internationally renowned artists and Paralympic performers to support students in a range of activities. These included archery, wheelchair basketball, photo journalism and charcoal drawings inspired by the movements of wheelchairs. Students also received coaching sessions in wheelchair basketball and a talk about elite level sport. All of these tasks will support the students in the single year GCSE option.

One of our aims this year is to get students to become more independent as learners and to recognise what they can do themselves to boost their own examination performance and achievement in school. I have been telling students that they spend 75% of their time away from Longdean and the difference between a good grade and a great one is what they do for themselves in this time. To support students in this we have opened the school for selected Saturday mornings to allow students to come to school and use the facilities for supervised study. I am delighted to say that on Saturday 12 October 28 students chose to come into school to take advantage of this. They worked hard from 8.50am – 11.00am and I am sure that this will make a difference when it comes to coursework or examinations. The next Saturday school will run on 9 November and I would urge all students in Years 9 – 13 to consider using this time and the facilities available in school.

Finally for this edition, this Friday we will be hosting our annual Longdean School Association Quiz Night. This year the event is raising money to support World Challenge and if you would like to put a team together it would be great to see you in A Hall at 7.00pm on Friday 18 October.

Best Wishes

G Cunningham



September 5th 2013

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Dear Parents/Guardians,

Welcome back to an exciting new year at Longdean. I hope you all had an enjoyable break and a well-earned rest. I would like to welcome all Year 7 students who started at Longdean this week and to also welcome several new staff:

Miss A Razaq - Maths Department

Mr B Staton - Maths Department

Mrs S Kingham - English Department

Mrs C Munro - English Department

Mr M Walters - Science Department

Miss E Turner - Science Department

Mr R Reeves - Director of Learning - Technology

Mr J Lambert - ICT Department

Mr M Nair - Assistant Director of Learning Performing Arts

Mrs L Moore - Art Department

Mrs K Kwok - 6th Form Learning Mentor

Ms M Campbell - Science

We were delighted with our examination results in the summer as they reflected the efforts and hard work of the students and staff at the school and also the support offered at home by parents. Our A Level results were amongst the best in the recent history of the school with 43% of students achieving A* - B grades and 100% achieving A* - E grades. As a result all of our Year 13 students are off to the universities of their choice with many going to the leading Russell Group of Universities.

At GCSE level we continued our strong performance against all the relevant indicators and many students achieved A* grades across the board. The vast majority of the Year 11 have now gone on to Post 16 courses or employment and we are very pleased for them. This success is set to continue as the one year option results for Year 9 & 10 students were also very strong and significant numbers of Year 11 have already got two or three GCSE passes to their names. As a truly comprehensive school it is not just performance at the top end that excites us. We are proud of all the students who achieved their personal targets and made the progress expected of them.

In my assembly this week I spoke to the students about what they could do this year to ensure that they achieved their personal best in the year ahead. I explained to them that school will provide all the opportunities students need to succeed and achieve but it is down to them to take advantage of them. I also pointed out that what the students do at home independently can make all the difference to performance and results over the year. I asked all of them to give themselves a target of improving one aspect of their school life over the course of the year and to consider what more they could do themselves to improve their performance.

To support this we have altered our school planner and it is now called a Learning Journal. All students are expected to use this to keep a record of all the work that they do independently away from school over a fortnightly period. Parents should discuss this journal with their children and sign it to say that they have discussed the work logged by the student. Tutors will also discuss and sign this with students in form time.

I would also like to use this edition of The Link to update parents on developments around the new school building. You may have heard over the summer that the DfE has shortlisted three contractors who will be bidding to build the new schools for the Herts, Luton and Reading group. The three contractors shortlisted are Morgan Sindall, Wates and Interserve/Kajima. A final bidder will be selected by Easter 2014 and we are still currently on course for our new buildings to be completed by 2016. I will of course keep parents updated on developments.

I look forward to working with you, the staff and the students in the exciting year ahead.

Best Wishes

G Cunningham - Headteacher

July 17th 2013

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Dear Parents/Guardians

The school year is drawing to a close but there is still an immense amount going on. Last Monday saw the start of the new timetable with all the students in Years 9, 10, and 11 beginning their new GCSE options and students in Years 7 and 8 graduating into the next school year with students in Year 9 starting their core GCSE subjects as well as their options. Students have clearly settled well into these courses and are making the most of the three weeks of lessons available to them. They will also need to ensure they complete the summer holiday bridging tasks that they will be set. The new intake of Post 16 students also undertook their induction last week and it was good to see that so many from Longdean have chosen to continue their education with us. I am sure that the activities they took part in last week will serve them well when the demands of new Level 2 and 3 courses kick in.

Last week also saw the Year 13 Leavers’ Dinner as we said goodbye to students who started at Longdean in 2006. It was a very enjoyable evening that was exceptionally well run by the Student Leadership Team of Emily Lupton, Dan Jones, Joe Tobias and Holly Cottingham. This Year group were undoubtedly a cohort that the whole staff body spoke very highly of and they will always be one that I fondly remember as they started their Longdean experience at the same time as I did. I wish them every success for their future.

The final week of June was ‘Who Do We Think We are Week’, with students involved in a number of curriculum enrichment activities linked to the theme of Our World. Every department area ran activities for students and there were also a series of inter-form and inter-house competitions as well as opportunities not offered normally at Longdean. During the week I witnessed students taking lessons in robotics, horticulture, street dance, stomp drumming, archery, henna art and comic book illustration to name a few. It was great to see the students attempting new things and challenging themselves whilst having fun at the same time. It was also in this week that Year 11 had their Leavers’ Assembly and Prom. It was great to look back over their time at Longdean with them and to join their celebrations at the end of the week. As with Year 13 I wish them every success in the future and urge them to stay in touch.

I would like to end my final article of the year by reiterating my firm belief that Longdean is in a very strong position as we move forward. I feel we have reached a tipping point as a school where the major changes we have introduced over the last few years are now the norm for all of the students in the school. One year GCSE options, vertical tutoring and a House system are now simply seen as the Longdean way of doing things. We have a successful Ofsted inspection under our belt and a new build on the way. I wish all students and parents an enjoyable and restful summer holiday and I look forward to working with you again in the autumn.

Best Wishes

G Cunningham - Headteacher

July 1st 2013

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Hello, my name is Liam and I am your Headteacher for the day. This is a great opportunity for me as I would like a job in education.

I got the job by applying for the position and a selected few got through to the next stage which was an interview with Mr Cunningham, the Head Boy, the Head Girl and also Mr Purser. They asked me questions like "Why do you want the job?" I replied "Because I’m interested in a job in education and I wanted to see what it would be like". Once all the interviews had taken place they asked me to come back to find out the results. When I found out that I had been selected for the place of Headteacher for the day I was ecstatic but nervous at the same time.

The day for me looked busy but fun at the same time.

My day involved things like meeting some interview candidates. I also did a learning walk to look at the activities for ‘Who Do We Think We Are Week’. I saw a group of Year 8 students making ‘London Board Games’. I also saw a group of Year 7 students doing a ‘Flag Challenge’. They had to guess which flags belonged to which country. Then we went to judge the winners of the bird box project in GCSE Resistant Materials. These students had made their own bird boxes out of wood. We picked the best five bird boxes which will be used around the Science Nature Reserve. I will present my project about the new school travel plan to the senior team on Monday 1 July. The final job I did was attending the Year 11 Leavers’ Assembly. I hope that next year’s winner will have a fun and exciting day too.

Liam - Headteacher for the day



June 16th 2013

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Dear Parents and Friends

The final half term is well underway and thoughts are already turning towards our priorities for next year. Our thinking around this has been sharpened by our pleasing Ofsted report and our desire to turn Longdean into an outstanding school. Since Easter we have entered into a lengthy consultation process with all stakeholders to determine what our priorities for the next academic year should be. Responses have come from all tutor groups, all staff, Governors, the Longdean School Association and Parent Focus Group as well as 23 parents who emailed thoughts to me. I would like to thank all those who contributed. As a result of this feedback we have decided that our priorities for next year will be as follows:

1) To make more of our good teaching outstanding

2) To continue to improve student levels of reading

3) To develop essential skills of skimming, scanning and research to further increase student independence

4) To reduce in school variation between subjects and groups of students so that achievement continues to rise

5) To utilise the Achievement for All programme so that parents are further involved in the education of their children

I will be writing a more detailed letter to all parents before the end of term to explain these in more detail. Alternatively parents may wish to attend the

Parent Forum on Monday 1 July 2013. Currently in school staff are turning these priorities into a School Improvement Plan for the next academic year.

This half term sees three of my favourite events of the school year. Wednesday 19 June is School Games Day which is held at Jarman Park. This is an inter House as well as a cross Year competition and I would urge all students to take part and get behind their Forms and Houses. In the last two years the competition has been fierce. The event has been won not by the House who has most first places but by the House who gets entrants into every event for every Year Group. Games Day is followed by the Charity Walk on 21 June, which this year will support Headstart, Reachout, CLDF & CRY. These charities have been chosen by the four Houses. Can I ask all students to pay their £2 contribution and to also seek out sponsorship for these worthwhile causes. All monies paid will go towards the charities chosen by the Houses.

The week beginning 24 June is Who Do We Think We Are Week, where students enter into a range of enrichment activities and extra-curricular experiences which promote their spiritual, social, moral and cultural development as well as enhancing student understanding of their role in the many communities they are a part of.

Finally for this half term the new school timetable begins on 1 July with students in Years 9 – 11 beginning their new option subject and Post 16 and new intake students undertaking their inductions.

All in all a very busy half term but a hugely exciting and beneficial one.

G P Cunningham, Headteacher

10th May 2013

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Dear Parents and Friends

School has settled down again post Ofsted with staff and students working hard in order to be fully prepared for GCSE and Post 16 examinations. Students in Year 11 have been given their alternative timetable and a letter in relation to study leave arrangements, examinations, the leavers’ assembly and prom has been sent home. I would urge all students to continue to work hard away from school in readiness for their examinations. What students do away from school can make all the difference when the results come out in August.

We have had some notable successes in school in the last fortnight. Our school canteen has received a food hygiene rating of 5, the highest level and one that is very hard to come by. This reflects their hard work and desire for all students to receive quality food delivered in an excellent environment. We have also had a visit from Mike Penning the local MP who met with a group of students in Years 10 and 11 who are working on a Citizenship campaign to keep Hemel Accident & Emergency open. In the next fortnight we will also receive a visit from Olympic Gymnast Louis Smith who will be working with some of our student journalists, GCSE and Post 16 PE students and other students in the school.

Our Sixth Form Leadership Team has been involved in appointing their successors this week. Following on from the speeches last week eight candidates have been interviewed by the Head Girl, Head Boy, Miss Segalini, Mr Goatley and me. The results will be announced in the next edition of the Longdean Link.

I would like to conclude this article by wishing all the students involved in examinations from next week onwards the very best of luck.

G P Cunningham - Headteacher


March 26th 2013

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Dear Parents and Friends

It has been a fortnight of continual student success at Longdean across a wide range of areas. In sport the Year 7 boys reached the final of the County Cup basketball and the semi - final of the County Cup football, losing out narrowly in both fixtures. The girls in Year 7 and 9, however, were very successful in netball, winning their respective leagues and gaining promotion. Away from sports our Year 8 Mathematics Challenge team won the county Junior Maths Challenge. We have also had some Post 16 success in the Dacorum Film Competition where the two teams we entered finished second and third with films on the theme of democracy - their videos can be viewed on Dacorum Borough Council's youtube page. Our Post 16 Young Enterprise Team have also reached the final of the Dacorum competition. Finally, the Dance group finished second in the Dacorum Dance Festival with a great piece inspired by Film Noir. Aside from these successes we have also had two major events this half term, both of which were very well attended and of a high standard; the Dance Festival and the Easter Concert. I would like to congratulate all of the performers who took part in these two events.

Whilst Easter should provide a well - earned rest for students, it is important that the time is also utilised by students to prepare for their Summer Examinations. I strongly urge all students to take advantage of the online revision support accessible through the Longdean Learning Platform, especially GCSEPOD, SAM Learning, BBC Clips and Mymaths. These materials compliment the notes and resources provided to the students in lessons. In addition many subjects are running revision classes during the Easter Break. A large number of students will have received invitations to these events but students should still speak to their teachers to see what is available to help them.

I would like to end by offering my thanks to all the staff at Longdean who frequently go above and beyond what is expected of them to support the students at the school and I wish them and all of you a very happy Easter.

Best wishes

G P Cunningham - Headteacher


February 26th 2013

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Welcome back, after what I hope was a good half term break. I would like to start this newsletter by thanking parents for their support during the snowfalls we experienced at the end of last half term. With your help we only missed five periods over the four bouts of snow we experienced and the school was never closed for a full day. Staff worked hard to ensure that any students who lost learning due to the snow have had access to work in order to catch up.

This half term will see many students complete their courses and begin preparation for their final GCSE or Post 16 examinations. Students should be revising regularly at home, in addition to any work they undertake in school. To support this, the school has purchased access to GCSE POD. This is a series of online revision materials for GCSE subjects that can be downloaded to ipods, ipads, smart phones and laptops. All students in Years 10 and 11 have had an introductory session to this from Mr Muskett. Year 9 will receive their introduction next week. This will then be followed up in assemblies and lessons by class teachers.

I would urge all parents of students in Years 9 – 11 to look at these materials with their children and to use them as part of a revision programme. Aside from this the school will also support students with revision classes at lunchtime and after school and also through revision at Easter. There is also a range of materials on the learning platform and all students have passwords for other revision sites such as MyMaths and SAM Learning.

There are a number of events taking place this half term. This week saw the Dance show that featured performances from students, staff and parents and the Performing Arts Faculty will also be holding an Easter concert on 20 March in A Hall. Finally 15 March is Comic Relief Day where all students are encouraged to wear something red to school as part of non-uniform day to raise money for this event.

As you can see there is a lot going on in what is a short half term and I wish all of you a successful and enjoyable half term.

Finally this half term is the start of the School Improvement process. I would welcome parents’ views to support this process; specifically I would like your thoughts on the following three questions:

1) Which three things does the school do well and should build upon? 2) Name two things we need to improve upon quickly 3) Give me one piece of advice on how I could improve the running of the school

Please email your replies to schoolimprovement@longdean.herts.sch.uk Thank you for your feedback.


January 22nd 2013

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Dear Parents and Friends

Welcome back to the start of a new term and a new year. I hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas and New Year. It has been great this week to see how quickly the students have slotted back into the routines of school and how focused they are in their lessons.

This is crucial as this half term will see students receiving feedback from their mock examinations and begin the push towards the final examinations of May and June. I would urge all students and parents to listen to the feedback they receive from their teachers about what they need to do to succeed in the summer and to act on the advice straight away. It is also worth students starting their revision now as a little and often is more beneficial than doing large amounts last thing. This half term contains Parents’ Evening for Year 11 (17 January) and Year 10 (7 February) as well as Academic Mentoring for Years 9, 10, 12, 13 (15 January). I would urge all parents and students to attend these crucial events.

Prior to the Christmas break we celebrated the achievements of students in Years 11 – 13 at the Senior Presentation Evening. It was great to give out numerous awards for excellence and progress in all the subject areas and to also recognise the students who have contributed to the wider school and local community in some way. I was also privileged to listen to the address given by Martine Wright who spoke about her journey to Paralympic success following the personal trauma she experienced following the July 2005 bombings. You can view the speech that she gave on the Learning Platform.

It has also been great this week to see how smart the students have looked as they return to school. The overwhelming majority have arrived in the correct items and they are also wearing them correctly.

However, there have been a few minor issues around hoodies, sweatshirts and cardigans. I would like to reiterate the contents of the letter I sent prior to Christmas and make it clear that these are not to be seen or worn whilst on the school site. If they are seen then they will be confiscated and a parent will be required to collect them from reception. I would be grateful if parents could support us in this by ensuring that all students have a coat to wear in the colder weather.

I look forward to continuing to work with you and your children over the coming weeks and months as we continue to build on the excellent work that goes on at Longdean.

Welcome back and Happy New Year.

Best wishes

G P Cunningham




December 16th 2012

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The term is drawing to a close but there is still an immense amount going on.  Last week was the Christmas show where over 80 students were involved in a showcase of dance, music, singing and drama based around the poem ‘the night before Christmas’ and Charles **ens work ‘Oliver Twist’.  The hall was sold out for both nights and standard of performance was outstanding.  I would like to extend my thanks to all the staff who helped produce the show, the Longdean School Association who prepared all the refreshments and raffle & the Governors who came along to support this school event.  Above all I would like to offer my congratulations to all the students who invested their time and energies in such a great show.  I am always in awe of anyone who can stand on a stage and perform to an audience and I never cease to be amazed at the array of talents at Longdean.

This week we have given something back to the local community by hosting the annual senior citizen party.  We have held this event for the past 11 years and it present an opportunity to provide lunch, entertainment and small gifts to over 80 local residents.  It also allows out students to take part in serving their community which is something that I will always want to encourage Longdean students to do.

On top of these great events we have also had a host of trips running over the last fortnight.  ICT took students to the Science Museum, Modern Foreign Languages visited a Christmas Market and the Technology Team took students to the Harry Potter studios at Levesden.  All of these trips provide enriching opportunities to our students and support their class based learning.  I would like to thank all the staff who run these trips and provide the opportunities for students.

My final positives of this week are the initial highlights of the student and parent questionnaire.  Over 600 students and 85 parents completed our attitudes to Longdean questionnaire and the responses were overwhelmingly positive.  92% of the student sample and 96% of the parent sample gave a positive response to the question relating to feeling safe at Longdean and 90% of both samples responded positively to the question that teaching is at least good at Longdean.   Whilst it is always good to get positive feedback from parents and students the high standard of education provided by Longdean is certainly spreading wider.  We know this because we have recently received our admissions numbers for the next academic year which are up from 396 last year to 465 this year.  There is also a significant increase in the number of parents putting Longdean as their first preference school.

Despite this good news you have my assurance that the staff and I will not rest on our laurels and we will continue to deliver the high standards the students deserve.  Have a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Best wishes

Mr Cunningham

November 13th 2012

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Dear Parents and Friends

Welcome back to a new half term and I hope that you all had a good half term break. This half term is again a busy one. Students have already taken examinations in Mathematics that will contribute to their final GCSE grades and students in Years 9 – 13 will all take mock examinations prior to Christmas in readiness for modular examinations in January. I would urge all students to treat these examinations seriously and to prepare thoroughly for them as the more work that is done now the less there is to do later in the school year.

Over the next two weeks we are also gathering the views of parents and students about the school. During form time every student will complete our online questionnaire so that we can obtain student views about all aspects of school life. We would also welcome your views and there is an opportunity for you to complete the questionnaire on our Learning Platform.

If you already have a login for the Learning Platform you can access the questionnaire through the link on the home page. If you would like a log in so that you can complete the questionnaire, please click on the “Parent Login Request” link on the left of the Home page. This will take you to an application form which should be returned to the school office, or completed, signed, scanned, and a copy sent by email to: admin@longdean.herts.sch.uk. Responses can be filled in from now until 3.30pm on Friday 23 November. Your views and those of the students are important to us as we seek to further improve.

Last Friday we also had an important visitor in the school. Doctor Margaret Atkinson, Children’s Commissioner for England, visited us to look at the work we do in our Inclusion Department. Dr Atkinson met with staff and students and talked to them about their experiences at Longdean. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and demonstrates the great work that is going on at Longdean.

I wish all parents, friends and students an enjoyable and successful half term.

Best wishes

Graham Cunningham

12th September 2012

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Welcome back to Longdean and I hope that all students, parents and staff had a thoroughly enjoyable summer break.

Over the summer we all witnessed and shared in the success of our Olympic and Paralympic athletes.  There were also a number of successes and achievements for current and former Longdean students.  In the gymnastics competition Max Whitlock, who left Longdean in 2009, secured two bronze medals and our congratulations go to him.  Jana Hoyte, Emma Collison, Amera Yani and Josh Rolph were also nominated for the Leverstock Green Village Association Youth Award for their charity work and work to tackle all forms of bullying.

As a school we enjoyed significant examination success.  In Year 13 every student will go to a university of their choice having achieved either the grade or points required to get there.  In Year 11 82% of students achieved 5A* - C grades at GCSE and every student has got onto the Post 16 pathway of their choice.  All of our Year 9 students have now achieved at least one GCSE having sat examinations in their first one year option.  This means they will have less examination pressure in Year 11 and they have developed new study skills that will support them throughout their lives.  I would like to congratulate all students for their examination success and to thank them, their parents and the staff at Longdean for their hard work and support preparing them

In my assembly last week I challenged every student to consider how they could improve every aspect of their educational performance by 1%.  Attendance, punctuality, behaviour, uniform, attitude to learning, literacy, effort, responding to feedback and having high expectations are all aspects of school that students can take responsibility for and control themselves.  I have said to students that this year rather than focussing on a major improvement in one aspect of their school life they should seek to improve every aspect by 1% as this will result in significant progress in every subject they study.

I have asked staff to support this by looking at how they can develop their classroom practice by 1%.  Longdean is a very good school with high standards in teaching and learning.  By adjusting our excellent current practice I am sure we will see even greater gains.  We will use our staff meetings and staff training to enhance what goes on in classrooms as this has the greatest impact on the qualifications and skills that students leave with.  Staff will also be working with students on ensuring that uniform is worn correctly at all times and that students take greater responsibility for keeping the site tidy by clearing their own litter.

Last term I worked extensively with all stakeholders in the school to determine the school priorities for the year.  Parents, neighbours, staff and students were part of that process and your feedback has helped to form our School Improvement Plan.  The priorities of this plan are as follows:

  1. Reading
  2. Literacy
  3. Independence
  4. Ensuring that all students achieve their potential
  5. Assessment for Learning so that students know what they need to do to improve
  6. Getting students to take risks in their learning.
  7. Students learning new things, doing something that takes them out of their comfort zone and contributing to the communities they serve.

I am excited to be working with all of you in achieving these over the course of this year.

Best wishes

Graham Cunningham


July 16th 2012

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One week to go until the end of term. Everyone can then have a well-deserved rest and can recharge their batteries over the six week holiday.  Regardless of how near the holidays are, there is still a lot going on in these final few days.  On Friday 13th July 20 students flew to Swaziland.  Whilst they were there, they engaged in a Safari trek, team building activities and also built a school for the local community, as part of their World Challenge.  In my first assembly at the start of the summer term I asked all students to learn something new, do something that challenged them and to contribute to the wider community that they are a part of.  This World Challenge experience has certainly done that.

We also received news last week that a further 22 students are to become published authors in a collection of short stories titled ‘Swashbuckling adventures.’  The 22 students are from Years 9 – 11 and their works will be stored in the British Library. A copy of the collection will come into school.  We have also seen further success with current student Derek Britten, winning silver in the national Taekwondo championships and former student Max Whitlock being selected to represent Great Britain at gymnastics in the Olympics this summer.  Fehinti Belogum will also be performing at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics as part of the National Youth Theatre.

I have been looking back over my first term as Headteacher during the last few days and the one thing that comes through time and time again is how good a school Longdean is and how strong a student body we have.  Last week I took part in my first school parliament.  I was asked some very challenging questions about the quality of teaching in the school, my views on examinations as well as what I was planning to do during my summer holidays.  Four students also led a discussion on the pros and cons of virtual media such as facebook and twitter.  The debate was very well argued by both sides but in the end, the view was taken that there were some restrictions and limitations with digital medial.

A small group of students also led a staff briefing where they informed all the teachers and non teaching staff of the views of the student voice groups about how the school could be improved.  They also gave feedback to all of you in the final Headteacher assembly of the year.  We will be looking at how we can build on these suggestions next year, especially some points around how you learn best and how we market extra-curricular activities.

All of these examples show you what a great school you go to, but they also show your willingness to take up these opportunities and challenges.  It is also worth noting that they would not be possible without the efforts of your teachers who lay on these extra curricular events on the back of delivering brilliant lessons to you every day.

I hope you have a relaxing summer holiday and I look forward to seeing you all in September.

Best wishes

Mr Cunningham

June 22nd 2012

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Dear students

We have been back for two weeks and so much has happened already.  Over the past fortnight every member of staff has been observed teaching. I have used this week to get an overview of the quality of teaching in the school and also to see the impact of all our work on literacy and reading this year.  This process has clearly highlighted that teaching and learning in the school is very good and that you get a great experience day in and day out.  This has been further highlighted through the certificates I have received for four members of staff who have been recognised in the National Teaching Awards.

Since Easter I have been meeting with students, parents, Governors & staff in order to decide what our priorities for next year are.  All of you contributed to this discussion through your forms and I have met with 50 students during lunchtimes to get your views on how the school could improve.  Based on all this information our priorities for next year are:

  • To continue to develop the literacy levels of all students
  • To continue with our whole school reading programme
  • To develop the learning skills you need to be independent learners
  • To ensure that all of you do as well as you can in examinations
  • To ensure that when your work is marked, the marking explains what you need to do to improve.
  • To provide opportunities to challenge you and encourage you to take risks in your learning
  • To encourage you to learn something new, do something that challenges you and to contribute to the communities you are a part of.

Next week I will be writing to all parents and residents to explain these in more detail. I will also be feeding back to all students in the Headteacher’s assembly on July 6th.

There have been some commendable achievements already this half term.  Attendance is the highest it has ever been in the last 6 years at 93.3%.  Several Year 10 students have already achieved 1.5 Mathematics GCSE’s a year early.  Special mention must also go to Josh Brown who finished 3rd in the County Athletics Championship.  Josh is now the third best Discus thrower for his age in Hertfordshire.  Well done Josh!

I would like to end by continuing the athletics theme.  On Wednesday the whole school was present at JarmanPark for School Games Day.  It was great to see all of you participate and support each other and your houses.  The overall winners were Pascal House but the most improved House Performance came from Gates who finished fourth last year and rose to second place overall this year.  Franklin also did well with the girls and the boy’s team winning the Year 9 event.  The charity walk was also a huge success.  Watching clowns and pirates walking around Hemel escorted by an array of red, white and blue and a range of all in one outfits was fantastic.  Enjoyable as this was we must not forget the overall aim of raising money for charity so can I encourage you all to get your sponsorship money to the finance office as soon as possible along with your £2 for non uniform if you have not paid already.

I hope this gives you a flavour of all that goes on at Longdean everyday and how hard all members of staff work to ensure that you receive a world class education. With Who Do We Think We Are next week there will be plenty more opportunities for you to demonstrate that you ‘are proud of who you are and what you have achieved today’.

Best wishes.

Mr Cunningham


June 1st 2012


I wanted to write to all of you to say how proud I am of you and all your efforts this half term.  There have been a great number of successes and achievements this half term for a number of individual students, but as a whole student body, you have worked tirelessly to ensure that the school has continued to go from strength to strength. You attend a very good school and a few examples of this are:

  1. Attendance is the highest it has been for the last 6 years and currently stands at 93.2% with more 100% attenders than we have had in any other school year.  Particular recognition needs to go to Paul MacDonald who has not missed a day of school since he was in Year 5 at Primary School.
  2. There are less than four students removed from lessons on call each day and this shows that the overwhelming majority of students have an excellent attitude to learning and are working hard.
  3. The Attitude to Learning from the March reports was excellent at 1.8 out of This again shows how hard you are working in lessons day in day out.  A special well done to Thomas Hartley who has gained over 500 House Points this year.  Well done.

I had afternoon tea with 27 students this week who said that out of 10 they would grade Longdean on average at 8.  The lowest grade given was 7 and the highest was 9.  This again shows that you value the school and what we try to do, but there are still some things we can improve. 

Students are also having an increasing say in the running of the school.  This half term we have appointed Daniel Jones as Head Boy and Emily Lupton as Head Girl.  Joe Tobias and Holly Cottingham will act as the deputies.  I will meet this group every half term to hear your views about the school.  These four students will be joined by representatives of the student committees run by Miss Embrey.  These groups represent you and it is important I listen to them and act on suggestions if appropriate.  You have also completed an activity in form time that will help us decide how the school can improve in the future.  The questionnaires you completed are being analysed now and I will feedback to you our main priorities for next year in the next Headteacher assembly.

Three further individual student successes are outlined below:

  • Steven Curtis – Going to America for an Aero Engineering apprenticeship.
  • Lydia Clark – Selected to play Basketball for South England and for football trials with Arsenal.
  • Fehinti Belogan – Selected by the National Youth Theatre to perform in the Opening and Closing ceremonies at the Olympics.

All of these examples show how good Longdean is.  You are crucial to this and the continued improvement in the school.  Have a great half term and come back ready to work as hard as you have done this half term.

Mr Cunningham

Headteachers Assembly Christmas 2013


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Senior Presentation Evening Dec 2013

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