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  • 16th October 2020

    Dr Alan Davison


    Last Thursday, 8th October 2020, the entire Owen’s community was shocked and saddened to receive news of Dr Alan Davison’s sudden passing.

    Headteacher at Dame Alice Owen’s from 2005 to 2016, Alan was an ever present character who ran the school in his own unique style.

    He was a steadfast leader, encouraging colleague and nurturing supporter of every student he came into contact with, enriching the lives of so many.

    Alan’s extraordinary problem solving skills meant the school always remained open, even in thick snow and ice, and his exceptionally high expectations meant staff and students excelled under his leadership.

    His determined nature shone through in many ways, such as on one school sports day when the weather was so bad that the Director of Sport was about to call it off. To convince him otherwise, at eight o’clock that morning, Alan donned a pair of trainers and to the staff’s amazement began sprinting down the 100m straight. At the finish line he confidently declared that the track was fit and sports day would go ahead!

    That is just one example of how Alan’s remarkable enthusiasm benefitted students and ensured the school’s continued success during the eleven years he was Head.

    With a keen interest in sports as well as academia, Alan would often help run school teams when others were unable, and he even attempted refereeing a couple of junior football matches in his time. He enjoyed playing in the staff football team when he could, but ultimately watching his beloved Newcastle United FC play was his particular favourite pastime.

    The tremendous day in 2006 when our Year 9 Football team went all the way to the final of The National Cup, winning 1-0 to lift the trophy, was one of Alan’s favourites as Head at Owen’s. He even personally paid for a replica of the cup to be made before the original had to be returned, and upon its arrival at the school, he proudly placed it in the trophy cabinet in the foyer where it still stands today.

    In his free time Alan was a keen cyclist and would often arrive in the morning and at after school meetings in full cycling regalia. The fact school staff were able to take him seriously in specialist cycling shoes which made it difficult for him to even stand, is only testament to the level of respect Alan commanded, and deservedly so.

    He would have been the first to admit that he was not one of the world’s greatest thespians, but that never stopped him from appearing in the school’s annual pantomime. Typically he would burst onto stage, pause to look down at whichever prop he had attached his script to, and then, with great energy and gusto deliver his line. On one occasion, he had the entire audience and cast roaring with laughter having noticed him enter the stage with his costume on back to front, accidentally we presume, sporting an impressive six pack on his back.

    The school’s 400th Anniversary Year provided an opportunity for the wider Owen’s community to witness just how much of a force Alan really was. Many of our past pupils and parents will remember him achieving the seemingly impossible task of persuading The Royal Albert Hall to allow us to hold a huge commemorative music concert there and this week on social media, past pupils have recalled the story of when Alan approached the Royal Albert Hall and they told him, “we don’t do school concerts”. Famously, his reply was, “neither do we!”

    Not only was Alan able to achieve this remarkable feat, he was also able to privately charter one of First Capital Connect’s trains for the school’s journey to Moorgate for its 400th year commemorative service at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday 8th November 2013. He even somehow convinced them to rename the four-carriage locomotive ‘Dame Alice Owen’s 400 Years of Learning’ for the entire day! Something which we understand has never been done by a Headteacher, before or since.

    Ultimately, it was Alan’s extreme passion for driving things forward and his formidable approach to ensuring the continued progress of individuals and the school as a whole, that set him apart from the rest.

    Towards the end of his career, Alan joined the Old Owen’s Association as a dedicated committee member with his vision being to see our current pupils, parents and Owen’s Alumni coming together as one all encompassing family. We are pleased to say that this is something we are now working very hard towards and are confident that Alan’s vision will soon become reality.

  • 15th October 2020

    Powerful poetry for uncertain times

    The Poetry Society announces the winners of The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award

    Entries soar for the 2020 competition


    The Poetry Society has announced today the top 15 winners and 85 commended poets of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2020 at a virtual prize-giving ceremony.

    Run by The Poetry Society and generously supported by the Foyle Foundation, this has been an extraordinary 22nd year for The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award. Since 1998, the Award has been finding, celebrating and supporting the very best young poets from around the world. The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is firmly established as the leading competition for young poets aged between 11 and 17 years old.

    A staggering 15,966 poems (44% more poems than in 2019 and 47% more than in 2018) from 6,791 young poets (up 14% on 2019 and up 22% on 2018) were entered. Young writers from a record-breaking 118 countries (an increase from 76 in 2019, 79 in 2018) entered the competition from as far afield as Afghanistan, Ecuador, Mozambique, North Korea and the Seychelles, and every corner
    of the UK.

    From these poems, this year’s judges Keith Jarrett and Maura Dooley selected 100 winners, made up of 15 top poets and 85 commended poets.

    Keith Jarrett said:

    “It’s been a privilege judging this year’s prize. At a time when so many of us have been physically separated from friends and family, I’ve felt connected to thousands of young voices from around the world [through their words]. The poems have been passionate, political, tender, troubling, humorous and, in many cases, brave. (It sometimes takes a lot of bravery to articulate what it is to exist in the world – especially when this involves feeling anxious or unsafe – and then to send it in for a competition!) Some of the poems responded to immediate events – and this was clearly the case when they referred to Black Lives Matter protests, the pandemic, or recent government actions. Others dealt with timeless themes: family, bereavement, cultural traditions, all the uncertainty that comes with adolescence, nature and the seasons, the environment, chickens[!]… I wasn’t expecting such breadth, and it was overwhelming at times. I cried. I laughed. I raised an eyebrow.

    “Above all, the confidence of these poems, of these poets was astounding! I truly feel the future of poetry is in safe hands, and it is vital these young voices are nurtured and supported wherever they find themselves in the world.”

    Maura Dooley said:

    “If we had thought for a moment that this long year of Covid, of international unrest, of the tragedies that led
    renewed attention to Black Lives Matter might make humour impossible, or attention to very personal experience tricky, then how wrong we were. As always, it is language that is the most resilient, flexible, musical, colourful substance we have and how these poets moulded it to their own fabulous shapes! Poems came in from all over the world, about all kinds of things written in every kind of way. There were poems of astonishing skill, poems of great tenderness, angry poems, poems that made me laugh and sometimes those were even all the same poem. There were patterns on the page, stories and rhymes, prose poems, haiku and sonnets, there were poems which opened doors to worlds new to me and left me gasping and amazed. What more could a reader ask? Thank you.”

    Judith Palmer, Director, The Poetry Society, acknowledges the difficult choices the judges faced in a bumper year of competition entries:

    “A huge congratulations to all 100 young poets and an enormous thank you to our judges. This has been a year like no other for Foyle; with the competition launching at the height of the pandemic and the start of lockdown and closure of schools it was uncertain for us how the competition would fare. It has in fact been amazing to see so many entries. Poetry is a source of self expression, and I think at this time more of us are turning to it to make sense of the world around us, to remember what makes us who we are, and to just lift our spirits. For a young poet to reach the top 100 in such a competitive year is a huge achievement and one to be proud of.”

    In response to the amazing quality of writing and due to the unusual circumstances this year that prevent an awards ceremony in central London being held, Keith Jarrett has written a poem dedicated to and inspired by the Foyle Young Poets of 2020, and artist Imogen Foxell has been commissioned to create an artwork that will adorn The Poetry Cafe window in Covent Garden in celebration of The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2020.

    Winners of the award receive a fantastic range of prizes to encourage them to puruse their writing. The top 15 poets receive a special mentoring programme over the course of the next year to help them develop as writers. All 100 winners of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award receive a year’s youth membership of The Poetry Society and a goody bag stuffed full of books donated by Foyle’s generous sponsors. The Poetry Society continues to support winners throughout their careers providing publication, performance and development opportunities, and access to a paid internship programme.

    The top 15 poems will be published in a printed winners’ anthology (also available online) from March 2021. The 85 commended poems will appear in an online anthology. Both anthologies showcase the talent of the winners and are distributed free to thousands of schools, libraries, reading groups and poetry lovers across the UK and the world.

    The Top 15 Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2020 are:

    • Imogen Beaumont, 15, Weston-Super-Mare, North Somerset
    • Linnet Drury, 17, Oxford, Oxfordshire
    • Victoria Fletcher, 17, Harrow, London
    • Anna Gilmore Heezen, 17, Milnathort, Kinrosshire, Scotland
    • Preesha Jain, 17, Chelmsford, Essex
    • Leandra Li, 11, Greenwich, London
    • Lauren, 14, Enfield, London
    • Brigitta McKeever, 17, Watford, Hertfordshire
    • Zara Meadows, 18, Newtownabbey, County Antrim, Northern Ireland*
    • Indigo Mudbhary, 16, San Francisco, USA
    • Em Power, 18, Feltham, London*
    • Libby Russell, 18, Hailsham, East Sussex*
    • Maia Siegel, 17, Roanoke, Virginia, USA
    • Daniel Wale, 15, Kenilworth, Warwickshire
    • Anna Winkelmann, 13, Bath, Somerset

    * aged 17 on 31 July 2020, the competition deadline

    Lauren said:

    “When I heard the news, I didn’t believe it. I had entered lots of competitions before, which had never really amounted to anything, and so was really surprised that someone had read my work and actually thought it was something special. Afterwards, I kept reading through the poem, thinking “this was good enough?”

    Winning the award, to me, was validation. It showed me that my words could actually make a difference, and made me realise just how special poetry is. It also taught me to believe in myself a bit more, since the judges had now believed in me.

    I am so thankful to the Poetry Society, Keith Jarrett and Maura Dooley, for this chance, and would like to congratulate all the other winning poets and the amazing poets who entered! As well as say thank you, to my friends and all my teachers, especially Mrs Friel, as for without them, I would never have got this far!

    I know that this award will open up so many doors, including meeting so many creative people, as well as the opportunity to be published, and feel so lucky to have been granted it. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

  • 20th August 2020

    Congratulations to our GCSE students…

    As widely reported, students have been awarded whichever grade was the higher of the centre assessed grade or that which was calculated by the exam boards.

    Looking holistically at the GCSE results, they are excellent:

    • 32% of all examinations were graded 9
    • 25%  of all examinations were graded 8
    • 75% of all examinations were graded  9- 7
    • 95% of all examinations were graded  9- 5
    • 99% of all examinations were graded  9- 4

    13 students attained all 10 GCSEs at grade 9 with a further 27 attaining all grade 8s or 9s in their GCSEs.

    Although there is some frustration amongst students that they did not get to sit their examinations, these results are no less of a reflection of their ability. I hope that our students are proud of what they have achieved; we are very proud of all of them.

    Let us hope that the road ahead is smoother!

    Hannah Nemko

  • 13th August 2020

    Congratulations to our A-Level students…

    Our congratulations go to everyone who has received A level results today. Whilst waiting for results is always an anxious time, this year has been even more difficult and we are thinking of those who are still waiting for their GCSE grades too. The mixed emotions our students (and their families) have had to deal with with respect to the cancellation of exams, together with last minute changes to policy, have made this difficult time all the more nerve wrecking; we commend everyone on your resilience and we thank you for the support you have offered the school throughout.

    Our A level examination results are once again excellent:

    • 59% of all examinations were graded A*A
    • 83% of all examinations were graded A*B
    • 95% of all examinations were graded A*C

    80 students (39%) achieved 3 or more A*A grades.  24 students achieved at least 4 A*A of which one student achieved 5 A*A grades and one 6A*s.

    28 students attained at least 3A* of which 9 students achieved 4 or more A*s and, as above, one student achieved all 6 A levels at A*.  The majority of students have achieved the grades they needed for their first choice university with 28 students taking up the place they have been offered at Oxbridge.

    Alfie:  4 A*s, going to Oxford University to study Engineering.

    Paola: 2 A*s and 1 A, going to UCL to study Architecture.

    Neve:  4 A*s, going to Trinity Hall College at Cambridge University to study History.

    Matthew:    4 A*s, going to Queen’s College at Cambridge University to study History.

    Cara:    2 A*s and 1 A, going to Nottingham University to study Philosophy.

    Whatever our students choose to do next, we hope that they will continue to strive with a will, to be the best that they can be and that they will go on to accomplish great things.

    Hannah Nemko




  • 15th July 2020

    Hi everyone

    We hope you are well


    The Art Department is delighted to showcase Dame Alice Owen’s first Virtual Art Exhibition for both GCSE and A-Level. Throughout their respective courses, our students have worked incredibly hard.
    They have produced some outstanding work demonstrating creativity and skill and it is an absolute pleasure to be able to celebrate their achievements with you online. We wish all our students every success and a huge well done to them all!


    Have a great summer
    The Art Department


    GCSE (Click Here)

    A-LEVEL (Click Here)