- 17th December 2020
- 27th November 2020
The Sunday Times Southeast State Secondary School of the Decade
We are honoured to announce that Dame Alice Owen’s School has been named The Sunday Times Southeast State Secondary School of the Decade by Parent Power, The Sunday Times Schools Guide, published in The Sunday Times and online this Sunday, November 29.
We were delighted to have been chosen as The Sunday Times School of the Year in 2016, but this is quite something else!
Nick Rodrigues, deputy editor of Parent Power, said: “Dame Alice Owen’s School has been in our top 40 seven times in the last 10 years and is always the highest-ranked school in the Southeast that is not fully selective. To be placed where it does, annually, with a largely comprehensive intake is outstanding. In 2016, the Sunday Times named it the State Secondary of the Year, the only non-grammar school to win the accolade since 1999, and in 2018 it was named the Southeast State Secondary of the Year.
“No one is left behind, the school actively takes pupils from where they are and helps them to get better thanks to its experienced staff who teach across the ability range. Furthermore, nurture groups, homework clubs and maths and English breakfast clubs have been established to help boost students’ confidence and skills. Other enrichment activities — from visiting lecturers to maths and science competitions — also develop confidence and intellectual curiosity.
“Staff and pupils are thriving under Hannah Nemko’s leadership, clearly demonstrated by the 28 students who are attending Oxbridge this year. Dame Alice Owen’s School’s sustained excellence has made it the clear choice as The Sunday Times Southeast State Secondary School of the Decade.”
We are and remain, incredibly proud of our fantastic staff who never shy away from going the extra mile to encourage, support and inspire our young people. We share this award with the students who, in return, inspire the staff with their curiosity, commitment to their studies and determination to succeed as well as with their parents and carers who support both their young people and the school in their endeavours. We would particularly like to thank our governing body and Trustee for their support for their ongoing, unwavering support, most especially over these last, difficult, months.
It is my pleasure to share this award in the memory of our beloved Dr Davison who played such a large part in making the school the success it is today.
We look forward to celebrating many more successes together in the years ahead.
- 23rd October 2020
End of Half Term Newsletter Now Available!
Thanks to our Parent Volunteer Newsletter Editor, Lynn Bath, for pulling together all the articles which reflect another amazing half term at Owen’s! Please see our School Newsletters page!
Wishing you all a restful half term!
- 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
“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.”
Following the news of Dr Davison’s sudden passing, we have been creating a video to commemorate his life and the impact he had on so many of our lives.
The video will stream live on YouTube on Saturday 05th December at 7pm and will also be available to view afterwards. Copy and paste this link …