A level Summer Art & Photography Exhibition

On Friday 7th June, we held our A level Summer Art & Photography Exhibition. Congratulations to all of our wonderful Year 13 students and good luck for the future. We felt that this exhibition in particular showed an outstanding body of work and the Art staff felt very proud. Thank you to all who attended and showed their support to our Art Department and Year 13 students.

Year 9 Artwork

Year 9 have been designing some fantastic Converse inspired by a country of their choice. The designs demonstrated a variety of media and wonderful imagination. Well done all of you.

D’Avenia Heaven at the Oxford Literary Festival

On the last day of the Spring term, six Year 12 Italian A level students went to the Oxford Literary Festival with Mrs Stewart and Ms Jennings to hear an interview with Alessandro D’Avenia.

Alessandro D’Avenia is a best-selling Italian author from Palermo, Sicily, also a secondary school teacher in Milan. His first book, Bianca come il latte, rossa come il sangue (White as milk, red as blood), has been translated into 23 different languages and made into a film. At the festival he was presenting his third book, Ciò che inferno non è, which has recently been published in an English translation, What hell is not.

The author was interviewed by Oxford lecturer and tutor at Keble College, Teresa Franco. Alessandro began by reading a passage in Italian and then in English, choosing to focus on the moment when his RE teacher and local priest, Don Pino Puglisi, lay dying in the road after being shot by the Mafia. Alessandro works through the five regrets most people have when they die. Exceptionally, Don Pino had none of these regrets. He died with a smile on his face and even compassion for his attackers. He understood the community, Brancaccio, in Sicily, where they grew up. He understood the “hell” of growing up in the stranglehold of the Mafia. He had devoted everything to loving the children and their families there in an attempt to show them a different way of living, or “what hell is not”. Alessandro was drawn into the community when Don Pino invited him, then a 17-year old boy, to come and lend a hand in running activities for the children during his summer holiday. What hell is not is Alessandro’s portrayal of his own story and his encounters with Don Pino. The inspirational teacher and priest is the reason Alessandro himself became a teacher.

Throughout the interview our students had the excellent side-benefit of listening to the beautiful music of the Italian language being spoken, testing their own comprehension and then listening to the translation given by the interpreters. It was a fascinating insight into this linguistic skill and process.

The content of the reading and discussion was very moving and thought-provoking. Our Head Girl, Grace Bacon, had already read the English translation before attending. She said “I haven’t been this engrossed in a book in a long time!” and is now reading the original in Italian. Other students bought the book following the interview, and were treated to a personal book-signing and chat with our new favourite Italian author!

Reasons for Alessandro D’Avenia’s success include the real-life experiences and questions he addresses in his books, classic and classical themes and stories he weaves into his work, and his heart for young people. Indeed his first three books all focus on a (different) teenage main character, navigating relatable personal issues in their secondary school years. These first three books are: Bianca come il latte, rossa come il sangue (available in an English translation entitled: White as silence, red as song ), Cose che nessuno sa (Things nobody knows) and Ciò che inferno non è (What hell is not). They are all available from The Italian Bookshop or Amazon, and I would wholeheartedly recommend each, whether or not you are studying Italian!

There will be some adult readers who have studied Italian, perhaps with Enrica Loi, and I know she would give her recommendation also. We discussed the publication of this third book and the town of Palermo, Sicily, where it is set, when she was still working at Presdales. You will also enjoy using your Italian to read the column Alessandro D’Avenia writes every Monday for the Corriere della Sera. Find it online directly, or via my weekly retweet if you follow my Italian Twitter account, @presdaliani.

So much to enjoy with la dolce lingua!

Ms Jennings

Sixth Form French Exchange

Just before the Easter break, some of our Year 12 French Students welcomed their French partners for the return leg of the Sixth Form French Exchange. As soon as they were reunited at Luton Airport, all the initial nerves immediately disappeared and a very busy weekend ensued. Our families really looked after their French visitors, organising many activities such as cruising on the Thames, shopping trips to London and the inevitable, and eagerly awaited, visit to Primark! (French teenagers love Primark as there are very few stores in France)

For most of the week, the French students attended normal lessons at Presdales as the aim of the Sixth Form Exchange is to be immersed in the life of the host partner. However, on Tuesday, we all spent the day in Cambridge, discovering the historical past of this prestigious University city during our guided tour. It is worth mentioning that Tuesday was the only day when it rained, with the rain becoming quite heavy the minute we set foot on our punts and easing off as soon as we got off!

I would like to thank Anne Favre, my French colleague from the lycée La Colinière in Nantes, for her continued efforts in cementing a very positive and rich working relationship and I am also very grateful to all the parents for being so welcoming and caring with our French visitors. I hope this year will be the beginning of a long and happy exchange between our Year 12 students and their partners.

Christel Ainge


Year 8 Take Your Daughter to Work Day

Year 8 Careers – Inspiring young dreamers to dream big!

As part of our Careers Education programme, Year 8 students had the opportunity to find out more about the world of work in the celebration of “Take Your Daughter To Work Day” on Thursday 25th April 2019. There were a variety of workplaces visited including Hospitals, Schools, Businesses and even a visit to the Financial Times.

What did they learn from the day?

“Seeing relationships between the staff and the children, the way the children enjoyed their learning environment and how welcoming all the staff and children were towards me”

“I saw people using teamwork and being supportive to everyone’s ideas”

“I learnt about being patient, showing respect and being more confident”

“I used a lot of computer skills and I was very useful as the people there couldn’t use computers very well”

“I loved this day because it was really different from a normal day at school and I would definitely do it again”

Thank you to all the Year 8 parents that gave up their time willingly to make this such a great experience for the students.

Julie Stephenson
Careers Lead




Quality in Careers Standard – Investor in Careers 

Since March 2017, there has been a new and simpler model of quality assurance for careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) in England, which is called the Quality in Careers Standard (QiCS).

Since September 2018 the Quality in Careers Standard has been revised to fully incorporate the Gatsby Foundation’s Benchmarks of “Good Career Guidance”.

The latest statutory guidance states that ‘the Standard offers an opportunity for schools to undergo an external evaluation of their careers programme’ and the Government ‘strongly recommends that all schools work towards the updated Quality in Careers Standard to support the development of their careers programme.’

This means that any school achieving the QiCS will have Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance which meets an excellent, nationally-recognised standard.

As a school, we are now progressing through the standards in order to achieve QiCs by September 2020.

This might involve external input from local businesses, alumni and parents, and so I might be contacting you during the year for some support in this award.

For more information about our careers programme please click here.


Julie Stephenson
Careers Lead

Year 12 Fine Art Exam

Well done to all of our Year 12 Fine Art students who have just completed their 10 hour exam. They all produced amazing studies based on their portfolio themes. Here is a selection.

Year 10 Summer Art Exam

Recently, our Year 10 GCSE pupils completed a 10 hour exam based on Sweets. They produced two observational studies each and here are a small selection of their coloured pieces. Well done to everyone! We are all so proud of you.

Year 12 & 13 Art and Photography Trip to Barcelona

Our Year 12 & 13 Art and Photography students enjoyed 4 days in sunny Barcelona this Easter. We visited Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, Barcelona Aquarium, Las Ramblas and Casa Batllo as well as many other beautiful sites. They have all returned afresh with inspiring resources for their next project. Well done to everyone that came for your excellent behaviour and thanks to Mrs Wall and Mrs Sykes for all your outstanding help.

Mrs Francis



Dance Production

With a theme of music from the 80s and 90s, Presdales Dance Evening was a winner for parents and staff! Students from Year 7 to Year 13 performed in routines from tap to ballet to an amazing gymnastic display, creating an evening which was entertainment all the way.

The evening started with Freya Campbell, Nicole Fenman, Emily Farrington, Lucy Kennard and Natassja Smith (from Years 10-13) tap dancing a routine to Footloose while Year 8 Tewo Bishi and Betsy Sutton seemed to fly through the air, dancing to When You Believe.

The second half of the evening led off with the Gym club, choreographed by Miss Fentiman to How Will I Know? The girls’ agility and timing left the audience breathless and applauding enthusiastically. Maddi Drake swayed her way through a Spanish-inspired number, Maria Maria, and – in contrast – Sixth Formers Maisie Bentley and Eva Terziyski danced a lively routine to Miami. The evening finished with everyone on stage dancing to I Wanna Dance with Somebody – and the audience clapping in time with the music.

Miss Corbett