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Alwyn Thomas Head Teacher Personal Statement

A grammar school has introduced a new policy where pupils have to shake their teacher's hand before each lesson - raising fears about the spread of germs.

The idea was brought in by new headteacher Amanda Simpson, who became the first female head of Tunbridge Wells Grammar School this month.

Some teachers have started bringing in hand sanitiser to prevent bacteria being passed from the school's pupils as they will have to shake hands around 150 times a day.

Mrs Simpson defended the policy and said it was introduced because she wanted pupils to feel 'welcomed and appreciated'.

She also said it had proved a success at her previous school, a mixed comprehensive in Luton.

Mrs Simpson defended the policy and said it was introduced because she wanted pupils to feel 'welcomed and appreciated'

However one parent said the new policy was unwise as winter neared with its seasonal threat of bugs and flu.

They told Kent Live: 'It will be interesting to see what happens if there's an outbreak of Norovirus. 

'I assume it was introduced because the new head wanted to introduce some element of respect - but I wouldn't think that sort of thing would make any difference.' 

But Mrs Simpson, a former PE and dance teacher, said she had received no 'negative reaction' from pupils at what is one of the largest of the remaining grammar schools in England.

She said: 'I and other members of staff greet pupils with a handshake and a smile every lesson because we want them to feel welcome and appreciated.

'We have had no negative reaction from pupils and they seem to appreciate the gesture. 

'I introduced this in my previous school without any complaint and without any increase in the rate of infection, so I believe the concerns are unwarranted.

'Although we keep the school as clean as possible, pupils will inevitably touch handrails, doorknobs and other items which other boys have previously touched during the day, so to focus on contact through a simple handshake is strange.

'In any event, hand sanitisers will be available throughout the school for anyone with concerns about infection.' 

When she was announced as the new head teacher of the school that has 1,200 pupils she said she wanted to 'prepare students academically and as young people living in the 21st century'.

Some teachers at Tunbridge Wells Grammar School (pictured) have taken to bringing in hand sanitiser in a bid to prevent bacteria being passed between the school's pupils

A study by scientists at Aberystwyth University in Wales found a hand shake transferred more bacteria than other forms of hand-on-hand action.

Following the findings they called for the widespread adoption of the fist bump instead, especially during flu outbreaks.

The study, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, showed a handshake transferred 10 times as many bacteria as a meeting of fists. 

Dr Dave Whitworth, a reader in Biochemistry at Aberystwyth University told MailOnline: 'Whether it causes an increase in the incidence of infectious disease will depend on how well and often pupils/staff get to wash their hands. 

'Presumably, as shaking is reported to happen at the start of lessons, shakers would not then be able to wash their hands until a long time later, during which time they will almost certainly touch their faces, which is a major route of infection. 

'People touch their faces surprisingly frequently, and the young do it more often than older people. 

'Handshake bans are happening in healthcare settings because of the increased risk and sensitivity to the causative agents of infectious disease and a desire to reduce spread as much as possible. If all the pupils are fit and healthy, then there may be no health consequences amongst them, but the compulsory handshaking will make it more important to prevent pupils/staff with an illness from attending. 

'The spread of disease will extend beyond the school and into the community. Good hygiene is key to stop the spread of infectious disease, and alcohol rubs are known to not be effective against all microbes, and they can be over-used.'  

Professor Hugh Pennington, a leading bacteriologist, said teachers were at greater risk of picking up viruses than pupils.

He said: 'The best people to spread viruses like flu in the community are the children because they get close to each other and they are not to good at washing their hands. 

'Flu will get on to their hands but flu does not affect children in the same way as adults. It will be the teachers and when they get home poor old grandad sitting on the sofa - who are at risk.

'But if this hand shaking policy was associated with a hand washing policy I would be very happy indeed.'  

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St Birinus School, previously known as Didcot Boy's County Modern and Didcot Senior Boys,[2] is a boys' comprehensiveacademy in Didcot, Oxfordshire, England. St Birinus was founded in 1936 as a secondary modern before becoming a comprehensive in 1973.[8] In September 2012 the school became an academy with the same name.[9][10] St. Birinus' key catchment area includes the town of Didcot and the surrounding rural area, from Harwell in the west to South Moreton in the east and from Long Wittenham in the north to Chilton in the south,[11] however the school also caters for parents in other parts of Oxfordshire who wish their children to be educated in a single-sex environment.[12][13] As of January 2016 the headteacher is John Marston.[14] The school is a dual specialist technology college[15] and language college.[16]

The school takes boys from the age of 11 until the end of their GCSEs at the age of 16.[4] After this students may continue to the associated Didcot Sixth Form College for their A-levels.[12] This mixed sixth form is shared with Didcot Girls' School and geographically spread across both school sites.[17] As of January 2015 the most recent OFSTED inspection was in 2012 (prior to the school becoming an academy) and the school was given an overall rating of 'good'.[18]

It was announced in March 2015 that Alwyn Richards will be leaving the school in July 2015, following 5 years of headship at the school. For the 2015-16 academic year, John Marston is to be acting headteacher designate.[citation needed]

History[edit]

In 1931 St. Frideswide's School opened in Didcot as a coeducational secondary modern school.[19] Then, in 1936, the Didcot Boy's County Modern school was opened in the town,[2] enabling single sex education and, in 1951, the school acquired its present name: St. Birinus School.[20] The school is named for St. Birinus, the first Bishop of Dorchester,[16] although the school is secular. In 1973 the school became a comprehensive school[8] and in 1997 gained specialist technology college status.[15] In 2006 the school became one of the first in Oxfordshire to acquire a second specialism: languages.[16][21] In September 2012 the running of the school was transferred to a limited company, of the same name,[22] when the school became an academy.[9][10][23] In 2011 St. Birinus announced its intention, in conjunction with Didcot Girls' School and Abingdon and Witney College, to bid to run a new academy school in the town,[24] however their bid was not shortlisted by Oxfordshire County Council.[25]

In 2006, the school celebrated its 70th Anniversary.[26]

Campus[edit]

The school is primarily based around its Mereland Road site,[27] however it has additional off-site sports facilities at the nearby Hagbourne Triangle.[28] In recent years the school has updated many of their facilities including the science centre, mathematics block and humanities centre.[29] The new Science Centre was constructed on the site of the old Greenmere Primary School,[30] now relocated a short distance away.[31]

The school shares its site with Didcot Leisure Centre and, thus, has access to additional sports and assembly facilities.[32] Students at Didcot Sixth Form College also have access to facilities at Didcot Girls' School.[33]

Curriculum[edit]

As an academy St. Birinus is required to follow the national curriculum in English, maths and science;[34] however it has considerable freedom over the remaining aspects of its curriculum. At key stage 3 the school broadly follows the national curriculum.[35] At key stage 4 the school offers a full range of "core" GCSEs, as well as further optional GCSEs and vocational qualifications such as BTECs.[35] Through a partnership with Oxford University the school is able to offer Latin lessons to its GCSE pupils.[36]

The school has made several attempts to integrate new technologies with teaching and learning,[37][38][39][40][41] and, in 2006, received an excellence award from RM plc in recognition of this.[42]

[edit]

The school operates a house system and has 4 houses: Athenian, Corinthian, Spartan and Trojan. The houses compete in a variety of competitions and the house that is awarded the most points in an academic year is awarded the house cup for that year.[43]

St. Birinus has partnered with a number of charitable organisations over the years. For instance St. Birinus School raised almost £11,000 for the Oxford Children's Hospital,[44][45] in efforts spearheaded by former pupil Andrew Baker.[46] As a result of being a major supporter for the Children's Hospital, St Birinus School has been recognised for its contribution, having its name engraved with Andrew Baker on a plaque of recognition which sits inside the children's hospital atrium.[47]

Events to celebrate the school's 70th milestone included a whole school sponsored walk which raised £11,461 for the Oxford Children's Hospital Appeal and its link school in The Gambia, West Africa.[48]

Notable Pupils[edit]

Daniel Rivers - 2014 Commonwealth Games Gold and Bronze Medalist - 50m Rifle 3 Positions and 10m Air Rifle

Matt Richardson - Comedian and Co-Host of The Xtra Factor[50]

Ben Watson - 2014 Commonwealth Games Bronze Medalist in weightlifting (105 kg Category)

Antony Hansen - West End actor and contestant on Any Dream Will Do[51]

References[edit]

  1. ^"Values and Vision". St. Birinus School. St. Birinus School. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  2. ^ abc"Guide to School Records - North Berkshire". Berkshire Record Office. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  3. ^"School Performance Tables - St. Birinus School". gov.uk. Department for Education. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  4. ^ ab"St Birinus School Prospectus"(PDF). St. Birinus School. St. Birinus School. p. 3. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  5. ^"Houses and Awards". Retrieved 2008-04-21. 
  6. ^"The Saint". St. Birinus School. St. Birinus School. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  7. ^"alphabetical list of all 2892 specialist schools". March 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-09-12. Retrieved 2008-04-21. 
  8. ^ ab"SCHOOL CONTINUED". Domesday Reloaded. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  9. ^ ab"Schools in meltdown: Academy status across the county". The Didcot Herald. Newsquest (Oxfordshire) Ltd. 14 January 2013. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  10. ^ ab"EduBase - St. Birinus School". gov.uk. Department for Education. Retrieved 11 January 2015.  
  11. ^"Location and Designated Area of St Birinus' School, Didcot"(PDF). Oxfordshire County Council. Oxfordshire County Council. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  12. ^ ab"Additional Information"(PDF). St. Birinus School. St. Birinus School. p. 6. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  13. ^"School earns more praise". The Didcot Herald. Newsquest (Oxfordshire) Ltd. 28 June 2002. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  14. ^Sloan, Liam (10 March 2010). "New heads announced for Didcot secondary schools". The Didcot Herald. Newsquest (Oxfordshire) Ltd. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  15. ^ ab"House of Commons Written Answers for 21 November 2001 pt 19". Hansard: 346W. 21 November 2001. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  16. ^ abc"ST BIRINUS SCHOOL GENERAL INFORMATION FOR APPLICANTS". Times Educational Supplement. TES Global. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  17. ^Warwick, Rachael; Richards, Alwyn. "Headteachers' Welcome". Didcot Sixth Form College. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  18. ^Hodgkinson, Ian. "St Birinus School Inspection Report"(PDF). gov.uk. Office for Standards in Education. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  19. ^"80th Anniversary Celebrations!". Didcot Girls' School. Didcot Girls' School. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  20. ^"News From Everywhere"(PDF). The Children's Newspaper. Amalgamated Press. 6 January 1951. p. 2. Retrieved 11 January 2015.  
  21. ^Buratta, Chris (29 June 2006). "Good going, says Ofsted". The Didcot Herald. Newsquest (Oxfordshire) Ltd. Retrieved 11 January 2015.  
  22. ^"WebCHeck". gov.uk. Companies House. Retrieved 11 January 2015.  
  23. ^"St. Birinus School Funding Agreement". gov.uk. Department for Education. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  24. ^"Joining forces to run new academy". The Didcot Herald. Newsquest (Oxfordshire) Ltd. 16 November 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  25. ^Ormiston, Katriona. "Town headteachers fail to make the cut to run schools". The Didcot Herald. Newsquest (Oxfordshire) Ltd. Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  26. ^Bryan, Chris (13 September 2006). "St Birinus School 1936-2006 70th Anniversary Celebrations". The Saint (06/26). St. Birinus School. Archived from the original on 22 May 2007. Retrieved 10 January 2015.  
  27. ^"Site Map". St. Birinus School. St. Birinus School. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  28. ^Ffrench, Andrew (24 April 2013). "School in bid for artificial sports pitch". The Didcot Herald. Newsquest (Oxfordshire) Ltd. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  29. ^Sloan, Liam (15 July 2010). "TV singing star Antony Hansen and fellow former Didcot school pupils reprise Les Miserables for farewell to Oxfordshire's longest-serving headteacher". The Didcot Herald. Newsquestion (Oxfordshire) Ltd. Retrieved 10 January 2015.  
  30. ^"Didcot school's science centre open for studies". The Didcot Herald. Newsquest (Oxfordshire) Ltd. 18 March 2009. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  31. ^"New science centre opens at St Birinus in Didcot". Oxfordshire County Council. Oxfordshire County Council. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  32. ^Thompson, I (May 2000). "Inspection Report St. Birinus School"(pdf). gov.uk. Office for Standards in Education. p. 23. Retrieved 28 January 2015.  
  33. ^"Didcot Sixth Form College Prospectus"(pdf). Didcot Sixth Form College. Didcot Sixth Form College. p. 1. Retrieved 28 January 2015.  
  34. ^Bedell, Geraldine (31 August 2008). "Children of the revolution". The Observer. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 28 January 2015.  
  35. ^ ab"St Birinus School Curriculum Statement"(PDF). St Birinus School. St. Birinus School. Retrieved 28 January 2015. 
  36. ^Wynick, Alex (16 December 2014). "Ad libbing returns to class as new generation learns Latin". The Didcot Herald. Newsquest (Oxfordshire & Wiltshire) Ltd. Retrieved 28 January 2015. 
  37. ^Haigh, Gerald. "Transformation at St Birinus School – Part 2. Implementation and Inspiration". Microsoft UK Schools Blog. Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 28 January 2015. 
  38. ^Haigh, Gerald. "Transformation at St Birinus - Part one, The Push for change". Microsoft UK Schools Blog. Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved 28 January 2015. 
  39. ^"Centre puts school at the cutting edge". The Didcot Herald. Newsquest (Oxfordshire) Ltd. 27 July 2004. Retrieved 28 January 2015. 
  40. ^Jennings, Tom (15 November 2013). "Didcot and Wantage schools enter the digital age and offer iPads to pupils". The Didcot Herald. Newsquest (Oxfordshire) Ltd. Retrieved 28 January 2015. 
  41. ^"Comment: Tablet pupils will be happy to take". The Didcot Herald. Newsquest (Oxfordshire) Ltd. 15 November 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2015. 
  42. ^Buratta, Chris (14 March 2006). "School gains accolade for use of technology". The Didcot Herald. Newsquest (Oxfordshire) Ltd. Retrieved 28 January 2015. 
  43. ^"Houses". St. Birinus School. St. Birinus School. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  44. ^"£6,000 Handed Over!". St. Birinus School Oxford Children's Hospital Campaign Support Website. Archived from the original on 12 December 2007. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  45. ^Baker, Andrew. "£2.5m total raised . . . thanks to St Birinus!". St. Birinus. Archived from the original on 1 January 2007. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  46. ^Ormiston, Katriona (17 January 2013). "Years of fundraising and still going strong". The Oxford Mail. Newsquest (Oxfordshire) Ltd. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  47. ^"Meet Andrew Baker - Mr Play2Give". Play2Give. Play2Give. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  48. ^Baker, Andrew (31 October 2006). "Pupils and Staff took part in a sponsored walk". St. Birinus School. Archived from the original on 1 January 2007. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  49. ^Bardsley, Fran (17 January 2012). "Comic is old enough now to do Childish Things". The Oxford Mail. Newsquest (Oxfordshire) Ltd. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  50. ^Ffrench, Andrew (11 May 2009). "Former Didcot student lands top West End part". The Oxford Mail. Newsquest (Oxfordshire) Ltd. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 

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