Wednesday, 20 July 2016

End of the year

We have come to the end of another school year;  please allow me to thank the whole school community of teachers, technicians, admin and site staff, canteen staff and all support staff and all of you, parents and families, for your support of the school.

At the St Peter’s Mass and presentation afternoon, we celebrated all sorts of achievement and it was lovely to see not only the attentiveness and prayerfulness of all students during the Mass, but also the genuine pleasure students took in applauding the success of others, maturely and genuinely.

We have been very pleased by this year’s ‘faculty fortnights’ which celebrated the breadth of the subjects taught at the school.  From talks by BBC Wildlife cameramen in the geography fortnight, to visiting lecturers and poets, to Bake-Off competitions and Sports Day, to Science Shows and mathematical puzzles, to music and drama performances of the highest standard, we have been encouraged to see that all subjects deserve and reward study and that every faculty has something distinctive to offer the school.  I am extremely grateful to staff and students for the work they have put into this venture.

This week I have also been very pleased by the excellence of the work of our key stage 3 historians whose presentation evening was such a success, by the extremely positive feedback from staff and students who went on the residential trip to the Ardeche and by the success of the school’s junior Duke of Edinburgh Award group.

I am delighted too with the number of students who were invited to go on ‘rewards trips’ such as the RE trip to Harvington Hall, trips which provide an opportunity to thank and reward students who are doing their best.

We have just said farewell to a number of staff who are moving on or retiring.  Mrs Russell-Smith, Mr Glover, Mrs McHale and Mr Richards are retiring;  Mr Martin, Miss Olney, Mr Mains, Mr and Mrs Roberts, Mrs Hopkins, Mr Barnard and Mrs Cameron are all moving on to new challenges and opportunities.  We have been able to thank them all this afternoon and wish them the best.

Buses have been an issue for me (and for you!) in the last month.  Please keep an eye on the webpage (stpetershigh.net > Parents and Community > Buses)   for updates and further information as the holidays progress.

IMPORTANT  If you wish to avail yourselves of any of the services offered by John Dix Travel, please reply by the end of July at the latest.  Mr Dix will have to make decisions about the precise services he will offer, after that date.

I have tried to provide families with end-of-year reports which give statements about students’ progress and a comment from form tutors.  What I am trying to do hear is balance the need to provide parents and carers with proper and good information about students without burdening teachers with toil.  (Even at 2 minutes per subjects report, which is probably far less than it really takes, my calculations are that we are using seven and half weeks’ work to write these reports, albeit spread over all the teachers.  I need to be sure, somehow, that this work is worthwhile.)  I have had some useful feedback emails about this year’s process and I should be grateful to read more.

There will be a letter to all families later in the summer, by way of beginning the new year.  This will be emailed to those whose emails we have and posted to those where we don’t have email addresses.  It would be good to have all your emails addresses!

Finally, I have been asked to pass on to you the services of a former pupil.  Simeon Whitter is a former pupil of St. Peter’s.

He is an Estate Planning Consultant for a national company called The Will Associates. His company specialises in protecting people through a range of services including Wills, Probate and Lasting Power of Attorneys etc. You can contact Simeon by telephone (t: 01452 203135
m: 07872 940315).


All being well, when we return in September the school will have a new electronic gate system to enhance safeguarding and the safety of the site.  It is odd that a school named after St Peter should take so long to get a set of gates which only the good can enter, but here we are.  Visitors will have to speak through an intercom to reception if they visit the school during school hours.  I am sure we shall quickly get used to the system!

I wish you all the best for the holidays.

Philip Rush


Thursday, 26 May 2016

Half-Term Blog, May 2016

Let me begin by congratulating Mrs Layhe on her appointment as headteacher from January 2017.  Mrs Layhe has worked at St Peter’s for many years now, and has proved herself both as an outstanding English teacher and as a strong leader.  She knows, understands and supports the key Catholic values of St Peter’s and will be able to take it on to reach higher standards without compromising those values. 

We have other staffing changes from this September and I shall ensure that you get a full picture of those after half-term when things are clearer.  We have been able to appoint some excellent business studies teachers, and also specialist teachers of health and social care, to work alongside Mr Freeman.  Dr Starkey is leaving to take up a new challenge in another school, and they will benefit enormously from his skills and energy;  Mrs McHale is retiring after a long and successful career with us in the art department, in the training school and on the leadership team;  Mr Barnard has accepted a promotion at a local school, and we have had to replace him as head of sixth-form. 

This week we interviewed an extremely strong short-list of candidates for the post of head of sixth-form and appointed Mrs Sian Pearce who is currently an assistant head of sixth in a Bristol school.  We are very pleased to have been able to make this appointment - although it is always sad to disappoint other excellent candidates.  Mr Barnard will leave the sixth-form in a very strong position but we hope the sixth-form can go on and build on that to ensure that standards are as high as possible.

I was very pleased by the part our year 10 students - our future sixth-formers! - played in the interview process.  Every candidate was impressed by their questions and seriousness, and Mrs Pearce commented that they “care about the school and their education”.  A big thank you to them:  it is students like these who make St Peter’s what it is and who will help to continue the improvements in the sixth-form.

One of those improvements is the introduction of the ‘vocational pathways’ this coming September.  All year 11s were given a leaflet about the enrolment procedure and about the new pathways and I hope you have seen that.  The information is on the website now.

All sixth-formers would do well to consider the extra-curricular opportunities provided by the school’s commitment to the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.  Mr Peake and Mr McAteer have taken over the running of the scheme and are building up a new team of staff to manage and run it.  I was lucky enough to have been invited to Buckingham Palace, as headteacher, to attend the presentation at which our former student Leo May received his Gold Award.  A huge accolade for his hard work, and a lovely sunny afternoon in Buckingham Palace Gardens for him and his parents (and me!).

I was also invited, along with many other local headteachers, to the presentation ceremony at the Madrasah Al-Fateha which is held at Widden Primary School.  Excellent to see some of our students shining there, and once again showing hard work, commitment and charity in their work outside St Peter’s.  It was a privilege to be able to attend.

Everyone is looking forward to the half-term break, I think, except perhaps our older students who are deep now into their public exams:  for them the week off is a week of revision and exam practice.  We are planning internal exams for years 8 and 10 in the second half of the summer term and parents and carers of students in those years will receive a letter explaining those and giving dates.  (These letters are now sent by email, with hard copies to collect from Reception.  Please ensure that we have your correct email address;  an email to reception@sphs.co.uk will help us fix that.  The more homes we can reach by email, the better.  Thank you.)

Have a good half term!  But don’t forget we have an important final session ahead of us.  We all have to keep pressing on until mid July to make sure that the summer holidays refresh us rather than make us stale.

 Philip Rush



Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Mayday News

Mayday News

If any of you have visited the school in the last few weeks, you will have seen the finishing touches to the big building programme.  Mrs Layhe has organized some excellent canvases with Mr Peake's photographs of students, and these make the reception area very colourful and lively.  We have a new trophy cabinet – with some very old trophies amongst all the new ones! – and, of course, we have a portrait of Mr Montagu and a plaque recording the dedication to his memory of the new block.

We had a lovely Mass, concelebrated by half-a-dozen priests, all long-time friends of the school, including Mgr Liam, Fr Kevin, Fr Donal, Abbot Francis, and Mgr Michael English.  Many friends of the school from far and near arrived, to remember Mr Montagu, to meet his family and one another and to pray for him, for his family and for the school.  The refreshments were served by our kitchen staff in the new Design and Technology atrium and everything went very well indeed, thanks to the cooperation of all involved.  A very good day!

Despite such good occasions, sometimes as a headteacher I get a rather jaundiced view of what goes on at St Peter’s.  It’s true, I know about the success of the school jazz band who played at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival last weekend, about sport successes, and about individual successes which cover so many fields including ball-room dancing, acting and so on.  I am also delighted to have been invited to Buckingham Palace later this month to receive, on behalf of the school, a plaque celebrating our work in offering the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme to our students.  I was also deeply impressed by the seriousness with which our exam classes - years 11, 12 and 13 - took their special Mass at the end of last week.  It was a lovely atmosphere.

But I am afraid that, despite all this, some weeks are coloured by my having to speak to a very few students whose behaviour is unacceptable.  Neither I nor the governors will accept bad behaviour at St Peter’s.  I will not allow students to swear at teachers, to threaten others or to disrupt learning.  We have a very well managed system of sanctions here at the school, including short-term exclusions, and most students respond well to these, accept their punishments and learn the error of their ways.  In nearly all cases, students apologise for their actions and make a fresh start. 

Some do not.  Some - a very small handful - are not able, for whatever reason, to conform to our rules.  Rules which are there to help a large community work and play together.  As head, I have had to decide to permanently exclude students who will not work with us.  Each one of these exclusions upsets me.  But we cannot allow our principles and our pastoral care to be compromised.

It is not the best part of the job as headteacher to be responsible for permanently excluding pupils and, as I say, having to address such issues does give me a jaundiced view of St Peter’s.

However, last week, I was lucky enough to be asked to teach year 7 and sixth-form classes, and also a year 11 English lesson.  What a reassuring experience!  The students were polite, friendly, co-operative to a fault.  They were intelligent, articulate and confident.  (Of course they were!)  The year 11 class, who are preparing for their GCSEs of course, were creative and confident and - to be honest - amazingly talented.

So I want to begin by thanking all those students.  They are what St Peter’s is about.  We have something very special to offer our students and I am so grateful when I see that something special come alive in our young people.

Thank you to all parents of year 9 students for getting the ‘option choices’ in so promptly;  we are already at work creating a timetable from that information.

I am hoping that the good weather we glimpsed over the Bank Holiday weekend will become more reliable and that we can use the fields at lunchtimes quite soon.  We have some rules about that and I should appreciate it if you would ensure that your sons and daughters are fully aware of them, and of the fact that you know what they are!  It’s good to play ballgames on the field, but not to engage in rough play.  So rugby tackling is out.  The fields have to be used for PE in the afternoon, so students are not allowed to bring any food on to the field, nor to drop litter.  Finally, they must make a move off the fields in time to prepare for lessons and to start them promptly at 1.40. 

Finally, may I pass on a message I have received from Michelle Vaughan, the Group Scout Leader of 15th Gloucester (St Peter’s) Sea Scouts:  “St Peter’s Beavers, Cubs and Scouts are looking for new members to start an exciting journey on land and sea. We are the only Sea scout group in Gloucester and currently have a small number of spaces in all sections for boys and girls aged 6-15. We enjoy many outdoor pursuits, Kayaking, hiking, cycling and survival skills but to name a few.  Beavers and Cubs meet on a Weds from 6-7.30pm in St Peter’s Primary school hall, Horton Road. Scouts meet on a Friday from 6.30-8.00pm at Gordon League Rugby Club, Hempsted Lane, Gloucester. Please ring Michelle Vaughan 07963 603725. We are also always grateful for more adult support in all sections for any amount of time, please ring to discuss.”

Let me close by returning to the lovely Mass last week for the exam years.  The exams are indeed fast approaching for GCSE and KS5 students and revision should be well under way.  Allow me to remind you of what Sister Eileen used to tell us when I was at school:  “Revise like you haven’t prayed, and pray like you haven’t revised!”  We wish them all the best with their work and their exams.   I ask them to do no more than to do their best!

Philip Rush




Thursday, 24 March 2016

Happy Easter

Firstly, you are all warmly invited to a memorial Mass for Mr Montagu and the dedication to him of the new block.  The Mass will begin promptly at 10.30 in the main hall, on Tuesday 12th April (that’s the Tuesday after we return to school).  Please be here by around 10.15.  The morning will end with a formal dedication of the newly refurbished ‘main block’ to Larry’s memory.  Parents, as well as former students and staff, are all welcome. 

There will be an opportunity, too, to see how much better the new buildings now are.  We’re catering for some light refreshments, at coffee time, and if you would like to stay for that, please email Mrs Cameron at school (rcameron@sphs.uk.com).  Thank you.

Once again, I am very pleased with the imagination and effort put into their ‘faculty fortnights’ by staff and students.  The science fortnight was particularly memorable – if I am allowed to say so – with Mr Rouffet and his team performing on the main stage a marvellous cross between the Royal Society Christmas Lectures and Crackerjack.  Maybe the Crackerjack bits were the best.  It was also genuinely exciting to hear from the students who went with Dr Taylor and her team of teachers to CERN in Geneva:  the hadron collider, the United Nations and the mountains and lakes of Switzerland all in one short, intense trip.  And the maths department found a young man who could solve the Rubik cube puzzle in 27 seconds.  Which boggles the mind.

During this Lent season and in this Year of Mercy, I am very proud of the efforts of Jude Dowdeswell. Jude had the idea of 'running the school day' for Sport Relief and the response from staff, students, family and friends who sponsored Jude to run throughout the school day (with a touch of the Eddie Izzards there) was fantastic, and, in the words of Jude’s parents “reminded us of the reason why St. Peters is so great - it enables all pupils to achieve their potential”  I am very pleased to report that Jude achieved her fundraising target of one thousand pounds.  A terrific effort!

This coming term students will be receiving their final reports of the year with breakdowns of their assessments and a comment from tutors.  I am referring to the single-sided A4 sheets with grades (eg ‘excellent’, ‘very good’) and comments on progress (eg ‘exceeding target’) as well as a short handwritten comment from each student’s tutor.  As the summer letter explained back in August last year, I am asking teachers to put their time and energy into the highest quality of individual assessment of students, and therefore I said that there would be no long, end-of-year written reports this year.  I am very happy with the standards of assessment which are being achieved and I hope you feel that the report forms you receive each term, along with the parents’ evenings, are informative and helpful.  If you have any comments about the system, especially after you have received next term’s final written report, I should very much like to hear from you.  (Remember, you can see even more detail by emailing in to access the Insight pages.)

When we get back to school all being well after Easter, it will be exams, exams, exams for our older students.  Easter is indeed a good time to set course for those summer weeks.  It is I think appropriate for headteachers to give advice about how to revise.  In fact this is the only thing I am really qualified to give advice about.  Not personal relationships, not fixing domestic electricity, not the best way to fly to Los Angeles:  I can offer no advice about any of that.  I can pass on some excellent tips about revising and passing exams.  (It’s all I’m good at.)  Having said that, I have stolen some of these, but that doesn’t alter their relevance and sharpness.

Start revising early.  And early means months, not days, before the exam. Make a timetable to plan your revision and stick to it.  Don’t pretend you’re revising when you’re not.  Who are you fooling?  Don’t revise the bits you know already.  (I used to write down on a clean sheet of paper the stuff I didn’t know or wasn’t sure about and next time I’d revise from that in the same way;  usually I ended up with only a few things I didn’t know.  Then I learned those.)  Don't spend ages making your notes look pretty, just for the sake of it.  Start early, take short breaks, after maybe an hour.  And it’s quality not quantity that counts. Pay attention to past papers and, of course, to your teachers’ advice.  Sit at a desk;  don’t fool yourself that the radio helps you work – how would you feel if the airline pilot turned on Radio 1 on that last descent because ‘it helped him concentrate’?  Don’t treat the TV like a friend who’s helping.  All that sort of thing.

And don’t overdo it.  All work and no play, etc. 

When we come back, it’s revision for the older students, but it’s summer for us all.  Eventually there will be one or two warm days, anyway.  But that notwithstanding, summer uniform is upon us.  Polo shirts not blazers is the order of the day.  School pullovers and hoodies may be needed on chilly days.

The fields will be made available as soon as the weather is reliably dry and warmer.  We do not allow food to be brought on to the fields – they’re used for PE lessons the rest of the time, remember – and we need behaviour to be excellent, with no rugby tackling or horseplay.   Things go so well when students help us with those simple guidelines.

But before all that, please enjoy a happy and fulfilling Easter.  I hope we can all, staff and students, return energised and enthusiastic and ready for a good term’s work.

Philip Rush







Friday, 26 February 2016


Notices, Friday 26th February
 
I am very pleased to have received two letters this week from charities, to thank us for support.  We have had a nice letter and certificate from Save the Children thanking the school for the £380 raised from the Christmas Jumper Day in December (even though it wasn’t the coldest December and pullovers weren’t begging to be worn!) and a good letter from the Alzheimer’s Society thanking us for nearly £500 raised at the talent night.  I pass on that thanks to you and to all the students who contributed to these events.

I am also pleased that the ski trip returned happy and (largely) unscathed.  Mr Figliola suffered a broken collar bone:  never a good thing for a musician to break a bone!  We wish him a quick recovery.

I should like to focus on a couple of requests, please. 

We have monitored the number of times students ask to be excused from lessons to go to the toilet.  Our policy here is to allow this whenever asked, to avoid embarrassment, to avoid upsetting students, and to avoid isolating those students who need to be excused for medical reasons.  However, it is obvious that some students are abusing that policy.  Please would you ask your sons and daughters to manage their break and lunchtimes as well as possible so that they can benefit fully from uninterrupted lessons.  Toilets need to be kept clean and hygienic for all.

Secondly, can I remind you please about uniform and attendance.  We are concerned about girls’ skirts being too short.  Mrs Gittins and senior staff are looking at nominating a new style of uniform skirt, but this will take time;  please do your best to help us by checking that daughters are not going to school inappropriately dressed.  We have two or three uniform skirts available now for any girl who needs to change out of what she has chosen to wear to school.

We are working to refurnish the sixth-form centre so that we have a new study room at its heart.  There will be silent study facilities and computers available in the library and there will be new social study area next door, where students can talk quietly as they work.   The school’s network allows students to bring their own laptops if they wish.  We do not allow sixth-formers to stay away simply because they have no timetabled classes;  they need to be in school, studying, reading and learning.

Many thanks for your support of the school.  Without parental support we would not be the school we are.


Philip Rush


 

Friday, 12 February 2016


February Half Term 2016

I hope you will all enjoy a good break next week.

I was very pleased with the seriousness with which year 11 received their mock GCSE results.  I liked the way the results sheet placed the target grade against the exam grade achieved:  this helps students to see that they need to work a little more sharply on revision and so forth while reminding them that success can be theirs for the asking.  Mock exams are not an end in themselves – they are part of a process which leads to focused revision and successful public exams.

Year 11 students have all been given details of three new vocational pathways which we are planning to introduce in September, in health, in ICT and in sport.  Each will prepare students for the world or work through qualifications, personal study, work experience, English and maths;  they are especially designed for students who gain around 5 good GCSEs.  These will be important opportunities for many of our students, and will sit alongside our A-levels and our ‘Foundation Sixth’ GCSEs.

There have been many good things to celebrate this term, including some excellent rugby results, some excellent work in faculty fortnights –  geography and English have done brilliantly recently - and some really positive coverage in the Citizen.  The Holocaust Memorial Service with readings and talks by sixth-form students and a Jewish prayer read for us by local poet Adam Horovitz, was particularly moving.  The ‘memorial baton’ was handed on to Gloucestershire Care Services and accepted on their behalf by Paul Jennings their CEO.

May I remind those of you with ‘smart phones’ and the like that we have a school Twitter account and a school App, both of which keep users fully up to date with school events.

Please allow me to pick out a couple of things I particularly appreciated. I should like to thank the staff and students who went on the CERN trip to Geneva, and particularly Dr Taylor whose reconnaissance and preparation were immaculate.  The trip was a huge success – the team visited the United Nations building, where the Syrian peace talks were faltering, and the CERN project headquarters.  The trip was inspirational on many levels and the enthusiasm of our students was obvious.

Yesterday, Thursday 11th February, we welcomed Philip Gross, the poet, to school to unveil a bench painted to illustrate his book, Manifold Manor.  Philip has written many books of poetry – both for adults and children – and also novels for teenagers.  I am probably saying that everyone should read at least one Philip Gross book!  He came over from Cardiff to unveil the bench and enjoyed very much what was a return visit to St Peter’s.  Big thanks to Oliwia, Jazton, Amelia, Hanna and Emma. 

It is also pleasing to report, as you may have seen already, that our former student Caroline Quinn, now a civil servant, has been awarded an MBE for her work supporting human rights in China.

We have had to make some changes in the bus arrangements, especially in the Newent route.  Mr Blackshaw works closely with Shire Hall to maintain the bus services to St Peter’s, but we are dependent on the bus companies.  These are not public or county services any more.  We shall always do our very best to maintain routes, and Mr Blackshaw has worked tirelessly to achieve this, but we ask for your understanding when changes have to be made.

Some notices to conclude.  Firstly, we still have quite a mound of uncollected examination certificates.  If your older sons and daughters need to collect certificates, please could they contact the school to arrange collection.  Thank you.

Currently we are advertising posts for examination invigilators via the St Peter’s Internet and E-teach with a closing date of Sunday 21st February.  Sadly, to-date, we have only received six applications which is a far cry from the numbers we need to cover the summer exams.  If you are able and willing to undertake this paid work during the exam season in May and June, could you look at the website and submit an application form, or ring the school to speak the exams office.

Secondly, some staffing changes.  Mrs Melton and Mrs Lally have taken over leadership of the maths department.  Mr McAteer has been finding it increasingly difficult to balance the demands of his leadership role with the needs of a big and important department, and I am very grateful to Mrs Melton and Mrs Lally for having offered to step up to the role.  We are currently advertising for a new head of maths and hope to have news of that appointment shortly.

 Mr Hudson has been appointed as our new head of year 7, taking over from Mrs Brindley.  Mrs Brindley has worked very hard in this role this year but it was a new role for her, and after reflection she has decided that it is not the best role for her.  The school is disappointed to have to accept that decision, which was Mrs Brindley’s own.  But the school moves on and Mr Hudson will work alongside Mrs Brindley for a short while and then take over the reins.  Mrs Gittins continues to oversee key stage 3.

Mrs Greenow has been appointed as our ‘designate’ head of year, which means that she will shadow the work of our heads of year and should in the future one of the heads of year move on, she will be ready to take over smoothly.  Mr Edwards, currently teaching in the maths department, has accepted a promotion at All Saints’ Academy in Cheltenham and will be leaving us at Easter.   Vacancies are advertised via our website.  Congratulations to all staff who have been given enhanced roles or have gained promotions.

And, finally, I need to tell you that the governors have accepted my request to retire at Christmas 2016.  I have announced this to staff, and obviously I shall have something fuller and more formal to say in due course.   Suffice it to say it has been an honour and a huge responsibility to take over the running of the school and to work with such a talented team of teachers and workers (and parents!).  Leaving at Christmas will, I believe, allow me to get the new school year under way before handing over to a successor.  The governors will be advertising the post shortly.

Yours

Philip Rush

 

 

Tuesday, 12 January 2016


A New Year at St Peter’s

We have returned to a new year and a new term’s tasks, beginning with the year 11 mock exam cycle.  I wish everyone a good new year and the strength to meet the challenges which will come our way.

I need to begin by asking for your prayers.  Please pray for the repose of the soul of John Lavin who died this last Sunday, and for the comfort of his family.  John taught for a several years in our maths department, and retired a few years ago now; his wife, Irene Lavin, taught in the modern languages department for many years until relatively recently.  John died peacefully at home after a short but serious illness.  May he rest in peace.

This evening, the governors ratified my decision to expel a sixth-form student who brought an air-pistol to school.  (I have emailed you before about this exclusion.) The governors agreed with me that this was a serious incident, that it potentially endangered students and staff and that it brought the school into disrepute. 

Although the sixth-former has family members at the school, he had only been a student here since September 2015.  The police, as you can imagine, took the incident extremely seriously and firearms officers arrived quickly at the school.  I have been informed by local police that national security services looked closely at this incident and at the young man’s background and friends, but found nothing untoward;  they concluded that this was a silly and reckless act of bravado and no more.  However, silly and reckless acts of bravado can lead to tragedy and in this case has brought a young man’s education at St Peter’s to an end.  All students need to know that bringing weapons of any sort into school will lead to this kind of action, firmly and decisively. 

I am very pleased that one of our sixth-form boys reacted maturely and with some courage to report immediately that he had been shown this weapon.  This is the behaviour we expect of St Peter’s students, and I have congratulated this student for his good sense and speed of action.

On quite a different note, we are delighted by the standard of the new building work.  The Reception area looks extremely welcoming and modern, and the working area there is much more comfortable and professional.  The small spire over the chapel has been repainted, with a gold coloured cross, too, and the painting of Christ which stood at the entrance for all those years is now a mural on the entrance way.  There is still some more tidying up to be done but we are starting a new year with the building project behind us.  I shall be writing this week to Mr Lester in his new post in Cumbria with some photographs of the building and my thanks for his crucial work in securing the grant for us to enjoy this improvement to our facilities.

We welcomed two new staff to the school in January:  Mrs O’Donnell has joined the English department, and Mr Watkins has joined us to work with students in English and maths (although he will also be teaching some business studies for the time being).  We have also welcomed some new trainees from the University of Bristol.

We were not able to appoint a part-time modern languages teacher to fill the gap left by Miss Osman’s departure.  We shall readvertise, but for the time being we have had to make some adjustments to sets in lower school French and Spanish;  we are confident that all students will continue to make the best of progress.

Our year started with a staff INSET day on 6th January - which in my day was always the Feast of the Epiphany - and we heard wonderfully energetic and committed talks about the importance of Catholic education from Sr Judith Russi and Mr Raymond Friel.  Thanks to Mr Copesake for his work in organising this for us.


All of our students who applied for places at Oxford or at Cambridge enjoyed the challenge and the process, and I am pleased that they made the big effort of putting themselves forward.  Two of our students have received offers:  Niall Macklin, to read history at Oxford, and Harry Frederickson, to read PPE at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.  Congratulations to them, and all the best to them as they work towards those crucial final A-level exams.

It is also good to be able to report that six year 8 pupils have been successful in their applications to attend the prestigious 'Mathematics Masterclasses' at the University of Bath.  Well done to them and to their maths teachers!
 
Please put a date in your diary for the next PFA Quiz: Friday 26th Feb, 7 for 7.30 in the hall. The quiz is written and arranged by sixth formers so it would be good to get some warm support.  Teams of up to 6 people, £2 per person, pay on the night.  This has always been a good evening in the past.
 
Finally, just a little reminder that a lot of library books are due back, and it would be nice to see them come in over the next week, please and thank you!

Yours,


Philip Rush
Principal