Friday, 13 February 2015

You will all have read in the papers and seen on TV that government ‘austerity’ cuts are affecting all public services, and they are biting quite hard at Gloucestershire schools, including at St Peter’s.  I have spoken to staff about the probable effects of reduced budgets.  We shall no longer be able to sustain small groups in option groups in years 10 and 11 and the sixth-form, for example, and we shall be unable to replace staff who leave apart from in exceptional cases.  Teachers will have slightly heavier teaching commitments and slightly bigger classes.  We are determined to maintain the ethos, the standards and the ongoing improvements in teaching and learning, and we shall do so.
The governors are discussing ways of ensuring that all our year-groups are ‘full’.  The local authority is expecting us to have 240 students in each year-group, and there is only one year where we have reached this number.  Numbers drop when families leave the area, and governors have been wary of freely admitting in-year applications .  Each student brings between £3,500 and £4,000 into the school, so it is in our interests to fill each year.  We have already designed and staffed a curriculum for 240 students in each year group, so we have the capacity for this change in emphasis. 
St Peter’s receives more than enough applications to fill year 7 twice over.  Every student who comes to St Peter’s has specifically asked to come here.  This support from our families is an essential part of our success and must continue unaltered however tight the purse-strings are pulled.  A million thanks for these many years of support.
We have had some recent big successes amongst our students and I should like to single out a handful .  I was very pleased by the serious and professional attitude of some of our senior students who performed at Gloucestershire’s recent Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony.  They presented a prepared reading from Anne Michaels’ and John Berger’s beautiful book, Railtracks, and conducted themselves very maturely at a moving ceremony. 
Douggie Vance of year 10 spoke live on BBC Radio Gloucestershire recently about his expertise as a glider pilot.  At only 15 years of age he has already clocked up over three hours on solo flight!  As an English teacher, I was thrilled by the unhesitating fluency of his answers on the radio, the clarity of his expression and his obvious enthusiasm.  Gave a nice name-check to the school as well!
Xavier Woodcock has qualified for the national cross-country running finals, which we think is the first time a member of our school has done so.  The gymnasts have excelled, too, and have qualified for the British Schools Finals where they will compete against the top twenty-four schools in the whole of Great Britain.  Brilliant.
Finally, here, I need to mention the success of our footballing boys.  They have played full rounds of fixtures against Churchdown School, Beaufort School and Severn Vale School.  They have won each and every match, scored over fifty goals and conceded only five. 
Lovely to see the year 7 students and their tutors raising nearly £400 for charity at their disco!  Supplemented by our ‘wear it blue’ day, we’ll be able to send off a nice cheque to cancer charities.
Road Safety
I have had to use the Tannoy to talk to students about road safety following observations from neighbours about careless and dangerous road crossing.  Please help me to get the message to our young people that road safety remains paramount and that careless behaviour when walking alongside main roads can cause accidents and worse.
Science GCSEs
A recent BBC report gave some misleading information about GCSE subjects required by candidates applying for medicine at university.  Websites and prospectuses for medical schools make it clear that candidates need excellent GCSE grades including “A or B grades in English Language and mathematics”.  Candidates need to take either chemistry or biology at A-level, and ideally both.  They will need to achieve A grades at A-level.
PFA Quiz
Who pays for the school minibuses?  Who bought the extra computers for business studies?  Who is paying for fruit trees to be planted on our site?
These are not questions from the forthcoming PFA quiz!  Come along and hear the real questions on Friday 27th Feb, the first Friday back after half term.  It will be hosted by students in the Sixth Form, so please come along and support!  It would be great to see some new faces, and seasoned quizzers are most welcome too!
7pm for 7.30pm, It is £2.50 entry, £1.50 for students.

Philip Rush
13th February 2015