Friday, 13 March 2015

Keeping Up to Date

This morning I attended a meeting of Gloucestershire secondary headteachers where we listened to a presentation by Sir David Carter, the Regional Schools Commissioner for the south west.  He began his talk by saying that the “only innovation that works is great teaching” and I couldn’t agree more. 

We have been working hard at St Peter’s to set high standards in teaching and learning and to support all teachers in the classroom.  We walk around the school each lesson and have a very clear picture of how hard – and how intelligently – teachers are working and how well students are engaging with lessons. 

Sir David also spelled out that in an outstanding school, the norm is a good lesson with distinct elements of excellence.  It is not practicable, he says, that every lesson can be the perfect lesson.  I think that when I walk around the school I see just that, good lesson after good lesson, and often I am able to see real elements of excellence – a role play in English going well, some practical work in maths to turn abstract ideas into concrete examples, a board game in history, and so on.

There have also been some excellent extra-curricular events lately.  A top-class start to a revised debating society, for example, a visiting poet to the English department, and a lecture on recent Russian and Soviet history from an Oxford university don.  Many thanks to all staff who work to provide these and other extra-curricular opportunities.

There are always exceptions, lessons that don’t go as well as hoped, students losing concentration, but I am sure that St Peter’s is making progress towards providing the outstanding education we all want.

Primary Visit

The English department was delighted to have been invited to spend an afternoon working with year 5 pupils at St Peter’s Primary school.  Everyone seemed to have a really good time retelling an old Irish story from ‘The Tain’ both in drama and writing.  The teachers came back really impressed with the standards set in these year 5 classes and full of enthusiasm to do more such work.

Arrangements are in hand for similar visits to other Catholic primary schools whose pupils come here.

Flame 2

Mandy Baker, our chaplain, and Margaret-Mary McNeill, our senior science technician, along with other staff, led a coach full of students to a big Catholic youth gathering at Wembley Stadium, ‘Flame 2’.  St Peter’s was conspicuous in the size of the group who went, and it is lovely to see the chaplaincy having such a big effect on how young people see themselves.  They are the future not only of the church but of our society.

The Living Your Faith Summer Camps, run by the Clifton Diocese, will be held during August and are intended to encourage children and young people to engage in their faith through fun, games and Spiritual input. They take place in the beautiful surroundings of the Marist Convent in Nympsfield. Week one 3rd -7th August (age7-11 years). Week two 10th-14th August (age12-15). For more details contact Stephen Spurrell on 07860   849460 or or look on the website

Music Events

We have two important music events coming up.  They’re very different, but both look to be of the highest quality.  Stainer's ‘Crucifixion’ is  a twentieth-century choral work which is most appropriate for Lent and will be performed on Friday, 20th March – next week – at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Stroud. 19.00.  It is a one-hour piece, in English, and features solo performances from Laurence Padfield (bass) and Roberto West (tenor).
In quite a different key is ‘Bondlive’, a week later, on Friday, 27th March at the school. 19.00.Bondlive’ features theme songs from the Bond movies from Goldfinger to Skyfall, all accompanied by St Peter's Jazz Band.  Evening food included and bar. 

Tickets for both of these events can be purchased from St Peter's reception.
Low Income Travel Grants

Parents in receipt of working tax credit at the maximum level (i.e. not reduced to income) or whose children qualify for free school meals are entitled to an additional level of transport assistance. Parents will be required to submit an application for free school meals if their child is not already receiving them in order that eligibility can be confirmed with the checking service provided by the Government. Alternatively, parents can provide paper evidence of their benefits, in which case all pages of the current tax credit notice will be required.  Assistance with transport on grounds of low income will be subject to an annual review whereby transport may be withdrawn if the financial situation has changed.

i) The County Council will provide help to low income families with a child aged between 8-11 years attending a primary school where the pupil attends their nearest primary school and their home to school walking distance is over two miles.

Qualifying parents will need to reapply for transport under this criterion when their child turns eight years old and they are no longer entitled to transport when the statutory walking distance increases from two to three miles.

ii) The County Council will provide help to low income families with a child aged between 11-16 years attending a secondary school where the pupil either attends one of their three nearest secondary schools and  their home to school distance is between two and six miles or attends the nearest suitable school preferred on grounds of religion or belief, where they live more than two miles, but not more than fifteen miles from that school.

School Day

I am proposing some changes to the school day.  We are finding the ‘long lunchtimes’ rather too long (and the ‘short lunchtimes’ a little too short!) and we are proposing a one-hour lunchtime each day.  This has some knock-on effects to lesson timing.  I intend to put a detailed note about this on the website next week and will invite comments from parents.  It would be nice if we could begin a new day after the Whit holiday so that it can become embedded before the September re-start.


You will all know just how successful the school has become, under the guidance of Keiran Montagu, in coaching tennis players.  Our first team has been seeded in the national finals, which is almost unheard-of for a maintained school and a huge achievement for us.  We enjoyed a recent visit to the school by Bob Brett, the current Performance Director for the Lawn Tennis Association (UK tennis).  Once again we were told what an impressive set-up we have here and how lucky our talented players are to be able to develop their skills and experience with us.

Xavier Woodcock has been selected to represent Gloucestershire in the national cross-country championships in Lancashire.  We are delighted to be able to support Xavier and are excited by his achievements.

The website – and the PE department website which has a link there – carries all up-to-date news about fixtures and successes.


You will probably have seen from the website that we have a couple of complaints from neighbours about inconsiderate parking.  I am sure you understand that we need to be on the best of terms with our neighbours and that it is good for us to seek the highest reputation in all ways.  I am grateful for the support I received from parents collecting students from school when I spoke to them about this matter.

Finally- revision is a priority

We are approaching the time of the year when the word ‘revision’ will be used almost daily.  It’s really important for year 11 students and all sixth-formers to be managing their work and learning and making it a priority.  A little each day is the key.

Year 12 are working well, but lots of teachers tell me that they need to be working with  a little more energy and enthusiasm.  Don’t leave things too late!

Read each day.  Read over your notes.  Read the books you are studying.  Read books you’ve chosen which relate to your studies.  Read books, magazines and newspapers for pleasure.  Reading is a really important key to success.

Philip Rush
Friday March 13th 2015

No comments:

Post a Comment