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!


Philip Rush