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.


Philip Rush