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 (  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

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