Thursday, 26 May 2016

Half-Term Blog, May 2016

Let me begin by congratulating Mrs Layhe on her appointment as headteacher from January 2017.  Mrs Layhe has worked at St Peter’s for many years now, and has proved herself both as an outstanding English teacher and as a strong leader.  She knows, understands and supports the key Catholic values of St Peter’s and will be able to take it on to reach higher standards without compromising those values. 

We have other staffing changes from this September and I shall ensure that you get a full picture of those after half-term when things are clearer.  We have been able to appoint some excellent business studies teachers, and also specialist teachers of health and social care, to work alongside Mr Freeman.  Dr Starkey is leaving to take up a new challenge in another school, and they will benefit enormously from his skills and energy;  Mrs McHale is retiring after a long and successful career with us in the art department, in the training school and on the leadership team;  Mr Barnard has accepted a promotion at a local school, and we have had to replace him as head of sixth-form. 

This week we interviewed an extremely strong short-list of candidates for the post of head of sixth-form and appointed Mrs Sian Pearce who is currently an assistant head of sixth in a Bristol school.  We are very pleased to have been able to make this appointment - although it is always sad to disappoint other excellent candidates.  Mr Barnard will leave the sixth-form in a very strong position but we hope the sixth-form can go on and build on that to ensure that standards are as high as possible.

I was very pleased by the part our year 10 students - our future sixth-formers! - played in the interview process.  Every candidate was impressed by their questions and seriousness, and Mrs Pearce commented that they “care about the school and their education”.  A big thank you to them:  it is students like these who make St Peter’s what it is and who will help to continue the improvements in the sixth-form.

One of those improvements is the introduction of the ‘vocational pathways’ this coming September.  All year 11s were given a leaflet about the enrolment procedure and about the new pathways and I hope you have seen that.  The information is on the website now.

All sixth-formers would do well to consider the extra-curricular opportunities provided by the school’s commitment to the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.  Mr Peake and Mr McAteer have taken over the running of the scheme and are building up a new team of staff to manage and run it.  I was lucky enough to have been invited to Buckingham Palace, as headteacher, to attend the presentation at which our former student Leo May received his Gold Award.  A huge accolade for his hard work, and a lovely sunny afternoon in Buckingham Palace Gardens for him and his parents (and me!).

I was also invited, along with many other local headteachers, to the presentation ceremony at the Madrasah Al-Fateha which is held at Widden Primary School.  Excellent to see some of our students shining there, and once again showing hard work, commitment and charity in their work outside St Peter’s.  It was a privilege to be able to attend.

Everyone is looking forward to the half-term break, I think, except perhaps our older students who are deep now into their public exams:  for them the week off is a week of revision and exam practice.  We are planning internal exams for years 8 and 10 in the second half of the summer term and parents and carers of students in those years will receive a letter explaining those and giving dates.  (These letters are now sent by email, with hard copies to collect from Reception.  Please ensure that we have your correct email address;  an email to will help us fix that.  The more homes we can reach by email, the better.  Thank you.)

Have a good half term!  But don’t forget we have an important final session ahead of us.  We all have to keep pressing on until mid July to make sure that the summer holidays refresh us rather than make us stale.

 Philip Rush

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