Monday, 16 January 2017

Happy New Year

We have completed our first full week of term, year 11 have had mock exams and I have taken over the reigns from Mr Rush.
Carols by Candlelight
The term ended with Carols by Candlelight at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Stroud.  The church was packed with parishioners, pupils and staff ( both past and present), parents and friends of the school.  Our choir were joined by several former music students and the pupils of The Rosary School participated beautifully also.  The evening was delightful and a lovely start to the Christmas season.

Mr Rush
Mr Rush retired at the end of December after thirty three and a third years of teaching and leading St Peter’s.  The staff presented him with some wine glasses and wine (Spanish, of course!) as well as a cheque which he is using to pay for a two day photography course and overnight stay in Wiltshire which he has already booked.  He was presented with a cake made by Mrs Cameron, his former PA, which incorporated some of his passions: reading and writing poetry, music, and walking the Camino de Santiago.  We were delighted that his children and grandchildren were able to attend as well as his wife Caroline.  This evening the leadership team and the governors are taking him and Caroline out for a meal.  It is a measure of Mr Rush’s commitment to the school that this term he is continuing to teach GCSE RE for us as well as his A-level creative writing group.


In January Mr Barry Upward and Mrs Wendy Briggs joined the maths department and are settling in well.  This week we say farewell to Mr Joe Knight who has been part of our site team for several years and who was also a student at St Peter's.  He and his family are leaving the area and we wish them well in the future.

Year 11 mock exams

Last week our year 11 students had a week of mock examinations which have gone very well.  Thanks to the PE department for vacating the gym during a cold and wet week!  Students will receive their results on development day on Tuesday 7th February followed by parents evening when they will be able to discuss their progress and plans for KS5 with teachers and our careers adviser.  We hope to see all parents and carers at this evening.  This will be followed by three further ‘snapshot’ assessments prior to study leave and examinations.  I hope year 11 students respond well to the feedback on the mocks and organise their time so that they can revise steadily over a period of months rather than leave it until the last minute. 

Attendance and Behaviour
Attendance remains a key area which we need to improve.  The government target for attendance is 95% but even if a student attends school for 95% of the time, he or she will miss a whole day’s work every four weeks.  If you miss school, you miss lessons, and you miss chances to improve and develop.  Recent figures reveal that at St Peter’s students with attendance of over 95% ‘overachieve’ by making more than expected progress and that students with less than 95% ‘underachieve’ by making less than expected progress.  Even students with attendance between 90% and 95% seem to be quite significantly under-achieving.  We all need to work together to improve attendance throughout the school and we look for your support with this.

As you know we amended our behaviour policy last term.  It can be viewed on this webpage: (click on Anti-Bullying and Behaviour policy).  Of course it applies to a small percentage of our students.  I am including here Mr Rush’s comments on this from last term:

The key change is significant and concerns fixed-term exclusions.  The new system is firmly incremental.  For a ‘first offence’ a student receives a one-day exclusion, for a second two days, and so on.  Each exclusion is followed by a formal meeting with parents and carers.   A five-day exclusion constitutes a ‘final warning’.  There is no six-day exclusion:  this is a permanent exclusion.  (For serious offences, a permanent exclusion will be triggered as now.) 

The key thing, in this system, about an exclusion is not really the length of time away but the progress through the gradient.  This ‘progress’ – I am not sure in the present climate whether the word ‘progress’ is quite the right one here – is emphasised at each formal meeting.  Secondly, there is no dilly-dallying with students who do not change their behaviour.  It will be made absolutely clear at the ‘three-day’ mark that we are heading for a permanent exclusion, unless there is a change in behaviour, and the school will put in place at that point the kind of formal intervention programme we are familiar with now.  But if there is no change in behaviour, inevitably a permanent exclusion will follow.  We will want, let me stress, to see a change in behaviour.


Please maintain your contacts with the school and let us know of any concerns you have so that we can address things as soon as possible.  We can’t always fix things immediately, and sometimes different people have very different perceptions of the same thing, but we value your help in identifying issues.  Open House Wednesday takes place every week at the very bottom of the school in the training block from 4 – 6pm should you wish to discuss concerns with me or a member of the leadership team in person.  We do ask that you email by midday of that Wednesday with some idea of the area of concern.
Important information and updates (including school closure in the event of sever weather) are displayed on the school website ( and can also be seen on the school's twitter feed(@StPetersRCHigh).  If you have a smart phone, it is well worth downloading the free St Peter's app; details can be found here: stpetershighschool
I have received complaints from neighbours of the school who live in the slip road off Stroud Road where some parents park to pick up their children .  Some driveways are being blocked which means the person is unable to get out.  Some parents who have parked in this way have even been rude to neighbours trying to leave their driveways.  This does not foster a good relationship with our neighbours.  Please can parents who pick up students at the end of the day wait until 4pm when they can come into the school's bus bay or park sensitively nearby.
I look forward to a good but short half term and to your continued support of the school.
Stephanie Layhe