The Real Measure of our School
I hope that you enjoyed reading my last Parents’ Letter, I certainly enjoyed writing it. Like a barrister with an irresistible brief I sought to use the considerable evidence from this year’s League Tables to make a compelling case for the excellence of our School. I hope that I succeeded, but I would not want you to think that because this case was so strongly made it means that I, or our Governors and staff, feel that the most important thing about CGS is League Table success or even that it is what defines us as the remarkable School which we are. In my view it does not and it should not. I sometimes fear that in the eyes of some, our very success stands as a damning judgement against us – to do so well in them we must be solely concerned about the tables. In fact nothing could be further from the truth. Our School is a community of people and how all those people relate to one another and work with each other, students and staff and parents, is really what we are about. Our excellence is much better judged by looking at the quality of the relationships that exist within the School and at the extent and ways in which we care for our students. This is the real measure of our School and I would like to give four examples of this cooperative work in action:
- What goes on in our classrooms. My colleagues and I are watching more lessons than ever this School year to get the best possible handle on what’s going on in the classroom. Last week for example in one golden day I watched four lessons and each one of them was judged as outstanding. Through our Raising Standards Forum and through our Sharing Teaching Ideas Group we are also working hard to share best practice within the School and it’s paying off. Our own right up to date data suggests that Teaching and Learning in the School are outstanding. I also feel that we have ironed out a good many minor obstacles to good learning occurring in every lesson but we always welcome any feedback from parents that can help us make this area better still.
- Self-Evaluation happens in many other ways too. As a School we are continuously monitoring and evaluating what is going on. We have a School Self-Evaluation Statement (which runs to 38 pages!) and each Department also has its own SES. Governors are also linked to each Department and are in regular contact with Heads of Department to discuss their progress.
- The People we are becoming. Our student body play an important role in this on-going evaluation. Our School Council, Sixth Form Council, and Senior Prefect Team meet very regularly. An issue of the moment is homework and I am extremely impressed with the vigour and thoughtfulness with which they are tackling this issue. If we were to be judged as a School on one single measurement, I should be content if it were Student Leadership. As the most recent issue of Caistor Focus eloquently demonstrates it is a tremendous area of strength in our School.
- Parents’ Evenings. We will have had three Parents’ Evenings in this term with nearly 100% parental turnout. I always find them enormously uplifting experiences, like an enormous dose of a concentrated mixture of focus, drive, support and ambition coming from our parental body, the students themselves and our staff. It is a powerful combination!
Y11: Our Best Supported Year Ever
We have just had the Year 11 Parents’ Evening and it was a tremendous affair. I am immensely impressed by the level of support which is being offered to our Year 11 students and by the way they are responding to it. I would like to pay tribute to the Pastoral Leadership being offered by Mr Graham Dobson, Head of Upper School, and his very committed team of tutors. I am also very grateful to our Learning Support Advisors, Mrs Gill Cook and Mrs Deborah Stones. There is a great deal of mentoring support being coordinated by Mrs Tara Taylor offered at school and at departmental levels, some of it being provided by staff and the rest by students. We also have two excellent School Counsellors, Mrs Jennie Foreman and Mrs Sally Gray. Student welfare support is also provided by Mrs Julie Wolseley and SEN support by Mrs Andrea Hyslop and all of this is coordinated by our Pastoral Supremo, Mrs Shona Buck. Departments themselves are offering considerable extra support at lunchtimes and after School to students subject by subject, as well. It is this quality of care and concern and support which is the real measure of our School.
CGS On Tour
We are about to launch a number of Foreign Trips in the next few days. I am very grateful to all those colleagues who are giving up time to make these trips possible and successful. Mr Croft, Head of History, is leading a Sixth Form Trip to Russia which will take place during the first half of Half Term. I am grateful to Mrs Rachel Dowthwaite and Mr Ian Marris who are also on the trip, as am I. Mr Tom Smith is leading our Ski Trip to Passo Tonale in Italy during Half Term. I am very grateful for all the work he and Mr Michael Robinson have done to organise this trip. Other staff attending are Mrs Louise Triggs and Mr Dave Shepherd. We are also grateful to Mrs Susanne Noel-Hiles and Mr Gregor Maxwell for supporting this trip. In the second half of the Half Term Mr Andy Holland, Head of French, will lead our French Homestay supported by Mrs Anna Sharp. In the second half of the Spring Term will be the English Department’s trip to Belgium and WW1 Battlefields and at the end of the term the PE Department will be taking their own sporting tour, both football and netball, to Italy.
We do make mistakes
Yes we do and I certainly do. In fact there might be one or two in this letter! And of course my colleagues make them too, so do our students, why even some of their parents have been known to make them! What I think redeems us though is that we want so much to do a good job. There is a framed picture in our Foyer which reads “Our greatest glory lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”. That is a message to all of us and it defines the way we look at things – in ourselves and in our students – when they go wrong.
Well done to…
Congratulations to our Young Enterprise Group, Yellow, who won a first place in a local Trade Fair recently. Their story can be seen on our website www.caistorgrammar.com Very well done also to Eloise Thuey 13DW, a very gifted Mathematician, who recently won a Gold in the British Mathematical Olympiad. Congratulations to our newly appointed Young Ambassadors who will inspire a commitment to PE in our School and Community over the next year. They are all members of Year 12: Harry Capstick, Kate Pattison, Marcus Polledri and Olivia Sowerby. We send good luck to our Year 8 Football Team who have reached the Semi Finals of the Football Associations National Small School Competition.
With very best wishes