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Farewell To All That!

Posted on 19th July 2013

We are saying thank you and goodbye to a number of teaching and non-teaching staff who are retiring at the end of this Term.  Taken together, their contributions to Caistor Grammar School amount to well over 90 years of service in one way or another!  That is very impressive and we will miss them very much.  Mrs Sharon Woodhouse, our Finance Manager, has been a dependable rock of reliability and accuracy and thoughtfulness in running our financial affairs for 25 years.  Prior to that, she was School Secretary, and before that, she was a student at the School, neé French, who met one Tony Woodhouse, another student, whilst studying here.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Their daughter, Katie, also was a student here and, indeed, became Head Girl.  Mrs Woodhouse’s ability to develop her skills for ever greater challenges has been shown through a number of phases of the School’s development.  In 1989, we became a Grant Maintained School and took on far more responsibility for the running of our own affairs.  We then became a Foundation School in 1998 and worked on a number of different projects which required extra accounting for.  More recently, in December 2010, we became an Academy and this has undoubtedly been a huge challenge to Mrs Woodhouse.  She has risen to it splendidly with characteristic fortitude and dedication.  She is an example to us all and we can be hugely proud of her wonderful career at Caistor Grammar School.  We wish her and Tony a happy retirement.

Mr Alan Saxton also has a long-standing connection with the School since his two children were both educated at CGS.  14 years ago, as his first career was winding down, he decided to take on the role of Librarian with us.  He has done this in a very efficient and effective way and has contributed greatly to learning in the School by overseeing the transformation of the library into a genuine Resource Centre.  His ability with ICT has been hugely beneficial to the development of Room 01.  We are very grateful to him for all his service and wish him and his family a very happy retirement.

Mrs Jacky Robson has been an English teacher at Caistor Grammar School since 1986.  During her over 27 years of service she has impressed her colleagues immensely, as well as her many students, with her impeccable organisation, mastery of detail and stylish flair.  She has involved herself widely in the life of the School and has made a huge contribution through involvement in a large number of trips and activities run in areas beyond the English department, such as our annual ski trip, as well as within the English department including many World War 1 battlefield trips (and has also been loyally supported by her husband, Tony).  A major contribution she has made has been in the editorship of our School newspaper, “Caistor Focus”.  The latest edition, which should be reaching your hands about now, is another outstanding effort which tells the story of our winning School Newspaper of the Year at the Shine Awards for the second consecutive year – a fitting tribute for all of her efforts.  She has been a very distinguished Head of Careers for over 15 years, which has included organising Y10 work experience,  and through her work the School has gained the Careers Mark and countless students have been helped to plan for their future lives.  But it is as an English teacher that her light has shone brightest and we all know that we owe her a huge debt for her enormous hard work, commitment and talent.  We wish her a very happy and long retirement and thank her for her splendid service to Caistor Grammar School.

Mrs Pat Osborne is also retiring after a very distinguished 25 years at CGS.  During that time she has held a number of roles.  She has been Head of French, Head of German, Modern Languages Co-ordinator, i/c our MFL Guests, as well as Gifted and Talented Co-ordinator and Head of Ayscough.  In all those jobs, she has worked exceptionally hard to prepare her students thoroughly for the rigours of language learning.  An insight into her success was afforded last year when several ex-students who were all language teachers at a nearby large comprehensive discovered they had all been taught by Mrs Osborne at CGS. They had all been talking enthusiastically about the excellence of their teacher when they discovered they were all talking about the same person!  She has helped instil her love of both French and German culture by organising many, many foreign trips as both Homestays and exchanges and by organising French and German breakfasts at school as well as a large number of Language Days in different parts of the county.  Last year, as she prepared for retirement, she moved to a part time position and that has confirmed to her that she is ready to put away her language dictionaries and properly retire.  Just before her departure, it has been a delight to welcome her son, John, a distinguished writer and poet to visit us and share his skills with our students.  We hope that she will have a long and happy retirement and we wish her and her family well for the future.

We are also saying farewell to our three Technicians who traditionally work with us for one year.  Miss Claire Sleight, our Performing Arts Technician, Mr Sean Mumby, our PE Technician and Miss Rachel Mumby, our Languages Technician have all done excellent jobs and contributed greatly to CGS in the last 12 month; working with students, developing materials for learning, supporting school trips and productions and generally being a help within our staff room.  We are very grateful to all of them and wish them huge success in their careers in the future.

Outstanding Effort and Attainment grades for this academic year

We carefully record every Effort grade and every Attainment grade that every student gains every single term and put these together to have a measure of progress at a School level, as well as at an individual level.  We are thus able to measure how different year groups do in comparison with their older peers and also how they do in comparison with themselves in previous years.  This year, once again, a number of School records have been broken and I am attaching a sheet to this letter which summarises the performance of each gender in each year group in the School.  You can calculate your own child’s effort and attainment grades as follows:  we give Effort grades their numerical value, 1/2 counts as 1.5 and we give Attainment grades the following values: A* and A both count as 1.0 and A/B counts as 1.5 and A*/A counts as 1.0, B/C counts as 2.5, B counts as 2, C as 3, D as 4 and so on.  Add up the total of numbers and divide by the number of subjects to get an average.  If this is too much of a mathematical challenge as the summer holidays approach, we will be sending you your child’s averages for each term this year and for each previous year they have been in the School, when we issue their first Assessment of next year during the Autumn Term 2013.  It is good to benchmark our performance, not only against others, but also against ourselves in previous times.  I hope this will be a spur to ever greater achievements at the School.  It is clear that overall, students have worked harder and more successfully this year than in any previous year when judged by our own Effort and Attainment system. Congratulations to everyone!

Top billing in the latest DfE Performance Table

I am delighted to report to you that the latest Government measurement of schools which is called “Similar Schools” in which secondary schools are put in batches of 55 (according to their similar intakes of students, as measured by their KS2- scores) and compared to one another in terms of their Value Added is very good news for Caistor Grammar School.  We were ranked 1st out of 55 in our batch and you can’t do better than that.

An exciting, if frenetic, end to our year

Every day at Caistor Grammar School seems to bring a new trip or activity of note.  Most of this is recorded in our School website, often with pictures.  Since I am taking quite a few of the pictures myself, I hope you are impressed by the skills of the photographer!  I should also thank Mr Tom Smith, our ICT Co-ordinator, and Mr Kristian Smy, our ICT Technician, who are working harder than ever to ensure that you are kept bang up to date with all that is going on.  Another way that you can be abreast of the constant activity is by viewing my Twitter page, which can be accessed readily by clicking on the small blue bird at the top right hand corner of our website.  Alternatively if you are within Twitter, you can simply search “caistorgrammar” and you will find me.  I am now on something like 112 tweets and really enjoy doing it.  Though I should warn you, I will be taking a summer vacation!

In the last week we have had a really superb Summer Concert, organised by Mrs Fran Thompson, ably assisted by Mrs Kathleen Watson and by Mrs Angela Warmoth.  We are very grateful also for the assistance of Mr Ray Wyley and Mrs Janet Warmoth.  Thanks also go to Miss Claire Sleight for her support.  The Concert revealed just what huge depth of talent we have in every year group in the School and how readily they work hard to share their expertise generously with us all.  It was a wonderful occasion.

The School Walk was also a tremendous event.  We basked in beautiful weather and very much enjoyed each other’s company.  It seemed to me the very epitomy of a civilised community.  We are grateful for the support offered to us by the Friends of Caistor Grammar School.  If we have raised a good deal of money for Water Aid, a very worthy charity, then all the better.  Please do ensure that all sponsor money comes back to the School Office before the end of term.  While we were on the walk, the Lower Sixth were on the first day of their two day Challenge of Industry in which local representatives from commerce, industry and the armed services joined our students in a number of challenges to help them understand better the world of work.  It was a fantastic two days and the Lower Sixth rose to the occasion with aplomb.  I am very grateful to Mrs Julie Wolseley who organised the event, to all our outside advisers and also to Mr Terry McTernan, Head of Sixth Form, for his support.

Congratulations go to the German department for organising a Year 12 German Day last week in which four Cambridge Fellows spent the day giving university level symposiums to our A level German students.  Students from 9 other schools, including independent schools in our region, also attended the event, such was its magnetic attraction.  Very well done to Dr Dan Wilton and thanks also to Miss Rebecca Turner.  We wish the two of them good luck as they lead the Lower Sixth on a trip to Berlin right at the end of this Term.  Year 8 have been busy enjoying an orienteering afternoon organised by the Maths Department (thanks go to Mr Chris Frost and Mr Michael Robinson in particular) and are about to go on a Geography trip to Flamborough Head near Bridlington which I am sure will be a wonderful occasion, especially since the tides will be in just the right place!  Thanks go to Mr Nick Robinson and the Geography department for organising this.  Year 9 enjoyed a Bowling Evening and thanks go to Mrs Monica Jacques, Head of Middle School, for organising this and to all the colleagues who supported it.

We are very proud of our 18 Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award candidates who have done fantastically well in both their practice and their assessed D of E expedition.  Thanks go to Mrs Jo Hoare for organising this and to a large number of helpers and supporters to whom we are very grateful.

Congratulations go to our athletics team who were runners-up in the athletics Super 8 competition in the Lincolnshire School Games.  This week Year 10 are doing their work experience and we are very grateful to Mrs Jacky Robson for organising this so successfully with a great deal of help from Mrs Linda Cowland.

Thoughts on a very impressive year

As we reflect on the academic year 2012/13, I think we can draw a great deal of satisfaction from the considerable effort and success which our students and staff have demonstrated.  We await the summer results, but at this stage I feel very pleased with all that has been accomplished.  Thanks go to all staff and students and also to the parental body for their support of the life of the School.  Our new academic year begins on Thursday 5th September 2013, and personally, I cannot wait for the excitement and challenge of the 2013/14 year!  See you then!

Yours sincerely