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Headmaster’s Letter 21st July

Posted on 21st July 2021

Dear Parent,

This is my final newsletter of the school year. I’d like to thank everyone attached to the School – students, staff, parents and governors – for their support this year. Thanks to you and them, a great deal has been achieved. I’d like to thank especially the Senior Leadership Team (Mrs Buck, Mr McTernan, Mr Croft, Mr Frost, Mrs Clark & Mrs Mosey) for their adaptability, problem-solving skills and sense of perspective. There have been several late night/ weekend phone calls this year as we have adjusted to the unexpected and have mapped our way through the re-arranged year. Thank you too to our governors who have always been available to talk some of the challenges through.

Despite the second school closure, bubbles, and the miasma of Teacher Assessed Grades, we have made it to the end relatively unscathed. Thank you for keeping your child(ren) engaged with remote learning and thank you for trusting your child’s teacher to get on with the task of determining the TAGs.

Next year will have other challenges, I’m certain, but a 3.45pm finish and a full extra-curricular programme, as well as no bubbling of year groups, means as normal return as possible to our former way of working.

As a change to the usual end of term, this week we have run some House Challenges in drama, technology, music, art and PE. I’ve posted a few photos on the School Twitter feed (@Caistor_GS) to try to capture the students’ enjoyment and ingenuity. Hours of planning have gone into making this ‘happen’, so thanks to the Heads of Department, Mr Harris, Mr Donington, Mrs Thompson, Mrs Porter and Mr Shutes for organising the events and Mrs Buck, the Deputy Head, for coordinating everything.

There is a special edition of the Caistor Focus on that records the final three days of the school year 2020/21. You can read it here. [link] (Thanks to Mr Davey and the reporting team: Aishwarya West, Erin Ingham, Yash Vaddaram, Evie Bird, Beth Crowther, Alice Fearn, Amelia Crompton-Howe, Pearl McCann, Lara Baugh, Rosie Barker, Theo Powell-Howard & Rory Longcake. Looking to July 2022, I hope we can expand on these final few days of activities, as well as bringing back the School Walk. Participating in all the excitement that these events bring creates valuable memories for all.

Year group awards

We have celebrated student achievements in our end of term assemblies over the few weeks.

Year 7

Merit Award Winners: Mollie Grant & Erin Ingham

Merit Draw Winners: William Hollamby & Erin Bate

E2E winners:

7X: Varsha Simha & William Hollamby

7Y: Archie Rowlands & Mollie Winter

7Z: Yvie-Sue Bailey & Dipangshu Bhattacharya

Year 8

Merit Award Winners: Yash Vaddaram & Lewis Bingley

E2E Winners

8X: Adam Jackson & Lewis Bingley

8Y: Stella Deans & Nathaniel Briggs

8Z: Daisy Cook & Tiana-Mai Redhead

Year 9

Merit Award Winners: Daniel Albert Lamin & Edith Green

Golden Ticket E2E Winners

9X: Isaac Lee & Caitlin Frost

9Y: Hebe Gabel & James Marshall

9Z: Charlotte Phillips & Dhruv Sanem

Golden Ticket Merit Winners

9X: Daniel Albert Lammin & Edith Green

9Y: Isabelle Catley & Alexander O’Donoghue

9Z: Zenia Alvi, Alice Fearn & Catherine Hargreaves

Year 10

Despite the disruption this year, Mr Davey has highlighted students in the year who have stood out for their positive example. I won’t tell their stories, but I wanted to mention their names: Charlotte West, Kamran Bhullar, Lara Baugh, Maria Fretwell, Max Murray, Ruth Matthews, Saqib Jajja, Yasmine Sedaghat, Zamin Ali &

Asmita Yogachandran

History Balloon Debate Final (Year 9)

1st: Hansard – Alice Fearn as Phil Knight (co-founder and life chair of Nike)

2nd: Rawlinson – Edith Green as Stephen Hawking

3rd: Rawlinson – Ayla Jafri as Winston Churchill

We ran our debate semi-remotely this year. House Points go the top three and the Harling Cup to our overall winner, Alice, at Awards Evening in October. There was an impressive standard and variety of speakers. Thanks to Mrs Dowthwaite and Mr Croft for organising it.

‘Zummer’ concert 2021

The Music department (Mrs Thompson and Mrs Allan) were looking forward to a return to live audiences in late June with the summer concert – however, restrictions on live performances were extended for another month. Not to be defeated, with the help of a new Zoom (not the remote meeting application) camera and Mr Robinson’s expertise, they have filmed students’ performances. Although it’s not a substitute for seeing it ‘live’, the quality showcases the range of undiminished talent in School. Having seen the concert, if you’d like to make a donation, which will help fund the camera, there’s an item in ParentMail. You can view the performances – and I really do think it’s worth giving up an hour for this – here. [link]

Go, Go, Go Joseph!

Casting for the school production, like so many other extra-curricular activities in 2021, had a few extra hurdles put in its way this year but the drama department is very pleased to announce casting for this year’s show Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which will be performed October 19, 20 and 21 in Caistor Town Hall.

Plans for the production are already well underway with a Pyramid build scheduled for late August! The first scheduled rehearsal is Sunday 29 August, 1pm-4pm, in the New Hall at school, with subsequent rehearsals most lunchtimes and every Sunday until the show. We hope as many of the cast and choir will be able to attend on August 29 and send our thanks in advance to the many parents who will be going out of their way to ensure their child attends these extra rehearsals outside of school time.

Flu vaccination Autumn 2021

As you may be aware, flu vaccinations are being offered to all students in Years 7-11 this Autumn. The vaccination programme is coordinated by the local health authority; I have not received dates yet. However, please would you complete the hyperlink in the letter attached to this newsletter to register your child to receive the vaccination.

Arrangements for the new term

I will write to all parents on Friday 20 August to outline plans for our return. Here’s our current scheme for the first three days, which includes LFD tests:

Weds 1st SeptemberYear 7 & 12In school LFD Testing

PSHE & Induction lessons

Full programme to be confirmed

 
Thursday 2nd SeptemberPlus Year 10, 11, 13In school LFD Testing, PSHE  and normal TT

Full programme to be confirmed

 
Friday 3rd SeptemberPlus Year 8 & 9In school Testing, PSHE  and normal TT

Full programme to be confirmed

 
Mon 6th SeptemberSecond back to school LFD test for Y7 and 12Normal Timetable

New Assembly rota begins

Tues 7th SeptemberSecond back to school LFD test Y10, 11, 13Normal Timetable
Weds 8th SeptemberSecond back to school LFD test Y8 & 9Normal Timetable

In addition, our responsibility to trace close contacts of students does not extend into the holiday and will not continue into next term – currently. Here’s a link [link] to an information sheet explaining the changes.

School buses

The bus services commence on September 1. Tickets have been sent out already. The 6 September start date is incorrect; passes are valid from September 1.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme

A party of 11 determined students spent three days and two nights walking laden with backpacks through the Peak District last week. Starting in Eyam and finishing in Haddon, the 11 completed the expedition. I would like to acknowledge the staff team who gave up their long weekend for the Year 11 students: Mrs Sharp (Silver coordinator), Miss Dodsworth (Centre Manager), Mr Cooke, Mrs Barnett, Mr Hughes, Dr Wilton & Mrs Van Zijl.

Uniform

I would like to remind you of our expectations for uniform for students in Years 7 to 11. After a year of disruption, I’m keen that we continue to maintain our high standards when we return. Students have, overall, been attentive to this. I’ve attached the uniform guidelines. There is also a document from Price & Buckland who supply our School PE kits. Please note the advised final order date of August 1 for Price & Buckland.

Pastoral care during the holiday

There’s lots of support and guidance on the website for parents and students. [link] Mrs Clark, the DSL, has also put together an information sheet from where you can access phone numbers. [link]

Farewells

At the end of the year, I want to acknowledge the contribution of colleagues who are leaving us for new challenges.

Thanks to Miss Barratt (PE Technician) who is heading to the University of Lincoln, Mr Hughes (temporary Art Technician) who is heading to the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, Miss McCann (Performing Arts Technician) who is heading to the University of Durham. Considering our extra-curricular activities have been significantly restricted, they have been busier than ever this year.

Thanks to Mr Gardiner (maternity cover Classics) who covered Miss Wildman’s maternity this year. He is starting work at James Allen Girls School in London in September. We also say farewell to Mrs Shilling, (Art Technician), who is stepping down after eight years to spend more time to support her family. In her eight years at the school, we benefited from her artistic flair: much of student art around the site was hung by her.

Mr Shepherd (PE) is also leaving us having joined us from De Aston School in 2010. He has played several roles in the school, while continuing to focus on his PE job. He has supported careers, PSHE, run several successful football, cricket and badminton teams, run ski trips, supported the Year 7 Newlands trip and has driven the minibus for numerous Duke of Edinburgh Award expeditions. Students will remember him for his dry sense of humour, calm nature and kindness. He has ambitious plans for travelling with his wife Anna once restrictions are lifted.

Mrs Craddock (Head’s PA) is retiring after 18 years of exceptional dedication in the role. She has taken on several administrative roles in her time, including Clerk to Governors (2014-19) and safeguarding administration and Admissions (since 2019). She has led the updating of the admissions process by moving it online. We will remember her for her kindness, empathy and sharp sense of humour.

Mrs Taylor (Biology) has been teaching for 28 years and has dedicated 27 years of her career to the students of Caistor Grammar School. Mrs Taylor has worked in the former boarding house (Lyndsey), has run the mentoring system and has worked in different pastoral roles across the School. The Whisby Year 7 trip, one of the first trips we ran once restrictions were lifted, is part of her legacy. Mrs Taylor’s gentle determination to get the best out of her students is the hallmark of an excellent teacher: students find the journey challenging, but they arrive at their destination, overcoming any impediment, from the undiminished persistence of their teacher. We all wish Tara and husband Tim an exciting journey as they set to work on their small holding.

And that’s it! We’re there. Have a wonderful holiday. I’ll write again on August 20 and look forward to welcoming students – current and new – from September 1 onwards.

Best regards,

Alistair Hopkins

Headmaster