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Headmaster’s Letter 6th September

Posted on 9th September 2019

Dear Parent,

 

Welcome to the new academic year

A very warm welcome to the new academic year from the staff and governors at Caistor Grammar School. If you are new to our School, I hope that you and your child value being with us and that the settling in process is swift, successful and happy. If you have any questions, much of the information can be found on the School website. If you have any specific questions, please call the school office and they will direct you to someone who can help. If you have any issues relating to your child’s progress, then please communicate with your child’s form tutor via the planner or by email. If there is a change in circumstances at home that might have an effect on your child’s wellbeing, please also let us know. Similarly if you change contact details (e.g. mobile phone number), please ensure school is on your list of groups to contact to inform of the change.

I write to parents every Friday. I keep you up to date with forthcoming events, student achievements, results and anything that we need help with from home. In addition to my letter, you will also receive other communication from the School pertinent to your child’s year group, subjects or activities on a Friday. At the end of my letter, there is a list of events for the forthcoming week. You can download the ParentMail app for Apple or Android devices from their app stores. If you have any questions about access or issues concerning settings then contact the finance department (finance@caistorgrammar.com). An online diary is also available on the website. We also have a school Twitter feed (@Caistor_GS) where I try to capture (eclectically) some of the events surrounding the life of this small but busy and purposeful school.

 

New staff

A very warm welcome to following teaching staff:

Mr David AbyMathematics & Physics
Mrs Dinah AllenMusic (part-time)
Mr Derek CarrChemistry (part-time)
Mrs Sophie NicolaouEnglish (part-time)
Mrs Jeanette RichardsonHead of Psychology
Miss Ruth WildmanHead of Classics

 

I would also like to welcome the following support staff:

Mrs Claire BrewsterData Manager & Academic Administrator
Miss Alex MottramPerforming Arts Technician
Miss Julia RandlePE Technician

 

As well as new staff, there have also been some internal changes. Mr Robert Hargreaves is now the Second in Maths and Head of Hansard. I hope you will join me in wishing all colleagues, both new and established, a very successful year.

 

Examination results

I am delighted to report that both Year 11 and Year 13 performed extremely well in their recent exams. Year 11 achieved 63.6%, at grades 9-7. Three students achieved all 9s (three of 123 in the UK studying 11 GCSEs). All have gone onto courses of their choice be that staying here for A levels, college, apprenticeships or employment. Our A level results were also very strong, (66.8% A*/B) so much so, that 91% of the students made their first or insurance offer on results day. That is a school record. Seven are off to Oxford and Cambridge (a joint record) while six will be studying either Medicine, Veterinary Science or Dentistry. Based on A level and GCSE outcomes, I surmise that the School is once again top in Lincolnshire for both A level and GCSE. Anecdotally, you’d need to travel approximately an hour and a half to find a better school for raw outcomes. The headline figures do not capture the individual stories. A lot of hard work goes into these results and all are deserved. Students exceeded their expectations. Staff too, (teachers, form tutors, support and admin staff) all work incredibly hard to enable students to fulfil their ambition. I am fortunate to work with such a talented and dedicated group of professionals.

 

Site developments

Two and a half years since we received the funding, the site security project has finished. (Unexpected costs and planning red tape delayed the project – Mrs Buck, the deputy head, supported by Mr Bray, site manager, and Mrs Mosey, finance manager, have doggedly pushed it forward). Over the summer, a second entrance and some planters have been added to the Church Street entrance while a new pedestrian access has been added to the North Kelsey Road entrance. We have installed some new access gates at the top end to enable access to the cemetery at the rear of the Library. Students have been issued with security cards which will help them to gain access to parts of the site. At some point in the near future, the cards can be charged with money to use the photocopiers in School. Other works include improving high traffic areas, decorating some of the classrooms and installing a new fence around the brook.

 

Extra-curricular

This term’s extra-curricular programme will appear on the website on Monday. There are in excess of 50 clubs on offer this term. I strongly encourage students to take a full and active part in our programme. Developing interests beyond the curriculum permeates the School’s ethos and is core to what we do. Those that take a full and active life in the School’s extra-curricular programme, developing skills outside the classroom, make the most of their time here. Beyond that, the activities enable students to mix with different forms and year groups, as well as working with teachers who they have not been taught by yet. This programme only works thanks to the dedication of teachers and older students. If your child is new to the School, please do take a look at what is on offer on the website.

 

Godfrey’s memorial

Godfrey’s memorial stone has arrived in school and will be installed soon. (Godfrey was the school cat and passed away at the end of last academic year. Kate Jennings (Y13) wrote a beautiful eulogy in the school newspaper ‘Caistor Focus’. You can read her article here.) If you’d like to see a photo of the stone, please click on this link to the school twitter feed. I am extremely grateful to Mrs Cowan, a parent and stone carver, who created the stone for us from Welsh slate. If you’d like to view her website, here’s the address www.janecowan.co.uk .

 

Assembly theme

Our assembly theme for this half-term has been inspired by the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw: ‘’Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything’. I spoke about ‘happiness’ as a decision and directed students to the work of Yale psychologist Professor Laurie Santos. Her course on happiness is the most popular at Yale: 1,200 students, approximately a quarter of the undergraduate population, attend. The course is available for free on website Coursera and will be released as a podcast in the middle of the month. I encourage you to look at it.

 

Equestrian success

Many congratulations to Daisy Williams (Y9). Daisy spent much of her summer competing in equestrian events up and down the country. She has achieved her goal of competing at the Horse of the Year show next month in Birmingham. The event is televised, and I will let you know when she is competing nearer the time.

 

Entrance exam

It’s the first of our entrance exams this Saturday and I would like to wish all the Year 6 students attempting it the very best of luck. We have in excess of 260 applicants taking the exam across two Saturdays. This is one of the largest numbers that we have ever had. I recognise that the heavy volume of traffic does cause issues for residents that morning. We do our best to avoid this by making them aware of the steps that we take. (For example, we encourage parents to car share). If you are coming to school tomorrow, please would you park respectfully, being mindful of the letter that is sent to all candidates giving directions about where to park. Further details are also posted on our website.

 

Mobile phones, socks, trousers and skirts

School introduced a new policy last year concerning the use of mobile phones. We expect students to have their phones turned off (not just on silent) when they enter the school site. They remain out of view throughout the day and can only be used in lessons with the express permission of the teacher. If parents need to contact students in an emergency, please let the school office know and the message will be passed on. The policy includes privileges for students in Years 11 and above.

Girls’ socks should be ankle length only. They need to be white in Years 7-9 and can be either white or black (not both) in Years 10 and 11. Definitely no trainer socks. Trousers must be down to the shoe: no ankle grazers! And finally, thank you for your patience with the issues ordering the ‘to the knee’ skirt. Many students have done their best to follow the new skirt length.

 

I wish you and your families a very happy 2019/20 and look forward to seeing you at the various school events occurring throughout this year.

 

Yours sincerely,

Alistair Hopkins
Headmaster