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The “Assembly Themes” letter

Posted on 16th December 2014

A brilliant Autumn Concert and tremendous Christmas Lunch

We enjoyed two highlights of the year last week with our Autumn Concert and Christmas lunch.  Both were led by remarkable members of staff who do a fantastic job for our community.  Our Autumn Concert showcased the talents of students from every year group in the School and it showed that we are truly fortunate to have such talented and committed musicians in our midst.  There was an impressive range of different musical groupings from the CGS orchestra, playing with confidence and panache, to our Chamber Choir, our School Choir and a very vigorous Year 7 Choir, as well as string quartets and different impromptu musical pairings.  It was all a delight and thanks go to Mrs Fran Thompson, our Head of Music, as well as Mrs Kathleen Watson, Miss Emily Mackin and all our peripatetic music staff who help to prepare our students and do a sterling job for us.  Thanks also go to those members of staff who supported the event, particularly Mr Michael Robinson for his technical support, and the Friends of Caistor Grammar School, who once again provided splendid refreshments.

Our Christmas lunch was a marvellous affair.  Mrs Amanda Gould, our Catering Manager, and her hardworking and high performing team produced over 600 wonderful Christmas lunches and the last one served was just as good as the first.  Nearly everyone in our community who was present last Wednesday seemed to enjoy being part of the proceedings and many in the Sixth Form and on the staff dressed especially for the occasion.  I am also grateful to my colleagues in the Senior Leadership Team who helped Mrs Gould and her team to serve the lunch.

A very strong end to the Term

We are ending our Autumn Term in impressive fashion.  As you will have read above, we are holding our Christmas Evening tonight and I am sure it will once again be a wonderful occasion.  After the service in the Church, we attend a wonderful reception in our Old Hall prepared by the Friends of Caistor Grammar School.  On a good evening you can smell the mulled wine as soon as you leave the church!  But there are plenty of non-alcoholic alternatives and an abundance of mince pies.  Do come if you can!

The news on the academic front is just as appealing.  I have recently seen the calculations for our Effort and Attainment during the Autumn Term and we have managed to break no fewer than 22 records that were set last year.  This is an exceptional performance given that last year we broke 21 records and the year before 17.  This year on year progress is outstanding and impressive!   I know that one term does not a year make and that thus these records are provisional at this stage, but I do want you to see just how well different year groups in the School are doing, as a source of encouragement and so that you can benchmark for your own child’s performance against not only his/her own previous performance, but against year group averages.

January will bring the publication of the Government’s League Tables and a huge explosion of information about our School.  We have recently received, via RaiseOnline, information about our Value Added in last year’s GCSE exams.  This, you will recall, is a system of measuring a student’s progress compared to progress made by similarly accomplished other students across the nation.  It turns out that CGS as a School is rated as being at the 10th percentile, which means that our Value Added is higher than 90% of other schools.  This is fantastic!  Further, two areas within the School have done better still:  Humanities (History and Geography) are ranking as being at the 3rd percentile, which is higher than 97% of schools, and Science is ranked at the 2nd percentile, higher than 98% of schools.  Congratulations to last year’s Year 11 students who achieved these results and to their teachers.

We are delighted to congratulate Chelsea Skelton (13FC) on her recent successes in a national Showjumping Competition.  Also we are delighted that Harry Strange (9Y) has been selected from a large number of applications to be part of the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts “Rising Stars” programme.  Congratulations to both of them.

Results of Parents’ Questionnaire 2014 with 2013 for comparison

I am delighted to share with you the results of the 2014 Parents’ Questionnaire with results from 2013 for comparison.  You will see that they are both extremely positive and strikingly similar in their viewpoints year on year.  As with the Staff and Students’ questionnaires, I can re-assure you that we will be studying them with considerable care.  One question that many parents find challenging is the one about how effective our Governing Body is.  This is probably because most parents don’t come into contact with too many governors, unless they happen to know them.  Since most of our governors are, or have been, parents of students at the School, it is quite likely that you do know one or some of them and I would encourage parents to go onto the School’s website and click on the link to Governors to see pictures of all our governors.  I can certainly testify that they work very hard for the School!  On the last five Mondays, I have attended five different Governor meetings!  The Full Governing Body has met twice this term, as has the Governors’ Finance Committee and the Governors’ Curriculum and Pupil Welfare Committee, and the Governors’ Personnel Committee and Pay Committee have both met once.  Several governors also attend School events and in recent years have endeavoured to be a presence at Parents’ Evenings so that parents can meet them there.  They have found this experience very positive and the verbal feedback they have received is similar to the views expressed in the Parents’ Questionnaire.  We are always interested to receive the views of parents and I would encourage you to contact the School, and me personally, if you have any concerns about your child’s experience here.  We will do our best to resolve them positively.

A cornucopia of assembly themes

Each Half Term, I select an assembly theme which is the focus of our whole school assemblies during that seven weeks or so.  My hope is that the chosen themes will provoke our students to consider wider issues, broaden their horizons and challenge their assumptions.  This Half Term, our assembly theme has been “Don’t come to our monastery and write your own rules” which is an old Russian saying.  This provoked a range of different ideas and viewpoints from my colleagues on the Senior Leadership Team who have the task with me of directing our whole school assemblies.   I am very grateful to them for doing this so well, particularly since I know that they find some of my themes very challenging!  I thought it might be interesting for you to see a list of the themes we have used over many years and we have created the attached sheet.  In my mind’s eye, I can imagine a family playing charades after their Christmas lunch inspired by this list, though I fear I might be being a little self-indulgent!

I send warmest festive greetings for a Happy Christmas and a joyful New Year.  Our Spring Term (optimistically called) begins on Tuesday 6th January 2015.

With very best wishes

Yours sincerely


Assembly Themes 1998-2014
Gradings Yeargroup for Autumn Term 2014 Summary
Parents Questionnaire APS 2013
Parents Questionnaire APS 2014