A Wonderful End to our School Year
We have enjoyed a tremendous and varied programme of activities over the last few weeks at School; each new event seeming to be more captivating and arresting than its predecessor. It’s a struggle to keep up with everything that’s been happening, none of which would be possible if it were not for the extraordinary energy, enthusiasm and commitment of my colleagues, to whom I happily pay tribute. But I am also hugely grateful for the exuberance, talent and stamina of our students. I tweeted recently that last week is my favourite one in the whole School year. It contained a rich blend of excitement and activity including the following: our Year 12 Gold Duke of Edinburgh students carrying out their Assessed Expedition in the Lake District, all 25 of them, (led by Mrs Jo Hoare, Mr Dave Moffat and a huge range of teaching and non-teaching helpers), our Year 8 students spending three days on the Languages weekend (led by Dr Wilton and Mr Holland with support from many others); the two days of induction for the new Year 7 – the future of our School (organised by Mr Michael Robinson); Year 7 receiving their Reports (which were remarkably good, just like those of Year 8, which have gone out this week); our Summer Concert, an amazing and memorable showcase for the musical talent in the School both as individuals and in ensemble groups culminating in our School orchestra (thanks go to Mrs Thompson and Mrs Watson as well as Mrs A Warmoth); then on Thursday our athletics team competing in the Superzone athletics competition against 13 other schools and winning it for the 7th year in succession (we remain the only school ever to have won this prestigious competition!) (thanks go to the PE Department); this was followed by our Year 9 bowling trip, a social event which helps to bring students and staff together and is a happy end of year activity (thanks to Mrs Jacques for organising this); our two day Challenge of Industry conference (organised by Mrs Julie Wolseley) which involves about 14 local business people, sharing their skills and experiences to get our Lower Sixth prepared for the world of work; and culminating in our School walk last Friday. This is perhaps my favourite event of the whole School year and if you want to know what CGS is all about then come and see the School walk in action and wonder at how well it all goes (thanks to Mr Michael Robinson for organising it). I hope you will agree that it was quite a week! However, every one of the weeks since the exams have finished has seemed to provide its own choice moments which could provide an acceptable alternative. If I were in Year 8, I might think this week better still, for it contains the memorable Orienteering Experience in Willingham Woods organised by the Maths Department (thanks especially to Mr Michael Robinson and Mr Chris Frost) and the exciting Trip to Flamborough organised by the Geography department for them (thanks to Mr Nick Robinson and Mr Ed Cook especially for this) as well as those very special Year 8 reports, when 84 students gained a triangle – which is a new School record! (beating last Term’s Year 7 total of 83, itself a then record).
I haven’t mentioned Sports Day yet but I do want to share with you what a fabulous School occasion it was too. We had tremendous weather and House spirit and colour was much in evidence as well. Everything ran extremely smoothly and there were some very exciting races and events. Thanks to the PE department and everyone who played their part in this wonderful occasion. In the end, Ayscough was successful, winning their first Sports Day in living memory, but it really has been Ayscough’s year so it wasn’t too much of a surprise.
Space doesn’t permit me to record many other significant happenings, but I do commend to you our School website, (www.caistorgrammar.com), which does a fine job of capturing most things. And then, of course, there is my twitter account (@caistorgrammar).
Farewell to some colleagues
We are very fortunate to have the benefit of the services of a number of student technicians who are only with us for one year. It is necessarily the case, therefore, that they should be leaving us next week. We are extremely grateful to them all. Mr George Cordery has been an excellent Science Technician, both studious and scholarly but also prepared to roll up his sleeves and clear up the mess. Miss Emily Mackin has been a very active and enthusiastic Performing Arts Technician and has done really important work in supporting our very busy Arts life at CGS. We are very grateful to Rebecca Heald for her work as our PE Technician. She has brought a quiet confidence and considerable energy to this role which has resulted in a great prize: she will be returning to work with us next year as a trainee teacher! This year’s trainee teacher, Mr Darren Huart, has successfully completed all challenges and has gained his first teaching job at Toll Bar MAT starting in September. We are sure he will make an excellent teacher and thank him warmly for all his work with us during this year.
Mrs Monica Jacques is retiring at the end of this School year after 14 years at CGS as an English teacher and for much of that time as Head of our Middle School. She has been an accomplished, enthusiastic and inspiring English teacher who, as well as making her classroom a theatre of dreams and opinions as well as penetrating insights, has organised and been involved in many trips and activities to encourage and inspire her students. In her role as Head of Middle School, Mrs Jacques has been a caring, compassionate and wise voice who has sought to encourage her growing charges to think things through, be sensible and look after themselves. She has been a great supporter of charity events in the School and done much to encourage students in the Middle School to raise formidable totals to support a whole range of good works. Here, too, she has seen the value of extra curricular activities and has organised many social trips and participated in many departmental events such as the Languages Weekend recently for example. Mrs Jacques has also been an important person in our Staff room, helping to bind us together as a set of colleagues and patiently, but insistently, helping to make the School focus on its students and their needs, as well as being properly mindful of its staff’s needs. We will all miss Mrs Jacques hugely! Her wit and talent with crosswords, her skills as a gardener and a chef, her practical, no nonsense response to life’s problems but most of all, her caring for people and love of literature and learning. We wish her a long and happy retirement.
A Charter for Compassion
I had cause to speak to students in a form recently about how they could better ensure that every one therein was treated well. This led me to write a “Charter for Compassion” and to offer some practical advice about how all of us could do more to build a harmonious community, be a little kinder to others and encourage others to be so too. I am publishing it below in the hope that it might touch a few chords with you.
- Do try to treat others as you would have them treat you. We all hope for kindness, understanding, forgiveness – we are all in need of it. It follows that we must offer it to others.
- Do understand that not everyone will think as you think. You need to develop a balanced, broad and understanding perspective.
- Do accept the right of those who feel bullied or despondent to speak to a teacher. This is not a sin! No-one should have to put up with being made unhappy. Sometimes it takes a teacher. We can help.
- Do realise that all of us can change: we can improve if we want to. If we are sincere, we can be better. We can all help others to change.
- Do be prepared to say sorry and also to forgive yourself for a wrong. We’re all sinners! the most winning response to have wronged others is a sincere apology and a genuine effort to be better tomorrow.
- Do challenge yourself and measure yourself be the behavior of the kindest/nicest person in your form. Set your standards high. Many in your form/year conduct themselves impressively.
- Do be an Upstander. You are your brother and sister’s keeper. The bell does toll for you. You matter. You can make a difference. You do affect others.
- Don’t expect yourself or others to be perfect. There will be rough and tumble and disagreements.
- However, don’t be unkind, spiteful, cruel and pick on people. Don’t be racist/sexist/homophobic or use bad language.
- Don’t think only of yourself, your point of view and your perspective. Try hard to empathise with others and see the world as they see it.
- Don’t bear a grudge. Allow tomorrow to be a new day.
- Don’t under-estimate the difference you can make – for good or bad.
- Don’t let a culture form (akin to the growth of mould on old cheese or bread) in which it becomes the “norm” to believe cruelty is ok. Challenge it. Bad cultures can spread quickly.
- Don’y be a By-stander, allowing others to behave in a way you know is wrong. That’s how a bad culture grows. Speak out, challenge them.
The School that We Are
As we approach the end of a long, (though all School years are actually the same length!), demanding and extremely busy year we can draw quiet satisfaction from all our achievements within the School, our activities and fellowship together and celebrate the many things which have been accomplished. This is a good time for each of us to reflect individually on what has gone well and what we would rather have changed. We can silently resolve to ensure that next year we will put right those things which we let slip during this year. It is also a moment for us to reflect upon the School that we are.
Our assembly theme of “The Seven Deadly Sins” has led to much criticism of Pride (along with the other six!). Perhaps this has gone too far. There is good “Pride” as well as bad “Pride”. I feel very proud of what I perceive to be the prevailing culture in our School: a concern for others; a happy willingness to work with them so that as we as individuals make progress, others do so too; a quiet, understated but nevertheless determined resolve that we should excel and achieve highly, which is infectious and brings others along; a seriousness of purpose, a strong respect for diversity and difference; and a desire that everyone should be able to be themselves and be comfortable in their own skins. I hope that these traits chime with you. Things do not work out as we would wish on every day of the week or in every situation, but I do feel that most of the time we are in the right place. This year has been another vintage bottle and can be placed in the cellar of memories with satisfaction.
The coming years seem to offer a rapidly changing landscape in the world of education. Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) are multiplying rapidly across the country. Successful secondary schools are increasingly taking on the running of less successful ones and also of many primary schools. A transformed curriculum at virtually every stage of secondary education, not least at GCSE and A level, and significantly dwindling financial resources add their own twists and challenges to the change scenario. How does one stay ahead of the curve in such a situation? Is the smart money on joining this game and hoping it works or is it better to maintain the traditional and current structure of a single outstanding school focused entirely on doing its modest work exceptionally well for its own students? For myself, and for our Governing Body, the colours are firmly nailed to this latter mast. We are happy to work harmoniously with other schools but we do not want to run them or to be run by them: the School that we are, we intend to remain; dedicated to a vision of individual school excellence, which can be a beacon for others to follow
I wish you and your families an exciting, exuberant and fulfilling summer vacation. Our Summer Term will end at 3.45pm on Wednesday 22nd July after our Commemoration Service (to be addressed by the Dean of Lincoln, the Very Reverend Philip Buckler). Our new School year and Autumn Term will commence for students on Thursday 3rd September 2015.