Mr Marston's letter to parents and carers at the beginning of the new academic year
We are a week back in to the new academic year and all is going very well indeed: routines are bedding in, expectations are high and the sense of optimism for the year ahead is tangible.
As a school we are still delighted with the fantastic GCSE results we received in August. We knew that last year’s Year 11 were a great cohort and expected the results to be good but they genuinely surpassed our expectations. Press releases often focus on headline measures – the proportion of students who achieved a particular threshold – but it is the progress measures which are really important. We await the official Progress 8 figure in October but early indications are that it will be very strong within the context of boys’ achievement placing us within the top 10% for boys’ achievement nationally and top 20% of schools overall. This is absolutely superb and a credit to the talent, commitment and hard work of our students and all the staff at the school. We are very proud of them all.
A new school year welcomes several new teachers to the school and they have all quickly found their feet. As ever, the email addresses of all teaching staff are on the Contacts page of the school website and please do get in touch with any of your son’s teachers if you have any questions about the year ahead.
Eagle-eyed parents and carers will have spotted our brand new school website - www.st-birinus-school.org.uk – which looks brilliant and is also a mine of information about the school. Through the website you can access the school’s Twitter feed - @StBirinusSchool - and I would encourage all parents and carers to do so as it is a superb way to keep up to date with the day-to-day life of the school.
Students have almost certainly come home over the last week and commented on the refurbishment of the school. The main block and Hall have been revitalised and now showcase wonderful examples of our students’ work and feature quotations which reflect the school’s ethos and the aspirations of our students. The refurbishment of the Gym student toilets will begin shortly and this will be part of a rolling programme across the student toilets in the school. As I have said to students in assemblies, our students should have the very best facilities and we are ensuring that this is the case.
A great many parents and carers have already had a chance to see the refurbishment at this week’s Parent Information Evenings (Years 8-11) and there will be many other opportunities during the year to do so. I should also add that if you were unable to attend the Parent Information Evening for any year group then the presentations will be available on the school website next week.
The development of our relationship with Didcot Girls’ School within the umbrella of the Ridgeway Education Trust continues to be fruitful for our students. I am delighted that Mr Dingley, Head of Music at Didcot Girls’ School, has been appointed as the first Director of Music for the Trust. This means that he will be working across both schools developing our joint provision and working particularly closely with our new Music teacher Mr West. Perhaps the most exciting element of this is the launch of joint extra-curricular Music across both the schools – boys and girls in the same choirs, bands and orchestras – and the initial culmination of this development will be our joint concert in the Didcot Leisure Centre in December. Obviously much more to follow on this.
Other great curriculum developments include the launch of Mandarin Chinese for all of Year 7 in conjunction with the Swire Language Programme and the Mandarin Excellence Programme; the start of the GCSE Dance course led by Mrs Hook; our joint provision with Abingdon and Witney College offering both Motor Vehicle and Construction courses to our Key Stage 4 courses; and an innovative course we are offering Key Stage 4 students in partnership with the Earth Trust. It is truly a broad and varied curriculum with something for everyone. Of course, we mustn’t forget extra-curricular activities – we never do in The Saint! – and the full programme for the term is now available on the website.
Finally, I must congratulate our new Year 7 students who have made a great start to their time with us under the watchful eye of Mr Wood and the excellent Year 7 tutor team. Well done to them all.
I look forward to seeing you during the school year.