|02/05/2013 08:04||Leadership, Transport, Safety Evening|
Leadership at St. Mary’s
Following Mr Pritchard's career break to work as a senior HMI, the Governors have appointed Mr Rothwell and Miss
Garrett (existing Deputy Heads) as Acting Co-Headteachers for the interim period. This is a model which is being used
in several schools and will ensure a seamless provision of excellent leadership of St. Mary's in line with our values and
ethos, whilst making full use of the diverse and extensive skills of all the senior team.
Leeds Schools Transport
We are grateful to all parents who have completed the questionnaire as part of Leeds City Council’s consultation. We
had a meeting in school with Councillors Carter and Latty last week, who both fully support the school’s stance.
Please continue to lobby your local councillors as, although the consultation has closed, discussions at council level
Our Protecting our Transport webpage
Key Stage 4 Safety Evening
Thank you to those parents who were able to attend the Key Stage 4 Safety Evening last Tuesday. Should parents
wish to see the powerpoint and were unable to attend last week’s meeting, please contact Mrs Tindall, who can make
a copy available.
Our Personal Safety webpage.
|26/03/2013 08:08||Leadership of St. Mary’s after Easter|
Unfortunately the governors of St. Mary’s were not able to recruit a headteacher to start in September 2013. They met on Wednesday 13 March to discuss the way forward, taking into account we are now part of The Bishop Wheeler Catholic Academy Trust and the need to maximise the opportunities for all the schools in the Trust. Recruitment to headship has become more and more difficult over the last few years but the governors want to fill the substantive leadership role of St. Mary’s at Easter 2014, with interim plans in place. St. Mary’s is an exceptional place, with exceptional people and it has been a privilege to serve the community in this part of the Diocese.
|26/03/2013 08:02||Leeds School Transport Fiasco|
On Tuesday evening, a packed hall at St. Mary's Menston met to discuss the consultation to change transport arrangements to faith schools. Officers from the council attempted to explain the rationale behind the reasons for stopping to pay for transport for 2600 pupils who attend faith schools, and also vulnerable learners and post 16 students. The feeling of the assembled audience was hostile to the arrangements, but got worse when glaring errors were found in the document which the executive in Leeds will use to make a decision. The figures for the potential savings were questioned with no clear answers to how they were reached. The most worrying aspect was that a decision would not be published until June. So parents with children in Year 6 applied for a place in October 2012 being told there was a bus to St. Mary’s. They were then allocated a place in March with transport provided, and now may be told at the end of June they will have to pay.
The parents who came were exceptional. They asked excellent questions which the officers were not able to answer. I would like to thank them all for their support, I hope that it will make a difference.
Leeds City Council have extended the period of consultation to Wednesday 24th April 2013 to enable as wide a participation in the survey as possible. Please use this link to access the consultation information:
|26/03/2013 07:54||Friday's Closure|
I apologise for any inconvenience caused by having to close on Friday. The weather was very poor, and forecast to get even worse. We spent the day trying to clear the site in preparation for a Monday opening. These decisions are never easy to make, and I thank you for your understanding.
PHOTO: THE SNOWY SCENE AT ST. MARY'S, 9:50AM FRIDAY 22 MARCH
|18/03/2013 09:59||Pope Francis I / Transport Consultation|
Pope Francis I
Last week, a successor to Pope Benedict XVI was elected by the Cardinals in Rome. We were blessed by a surprise candidate being chosen to lead, and in his eyes serve the Catholic Church. At school we will pray for our new pope to have the wisdom to lead the Church into the future. As a member of the Society of Jesus, with a great tradition of learning, I am sure he will continue to support Catholic education around the world.
PHOTO: ST. MARY'S PUPILS ARRIVE AT SCHOOL, JULY 2013
In our own way we, too, want to support Catholic education this week. We will be doing this by holding to account the officers of Leeds City Council who will be coming to St. Mary’s to explain why they are consulting on stopping transport to faith schools. They will give a presentation at 6.00 pm on Tuesday 19 March, and will be available to answer questions from the audience. Everyone is welcome to come and try and persuade them that this is not the way forward!
Protecting our Transport Consultation
|04/03/2013 11:59||The Bishop Wheeler Catholic Academy Trust |
The Bishop Wheeler Catholic Academy Trust
St. Mary' s Menston, a Catholic Voluntary Academy
In October 2011, St. Mary's and sixteen other schools started to explore Academy status under a multi academy trust. Four of us converted last Friday 1st March, and two more will convert on 1st April. Others may wish to join the trust as time goes on. Caroline Hyde is the Chair of the Bishop Wheeler Catholic Academy Trust which will start to meet from next week to help lead the development of the partner schools. Each school continues to have an Academy Council with a very similar composition to their old governing body. Although we are now independent from the Local Authority, we will still continue to work within our communities as we have always done, as well as within the Catholic Diocese.
|11/02/2013 12:16||Miss Saigon (and resignation of Pope Benedict)|
Last week was a real celebration of talent at St. Mary’s. We had our Miss Saigon performances, and the entire cast and crew were outstanding. Miss Andrews chose a technically difficult performance, but it was carried out perfectly by all concerned. I would like to thank everyone concerned, cast crew and the many staff for giving their time and talent. Also thank you to parents for the support on the evenings and the help during the months of rehearsals. We really value all aspects of the curriculum and this performance gave students an opportunity to shine and celebrate their skills and talent. Well done everyone!
We have also just heard that Pope Benedict XVI has announced his resignation from 28th February. I am sure that you will join us in praying for Benedict XVI at this time, and also for the Church as it convenes conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff.
|28/01/2013 11:10||Performance Tables|
In the third week in January performance tables for schools are published. Headteachers are often asked for quotes to put in the newspapers. There was no shortage of comment because of the GCSE English fiasco which still has not come to a conclusion. This year there were also new measures in the tables, and much comment on the percentage of students who not only achieve 5+A* to C inc English and Maths at GCSE (a standard that has been used for a few years), but also for post 16, the percentage of students who achieved AAB in certain A level subjects (known as facilitating subjects).
I am pleased that St. Mary’s has excelled in these measures, but I am also pleased that the league tables show that all of our students (regardless of ability on intake), have done extremely well. This is seen in the Value Added score of the school which takes into account the starting points of the students. Our positive Value Added score shows that all groups of students are achieving their potential. To browse the tables and the data, see the link below:
|11/01/2013 10:00||One week into a New Year|
The term has started really well. The students have settled into their studies, and the January exams have started. This will be an interesting term for many reasons, and as we are on the road to converting to an Academy, it was interesting to read the report from the Academies Commission which was published on 10 January 2013. It stated that the academy movement has provided much needed vitality within our education system. However acquiring the label of ‘academy’ is not in itself a panacea for raising achievement. The capacity of those schools to make a real difference will be entirely dependent on the quality of leadership and teaching and learning. The Catholic Multi Academy Trust model also has the principles of Catholic education at the centre of its plans. The values we teach, the care we give continues to be integral to the achievement of our students.
The governors will meet again in early February to make a decision about becoming an Academy under a Trust with our partner primary schools. The timeline is still in place for a conversion on 1st March. Please see the Considering Catholic Multi-Academy Trust website for any further information.
|03/01/2013 12:08||2013 - A look ahead|
As the New Year starts, it is a good time to look ahead. There are many opportunities for St. Mary’s in 2013, as well as many challenges. Like all schools, we will continue to look forward, looking for improvements. We are in a strong position with outstanding outcomes and plans for the future.
In the short term, we continue to look at Academy status. The proposed conversion date is March 2013 when St. Mary’s and its feeder schools will become a Catholic Multi Academy Trust. The Trust board is being formed and the articles of association are being drawn up. At the moment things are on track, but we are not complacent and continue to work with the Diocese and DfE to ensure a smooth conversion.
Our medium term plan is to look at buildings. We are popular and growing, but some of the facilities need updating. As capital money is only available for Academies, we have plans at the ready to bid for funding. I have written on numerous occasions to Mr Gove, and will continue to do so to give our students the facilities that they deserve.
Last year we were informed by Ofsted
that they were not going to visit because their assessment was that we were doing exceptionally well. The earliest that they will visit is Summer 2013. As a school, we would relish an inspection so we can have them validate that we are an excellent school providing a World Class Catholic Education.
Best wishes to everyone in 2013. We are looking forward to working in partnership to make this year even better than the last.
PHOTO: WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO 2013
|29/11/2012 17:55||St. Mary's "buck the national trend".|
BBC Reports an 8% reduction in University applications
The latest university application figures have fallen by 8% compared with the same point last year - and are the lowest for at least six years.
However at St. Mary's we seem to have very similar numbers to previous years making applications to University. As time goes on we will monitor the situation to see how we compare to the national picture.
Tonight is the open night for 6th Form. This cohort is the first group who have to stay on into education, employment or training until the age of 17. At St. Mary's we have an excellent track record on retention and also ensuring students have a destination. It would be interesting to know how the government will track students from 11-16 schools into the next stage, and also what will happen if this aspiration is not delivered by schools?
|29/11/2012 13:06||Post 16 Open Evening|
We are looking forward to welcoming our Year 11, and students from across the district to our Post 16 evening. Our aim is to give students and parents an understanding of what makes St. Mary's a great place to continue your studies. You can expect to join a Sixth Form with some impressive results, but we also want to let you know what we can do above and beyond the normal curriculum.
A short presentation will be given in the hall, then a chance to talk informally with subject teachers.
There are many changes to A-levels which will come into place over the next two years. If you are interested and want to know more, click the link below.
A-level reform [Ofqual]
|29/11/2012 10:00||Considering Catholic Multi-Academy Trust: Process Timeline|
|28/11/2012 12:02||Government consultation on the reform of GCSE Exams|
The English government published a major consultation on the reform of GCSE exams on 17 September. The main proposals are as follows:
All qualifications will be linear with assessment done at the end of the course. The government’s preferred option is to have 100 per cent external exams, with no or very minimal coursework and controlled assessment, although there is a recognition that there will need to be some flexibility about practical work.
Tiered exams are to be abolished. No exam aids, such as calculators or texts, will be allowed in the vast majority of exams, and access to previous exam papers will be severely restricted.
New qualifications, called English Baccalaureate Certificates (EBCs), will be rolled out first in English, maths and sciences, for teaching in 2015 and first exams in 2017. It’s intended that EBC exams in history, geography and modern languages will follow, to a timescale yet to be determined. Ofqual will be asked to look at a similar format for other GCSE subjects. This means that students would sit a mix of GCSEs and EBCs.
PHOTO: ST. MARY'S PUPILS WITH ME ON GCSE EXAM RESULTS DAY, AUGUST 2012
LEFT TO RIGHT:
ELIZABETH ROGOZINSKI, LUCY ROTHWELL, MICHAEL JONES, KAVINDU APPUHAMY, MATTHEW GINTY, MR PRITCHARD
The stated intention of EBCs is to “restore rigour and confidence” to exams, to end perverse incentives and to provide better foundation for progression.
EBCs will be more challenging than GCSEs and provide greater assurance of literacy and numeracy than a C grade in the current GCSE, in other words it will be more difficult to achieve a C grade. The “majority” of students will be expected to achieve them.
Students can take EBCs at age 17 or 18 if they are deemed not ready at 16. Students who do not achieve EBCs in English and maths at 16 must resit them.
There is recognition that special/enhanced provision will be needed for students who aren’t ready at 16. The consultation acknowledges that this will make additional demands of school sixth forms and colleges to support these students to succeed in mathematics and English.
The government will set out broad expectations for the subject content it considers absolutely essential, working with subject associations and others to develop “appropriate content”. Awarding bodies should build upon this by working directly with higher education institutions and ‘learned societies’ to create syllabi that “provide excellent preparation for further study at A Level, in apprenticeships or in vocational qualifications”.
Students who are not entered for the EBC, for a variety of reasons, should be provided with a ‘Statement of Achievement’ by their school, which sets out their strengths and weaknesses in each subject.
The government will hold a competition to choose a single suite of qualifications in each of the English Baccalaureate subjects, offered by a single awarding body. From 2017, floor targets will take account of the English, maths and sciences exams. Awarding bodies submitting qualifications will need to demonstrate how they will minimise the administrative burden imposed on schools and post-16 institutions.
Mr R Pritchard
Reforming Key Stage 4 qualifications [DfE]
Governrment Consultation on the the reform of GCSE exams, Letter to Parents (PDF)
GCSEs 2012: St. Mary's buck the national trend: standards continue to rise