Letter to Parents - Spring 2017

This term has been incredibly busy and as the end rapidly approaches, it is always a good thing to take stock, sit back and reflect.

In January, two major, public reports hit the press in which we featured prominently. The first was the quantitative research by leading psychometric test publisher AQR International which showed that pupils at ISC independent schools have good attainment, wellbeing and behaviour and are more resilient, better at dealing with setbacks and more open to learning as a result. Our pupils were involved in this first ever study of ‘mental toughness’, as we have long believed that our pupils do show resilience and we recognise that this is just, if not more important than simple IQ measures. We believe strongly that this is in part down to the breadth of our curriculum, the wide-ranging activities we provide outside of the classroom and excellent pastoral care. This teamed with excellent teaching creates young men and women who are much more ready to go onto study further and work in their adult lives.

Our pupils were recognised as scoring highly in the 4Cs – confidence, control, commitment, and challenge – not surprising to those of us who work with our youngsters. In response to the challenge of improving further the ‘resilience’ of our pupils we set about creating a ‘Mental Toughness’ and ‘Mindset’ programme for all pupils. The programme is based around Carol Dweck’s work – about validating pupils’ understanding in a world of changing qualities. The focus is about stretching our pupils to learn something new – to understand their own traits more and to develop themselves further without believing that success in a world of fixed traits is simply about proving that they are smart or talented.

The second significant report to be published in January, were the Performance Tables released by the Department of Education in which we are delighted to report that we were placed top in Chester and Cheshire West for Pupil Progress at A Level for our results 2016. These tables include all state maintained and independent schools in the area and our outstanding 0.46 progress score means that on average our pupils achieved near to half a grade higher in their final A Level examinations than their initial predictions upon entering Sixth Form.

This amazing achievement not only places us top in the area but also places us second in schools inthe North West and in turn in the top 2% of all schools and colleges in England as we came 71 out of4380 schools.

Congratulations must go to last year’s Sixth Form students on their tremendous results but also to the teaching staff who are totally committed to identifying the strengths of every one of our students and nurturing them to enable them to reach their full academic and personal potential.

At the end of January, we welcomed four sporting superstars to launch the next phase of the major developments to the sports provision for the whole College. Former England footballer Michael Owen, who is patron of the Fundraising Committee, was accompanied by Britain’s greatest ever female gymnast Beth Tweddle, Phil Roper who is a member of the GB Hockey Team and Andrew Small who achieved a bronze medal in the T33 100m sprint in Rio 2016. They all came to support our fundraising efforts in trying to reach our target of £600,000 to enable us to start building the all-weather-pitch. I am delighted to report that we currently have reached the £280,000 mark. Further information about all our new exciting building plans can be found in the next issue of the Broadsheet which you should receive through the post in the next few days.

It was with sadness in February, that we reported the death of Mrs Margaret Caven, the firstHeadmistress at Abbey Gate College. Margaret was passionate about Music and was instrumental in recruiting Stewart Smith. It was therefore fitting that we could present the Margaret Caven House Music Shield at the final of the Music Competition in memory of her. The Best Performance of the day went to Thomas Fesmer (Year 11) for his vocal performance of 'Stars' from Les Miserables. Congratulations should also go to Sam Tomlins for his performance of ‘Skyfall’ played on the piano at the Junior Music Festival which took place at the Infant and Junior School. This year’s Passiontide Service is also dedicated to her memory and promises to be a very moving and special event.

We are always looking for ways to promote literacy across both sites and the Year 7 Roald Dahl Foundation Readathon and whole College World Book Day activities are an important part of this term’s activities. Watching our youngsters read and explore different characters, genres, and vocabulary always puts a smile on my face, as does watching with interest how the pupils interpret their favourite character through fancy dress; it was slightly disconcerting to have Mrs Hickey dressed as a very fine cat at our Leadership Team meeting!

The BBC School Report Day challenges our youngsters to create film and editorial work across a widerange of subjects. I do hope that you have been able to watch their efforts on the Abbey Gate College YouTube channel. Having to work in teams and to deadlines is always a challenge, but our tech savvy Year 8s carried it off with ease.

Our Year 6 pupils have just returned from France and had a fantastic time learning all about the French language and culture. Our Geographers are off to Sicily tomorrow morning and the pupils engaged with the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme navigated their way around Snowdon on their Gold practice expedition.

The Infant and Junior School enjoyed an Easter Extravaganza yesterday afternoon and Tom Hayes (ably assisted by Mrs Poyser and Mr Smith) put on a fabulous Variety Performance Talent Show last Friday evening.

The Chapel Choir is sounding magnificent as they practice for our Passiontide Service this evening under Mr. Smith’s watchful eye, sadly for the very last time. So, all is well and busy here.

All that is left to do, is to wish you all a wonderful Easter and to wish our Sixth Form and Year 11 pupils well in their quest to prepare for the public examinations next term.

Published: Wednesday, 29th March 2017