Throughout this term, it has been very difficult to escape the very sombre mood felt by the whole nation in light of the succession of unprecedented attacks and tragedies which we all have had to endure. At times like these I feel it very important as a community to have an open dialogue with our pupils of all ages and for them to be able to express their views, opinions and sometimes their fears with us. In a world of uncertainty, it is essential that we try and create balance and understanding at College; to create a sense of purpose and hope for us all and to give positivity and success an enhanced platform from which we can shout about all that is good. Without this, fear can so easily dominate and we could easily get caught standing still and simply waiting to see what happens next.
In response to these issues, we have adopted a ‘business as usual’ attitude here at College and the term has been action packed. In June, senior school pupils got involved in all sorts of activities both on and off site during Activities Week. Our Year 7 pupils went out to Cholmondley for a survival, Bushcraft Experience and fortunately were left alone by the midges this year. Year 8 pupils went to Edale on a three-day activity trip, and many of the Year 9 pupils completed their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award. The Year 10 programme concentrated on a University trip to Chester, with some pupils heading off to France for the Battlefields History Trip and others taking part in a Science trip to Manchester and a Mock Trial. Whilst this was happening we welcomed Year 5 pupils into College from local primary schools to take part in a Performing Arts Day and a Science Day. Much fun and lots of learning definitely took place.
Another successful ‘Aldfest’ run by the magnificent Parents, Teachers, and Friends Association (PTFA) took place over a recent weekend where there were lots of action packed activities for all of the Infant and Junior School pupils to get involved in. Once again the Year 5 and 6 Production, this year called ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Bongo Bandits,’ was truly exceptional. Not only was the presentation of lines, singing, costumes and scenery something to behold, the puns and jokes were priceless too.
The annual PTFA Ball, this year held at Carden Park, was a huge success. Grateful thanks must go the team who organised it all, led by Nathalie Mills, but also to all who provided such wonderful auction prizes and to all who attended. The amount raised at this event alone was £30,000 which is staggering and provided a much needed boost towards the All Weather Pitch fundraising efforts of the Development Committee.
The Gala concert, Mr Stewart Smith’s last one prior to his retirement, was both stunning and emotional in equal measure. To see pupils past and present united in one goal, to sing for Stewart, was something I believe we will remember for ever; true evidence that we are one united community. To have served the College for 39 years is a truly remarkable achievement and we say goodbye to him with grateful thanks for all that he has given, all that he has done and all that he has inspired in the name of Abbey Gate College.
At the end of any academic year it is always sad to say goodbye to staff who are leaving us and especially to staff who have been with us for long periods of time and have been hugely effective in their role. The thought of Mrs Jennifer Jones not starting a new year with us in September still does not seem real and after 30 incredible years we simply have to say a huge thank you to her from us all. Mrs Jones has been a critical friend to every member of staff who has ever worked here and to many a parent who needed reassurance about their recalcitrant son or daughter! To every pupil, she is simply someone who can be relied on to offer some comfort and down to earth common sense. We will miss her more than she will ever understand.
The wonderful Mrs Carolyn Russell, who as Head of English is retiring from teaching, having served Abbey Gate College for the last 16 years. Mrs Russell’s passion for English Language and Literature is legendary and she has inspired hundreds of pupils to explore the subject with passion and pride. We wish her every happiness with her family and hope that she finally gets the time to do all of the things she wants to do – we send her off with love and gratitude for everything she has done here.
We also say goodbye to Mrs Corin Kingsley, who has worked tirelessly in the Maths Department ensuring that all of the pupils she teaches, are able to access maths at the level they can understand. Even I have learned some things I should have learnt whilst at school when watching the magic happen in Mrs Kingsley’s lesson – so thank you for that! Mrs Kingsley is retiring this year so that she can spend more time with her family and after 14 years here, I think she really deserves some time to do what she wants when she wants.
We say thank you and goodbye to Mrs Jan Leach who has worked very hard for the past 13 years as a Science laboratory technician here, and it is Mrs Leach the pupils have to thank for making sure the correct equipment and chemicals are ready for them to use in Science lessons. Mrs Leach has also been a hugely important member of the First Aid team and has always responded with care, compassion and the necessary skills to know what to do to help in some very difficult situations. We hope that she finds some time to do all of the things that she loves doing and that she is able to spend some more time with her grandchildren.
We wish Mrs Zoe Walker every happiness and success in setting up her new business which will focus on her own art work. Mrs Walker has brought such warmth and diversity to the Art Department over the past 8 years and we hope that she enjoys having time to work on her own artistic projects. We look forward to her coming back to visit and she keeps us inspired with her new ideas.
Mrs Jo Walker who has worked with us for the past 7 years in the Maths Department is also leaving us. She is going to look after her three very young children, full time. I know there are so many pupils who are grateful to her for her unfailing calmness and ability to make Maths accessible to all.
Another very important lady who is retiring at the end of this year is Mrs Jo Ashurst who also has worked here for the last 7 years. Mrs Ashurst answered an urgent SOS when we needed some extra Science teaching a number of years ago and soon established herself to be an important member of the team. We hope that she enjoys her retirement and finally is able to spend more time with her husband. Thank you for all that you have done for us.
We say goodbye and thank you to Mrs Jackie Moulton who for the past three and a half years has made sure that when the older pupils sit their external examinations everything is in the right place at the right time, which I can assure you is not an easy feat. We wish her every happiness in her next role and thank her for her calmness, patience and amazing organisational skills.
We are very sad to say goodbye to Mr Clive Griffiths who has been with us for 3 years and to say a huge thank you to him for his immaculately prepared lessons and huge enthusiasm for History. I know that he has made History exciting and relevant to lots of pupils and encouraged many to take it up at examination level. Mr Griffiths is retiring from teaching and we wish him and his wife good wishes for the future.
Lastly but by no means least we have to say goodbye and thank you to Mr Amrik Bhamra for his sterling work in the Science department over the past year. We hope very much that he has enjoyed his time with us as much as we have enjoyed him being here and wish him well for the future.
I will be writing to you all next term to introduce the new staff starting with us in September.
Finally, during the summer holidays we hope that work will commence on the All Weather Pitch. Through the hard work of the Development Committee, we are close to achieving our target. You can read more about this in the next edition of Broadsheet. This is definitely a dream come true for us and makes the final phase of our sporting vision a near reality. The difference this will make in terms of sporting opportunities for our own youngsters is immense and will truly give us a much needed resource. It also will enable us to become a sporting hub in the very heart of our local community to the benefit of everyone.
All that remains for me to say is thank you for another wonderful year. Thank you to the staff across both sites at Saighton and Aldford; to the pupils who make every day special, to the Governors who give up their time so freely and bring so much expertise to the table and to you our parents for your loyal support and for understanding what makes us so special and so successful.
Wishing you all a wonderful summer.
Published: Friday, 7th July 2017