The rhythm of this term is invariably fast paced, as the academic school year comes hurtling to an end. It can be seen to be dominated by testing of one sort or another and for our GCSE and A Level students a time for anxiety. All exams are now over and we await their results, and I am sure that we will once again be rejoicing in August, as they gain the grades they so richly deserve. In the interim period, I wish them much fun and happiness.
We extended the concept of our hugely successful pupil wellbeing strategy to the staff at the beginning of this term and staff spent an Inset day negotiating aspects of their own health, mindfulness and wellbeing. We really are seeing the benefits of this positive mind set and it undoubtedly is benefitting the pupils in our care.
Our creative curriculum has really come to fruition this term. During the Senior activities week, we deliver a wealth of activities to stimulate conversation, create interest, allow pupils to try new things, knowing that some they will like and some they will not. We encourage all of our young people to experience new activities in the hope that this type of education sparks interest, discussion, inquisitiveness and passion. If we allow and nurture passion, it often develops into action which can result in change and true innovation. Year 7s enjoyed a Bushcraft experience, Year 8s an activity trip to Anglesey, Year 9s a theatre trip to London and their bronze qualifying expedition for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and Year 10s went on a History trip to France and Belgium. This action packed week can only take place thanks to our dedicated teaching staff who organise and volunteer to attend such creative activities. My thanks go out to them.
A real highlight this term has been the huge success our Young Enterprise team called GreenBean has had. A team of Sixth Formers all taking Business Studies and/or Economics set up their own company and beat off stiff competition to win the North West regional heats. They then went on to represent the North West at the National Final in London. 14 teams competed at this stage. AGC GreenBean managed to win best presentation overall. This is a truly fantastic achievement and you can watch their presentation via our Facebook feed https://www.facebook.com/AbbeyGateCollege/ It just shows you what so called ‘soft skills’ do for our youngsters. Their presentation is truly fantastic.
Our Infant and Junior School have been equally busy taking part in the Aldford Village Fete, helping to run games for other children and organising all of the children’s sports activities. Aldfest was as spectacular as ever and again a real community feel was witnessed with action packed activities going on, thanks to the PTFA.
The impact of the opening of Hazledine Lodge, our wonderful new Infant building has been hugely positive on the pupils who have embraced and are really loving facing challenges outdoors. This coupled with our newly planted forest trail, will in time create another adventure space for them to explore and become more in tune with nature and their local surroundings; so important in times when education can seem so classroom based.
I was completely blown away by all of our Junior budding entrepreneurs during their Enterprise Day. The range and wealth of products on sale was truly astounding, as was the £650 that they raised as a result of their endeavours – well done!
The Year 5 and Year 6 production of ‘Olivia,’ once again highlighted talents in singing and drama as Mrs Dukes and Mrs Faithful managed to produce yet another masterpiece. The children were professional and completely beguiling. Watching them transform in front of me was as always a very special moment.
The Senior Sports Awards Evening was a timely reminder of just how far we have come along in our sporting endeavours, undoubtedly helped by having our All Weather Pitch, which has meant that sport is played much more often across all of the year groups. Our fixture list has been extended, meaning more opportunities for more pupils, as has the variety of sports on offer. Our standing in the County is high and we have more pupils than ever at every age group representing Cheshire in their chosen sports. It has also been noticeable how well we have done in the ISA competitions we have entered and the results against some of our local rival schools. Well done to you all and thank you to our ‘parent power’ who guides, supports, transports and encourages our youngsters to participate. We could not do it without you.
The Infant and Junior School Celebration Evening left us all with a spring in our step having watched every child be commended for some aspect of their school life. Their exuberance and delight for their peers when prizes were handed out was wonderful to see and a timely reminder that there is pleasure gained in other people’s successes.
The Gala concert this year showcased the wide range of musical activities on offer at AGC and created a real sense of awe and wonder. The Chapel Choir were as magnificent as always and blended beautifully. It was wonderful to see just how far the Junior Choir and Just Sing have come this year under the careful stewardship of Mrs Dukes, Mrs Tomlins and Mr Butcher and the obvious delight on the youngsters’ faces as they perform to their families.
A highlight of the evening for me was listening to our newly formed orchestra, with a string section. They performed a piece from Star Wars and it was ‘out of this world!’ Harry Tomlins, Felix Gideonse and Tom Fesmer all performed solos which highlighted the excellent calibre of musicianship which is honed and crafted within the Music Department - we will miss them so much next year but wish them deserved success as they take their next steps on their academic journey.
We are saying goodbye, thank you and good luck to some staff this term too. Thanks go to Miss Webley, Mrs Rawlinson-Smith and Mrs Courtney at the Infant and Junior School. All three members of staff have played key roles there and I know that the staff and pupils will miss them all very much.
Miss Webley has worked tirelessly to support pupils on the Learning Enrichment list. Her calm and supportive approach to teaching has enabled children to develop their confidence as well as improve their academic skills over the years and her knowledge has been of great support to the staff.
Mrs Rawlinson-Smith has been a familiar face on the front desk and also behind the scenes, supporting the school with administration and data. What she doesn't know about the Infant and Junior School assessment process really isn't worth knowing and her organisational skills are legendary.
During the many years that Mrs Courtney has been with us, she has supported the College in many ways, including as a class teacher, senior teacher and more recently as PPA cover teacher. She will be remembered fondly for so many contributions to the Infant and Junior department with the annual Glaramara residential being probably top of the list. We cannot thank them enough and I know that the staff and pupils will miss them all very much.
Mrs Barnes, Mr Gray and Mr Meadows leave us from the Senior School. Mrs Barnes has made a huge impact across both sites in terms of the facilities improvements she has made as Bursar. It has been a privilege working with her as she has been a huge support and advocate in making sure our pupils and staff have the very best facilities and resources. Her financial acumen is second to none and my everlasting impression will be of her working in all of the dusty corners of the College, mending and improving long forgotten issues. She has managed the building of four major builds, the Teaching and Sports Pavilion, the All-Weather Pitch, the Infant and Junior Build and the kitchen in the main building at Aldford. Less glamorous, but hugely important she managed a project to put new boilers in at the Senior School, uncovering a ‘swimming pool’ (let’s not mention that!) at the same time. I hope she enjoys her new found freedom and I know that she is very much looking forward to spending more time with her family.
Mr Gray has been the stalwart of all things Geology at AGC and I know that those pupils who have been taught by him have also been bitten by the Geology bug and will go on into their adult lives learning more about this subject. Mr Gray was Head of ICT for a number of years and also organised many successful ski trips to both the USA and Europe. We wish him well in all of his new ventures.
Mr Meadows has spent the past 19 years of his life at AGC. He truly is an inspirational teacher of History and I know that the pupils who have been taught by him acknowledge that they have been extremely fortunate to have been one of his tutees. Mr Meadows retires this term in order to spend more time with his family and if the truth be known, watch more cricket, spend more time preparing for his running challenges and ultimately to be thigh high in river water, fly fishing. My personal thanks must go to him for attempting to keep me sane. He is a true professional and a true gentleman – thank you!
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.
Mrs Tracy Pollard
Published: Thursday, 11th July 2019