Letter To Parents - Winter 2016

Dear Parents, After the relative quiet of the summer months I am always excited to see the return of the pupils to school in September and this year was no exception.  We were delighted to be able to report our best A Level examination results since 2011 and most importantly congratulate our Upper Sixth pupils on gaining the University places they had worked so hard for.  There was a double victory for twins, Tom, and Katie Reid, both who gained the results needed to attend Oxford University; Tom to read Maths and Katie, French and German.  It is very gratifying as a Head to watch this ‘next step’ process take place, with the knowledge that it has been possible in part due to the close working relationship between pupils and teachers. 

Another highlight from the summer was the first ever pupil expedition from AGC to head to Swaziland to visit our partner school, Mlindzini High School.  Fourteen pupils and two staff spent three and a half weeks working alongside the teachers and pupils there.  The team managed to build a kitchen for the school as part of their community service; an amazing feat and something which I know was very important to both parties.  This link will continue and plans are already afoot to send our second group over there in the summer of 2018.

Following the successful opening of our Teaching and Sports Pavilion by Mr Michael Owen in July it is almost impossible to imagine how we ever managed without it.  The Pavilion has already made a huge difference to lots of our pupils and is helping to cement our sports vision for the future.  Our pupils deserve the very best resources and facilities and phase two of our plan to raise £500k to build an All-Weather Pitch is underway, thanks to the help of a dedicated Development Committee made up of parents and friends of Abbey Gate College. 

I do hope that you enjoy reading about all our pupils’ sporting successes in our news section on our website and that you follow us and their progress on Twitter and Facebook.  Highlights of this term include our U11 Boys coming third in the Independent Schools Association (ISA) Rugby 7s Tournament and our Year 7 boys being crowned the Chester and District 5-a-side football champions.  It is incredibly exciting to witness the progress of our youngest female Hockey players and special thanks must go to Paul Williams aka ‘Willo’ for helping to coach them to victory.  The netball teams are continuing to do fantastically well and enjoying success in the Netball Small Schools’ League.

We are also delighted to be able to report about one sporting triumph and that is Sixth Former Kate Merrick who has secured a 1st division tennis scholarship at the University of Northern Iowa.  Kate has successfully juggled scholarship interviews in the USA with A Level studies and tennis training.  We wish her well and confidently predict you will be hearing a lot about her progress in the future.

The increased provision of after-school activities at the Infant and Junior School, including the use of the facilities at Saighton for gymnastics and hockey and the use of the Pavilion on Friday mornings have made a huge impact already and encouraged more pupils to be active and learnlife-long skills about keeping fit and healthy.  The plans for the new build at the Infant and Junior School are gathering momentum and the ensuing alterations which we will be able to make to the current building are very exciting.  We are working on proposals to create a music and art room as well as refurbishing a classroom to create a science laboratory.  Our aim is to have these facilities in place for September 2017.

Those pupils taking part in the creative arts across both sites have had huge success this term.  Thirteen pupils represented The College at The Shropshire Speech and Drama Festival held at Moreton Hall School. They competed in a variety of classes ranging from Verse Speaking and Prose Reading to Acting and Mime.  Congratulations must go to Heather Churchill-Evans, Gabby Parker and Harry Tomlins who excelled, winning every class they entered.  Harry was also placed first in the Solo Shakespeare Class, and won the trophy for 1st place in his Reading class.

At the Chester Arts Fair our Infant and Junior School pupils were the overall runners up and for those who watched our Senior School Production of ‘Our Country’s Good’ I am sure that you were all left as moved and humbled by the exquisite acting ability of all involved, as I was.

The Chapel Choir under the careful guidance of Mr. Smith, once again proved to be as harmonious and successful as ever.  The Choir alongside the Concert Band, Syncopators, Saightonians and soloists were involved in a charity concert on Remembrance Day in aid of Chester Cathedral's twin Parish of Nkhotakota, Malawi.  It was a magnificent event and the amount raised on the evening was a staggering £1000.  Sitting in the Cathedral listening to beautiful music is always a highlight for me personally and this event rounded off a wonderful Remembrance Day.  Earlier in the day we were delighted to have welcomed an incredible young man called Jaco Van Gass to speak to our pupils from Junior 5 upwards.  The 30-year-old sustained life changing injuries resulting in the loss of his left arm in Afghanistan where he was a member of the British Armed Forces Parachute Regiment. The South African gave a captivating talk to the pupils describing how, despite his injury, he excelled at the 2014 Invictus Games, has completed several marathons, and trekked to the North Pole which helped to raise £1.5 million for the charity ‘Walking with The Wounded’.  Jaco spent time talking to the children about what he has overcome and how they should never let anything get in the way of what they want to achieve.  He was truly an inspiration to all the pupils at the College. His enthusiasm and thirst for life was infectious and the children left the assembly moved and motivated by his message about being the best you can be.

The term is rapidly coming to a close as I write this however, there is still much to do and to be inspired by.  The Christmas Fair, held at the Infant and Junior School was wonderfully organised by our fantastic PTFA and raised an amazing £1,800.  It cannot be underestimated how much preparation time it takes to organise such an event and I publicly would like to thank Mrs Victoria Stewart for masterminding proceedings.

Our Charity endeavours have kept us busy and we were once again delighted to be able to help Chester Aid for the Homeless (CATH) at Harvest time.  Our chosen whole school charity this year is YoungMinds an organisation which specifically looks at issues surrounding the mental health and wellbeing of young people.  There will be several opportunities to raise some money for this important cause throughout the year but I am really looking forward to taking part in The Santa Dash at the Infant and Junior School.

Daisy Lawson in J4 has taken fundraising for worthy causes to a whole new level and decided that she would have her hair cut off to raise money for the Little Princess Trust.  This charity provides real hair wigs free of charge to boys and girls across the UK and Ireland who have sadly lost their own hair due to cancer treatment and other illnesses.  Well done Daisy!

It is feeling very festive at School now and I am very much looking forward to the Infant Nativity, Christmas lunch and the Cathedral Carol Service. 

It has been a wonderful term and all that is left for me to do is to wish you all a Merry Christmas and health and happiness for the New Year.


Mrs T Pollard
Autumn 2016

Published: Friday, 16th December 2016