Acting Headteacher, Mr K McDermott’s Prize Giving 2018 speech can be read in full here:
Good evening and a very warm welcome to you all on the occasion of this year’s Prizegiving. A particularly warm welcome to our special guest and Prizegiver, Wera Hobhouse, who was elected as MP for Bath in June 2017. Ms Hobhouse is a very busy lady and we are very fortunate that she is with us this evening. She is no stranger to education having trained and worked as a MFL teacher in the past.
Ms Hobhouse, thank you for joining us this evening as our democratically elected Member for Parliament in what is a wonderful evening of celebration.
Before I go on any further I should like to ask you to remember Ms Cusack in your thoughts and prayers. I know she would very much like to be here this evening and to recognise the successes we must acknowledge this evening.
It cannot have escaped anyone’s attention that the World Cup is underway. I have already had many conversations about who will win; England, Brazil or France. You will notice that as I have got older my predictions are tempered with realism to avoid that terrible feeling when your own team loses. What values constitute a good team is a fascinating area of thought. Respect for opponents, respect for authority (referee or umpire), planning, organisation, effective coaching, the capacity to lose, self control, self denial, sacrifice and dedication are all ingredients of a good team, whatever the level and whatever the sport. All of the above have a relevance beyond sport and help us to grow into better people.
What goes into creating great schools has occupied the minds of many educationalists. As always teachers should really ask students. One group of children who were asked this question in a La Sallian school in Dakota where given the task of what they saw as the heart of their school. They identified 5 core values;
- Concern for the poor
- Quality education
- Respect for all
- Faith in the presence of God
These values are the essence of what we are striving for here at St Gregory’s and echo the ambitions of Bishop Declan in ‘A Future Full of Hope’ in which he reminds us that we should be a community energised and constantly renewed by the presence of God in our lives. This is the purpose of St Gregory’s; that as your children grow and mature they do so in the spiritual presence of God and provided with a moral compass in order that they flourish and grow towards adulthood. Flourishing has to be seen in many ways.
When St Gregory saw fair haired slaves in the market place in Rome he is said to have asked where they were from. When he was told that they were angels he replied not angles but angels. He then committed St Augustine to coming to England to convert our nation. Concern for the poor, respect for others and faith are written into very essence of our patron saints life. It is in this context of Christian love that we see young people here at St Gregory’s flourish.
The last academic year was undoubtedly one of our most successful ever on the sporting front. Despite facing several tough encounters on what is always a very competitive competition, both the Year 11 and Year 10 football teams enjoyed success as BANES champions. To have both senior boys winning in this fashion is a credit to both the students and the staff. The Year 11 basketball team also secured victory as BANES champions and I have to congratulate them on a remarkable success.
In netball, the Year 9 girls were crowned South West champions in February. The standard throughout the competition was extremely high and our girls did exceptionally well to win against competition that was both talented and well organised.
A year of great sporting success was matched by some wonderful musical achievements. The orchestra and choirs have had a good year and performed admirably at the Carol Service in December. The brass ensemble, strings group and flute group are all growing in number and have enjoyed some fine performances this year. Last Friday evening many of us were treated to a wonderful evening of delightful music in a variety of forms.
Our poet in residence worked with a number of our students this year and submitted their poems into a competition run by Live Canon. Over 20 had their poems published in a special anthology and five were invited to the Greenwich theatre, London to hear their poetry read by two actors. The afternoon was an impressive display of talent in which St Gregory’s won the prize for the school with the most entries.
Many of the poems we heard reflected on our responsibility for the world that God has given us and our responsibility for it. The same theme has been taken up by our CAFOD Young Volunteers who have been instrumental in promoting and supporting those in need overseas throughout the year.
In January we saw and heard the Sound of Music. It was an amazing show, delivered with great poise, energy and beautiful singing. There were some unforgettable and very moving moments, it was an incredible show with great choreography which added a unique dimension to the performances. There is no doubt that we have among our students considerable depth of talent which is being well developed by the Performing Arts Dept.
Healthy mind and healthy body are perhaps most often found side by side in the School’s broad-ranging programme of outdoor pursuits and adventures, which this year included a walking weekend in Snowdonia and a very ambitious Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme involving no fewer than 50 pupils across Bronze, Silver and Gold.
One of the highlights of the last year for me was the way in which the whole school community got behind a range of charitable initiatives, in particular our two Year 11 students who ‘Braved the Shave’ in February. It was a very moving occasion and my predictions that their hair would not grow back in time for the Prom have been proven quite wrong. The Year 7 students took a highly creative approach to their support for the National Deaf Children’s Society, combining a Mufti day with a Cake Sale which was very well supported. Both are efforts of which the St Gregory’s community can feel very proud.
The last category on which I want to reflect is the academic life of the School. It was, quite simply, another superb year, full of ambition and success. Our progress 8 score against which we are now measured was one of the best in BANES. This was an outstanding achievement and was the result of considerable work and application on the part of last years Year 11. Our A Level results were similarly impressive and many students last year went on to start degree courses at prestigious universities.
I hope that what you have gleaned from my overview of the last 12 months is that the academic year 2017-18 has ben an exciting, eventful and successful one for the School on very many fronts. The phrase ‘going from strength to strength’ is perhaps an overused one, but it does genuinely feel appropriate.
Before handing over to Mrs Tidball, I would like to make three final comments. The first is to congratulate our prizewinners this evening; as you have heard, the standards at St Gregory’s are very high, and so you have done superbly well to be nominated for an award, in whichever category. I also want us to recognise that there are many of your friends who are not here as prizewinners tonight but who also work hard, give of their best and achieve in many different ways; they too deserve our praise in their absence. Secondly, I’d like to say that, whilst it is a great joy to look back and reflect on success and achievement, it is more important to look forward to new challenges and the exciting times and opportunities that lie ahead; there will be many of them, I am sure. Finally, and at the risk of stating the obvious, it behoves me to point out that none of what we have heard about this evening would ever happen without lots of different groups of people all pulling in the same direction. So thank you: to Governors for your support; to parents and grandparents for the sacrifices that you make and the trust that you place in us to look after your children; to the pupils, for your passion and commitment, for being willing to give things a go and for looking out not just for yourselves, but for each other; and perhaps most significantly to the staff – both teaching and support – who give tirelessly of their time, energy, humour, compassion and expertise and who really do go above and beyond to make St Gregory’s the great school that I believe it to be.
(Acting Headteacher June 2018)