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Headteacher Blog

what's happening at Chesham Grammar

Posted on: April 5th 2019

Head's Blog

Dear Parent,

As I write this, the school is now quiet as the students have left for their Easter break.  A huge amount has happened since we returned on January 2nd and I talked to the students in assembly this week about a good number of the achievements and highlights of the term.  Your sons and daughters have worked hard and have made superb contributions to CGS in so many ways and now have a much needed and well earned break ahead.  I would like to thank them and their teachers for all they have done this term.  I wish all those in Year 10 who are on the GCSE Geography visit to Iceland and those in the Sixth Form undertaking their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition this week a memorable and enjoyable time.  

As you will know, we started to use our new PE changing rooms this term and they have been well received.  My thanks to the Friends of CGS who paid for this refurbishment.  Now that we are back in the changing rooms, students no longer need to come to school or go home in their kit if they start or end the day with PE.  From next term all students should come to and leave school in their uniform and it would help if you could remind your children of this when next term starts.  Thank you.

During the course of this year, we have undertaken a number of parental questionnaires and I know that many of you will have completed several of these as part of our subject or curriculum reviews.  The views of parents along with those of the students are hugely valuable in helping us identify what we do well and areas in which we can further improve and I would like to thank you for taking part. By way of example, one of the consistent themes in our parental surveys last year related to the data parents receive about their child's progress.  It was clear that parents did not feel this was in a helpful format.  As a result we have made significant changes to the way in which we collect, process and present data to parents and have also changed the software we use to do this, moving away from SIMS and using Go4Schools instead, a much more user-friendly system.  

Earlier this term we took over our new reception area and this is working well.  Could I please ask that parents enter the school site by the gate at the end of the path directly in front of the reception area (the gates to the left of the front car park). For safeguarding reasons, the gate on the right hand side of the car park is for staff and students only so please do bear this in mind when you visit the school.  

Today we have said goodbye to four members of staff.  Mr Josephson joined us as Assistant Headteacher in September 2015 initially with responsibility for data and assessment.  Since 2017, he has overseen the pastoral system and those of you who have dealt with him will know that he always puts the interests of the students first. He has two young children and his wife has recently returned to work to a role involving a good deal of travelling.  He has therefore decided to take some time out from teaching to look after his own young family.  Mrs Lothian joined us in the Maths Department in January 2016 and was promoted to Assistant Subject Leader a year later.  She leaves us to take up the role of Head of Maths at Claire's Court School.  This role had a January 2019 start date but she would only accept it on condition the start was delayed until Easter as she did not want to leave her classes at Christmas without a maths teacher.  This says a great deal about her professionalism and commitment and I am most grateful to her.  Mrs Murphy has been working in the Politics Department covering a maternity leave since September.  As she said in her leaving speech today, between Brexit and Trump she has had a great time teaching A level Politics at CGS!  The students and staff she has worked with will miss her.  Finally, Mr Dube, who has been with us teaching Science this term, moves to another school.  We wish all four of them well in their new ventures.  These departures mean some staffing changes for some students and parents of those affected are aware of this.  It is never ideal when a teacher leaves during the year but we work incredibly hard to minimise the impact on the students.  A good number of colleagues will be adding to their teaching loads to cover some of the classes affected by these departures.  Teacher recruitment, especially in the sciences and maths, is a real challenge especially in the South East where the cost of living is so high and I know from talking to other Heads locally that we are not alone.  On a more positive note, I am delighted to tell you that we have recruited a school counsellor who will start with us during the second week of next term. We have been without one this term and so I was really pleased to be able to appoint someone to this role which is a vital part of our pastoral care for students.

I would like to remind parents that our approach to mobile phones for students is that if they are seen, they are confiscated and returned at the end of the week.  Phones will be returned overnight during the week if there is a genuine need for a student to have their phone and in this case, such a request must be made by the parent.  We have had a couple of occasions recently where a student whose phone has been confiscated has come at the end of the day insisting that he or she needs their phone to get home safely only for this to cease to be an issue when the child is told we need to discuss this request with a parent!  Thank you for your support in this matter.

At regular intervals, we review our processes and protocols in school and we have been discussing various safeguarding issues recently.  My weekly newsletter as you know always makes mention of a number of students and this is sent to parents and also appears on our website under the 'Head's blog' tab. This means this document is accessible to any member of the public and with safeguarding in mind, we feel we should remove mention of children's surnames in my newsletter.  This will mean that no child is identifiable via our website and I hope that parents appreciate and understand the reasons for this.  I don't think this will detract from the celebration of the achievements of our students as those who are mentioned will know who they are and the use of forenames only will still allow the parent body to be aware of the wonderful things in which our students across the school are involved.

I would like to wish a happy 12th birthday to the following students in Year 7 who came to see me this week: Ben, Zara, Amelia, Kayla, Anaya and Sukhveen.  I also met with a number of students today to celebrate their achievements.  Congratulations to Isabella and Jonathan in Year 12 who took part in the explorer scouts Endurance80 challenge recently.  This involved walking 80km non-stop which had to be completed in less than 24 hours.  Isabella and her team completed this in 21 hours and they were the winners.  This event required huge amounts of resilience, team work and determination and is an incredible achievement.  Jonathan has also been awarded a coveted Scout Explorer Belt following an expedition to Oman in the summer and, in the Endurance80 event, he was in the fastest out of county team.  Zac, another Year 12 student, has qualified for the British Swimming Championships with several Olympians including Adam Peaty.  Zac will be racing in the 50m butterfly event alongside the current World Champion, Ben Proud, at the event in Glasgow in a couple of weeks time.  We wish him luck.  A group of students in Year 9 did a fantastic job of creating a successful video grant application to 'Grow Wild' Kew Gardens, winning £500. This must be used to plant native British flowers and shrubs and these will enhance our redevelopment of the quad area which will be undertaken in the summer holiday.  The video was based on their vision for developing the school site which they worked on during their Lifeskills lessons.  The students involved are: Lauren, Daisy, Rohan, Georgie, Charlotte and Pravin.  Lincoln in Year 12 has been successful in his application to the Rodulfus Chorale Course at Eton College.  This takes place in July and will provide him with an excellent opportunity to develop further his musical aptitude as he prepares for his Grade 8 singing exam.  Zara in Year 8 has recently passed her Grade 4 guitar exam with merit while twins Archie and Euan along with their friend William, all in Year 7, took part in the National Schools Cross Country Championships recently, representing Bucks, the winning team in the Year 7 boys' category.  Out of a field of 220, Euan finished 17th and Archie 36th, both scores counting towards the first position.  William was not well prior to the race and was unwell during it but he battled on and finished the course.  Many congratulations and well done to them all.  

Finally, we have been informed that the BBC Radio 4 show, Any Questions, will be broadcast live from St Peter's Church in Berkhamsted on Friday May 3rd at 8pm.  Tickets are free but do need to be reserved.  If you are interested in attending, please get in touch with the organisers at: churchoffice@greatberkhamsted.plus.com.

We return to school at the start of the summer term on Tuesday, 23rd April.

With very best wishes for a relaxing weekend and wishing you all a Happy Easter,

Annmarie McNaney
Headteacher