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Headteacher Blog

what's happening at Chesham Grammar

Posted on: September 8th 2017

Head's Blog

Dear Parent,


I hope you and your children had a good summer break. It was a pleasure to welcome new students to the school this week and to welcome back those who were returning after the long summer break. Wednesday and Thursday were very busy! On Wednesday, 180 new Year 7s, the class of 2024, donned their new uniform and arrived with us; the next generation of Cheshamians. They were understandably nervous at the start of the day but thankfully less so by the time they went home in the afternoon. We were also joined on Wednesday by Year 12 students, more than 50 of whom are also new to the school. I hope all of our new students are beginning to feel settled and at home. On Thursday, all other students descended on us! I was really pleased to see the older students looking after the younger ones, scooping them up if they were lost and generally reassuring them over the last two days. Our vertical tutoring system means that this happens naturally of course within each tutor group which is one of the many strengths of this approach.

As is the case at the start of any new school year, we are joined by a number of new colleagues. Karen Wright is new to the Senior Leadership Team. Karen is an Assistant Headteacher and will be taking over data, assessment and reporting. This role was previously under the leadership of Ollie Josephson who is now the SLT member overseeing the pastoral system. We have some new Subject Leaders too. They are: Sean Bailey in Spanish, Victoria Karmi in German, Zoe Neagle in Drama and Charlotte Coleman in Girls' PE. Teachers new to the school this September are: Karl Thomas, Matthew Peoples and Harry Issott in Mathematics, Chloe Penberthy, Natasha Leaper and Naomi Sutton in Science and Elizabeth Evans in Geography. Ailsa Maddock joins us in Girls' PE to cover the maternity leave of Tamsyn Craig who had her baby, a girl, Isla, in July. Congratulations also to Tim Patteson whose wife gave birth to a baby boy, Harry, towards the very end of the summer holiday. We also have a new Gap Year Technician, Tomkin Hurling and a new PE Technician, Matthew Dashper. Finally, we have some trainee teachers with us for this year: Nathasha Jashari in Music, Megan Rose in Geography, Harry Larkin in French, Hannah Spargo in Spanish, Caroline Tobin in Maths and Elizabeth Thomas in History. We wish all our new colleagues a very happy and fulfilling time at CGS. Finally, we welcome back Helen Southwood to the History and Politics Departments following her maternity leave.

I mentioned that Ollie Josephson is now overseeing the pastoral system. We have tweaked the system slightly and each House Leader will now also work with a particular section of the school. Mr Pierce is dealing with Year 7, Mrs Maishman with Years 8 and 9 and Mr Spittle with Years 10 and 11. Miss Houghton will be working with the Sixth Form team, supporting those in Years 12 and 13.

Over the summer, a huge amount of work has been done on the site. We handed over the site to contractors on the first day of the holiday and it was only handed back on Monday of this week. Those of you who had a child in the school last year will know that we needed to replace our heating and hot water pipes and these have all been rerouted through the ceilings. As you can imagine this was a massive undertaking in such a short space of time. Although there are still a few things to sort, I am pleased that we now have a modern, fit for purpose heating and hot water system which is good news indeed, especially after the issues we had last Winter. Also over the summer, one of our Food Technology rooms was completely refurbished and we are absolutely delighted with it. Many thanks to the FOCGS who funded this along with Ridgeway Kitchens whose generosity has enabled us to have a truly high end kitchen installed. Thanks too to Waitrose who have given us some money for the new pans we need for the induction hobs and to Mary Berry who is coming to officially open the kitchen on 27th September.

Just before the end of the summer term, Year 10 history students headed off to Vietnam while a number of those in Year 12 left for an expedition to Borneo. Both trips were hugely successful. The students gained a great deal from the experience as did the staff and, as always, the students conducted themselves impeccably.

Please remember - or in the case of new parents please be aware - that you can let us know of any `good news' relating to your son or daughter through our website. We like to know about their out of school successes and achievements so that we can celebrate and congratulate the students. You can find the relevant form under the `parents' tab of our website. Three of our new Year 7 students, Magnus Gravell, Joe McKeich and Jackie Miller, will be appearing on CBBC this Sunday at 9.30am on the Top Class Quiz show - a general knowledge quiz for primary school children. This was filmed when they were at primary school but we are, nonetheless, proud of them. I am told that they will be appearing several times on the show, having got as far as the semi-finals. Well done. Congratulations to Megan Ellis in Year 13 who has been selected to take part in a national competition at the Blenheim International Horse Trials this month. We wish her all the best. Towards the end of term, we were asked if we had any students who might be interested in auditioning for the two female lead roles in the Beacon's production of Guys and Dolls. Isabella Thathapudi in Year 10 and Katrina Hawes in Year 13 auditioned and were cast immediately! The staff involved at the Beacon were hugely impressed with the maturity, talent and charm of the girls and I am delighted that they were such excellent ambassadors for CGS. By all accounts the show was superb; well done girls.

Last night we held our Sixth Form Information Evening for parents and students in Year 12 which was very well attended. The feedback from parents indicates that you found it most useful. Next Thursday, 14th, we hold our Key Stage 3 Information Evening for Year 7 parents and I am very much looking forward to meeting parents of our youngest and newest students again. Please do try to ensure that you attend if you have a child in Year 7. Not only will we be sharing a good deal of important information, it will also be an opportunity for you to meet the parents of your child's new classmates. Finally, the Friends of Chesham Grammar School have their first meeting of the new year on Tuesday. This takes place at school at 7.30pm. They are always looking for new recruits so please do consider coming along, even if you just want to know more about what is involved. You will be most welcome.

I would like to finish with a few reminders. Firstly, uniform issues. We expect very high standards here and I make no apology for this. Whenever a child is wearing our uniform, s/he is representing CGS and so I would welcome your support in ensuring that your child is impeccably dressed when leaving home in the morning. May I also remind you that no piercings other that pierced ears are permitted and that only Sixth Formers should be wearing nail polish. Please remember as it gets colder that any coat worn for school should be black. Those of you with a child in the Sixth Form will know that we have changed our dress code slightly and we have been pleased with the standards we have seen this week. Our mobile phone policy is aimed at ensuring that we do not see them in school and where we do, students know that they will be confiscated until the end of the week. Thank you for your support.

You may have noticed that your son or daughter has come home with a pin on his or her lapel. This is a commemorative pin for our 70th anniversary which we are celebrating this year. All students and staff have been given one and I very much hope that they will wear it with pride and will wish to keep it. We are having a whole school 70th anniversary photograph taken on 22nd September so please keep your fingers crossed for good weather!

Finally, can I apologise to parents of new students who have not yet been able to use the biometric payment system in the dining room due to a problem with the internet connection in that part of the school. This is now resolved and on Monday, we will ensure that Year 7s are registered on the system. Please can I ask that you send them with some cash for lunch on Monday once again as it may take a little while to get them all set up.

With very best wishes for a relaxing weekend,

Annmarie McNaney