Headmaster's Message

Message From The Headmaster

 “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

You may recognise this quotation; it is the opening line from George Orwell’s famous novel 1984. Written in 1948, the thirteenth stroke symbolises significant and irreversible changes that had occurred in the futuristic but dystopian world Orwell created. Whilst there are parallels in the changes we have seen in our lives over the past 16 months, I am much more optimistic than Orwell about the future!

As we staggered towards the finishing line at the end of term, the wonderful House Activities Day was full of fun, joy, teamwork, collaboration and competition. The weather was amazing and that buzz of excitement was well and truly back around the College – the shape of things to come and a real symbol of optimism and hope.

The Upper Sixth and Year 11 Last day celebrations were also very special occasions and we have put together some edited highlights for you to watch by clicking on the relevant links.

In “normal” years my final letter would reflect some of the highlights of the year which we cover in the final Whole School Assembly. Although we were disappointed we couldn’t gather together in person for this assembly, the advantage of having to conduct it online is that you are able to watch it for yourselves via the link. It is quite long so to help you navigate here are some of the timings of different sections:

  • Heads of school address; Caitlin Mason and Anthony Convey (1 min 49)
  • da Vinci and EPQ Awards (4 mins 40)
  • Musical interlude: You will be found (15 mins) 
  • DofE award scheme (22 mins)
  • Sports Highlights (29 mins 30)
  • Musical Interlude: Jesus Christ Superstar (39 mins 10)
  • Fashion Show (44 mins 10)
  • Hildegard Awards (54 mins)
  • House Activities Day Review (58 mins 30)
  • Staff Leavers (1hr 12 mins)
  • It’s coming home… (1hr 29 mins 30) – as I write, this might actually come to pass..!

Mary's Meals

In spite of the challenges of fundraising that all charities have faced, the Princethorpe College community has once again shown kindness and generosity in abundance raising over £9,979 this academic year which, with Gift Aid added, takes us to a grand total of £11,722.22

The fundraising began with our annual World Porridge Day celebration in October featuring porridge sold at break and year group welly-wanging competition, won by Harry Cheshire with a distance of 32.8m (myself coming a close second with 31.3m). Another memorable fundraising boost was provided by the wonderful PTA whose Burn's Night quiz in January led to a flood of donations to help us fund a daily meal in school for the 620 children at Makalanga School near Blantyre Malawi, which is the school we have been sponsoring for the last five years.

Finally, our annual 24-mile challenge took place on Sunday 4 July and sponsorship money is still coming in. 27 pupils taking part, joined by 11 staff walked more than 885 miles walked (not excluding the extra miles for slight detours!).

Needless to say we are incredibly grateful for the support and generosity of everyone in the Princethorpe College Community who have supported the Mary's Meals vision that 'Love reaches everywhere'.

Planning for Next Term and Latest DfE Covid-related Guidance

We have been doing much planning for next term, but of course there is still a vast amount to do over the summer. It is very welcome (and rather surprising) that we have already had some advance notice this week from the DfE on the following key points which I summarise here:

Bubbles will come to an end, with the guidance saying it will no longer be "necessary to keep children in consistent groups (bubbles)". This will allow for a more normal school day and we have been told that schools "no longer need to make alternative arrangements to avoid mixing at lunch".

NHS Test and Trace will be responsible for contact tracing - not schools. The current self-isolation rules for close contacts of a positive case will come to an end. From 16 August, the guidance says that "children under the age of 18 years old will no longer be required to self-isolate". Instead, primary and secondary school children identified as close contacts will be advised to take a PCR test.

Face coverings will no longer be advised for pupils, staff and visitors, either in classrooms or in communal areas.

The proposed system for asymptomatic testing will be as follows (quotes from the guidance):

  • "Over the summer, staff and secondary pupils should continue to test regularly if they are attending settings that remain open, such as summer schools and out of school activities based in school settings."
  • "As pupils will potentially mix with lots of other people during the summer holidays, all secondary school pupils should receive two on-site lateral flow device tests, three to five days apart, on their return in the autumn term. Settings may commence testing from three working days before the start of term and can stagger return of pupils across the first week to manage this."
  • "Pupils should then continue to test twice weekly at home until the end of September, when this will be reviewed."
  • "Staff should undertake twice-weekly home tests whenever they are on-site until the end of September, when this will also be reviewed."

It is worth pointing out that there may well be some changes to this advice and we will communicate our plans more fully regarding arrangements in August.

Vertical Tutoring

A huge bonus of the removal of bubbling is that we can return to our Vertical House Tutor Groups for Years 7 to 11 in September. Mrs Sharpe has spoken to the pupils about this and we will be emailing parents directly in week beginning Monday 19 July to confirm which tutor and tutor group your children will be in. Tutors and co-tutors will contact all parents within the first week of term so they can introduce themselves and give you an opportunity to update us on any changes that may have occurred over the summer break. Pupils will spend extended time on the first day of term in their new vertical tutoring group which will allow for the development of new friendships within the group.

Standards and Expectations

We will be sending home an updated copy of the pupils’ and parents’ handbook.  Can I take this opportunity to draw you attention to the uniform expectations and standards.  Understandably we allowed for some adjustments to our uniform to support families during this academic year, but we will expect all pupils to return to school in September in full Princethorpe uniform including games kit, please ensure you have replaced any ill-fitting and missing items before the start of term.  All pupils will be expected to wear black school shoes and not black trainers. Please note that we will continue to ask pupils to come into school in the Princethorpe games kit on the day they have their timetabled afternoon games session.

A-level and GCSE Results Days

We send our very best wishes to all students who undertook the A-level and GCSEs this year. For further information about the Results Days please see Dr Reddish’s article which can be found here.

Staff Changes

A school, of course, is only as good as its staff and we are tremendously fortunate to have such a large number of hard-working, caring and dedicated professionals; I would like to thank them again for all that they do for the pupils in so many ways, not least in the way they have risen to the challenges of lockdowns, Home Learning and home working. As always, we have a number of staff changes which I will summarise below:

As you will be aware, Michael Reddish will be leaving Princethorpe to become Vice Principal at Harrow International School in Bangkok and is replaced by Tom Marriott as Deputy Head (Academic) from Canford School in Dorset. Tom will be supported in his new role by Michael Spencer who has been appointed as Assistant Head (Director of Studies) who joins us from Bablake.

We also wish Lisa Challinor well in her new role as Director of Wellbeing at King’s High, after 11 years at Princethorpe as Teacher of English, Head of Year and latterly Head of Benet House. Nicola Borman will also be leaving the English department to become Head of English at Stowe School. The English department welcomes Jess Proudlock from King Henry VIII, Coventry and Jack Parker on completion of his PGCE at the University of Warwick.

We are delighted that Faye Roberts has been appointed as Head of Benet and Catherine Warne will become Head of Biology to succeed Faye in this role. Also in the Science faculty, Emma Cooper, Head of Science and Chemistry has returned from her maternity leave, and Dan Lee has taken on the additional responsibility as Second in Department and STEAM Co-ordinator. Michael Spencer joins the Physics Department as Peter McLeish, who has worked in both the Mathematics and Physics departments leaves us. Sam Curtis who joined us mid-year as a Teacher of Chemistry will be taking on a permanent role.

The Mathematics department, will be joined by Alef Rosenbaum from Myton School and Isobel Turner-Pryce from Barr’s Hill School to cover for Leanne Rickart and Christina Baxter’s maternity leaves.

Alison Wakeley has recently returned from her maternity leave and we thank Helen Dean for her work in the Music department to cover for Alison. In the History department Katharine Darwood-Bredin will also be going on maternity leave in the Michaelmas term and we welcome Julia Lindsay back. Greg Lyttle joins us as Teacher of Politics and History and Abi Adams will be leaving us after two very successful years in the school. Tom Marriott will also be teaching in the History department.

Jo Powell leaves the Psychology and Sociology department and Lizzie Caisey, who joined us mid-year from North Leamington School, takes on a permanent role. In the Economics and Business Studies department we welcome Laura Wilford from The Kibworth School and Daniel Lumb.

We also say goodbye to our Trainee Teachers, Sophie Rejali, Megan Lewis, Alice Reed and Ally Drury who all joined us as part of their teacher training courses; we congratulate all for securing their first teaching positions and wish them well with their future careers beyond Princethorpe. In September we welcome new trainees Evangeline Kane, Catherine Morrish, Harry Walters, Kyle Crompton, Debbie Brocklebank-Crowder along with Old Princethorpians Rob Rollason and Bethany Rees; we wish them well with their placements.

We bid farewell to our outgoing TAs, Katie Shorten, Laura Baskerville, Maddie Downey and Will Cooper-Harris and our Graduate Sports Coach and TA, Jack Forsythe who have all done sterling work in so many areas of the school.

We are looking forward to our new incoming TAs who are Upper Sixth leavers: Luke Brotherton, Sam Wincott-Thomas and Jessica Scott.

David Cotton, our Heath and Safety Manager also retires this summer and is replaced by Rob Heath.

We thank all our leavers for all they have done at Princethorpe and wish them all well in their retirement or future careers.

As we finish two Staff INSET days at the end of the Trinity Term it was lovely to have a short outside event to celebrate our longstanding members of staff as well as those leaving the College this year for pastures new.

Long service awards were made to Special Projects Officer, Gill Price and Lab Technician, Angela Morris for 20 years of service; Peripatetic Music Co-ordinator Felicity Coulson for 30 years of service; Catering Assistant, Colin Jamie, Head of Geography, Mike Taylor and Chaplain Fr Alan Whelan MSC for 40 years of service; Latin Teacher, Rachel Taylor for 45 years of service and last but by no means least Estates Assistant Gerry Lovely and Cleaner Judy Vick for an amazing 45 and 46 years of service respectively.

Thank you and best wishes to them all.

Finally, a huge thank you to each and every parent for your consistent and continuous support over the year, it has been enormously appreciated by all staff.

Very best wishes to you and your families for the summer,

Ed Hester