Letter From The Headmaster - January 2020

I hope you all had a good Christmas break with your families. As we start the new term we welcome three new members of staff. Peter McLeish is a very experienced Mathematics teacher who replaces Rachael Beasley as she leaves us due to family circumstances. We are also delighted that we have re-established our Australian Gap Student Programme and welcome Patrick Bullock and Libby Butler from Downlands, our MSC sister school in Toowoomba, Queensland.

I am sure that many of you and your children will have made New Year’s resolutions and hopefully these are still in force! One of the targets for us all, I am sure, is to look after our own health - both physical and mental - and our general well-being. It is the same for our children of course.

Two related factors that are regularly highlighted by scientific studies in this area are:

1.    Excessive screen time

2.    Insufficient sleep

So if you have any room for additional New Year’s resolutions, then the following suggestions may be useful:

1.    Do continue to talk to your children about their screen time and ensure you have established sensible ground rules in terms of ICT access and usage.

2.    Do enforce (and police) appropriate bedtimes for your children – they generally need a minimum of eight hours per night.

3.    Do model good practice: it’s really important that we, as adults, don’t have our phones out at the dinner table or let our phones interrupt conversations with our children.

At Princethorpe, as a staff, we are also looking at our own wellbeing and measures to best manage our workloads. One area we have identified as a cause for concern is the proliferation of emails in recent years and the sheer amount of time it takes to read and respond to them. Whilst email can be an exceptionally effective communication tool, like any area of ICT its use needs to be carefully considered to avoid overload. So this year we have set ourselves a target to reduce internal email traffic – by using more efficient ways of sharing information such as My School Portal or Microsoft Teams – or by talking more face to face!  

We also have a genuine desire to make our parental communications as efficient as possible. As you know we try to keep you well informed by publishing the Calendar and our e-newsletter the Flagpole and having a number of bespoke on-line platforms such as: the Parent Portal (My School Portal), SOCS (school sports fixture information) and Evolve (for trips).  

We also realise that from time to time parents may need to contact a member of staff directly and therefore email is a key part of our parental communications. There is an expectation that staff regularly check their emails at work (though not when they are teaching of course) and we have a target that a parent email is responded to within 24 hours of receipt.

Please be aware however, that teaching staff often have limited time during the day to access their email – due to their teaching commitments, lesson preparation, marking, pastoral care, breaktime duties and running clubs and activities - and we do not expect staff to spend many hours in their evenings or weekends dealing with work emails.

If you have any feedback on our communications or suggestions as to how we could further improve, please do let me know.

Finally, many thanks to all of you who sent messages of support and goodwill (and presents!) to our staff in the run up to Christmas – these are all really appreciated.

I send my best wishes to you and your families for the New Year.

Ed Hester

College Careers Fair - Saturday 21 March 2020 - Save The Date

The College Careers Fair 2020 will be held on the morning of Saturday 21 March. The Fair is open to Year 10 to Sixth Form pupils and their parents. It will provide a ‘one stop careers shop’ with a wide range of speakers and organisations on hand to offer advice and guidance on careers, universities, apprenticeships, internships and gap year options.

The event will run from 10.00am to 1.00pm and, as before, will include a keynote speaker and career path workshops with presentations and Q and A sessions from parents and Old Princethorpians. Attendees will be able to attend up to three workshops depending on their personal interests.

The Fair will also include an A-Z career zone with stalls from many well-known companies, charities, institutions, universities and gap year advisers for pupils and their parents to explore.

Comments, Jacqui Quinney, Head of Careers, “This is a really key event for our senior pupils. It will provide important information and advice to help them develop their career choices. Please do make a note of the date now, so as to not miss out on this very valuable opportunity.”

More details will be published in the next edition of the Flagpole.

Isabelle Recognised As A Champion Of Tomorrow

Huge congratulations to Princethorpe College Year 10 pupil, Isabelle Harding, on her success at the prestigious Champions of Tomorrow national Ballroom and Latin competition that took place on Saturday 4 January at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.

Isabelle took third place in both the British Under 35 Ballroom and Latin dancing competitions, an amazing achievement in what is a very well regarded and competitive event. 

Isabelle trains at AURA Dance Studios in Solihull dedicating 12 hours a week to her challenging and technical performing art. 

A delighted Isabelle, pictured here with her trophies, commented, “We danced very well, and I am really pleased to have finished third. The standard is so high. It really was an incredible day.”

Well done to Isabelle, what an amazing achievement.

Princethorpe’s School Community Puts Faith Into Action

Back before Christmas Princethorpe College pupils, parents and staff responded generously to Director of Ethos, Kieran McCullough’s seasonal challenge to put Faith Into Action. Mr McCullough challenged every member of the school community to bring in one item of non-perishable food and the community did not disappoint, showing a sense of empathy, generosity and solidarity that at one stage led to the school’s student hub overflowing with boxes and bags of donations.

On Thursday 19 December Richard Gordan from the charity, St Vincent de Paul Society, visited the school to collect all of the donations. There were so many bags and boxes that the donations literally had to be crammed in to his car. Mr Gordon was almost speechless, he thanked the Princethorpe community profusely, saying, “The donations will be shared between the homeless and refugee charities that the SVP supports.”   

Kieran McCullough commented, “The level of enthusiasm and support shown for our Faith In Action challenge was amazing, affirming the school’s spirit of family ethos and showing that pupils embrace the communities they live in and are willing to help those who are less fortunate than themselves.” 

He continued, “It is easy to sometimes think that one person alone cannot make a big impact, but by bringing all of those individual small acts of kindness together we have been able to make a real difference.”

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OP Murray Wells Inspires Engineers With Tales Of The Bloodhound Supersonic Car

Princethorpe College was delighted to welcome back Old Princethorpian Murray Wells on Thursday 9 January to talk to Lower Sixth students and Design Technology pupils about the Bloodhound SSC (Supersonic Car) Project and plans for it to set a new world Land Speed Record.

Murray left Princethorpe in 2014 and went on to study Aerospace Engineering at the University of Hertfordshire.  He had always wanted to be an engineer, his choice of career reinforced by a video he saw explaining just how the Bloodhound was powered.  So he jumped at the chance to work on a placement with the project, amongst the UK’s best engineers, on what can only be described as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Murray explained that the Bloodhound SSC project has two objectives. To set a new Land Speed Record at or above 1,000mph, but also to address the shortage of engineers, by inspiring a whole new generation of enthusiasts.  He recounted the history of the Land Speed Record and of British involvement in it and how ex-RAF pilot Andy Green finally set the current record of 763 miles per hour in Thrust SSC in 1997.

He talked about the Bloodhound SSC Project and the design challenges it faces. How it took two years to design a new body shape, the search for the right engine, the challenges of developing fuel pumps, air brakes and even wheels. He explained that the car will weigh six tonnes, be three metres tall and larger than a bus and that the plan is to drive at 1,000 miles per hour over 12 miles of desert.  He explained about the work done to prepare the race site in Hakskeen Pan in the Mier area of the Northern Cape, South Africa and the positive impact the project has had on the local community.

Assistant Head of Sixth Form, Rod Isaacs and Head of Design and Technology, Paul Scopes both agreed that Murray’s talk was fascinating, saying, “The Bloodhound SSC is one of the most exciting engineering projects in the world, there really is nothing like UK engineering, it was incredible to hear about the project and its achievements so far.”

Our huge thanks go to Murray for taking the time to come into school to talk about the project and his involvement with it.

Epiphany Services Offer A Revelation Into Giving

On Monday 6 January, the first day of the Lent Term, pupils participated in a series of Epiphany Services exploring the unexpected benefits of ‘Giving’. 

The Epiphany services offered College pupils the opportunity to reflect on how ‘Giving’ at Christmas could go further and to consider how and what they could give across the year.

Whilst leading the services Father Alan Whelan MSC encouraged pupils, as they settled back down to daily school life, to reflect on opportunities for ‘Giving’.  He talked about the true meaning of Epiphany and how it offered insight and understanding of the important act of ‘Giving’.

Sixth Form students shared their experiences of volunteering, and how through visiting care homes and working at the Leamington Night Shelter they are actively ‘Giving‘.

The services finished with pupils completing Thank You cards, as a reminder of how simple it can be to ‘Give’.

It was a wonderful morning of reflection and inspiration after the festive season and our thanks go to Father Alan for leading the morning’s services and to the Sixth Form students for sharing their experiences of ‘Giving’ through volunteering.

Teams4U - How Princethorpe College Pupils Have Made Children Happy

The T4U charity were busy distributing the shoe-boxes to the children in the Romanian Danube Delta in the weeks before Christmas.

The overwhelming reports we have been receiving are ones of delight, gratitude and wonder. Each child who received a box had literally nothing else as a gift for Christmas. The children, as you will see in the video, dress in their best clothes for the giving of the boxes as they consider it a great honour to receive these gifts.

Please take a few minutes to watch the video of the distribution of the boxes - click here

The charity is thrilled with the gifts and boxes received from the pupils at the College and wish to thank everyone for their continued support. Here's to the Christmas Appeal for 2020!

The team invite all helpers and donors to All Saints Church, Stretton on Dunsmore, on Saturday 11 January at 10.00am (light refreshments will be served from 9.30am) for a short presentation and video session of the work of Teams4U for Christmas 2019.

Mrs Pam Hopwood, the local co-ordinator for the charity, wishes to thank all those involved with the collection of items and the preparation of the shoe-boxes.

The image shows the lengths the Teams4U charity go to in delivering the boxes.