7th July 2022 Newsletter

Dear Parents,

We’ve made it through to the end of the year! No lockdowns and as more people were vaccinated, so life has returned to a sense of normality with social and educational interaction. Having all the pupils in school throughout the year has been so beneficial for them and has given them the opportunity to have an uninterrupted period of time to broaden their knowledge and revisit certain learning skills that Covid had disturbed.

For me the year has flown by, and it has been such fun and every day has brought its excitement. I often talk about a school being like an equilateral triangle of pupils, parents and staff having ownership of it, and when all three sides come together we have an amazing place to work. As our speaker at prize-giving, James Gant-Feek, said on Tuesday, “if you enjoy what you are doing, it is not work!” The pupils have been incredible, welcoming me into the school from day 1, being so open and working so hard in every year group. Mrs McConnell told me on many occasions before my arrival here about the staff in glowing terms, and I have had the privilege to see that at first hand myself this year. They work so hard for your children, wanting them to succeed in whatever they are doing. Their pleasure in seeing the pupils win trophies and certificates earlier this week was as great as the pupils’ joy, because they care, and I thank them for that and all their hard work throughout the year.

My thanks are also extended to all the parents. You too have welcomed me into the school, greeted me cheerily in the morning, supported events and parents’ evenings. Particular thanks go to Leigh Cunningham and Bridget Doyle for all their work for the PTA and second-hand uniform, but they have not done it alone and my gratitude to the many helpers at events. I would like to expand the PTA group next year and welcome any parent who would like to be involved in a more regular way. But that’s to come…

As I reflect over the year, the pupils have achieved so many amazing things, supported by the staff and parents:

  • The students performing their first ever play in November, the Christmas Fair, the carol service, the Prep school Christmas play, followed by real donkeys(!),going on trips again (London, Norfolk, Shropshire and nearer home), IDTA dance exam awards, the gardens transformed, the Green Flag Award, with distinction, a new website, growth in ICT and equipment, 8Billionideas projects, being involved directly and indirectly with the Platinum Jubilee, and ‘Phoenix – we’re back!’. I’m sure I have missed so much more.
  • And we mustn’t forget all the lessons and learning that have taken place during the year. Pupils have worked hard with their teachers in all the subjects, and their efforts and progress have been duly praised in their school reports.

As you would expect from the last week of an academic year, it has been very busy: finishing off work; clearing up desks and classrooms; finding that dance top that was thought lost for months(!); but also prize-giving; sports days (Early Years held their own Olympics!); Year 6 final breakfast; farewell to the post-16 students who are leaving; the final assembly; and a staff inset day (Friday) with barbecue.

On Tuesday, we had the real pleasure of welcoming James Gant-Feek to be our guest speaker at Prize-giving. James is currently rehearsing and performing with the new and present cast of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ respectively. Apart from giving out all the certificates and trophies so graciously, he spoke about the Arts in its widest sense and the importance of being imaginative, creative and supportive of each other in whatever you do. At the end of the ceremony, both he and his wife, Miss Sophie, treated us all to an unforgettable and totally magnificent performances of “I dreamed a dream” and “Stars”. Everyone in the hall and also the many parents watching the live stream were awestruck by the power and feeling in the two songs. Thank you to both.

We used the occasion to say goodbye to those members of staff leaving. Mrs Townsend has only been at the school for this year, but for Year 10, in particular, she has changed the direction of the ICT course with the BTech course and has initiated the change from the old large computers to laptops which are far more flexible. We wish her well in her next job and welcome Mr Northcote who is going to combine his present role with running the ICT department.

Miss Sophie came in to follow Miss Monique’s departure and to bring her direct experience and knowledge of what it is to be a West End performer. She has motivated pupils and students alike to express their talents and organised the Summer Show to be the great success it was. The pupils will miss the obvious fun in her lessons, but we have promised to go and watch her in London as she is returning to “Les Misérables”. Miss Jess is going to take up the reins of being in charge of Performing Arts and Mrs Hjelvik will run the Drama Department.

Mrs Clarke and Mrs Coghlan both started on the same day, coming to support two pupils. This they have both done magnificently, but they have done far more than that, helping many pupils throughout the school, helping teachers in lessons, going on school trips, and helping with the wellbeing in the school, especially over the last couple of years when it has been needed most. Their kind words and their caring attitude have been an example to us all and we will miss them tremendously.

Mrs Carson has brought her enthusiasm for English and Shakespeare, in particular, to many classes during her time here, making pupils feel excited about reading and creative writing. Staff will miss her cheerful approach to life in the staffroom and we wish her and her husband exciting times in retirement. Mrs Jarrett, from Mr Bath’s previous school, will be replacing her.

Finally, we say farewell to Mr Dodd too. Mr Dodd has run the Maths Department with great efficiency and dedication during his many years at Pattison, demonstrating to pupils that mathematics is not a subject to be feared but explored and enjoyed to a high level of success. Mr Dodd has also run Starley House,  working with the pupils in numerous fund-raising projects, running (literally) several sports clubs as well as being a calming effect on Year 11 pupils during the crucial GCSE year. As he rides off into retirement, we hope that he has now the time to pursue further his passion for cycling and we wish him all the very best. Mrs Wooldridge will be coming in September as a very experienced Maths teacher and a karate expert!

One new appointment, a first for Pattison, is Mrs Rees who will be teaching sport to all years.

For all departing staff I thank them for all they have done for Pattison and for those starting in September, we welcome them to the Pattison family.