This week started with some good news I received in the post! We were contacted by the Rt Hon David Curry, who is the editor of the Parliamentary Review (which is headed up by the Prime Minister, the Schools Minister and Lucy Powell MP, one of the Labour Party’s representatives on the Education Select Committee).
David was enquiring whether Plymstock School could be used as an example of best practice in education in the 2018 Parliamentary Review. Not only will we be published in this document, we have also been invited by Sir Eric Pickles (Chairman of the Parliamentary Review), to attend parliament as his guest next September to celebrate our hard work and achievements. Not a bad way to start the week!
On Monday evening our Post-16 Criminology students joined Ms Williams, Mr Sprenkel, Mr Chivers, Mr Wilson and myself for a visit to Bodmin Jail.
Bodmin Jail (also known as Bodmin Gaol) is an historic former prison that was built in 1779 and closed in 1927. There are a large range of imposing buildings, many of which are still in ruins. It is also claimed to be one of the most haunted places in Cornwall.
We got to hear all about its long history, the conditions the prisoners lived in, some of the individuals that were sent there (along with their crimes) and general prison reform through the ages. The story of the jail was fascinating.
It was getting dark as we arrived and it was certainly very atmospheric. Unfortunately we didn’t see any ghosts, but we did get to see Mr Sprenkel stall the minibus – twice (which amused the students massively!!).
On Wednesday evening we celebrated the phenomenal success that our outgoing Year 11 students achieved in their examinations over the summer, at our GCSE Awards Evening. It was a wonderful opportunity for students, staff, parents and governors to get together and recognise the hard work and team effort of our school community, over the last five years. As you are all aware, the outcomes for this amazing group of young people were, not only the best of any non-selective school in the city, but also some of the strongest in the whole country.
We were also delighted to be joined by our special guest for the evening, Kerry Bennett. Kerry, who grew up in Plymouth, is an RAF pilot and was finalist in the recent BBC programme ‘Astronauts: Do you have what it takes?’.
The evening went very well. We started with a musical performance before I gave a short address as Headteacher. Then it was on to Mr Bellamy (who was the students’ Head of Year) who reminisced about their GCSE years (including a few funny moments!). Next up was the presentation of the students’ GCSE certificates and awards by our special guest. Then it was time for Kerry to give her address. It was great to hear about Kerry’s life, her experiences (including training with Prince William and flying Daniel Craig into Afghanistan) and her advice for the young people of our school. What an inspiring speech.
For me, the best bit about our GCSE Awards Evening, is seeing how much our students have grown both academically and personally over the last five years (To illustrate this – photo one shows some of the students on their first day at Plymstock School in September 2012, with photo two showing some of them at the Year 11 Prom, five years later). It fills me with so much optimism to know that this group of students are going out there into the world, where I know they will make a huge difference.
Well done to everyone and a huge thank you to our staff, parents and governors for supporting these achievements. I would also like to thank Kerry for giving up her time to travel to Plymouth, be an important part of this celebration and help inspire our students.
On Tuesday our Science Department welcomed Robby Roulston from the British Antarctic Survey Team, who gave a great talk to our Year 9 students. Robby is about to depart for Antarctica in a couple of weeks time, to spend the ‘Antarctic Summer’ working on the Halley Research Station, where the sun will not set for the whole duration of his visit! Robby discussed the different research stations in the Antarctic Circle, the type of research that takes place and the opportunities available if anyone would like this experience themselves. It was fascinating to learn about life on a research station, how he will be spending Christmas away from home, and just how important the research is in order for us to learn about how our planet it is changing. The students asked some well considered questions, such as what qualifications are needed to get there, the types of jobs available and about the wildlife encountered. Robby also explained why you’d never get to see a polar bear near Halley (they’re not found in Antarctica) and why polar bears don’t eat penguins!
Following on from last week’s blog, which covered the involvement of a number of our students in the remembrance events across the city – we had one more student who played a key role. Amber Platt in Year 13 was privileged to be chosen to do the Young Persons Reading at the main service at the Hoe on Remembrance Sunday. It was a great honour and additionally she also was the wreath bearer for our Lord Mayor. Well done Amber.
Congratulations go to our Year 10 Boys Rugby Team. Last week the boys qualified for the semi-finals of the Under 15 West Devon Cup with a huge 38-5 victory over Hele’s School. Next up is Ivybridge Community College – bring it on!!
Our Year 9 Boys Rugby Team also played in a competition this week – The West Devon Cunningham Cup. This involved the students playing teams from every school across Plymouth. Eventually the team came fourth overall. The boys were great and in nearly every game we had a different man of the match, which is a reflection of the team’s depth of talent.
We have a large number of students of the week today – so I am splitting Sixth Form into both Year 12 and 13. First up is Year 13 and we are recognising the large number of students who spent all day on Thursday last week supporting the Careers/Futures Event – making sure that all external visitors were very well cared for. A big well done and thank you to all the following students: Harriet Woodford, Emily Wilson, Abi Shaw, Jasmine Stimpson, Hannah Caton, Alex Hoole, Katy Smith, Merryn Dyer, Isy Burdett, Esme Jones, Molly Slemon and Jo Green.
Our Year 12 students of the week are nominated for their success in last week’s ‘You’re Hired’ Event. The two external judges for the event, Andy and Mark, couldn’t praise our students enough – they were fantastic. Normally there would be only five finalists selected but because of the calibre of our students they went for six! It took the whole lunch break and a few pieces of cake to make the difficult decision! The finalists will now compete against other schools in the final next June. ‘You’re Hired’ is a fantastic event that gives students, not only the key skills for the world of work, but also an opportunity to impress both local and national employers. Well done to all the finalists – James Weir, Grace Elliott-Smith, Lauren Burgess, Harry Maltby, Joshua Penberthy and Lauren Whitely. We also have four high quality reserves – Andrew Hudson, Sofia Bouqdir, Nas Elm-Hamdi and Lucia Sprenkel.
Next up is Year 11 and another worthy winner. Connor West, recently travelled to Dublin to compete in the Irish Open Diving Championships. Connor did exceptionally well and won two medals, a sliver and a bronze, in the men’s platform competition. Congratulations Connor – a great achievement.
Our Year 10 winner is Maddison Todd. This is in recognition for her work in Science. Maddison’s teacher says that she excels in all three sciences due to her fantastic work rate and relentless endeavour. Well done Maddison.
Harvey Ashton is our Year 9 student of the week. He has been nominated for his work in EPC (Ethics, Philosophy and Culture). His teacher says “Since the start of the year he has been a star. He works really hard every lesson and challenges himself. It is really great to see him developing into a kind and thoughtful young man”
Well done Harvey.
We have three Year 8 winners this week. The first two, Destiny Denton and Charis Taylor, have been nominated for being outstanding members of the Plymstock community and demonstrating exceptional honesty. They handed in £30 in cash that they found lying on the ground during break time last week. In a world where many people would have just kept it, it is great to see our students acting in this way. Thank you girls.
Our third Year 8 winner is Alfie Coleman. Last week, Alfie completed his final step to becoming a Royal Marine Cadet and received his beret. A huge well done to Alfie, who is pictured below with his very proud Dad.
Finally, our Year 7 student of the week is Caitlin Reilly, who has been nominated for settling in really well into Year 7 and consistently working hard in all aspects of school life. Caitlin is just a great all-round student. Well done.
Don’t forget to buy your tickets for our upcoming school show. It is only a couple of weeks now until ‘School of Rock’ goes live. It’s going to be amazing.