It’s a new school year! Welcome back to the start of the new academic year. I am absolutely delighted and honoured to be taking on the role of Headteacher for this academic year.
This week saw our students return and it was a really big week for the newest members of Plymstock School – our Year 7 students. These young people have been amazing and have already started to fully embrace life at Plymstock School through a comprehensive induction on Tuesday and Wednesday. Staff have been really impressed by their attitude and they are fully embracing our themes of Endeavour, Resilience and Empathy. We wish all our students the very best for the year ahead.
I would like to congratulate our Year 11 students on their outstanding GCSE results. This year saw all subject areas moving to the new 9-1 GCSE examination qualifications. There has been lots of discussion, as I am sure you are aware in the press this summer, on how these exams are far tougher than any previous GCSEs. However, despite the significant increase in challenge, we are delighted to report that our results are once again excellent.
Our preliminary results analysis indicates that our headline measures are likely to be above national averages, just as in 2017 and 2018. This achievement is a real testament to the team effort between students, staff and parents.
Finley A was the student in the year group who made the greatest progress of all, achieving on average 3 grades higher than predicted. Finley achieved three grade 8’s, two grade 6’s, two grade 5’s and a C grade. Well done, a fantastic achievement! In addition, huge numbers of other students made incredible levels of progress including: Madeline D, Frances A, Fletcher M, Edward B, Drew B, Mahja H, Alice W, Mia G and Tom D, to name but a few (I could go on and on listing!).
Well Done to Plymstock School students Tom D and Lauren K. Both students have done brilliantly with Tom achieving six grade 9’s and two grade 8’s. Lauren achieved three grade 9’s, two grade 8’s, three grade 7’s and a grade 5.
There have been many other exceptional individual performances. Some highlights are: Jacob B (three grade 9’s, five grade 8’s), Abigail S (two grade 9’s, two grade 8’s, two grade 7’s, an A grade and two grade 6’s), Edward B (four grade 9’s, two grade 8’s and two grade 7’s), Jacob G (three grade 9’s, three grade 8’s and two grade 7’s), Sam S (four grade 9’s two grade 7’s and three grade 5’s), Harriet R (four grade 8’s, one grade 7, an A grade and three grade 6’s), Shannalea R (three grade 9’s, two grade 8’s and three grade 7’s), Emma C (four grade 9’s, three grade 7’s and one grade 5) and Mahja H (two grade 9’s, three grade 8’s, two grade 7’s and one grade 6) , again to name but a few!
The students have worked so hard, putting in hours and hours of additional work, to get ready for these very challenging new style examinations. Many of them individually sat in the region of 30 examinations throughout May/June. We celebrate all their achievements.
We would also like to congratulate our Year 12 student, Holly T. After attending and enjoying the Year 11 Prom with her friends, Holly had arranged to have her very long hair shaved off to support Cancer Research UK and the Little Princess cancer charity. Holly admits to having been a little apprehensive before seeing the end result but nevertheless took the plunge. Altogether, £1,200 was raised for her charities as well as being able to donate 17 inches of hair “for someone else to enjoy”. Holly, you look amazing and are an inspiration to us all!
We are also really pleased with the success of our A Level students. A Levels have also undergone unprecedented change with brand new extremely challenging examinations.
We were delighted to see that a significant number of the grades awarded this year to our students ranged from A*-B. Whilst our overall pass rate was nearly 100%, our top performers did exceptionally well. Some highlights include Rhys C (3 A*s, 1 A & 1B), Andrew H (1 A*, & 3 As), Jessica F (2 A*s & 2As), Harry W (2 A*s & 2As), Luis M M (2 As, 1 B and 1 C), Weronika D (1 A* and 2 As), James W (1 A* & 2As) and Robert J (1 A* & 2As and 1 B) to name but a few.
It is really pleasing that so many students gained employment, high level apprenticeships (with for example Support Engineer Babcock, Atkins, Mark Holt & Co) and university places, many at Russell group universities. Students are going on to study a diverse range of subjects such as Law (Cardiff and Bristol), Business Management (Leeds), Archaeology with Forensic Science and PPE (Exeter), Engineering and Medical Engineering (Cardiff), Physics (Birmingham), Education, Psychology & Special Educational Needs (Cardiff Met), Geography, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Medicine – Foundation (Plymouth), Film (Falmouth)
We are particularly delighted that after all of his hard work Andrew H is heading off to Oxford University to study Engineering. This is an incredible achievement and we know he will go on to achieve further success.
Harry W and Rhys C celebrate on results morning.
I would like to offer a huge thank you to all the staff here at Plymstock, along with all the parents and carers who supported at home, for their hard work and commitment to ensuring that our young people achieved such strong outcomes at both GCSE and A Level.
Over the summer construction has moved ahead at a pace on our new 450-seater Arts Centre. Over the next 12 months, the extensive works will see a real enhancement to the facilities that we provide for students and staff. We have had 4 temporary classrooms installed ahead of the extension to our Maths and Modern Foreign Languages block; work will commence once the Arts Centre is complete. These classrooms are helping us accommodate an additional 40 students that are now in Years 7 and 8 as a result of our admission number increasing from 260 to 300. We have also expanded two humanities classrooms over the summer, HU12 & 13 to accommodate 30 students, as well as a much needed expansion of our pastoral base, the HUB. This central and important element of our school’s safeguarding provision accommodates 12 staff and has seen its area doubled in size over the summer.
We were delighted to see ex-student Steven Bartlett, in the recent Channel 4 show, The Secret Teacher. The programme sees leading entrepreneurs go undercover in schools across the country, seeking to offer students with untapped potential the chance of a lifetime. Steve appears in episode 3 and explains the challenges he faced in education as well as how his determination and resilience drove him forward to become the co-founder of his successful, multi-million pound, Manchester-based social media marketing company, The Social Chain. Before offering struggling students his support, Steve learns first-hand about the pressures facing the education system as a support worker at a Liverpool secondary school. He works alongside those students who need extra support and oversees detention. Steve targets two struggling youngsters he thinks have potential. “Grades don’t define you,” he says, “but hard work and discipline are important.” It’s great to see Steve offering these students his wealth of experience and encouraging students to become the entrepreneurs of the future.
We were also delighted to read last week that another one of our ex-students, Jacob Dawson, has won a bronze medal for Great Britain as part of the men’s eight on the final day of the 2019 World Rowing Championships. Jacob was introduced to rowing at the age of 14 in school and became a member of Plymouth ARC. We have been following Jacob’s journey for some time and we are sure more medals are to follow. Well done Jacob!
Last year with her brother, Ruth Hogben, Plymstock School’s Librarian, embarked on a charity walk around the South West Coastal path to raise money for the Primrose Hospice in Bromsgrove (that looked after her sister when she was very poorly). They began their journey on September 16th 2018 and finally ended it last weekend, Saturday 31st August 2019, and they have walked over 632miles, so far they have raised over £10,000!
Ruth would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who contributed to the money raised and to thank all those members of staff and students who joined for some of the walks “it was really appreciated and I can’t thank you enough for giving up your time to support something that was so important to me. I feel very privileged to work at a school where there is so much kindness and generosity, and your support has really helped over the past year”.
We are all really proud of Ruth and her fund raising and we are equally lucky to have such an amazing member of staff. Her fund raising page will be still open until the end of September.
Finally, I would like to thank the Year 11 Prefects for their work this week ensuring Year 7 had the best start to their new school. Some of them even came into school a day earlier than the rest of Year 11 to support the Year 7 induction programme on Tuesday! They supported our new year 7’s with finding their way around and giving them reassurance when needed. A real testament to what it means to be a Plymstock student, succeeding together and being the best you can be. They did a super job; they are all students of the week. Edward B, Destine B, Megan R, Anna Mc, Holly B, Eleanor M, Kate P, Charlotte M, Abbie C, Darcy W, Lucy R, Pippa W and Kim S. Thank you; and well done!
I wish you all the best for the year ahead and I look forward to working with you.