Presentation Speech by Mrs M. Hughes, Headteacher Good evening and welcome to the parents, staff, governors and friends of the school. A particular welcome to Dr. John Stephens the Director of Children’s Services from the Local Authority. Dr Stephens is always very supportive of the school and I am delighted to see him here tonight. Cllr Hogg our Chair of Governors and Mrs Denise Griffiths, Vice Chair and fellow Governors of the school whose support I have found invaluable are also here this evening. A very special welcome to our Guest of Honour, Peter Herring. He is the Chief Executive of the Countess of Chester Hospital, NHS Foundation Trust. As you can see from your programme Mr Herring has held a series of high profile roles in the NHS. He is also an ex-pupil of the school. To start the proceedings Lauren Selby-Hughes will sing Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’ from Porgy and Bess.
Vocal Solo – Lauren Selby-Hughes ‘Summertime’ from Porgy and Bess.
Presentation Speech by Mrs M. Hughes (part 2) Corporal Marc Taylor R.E.M.E. (1976-2004) Before we continue with our speeches and presentations it is only proper that on this 11th day of the 11th month that we should remember Corporal Marc Taylor who attended our school as a pupil from 1988 to 1993. He joined the army in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. On the 28th September, 2004 whilst on patrol in South-West Basra in Iraq Marc and another soldier came under fire as they tried to rescue other troops from an armoured Landrover that had been hit by a rocket propelled grenade. Marc was evacuated to the British Military Hospital where he died from his injuries. I would like us to pay our respects to Marc and all other military personnel who have been killed in action on our behalf. Please stand and observe 2 minutes silence. The Last Post was sounded by Alex Astbury
Presentation Speech by Mrs M. Hughes (part 3) Presentation Evening is one of my favourite events of the school year. It is a special occasion when we are able to focus upon and celebrate the achievements and work of staff and pupils. Tonight I would like to review some of the successes of the past year but also to look forward to things that will impact upon the school in the future. A good quality school is outward looking and plays a vital role within its community. My theme this evening is to demonstrate some of our achievements and to acknowledge some of the reasons why The Whitby is well regarded by its community. In a large, busy and successful high school like ours, with over 1,600 pupils it is sometimes easy to take for granted all the positive things that happen on a day to day basis. If I listed them all this would prove to be a very long evening indeed. Consequently I intend to pick out some events that were real highlights during the year across a variety of areas. Our Junior High continues to be a tremendous success. It provides an opportunity for over 150 primary school pupils of Year 5 & 6 from across Ellesmere Port and Neston to enrol on after school courses, ranging from robot making to a CSI forensic investigation of an imaginary crime. These run throughout the year. Youngsters have been incredibly complimentary about the courses. In their evaluations one pupil said she didn’t want the courses to end because they were so great. The Junior High Scheme has been an overwhelming success. Alongside it we have introduced our Adult High which is gaining momentum. The latest addition to the High School stable is an Academic High for our Gifted and Talented primary school pupils in the Borough. No doubt, that too, will prove to be a success. Junior High has undoubtedly helped youngsters, settle into the school when they join us in Year 7.
Presentation Speech by Mrs M. Hughes (part 4) Last year some 479 families placed us at the top of their list when applying for a place in secondary school. Our popularity is clear for all to see and the numbers of applications reflects our standing in the community. Very few schools offer pupils an opportunity to study Latin. Our Gifted and Talented linguists have been challenged through the University of Cambridge Latin course. Pupils have demonstrated their commitment by attending early morning classes twice a week. The first cohort will sit their first part of their GCSE in January. To them Feliciter Velim! In the Arts our achievements were celebrated when we were awarded Arts Mark Gold. If you have seen any of the high quality art work in school or been privileged to attend either a GCSE or A level exhibition you know that the standard is incredibly high. The Art Department only seems to deal in the highest grades in external examinations! Arts Mark Gold is the highest accolade that can be given to any school and very few secondary schools achieve such dizzy heights! All the arts subjects played their part in us being given the award. Both music and dance were able to showcase their contributions in their production of ‘Joseph and his Amazing Technicoloured Dreamcoat’. The show was one of the most professional school productions that I have ever attended. Everything about it was truly spectacular.
Presentation Speech by Mrs M. Hughes (part 5) In the sporting arena the pupils excelled in a variety of events. Teams won competitions at local and national events in rounders, softball, tennis, netball, athletics, football and rugby. Year 8 boys qualified for the Emerging Schools Festival which is a particularly prestigious competition. Our Girls Football Team made history by holding on to their title as Cheshire Champions for the second year running. The girls were just as successful in the District netball league, Years 7 and 10 were both second and Years 8,9,11 and the sixth form were all winners. Two particular individual successes that I would like to mention are Daniel Finlay, who is the boys’ javelin champion for Cheshire - and Danielle Bentley, who has represented England in athletics. She is currently the Cheshire girls’ champion and has held the title for 3 years. The PE department are certainly living up to their motto to ‘Build Winners and Champions’. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme continues to go from strength to strength. The Award Scheme runs at three levels. The Bronze award is for pupils aged 14+, Silver for 15+ and the Gold Award 16+. Over 100 students completed their Bronze expedition in July and 26 Year 12 students completed their Gold expedition in North Wales. My thanks go to all the staff who gave up their precious weekends to assist with the expeditions and to Mr Simpson whose hard work and innovative ideas have led to the extension of the scheme.
Presentation Speech by Mrs M. Hughes (part 6) The Maths Department have been busy working in the community too. A group of Gifted and Talented pupils took part in a project with Liverpool University. Their work was to create maths trails for Chester Zoo and the National Waterways Museum for primary schools to use for educational purposes. The pupils designed, tested and completed 2 different trails involving mathematical, historical and informative elements. Both have been professionally produced and are being used by the public. Throughout the year we saw a variety of trips and residential visits. One that proved particularly popular was a night, locked in the London Science Museum with other groups from across the country. This is the second year on the run that we have been invited to participate due to the quality and behaviour of our pupils which was quite an accolade. Luckily none of the exhibits moved! It was a strange and never to be repeated experience for everyone involved. For the last five years, as many of you will be aware, we have worked on a series of technology projects with a school in Norway. In June a group of our students went to Bakkeløkka School in Nesodden, just outside Oslo to work on a technology based project. The aim was to enter a national competition in Norway at the end of the week. This they did and won. Last week the Norwegian students came to The Whitby to work on the next stage of their project. It was a delight to see students working in true partnership and producing high quality products using state of the art technology. When they left last Sunday there were tears all round!
Presentation Speech by Mrs M. Hughes (part 7) The culmination of the last academic year saw some outstanding examination results. A stunning 87% of pupils gained 5A* - C grades at GCSE. Over the last 3 years results have risen by 27%. 1,859 GCSE grades were awarded to The Whitby High School pupils with 240 A* and A grades. At A level there was equal success with a 100% pass rate and with 41% of pupils achieving the top grades. All students were successful in securing places in Universities or Higher Education. We are one of the top high performing schools in West Cheshire. Most certainly these are results to be proud of and both staff and pupils should be congratulated on their achievements. The school is undoubtedly successful and at the heart of our local community. It is important that we continue to provide a top quality education for all our pupils and offer them opportunities to excel in both academic and extra curricular activities. So where next for The Whitby in times of change? It is clear to us all that we live in challenging times. Rising costs of Higher Education, the introduction of Free Schools and Academies, a move towards schools training teachers rather than Universities. All of these will impact upon schools. However, I believe that no school can stand alone and work in isolation. An excellent school, like ours, should work in collaboration with key players in the community, particularly our partner primary schools. One way to achieve this is by becoming a Trust School. Over the last year Governors have been exploring the possibility of moving towards Trust Status.
Presentation Speech by Mrs M. Hughes (part 8) Trust Schools are maintained schools and remain part of the family of the Local Authority supported by a charitable foundation. This is called a Trust and it appoints some of the Governors. The Trust involves partners and in our case, these would be in the main, our partner primary schools. Other partners would be Universities and businesses. Acquiring a Trust helps schools to build long term, sustainable relationships with their partners and use their experience and expertise to strengthen leadership and governance and to help raise standards. Parents and staff will obviously be consulted about this and be able to contribute to the debate over the next few months. I am certain that The Whitby High School will continue to have a bright future. I agree with Michael Gove, the current Secretary of State for Education when he said that ‘nothing matters more than having great teachers’. Throughout my career I have always believed that there is no profession more noble, no calling more vital, and no role more important than teaching. Teachers have the ability to inspire future generation to great things. Research has proven that teacher quality is the single biggest influence on pupils’ educational progress. In this country we have the best generation of teachers ever. In this school we have teachers who work tirelessly to provide opportunities for students to gain academic success and to become involved in the very best of extra curricular activities. Without their hard work, the support of a loyal Senior Leadership Team and that of the Governing Body we would not be such a successful school. I wish to extend my grateful thanks to them all. I would now like to invite Mr Herring to present the prizes.