September 2019

By 15th September 2019 Headteacher's Blog

Welcome to our new website and my first blog of the new Academic Year. I try to update this about once a month.

Yet again, students have excelled at A Level and GCSE. The detail at each level can be found in the latest edition of Oaklands News.  I am delighted to report that student examination by performance is up significantly. At GCSE, one statistic jumps from the page; 95% of students achieving a Level 4 pass in English.  At A Level the results were phenomenal with a 99.7% pass rate. Despite the complexity of A Levels, the number of A and A* grades has risen to 22%.   I am also particularly pleased with the STEM subjects and many of our students are going on to apprenticeships, diplomas and degrees accessed through these qualifications.

Schools never stand still, a new cohort of students has joined the school and our ex-Year 13 have marched off to university, apprenticeships or employment, thanks to very successful A Level results. Many parents are now waving a child off to university; if this is the first time, the experience can be an emotional roller-coaster.  During A Level results day, the pride that parents feel was visibly evident, knowing that their child has the golden ticket to the next stage in their journey.  However, conversations with parents of students going to university, particularly where it is the first child to go, reveal some anxiety over financially supporting them and the ability of this 18 year old to cope with surviving independently. “He’ll have to learn how to wash up” one parent told me.  Other parents who have already sent students off in previous years recall how different it is living at home when the routine changes due to a child leaving.

Inevitably, a child leaving home means probably, for the first time, parents knowing considerably less about their youngster’s life than they used to, although what you did know might have made you uncomfortable at times!   Fortunately, technology has made this a little easier to cope with; many students live their lives on Facebook and most of them have a mobile phone, paid for by the parents.

Good luck, therefore, to all our students moving on this year and to the parents left behind.

On Thursday 26th September, we hold our annual Open Evening.  We normally expect about 400 families.  An open evening can be an edifying experience.  Parents often talk about being able to feel the ethos of the school.  Over my career I must have visited hundreds of schools, from those with brand-new buildings, to some of our oldest independent schools, some Catholic, others not – the ethos varies.  Parents can read prospectuses, interpret results and look on-line but no matter how good the statistics or the information, you can’t ‘feel’ the school or experience the ethos without a visit.

As an ardent advocate of Catholic education (you would expect nothing less from me!) the ethos or feeling that is present in Oaklands and other Catholic schools can be named as the presence of the Holy Spirit; we should not be ashamed to acknowledge this.

My vocation to teaching has been enriched, stretched and encouraged by the presence of the Holy Spirit in Governors, fellow teachers, students and supporters that I have had the privilege of meeting and working with – not all of them have been Catholic!

The popularity of our school convinces me that more and more people can see the good news that Catholic schools have to share even if they find it difficult to use our Catholic vernacular to express it.

Matthew Quinn