I am immensely proud of Catmose, the staff, students and parents; our community. We have a unique way of working and culture that makes us very different from most secondary schools that we should rightly celebrate as it makes such a contribution to the future success of our students. We see the impact of our ethos every day through the excellent conduct of our students in class, on visits and at competition. We know it by the outstanding results they achieve and in time the successes they have in their careers and family life. Catmose students are at the heart of their community, they gain from this and contribute to it, understanding that with rights also come responsibilities.
We are ambitious for every student at the College that they achieve the very best they can, that they have the very best opportunities in and outside of the classroom and receive the support they need if something goes wrong.
The foundations of Catmose success are built on three pillars, that students should attend regularly, that they should work hard and be actively involved in the life of the College.
A Catmose student attends College regularly, an average one for more than 97% of the time, this ensure they have secure friendships, are able to to find out about the opportunities on offer and achieve better exam results because teachers know that each lesson every student will there ready to learn.
Students work hard from year 7 until the moment of the final exam in year 11, we do our best in each lesson and we prepare for the next lesson by completing prep.
Finally, it is not good enough for a Catmose student to simply attend and work hard we expect them to give something back by joining a sports team, performing in music or drama, by attending trips and visits, by applying to become an academic scholar or a librarian. Each and every student is different but they all have something they can contribute to the shared success of the College and its community.
These high expectations apply to everyone at the College staff, students and visitors; no one pushes in queues, we all only eat in the restaurant, refectory or on the Hellerup and we treat each other with same courtesy and respect we would expect ourselves. This helps create an atmosphere that is harmonious and more often we are mistaken for a university than a school.
We have talented individuals at the College, people who are competing on an individual level in national competitions in sport but we also recognise we are at our best when working as a team. Once again it looks highly likely that we will win the varsity sports competition involving the six local schools as we are already significantly ahead of our nearest rival. Our aim now, as it is for our most talented academics, is to compete on a national level and this year for the first time we entered competitions in netball and athletics. We were very proud to see our year 10 girls selected to represent the region having triumphed in the Rutland and Leicestershire competition.
We take every opportunity to recognise the achievements of our students through commendations, certificates, news letter articles, letters home and of course through the badges that many of our students wear.
At Catmose we trust our students this guides the way in which the College is led, our assumption is that all those who attend the College want to do their best and behave exceptionally well. This belief is the foundation stone of how we manage the College, as a result students are able to use their facilities with very few restrictions from early morning into the evening. Students are not impeded by locked doors, areas that are out of bounds or one way systems, they can use facilities such as computers, the library and music practice rooms without direct supervision. At Catmose with rights also come responsibilities; if students cannot be trusted within such an open environment then Catmose may not be the right place for them. We will do all that we can to support students whose behaviour is preventing others from learning but ultimately we expect every one at Catmose to conform to our high expectations. If there is a student whose behaviour falls below our expectations we deal with those individuals – we never punish groups of students for the failings of one or two.
If they do not meet our expectations following an extensive programme of support we will seriously consider permanent exclusion. This approach is supported by the vast majority of the student body who appreciate the calm and purposeful environment they are able to learn in as a result.
An ethos of trust permeates Catmose as a result underpinned by strong attendance, hard work and engagement which leads to the success of every student at the College.
The photograph above perhaps more visually articulates our ethos, over a thousand people who represent Catmose community standing calmly together on a cold and sunny spring morning – and you were able to hear a pin drop.
It seems but a short moment ago that you were all sitting on the Hellerup nervously waiting to start your journey at Catmose. There were many things about Catmose which were new to you; we were much bigger than your primary school, you knew only a few people and in each lesson you experienced a different teacher. In the five years since that first day you’ve grown in confidence so that for many of you Catmose will seem smaller and your fellow students and staff have become more familiar and, with a bit of luck, a little friendlier as well.
What hasn’t changed are my hopes for you as individuals: that you are able fulfil your promise and have been able to gain the skills and knowledge you will need to thrive and grow in the adult world that many of you are so desperate to join.
Inevitably there has been a focus on your academic studies as the qualifications you gain will help determine what courses you study and ultimately what careers you forge; without them many doors to the future would remain closed. I hope though that you have also gained from the opportunities available to you outside the classroom that will have given you the skills and breadth of outlook you will need in order to be successful in a job. We have offered trips and visits to the four corners of the world, sports teams, music groups, instrumental lessons, drama productions, public speaking competitions, the Duke of Edinburgh award, responsibility as prefects and a broad range of other activities, including through the electives programme. The qualifications you gain may well open the door to your future but it will be all of those other experiences that will get you into the building and up the stairs!
You will also have made some good friends who will be there when you need them most, whatever challenges and opportunities come your way in the future.
I therefore hope you leave Catmose as well qualified, resilient characters who are able to lead and work as a part of team with some key memories that will stay with you for the rest of your lives.
Our approach at Catmose is one which blends high expectations for all, staff and students alike, alongside offering experiences which are not limited to those that take place in the classroom. We deliberately offer a range of activities that challenge, build resilience and develop leadership skills. This is through electives, music, drama, sport, academic competition, trips and visits and Duke of Edinburgh. We know that students who enjoy College life and are engaged by what happens there will tend to attend every day and do better in their studies. We also offer support to all students who are struggling, whether it be with their academic studies or with a pastoral matter. If your child is interested in becoming more involved with extra-curricular activities, please contact the following people: Leanne Mitchell, Director of Drama firstname.lastname@example.org, Matt Sammy, Director of Music email@example.com and Mark Smith, Team Leader for Sport firstname.lastname@example.org If your child is interested in any other activities such as public speaking, the student media team, the tech team or becoming a librarian, please enquire via their form tutor.
This week saw the publication of RAISEonline which is an analysis of college examination performance used to guide our improvement. It would also guide the work of Ofsted should we be inspected, that it is so positive reinforces why we continue to believe our approach is right.
RAISEonline provides a critical look at our students’ performance in respect of how well they do and the progress they have made since joining us from their primary schools. It is therefore pleasing to share with you its key findings which reflect our own analysis which is available through the Transformation Plan.
It lists our strengths as:
- Overall KS4 value added (the progress students have made since Year 6 SATs) was significantly above average.
- KS4 value added was broadly average or above in all subject areas.
- From at least 5 out of every 6 starting points, the proportions of KS4 pupils making and exceeding expected progress in English & Mathematics were close to or above national figures.
- From at least 5 out of every 6 starting points, the proportion of disadvantaged KS4 pupils
- making and exceeding expected progress in English & Mathematics was similar to that of other pupils nationally.
- Attendance was high (in the highest 10% of all mainstream schools nationally).
- Persistent absence was below average.
- No group had low attendance (in the lowest 10% of all mainstream schools nationally).
This is a significant list of strengths which demonstrate our continued focus on ensuring that every student who joins us make the best possible progress they can.
Those of you who know the College well will also know of our inclusive nature supporting students within our special provision that would otherwise need to attend an out-of-county special school. These students are often not entered for GCSEs because of the nature of their additional needs; instead they access a bespoke curriculum, for example studying small animal care. It is unfortunate that these courses are not recognised in this analysis as it leads to their excellent performance not being recognised in the same way as that of our other students. We are however equally proud of what they have accomplished with us.
We are, however, also always looking to improve further and this year, following feedback from you, staff and students, we are focussing on the way in which we provide information about your child’s progress in order that we can all best understand their achievements and support them.
You will have already received your child’s first checkpoint report which shows how well they have done over the last 8 weeks in each subject; you will continue to receive these regularly over the course of this year. The report uses at least three checkpoint tasks which assess how well students have learnt and can apply the skills and knowledge they have been taught recently. These are low-stakes assessments which we have always carried out but will also be shared with students and parents/guardians, creating an open mark book. They will also be in a range of formats depending on the subject and the content being taught.
A task might be:
- A spelling test for which their prep may well have been to learn the words, and for which they will receive a score out of 10.
- A lesson-based task for which no prep was given, but following feedback an opportunity is given to improve their mark; the improved mark being used for the assessment score.
- An assessed prep using an examination-style question to assess their understanding and ability to apply their learning.
There will be a large variety of different approaches taken by teachers but there will also be consistency; all students within the same subject will take the same checkpoint tasks in the same way to allow a direct comparison of their performance with the rest of the year group or tier of entry. This will allow you to be able to track your child’s progress against their target grades and will also allow the College to support students who are not making adequate progress given their ability.
In addition to checkpoint reports you will also receive a detailed academic report from your child’s tutor who will assess their overall academic performance alongside their wider involvement in the College and suggest ways in which they can improve further.
Finally, we have responded to your feedback regarding progress evenings and this year will be trialling offering two opportunities to meet with your child’s teachers. We encourage everyone to attend the first evening in the year but the second evening will be more targeted to those students whose progress is causing a particular concern, whose parents will be specifically invited in order that we can look together at the support in place and ensure that better progress is made going forward.
We will continue to keep all of these developments under review but if you do wish to comment regarding how this is working from you or your child’s perspective I would be very interested to hear from you.
The last twelve months have flown by, busy as always but with lots to celebrate across the life of the College. We know that academic success is as a result of far more than simply what goes on in the classroom; activities such as Duke of Edinburgh, public speaking, music and art contribute as much to a students’ future success as the certificates they hold. We have therefore continued to grow and develop the range of activities that are designed to develop resilience, leadership and teamwork skills in order that students are engaged learners who take responsibility for their own actions and those of others.
Leadership is something we look to develop in every student and a part of our approach is leading by example, that is why as staff we arrive early and stay late, we wear smart business dress and how we queue with our students in the restaurant. This approach ensures students know our high expectations and we model this behaviour throughout our own work.
The range of trips and visits students have been able to access this year has been astonishing, more than ever before, offering a broad range of opportunities. We have supported the School games in Manchester, walking in the Peak district, team building on Rutland Water, an expedition to Ghana, a huge range of theatre trips, visit to the WWI battlefields, cultural trips to France, Germany and Spain, numerous DofE expeditions, the V&A museum, the Beth Shalom holocaust museum, a number of elite universities, masterclasses in chocolate making, just to name a few. Staff give very generously of their time in supporting these experiences and students always comment on how much they have gained as a result. The impact of trips is difficult to measure but this is true of some our most valuable experiences in life; they are moments of College life that will stay with students for the rest of their lives.
Alongside trips and visit we continue to compete successfully in a range of competitions, the adult world is competitive and we improve ourselves by comparing our performance to others. We know that we all have particular strengths and we offer a range of competitive activities that give every student the opportunity to be successful. Of course, as all athletes know, losing is also a critical part of any competition, it builds resilience and the determination to carry on in order to perhaps win next time. We have seen the College retain the local Varsity cup again this year, this represents the efforts of over 200 students from across the College competing in nearly 20 sports against 5 other schools. This endeavour is only possible because staff, students and parents give freely of their time to support coaching and fixtures. We also saw our best ever performance by our public speaking teams with the Youth Speaks and English Speaking Union competitions; Sue McGrath once again did a sterling job in coaching and supporting these teams to great success in competitions historically dominated by independent and grammar schools. In Music we also saw our best ever performance at the Kettering Music Festival, coming away with a number of trophies and first place awards.
The Performing Arts put on the wonderful CATS performance with Year 7 following their visit to see the show in the West End. In the summer term we hosted our first Summer Festival which was a huge success with thousands of people coming to see our students perform and take part in the range of fun activities on offer. This raised a significant amount of money that will be used to support the purchase of additional musical instruments and future performances. We will be putting on West Side Story later this year which will be a showcase for the musical and theatrical talent of the College.
Finally, examination results have again proven to be a strength of the College, students were in celebratory mood when they opened their envelopes and discovered once again our best ever outcomes. We have seen improvements in almost all subject areas with exceptional performances in English, English literature, Drama, Music, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Product Design, Art and Design, 3D Studies, Painting and Drawing, History, Philosophy and Ethics, French, Spanish and Sport GCSE.
What a beautiful evening; the weather was glorious and our students did us all proud. They arrived in style; in tractors, Rolls Royces and double-decker buses, demonstrating their independence and confidence in the people they have become over the last five years. Schools are all too often measured simply on the results they produce and the Ofsted reports that are written, when we all know that so much of what is important is not easily measured but so critical to ensuring that our students are ready for their next steps. At Catmose we pride ourselves on offering students opportunities that broaden their experiences, develop leadership and offer them ways in which they can create a community to be proud of. This year 11 group has seized this ethos and made it their own, they have travelled Europe, performed, practiced and worked hard even through the most difficult times; their resilience will ensure they are successful in whatever they choose to pursue next.
During the evening I took a few photos of the students and staff, the full size copies can be found here:
We celebrated the coming of Christmas with our customary concert which included traditional hymns, our choirs, a number of soloists, and musical ensembles alongside more contemporary takes on the nativity. Listening to the standard of music and drama our students performed, I was very proud and somewhat humbled to be the Principal of Catmose College, which led me to reflect on just how important to our ethos those activities outside of the academic teaching are.
In many schools nationally, as the emphasis on improving GCSE outcomes has improved, we have seen music and drama provision shrinking. This is not the approach we have taken at Catmose College; over the last five years we have increased our music and drama provision each year, supporting more students than ever to take instrumental lessons and enter our music scholars’ programme; we have also increased the number of teachers the College employs in this field. We believe that the skills, resilience, practice and ability to keep going when you make a mistake are critical to reaching a high standard of performance and are just as critical to academic success, building the skills that are essential to forge careers in an ever competitive world. It is by no accident that, alongside our academic support programmes, this long-term approach to our students’ development has led to improving examination results that make Catmose one of the highest performing schools nationally.
It is also why I am passionate about Harington School, an academic sixth form for Rutland. At present our students are faced with a stark choice, to travel significant distances or to access independent schools. Two options that are expensive and disruptive to a student’s education at such a critical stage of their development. This is particularly the case for our most talented musicians, who, by virtue of having to spend so much time travelling, limit their availability to continue performing at a high level. Harington will allow these students to stay local and continue to develop their skills whilst attending a high-performing academic sixth form school.
The opportunities on offer at Catmose will also be on offer at Harington; high quality instrumental lessons, access to ensemble groups and performance opportunities. There is no doubt that our students appreciate the quality of our teachers and we wish this to extend to their post-16 studies. Catmose is fortunate to be a community of committed parents, students and staff who work together to ensure that students are best placed for the challenges ahead. Staff who led the concert: Matt Sammy, Leanne Mitchell, Jasmine Jones, Luke Donnelly, Gary Austin and Dan Bond are characteristic of the staff who will also lead Harington, people who readily give up their evenings and weekends in order that students have opportunities they will never forget. Harington will be as successful because this same partnership that makes Catmose successful will also be present in Harington. To support the next steps in Harington please do follow this link: www.haringtonschool.com
Rebecca Wensley – Headgirl
I have made so many memories throughout my time at Catmose College, both in school and out. The opportunities given to me at College have been amazing. I have had the chance to learn so much academically, whilst also enjoying electives and trips. The school itself is a fantastic learning environment, with a positive atmosphere during lessons, as well as during break time periods. The new building has provided a great place to learn, and spend time with friends outside of lessons. The members of staff at Catmose are so supportive of all the students, and provide help wherever and whenever it is needed. Although the teachers push the students to reach their potential, there is no pressure to achieve beyond your best. Over the last 4 years I have loved meeting new people and learning new things, and I know that I will never forget my time at Catmose.
I am currently fundraising for a trip to Ghana with Venture Force, in the autumn of 2014. As part of this trip we will be building an orphanage for some children living there. I am excited about this trip and have, so far, raised £1725 of the £1800 needed to fund flights and accommodation. This endeavour has helped me to demonstrate commitment. Fundraising has involved making afternoon tea and offering it for donations, and running competitions at local summer fairs, as well as cleaning wheelie bins! Through school, I have had access to the Duke of Edinburgh award; I have completed my Bronze Award and am presently working towards my Silver Award. This award helped to improve my teamwork skills and build resilience, along with the determination to keep going.
Outside of school, I am an active member of the community; having taken part in judo for a number of years and achieving my 8th Mon and orange belt at judo, I now volunteer at a local Judo club and help coach the younger judo players on a Saturday morning. I have achieved grade 3 piano and grade 2 ballet, modern and tap. As well as this, I also volunteer as a coach at a trampolining club in Corby every Tuesday and Friday evening. This involves supporting younger children as they develop their skills. I love coaching because it gives me the chance to see other people improve. I recently attended a coaching course in Northampton which allows me to assist a higher level coach in training younger children. I also train for 4 hours a week. Coaching has given me a level of responsibility and allowed me to improve my people skills. I trampoline competitively and have gained bronze and gold medals at local and Regional competitions. In 2013 I took part in the Moonwalk in London, and walked 17 miles around Rutland Water as a fundraising endeavour for Ghana.
At school I enjoy Graphics, History and Spanish, all subjects that I chose to take for GCSE at the beginning of this year, and I also enjoy English. Although I did not choose to take art as a GCSE, I passed the Silver Arts Award in summer 2013, and thoroughly enjoyed taking part. Art is something I enjoy doing outside of school, and I would love to pursue it at AS Level. I have also taken part in many extra-curricular activities through school, such as a rock-climbing course and an English Speaking Union Public Speaking competition in the local area.
I independently organised my work experience, and will be working with and international architectural firm in Newark for a week in June. After completing Sixth Form I hope to attend university. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to go into architecture or interior design, but I also have a passion for photography. I would love to go into one of these fields in the future, but I haven’t made a final decision just yet.
Isaac Costa – Headboy
Catmose College and its entire staff have helped me tremendously during my time here; this is because they make it easy to ask for assistance. All doors to classrooms and offices are open at all times and a teacher will speak with you whenever you want to. This is one of my favourite aspects of Catmose College; all teachers throughout the school are willing to help every individual achieve the best result that they can. Catmose is great at giving students a variety of different options through GCSEs and the electives programme, which will then help us stand out in the future. I believe that our teachers are like chameleons, as they adapt to whoever they are teaching, to improve students’ education. I know that all teachers at Catmose College share this attribute.
I am an organised and yet outgoing person and my hobbies include: Public Speaking Karate Music- Piano and saxophone working in business(young enterprise) acting- pantomimes in local village working at local pub. Throughout my years in Catmose I have achieved a variety of awards that include service to the school and best in selective subjects such as French, music, science, I.C.T and Art. I have also made sure that I use the school to its full potential by trying as many new things as possible. Recently I have taken part in: young enterprise; Ghana trip which I’ve raised all the money by getting a part time job; attending school council for three of the past four years I have been at the school and partaking in concerts such as the Christmas concert towards the end of last year. I want to encourage people over a wide area and in the school that Catmose is a beacon of education and most importantly I want to be an ambassador for the school.
Open evening Speech – delivered by Rebecca and Isaac
Combined Open Evening Speech
Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome to Catmose College. My name is Isaac Costa, head boy at Catmose and on my right /left is Rebecca Wensley who is the head girl. Today we will be speaking about our time at Catmose however we believe that getting good grades in academic subjects are very important. But Catmose is so much more; it is a place of opportunities offering students a large selection of activities and events to take part in.
Over the last year, both Isaac and I have been fundraising for a trip to Ghana with 20 of our fellow students. Through independent fundraising we have learnt to manage our time, meet deadlines, and work hard to achieve our goals, and come up with creative ideas.
Every student going has managed to raise £1800. I personally went to any lengths to raise money. I even dressed up in a Peppa Pig suit at a fair on a boiling summer’s day but I still managed to raise a grand sum of £15.
I think that the whole group is looking forward to the trip, and it will be a wonderful experience. Through the same programme, the current year 9 students are raising money for their trip to Morocco in 2016, and I’m sure that future trips will be just as exciting.
Trips such as these are offered to year 11’s however there are other trips offered to other years as well. Some larger trips include visits to: Spain, Germany and France.
Both Isaac and myself travelled to Spain earlier this year with the languages department and had a fantastic time; these trips are a great way for students to learn the language as well has enjoying cultural visits and spending time with their classmates out of school.
One rare item that Catmose offers over many other schools is the elective programme which I have exploited to its full potential by taking part in new sports, cultural and musical activities. One elective that I took part in was youth speaks. It has helped my confidence grow throughout the years and I believe I wouldn’t be up here today if it wasn’t for the opportunities offered to us by the elective programme. One of our most popular electives is the performance elective which Rebecca will explain in further detail.
As an arts college, Catmose takes pride in its musical performances, which are always of a very high standard. During my time at Catmose College, I have had the opportunity to join the cast of the incredibly successful performances over the last few years. The shows not only allowed me to gain skills in performing arts, but also to develop confidence in performing in front of large crowds and my involvement in the musicals also allowed me to interact with other year groups.
Not only does the college offer the chance to take part in the show as a lead actor or dancer, but students are given the opportunity to contribute behind the scenes, perhaps creating props, or teaching choreography, or even working as part of the tech team, providing lighting and sound for every single show.
Let’s not forget the school band who works hard to learn pieces of music and chords good enough to match the talent of our actors and technicians.
Catmose has amazing music facilities so if you have a musically oriented child then Catmose offers lessons for all ages. I have my silver scholarship in piano which entitles me to 50% off lessons and I have earned this by taking part in Jazz band which develops your improvisation skills, performing in concerts and having completed grade 6 pianos. I even got the opportunity to accompany our teachers when they did their grade 1 challenge, it was quite nerve wracking as someone else was relying on me to get them a good grade.
In year nine, through the college, I, along with a group of my peers, and now, closest friends, made the decision to begin the Duke of Edinburgh. And, after some horrendous map-reading, we all completed the bronze, and eventually, silver DofE. Had Catmose not introduced me to the award, I wouldn’t have known how to get involved in the Duke of Edinburgh, and probably wouldn’t have made it this far in terms of my qualification. Throughout the course of the weekend there were lots of laughter, and even a few tears, but we all gained a lot of experience alongside qualities such as resilience and teamwork.
Our house point system is split into 4 houses. This encourages students from all years to take part in a range of friendly competition which I try to take part in as often as I can. One type of competition the college promotes is termly competition by the Heller up staircase with a theme ranging from talent shows to dance competitions. It is a great way to bring the whole school together as they laugh with you and cheer people on. My favourites are the talent shows as it demonstrates the amazing skill we have at Catmose and we even had a set of 3 teacher judges.
Speaking of competition, sports day is another great opportunity for the houses to gain points and compete against each other for the house cup.
I really enjoyed sports day as I was able to take part in the long jump and races, suffice to say, I came close in some events but throughout the day everyone I spoke to was very enthusiastic and the opening ceremony lifted everyone’s spirits as the House captains gave their speeches and the performers and dancers lifted the mood.
Both Isaac and I have studied at Catmose for 4 years now, and they have been some of the best years of my life. As we come to the end of our time at Catmose, and head towards our exams, I think I speak for both of us when I say that we will always remember our time at this school and the people in it.
Thank you for listening.