St Katherine's School Newsletter - October 2018

Term 1 Newsletter

October 2018

Message from the Head of School

Eight weeks sounds like a long time, but in the life of a school it passes in a flash. Term 1 has been exciting in many ways as we embed some of our new structures and expectations.

The new house system has been positively received and each House is celebrating it’s successes this week in assembly and tutor time. Pupils have been appointed to key roles in their Houses (see Houses feature below) as we empower pupils to have a role in shaping and improving our school.

Ready to Learn (RTL) has been one of the biggest changes this term. It’s a key part of our Quality Improvement Plan strand to establish an effective climate for learning in school so everyone can make rapid progress. We have been pleased by everyone’s engagement in RTL and there is a notable difference across classrooms as pupils and teachers raise the bar. Read our summary of the first four weeks of RTL presented at the Parent/Carer Association meeting this term.

We have been promoting our values of acceptance and equality this term as we celebrated Black History Month throughout October. This has included themed assemblies and reflection exercises in tutor time to help us all better appreciate our world and the challenges we face as a society. We were especially honoured to end the term with a visit from Paul Stephenson, who joined us to reflect on the impact he had in Bristol and across our nation during the 1960s in his stand for equality. It was an inspirational afternoon for everyone involved and we will continue to shape the minds of young people to ensure we stamp out racism. Paul was very honoured to have one of our houses named after him and wore his Stephenson House badge, presented by Stephenson House Leaders, with pride (see Mrs Maringo’s feature on Black History Month below)

We have been working with our new partners at Cathedral Schools Trust and looking forward to joining CST officially on 1st December. This is a very exciting time for St Katherine’s and the governors and staff are looking forward to the benefits and opportunities this will bring.

Thank you to those parents/carers who came to our Parent/Carer Association evening on the 8 October. This is an important part of the self-evaluation strand of our Quality Improvement Plan to engage our community in providing the best support and structure for our pupils to be successful. It was great to hear the positive and feedback and areas for improvement. The meeting presentation and notes are on our website 

Mr Humphreys

St Katherine’s marks Black History Month

Paul Stephenson OBE shared his experiences of race discrimination and encouraged pupils to fight for a good life in a special assembly with Stephenson House.

We are a very diverse school community and have been proud to celebrate Black History Month with a wide range of events and activities to develop students’ knowledge and understanding about the achievements and contributions of the black community to life and society in the UK.  The month showcases and celebrates the diverse histories of citizens from African and Caribbean descent which, historically, were often ignored because people of colour were not treated has as equals members of UK society.

Mrs Maringo led a varied series of events including weekly film screenings of The Pursuit of Happyness and Malcom X; tutorial activities to encourage student to reflect on contributions made by black people and diversity in our school; the opportunity to broaden knowledge about different cultures at Arabic and Somali club and workshops on African-Caribbean music and African culture and fashion.

We’ve also had some fantastic, inspiring visits. Dr Shawn Sobers (Associate Professor of Lens Media at UWE) met Year 10 students studying Priestley’s An Inspector Calls which tells the story of a marginalised, oppressed character . Dr Sobers told students how his art explores his own identity and the experiences of marginalised peoples. Students were particularly affected by Dr Sobers’ self portrait triptych with an empowered image of himself bracketed by rare copies of slave portraits from the nineteenth century.

Black History Month culminated in a visit by a true legend – community worker, activist and lifelong civil rights campaigner, Paul Stephenson.  Dr Stephenson met students and staff of Stephenson House in an unforgettable assembly when he spoke about his life and the continued struggle for colour equality in UK society. Memorably he told students ‘to use their brains’ in the fight for equality and said he was ‘overwhelmed’ to have a St Katherine’s House named in his honour.

Mrs Robinson, our Engage Centre Leader arranged Dr Stephenson’s visit: “Growing up I saw Paul Stephenson on the news countless times and I was always in awe of the sheer determination he demonstrated during such a difficult time for the black population of the UK. As the daughter of an West Indian immigrant, watching him on the news brought to life the struggles my father, aunts and uncles would have gone through when they first came to the UK. I plucked up the courage to contact Dr Stephenson and told him we had unanimously decided to name a house after him since he is such an inspirational trailblazer and how much it would mean to the Stephenson House students if he was able to visit us. Although he doesn’t do public engagements any more I was thrilled when he said he would come along to meet the students. The whole experience has been extremely emotional  for me. One I shall treasure forever.”

Mrs Maringo with Paul Stephenson – his visit was one of the highlights of Black History Month

Mrs Maringo, Associate Headteacher, who co-ordinated  Black History Month added, “It’s been a real success and the feedback from staff, students and parents has been overwhelming.  As an African-Caribbean woman I was proud to organise and celebrate this event at St Katherine’s. I am also extremely proud of the diversity we have in our school. We should all embrace these different cultures and apply them to our daily lives. Our aim is to develop our cultural competence as a school therefore celebrating Black History Month for the first time at St Katherine’s is the beginning of a journey.”

Sixth Form update

Sixth formers Bella and Tyler collaborated with other students and arts organisations in a fascinating contemporary art project with Bristol Grammar School (BGS)

They took part in a unique film that explores the risk and experimentation in performance and art.  Working with other students and a professional film crew Bella and Tyler created expressionist work inspired by the artist Franz Kline. 

Their work will be included in the final film that will be shown at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.


Our Sixth Form Open Evening for 2019 intake is on Thursday 22 November. It’s a great opportunity for Year 11 to find out more about St Katherine’s Sixth Form and find out about Sixth Form life from teachers and students.

Head student blog

This term we shared our thoughts about St Katherine’s at the school open evening and mornings where we met loads of parents who are keen for their children to start here next September.

We have been busy on the charity fundraising front too. We held a mental health awareness day for Young Minds’ #HelloYellow day which the whole school took part in. The sixth form also baked hundreds of cakes and cookies as hosts for one of the biggest Macmillan Coffee Mornings around.

Thanks to the enthusiasm (and appetites!) of pupils from all years we raised over £700 for the charity.

We are looking forward to bringing the Sixth Form and Lower School together to increase the community atmosphere through reading buddies and our house competitions on a Friday lunch which started with a bottle flipping contest.

Lewis Mason and Eloise Wheeler

Mental Health Awareness

The teenage years are both exciting and challenging to parent and carers. It can be hard to know whether your child’s feelings and behaviour are normal or might be becoming an issue for them.

Child mental health experts, the Anna Freud Centre have produced a booklet  “Talking mental health with young people at secondary school”  that gives simple advice and guidance to parents and carers about how make conversations about their child’s feelings part of everyday life.  It is  full of advice on how to talk to your child about any aspect of their mental health. 

We actively promote positive mental health to pupils and encourage them to talk about their feelings and worries. Earlier this month the school turned yellow for a day as we took part in ‘ #HelloYellow day to mark World Mental Health Day.  The school turned out in force, raising over £325.00 for charity Young Minds (with special thanks to parents who donated a little bit extra)

Dan’s environmental video wins high praise at Wildscreen Festival
We are incredibly proud of Dan Powell in Year 11. He was selected as a finalist in the first ever Young Earthwatcher Film Competiition run in partnership between the Earthwatch Institute and Bristol’s Wildscreen Festival.
The competition invited 14-17 year olds across the UK to create a short film about an environmental topic close to their heart – anything from plastic pollution to habitat degradation, climate change to water quality.
The judges and final host, TV presenter Naomi Wilkinson, were totally blown away by Dan’s video saying ‘we are in awe.’ Despite this high praise Dan didn’t lift the winning trophy but watch his video (click on the image) to see why he’s a winner in our eyes.
Ready to Learn update

We would like to thank all pupils and parents/carers for their support while we have introduced Ready to Learn (RTL) at St Katherine’s.  We appreciate it’s a change for Year 8-11 pupils and completely new for Year 7 pupils so it is to their credit that they have responded so well.  This is highlighted by the fact that over 70,000 praises have been awarded across the school since the start of term!

Special mention goes to: Year 7: Charlie Topp 7S1 – 194 praise points; Year 8: Yaser Issa 8P2 – 194 praise points; Year 9: Toby Rice 9P – 187 praise points; Year 10: Bethia Brown 10P – 227 praise points; Year 11: Leah Dickinson 11Y – 161 praise points

The aim of RTL is to help every pupil reflect on their approach to learning and develop the skills and attitude to make the most of every lesson.  It has a focus on learning and minimising disruptions in class.  We actively support pupils who receive a number of Ready to Learn referrals so we can understand why this is happening and put support plans in place to help them.

We hope you have read the Ready to Learn information shared earlier this term.  However based on feedback from parents and carers we thought it would be useful to clarify a few points and address any misconceptions about RTL:
  • Ready to Learn is NOT punishment. It is designed to encourage pupils to take responsibility for their learning and respect other pupils’ learning too.
  • All pupils are given an initial warning in a lesson so they can address their behaviour or approach to their learning.
  • If a pupil receives a second warning in a lesson they are sent to the RTL room for a full day (i.e. 5 periods) So, if a pupil is sent to the RTL room in Period Three they will be study there until the end of Period Two the next day.
  • Pupils in the  RTL room follow a structured timetable studying English, Maths, Science, Languages or reading, Humanities or options subjects.
  • Work is differentiated for pupils of all abilities and resources are available for pupils with special educational needs.
  • Key Stage 4 pupils are given revision guides and past exam papers so they can keep up to date with their GCSE work.
  • Pupils complete any tests or assessment they would be doing in their lesson so that keep up to date with the work.
  • The RTL room is set up as a classroom with a dedicated teacher who supervises pupils’ work supported by Heads of Faculty/Heads of House and the Senior Leadership Team. It does not have individual booths
  • Based on timings we have made we are confident that pupils can move between lessons in three minutes.  If a pupil is speaking to a member of staff between lessons they will be given a green card to authorise their lateness.
  • Pupils are given water in RTL and take early breaks and  lunch to buy food/drinks in the dining hall 
What pupils and staff say about RTL:
“I think that the Ready To Learn system is working really well as it is stopping disruption in the classroom” Year 11 student
“My first impressions of Ready to Learn is that it’s helpful for teachers and pupils as if someone is disrupting the lesson, teachers can give pupils warnings so hopefully they then won’t do it again and we can focus on the learning.” Year 7 student
“It is making a real difference in lessons and it is noticeable that progress is quicker for the whole class.” Teacher
“The introduction of ready to learn has changed the atmosphere of my lessons meaning that I can teach more effectively.” Teacher
Real-time pupil behaviour logs are on Class Charts.  If you have lost your login or have any questions about Class Charts please email Mr Francis-Black
Year 7’s first term

Year 7 developed confidence and problem-solving skills on a team-building day at Longleat led by the Army

Despite the big change between primary and secondary school, Year 7 are settling in well with a busy first term enjoying all that St Katherine’s has to offer. Many acted as student ambassadors at the school open evening just two weeks after joining St Katherine’s. They received outstanding feedback from visitors who remarked on their confidence and evident pride in their new school. Year 7s are already representing St Katherine’s in rugby and netball fixtures while others have stepped forward for dancing and singing parts in this year’s school show ‘Sister Act’.

Plus the whole Year group went to Longleat for a STEM building day with the Army designed to develop their confidence and team-working skills.

They are also showing enthusiasm for learning with an impressive haul of praise points – 2318 for Resilience, 1973 for Respect and 2014 for Responsibility

Just to round off here are a few words from Year 7 about their first term at St Katherine’s “Amazing, interesting and exciting”, “Awesome, welcoming and enjoyable”, “Adventurous, bright and overwhelming”, “Funny, positive and tiring”, “Surprising, busy and friendly.”

St Katherine’s Houses – Term 1 update
The 2018-2019 House competition has hit the ground running this term.   ‘Fun Fix Friday’ events have featured ‘chubby bunnies’ for staff and ‘wrap the mummy’ and ‘bottle flip’ for students.   The PE faculty had their first house competition with all Key Stage 3 pupils and selected Key Stage 4 pupils challenging eachother at cross country.  It was great to see pupils determined to do their best for their House. The Houses have also gathered points for the overall ratio of positive and negative behaviour of House members and their attendance record. Read the Head of House updates below.
Pankhurst House

Mr Murdoch (Head of Pankhurst House) with House Leaders Ellie McCarthy (L) and William Want (R) 

It’s great to have completed our first term together as a House. We’ve established our spirit animal – a mountain goat; our House theme tune – Get on the Good Foot; our House motto – Deeds not Words; and our core Pankhurst values – passion, perseverance and pride.

Lily Hannan in year 11 deserves special mention for winning a hard fought competition to design the House logo. She won a kilogram of chocolate and more importantly has left a lasting legacy to the House which will outlive her time here.

Now we’ve established the basics we are in a great position to ‘get on the good foot’ and make the most of the opportunities to be taken in term 2.

Mr Murdoch, Head of Pankhurst House

Stephenson House

Head of Stephenson House, Mr Thomas with House Leaders Stephanie Thomasset (L) and Wren Talbot-Ponsonby (R)

It has been a fantastic first term which culminated in the visit of Dr Paul Stephenson OBE. The whole House gathered in a special assembly to listen to his iconic and inspirational man. We have developed our core values – equality, determination and respect;  decided on our House animal, an eagle; and our House motto, ‘dream big, work hard and make it happen’.

Our new House Leaders Stephanie and Wren, hosted the first House council meeting with students from years 7-11. We also named our first set of Golden Eagle – pupils who had an outstanding term: 7S1-Charlie Topp & Tehreem Ahmad; 7S2-Josie Rafferty & Angel Chinn; 8S-Hussein Almawery & Molly Dashfield; 9S-Joseph Williams & Phoebe Palmer-Given; 10S-Eugene Furniss & Anida Bonomo; 11S1-William Conroy & Natacha Czerwinke; 11S2-Grace Brown & Finn O’Rourke.

Mr Thomas, Head of Stephenson House

Turing House

Miss Price (Head of Turing House) and House Leaders Amelia Scott (L) and Sharmaka Mattan (R)

Turing House students have immersed themselves in the new challenges this term. In September they were tasked with identifying our House values, motto and spirit animal. After genuine, thought provoking debate, they decided on respectively ; Determination, Acceptance, Unity; “Alone we are small, together we are mighty” and the Wolf for loyalty, pathfinding, never ending journey and sense of family.

Following rigorous interviews of five excellent candidates Sharmarka Mattan and Amelia Scott were appointed.

We were delighted to win the Bottle Flipping, the first pupil Fun Fix Friday competition. Well done Salma Omar and Tyreani (10T) supported by Sharmarka Mattan and Bailey Furley and fellow Turing pupils with a winning total of 53 flips. We’ll be recognising pupil effort and achievement with weekly “Tremendous Turing” awards. Pupils are nominated by each tutor over a wide range of criteria – for overcoming personal challenges, being an unsung hero, representing Turing values, most praises and improved attendance.

Miss Price, Head of Turing House

Yousafzai House

Miss Andrews, with Yousafzai House Leaders Ellie Griffin (L) and Priscilla Lumoso (R)

What a start to the year it has been for Yousafzai House, it’s been an absolute joy to work with the pupils!  We’ve been focusing on this quote from Malala Yousafzai: ‘In some parts of the world, students are going to school every day. It’s their normal life. But in other parts of the world, we are starving for education…it’s like a precious gift. It’s like a diamond.’  Our aim has been to value our education and value each day we have in school like a diamond! 36 pupils have won the weekly ‘Marvellous Malala’ nomination for being an outstanding member of the Yousafzai house.
Our new House Leaders Ellie Griffin and Priscilla Lumoso were selected  due to their passion and enthusiasm to make a difference to the school. Backing them is the House Council team which has been selected this term. Their first decision was to name our House animal as an elephant; a family-orientated, kind, formidable animal.  Due to Yousafzai pupils’ fantastic attendance and commitment to Fun Fix Fridays we are currently leading the House competition. We know we need to not only maintain this but constantly better ourselves so we can hold the lead!
Miss Andrews, Head of Yousafzai House
Another successful Spanish exchange


The Spanish exchange has become a bit of a tradition at St Katherine’s and students and teachers alike always look forward to welcoming our Spanish guests in September.   Our Spanish partners come from Colegio San Francisco Javier, a school in the town of Ciudad Real in La Mancha (the region of Cervantes and Don Quixote)  Their school is very small with students from infants right up to GCSE level.  This term our GCSE Spanish & Year 9 Spanish students hosted ten students from Ciudad Real. After taking time to get to know eachother on the first weekend they kick-started a busy week with a day of lessons at St Katherine’s to give our Spanish guests and insight to being a student in a British comprehensive school

On Tuesday, Miss Kenyon led a visit to Gloucester to see it’s cathedral and docks. The Spanish students were fascinated by the city’s history and more than a little surprised by the unexpectedly warm weather. Trips to the famous colleges of Oxford, the mystical town of Glastonbury and a tour of our own city of Bristol (with the Docks and Suspension Bridges as the highlights) completed the week.

As always we brought the students and host families together a special party in the Languages faculty. The warm bonds and friendships that had developed between everyone was evident at the tearful goodbye at the airport, proof that the exchange is not just a cultural exchange and opportunity to develop language skills but also a beautiful human experience. All the students are looking forward to the return visit to Ciudad Real in November.

Mrs Aubret & Mrs Maringo would like to thank all the hosting families for welcoming our Spanish guests and helping to make the exchange a great success.

Hasta luego!

Attendance – why it matters

It sounds obvious but being is school has a positive impact on pupil performance.  This term we launched a new attendance system which demonstrates how non-attendance affects pupil’s performance:

97-100% attendance: no risk to achievement;  95-96.9% attendance: risk of underachievement; 93-94.9% attendance: serious risk of underachievement; 90-92.9% attendance: severe risk of underachievement; 0-89.9% attendance: extreme risk, possible court action

Our target is at least 97% attendance so we’re really encouraged that 386 pupils achieved 100% attendance in term 1, with a further 42 achieving 97-99% attendance.

Our Attendance Guide for parents/carers  provides helpful advice on supporting your child’s attendance, including:

  • Please let us know about your child’s absence by 7.30am on each day of absence. Call the designated absence line  01275 376882 or call the main school number 01275 373737 and select the attendance option
  • Please try to avoid routine medical/dental appointments in school hours – your child MUST return to school after appointments
  • If you are unsure whether to send your child into school if they are ill please speak to one of us for advice
  • If your child is upset about an incident please bring them to school the next morning to meet with a member of staff
  • We can only agree absence for holidays in term time for ‘Exceptional Circumstances’
PE and Sport News

Our sports students hosted 188 primary school pupils for the North Somerset Primary Schools PE festival.

Our students have kicked off another year of St Katherine’s sport as furiously as ever:

  • Year 10 (and some Year 9s) led our biggest ever primary PE festival with 188 KS1 primary visitors in 22 teams from 13 different schools battling foul weather conditions to take part in a multi-skills festival in the sportshall
  • We took a group of students up to the British Basketball League All Star Championships  at The Copper Box in London
  • Boys and girls have been busy in rugby, football, hockey, netball and basketball action with more than 200 students representing the school already this year!
  • Students across the school have taken part in our first House Sport competition under the new system – there were some amazing individual performances. Well done all – every second of everyone’s time counts towards the house total so quite literally, well done everyone who crossed that finish line!
  • We now have almost 75 students in PE leadership positions (House, Team and Senior captains) across the school – thank you for all of your hard work already; we are really looking forward to working with you all this year!

Mr Cook, Head of PE

Key Dates for Term 2

5 November:  INSET Day
w/c 12 November : Anti-bullying week
15 November: Yr 10 trip to World Skills Show, NEC
15 November: Yr 11 Geography field trip – Bristol Harbourside
15 November: Tea with a scientist
22 November: Sixth Form open evening
27 November – 2 December: Spanish Exchange 
28 November: Yr 10 Future Quest trip – profiling
29 November: Yr 12/13 art trip to Weston College
6 December: Yr 10, 12 & 13 art trip to Tate Modern, London
7 December: Yr 9 Future Quest trip to Bristol Old Vic 
13 December: Yr 9 parent/carer evening
18-20 December: School Production ‘Sister Act’ 
18 December: Yr 12 Future Quest Higher Education experience day
19 December: Yr 9 Future Quest trip to Aerospace
21 December : END OF TERM 2 Early finish – buses leave at 1.30pm

keep in touch

There isn’t enough space here to showcase the huge variety of student experiences and achievements this term. Keep up to date by visiting the ‘News and Events’ section on the school website, check the school Facebook page or follow us on Twitter @stkathsschool.

People | Community | Excellence