Term 3 Newsletter

February 2018

Message from the Head of School

During Term 3 we have taken time to reflect on significant world events and our values at St Katherine’s.

Two of our Year 13 students, Jasmine Mahesan and Cathy Howe, are Holocaust Ambassadors and presented an assembly that shone a light on the faults of our past history and the lessons we must learn. We reflected on how our values of acceptance, equality, friendship and responsibility must be demonstrated and embraced by all of us to ensure we can enjoy every day and make the most of the opportunities we have.

Our Year 12 historians along with Miss Schofield and Mr Murdoch travelled to Poland to visit the sites of the Holocaust after speaking to a Holocaust survivor through video link during our Holocaust Remembrance Week.

The French Exchange has been a highlight for a group of Year 9 and 10 students this term.  The exchange was a huge success in every way with whole families embracing the week and putting their French conversation skills to the test. The week was full with a range of visits to local sights and events during the evening. The MFL department have been overwhelmed by the gratitude shown by all families involved. 

At the halfway point during the year we carry out our important self evaluation and I would be grateful if you could spare five minutes to complete our anonymous parent/carer feedback form that has been emailed to you.

Dates for the 2018-2019 academic year are now available on our website. If you noted these provisional dates, please can I draw to your attention to a date change.  The INSET day on Friday 3rd May 2019 has been changed to Friday 15th February 2019. 

Mr J Humphreys

Sixth form history trip to Krakow

To help deepen their understanding of the Holocaust, 20 sixth form students studying A level history visited Krakow in southern Poland in early February. Krakow was occupied by Nazi Germany at the beginning of World War Two and the visit provided a thought-provoking and sometimes shocking insight to the experiences of Jewish people during the conflict.

The trip started with a visit to Galicia museum in the Jewish Quarter of Kazimierz which focuses on the experiences of the Jewish population in Poland both pre and post-war. We heard the story of Rywka Lipszyc, a young girl who lived in the ghetto in Lvov, which provided a powerful introduction to our visit. Rywka’s diary was found by a Soviet doctor after the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945 and her fate is still unknown.

The next day we visited the largest of the Nazi camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau, where over 1.5 million people were executed. We began in Auschwitz 1, the main concentration camp and Gestapo interrogation centre and bore witness to the vast array of artefacts which demonstrate the extent of the genocide. Our guide, Marta was keen to remind us that these artefacts are testimony to the atrocities committed at Auschwitz and why the site will remain protected forever.

Everyone was struck by the scale of the former death camp, which was partially destroyed by the Nazis in January 1945. Although very little remains of the barracks and gas chambers the experience was sobering.

Our weekend ended with a visit to the former factory of Oskar Schindler, who was credited with saving the lives of 1000 Jewish people from the Krakow ghetto and inspired the film, ‘Schindler’s List’.

Whilst the subject matter was harrowing, the weekend helped the students reflect on the Holocaust and developed their understanding of Nazi anti-semitic policies, particularly during the war years. The trip also encouraged everyone to reflect on, and celebrate the inspirational stories of kindness, rescue and compassion.

Miss E Schofield, Head of Humanities

Attendance – the key to success

    Evidence proves that the greater the school attendance, the greater the student achievement.

    We want all of our young people to leave school with the knowledge, skills and qualifications required to secure their next place in education or training.

    Therefore, it is vital that students are in school every day to maximise their learning time and, during a term when there has been a lot of sickness, it’s encouraging that 241 students have 100% attendance since January.

    We are committed to helping every St Katherine’s student progress during their time with us and expect an absolute minimum attendance of 96% unless there are long term medical reasons that affect attendance. 

    As a school we know that we need to work with parents and carers to ensure students attend school every day and appreciate that many of you already work hard to ensure your child/children attends every day and arrives in good time for morning registration.

    If you see a St Katherine’s student in uniform outside the immediate school boundary between the hours of 8:50 and 3:20, please report this to the school switchboard on 01275 373737 or the attendance line on 01275 376882.

    Mr J Humphreys, Head of School

    Head student blog

    Head Students, Remi Khalif and Emily Marshall 

    We have been reviewing the school canteen experience with the student council and have gathered student opinions via a survey. Our aim is to use the feedback to further improve the offering in the canteen.

    Another idea the student council has been investigating is the possibility of a prefect system. This will be further researched and reviewed at our meetings next term.

    We are in the process of affiliating the sixth form with the National Union of Students. This will enable the sixth form to take advantage of the perks of the NUS extra card.

    We are planning several fundraising events for next term so keep an eye out for information posters around the school.

    We have had great success this year from all the fundraising and hope this will continue in future.

    Help make the internet safer

    We marked Safer Internet Day on 6 February by talking to all students in tutor time and assemblies about safe use of the internet. 

    Under the theme  “Create, Connect and Share Respect: a better internet starts with you”  the aim is to create a safer and better internet, where everyone uses technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively.

    There is lots of information on the Safer Internet Day website for parents and carers to help them discuss safer internet use with students at home.      Or click on the materials below:

    Safer Internet Day 2018 – Parents and Carers Pack – Conversation starters

    Safer Internet Day 2018 – Parents and Carers Pack – Factsheet

    Safer Internet Day 2018 – Parents and Carers Pack – Family Pledge Card

    Safer Internet Day 2018 – Parents and Carers Pack – Fun Things To Do

    Safer Internet Day 2018 – Parents and Carers Pack – Pledge Card

    Safer Internet Day 2018 – Parents and Carers Pack – Quick activities

    Safer Internet Day 2018 – Parents and Carers Pack – Spread the Word

    Department of Education Performance tables

    You may have read articles in the local and national press about the annual GCSE performance tables. Many focused on the new Progress 8 measure and used this to rank and compare schools. However, performance measures only tell part of the story and, more importantly, fail to convey the context on which they are based.

    Any proud teacher or headteacher would find this frustrating and as Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the ASCL teaching union, stated in his article in the Times Educational Supplement, “[performance tables] only tell us a limited amount about the true quality of a school.”

    St Katherine’s School is a great school which I, along with the staff team, are passionate about making even better. St Katherine’s has a clear purpose and set of values with our wonderful young people at the heart of what we do. Our curriculum is broad, enriching and provides boundless opportunities for our young people both inside and outside of the classroom.

    We treat our students as individuals and support them to fulfil their potential, nurturing their skills in academic, creative and vocational subjects. Our results continue to improve and in 2017 we were pleased with our record results at both GCSE and A Level. These were the first results under the new GCSEs in English and maths and we achieved results in line with or above the national average. We were particularly pleased with the 18 Grade 9s achieved across English and maths. Our Attainment 8 at 45.9 places us at the top of the table for a school that does not follow an eBacc curriculum.

    I am immensely proud to work alongside such dedicated and talented staff and wonderful young people with so much potential. At St Katherine’s, we continue to focus on the whole child, learning together, succeeding together and inspiring excellence. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the students and staff for their hard work and the continued support from our families and governors.

    Mr J Humphreys, Head of School

    Welcome Mr Colebourne, our new Head of Sixth Form

    It has been a particularly busy term for me, having joined St Katherine’s as the new Head of Sixth Form at the beginning of January.

    St Katherine’s reputation as a school built on community was the main draw when I applied for the job back in November. My journey into teaching actually began at the school, spending three weeks working as an undergraduate mentor in the maths faculty at the end of my first year at the University of Bristol. This experience cemented my decision to go in to teaching after completing my degree in Mathematics and Computer Science. It seems fitting to come back to St Katherine’s to start a new stage in my career as a senior leader.

    First and foremost I have been struck by the warm welcome I have had  – from students, staff and parents. It is clear that community is still very much at the heart of the school.

    I have spent the term settling in, getting to know the students and finding out how things currently work in the sixth form (and beyond!) In the last couple of weeks I have begun course consultation meetings with Year 11 students. This is an opportunity to give them advice and guidance around their subject choices for post-16 study at St Katherine’s. These meetings have really helped me to get to know Year 11, and it has been fantastic to see the number of students enthusiastic to start their post-16 study (once the small matter of the exams this summer is out of the way!) I have now seen over a third of the 100+ applicants to St Katherine’s Sixth Form, and these meetings will continue in the weeks following half term.

    For me, Sixth Form is the most exciting part of a school. Supporting students to make big life decisions about what to do following their post-16 study is hugely rewarding – watching them go and secure the university place or job they have dreamed of is what we are ultimately here for. Clearly exams are important – they are the ticket to these dreams becoming reality – but I didn’t get in to teaching to help students do well in exams. It’s about helping students grow into well-rounded members of society, who can go and do whatever they want to do.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed my first term at St Katherine’s and I am looking forward to continuing to work with students across the school, supporting them to get to where they want to be.

      SKAMPS update


      After some very successful fundraising last year we are delighted to be spending £1,352 on new instruments and music equipment for the school.

      At the request of Miss Adams, Head of Music, we are providing seven djembe drums, ten ukuleles, ten glockenspiels and a set of radio wireless headphones.

      SKAMPS fundraising continues all year round and, after raising £185 with the traditional carol singing tour around Clifton pubs in December, we are now planning our main fundraising event of the year – the SKAMPS Live Event – which takes place on 22 June.

      This is always a fantastic evening when students perform a wide variety of music to a very enthusiastic audience of students, teachers, parents and friends.

      Put the date in your diary, more details and how to buy tickets will be released nearer the time.

      If you would like to join SKAMPS and help us support music at St Katherine’s please contact Miss Adams, Head of Music adamsa@skdrive.org

      A memorable French Exchange

      At the end of January, Year 9 and 10 students hosted twenty-one French students and three teachers from College Victor Duruy based in Mont-de-Marsan, south west France.

      During their week long stay the French students visited Bristol, Cardiff and Tyntesfield. They also spent time in school accompanying their exchange partners to lessons to get a taste of how a British school works.

      The week flew by and, after sharing such a special experience together, the students found it hard to say goodbye without shedding a few tears.

      The school exchange programme organised by the Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) team is designed to give students opportunities to develop their linguistic skills, broaden their cultural knowledge and widen their horizons. The words of one of the teachers from College Victor Duruy and a St Katherine’s parent (below) are testament to the fantastic benefits these exchanges give to our students.

      Farewell letter from Mrs Bernarde, French trip Leader:
      “Thanks very much to you all, families and staff, for this warm welcome. This trip will remain vivid in everybody’s memories. We, as teachers, are plant growers, gardening your children’s brains, planting seeds to develop. I’d like to use an image to characterize this exchange: that of an acorn. It is a potential oak tree. Let this newly-born link be the first of a long-lasting list and the acorn develop into a sturdy tree. We are delighted to be part of this scheme with St Katherine’s because we share the same values: involvement, commitment, faithfulness, honesty and both our schools highly praise this type of collaboration for the benefit of the whole community.”

      Email from host family parent:
      “ I wanted to email to say what a wonderful experience my son has had this week with the French Exchange programme. I have watched him blossom and grow this week. His French conversation has improved enormously as has his accent. He played games like Pictionary, Boggle and Guess Who with his French Partner and they enjoyed trips out after school and at the weekend….all the time chatting away in French. It has been such a rich experience for us all and even had me speaking my secondary school French! My son is very much looking forward to his return trip to the French family too. Thank you again for this wonderful opportunity for my son.”

      The St Katherine’s students and MFL team visit Mont-de-Marsan in March for the return trip. Needless to say both students and teachers are looking forward to it!

      Mrs G Maringo, Head of Modern Foreign Languages.

      Students commended by the Head of School this term
      Lily Hannan:   Art
      Daniel Powell:  Art
      Kanye Christie,  Ryan Bundy, Charlie Songer, Gabriel Antolic-Furlong, Josh Moore, Will Stratton, Wade Watson, Kenny Newbury: Year 7 Indoor Sportshall Athletics Champions 

      Mortimer Hogg: Making more than 3 levels progress in Science
      Charlton Milligan: Making more than 3 levels progress in Science 
      Jessica Atkinson: Making more than 3 levels progress in Science
      Fergus Creton: Making more than 3 levels progress in Science
      Brandon Geater: Making more than 3 levels progress in Science
      Latifa Abdi: Making more than 3 levels progress in Science
      Kieron Keegan: Making more than 3 levels progress in Science

      A fantastic term at The Leaf

      The Leaf has gone from strength to strength this term. We were joined by Gilly Chu, our new Chef Trainer, who comes with a wealth of experience.   She has settled in quickly and is enjoying working with our students to prepare and serve the creative, high quality menus The Leaf is known for.

      The restaurant had a very positive review by the North Somerset Times which is testament to the hard work the students, Paul, Gilly and Lisa put into giving customers a fantastic dining experience week after week.

      Here is the Dinner Menu for Term 4 (22 February – 22 March) It’s just £17.00 for three courses, cash only please:

      • Starters: Chicken and pistachio terrine; Smoked haddock gratin; Pear, walnut, blue cheese and rocket salad
      • Main courses: Seared onglet steak, brandy and peppercorn sauce; Miso-glazed salmon, Asian salad, mirin dressing; Vegan butternut squash, chestnut and lentil cake
      • Desserts: Salted caramel and chocolate tart; Apple and stem ginger crumble; Mini cheeseboard with celery, grapes and homemade chutney

      We also trialled Monday lunch at the Leaf served by the School of Food apprentices we train in the St Katherine’s kitchen.  It was a great success so look out for future lunch dates on our Facebook page  If you’d like to book a table either call the school on 01275 373737 or email theleaf@stkaths.org.uk

      Students impress in photography competition

      The photography talents of three St Katherine’s students have been recognised in the local heats of Rotary Club Young Photographer competition.

      Following a brief to produce a portfolio of three photographs based on the theme “A Different Perspective”, Charley Saunders, Henil Desai (both Year 10) and Laila Scladtt-Goodman (Year 11) impressed the judges with their imagination, technical skills and composition.

      As well as producing high quality, creative images the students had to write a brief description on each photograph and how it represented their interpretation of the ‘Different Perspective’ theme.

      The judges commented that Laila’s portfolio, which featured different elements on Nature, showcased her ability to become a very good photographer. Charley impressed with his ‘excellent photos’ with his vivid colour and black and white images presented to full impact. Henil’s portfolio demonstrated ‘imagination and variety’ with the judges recognising his unique choice of subjects.

      Charley, who is studying GCSE photography, was named winner of the local heat with Laila and Henil being ‘Highly Commended’ for their portfolios. Charley will now go on to compete in the District Finals of the national competition.


      Laila’s portfolio of photos had a Nature theme

      Term 3 news round-up

      Although Term 3 has been relatively short, as always there has been a lot going on in and out of school!  

      Year 9s Go4Set award

      For the last 10 weeks, Year 9 students have been involved in the Go4Set project where they have been re-designing the school as if it were on an island.

      They produced a report, model and presentation board to show case their design.

      They took their project to the Go4Set competition on Tuesday and came back with the Pupils Choice Award!

      A fantastic achievement and recognition of some brilliant engineering!

      Year 9 Future Quest programme

      A group of Year 9 students took part in a theatre workshop run by the Bristol Old Vic as part of the UWE ‘Future Quest’ quest project which aims to raise student aspirations and get them thinking about future careers.

      The group  really engaged with all the activities (which were sometimes a little outside their comfort zone!) and were a credit to the school.

      The students have already visited BAE Systems in Filton and enjoyed the Bristol Old Vic Christmas as part of Future Quest. They are already looking forward to the next session in Term 4.

      Beowulf treat for Year 7

      Year 7 were treated to a compelling retelling of the Anglo-Saxon myth Beowulf courtesy of hugely talented actors from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

      Written and directed by Toby Hulse, this legend of furious dragons and beasts being torn limb from limb came alive in front of our eyes, intertwined with the poignant contemporary story of Sophie and her mother’s battle with beasts of their own.

      A wonderful treat.

      We’re already looking forward to the Theatre School’s return visit next year.

      Science update

      Year 7/8 Science club:   Year 7 and 8s have been enjoying a range of fun activities at Science Club after school on Thursdays. Here they talk about their personal highlights:  

      “We have dissected a rat which was very interesting.” “My favourite thing was setting my hands on fire with methane bubbles.” “My favourite activity in science club was making a pH indicator, I wanted to know how it works.” “We made bath bombs which was really fun, I Iove all the things we have done in science club.” “I have enjoyed everything! But if I had to pick one thing, my favourite would be fire writing.” “We made slime which was great.”

      Thanks to Mr Francis-Black, Miss Andrews, Mr Hodgson, Ms Mason and Miss Finn for all the fun activities. Next term Science Club will be tackling forensic science investigations.

      ‘Science Live’:  45 Year 10 and 11 GCSE science students enjoyed presentations by some of the UK’s most well-known scientists at ‘Science Live’ in January. The morning started with a talk from Professor Steve Jones the renowned evolutionary biologist. He told the audience that two out of three of us would die due to genes we carry that are associated with heart disease, diabetes and cancer. However he cheered us up by telling us that in Shakespeare’s time two of the three of us would already be dead!

      Next, renowned fertility expert Lord Professor Robert Winston spoke about human fertility and embryo development.  He was followed by an inspiring talk on space science by Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock. Professor Jim Al-Khalili then spoke about Time Travel and whether films like ‘Interstellar’ are realistic. Lastly, a presentation by Professor Andrea Sella from UCL  about the amazing properties of ice, global warming and Primo Levi’s book, ‘The Periodic Table’ ended with a bang as a container exploded during an experiment!

      PE and Sport News
      The Year 7 boys were crowned Country Sportshall Athletics Champions

      The Year 7 boys were crowned County Sportshall Athletics champions.

      It’s been another term of sporting success at St Katherine’s.   There will be a full round-up in the PE and Sport newsletter early next term – here are just some of the highlights:

      • The Year 8 girls team netball made it to the county finals representing North Somerset
      • Year 7 boys and girls sportshall athletics teams made it to the county finals representing North Somerset
      • The Year 7  boys won the County Sportshall Athletics Finals and are the best in South Glos, N Somerset, BANES and Bristol – a great achievement!
      • U13 boys, U13 girls and U15 boys have all qualified for the North Schools Play-offs in our annual indoor cricket competitions
      • U19 boys are into the semi finals of the Somerset cup after a 4-2 victory over Chew Valley in the recent quarter finals

      Mr Cook, Head of PE

      Key Dates for Term 4
      19th February:  Start of Term 4
      21st February:  Year 9 boys/girls Td.IPV and MenACWY vaccinations
      22nd February: Year 7 parent/carer evening
      26th February-9th March: Year 11 Mocks exams/Year 9 options interviews 
      1st March: NSTA School Experience Day 
      w/c 5th March: Careers Week 
      15th March: Year 10 parent/carer evening
      23rd March: End of Term 4
      9th April:  INSET day
      10th April:  Students back in school for Term 5

      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

      • Arrangements for last week of term
      • Sister Act - tickets on sale now!
      • Sixth Form Open Evening - 22 November, 7-9pm RESERVE YOUR PLACE
      • Year 7 enjoy free BuzzBook bonanza
      • Sixth Formers join Bristol Uni Access Programme