Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam
This Thursday we had the first of our Parent Evenings, which was for Year 8. It was a long evening for many of our teaching staff, who were at their posts for almost 4 hours in some cases – on top of a full teaching day. I was also impressed by how many parents were able to attend – nearly a full house. Full engagement by parents really does make a difference to the education of students – thank you all for being such a first rate parental body.
Those of you who read the papers will realise that there is pressure on schools to be tighter on the use of Mobile Phones. It is important not to make a knee-jerk reaction on this and other issues. However, at St Augustine’s we have decided to tighten our practice for our Year 7 pupils. At the moment, our policy is that mobile phones should be “off and out of sight” while in school, but we have allowed their use in lessons for research, at the request of the teacher, for legitimate educational reasons. While not minimising these genuine uses, after careful thought and discussion we have decided – in the case of Year 7 only at this stage – to discontinue all use of Mobiles in lessons from 5th November. From that point onward, if year 7 have mobile phones on them, they must stay off and out of sight at all points while in school (apart from the very rare genuine emergency).
A number of year 7 parents have told us that they would rather their sons and daughters did not have a personal mobile device until they are older. As a school, we would like to support that legitimate desire, and that has been part of our consideration. There is also, of course, the danger of social media, of which all parents will be aware. At some point our children will need to use technology, and use it wisely and well, but they need preparation and education to get to that point.
Is St Augustine’s old-fashioned in this? Yes, we probably are, and in a good sense. We believe in old fashioned values, both in behaviour and in education. Reading books remains important in our view. So does learning to pay attention, both to books and to people. Accurate work. A curriculum that includes rigour in English and Maths, but also serious attention to creative and physical subjects. Courtesy, respect, thinking of others. All of this is part of the special ethos of the school. I would ask parents to support us when we insist on our rules – our Behaviour for Excellence policy. We only achieve the outstanding outcomes – both academically and in personal development – with the help of these rules and expectations.
This week has been a ‘lesson drop in’ period, when Senior Leaders, Heads of Year and Department, have dropped in briefly into lessons of colleagues. This is part of our Quality Assurance process, and we provide some brief feedback – literally on the back of a postcard. I have personally dropped in on three Maths, two science, and a Music lesson, and have seen a wide range of approaches and much good practice. I particularly enjoyed seeing Mrs Medland’s Year 8 Music lesson, where the class were being assessed on their conducting skills. Will one of our current Year 8 end up conducting Last Night of the Proms, or a major orchestra – I wouldn’t bet against it!
Lots is happening on the Chaplaincy front. A weekly session of Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament has started on Monday lunchtimes, and today there was the first of our voluntary Masses which cut across morning break. For Catholics, the Blessed Sacrament – the Body and Blood of Christ, really, truly and substantially present among us in the Mass and on our Altars – really is central to our Faith. Jesus Christ has not left us as orphans, but still lives among us, even till the end of time. He is among us in our school, and His grace radiates into our own hearts – the obstacles to His divine action are those that we erect for ourselves.
“O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”
“Live Jesus in our Hearts, FOREVER!”