Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam
Since I last wrote on this blog, much has happened at St Augustine’s. On 15th to 16th November I paid a flying visit to Dublin, to attend the Lasallian School leaders’ conference. You may know that our College is an ‘associate’ Lasallian school, which means that we are part of an international network of schools and colleges which are inspired by the life and work of St John Baptiste de la Salle, and the order of teaching brothers that he founded. It is the 300th anniversary of St JB this coming year, so there will be more to be said on that matter.
As I exited Dublin airport, I was faced by the sight in the picture here – the tower of the church of Our Lady Queen of Heaven, with the message in large gold letters: “God is Love.” Much has changed in Ireland, and the Church, since that tower was erected, but that message is foundational to Christian belief and education. God is love. From the beginnings of creation when the Holy Spirit brooded over the face of the deep, to the last moments of the universe when God receives back his work, the Love of God is being worked out in the world and in our lives. If only we could have the grace and wisdom to recognize it.
Last week the year 10 parents evening took place on Thursday. By and large, these evenings are positive and constructive affairs – which is surely a testimony to our students, and their largely positive attitude. As you probably know, St Augustine’s GCSE results, as measured by progress 8, were fantastic this year – the best in Wiltshire. (I’ve probably mentioned it before, but do indulge me – I can claim no personal credit for it.) Is it possible to hope that this year, and the year after, will be even better? Seeing the students in year 10 and 11, I’ve got my hopes.
On Tuesday evening there was an evening for parents of year 9 and 10 students who have enrolled to do the Duke of Edinburgh Award with the school this year. The Assembly Hall was packed – thank you to so many parents for turning out. The D of E scheme really is something special – it’s an opportunity for our young people to develop those skills of initiative, teamwork, independence, resilience, that are so valuable. The ethic of service, skills and adventurous training really does fit so well with what we are trying to achieve at St Augustine’s, and I hope that as many of our students complete it as possible. Sometimes this cohort of teenagers is labelled “the snowflake generation” – liable to melt away at the slightest challenge – but this need not be the case. Through the right opportunities they can also scale the heights.
Speaking of scaling the heights, our year 11 Rugby team have qualified for the semi-finals of the Wiltshire Schools contest, which they will play on Wednesday afternoon this week. Well done, and good luck on Wednesday.
The staff were involved in in-service training on Friday, mainly looking at the Key Stage 3 curriculum and assessment. Vital work, to ensure that what we do at the College is fit for purpose, up to date, and aspirational.
The Physics department are determined to be at the cutting edge, and have joined the School Physics Network (an arm of the Institute of Physics). They have had their first training session run by the SPN/IOP. Some friends from John of Gaunt also joined us, and there was a good discussion about misconceptions in teaching about Forces. Mrs Clackson reports that, “Some helpful and simple methods to improve our teaching practice were identified, and it was a friendly and enjoyable session that was useful for all.”