There are many different things that we, as a community, want from our school: we want our children to be successful academically; we want them to develop good moral attitudes, indeed we want them to fulfil their potential in many different ways.
Here in St Thomas More Catholic School, we aim to give our pupils the best possible chance of doing this. In the school’s most recent OFSTED inspection, in which we were again graded Outstanding, the opening sentences reads: “St Thomas More School provides pupils with high quality education, linking outstanding academic achievement to splendid personal development. An exceptionally strong Christian ethos pervades the school” (October 2013).
This success is due first and foremost to the strong Christian ethos which pervades our school, binding people together and encouraging everyone to give their best, and to strive for excellence, within an ordered and disciplined atmosphere. It was particularly rewarding to have this aspect of the school graded Outstanding by the Diocesan inspectors.
We have a long tradition of excellent examination results going back many years and in June 2016 results were no different. Year 11 pupils posted another fine set of results. Our overall headline figure of 5+ A* – C with English and Maths was badly hit by changes to the grade boundaries of one of the subjects leaving us at 80% which is still a strong result for the school, but not where we expect it to be. Our Year 13 also performed excellently with over half of the grades at A2 being A* to B with one of the best ever points per entry in all qualifications score. What was particularly encouraging to see were the very high numbers of pupils getting their first choice of university.
There is no doubt that one of the main factors behind the continued excellent achievement of this school is the very high standard of the behaviour of the pupils. OFSTED also commented that “Behaviour is almost always impeccable. Pupils conduct themselves in a very mature manner in class and when moving around school at breaks and lunchtimes. They are polite and helpful and really respect their teachers.
As a school we have always been determined to give pupils the best possible educational experience. This is reflected in the positive attitudes towards lessons that pupils show. This was confirmed by OFSTED who judged the quality of Teaching and Learning to be outstanding.
We pride ourselves on the level of pastoral care given to all pupils. There are excellent relationships and mutual respect between pupils and between staff and pupils. Indeed, our pupils say that they enjoy coming to school! We invest heavily in individual support and guidance for pupils, we assess pupils’ progress regularly and report this progress to parents at 10 week intervals.
Of course there is so much more to St Thomas More Catholic School than excellent examination results, central though these are to our success. Over the past few years the School has been recognised in a number of different ways. We were the first school to be awarded Specialist School status in the North East. We have collected a range of specialisms over the years; starting with Technology, Leading Edge (via Beacon School), Training and Vocational. In June 2011 we were named as one of the first tranche of Teaching Schools; one of the first group of fifty secondary age Teaching Schools in the country. As a school we are always looking to develop still further. In January 2014 we became the founder member of the St Thomas More Partnership of Schools Multi-Academy Trust and in March 2014 we welcomed our first primary school, Sacred Heart Byermoor to the trust. In April 2015 we welcomed St Matthew’s Primary School, Prudhoe.
Over the last few years we have worked hard to improve the school environment. We have so far renewed 60 % of the school building. The next phase of the school’s redevelopment will be the original 1967 building and hopefully this will happen in the next couple of years.
The work of the classroom continues to extend into high quality extra-curricular activities. A large number of pupils are able to participate in school teams covering a wide range of different sports. There is also a strong commitment to music and drama with regular concerts and drama evenings. Our contribution to the life of the community through, for example, the Sixth Form Programme, provides a splendid example of Christianity in action. Our pupils are enthusiastic and prolific fund raisers for Catholic Care North East, CAFOD, for the work of the Society of St Vincent de Paul and for the work of overseas missions. The nation’s growing awareness of the peoples and cultures of Europe is reflected in our programme of international visits and exchanges.
With firm guidance, clear purpose, the vast array of talents of pupils and staff and continued support from parents, I am confident that St Thomas More Catholic School will continue to make a major contribution to the life of our community.