Dear Parents,

As the new academic year begins, it is my pleasure to reflect on the outstanding successes of so many of our students over the summer.   At GCSE, 82.5% of the cohort achieved 5 GCSEs A*-C including Mathematics and English with 27 pupils achieving at least 6 A*/A grades. At A level, our overall pass rate was over 99%; with a third of our students gaining ABB or better. We celebrate the outstanding results of our academic high flyers who have achieved such impressive results along with those for whom academic achievement comes less easily, who have risen to the challenge and exceeded expectations.

We also celebrate the host of sporting achievements our pupils have made. Some of the highlights include 1st X1 captain, Bailey Worcester, captaining the MCC Schools at Lords, and Athletics Captain, George Armstrong, competing for GB in the World U20s championships, as well as winning the English Schools’ Gold Medal in Discus. Many of our students also had the opportunity to experience a very moving visit to Auschwitz, meeting a camp survivor in the process, whilst nineteen students were challenged by a three week trip to Uganda, trekking up Mount Elgon and working in a school in Northern Uganda both in the classroom and helping with some site construction. For all those students and staff on the trip it will be remembered as an extraordinary life changing experience.

As we begin a new school year, I would like to formally welcome our new teaching staff:

Miss Corson and Miss Smith in the modern languages department, now led by Mrs Mitchell; Miss Spiller and Mrs Watmough join the art and business studies department whilst Miss Richardson has joined The Grove as our new Head of Biology. In continuing to restructure the Management Team of the school, I have appointed 5 new Assistant Heads with very specific responsibilities, as listed below:

  • Assistant Head (Boarding & Compliance) – Mr Vernon
  • Assistant Head (Curriculum) – Mrs Ainscoe
  • Assistant Head (Organisation) – Mr Eaglestone
  • Assistant Head (Pupil Welfare) – Mrs Hughes
  • Assistant Head (Teaching & Learning) – Mrs Shoesmith-Evans

Dr Allday takes up a new position as Director of Digital Strategy. His primary duties will be to develop robust and effective systems for communication, data manipulation and teaching and learning within the context of the School’s future development.

Mr Cadman takes up his role as Deputy Head (Pastoral) this term, ably supported by his Heads of Year who are likely to be the first port of call for any parental concerns. I list them below by way of a reminder:

  • Head of Year 7:                 Miss Barron
  • Head of Year 8:                 Mr Moffat
  • Head of Year 9:                 Mr Carter
  • Head of Year 10:               Mr Sugden
  • Head of Year 11:               Mrs Watson
  • Head of Year 12:               Mrs Vernon
  • Head of Year 13:               Mr Jennings

Mr Sweeney steps aside from Head of Year to return to Stephenson as Head of House, and We also welcome Mrs Pinkney as our new Library Manager, Miss Hall as our Sports graduate, and Language assistants José Nava Lozada (Spanish) and Marie Stiker (French). Mrs Curtis, already known to you for her work in the PE and games department and as Head of Towlson House, now takes up her post as Head of Academic PE. We wish them all well in their new posts, as indeed we do to Upper Sixth students Katie Mortlock and Sam Bean who have been appointed as Heads of School for the academic year 2016/17.

One of Sam and Katie’s first tasks this term was to address the School in assembly and I have no hesitation in publishing an extract from their assembly which speaks for itself:

“The difference between pupils who are successful here, and those who are less so, is often down to their attitude. A few people treat every day of school as just another day to get through, every class as another lecture to endure, and every challenge as a new opportunity to embarrass themselves. To those few, the term might be seen as a long dark tunnel, with a dim light at the end, or perhaps some faraway Christmas lights. But this is, of course, the wrong way entirely to approach school life. When we leave school in what is now only 10 months’ time, and we look back on our time spent here, the things we will remember best will not be the time we wasted. Instead, we will remember the times we did something challenging, attempting something that does not come so easily, and achieving something in the process.”

Wise words from two young people beginning the final leg of their journey at Woodhouse Grove and a theme which I have tried to echo to the School, referencing Muhammad Ali: who famously advised: “don’t count the days, make the days count”.

So, as the new term begins, I hope that all our 150 new pupils, and indeed those for whom the school is more familiar, will make the very most of their opportunities at The Grove.  As those of you familiar with the school will know, or those of you with only a few days experience and a glance at a new website should sense, the journey at The Grove is focused on the individual.  For the young and the not quite so young members of this community, energy and commitment combines with a healthy mixture of breadth and focus to ensure that it is the people and the purpose that makes this place so special.

With all good wishes at the start of another successful school year,

Yours faithfully

James Lockwood MA