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Principal's Newsletter

March 2018

Dear Parents and Carers,

As I write this newsletter to you, I can just about see the daffodils starting to bloom around our school and horses being walked around the cricket pitch – sure signs that winter is over and spring is here.

As is often the case, the term between Christmas and Easter is the shortest in terms of number of school weeks, but the most intense, with lots of hard work for everyone but particular for exam classes in Year 11 and Year 13.  Year 11 have just completed their second set of mock exams, with many pupils showing significant improvement since December and others having a reality check on the amount of revision they will need to do to succeed in the summer!

End of Term Services: 

These will be held on Thursday 29 March as follows:

  • Year 7 and 8 will meet at the Priory at 8.45am
  • Year 9 will be accompanied from school to St Thomas’
  • Year 10 will be accompanied from school to St Paul’s
  • Year 11 will have a service in school on Wednesday as the majority of pupils will be at Alton Towers on Thursday
  • Years 12 and 13 will remain in school for a service in the chapel

School finishes at the normal time on Thursday 29th.

Outstanding A Level Results

I am very pleased to inform parents that our results at A Level last year have been recognised as being in the top 25% of schools and colleges in the country in terms of the academic progress students make.  Our sixth formers are a credit to the school and it is great to see their achievements recognised.  We are blessed to have a Sixth Form with such high academic standards, broad choice of subjects and excellent pastoral support. 

Ripley+  “Serve. Lead. Inspire.” 

On Friday 23 February, we were proud to present 30 pupils in Year 11 with their Ripley+ medals. This was in recognition of the leadership and service they have demonstrated throughout their key stage 4 journey at Ripley.  We were very impressed with the wide range of activities pupils were involved in and the skills they say they developed as a result.  Congratulations go to all our award winners and especially to Nathan Halford, Rebecca Wadeson, Lucas Heaton and Freya Monks who were awarded the prestigious Principal’s gold medal for outstanding service to the academy.

Spring Concert

I am sure those of you who were able to attend the Spring Concert recently were thrilled to see the range of talent on display.  Well done to all the soloists - it takes a great deal of courage to perform alone in front of a packed and discerning audience.  As I said at the end of the concert, it was quite amazing to see the focus and concentration of pupils as they performed, not to mention their enjoyment.

BTEC Extended Certificate Animal Management

Earlier this month the Year 12 BTEC Extended Certificate Animal Management pupils took part in a residential visit the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester.  Here the pupils got a taster of university life from meeting the lecturers, learning how to apply for funding, working with RAU student ambassadors and even a farm tour in the tractor!  

Car Parking

Can I remind all parents that the front car park near the lodge is not to be used to pick up and drop off pupils before or after school. As parents will appreciate, with over 1700 pupils entering and exiting the site, it is not safe for cars to be around.

Accessing the Parent Portal

The Parent Portal contains information for parents on a range of important issues, including your child’s:

  • Behaviour in school – the number of Ripples and Clicks
  • Timetable
  • Academic progress and Assessment outcomes
  • Appointments for Parents’ Evening

It is very important that parents regularly log in and look at the information on the parent portal.  A number of parents appear not to have done this and have missed out on important information.  If parents have changed their email address, school must be notified so that records and login details are accurate.  If you are unsure how to access or use the Parent Portal, can I recommend that you contact school for help.  Many thanks for your support with this.


As a school, we have a responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of your sons and daughters, along with all staff and visitors to our site. Quite rightly, the issue of safeguarding is high on every school’s agenda and it is timely to make you aware of the measures we have in place to ensure we are compliant with all statutory guidance and that we create a culture where all children are safe and feel safe.

The following is a brief summary of the safeguarding procedures and activities we have established here at Ripley. Our school:

  • has a fully trained Safeguarding Team and up-to-date procedures for dealing with safeguarding matters;
  • ensures that all staff are appropriately briefed concerning safeguarding;
  • adopts the local authority’s recommended policy and procedures;
  • works within its established recruitment policy in respect of the appointment of all new staff. This includes fully comprehensive procedures covering all aspects of advertising, interviewing, appointing and inducting new members of staff;
  • ensures that all new recruits are subject to Enhanced Level Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly CRB) checks prior to appointments being confirmed. The school maintains a central record of all current staff;
  • ensures that staff taking extended school activities (e.g. trips and other off-site visits) complete the appropriate checks;
  • ensures that all building contractors comply with safeguarding procedures;
  • has procedures in place for managing safeguarding allegations, including whistle-blowing procedures;
  • has current procedures in place for the appropriate use of ICT and CCTV;
  • has current procedures in place for health and safety, security and the safe evacuation of everyone on the premises in the event of emergency situations;
  • ensures that only authorised visitors gain access to the site. All staff and authorised visitors are required to sign in at reception and then display personal ID;
  • has a nominated Safeguarding Governor and governors discuss Safeguarding at every Full Governors’ meeting.

Information for Parents on online safety

Parents sometimes ask where they can find accurate and up-to-date guidance on keeping their children safe online.  This can be a real challenge as technology and apps develop at a rapid pace.  Having taken advice from safeguarding experts, the recommended websites for parents are:

Lancashire Children’s Safeguarding Board – information for parents: 


Year 5 English Event

On Thursday 22nd March, the English Department hosted a group of Year 5 pupils from local primary schools who had a fun and exciting day learning how to write from the viewpoint of an animal. The day included listening to stories told from the viewpoint of different animals and visiting the animals on the farm to get ideas for the students’ own creative writing.   By the end of the day, our enthusiastic visitors had developed stories about lots of different animals including: a rabbit that needed a new tail; a dog stuck in a rescue centre waiting for his ‘forever family’ and an alpaca that escaped from the paddock and found himself in Topshop. A fun day was had by all and our visitors left with a certificate for their commendable enthusiasm and hard work.

Year 8 English Literature Battlefields Trip

As part of the centenary, two of our pupils were lucky enough to visit Belgium and France on a WWI Battlefields trip which focused on the literature of WWI. The pupils spent four days in Belgium and France, exploring the battlefields, trenches and bunkers of WWI soldiers in conditions similar to those described in Wilfred Owen's poem, 'Exposure' - the winds certainly were 'merciless'! Both pupils now have to complete a legacy project and hope to plant a memorial garden in the school's grounds for the fallen soldiers of Ripley. 

Youth Speaks

At the start of February, two Year 8 teams travelled to Rotary's Youth Speaks District Final in Windermere. The girls' team of Bryony Adamson (Chair), Lucy Vernum (Speaker) and Alina Kelsall (Vote of Thanks) were first to perform, setting the standard incredibly high but were unsuccessful in making it through to the next round. However, the boys' team of Ryan Moorhouse (Chair), Tommy Hill (Speaker) and Andrew Hirst (Vote of Thanks) won the District competition! 

The boys continued to impress at the Regional Final in March, coming in 2nd place out of 83 schools in the North West and Wales division of the competition. In addition, Ryan Moorhouse won 'Best Chair'.  We're incredibly proud of the efforts and achievements of both teams and look forward to next year's competition.

International Harry Potter Book Night

For the first time in Ripley history, students in KS3 celebrated the 'International Harry Potter Book Night'. Over seventy students descended upon 'The Great Hall' to be sorted into a house and partake in the lessons of Hogwarts. Students were able to scrub up on their magic in Potions, Charms, Defence Against the Dark Arts and Care of Magical Creatures lessons whilst letting off competitive steam at Quidditch. It was an evening full of magic and a love for literature and one we look forward to running again next year.

Commonwealth Voices

As part of the Commonwealth Celebrations 2018, three Ripley pupils have been selected from hundreds of entries across Lancashire to perform their own poetry pieces in front of a live audience at the Lancashire Civic Leaders’ Commonwealth Celebration event in April.  Well done and good luck in the Grand Final to Anna Rosling-Morey, Libby McGregor and Wami Tucker.

Parent Views

We have been trialling a new way of gathering and listening to parents’ views at school.  Parents of Year 8 pupils may have noticed that at the recent Parents’ Evening, sixth form students with tablet computers were asking parents to fill in a brief questionnaire about their child’s experiences at Ripley.  This is something we are looking to roll out to Parents’ Evenings across all year groups next year.  This feedback will be used to evaluate aspects of our provision and make improvements where necessary.  It was very pleasing indeed to see, for example, that 97% of parents questioned believed that school had high expectations for their child and that 94% said that their child was making good progress. 

Can I also remind parents that I have a drop-in clinic on a Thursday morning should parents wish to speak with me.

Sporting Successes

Congratulations to the following pupils and teams on their sporting achievements this term:

  • Year 7, 8, 10 and 11 netball teams finished the season as district champions with Year 9 as runners up.
  • Adam Dennison (Yr7) qualified to represent the North West in the national regional table tennis team finals in May after finishing runner up at the NW Inter-Regional tournament. Olivia Walling (Yr7) just missed out on count back to qualify for the finals in winning the consolation event, and her brother Ethan (Yr9) competed well in the U15 event.
  • Swimming teams enjoyed another successful gala at the Canon Slade Brooking Cup mixed relays, winning Junior (7&8) and Senior (12&13) Medley relays, coming second in the senior Freestyle relay and finishing second overall to Canon Slade School, missing first place by only 1 point.
  • Our Year 7 boys’ football team finished 4th in the Lancashire Finals Day at St. Bede’s, Blackburn.
  • The senior students involved in the Sutton Trophy swimming competition finished 2nd and 3rd respectively in the medley and freestyle relay A finals, and the Year 9s did the same in the B finals.
  • Harry Morrison (Yr10) made his Lancashire U15 rugby debut against Yorkshire.
  • Ripley badminton teams finished 1st and 3rd in this year's Westmorland and North Lancashire junior badminton league.
  • Sophie Carter-Steele (Year 9) and her partners came a fantastic 8th place at the Maia International Acro Gymnastics Cup competition in Portugal. Well done also to Charlotte Turner (Year 8) on a great performance.
  • Rio Quarry (Yr12) swam in the 50m breaststroke at the British Swimming Championships in Edinburgh.
  • Anna Walsh and Adam Dennison (Yr7) finished runners-up in the Lancashire Individual U13 Table Tennis Championships. Well done also to Jessica Felton, Olivia Walling and Max Hustwick who reached the semi-finals.
  • Lucy Dalgleish became the U14 NW cyclocross champion for 2017-18 - a brilliant achievement.
  • Rhys Ashton (Yr9) won the Junior Boys’ Cross Country at the Lancashire Championships and qualified for the English Schools’ Champs.Beth Davey and Oliver Patterson came 10th and 14th respectively in the inter girls/boys races.
  • The U13 girls' table tennis team finished runners up in the English Schools’ Championships Zone Finals in Blackburn and came third in the English Schools' Regional runners up finals in Grantham.
  • The U13 boys’ table tennis team won the English School’s Championships Zone finals in Blackburn and finished third in the English School’s Regional Finals.
  • Sophie Carter-Steele (Yr9) won gold in the youth women's group section (trio) at the 2018 King Edmund International Gymnastics competition in Bristol.  
  • U18 1st XV got through to the Lancashire Plate Rugby Quarter Final.
  • The Year 7 boys and girls Sportshall Athletics Teams qualified for the @YourSchoolGames Lancashire county finals. Year 7 and 8 girls also finished 1st and 3rd respectively in their District Schools’ Sporthall Athletics @YourSchoolGames qualifying round.
  • Year 8, 9, 10 boys retained the Cutty Sark trophy at the Fastwater Swimming Gala at Bolton School with each team finishing first in their respective competition.
  • Yr10 rugby players Harry Morrison and Adam Wilson have been selected for the Sale Sharks Developing Player Programme.Harry has also been selected for the U15 Lancashire squad.
  • Mia Stonier (Yr9) has been selected for the Lancashire Hockey North Academy Development Centre.
  • Rhys Ashton came 4th, Oliver Patterson 5th and Beth Davey 10th in the Lancashire Cross Country Championships. Good luck to Rhys and Oliver who have been selected to represent Lancashire at the Inter Counties Championships.

 Staff changes

At the end of this term we say goodbye to Mr Houghton, our Subject Leader in mathematics.  Mr Houghton leaves us to take up a promotion to Assistant Headteacher at Wade Deacon High School in Widnes, after 5 years’ service to Ripley during which time results have continued to improve.  We wish him all the best in the next chapter of his career.  Mrs Cantley, currently Lead Practitioner in mathematics, has been appointed as Subject Leader after Easter.

As the term draws to a close, can I wish all pupils and parents a restful and enjoyable Easter break.

M Wood