A new year brings both opportunities and challenges for school pupils and staff.
Headteachers from secondary schools in Harrogate and Knaresborough look ahead to 2014.
Headmaster Mark Lauder: “2014 will be a very busy year at Ashville. In March pupils in all three schools will be involved in the most ambitious Arts Festival run by the College to celebrate the re-opening of the main auditorium, after a complete refurbishment and extension of its seating capacity to 600.
“As well as taking part themselves in a variety of music, art, drama, poetry and other artistic performances, pupils will have the opportunity to meet and have masterclasses from some of the guest artists, including Dame Evelyn Glennie, Alessandro Taverna and Simon Armitage.
“The hall itself will be opened by Downton actor Jim Carter, a former Head Prefect, who will, after spending time with the drama students, take to the stage himself to talk to an audience about his life as an actor.
“In the summer term, preparations will continue for a major sports tour to South Africa, rounding off the first year of Ashville’s redeveloped sports programme.
“The first group of L6th Ashville students will experience several days at Cambridge University prior to applying to Oxbridge, through a new initiative set up between the Ashville and Homerton College.
“Pupils in years 7 to 9 will enjoy an exam free term to allow more drama, sport and artistic work as well as trips. Pre-prep pupils will visit London, Junior school pupils will head to Paris and the whole of Senior school will once again go ‘off timetable’ in Trips Week, enjoying a wide range of outdoor pursuits, including camping, climbing and leadership programmes, and all in time to be back for the excitement of the Grand Depart!
“The new academic year in September will bring a new uniform for the College. Smart and refreshed from the holidays, the College Scholars will begin their new scholarship programme aimed at stretching them further than the exam curriculum allows.
“A new ‘gifted and talented’ programme for every academic department also launches to nurture more pupils towards scholarship standards.
“A major musical will be performed by senior pupils making use of the newly refurbished hall.”
Harrogate Grammar School
Headteacher Richard Sheriff: “2014 looks set to be another really good year for our school with a great deal to look forward to.
“One area we have been investing a great deal of time and resources in is our sixth form which we are determined will move from being not just ‘outstanding’ but truly world class in 2014.
“Discussions with our staff, students and governors have helped us form a vision of what we think a world class sixth form will look like and we are well on the way to delivering that for our students.
“We want our students to be able to compete for places at the best universities worldwide and gain employment with leading companies and organisations that can give them the opportunities they deserve.
“We won’t be forgetting about our students in the rest of the school however and will be working hard to ensure they continue to enjoy their time at Harrogate Grammar School as well as matching or exceeding the fantastic progress and results gained over recent years.
“We are extremely lucky to have that wonderful combination of fantastic students, committed staff and supportive parents that together give us every chance to achieve our ambitions for 2014.”
Harrogate High School
Principal Andrew Bayston: “We are certainly looking forward to 2014, meeting the new year in anticipation of another great year at Harrogate High School.
“Events we are looking forward to include the visit of BBC Sports reporter and former student, Mike Bushell to launch our literacy month on January 30, the Careers Fair with over 35 visiting organisations to support the careers guidance of all students, hosting a networking event with ‘Welcome to Yorkshire’ to improve the links between our School and local tourist organisations on January 28 at 11am.
“We will be breaking ground on two major building projects. Firstly, the indoor Tennis Centre development in partnership with Spa Tennis Club and the new school building at the end of 2014!
“The whole school production, involving over 100 primary pupils and a cast of 150, will be of Magic of the Musicals from February 11 to 14.
“The year will also see more of our students take the lead, using their initiative to raise money for local and international charity appeals such as CCLG, MS, and the Philippines.
“Other highlights will involve support of the fundraising for our students planning a visit to Tanzania in 2015, supporting our student learning days at Harlow Carr, working even more closely with our primary partner schools, seeing more young people and pupils improve their literacy skills, more Student Sports Leaders working with pupils in local primary schools, the Annual Sports and Student Voice Awards and seeing our students learn about the many aspects of the Tour de France.”
Harrogate Ladies College
Principal Sylvia Brett: “This year Harrogate Ladies’ College is launching a new Scholarship award which will make education at the School a possibility for a small number of outstanding local girls who would not otherwise be able to access the school.
“From September 2014 the ‘College Scholar Award’ scheme will be available. The highly prestigious award will allow able local girls to attend the school on fully funded places.
“College Scholar girls are academic bright sparks who will contribute to the life of the school in the fullest way.
“There are only ever a maximum of three ‘College Scholars’ in the school at any one time, so it is a rare and extremely important award. Application details are available from the school.
“The school will continue to offer other scholarships and bursaries to many girls across the age range.
“Harrogate Ladies’ College is a proud pioneer of girls’ education in the North of England.
“At the same time, it has proved to be adaptable, flexible and highly popular for girls in a changing world.
“The whole school shares the same philosophy and operates from a shared set of values, the most important of which is that the interests of our pupils are paramount.
“Bankfield - the pre-prep department of Harrogate Ladies’ College - is expanding its Early Years provision, with new facilities and full-day and flexible child care for two to four year-olds, five days a week during term-time from January 2014.”
Headteacher Pat Hunter: “This year will see the completion of our new classroom block which will give much needed space and will also create a pleasant outside area where students can socialise.
“This is expected to be finished by late February or early March, weather permitting.
“The Spring term is always busy in relation to exam preparation and 2014 will be no exception particularly with the current government making major changes to the exam system.
“Staff continue to ensure that our GCSE and A level students are well prepared for all their exams.
“Our main aim as a school will continue to be the provision of excellent teaching and learning however we also have a number of exciting events to look forward to throughout the rest of this academic year including the launch of the new initiative ‘Inspiring the Future’ at Rossett and will be welcoming volunteers from all professions to engage with our students offering them first hand career insight.
“Our prestigious Acoustic Night takes place in February – showcasing the best of our talented musicians.
“We are pleased to welcome a Canadian football touring team who will be competing against our Sixth Form team.
“We are especially looking forward to the Sixth Form Performing Arts Evening at Seven Arts in Leeds – always an enjoyable evening.
“The whole school will be participating in Sports Relief and this will give a big send off to our Year 8 Sports Tour at Easter where some of our best athletes will be competing against other school teams in Norfolk.
“We are also looking forward to our American Exchange partners visiting Rossett for the second leg of the exchange in this, the 26th year of our partnership.
“Each school year brings new initiatives and changes and we will continue to rise to the challenge to ensure that Rossett remains ‘outstanding’.”
St Aidan’s CE High School
Headteacher John Wood: “Given that 2013 has been another highly successful year in the life of St Aidan’s, as we enter 2014, we would seek to continue to provide an all-round, high quality education that meets the varying needs of each student within the school.
“We would wish to challenge every student in the different areas of school life, giving them increased self-confidence and belief so that they can move forward, secure within themselves and able to make a positive contribution in all that they are involved in.
“Through the relationships that already exist within the school community, we would hope to play our part, along with their parents, in ensuring they make the right choices in their personal lives and avoid the many negative aspects that prey upon young people in our society as they move through adolescence into adulthood.
“Above all, within the stresses and demands of an examination/assessment culture, we would seek opportunities for fun and recreation, which would keep a balance and perspective in life as well as conveying the truth that there can be a real enjoyment in Learning for its own sake.
“These are exciting yet challenging times within education and we must respond appropriately for the sake of the children entrusted into our care.”
St John Fisher Catholic High School
Headmaster Paul Jackson: “Following the real successes of last year, all of us at St John Fisher are looking forward to the coming year with great confidence.
“Despite the recent controversy, we are proud to be Catholic, faith school that serves the local Christian community.
“As part of our Christian ethos, the school is committed to providing the greatest support to any member of the local community, who is most in need. “A key priority will be to sustain the success in our academic attainment and ensure that all our students achieve to the very best of their ability.
“We will also continue to work with our partners at St Aidan’s to provide a centre of excellence in Sixth Form education.
“A particular focus for 2014 will be to further improve our school facilities, particularly in PE, sport and community use.
“We are currently working with Badminton England to upgrade our sports hall into a regional centre for badminton.
“Longer term plans involve a refurbishment of changing facilities and the long-awaited development of an artificial playing surface for both school and community use.
“All of us at St John Fisher are committed to a process of continual improvement to the benefit of our own students and staff, but also to serve the interests of the wider, local community.”