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A message from the Principal

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2015 League Tables

The government recently published its annual performance data for secondary schools in England but this year’s league tables have caused confusion amongst parents as well as frustration and anger from many schools, especially those in the independent sector.

New league table measures have been employed by the Department for Education this year and the published data appears to suggest there has been a significant drop in performance between 2013 and 2014 for many schools, including St. Mary’s College. The new league tables show that the percentage of St. Mary’s pupils achieving 5+ A*-C GCSEs incl. English and Maths has dropped from 79% in 2013 to 62% in 2014.

The reason behind this apparent drop is the stripping out of many previously measured qualifications such as International GCSEs and many vocational qualifications. But the biggest change in the performance data is the inclusion of only the results of a pupil’s first attempt at the exam – retake data has not been allowed in the tables this year.

At St. Mary’s, pupils and staff work extremely hard to achieve the best possible results.  We have a great track record in improving the academic performance of pupils, regularly achieving in the top 5% nationally for ‘value added’. We are very proud of the fact that our pupils regularly outperform their grade predictions, sometimes by as much as 3 grades (i.e. C predicted, A* achieved) and this is partly achieved by allowing pupils to retake exams to highlight and acknowledge their continuous improvement.

The fact that pupils’ final, improved grades are no longer being taken into consideration by the DfE is not helpful for parents or pupils and means that schools like St. Mary’s, which performs so well in terms of helping pupils beat their predicted grades, do not have their academic achievements properly recognised. Sometimes the individual best interests of students are not served by ‘playing the league tables’ game’.

The Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, recently promoted the values of ‘character’ and ‘all round education’ as priorities for schools. We welcome this and trust it is recognised that such facets in a person’s development cannot always be represented as statistics in league tables.

At St. Mary’s our approach is one of individual academic excellence in progress as the starting point and then the personal development of pupils with the many skills for life are equally important educational goals.

Our priority will remain the best educational interest of each individual pupil and the standards reached at the end of the key stages in their education.

Mike Kennedy

Principal

 

St. Mary's students rehearse ambitious production of Ancient Greek tragedy

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Students at St. Mary’s College are busy rehearsing an ambitious production of a 2,500-year-old play which will be presented over two nights next month. Middle and Upper School pupils will perform Ajax, the Ancient Greek tragedy by Sophocles, on Thursday 26th and Friday 27th February.

The first performance of the Trojan War play will be staged in the school’s O’Halloran Hall. Then on the following night, thanks to support from Liverpool University’s Schools Classics Project, the production will move to the university’s city centre Stanley Theatre.
The play focuses on the tragedy of great but flawed hero Ajax, who descends into madness in the horror of war. The audience is asked to consider if a man should be remembered for the many good things he has done, or for the one crime he committed.

Although Ajax was written by Sophocles in the 5th century BC, the St. Mary’s production will have a distinctly modern feel as the original setting of the play has been updated to the Vietnam War. A live band made up of students will perform protest songs from the Vietnam era live on stage to complement the play’s message about the madness of war.

The title role in Ajax will be played by 16-year-old Patrick Travers from Southport, with the main female role of Tecmessa being portrayed by 17-year-old Courtney Greaves-Williams from South Liverpool. The play is being directed by Head of Classics Nancy Moore alongside Helen Orrett, teacher of Drama and English.

Mrs Moore believes the 1960s setting will help to highlight the play’s compelling picture of the damage that war can inflict on the individual psyche. She said, “Rehearsals are going incredibly well thanks to the talent, commitment and hard work of the whole cast and crew. Ajax was the students’ choice of play based on their Classics A-level last year, and its message has an almost chillingly modern feel today. We’re particularly excited about the opportunity to present the play in the distinguished surroundings of the Liverpool University’s Stanley Theatre.”

Patrick Travers added: “Playing the lead in Ajax is a completely new experience for me as I am more used to performing on the sports field, representing St. Mary’s in rugby, cricket and football. I am enjoying this new challenge though, and am really looking forward to the performances next month.”
St. Mary’s has an impressive track record of presenting classical plays, most recently with successful productions of Antigone by Sophocles in 2013 and Medea by Euripides in 2012. However the college repertoire also includes more modern productions, such as the sell-out run of teen classic Grease last November.

To book tickets or find out more, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or call the school office on 0151 924 3926.

 

 
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