And so we return from the summer break to a new academic year. For many of our students this is the start of their education at Townley. Our Year 7's have arrived full of wonder and excitement and a seemingly endless capacity for chatter. Many attended the Summer School and it was great to meet some of them there. It was a diverse couple of weeks with Zumba, Birds of Prey, Abseiling and Maths all rolled together.
We have a number of new faces in our Sixth Form too. A great number have joined the Townley family, clutching outstanding GCSE results from their respective schools and are settling in already to the rhythms of Townley life. Congratulations to all of them on their results and on obtaining a place with us. The Lower Sixth Expectations Evening on Thursday will be my chance to meet their parents and I traditionally meet all our newcomers in my office over the first half term.
I must also congratulate all our students on their examination results. This year at A level 74% achieved A*/A with 77% obtaining their first choice university. 41% of these were for Russell Group Universities, the highest ever and. Continuing upward trend. We also saw significant increases in Medicine and Performing Arts. A special mention must go to the 7 students who secured their Oxbridge place. A record for Townley and the Local Authority as a whole and an affirmation of our Oxbridge Consortium work. We have even more applying this year so we are expecting an upward trend.
At AS 58% achieved A*-B and at GCSE 62% achieved A*/A. All this in a climate where nationally top grades had declined and following a demanding curriculum. Townley students and their teachers like a challenge!
One of the most satisfying experiences of the new term was finally being able to open the new building. It seems like we have been waiting for this for a very long time with completion dates pushed back again and again but at last Bytes Restaurant and the Ada Lovelace Computing Suite are open for business. Although there are snagging issues to resolve over the next few months I feel we can be really pleased with the outcome. Certainly seeing students enjoy their new dining facility with additional coffee/hot chocolate booth, outside seating area, bags of space and a great menu was a reward for all the hard work that went into the design and build of this remarkable space.
We will be holding an official opening later in the year when we are satisfied it is fully complete and will be providing an opportunity for parents to come and see. At the same time of completing this we have been making improvement around the school site, moving some classrooms, creating new ones and refurbishing others. It meant the new Year 7's weren't the only ones looking a little lost on the first day!
We have also improved access and security around the site. Ramps have been put in at key points to facilitate disabled access and we have created a new barrier and entrance gate for students and staff. Now our students are kept separate from incoming and outgoing traffic, deliveries arrive by the central gate and there is no access to the main school for non-staff other than through Reception. This does mean the parents who wish to drive in must go to the central gate but we ask that this is only for drop off or pick up due to medical, disability issues. In time we will try to widen this but for now please drop off on the road as usual. When doing so please observe the Highway Code. I have witnessed parents stopping on the zig zag at the zebra crossing thus causing a degree of road rage and endangering any students crossing there. However busy you are it is not worth a child's life. Please stop further away where it is safer and let your daughter walk. In the next few months we will have installed a security pedestrian gate to further ensure our site is as safe as it can be.
I am also glad to announce that we have successfully secured funding to refurbish all the toilets in the main building. This is a major undertaking but will provide our students with the facilities they deserve. It will inevitably cause some short term disruption but our students have demonstrated how adaptable they are already.
Thank you to all parents who have supported our drive on higher standards of behaviour and uniform. Students have been arriving to school looking smart and presentable and as I and Mr Booth have stood at the gate in the mornings we have been impressed. There are still some girls who have not acquired the correct blouse over the 6 week holiday and we will be following this up. As parents it is your responsibility to ensure your daughter leaves for school appropriately dressed so do please support us in this. There is also a very orderly and purposeful atmosphere around school which we will be maintaining throughout the year ensuring that these high standards become a habit. An environment of respect, politeness and focus allows every individual to flourish and prepares students for the professional workplaces they will join. Do please reinforce these expectations at home so that we may work better together.
Finally this time of the year is my real New Year resolutions opportunity and I have made a few. Most important for this Blog is the intention to become a much more frequent blogger. I do not get the opportunity to talk to parents enough but perhaps through this blog I can not only update you on life at Townley but also share my views and opinions and even prompt debate at home. My social media revival has also resulted in a new found Twitter obsession so you can find me now @DesmondDeehan. Don't forget the Townley Twitter too. It would be great to have parents and students following us.
Until the next blog.