What a great start our pupils have made to the academic year! We have been delighted to welcome back all of our pupils and to welcome in particular our newest pupils, our Year 7s, who this year join us from more than thirty-five primary schools!
The broad range of backgrounds, experiences and prior education with which those pupils join us is also reflected in the fact that our pupils now derive from a wider variety than ever of ethnic backgrounds and speak more than forty-six languages in their homes! As the students who have now been with us for many years will confirm to our newest 'recruits,' this rich diversity of experiences and school backgrounds plays a significant part in making Bishop Vaughan the very special place that it is. We look forward to celebrating both our diversity and the values that bind us in our festival celebration later on in the year. We'll be sure to share details with you in advance and post photos on this website. In the meantime, you can see images of last Spring's festival here.
While, then, we welcome pupils from all of those primary schools, nevertheless we work especially closely with our four cluster primaries: St Joseph's Clydach, St. Joseph's Cathedral School, St. Illtyd''s and St. David's. We have been thrilled, therefore, to liaise with them throughout September, as collectively we implement the new Curriculum for Wales, for which we have been preparing for so long now. You can learn more about that here. The four core purposes of the Curriculum for Wales clearly align with our mission as a Catholic school, as we work to develop the character traits set out in the Catholic pupil profile. Whichever of the primary schools our brand-new Year 7 pupils attended however, it really has been a testament to their primary experiences that they have bonded so well. Our pupils are already proving to be learned, wise and active, as well as demonstrating compassion, gratitude and generosity in adapting to living and learning together here at Bishop Vaughan.
In reflecting on all that taken place during September, it is clear that this is going to be a very busy academic year if this first month is an indicator of the year ahead!
Very early on in the month, we had the beautiful experience of visiting the relics of St. Bernadette at St. Joseph's Cathedral. Our pupils from the Junior Legion of Mary deserve special commendation for the way in which they represented the wider school so very well.
On 8th September, the school community, like the nation as a whole, was greatly saddened to learn of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We had been delighted, just last July, to receive a letter from Her Majesty, thanking our pupils for the cards that they designed and wrote on the occasion of her Platinum Jubilee.
In their cards, the pupils wrote of the SuperBloom garden created here at the school to commemorate this special event. The garden will remain a poignant reminder of 2022 - the year which saw both the Platinum Jubilee and the death of Queen Elizabeth II. In our assemblies, however, we learned of the incredible tapestry of events woven throughout her life - ones which she witnessed or in which she played a part. Hers was a life guided by faith and her sense of duty was certainly inspirational.
Having become used to holding so many events virtually over the last couple of years, it was very special, in the third week of this month, to see so many families gathered in the Main Hall here at the school for the recent Open Evening. It was a packed event with lots of activities taking place throughout the school, from cookery demonstrations to Science experiments and gymnastics displays. The warm feedback received from our visitors – either in person during the evening or via email the following day – was extremely complimentary of our pupils and of their helpful, mature and courteous engagement in the evening. Particular congratulations and thanks to our Senior Prefects and also to the other pupils who wrote and delivered their own speeches to the families gathered for the opening talks: you did so beautifully.
The Main Hall was similarly packed for the Enrichment Fair just yesterday, 29th September. This is always a lovely event, and essentially it follows the format of a university 'Freshers' Fair'. Given that we have dozens of clubs and activities every week here at Bishop Vaughan, each group has its own table and stand here in the hall, providing information to pupils and advertising the opportunities available. While this is, of course, particularly useful for our new pupils, it is a helpful reminder to all pupils of just how much is on offer in terms of extra-curricular activities. We are keen to nurture active, engaged and enthusiastic learners here at Bishop Vaughan. Involvement in even one or two of the groups can significantly enhance the school experience. We are currently putting together a prospectus of extra-curricular activities which we will share on this website as soon as it is available.
This week has also seen the first of our Welcome Masses. Our School Chaplain, Father John Browne, has begun celebrating the first four of the six Masses which welcome in each of our year groups (Years 12 and 13 have a joint Sixth Form Mass!). In these, we have prayed together, giving thanks for the year that has passed and putting our hopes for the year ahead before God. We have asked for His blessing upon our efforts and our work together. Very many thanks to Father John for this most special and central of celebrations.
Finally, today we welcomed the BBC for the 'Share Your Story' event. This was a fittingly vibrant event to conclude an exceptionally vibrant month.
As ever, these blogs can only encapsulate a small proportion of all that takes place each month. We’d encourage all of our parents and carers to follow the school’s social media accounts (this website, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) for regular updates, and we look forward to the year ahead together. The staff and Governors join me in holding all of our pupils and their families in our prayers: we wish you health, joy and fulfilment in the year to come.