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Headteacher's Blog Post - Saturday 25th May 2024

The past month has been one characterised by a sense of renewal, as we entered the early summer, and of purpose. For our Catholic school community, May holds special significance as the month dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus. It is also a crucial period for our students preparing for their GCSE and A-level exams. This time of year, then, encapsulates so much of all that the school stands for: both spiritual reflection and academic dedication, two pillars that form the foundation of daily life at Bishop Vaughan.

The tradition of dedicating May to Mary dates back centuries, and she embodies the virtues that we aspire to instil in our pupils: humility, compassion and faith. In our pupils’ RE lessons and in our assembly reflections, they are encouraged to see Mary not just as a distant figure from biblical times, but as a relatable and loving mother who understands our struggles and joys.

As you are aware, it is not only in this month however that our pupils engage in various activities to honour Mary. The Junior Legion of Mary, the only youth group in Wales of this worldwide prayer group, meets weekly; in addition pupils throughout the school learn the prayer to Our Lady in Welsh as the language of our country. In celebration of the fact that it is known to our pupils and spoken by them in so very many other languages in their homes, we are currently putting together an International Rosary. This will be a beautiful way of drawing together over sixty languages spoken by our pupils, and it will feature the prayer to Our Lady in fifty languages, one for each of the beads at which we say the ‘Hail Mary’, as well as the Lord’s Prayer and other Rosary prayers in Welsh, English and Latin as the language of the Catholic church. We look forward to sharing this International Rosary with you on this website.

As we celebrate our faith, we also acknowledge the practical demands of this time of year for our students. The weeks leading up to GCSE and A-level exams are a period of intense preparation and, understandably, a time of heightened stress and anxiety for many.

As is the case annually, to support our students, we have implemented a comprehensive programme of revision support. This began with the parent workshops and distribution of free revision support packs back in February, and it has continued with the provision of after-school study sessions in the Learning Zone, this providing a structured environment where students can focus on their work, with teachers on hand to offer guidance and answer questions. These sessions are complemented by subject-specific revision workshops offering targeted support where it is most needed.

Our pastoral team plays a crucial role during this period, offering not just academic support but emotional and spiritual guidance. Exam stress can be overwhelming, and it is important for students to know that they are not alone in this journey. We encourage them to approach their studies with a balanced mindset, integrating regular breaks, healthy eating and physical activity into their routines.

Our pupils are all familiar with the practice of the Examen, as we carry out this form of reflection and meditation every Friday throughout Advent and Lent. For those seeking to achieve a sense of balance, calm and perspective in these weeks of exams, we would encourage continuation of the Examen. There are many links to the guided Examen online; one with which the pupils are familiar, as we use it in school, can be found here:

The dual focus on Marian devotion and exam preparation in May underscores a fundamental aspect of Bishop Vaughan’s mission: the harmonious integration of faith and learning. Academic success and spiritual growth are not mutually exclusive: they complement one another. Mary’s example teaches us the value of trust and perseverance. Just as she trusted in God’s plan for her, we encourage our students to trust in their abilities and in the effort they have invested in their studies in the years leading up to these examinations. In addition, the resilience and determination they develop now will serve them well in their future endeavours, both academic and personal.

We pray that Mary, our Mother, may guide and bless us all of our pupils during this important time as they work together, pray together and grow together in faith and knowledge. To our pupils: remember that you are in our prayers, and that we – your teachers, the support staff and all in the school community – believe in your potential to achieve great things. Wishing you all a restful half-term break!

Mrs Pole


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