Friday, 15 June 2012

Heads Blog 15th Jnue 2012

15th June 2012

Dear Parents

I hope you all had a good half term break and enjoyed the festivities of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

We are in ‘examination mode’ as public examinations continue and this has also been the week of High School examinations; all continues to progress smoothly.

I was delighted to welcome the parents of our new Upper 3 pupils to a ‘New Parents’ Evening’ on Wednesday; we were joined by Dr Johnson who was in School for two days this week as part of ‘handing over the helm’.

I am pleased to inform you that Gateways shall welcome three new members of staff in September; Dr Geoffrey Cloke has been appointed as Subject Leader of Music; Mrs Susan Crawshaw as Subject Leader of Art and Mr Matthew Danes as a part time Teacher of Business Studies.  In addition, Mrs Derrig is to take up another teaching position and I am delighted to inform you that Mr Philip Walker has been appointed as Subject Leader of Economics and Business Studies.  In September, Mrs Lesley Wood will lead the pastoral care in the High School as Head of Pupil Development.

Mr Davison and I have spent today interviewing the Lower Sixth girls who  applied to be Prefects next year.   They are certainly impressive and the decision will a difficult one to make.  The announcement of the appointments will be made next week.

Arrangements are well underway for Prize Giving on Friday 29th June and this year we are extending the day to include a performance by pupils in Reception Classes. 

The expedition to Cambodia is only two weeks away!!  Arrangements are in their final stages and the girls and staff are looking forward to the expedition hugely.  It will be a remarkable  experience for all.

 Yours sincerely

Mrs Y Wilkinson


Friday, 1 June 2012

Heads Letter 1st June 2012

1st June 2012

Dear Parents

Having enjoyed some glorious summer sunshine of late, what a pity the skies have turned grey and rain is forecast for the Diamond Jubilee weekend.  

We bid a fond farewell to our Upper Sixth students as they concluded their school careers, ready to prepare for the challenge of A Level examinations.  I thank them for all they have given generously to Gateways over the years – their enthusiasm, their loyalty, their commitment and their support – and, of course, they leave with our very best wishes for their future success.

School is purposeful at present, given the focus on academic matters and examinations in both Prep and High School.  Our senior girls in Upper 5, Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth appear to be rising to the challenges of GCSE and A Level papers.  I am grateful for the well organised approach of Mrs Brennan in the administration of examinations.  Please do remind your daughters that, during their revision time, their teachers remain here at school to help and support them.

I had a great time this week when the Lower 2 class invited me to see their projects on ‘Tudor Times’.  They were so impressive – such a lot of hard work, time and imagination was evident and I had to award 20 commended work pencils!  They seemed rather keen to tell me, in much detail, about the leeches!

We enjoyed a very tropical evening at the Lower 4 charitable event ‘Hawaii Luau’.  We were entertained by beautiful voices and energetic dancers as well as enjoying a tropical cocktail or two!  I was particularly impressed by the way in which the girls had all worked closely as a team and by their attention to detail.  I loved the flip flops on the floor leading the way in, the palm trees with hanging pineapples and the cocktail shack with resting surfboards – of course, all made by the girls.  A great evening that raised another £800 for our charity, CamKids.

To get us into ‘Olympic mood’, our Pre-Reception and Reception children delighted us with their ‘Going for Gold’ concert on Monday afternoon.   They were such confident performers; my favourite was the ‘Mexican Hat Dance’.

We have been pleased to welcome Mrs Johanne Cheung as our School Administrator this week, she will be based at the Reception desk and I know many of you will, therefore, have the opportunity to welcome her warmly to our School.

Staff are undertaking a Professional Development Day on Monday 11th June focussing on and preparing both for the School’s inspection and planning for the next academic year.  We look forward to welcoming pupils back to School on Tuesday 12th June.

I wish you and your families a good half term break.

Yours sincerely

Mrs Y Wilkinson


Friday, 11 May 2012

Head's Letter 11 May

11th May 2012

Dear Parents

The examination season is upon us yet again!  Today we have wished Lower Sixth students every good fortune as they begin their study leave for their AS examinations and, yesterday,  the Upper 5 pupils celebrated completing their two year GCSE courses with a pizza lunch and an autograph signing session with friends and staff.  All of the Upper 5 girls have sat their first GCSE today, iGCSE Mathematics.  Our best wishes go to all girls and, of course, we remain here to support their revision during their study leave.  I politely ask that all visitors onto the school site during the examination season are considerate of our candidates and heed examination notices.

I would like to thank parents and pupils for their support at our recent Open Days; we had healthy interest in the School and much praise was received for the girls who accompanied visitors on tours.  The soap making activity proved popular and Schofield had a wonderful aroma during the process! 

We were very pleased to welcome Dr Tracy Johnson to our Open Morning and I know she enjoyed meeting both current and prospective parents.  Dr Johnson will be making several visits to Gateways over the next couple of months and I shall be working closely with her to ensure a smooth and effective handover. 

Lower 4 enjoyed a fantastic residential visit to Edinburgh over the weekend of the 27th to 29th April – they had a packed programme of activities and visits and certainly had much better weather than we were experiencing in Yorkshire.  Staff commented on how pleasurable it was to accompany the girls – great ambassadors for Gateways!

The LEAP team, Embrace, enjoyed success at the annual LEAP awards on the 26th April.  They were awarded first place for, ‘Best Trade Stand’ at the Valentine’s Fair in the Merrion Centre, and two second places for ‘Most Improved Company’ and ‘Best Marketing’.  This is a great achievement given that our girls are a year younger than all other competitors from local schools. 

The Upper 3 Parents’ Evening on the 3rd May had a very different feel for me, as I am the Upper 3 Teacher of geography.   I enjoyed meeting parents and girls to discuss their progress.  It was a very positive evening and I am delighted that Upper 3 have settled seamlessly into the High School.

The GCSE and AS Drama examination performances were excellent and enjoyed by audiences of pupils and parents.  We wish the girls every success.

Our Lower 4 team of chemists competed yesterday in the annual Festival of Salters Chemistry at Leeds University.  Their task was to solve a murder using forensic tests and we are delighted that they secured second position in a tough competition against other local independent schools.  Well done girls!

Our congratulations go to Mrs McDermott who successfully completed the Belfast Marathon!  She finished in the top 20% of all female runners in 3 hours 50 minutes and has raised over £800 for the School charity, CamKids.    We are very proud of her!

Last Wednesday 2nd May, we welcomed two players from the Yorkshire Jets Superleague netball squad to run a coaching session with members of our netball teams.  The session was organised to thank the netball squads for all their hard work over the season.

At the recent Leeds Netball presentation evening, our girls who are district representatives received medals and our successful U14 Team was presented with the Benfield Cup – a proud moment for all the girls!

I would like to thank everyone for their support of ‘Onesy’ Day last Friday; we raised over £400 for CamKids.  We then went ‘Pink’ yesterday in support of a group of Sixth Form students who are participating in the ‘Race for Life’.

Last Friday several members of staff and I visited Westholme School to learn, first hand, of their experience of the new ISI Integrated School Inspection regime.  It was a very helpful visit and we thank the staff at Westholme for their time and support. 

We are being visited by Ofsted next Tuesday morning.  They are carrying out checks on behalf of the Holiday Club organisers ‘Camp Explode’ as part of their Ofsted registration.

I am pleased to inform parents that the Stella Programme, which supports our able and talented pupils, has been reviewed and updated; it can be viewed via our website.  I hope you have all had the opportunity to visit our ‘new look’ website; we would welcome any comments and feedback.

As part of her new role as Leader of Teaching and Learning, Mrs. Wilson shadowed Lower 4 on Thursday to gain insight into their experience of a school day.  She reports that, “Throughout the day all the girls were interested and engaged in a wide variety of activities,  sometimes in groups or pairs, discussing, debating and reflecting on exactly what they were learning, including some very challenging ideas and concepts.  It was really interesting to observe how comfortable and confident they felt with their teachers and each other and were willing to stretch themselves academically . Much of the time they were enjoying themselves so much they didn't realise they were learning.”   At the end of the day Mrs. Wilson summarised her observations to the girls and they completely agreed with her.

Congratulations to Mr Holloway on becoming a Dad!  Baby Daniel arrived earlier this week – Mum, Dad and baby are doing well.

I would like to remind parents of the FOG ‘White Tie and Tiara’ Ball on the 23rd June at the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate.   I am very much looking forward to an entertaining event and hope to see many of you there.   At the recent FOG Committee meeting, I was most impressed by the auction prizes, from holidays in the sun to pampering and evening dinners.

I warmly invite parents and pupils to the Summer Concert next Wednesday the 16th May.  It begins at 6.30pm in the Performing Arts Centre.

Preparations are now underway for our annual Prize Giving, the highlight of our year.  I would like to remind parents that Prize Giving is being held on Friday 29th June this year so that the girls embarking on the Cambodia Expedition can be part of the celebrations before they leave. 

Yours sincerely
Mrs Y Wilkinson

Thursday, 5 April 2012

5th April 2012

Dear Parents

How the weather surprises us! Glorious summer sunshine and then winter returned with a vengeance this week! I hope that the weather is kind for us at Easter.

Sports Relief day on 23rd March was a terrific day with everyone entering into the spirit of the occasion with the usual Gateways enthusiasm. Mrs Foster had organised a really fun day with everyone joining in the many activities, the highlight of which had to be the assault course; we managed to raise an impressive £792. Thank you for your support.

On Tuesday 27th March we welcomed four primary schools in the local area to our English WWII Master Class. Yvette Huddleston, author and journalist led the class of pupils from Brodetsky, Harewood, St Joseph’s and Deighton Gates of Wetherby, along with two of our own pupils Lucinda Thompson and Katy Chalmers from Lower 3. Pupils were shown how to create an evacuee diary entry, prepare propaganda posters and create a war poem. We were pleased to welcome Mr Dunford, Headmaster, who accompanied pupils from Brodetsky School.

We are holding two open mornings at the end of this month. Friday 27th April, 9am-12noon, will be our usual ‘Open Gates’ showing the school on a typical working day. Saturday 28th April , 10am-12noon, will begin with an address by me to parents and visitors in the PAC. Following that, current pupils (Prep Upper 2 and Lower 3 and High School Upper 3 and Sixth Form) will conduct tours for prospective parents, whilst their children can engage in some enterprising activities in one of the science labs. I would be very grateful for the support of both pupils and parents.

I am delighted to be able to announce the launch of our new website! The new site, that will go live over the Easter holiday, is divided into the various sections of School and I hope you will agree with me that it is a great improvement and far easier to navigate. You will see that there is a tab called ‘Parents Portal’ which will be launched to all parents later this year and will enable password protected access to your child’s reports, exam results, sports results etc. I am grateful for all the hard work of the Marketing Department in getting us to this point.

The annual Lower 5 trip to London returned on Wednesday 28th March. Their visit included a tour of the Houses of Parliament, visits to the Tower of London and the Natural History Museum and an evening at a performance of ‘Wicked’. The girls had a wonderful time helped by the lovely spring weather.
Other visits have included Lower 1 studying mini beasts at Harlow Carr Gardens, Harrogate; Upper 5 and Lower 6 girls visited the Oxford and Cambridge Student Conference in Newcastle; and today all the Reception and Pre-Reception children have been to Harrogate Theatre to see a production of ‘Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales’!

This term’s edition of ‘The Gateway’ will be arriving with you very shortly. As you will see, we have had a very busy term which began with the wonderful news in January, that we were top of the League Tables at GCSE. This morning’s Awards Assembly testifies to the extremely high level of achievement in all areas and at all levels within the School ~ the applause went on and on. We were also presented formally with our licence as an Operating Authority for the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Mr Neil Forrest, Regional Director of Duke of Edinburgh, made the presentation, a proud moment!

Over the past three weeks, girls in Upper IV have been attending regular lunch time seminars introducing them to some of the skills involved in organising a fundraising event. On Wednesday evening, the four teams had an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned and present their ideas to a panel of judges in the PAC. The buzz of excitement was evident as the girls printed their draft tickets and posters, honed their scripts and put the finishing touches to their presentations. The standard of presentation and the range of ideas were very impressive and the judges found it very difficult to decide. However, the panel finally declared the "Sundance" team as winners with their theme of "Hawaiian Beach". The team will now include the rest of Upper IV in their plans for a summer evening event, showcasing dance at Gateways and raising funds for CamKids. So, put the date of Thursday 24th May in your diaries for what promises to be a very tropical evening!

I am thrilled that the U14 netball team won the Benfield Cup! The final, against Woodhouse Grove School, was an exciting game with Gateways triumphing by 13 -12. The netball by both teams was of a very high standard and our girls are champions.

May I clarify that those members of Upper 5 who are progressing into the Sixth Form are not required to provide one term’s notice to the School? Thank you.

The FoG Committee continues to be very busy in School; we are very grateful for the unstinting support they give to the School. A Coffee Morning was organised on the 30th March, (staff appreciated the biscuits! Thank you), the Bag 2 School collection was a success again and this week Prep pupils have enjoyed their Easter parties and karaoke.

I wish you and your families a joyful Easter.

Yours sincerely
Mrs Y Wilkinson

Friday, 16 March 2012

Head's Letter

We were visited earlier this week by the Arts Council Assessor following our application to be awarded the prestigious Artsmark. I am pleased to report that we have been recommended for accreditation at Gold Level in acknowledgement of the excellence of our expressive and performing arts. We look forward to a favourable response. I thank all who have contributed to this success, in particular Miss Fox who has led us through the application process.

We are absolutely thrilled to have been selected as one of only 28 schools nationally to participate in the ‘Get Set’ Games Time in the Olympic Park during the Olympics and Paralympics events this summer. We have also received tickets to the Paralympics athletics events – more details will come out soon from Mr Box.

Prep School pupils ‘wowed’ an audience at the Etz Chaim Synagogue earlier this week when they performed songs from the ‘Curry Bean’. I wish good luck to all the pupils taking part in the Harrogate Music Festival this weekend; I look forward to hearing of their success.

Thank you for your support at the Lower 5 Parents’ Evening last week, I was sorry not to have been there; please do not hesitate to contact me if you would wish to discuss any matter further.

We welcomed 40 exhausted girls back to School on Monday following their ‘Cambodia in Wales’ weekend! The weather was kind and the girls worked very hard cooking and carrying rucksacks over the two days, bonding together as teams and embedding valuable friendships which will set them in good stead for their expedition in June. Mr Box commented that, if their packing for one night away was anything to go by, they will all have to reconsider what they take for three weeks.

Our LEAP Team is progressing well within the enterprise competition. Their company ‘Embrace’ is near to the close of the trading and financial year. ‘Embrace’ has recently entered for some of the LEAP Enterprise awards including best company business presentation and the best business report; on Saturday 3rd March, the company team members gave a formal presentation in the first round of judging for the presentation award. Well done girls ~ our best wishes for a successful conclusion.

Last Thursday, A Level module results were received and we applauded our students in assembly on Friday. Students were entered for A2 modules in six subjects, with 59% of all passes awarded either A or B grades. Upper Sixth girls took the opportunity to re-sit some of their AS modules, with 81% of all grades securing an improvement in grade and higher UMS. For our Lower Sixth students, who sat their first modules in Biology, Chemistry, History, Physics, Economics and Business Studies, 59% of all passes were at A and B grades – a most positive achievement at such an early stage in the course!

There was a great response to the Bags to School collection this week, clearly everyone has been busy spring cleaning their cupboards. My thanks go to you and the FOG Committee for the continued support.

Our netball teams in Prep and High School continue to secure victories and our ‘Stella’ runners have also been in ‘fine form’ ~ well done! Congratulations also go to Rachel Hilton and Lauren Turner who both competed in the women’s four piece Artistic Gymnastics National Development Grade 11 on Sunday 11th March. Both girls passed with Rachel achieving a distinction.

I would remind parents that the School’s ‘Ethos, Aims and Vision’ can be found on the School Website together with policies and arrangements on - Admissions, Misbehaviour, Exclusions, Education and Welfare Provision, Curriculum, Good Behaviour, Anti-Bullying, Health and Safety, Health and Safety on Educational Visits, Academic Performance, Complaints Procedure – including the number of formal complaints in the previous school year, Staff List – including temporary staff and qualifications. Hard copies of these policies are available upon request.

I am writing this letter ‘virtually’ as today I am accompanying Upper 3 on their Geography and History fieldwork visit to Skipton Castle and White Scar Cave – much colder than in School!

Enjoy the weekend.

Yours sincerely
Mrs Y Wilkinson

Friday, 2 March 2012

Head's Letter 2nd March 2012

Dear Parents

I hope that you all enjoyed the half term break, particularly the very clement weather we are enjoying at the moment.

The road resurfacing does not seem to have caused too much disruption, and I thank you for your support and co-operation.

The half term ski trip to Courmayeur was a huge success; the weather was glorious and much fun was had by all. My thanks go to Mrs Finan, Mr Davison and Miss Ellison for giving generously of their time.

I was delighted to have been invited to join the Sixth Form on their visit to Krakow and Auschwitz camp over half term; a visit of contrasts. The horrors of the camps at Auschwitz moved us to tears. Krakow is a beautiful, historic and cultural city; the visit to a salt mine was very interesting, particularly to the geographer in me! We were fortunate to have very enthusiastic guides and the Sixth Form girls were excellent company. Thanks to Mrs Tunley for organising the visit.

I am delighted to announce that Gateways has achieved the St John Ambulance Schools Mark. This award is in recognition of the excellence and commitment we have shown to first aid training and health and safety.

The Prep production of ‘Pearl and the Pirates of the Curry Bean’ was a sell out for both performances. The girls all gave superb performances and there were some real ‘laugh out loud’ moments. I feel sure we have some budding comedy actresses amongst Lower 3. Well done Prep!

I am pleased to report that the university application process for entry this September is progressing very well. So far, our 35 Upper Sixth students have placed 147 applications and have returned an impressive 91% offer rate. Applications have been made to many and various universities including London School of Economics, King’s College, London, Durham, Warwick, York and Manchester to study subjects ranging from astrophysics, mathematics, modern foreign languages, American studies, psychology, fashion design, social anthropology, medicine, economics and archaeology.

I will be out of School on Tuesday 6th March and apologise that I shall not be in attendance at the Lower 5 Parents’ Evening. Of course, if any Lower 5 parents have anything they wish to discuss, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Over the half term break, regular maintenance and repair of premises, such as full electrical testing, water purification and chlorination, took place. Refurbishment of the School’s Medical Room is also ongoing.

Eight of our Lower Sixth Spanish students departed for Vitoria in northern Spain yesterday; this is the return leg of the exchange visit that we hosted in September last year. As well as spending some time in the Spanish School, the girls will be visiting Bilbao, San Sebastian and the La Rioja wine region.

Last evening a team of girls from Lower 4 and Upper 4 competed in the Harrogate Area Schools Debating Competition at King James’s School. The motion on this occasion was ‘This house would ban fast food advertising’. Congratulations to the competitors who presented well planned and well structured debates, in particular to Miriam Kunin and Imogen Hall who won their debate.

The FOG Committee is in the process of planning the Summer Ball which is being held on the 23rd June and has sent fliers home today. This promises to be a dazzling occasion and I look forward to seeing you there.

Next week we look forward to the House Debating Competition and the Individual Music Competition on Wednesday.

Yours sincerely
Mrs Y Wilkinson

Monday, 13 February 2012

Heads Letter 10th February 2012

Dear Parents

I do hope you have secured your tickets for the Prep School’s production of ‘Pearl and the Pirates of the Curry Bean’, it is going to be such an entertaining evening. In our whole school assembly today, we laughed out loud at some of the lines and were really impressed by the props and costumes. Can’t wait for Tuesday!

The Reception Class also ‘wowed’ us with their first assembly on penguins; they had clearly learnt much about these loveable birds and particularly enjoyed the penguin biscuits. I am pleased that Lucy and Millie saved one for me, too!

Thank you for your support at both our GCSE and Sixth Form Information Evenings over the last two weeks; the teaching staff and I were pleased to have the opportunity to discuss choices and future education with pupils and parents at these key decision making times.

We’ve enjoyed fantastic success this week on the netball courts and hockey pitches. The U13 and Senior netball teams played against Woodhouse Grove, the U13 team won 9-2 and the Senior team won 19-2. In the Black Prince Cup, the U16 team won their semi final match against Prince Henry’s School 10-9 and deservedly take their place in the Black Prince final. This follows the success of the U14 netball team in the Benfield Cup. The U11 and U10 teams played their first hockey fixtures against Westville House; the U11 team lost 9-4 and the U10 team drew 5-5.
On January 31st Gateways hosted a Candle Conference for Sixth Form students with Dr Peter Vardy as the guest speaker, the eminent academic, Theologian and Philosopher. The conference, one of a series running in schools around the UK throughout January and February, was aimed at A level students of Religious Studies, Philosophy and Ethics. Topics covered included Utilitarianism: Justice and Violence, The Problem of Evil and Suffering, and Islam and Ethics. The conference was attended by groups of students and teachers from high schools in the Yorkshire area. Our girls from Upper 5 and Sixth Form, who attended the conference found it challenging, thought provoking and inspiring. Dr Vardy was very impressed with the Gateways community.

On the 2nd February, we enjoyed an Enterprise evening for prospective High School girls. Their project was to make soap and market it, including logo design, creating a TV advertisement and identifying target groups for sales. They particularly enjoyed designing the packaging and didn’t seem to want the event to end!
Parents and friends enjoyed a wonderful evening, organised by FOG, of beauty and bubbles at Harvey Nicholls last night. The event proved to be a huge success with tickets selling out very quickly. We are very grateful for the huge support and enthusiasm that members of FOG give to the School; the pupils benefit from their generosity at all levels.

May I ask for the support of Prep School parents please? To allow assembly to proceed without interruption should you arrive at Youngers, after morning assembly has begun, please sign in at Reception and ask your child to wait there until assembly has finished. Thank you for your support.

Our Upper 5 Young Enterprise company, ‘Embrace’ were proudly awarded the ‘Best Retail Trade Stand’ award in last weekend’s LEAP Valentine’s Fayre in the Merrion Centre. It is such an achievement for a team that is competing with Sixth Formers. Good luck with the remainder of the competition!

I am delighted to inform you that Mrs Fiona Wilson, Teacher of Spanish and French, and Dr Sara Newton, have been appointed as Leaders of Teaching and Learning at Gateways. They will support colleagues and pupils to develop further the high quality of our teaching and learning.

The collaboration of art and history, with a World War II theme, was the focus of our primary schools Master Class yesterday; 26 pupils from local schools joined us and a great day was had by all!

Safer Internet Day last Tuesday provided a useful opportunity to both Prep and High School girls to reflect on, and be reminded of, the constant need to use social websites carefully and wisely. Mrs Titman’s excellent assembly certainly gave us much to think about.

We wish our Upper 5 debaters every success as they compete in the Oxford Union Debate at GSAL this evening, the ability of Gateways girls to articulate and to think on their feet will surely shine through.

Yours sincerely

Mrs Y Wilkinson