Notes from the Head – 24 May 2024

Posted: 24th May 2024

The publication of the Diocesan Inspection Report earlier this week underscored once again just how far the school has come over the last few years in terms of raising academic standards. The inspectors noted a sense of ‘awe and wonder’ as being clearly evident amongst children in the Early Years and were bowled over, in particular, when an older boy explained how he was ‘decoding the Book of Revelation’ (which is truly awesome); Socratic, open-ended questions posed by teachers resulted in deep reflection, challenge, and ‘Outstanding’ outcomes for the pupils.


The Catholic inspection focuses on Religious Education with the standard benchmarked against pupils’ progress in English. The approach of the CSI is more akin to Ofsted than the ISI, given the vast majority of Catholic schools are in the state sector, and it is certainly pleasing to see how both the ISI and CSI reports align. One of the most important indicators , albeit not the only one, of St Anthony’s academic trajectory is the significant increase in offers from competitive senior schools. This number continues to rise and news has just come through this week that of the two boys who applied to Harrow both have been offered places. This year, St Anthony’s secured more offers from UCS than any other prep or primary school, and nine out of ten boys who applied to Habs were successful.

How has this success come about?

I believe that the curriculum implemented over the last few years strikes the right balance between coherence, breadth and depth. The subject matter, of course, is delivered by highly qualified teachers who are skilled at stretching the most able and helping those children in need of a bit more support. The regular reporting schedule, which I sometimes refer to as “The Flight Path”, enables teachers and parents to track effort and attainment. My mantra to the teaching staff is that nothing should come as a surprise for parents. If there is a problem it must be flagged and dealt with straightaway.

Parents will have heard me talk about exposing the boys to as much new knowledge and experiences as is possible. This applies to the classroom as well as co-curricular activities; the school puts on a vast array of clubs and societies with the aim of reaching out to all interest groups. Fencing, Minecraft, Karate, debating and critical thinking are some of the most popular options. In addition there is the opportunity to participate in external competitions such as in Maths where we have been enormously successful. Under Beren’s gaze, art and drama are once again subjects that generate imagination and passion in equal measure: the production of three Greek plays at the end of this term bear testament to the stage renaissance.

Sport continues to a major feature of a boy’s life at St Anthony’s and it is no mean feat that every child here is given the opportunity to play competitive team sports. Some schools can’t even field one team! As a general rule, and there are exceptions, boys love to play in teams because it promotes an esprit de corps emphasising stoicism, skill and service.

I was not intending to write an epistle of praise although I do think every so often it is important for the community to pause and reflect on the things that make community successful and, I suppose, to be glad for them. Two strong inspection reports, by the ISI and CSI, validate the work of the last few years and point to even more stellar outcomes in the future.

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