This has been a very dynamic, fast paced half term, with our A c c e l e r a t e philosophy driving so many wonderful activities in and out of class. I have visited many lessons, and have been impressed with the excellent behaviour and focus, as well as the good presentation in books. We have now completed 17 weeks of the school year which means we are essentially half way through the academic year. Things are going well in school and several hundred students have been nominated by their teachers for a coveted English Martyrs’ Pen. It has been an honour to present these to them.
Thank you to everyone for the Advent Charity collections for City of Sanctuary and Keep the Beat which have been very well supported.
Attendance at Voluntary Mass on Fridays during Advent has been wonderful with about 150 students each week. We have outgrown the Chapel capacity and Mass has been celebrated in the Exhibition Area or the Auditorium.
Extra-curricular activities are going really well with huge numbers of students participating. This is such a tremendous feature of what is on offer at English Martyrs’ - I do hope that anyone who is not taking part in an after school club will do so in the new year.
Among the many highlights of this half term the following deserve a particular mention. Congratulations to Anjelita Joseph, Year 9, who has won the local Leicestershire heat of Futurechef, and we wish her good luck in the Regional heats in January.
The highly successful Aspire Club and High Flyer Programme have stretched and challenged our more able students across KS3 and KS4 this term. Our thanks to the 36 Sixth Form Aspire Champions for leading High Flyer teams to produce outstanding presentations on vaccines in November and their final assignments due in January.
Having recently completed the virtual London Marathon, students in the running club are now working towards a Pennine Way Virtual Challenge – 286 miles are required to earn our first school medal. Meanwhile, our football teams have achieved notable success in regional and national competitions.
Our Debating Club has had lively and entertaining arguments on a range of issues from a small group of Year 11s and our Year 10 Public Speaking team successfully made it into the next round of the ESU Churchill Public Speaking Competition.
Students in Years 11-13 achieved success in the UKMT Senior Maths Challenge and the History Department has led a range of events and trips on local history, including Leicester Suffragette, Alice Hawkins. In November, the Year 9 International Day led by the French Department highlighted the importance of communication and international relations.
A number of Year 7 students have exchanged Christmas Cards with penpals in College Villebois-Mareuil and in RE, Year 7 Presepe projects are outstanding, and are currently on display in the Exhibition Area.
Year 7 students have also been working extremely hard to raise some much-needed funds for local charity "KeeptheBeat". This charity supports children born with congenital heart defects and offers vital support to their families. Students from each tutor group have donated a huge number of luxury Christmas items which were made into 8 individual hampers and raffled today. With the help of the Sixth form committee, Year 7 have given up their breaks and lunchtimes to sell tickets and raise as much money as possible.
In Performing Arts, rehearsals have been going extremely well for our production of Mary Poppins in February, and the cast are working ahead of schedule. The design team have also been working incredibly hard to create some interesting set and props too.
Schola Cantorum had a magnificent weekend in York with ‘Gabrieli Roar’ performing Haydn’s Creation with other young singers from across the north of England in York Minster. They reprised part one of this performance at the St Cecilia Concert at school, which also featured the school choir singing Bohemian Rhapsody, the Junior Choir singing Rise Up and Glorious and the Jazz band performing Sweet Georgia Brown and the Orchestra performing Hungarian Dance No.5.
Many of these performers are, as I write, preparing the Christmas Carol Services with which everyone will end the term.
In recent weeks students have had many tests and assessments and teachers have all reported very strong commitment by all students.
Enormous thanks go to the teachers who have planned and undertaken these opportunities for our young people, as voluntary activities in addition to their main teaching role. Thanks also to them for all the work planning lessons and recently marking examinations.
Staying Safe on-line
A reminder to parents about the importance of keeping their children safe on-line. Parents should be aware of what websites their children are accessing and who they are talking to on-line including on games platforms. Please note that the school website has a range of resources for parents and students to help them keep safe on-line. These can be accessed through the e-safety button on the quick links page of the school website.
New Term - First Day arrangements
Covid-19 Lateral Flow Tests on Wednesday 5th January 2022
The government has asked schools to conduct supervised on-site Covid tests at the start of term in January. In order to minimise the disruption this causes we are going to complete all tests in one day.
No lessons will be held that day - students will come in for their Covid test and then go straight home afterwards. Parents will be able to use the school car park for drop off and pick up but cannot accompany students into the testing centre.
Students should come to school for their tests at the times listed below. For example, students whose surnames begin with the letter A (in all Year groups Yr 7 -13) should come in at 8.30am.
Surnames beginning with
Surnames beginning with
N and O
C and D
P, Q and R
E, F and G
H, I and J
T, U and V
K and L
W, X, Y and Z
Should any student test positive parents will be contacted immediately and advised to take the student for a confirmatory PCR test at a local NHS Covid testing centre. You will receive a result message through the NHS Test and Trace system but this can take up to 48 hours. If you have not received a phone call from the school by 4pm on Wednesday 5th January this means that the result was negative and you should attend school.
Start of term 2022
The school will welcome students Years 7-13 back into class on Thursday 6th January 2022 at 8.25am.
Parents Consultation Meetings
Year 11 Thursday 13th January, 3.30 – 6.00pm,
Year 10X (Alban, Campion, Clitheroe, Fisher) - Thursday 20th January, 3.30 – 6.00pm
Year 10Y (Line, More, Sherwin, Ward) - Thursday 27th January, 3.30 - 6.00pm.
I should like to thank students, staff and parents for the many lovely conversations, messages, cards and gifts in recent weeks. Your kindness is very humbling. It was interesting to share the history of the school with students in assembly last week, and to note the journey we have travelled as a school since 1964. Nowadays, students here are offered a superb education with amazing facilities, and we are all rightly proud of the young people who leave us to pursue rewarding and fulfilling careers. I am pleased to note that there are currently 27 former members of the Sixth Form training to be doctors or already junior doctors today. This is just one example - people go off to do all kinds of interesting things when they leave the school. Our school offers everyone the opportunity to be good at something.
Our young people’s success speaks volumes about the high quality work of all staff here both academic and pastoral. Our students are very privileged to have them. Speaking personally, I have always tried to do my best in this role, to encourage excellence in teaching and learning and to support staff and students’ development. However, I am painfully aware of my limitations and shortcomings. To anyone whom I have let down or caused offence, I wish to apologise and ask their forgiveness.
The A level photography students have presented me with “Ut Omnes unum sint” designed using their photographs of places and items around the school. It is a lovely reminder of the Christian community spirit which is central to all we do, and brought to life by our fine students. In these words, “May they all be One”, Jesus is calling us to look out for others, ahead of our own needs. As Dr Martin Luther King Jr, a great hero of mine, put it: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”
The answer, in terms of school is found in the words of the English Martyrs’ School prayer, written by Sister Anna, and our school song. We should bring ‘happiness to others’ so that everyone can be themselves, be ‘welcome’, can ‘safely live’ and each can find and develop their true vocation. I am glad to say I encounter this been worked at each and every day here: we don’t always get it right, we are all human after all, but it’s what we strive for.
I would like to thank all those who have supported me in my role during the last 14 years, particularly our Deputy and Assistant Principals: Mr Hunt, Mrs Sexton, Miss Griffin, Mrs Conaghan, Mrs Hems, Mr Calen, Mr Cajkler, Mr McCaughey, Mr Neville and Mrs O’Hagan together with my PA, Mrs O’Connor, Mrs Loakes - Business Manager and Mr Chambers - Site Manager. Thanks to all our excellent staff, Teachers, Teaching Assistants, Pastoral Support, Administration and First Aid, Catering, Premises. I also thank Mrs Mulligan-Cant and the governors and Mr Lockyer and the CMAT for all they do for the school. I offer warm congratulations and good wishes to Mr Calen for the new year as he becomes Interim Principal: I know that everyone will give him their full support and help.
To conclude, a prayer by John Henry Newman, proclaimed saint in Rome in October 2019, at a ceremony attended by some of our students.
May He support us all the day long, Till the shades lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in his mercy may he give us a safe lodging, and holy rest, and peace at the last.
May I wish you every blessing of the Incarnation this Christmas and a very Happy New Year.