Archbishop Holgate’s School celebrated their annual carol service in York Minster on Wednesday 7 December. In recent years this has become a popular community occasion and parents, governors, friends of the school and members of the public packed the Cathedral close to capacity. This year almost 1400 attended, which is unprecedented in the history of this partnership between the school and the Minster.
Those present heard the Christmas story retold through music, drama, bible readings, prayers and carols. This was done with a particular focus on the unique kingship of Jesus and how the Christmas story is one of Hope and Gods presence here on earth. Over 150 students from Archbishop Holgate’s participated in the service as singers, readers, actors, musicians, ushers and technical crew. This year the combined Primary School Choir consisted of over 300 pupils from 12 local Primary schools. There was also a Community Choir of parents, governors and staff from Archbishop Holgate’s School and others from Pathfinder Multi Academy Trust.
The preacher at the service was the Most Rev. and Right Hon. Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York. Archbishop Stephen spoke of how the birth of Jesus is a story of God coming to earth to experience human existence in all its joys and hardships, to walk among us through the Incarnation. With a seamless blend of humour and seriousness he reminded all who were present that this message is one that brings hope today in a challenging world and is one that demands a response from each one of us.
The school was delighted that the new Dean of York Minster, the Very Rev. Dominic Barrington, and the Lord Mayor and the Sheriff, as well the Lord Mayor’s consort, attended the service. Afterwards, the civic party spoke to the Year 12 School Captains and expressed how impressed they were with the whole evening. The school also welcomed back Councillor Chris Cullwick, who attended last year as Lord Mayor and promised to return. He said afterwards: “What a tremendous amount of work had gone into it!” and expressed his “Thanks and congratulations for a wonderful evening”.
Rev. Richard Nihill, the School’s Chaplain, said: “It is a real privilege to present our interpretation of the Christmas story in the beautiful setting of York Minster. We know that for many of the congregation this is their main opportunity to reflect on the joy and meaning of Jesus’ birth. To have the opportunity to share this experience with almost 1400 people in a packed-to-the-rafters York Minster is wonderful. For me, the annual carol service is one of the highlights of the school year and a wonderful reflection of our school values. We were delighted to have Archbishop Stephen preach such a rousing and thought-provoking sermon. I have never experienced a preacher get a round of applause – but on Wednesday that is just what happened.”
A video of the complete Carol Service in York Minster is available to view on the Archbishop Holgate’s School Chaplaincy YouTube channel.
Pathfinder Multi Academy Trust was delighted to welcome the new Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Kit Malthouse MP, to visit two of its schools.
Formed in 2016, Pathfinder Multi Academy Trust is a partnership of eleven church and community schools serving more than 4,300 students and their families across York.
CEO of Pathfinder Multi Academy Trust and Executive Headteacher of Archbishop Holgate’s School, Andrew Daly, said: “It has been a pleasure to welcome the Secretary of State and to showcase the many ways we work together as a multi academy trust to ensure we provide the very best education possible for all the young people across our school communities.”
The Secretary of State began with a visit to New Earswick Primary School where he met with the Headteacher, school staff and students and had a tour of the school. New Earswick joined Pathfinder in 2017 after being placed into special measures following an inadequate Ofsted judgement. Today, the school is rated as good overall with outstanding for its leadership and management and early years provision.
New Earswick’s Headteacher, Angela Oswald, said: “It has been a privilege to meet the new Secretary of State and have the opportunity to share our school improvement journey over the past four years. Like most things in schools, our successes and achievements are the result of a team effort working together at both a local school level and as part of a wider community of schools.”
The Secretary of State also visited Archbishop Holgate’s School which recently celebrated being judged outstanding in all areas by Ofsted. In 2021, Archbishop Holgate’s was also designated as the Teaching School Hub for the Ryedale, Scarborough and York region, responsible for delivering teacher training and development across more than 150 schools.
During his visit, the Secretary of State spoke to a group of trainee teachers, toured the school, met with school and academy trust staff and talked to students about their favourite subjects and future aspirations.
Andrew Daly added: “Whilst important, schools are much more than external judgements and examination results and it has been gratifying to give the Secretary of State a snapshot of the teaching and learning which takes place at our schools each and every day. We are fortunate to have so many strong schools and multi academy trusts in York and we also enjoy a close partnership with the local authority which enables us to work together for the benefit of all schools and their students across the city.”
Pathfinder was formed initially between Archbishop Holgate’s School and Badger Hill, Hempland and Heworth primary schools. Along with New Earswick, Pathfinder has since welcomed Acomb, Clifton with Rawcliffe, Rufforth, St Lawrence’s and Tang Hall primary schools and is currently working with St Barnabas CE Primary School who are in the process of joining the trust.
Chair of the Pathfinder Multi Academy Trust Board, John Hattam, said: “We are delighted that the hard work and achievements of our schools and the wider trust have been recognised with this visit from the Secretary of State for Education. We believe the close working partnership that exists between our schools, other academy trusts, community schools and the local authority has been core to our success and development as a multi academy trust.”
As we reflect on the sad news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II our thoughts and prayers go to the Royal Family and everyone in our community as we process this news. The Church of England have produced a prayer which we would like to share with you:
Gracious God, we give thanks
for the life of your servant Queen Elizabeth,
for her faith and her dedication to duty.
Bless our nation as we mourn her death
and may her example continue to inspire us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Today, in school, we have taken time with students and staff to reassure them and to reflect on the life and significance of Her Majesty the Queen. We started the day with a whole staff reflection and a time of prayer in morning registration time for students. At midday we participated in the national two-minute silence and this afternoon students viewed this morning’s dedicated BBC Newsround programme that explores this momentous event. Next week in Form Tutor Collective Worship we will continue to reflect on the Queen’s life and faith. During this period of national mourning there will be a small space set aside in both the School Chapel and Reception, which will contain a book for recording thoughts and reflections.
Current government advice is that schools should remain open as usual, however, we will not be using our social media accounts next week unless there is an emergency. We will keep you updated during this period of national mourning.
Archbishop Holgate’s School were delighted to welcome the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, to take part in the school’s Year 13 leavers celebration.
Attended by students, parents and teachers, the evening was an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the students’ achievements and time at school before they sit their A Level exams.
Head of the Sixth Form, Francesca De Lashley, said: “We were delighted the Archbishop was able to attend the evening and share in celebrating our Year 13’s time at school. For many of our Sixth Form students this marks the end of seven years at Archbishop Holgate’s and was the last time they will all spend together in school. It was a lovely evening, sharing memories with friends and teachers and was also an opportunity to thank the Year 13 students for the many contributions they’ve made during their time at school.”
The Archbishop shared many words of encouragement telling students to use the gifts they’ve been given to the full and to pursue their dreams to benefit themselves and the world.
He also said the school values of Justice, Compassion, Forgiveness and Trust are beautiful things that not just the school needs but that the world needs and encouraged students to let them shine out of their lives.
The evening also included prayers and readings from students and staff and musical pieces performed by the school’s Unity Choir.
Headteacher, Andrew Daly, said: “I would like to thank the Archbishop for taking the time to join our leavers celebration and for his inspiring words of encouragement. The students have shown an incredible amount of resilience and determination over the past two years and it was a real pleasure to celebrate their time at Archbishop Holgate’s as a school community.”
Watch a video from the evening below.
Archbishop Holgate’s has been awarded the highest possible rating by Ofsted following a two-day inspection which judged the school to be outstanding in all areas.
Inspectors assessed the quality of education, behaviour and attitudes of pupils, their personal development, the sixth form provision, the leadership and management of the school and its overall effectiveness, judging all to be outstanding and concluding: “Archbishop Holgate’s School is an exceptional place for pupils to learn.”
Headteacher, Andrew Daly, said: “I am extremely proud of this report and the education we provide for all students at Archbishop Holgate’s. The outcome of this inspection is testament to the efforts of our entire school community, especially the hard work and positive attitude of our students and the commitment and service of our staff team.”
“Given that the new inspection framework is much more rigorous and judgements harder to achieve, combined with the ongoing demands of the pandemic, makes it even more pleasing that inspectors did not identify any areas for development.”
Highlighting the many areas in which the school excels, the report praised the quality of the curriculum and extra-curricular opportunities available to pupils, stating: “The curriculum at this school is exemplary. All pupils benefit greatly from lessons in a wide range of subjects, alongside a set of extensive enrichment opportunities.” The Sixth Form curriculum was also noted to be “exceptionally strong.”
Inspectors described behaviour at the school as exceptional and said: “Pupils are calm, orderly and respectful. Pupils are confident, articulate and produce consistently high-quality work. Their ability to recall key content from the curriculum is noteworthy.”
During their visit, inspectors met with the Headteacher, senior leaders and governors; talked to pupils about their work and visited lessons; observed extra-curricular activities and form time sessions; spoke to curriculum leaders and teachers and looked in depth at areas of the curriculum, including English, Mathematics, History, Geography and Art.
Inspectors also reviewed the systems in place to keep pupils safe, saying: “Leaders are tenacious in their efforts to keep pupils safe. The safeguarding training all staff receive is of the highest quality.”
The additional pastoral capacity put in place to provide mental health and wellbeing support for pupils was also recognised in the report.
Teaching and learning across all subjects was praised with inspectors saying: “Teachers have strong knowledge of the subjects that they teach. They deliver lessons with passion. As a result of high-quality training, teachers use a range of strategies to ensure pupils remember what they have been taught.”
Inspectors sought the views of members of the school community, including parents, pupils and staff. One parent told inspectors: “The staff live and breathe the school values, and that is passed onto pupils. There is a unique and indefinable sense of welcoming at the school, no matter which member of staff you speak to.” All staff said they feel valued and referred to being part of a special community and are incredibly proud to work at the school.
The wider personal development of pupils and preparation for life after Archbishop Holgate’s was identified as another strength of the school with the report saying: “Important topics, such as maintaining healthy relationships, preparing for the world of work, and developing leadership skills, are planned and taught exceptionally well. There is also considerable strength in the school’s wider provision of careers information and guidance for pupils of all ages.”
The support for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities was deemed exceptionally strong with inspectors saying: “Teachers receive high-quality guidance on how to support these pupils. Well trained and knowledgeable teaching assistants play an active role in supporting pupils with SEND. Leaders are fully committed to eradicating any barriers to learning for these pupils. As a result, all pupils achieve highly.”
The report recognised the strength of governance at the school noting: “Governors hold leaders strongly to account. Governors and leaders are constantly seeking to adapt and improve the school.”
Chair of Governors, John Hattam, said: “Archbishop Holgate’s is a special place because of the way it blends its four core values of Justice, Compassion, Forgiveness and Trust with a focus and determination by all staff to ensure that every pupil achieves their maximum potential. We were delighted to see these foundations of the school’s performance so explicitly recognised in the Ofsted report.”
Andrew Daly, added: “I have had the privilege of leading Archbishop Holgate’s for the last twelve years, during which time the school has been afforded a number of accolades including outstanding SIAMS inspections and more recently accreditation as a national Teaching School Hub. We are well known for our excellent examination outcomes for all groups of students at both GCSE and Post 16, regularly some of the best in the country. However, this inspection framework is about much more than academic results, for a school to be judged as outstanding it must consistently be providing an all-round education of the highest standard to all students. This is what our report recognises and what we are most delighted about.”
“We are so pleased with our inspection and the recognition it affords to the collective efforts of staff, students, families and our wider community. Please rest assured that, as always, we will continue to strive to ensure that our school remains the best possible place for students to learn and grow as individuals.”
In February 2021, Archbishop Holgate’s was selected as one of the government’s new teaching school hubs, a national network of 87 school-led centres of excellence for teacher and leadership training and development. Working in partnership across the Ryedale, Scarborough and York region, the Pathfinder Teaching School Hub, based at Archbishop Holgate’s, provides high-quality training and continuous professional development for teachers at every stage of their career.
The school is also a founding member of Pathfinder Multi Academy Trust, a partnership of ten church and community schools serving more than 4,000 students and their families across York.