Interview | Anita Bath

In Conversation With..

Issue 32

What were your key achievements of 2017?

Undoubtedly this has to be the continuing success of our students’ achievement in 2017; our students attained more A*/A grades than ever before with almost two thirds of the grades A* – B. Overall the average grade achieved was a B. What this means, is that Sacred Heart girls have successfully met their University offers and gained places on their first choice destinations.

We were particularly pleased for the girls who are now reading Medicine at Cambridge, Medicine at Oxford and Geography at Cambridge. A Sacred Heart education has always been about helping our students to realise their personal dreams and ambitions. So it is wonderful to report, that our students continue to leave us with excellent qualifications, embarking upon some very exciting university courses and apprenticeships.

As an RSC Lead Associate School, we demonstrate a deep commitment to sharing Shakespeare's work with children of all ages and abilities using RSC approaches.

Anita Bath, Headteacher,Sacred Heart School

Once again, Sacred Heart has been listed as one of the top 250 secondary schools in the whole of the UK. The list compares over 3,000 state funded schools and ranks them in order of their GCSE and A-Level results. Sacred Heart is one of only 5 schools in the North East to be listed in the top 250.

What will the New Year bring?

We opened our new auditorium in January 2018. It is a fabulous resource and provides our girls with a fantastic professional theatre which seats nearly 500 and can accommodate a full orchestra. The sprung floor means our dancers have a wonderful place to perform and the Undercroft space provides an ideal social area for intervals and following performances. So we are now looking forward to the many shows and performances that are scheduled throughout the year ahead, including our annual visit from the Royal Shakespeare Company in spring.

Tell us a little more about the RSC visit?

We have an ongoing relationship with the RSC as Sacred Heart is one of 10 schools nationwide who act as a ‘lead’ school as part of the RSC’s national Associate Schools programme. As an RSC Lead Associate School, we demonstrate a deep commitment to sharing Shakespeare’s work with children of all ages and abilities using RSC approaches. To do this, staff work intensively alongside practitioners from the RSC, Newcastle Theatre Royal and Northern Stage to learn how RSC actors approach Shakespeare in

the rehearsal room.

This year we are hosting four performances of Julius Caesar on 1st and 2nd March, where some of our students will actually feature in the performances.

We are also hosting, a performance of Macbeth on 26th and 27th April where the cast members are from Sacred Heart and our five Hub partner schools. The students involved will rehearse and take direction from the RSC.

Do you have any other trips/projects coming up?

As well as the usual language and skiing trips to European destinations, this year our students have two incredible opportunities ahead of them. In the summer, a large number of students will travel to Sri Lanka where they will undertake an array of activities that will help them to develop their personal resilience and confidence, including working with deprived children in a rural village: they will expand the school’s provision and deliver lessons in English as well as visiting a range of cultural sites.

Another group of students will travel to Kenya and work with our sister school in Nairobi: working in a school in the township and then experiencing life with the Masai Mara including, further charitable work in a village for young widows. This is a regular trip that takes place and has proven to be a life-changing experience for students in the past.

How would you describe the approach to learning at Sacred Heart?

The relationships between our teachers and students is at the heart of our philosophy about learning. The girls know that their teachers care deeply about them and will support them fully to succeed.

Our teachers view being an educator as a vocation, which means, ‘going the extra mile’ for the girls in their care. We also place emphasis on the need for clear explanations in lessons and staff having expert subject knowledge.

Finally, the current curriculum and examination system is very challenging for students today, so we know that a vital part of our girls’ success is their resilience and so we actively develop their courage to undertake difficult tasks and so develop their confidence in themselves.

What extra-curricular activities do you offer?

School is about so much more than academic learning. It is about finding out what makes you unique and where your talents lie. Therefore, we run a wealth of extra-curricular opportunities: from chamber choirs and rock school, to a full orchestra; from netball and basketball to football. STEM subjects are very strong at Sacred Heart. The Science club is one of our most popular and girls have visited the Kielder Observatory as well as the Hadron Collider.

For languages we offer both Latin and Mandarin as an after school option and this year our girls took part in the inter-schools Latin Recitation and Classical Literature in Translation competition held at the Royal Grammar School winning prizes in several categories. We really value and promote these activities which build unforgettable memories for our students.

What changes could we see to education in 2018?

With a very recent, newly appointed Secretary of State for Education, I am not entirely sure. However, what I would like to see is a recognition that childhood should be a joyful and precious time, and that children’s emotional wellbeing is as important as academic prowess. I have no doubt that this constant high stakes measuring of children through testing, is contributing to the crisis we have in mental health.

As a school that has always championed the Arts, we would also like to see a renewed appreciation of their importance to a child’s wider development.

How will you continue to improve the school this year?

In September 2017 we became a Multi-Academy Trust, along with one of our feeder schools, St Michael’s. Soon, we will be joined by Sacred Heart Primary School. All three schools, who already work closely together, are benefiting from a deep understanding of how curriculum works for their respective age ranges.

We have undertaken exciting projects to seamlessly link what we do across all subjects; both the pupils and teachers involved are learning from this partnership. I believe that some of the most effective work we can do to transform young lives occurs in the early years of schooling and I am looking forward to continuing this work over the coming year.

How can we arrange a visit?

If you would like to visit us during the day and have a tour, please contact the school.

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