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Principal's Newsletter

December 2018

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.             John 1:14


Dear Parents, Carers and Friends

As we approach Christmas, this passage points us towards the incarnation of God through Jesus Christ, the central point in God’s relationship with us.  Reflecting on the significance of God’s intervention is, of course, truly mind blowing and something for all of us to reflect on in our personal journeys of faith.  And so, as we come to the end of term, let us take time to dwell on this truth and the significance of it in our lives; the wonder of God’s grace and the hope we now have.  I would like to thank you for all you have done this year in supporting the work and ethos of our school and can I wish you a joyful Christmas and peace-filled New Year.

I would like to share with you some of the many wonderful achievements of our pupils and some updates about other important school matters.  This has been a long term compared to the other terms in the academic year and pupils across school have been working very hard.  I am very proud of the excellent behaviour and positive attitude shown by our pupils.

Christmas Services

Our Christmas services take place in the morning on Friday 21 December as follows:

  • Year 7 will be staying in school and having a service in the chapel.
  • Years 8 and 9 will have their service at The Priory and should meet there at 8.45am. (Stagecoach and other bus providers will be contacted to ask if they will drop pupils off at China Street).  Pupils will walk back to, school accompanied by staff.
  • Year 10 will be going to Christ Church; pupils should come to school as normal and register at 8:45. They will walk up to Christ Church with tutors.
  • Year 11 will be going to St Paul’s; pupils should come to school as normal and register at 8:45. They will walk up to St Paul’s with tutors.
  • Years 12 and 13 will have their service at St Thomas’s and should meet there at 8.45am.

School Buses

School will end at 12:25 on Friday 21 December.   

  • The following buses will be available outside school at 12:25:  500, 501, 502 and 935, and the 581 (across the road).  
  • Pupils should go to the bus station for normal service buses  55A, 55B, 80 and 582.
  • Pupils should go to Scotforth Road for Catterall and Blackpool services.
  • The 487 (Travellers Choice) will depart from Ripley at 13:30 or Common Garden Street at 13:46
  • The 567 (Travellers Choice) will depart from Ripley at 13:25 or Common Garden Street at 13:55

The Olive Branch

As part of the outworking of our faith as a Church of England school, Ripley has four main charity partners. These are:

  • The Olive Branch
  • CAP – Christians against Poverty
  • West End Action – a charity that supports those in need in the West End of Morecambe
  • LIV Village in South Africa – a charity supporting young people who have been orphaned, are vulnerable or are street children

 The Olive Branch is a Christian charity that has been operating in Lancaster since 2004. It focuses on helping disadvantaged, vulnerable people and families from the local area who are at risk or in crisis. It does so by running a support centre and food bank where help and advice are available alongside food parcels. More than 50 food parcels are given out each week, feeding around 360 individuals per month. Visitors come to the centre due to a variety of circumstances including unemployment, benefit delays, debt, family breakdown, homelessness, refugee/asylum status, fuel poverty, etc. The Olive Branch offers food, hospitality and services designed to assist visitors resolve both short and long term crises. This includes connecting people with partner organisations that can provide more specialist help and advice where needed. For more information and how you can help please visit or contact

Christmas Concert and Carol Services

I hope many of you were able to enjoy our recent Christmas Concert.  Our Carol Service takes place on Tuesday 18 December in the Chapel.  Both events are a splendid way to end the year and celebrate not only the truth of Christmas but also the talent of our young people.

Year 11 Mock Exams

The first set of Year 11 mocks have taken place over the last week.  Mock exams are vital in giving pupils the opportunity to practise exam skills, especially time management, and in helping teachers to assess progress.  It is very pleasing to note that pupils have behaved impeccably throughout the exams.


Sixth Form Examinations January 2019

We are providing a formal examination period at this point in the academic year for sixth form students. Exams will run from Monday 14 January until Friday 18 January.

During this week, lessons will be suspended and students will have study leave, with the requirement that they attend school to take their exams. The Sixth Form Centre will be open for students to make use of our excellent study facilities.

During the exam period, students must adhere to the Sixth Form dress code and wear ID badges.

Staff Changes

At the end of this term, we say goodbye to a number of members of staff:

  • Mrs Johnson (German/MFL),  Mr Whittingham (maths) and Mrs Riley (Learning Support) leave us after many years of service.  We wish them all well in their retirement.
  • Miss Fairey leaves us to take up a promoted position as Head of Science at Accrington Academy.
  • Miss Reynolds leaves us to take up a promoted post as Assistant Principal at St Catherine’s Academy in Bolton.
  • In early January, we will also be saying goodbye to our Site Manager, Mr Heaton, and we wish him well in his new ventures.

In January, Mrs Marsh will take over the role of Subject Leader of Sociology, with Miss Apsey becoming Subject Leader of Psychology.

Parents posting school images and comments on social media

Some of our proudest moments take place within the school walls, and it's natural for parents to want to share photos and videos of these moments publicly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. However, the internet is not always a safe or private place, and 'oversharing' could potentially put your child and others at risk.  Please do not post photos, videos or comments that include other children at the school.  We would also request that any issues or concerns are raised using Parentline rather than on social media, so that we are able to address them directly.

We thank you for your co-operation in these matters.


Front Car Park by the main entrance

Can I remind parents that the small car park at the front of school must not be used for the purposes of dropping off or picking up pupils.  With over 1700 pupils entering and leaving the site at the start and end of the day, it is simply not safe to have cars moving around. 


We are delighted that, in November, teaching of the Mandarin Excellence Programme commenced. The Mandarin Excellence Programme is an intensive language programme which aims to see at least 5000 pupils in England fluent in Mandarin by 2020. It is thought that Mandarin Chinese is the most important language for the UK's future. This provides our students with a fantastic opportunity to acquire these important language skills at an early age. Twenty-five of our year 7 pupils have started lessons with our newly appointed Mandarin teacher, Mrs Li. It has been brilliant to see Mandarin Chinese being taught at Ripley, and the pupils are making quick progress.  During the next term there will be plenty of opportunities for the pupils to engage in Chinese culture including New Year celebrations, calligraphy lessons, and tai-chi!


Year 7 Literacy Event

All the students joining our Year 7 in September had been given a book to read over the summer holidays. The book was called 'The Song of the Dolphin Boy' by Elizabeth Laird.  At the end of September Year 7 enjoyed two days off timetable to explore the themes and messages of the novel in different subjects across the curriculum.  They created pieces of art out of plastic bottle tops, turned poetry into music and made their own bio-degradable plastic.


They collaboratively created these fantastic pieces of art from plastic bottle tops. The book highlighted the effects of plastic pollution on our oceans and marine life, and therefore the murals were made entirely out of plastic bottle tops. 

As you can see, the plastic bottle tops were all different shapes, sizes and colours and the finished murals are huge. All the students enjoyed being involved in the creation of these pieces. However, we could not have done it without your support. When we first started planning the project in the summer term of 2018 the Art department sent out a plea to all our students, their families and the local community to collect and send in to school all the plastic bottle tops that would normally have been discarded or recycled. We were amazed at just how many you all managed to collect and we are extremely grateful.

As part of the transition project, pupils were asked to create their very own Selkie, like those described in the novel. They were then able to send their creation to Blue Peter and we are pleased to announce that at least two of our Year 7 have received their very own Blue Peter badge in the post.

Well done to Bradley Betts (7Hall) and Olivia Allen (7Hall) who are now the proud owners of a Blue Peter badge!  If any other pupils in Year 7 have received a Blue Peter badge, please let your English teachers know.

National Poetry Day: For this year’s National Poetry Day, pupils in KS3 wrote their own poems about this year’s theme of ‘change’. Each class nominated two poems to be entered into a year group final judged by Mrs Burr (Year 7) and Mrs Taylor (Year 8). Congratulations to all who were nominated and to our winners: Year 7: Francesca Jones and Liam McLaughlin; Year 8: Alaina Guthrie, Peggy Woods and Daniel Osborne.

Remembrance 2018 part of commemorations to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War, we hosted a thought provoking art installation in the school chapel. The installation of twenty transparent seated military figures over the period of remembrance acted as a startling reminder of the human cost of war. By each figure there was the name of a former pupil; a tribute to his sacrifice and a reminder of how whole families were decimated by the conflict. The aim was to take the names off the wall and back into the school community they left behind. The installation was funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust and was just one of hundreds taking place across the country, from Westminster Abbey to Edinburgh Castle. The project was initiated by the charity, ‘There But Not There', the aim of which is to 'Commemorate, Educate and Heal'.

The installation was available for pupils to view throughout the month of November and a special service was held on Tuesday 6th November. Members of the school community, including our newly formed CCF Unit, the Armed Forces Community and our local community joined together to remember the lives that were lost.

Year 7 Reverse Advent Challenge

During advent all year 7 pupils are taking part in a reverse advent calendar challenge.  Rather than take something from an advent calendar they are giving something to a collection for the Olive Branch, one of our linked school charities. The Olive Branch works with local families, asylum seekers, refugees and other vulnerable people to provide them with food stuffs and essential toiletries in times of need. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the reverse advent calendar so far; our donations will make a significant difference to people in our community.

The reverse advent calendar challenge will form part of each pupil’s portfolio for the Archbishop of York Young Leaders award which the pupils will begin to work upon in the New Year.

Music at Ripley

This has been an exceptionally busy term for the music department with a large number of high-profile performances across a wide range of musical styles.  The Chapel Choir continues to maintain a regular pattern of sung worship, with special events such as the Harvest and Remembrance services, alongside fortnightly choral evensong in the school chapel; all are welcome to attend these (alternate Thursdays at 4.15pm - see the calendar on the school website for details).  The Christmas Concert on Tuesday 11th December was a particular highlight with over 100 pupils performing in a vast array of ensembles and choirs; particular highlights included the newly-formed guitar group, an elite consort comprising five of the most able singers at Ripley, and a forty-strong staff choir.  This event raised over £1500, all of which will go towards the work of the music department.  

Looking forward to 2019, letters have now been distributed for our forthcoming Music Tour to Reims (with a visit to Disneyland Paris) in July; there are still some places available for pupils who would like to attend.


Farm Club

We have enjoyed 5 weeks of hands on time with large and small animal interaction and observation, during September and October. We groomed ponies and used our new training arena to spend time with Sheena and Hamish, the Shetland ponies, and Domingo, the alpaca.  We watched our lovely piglets having fun playing and learned how to move animals safely from one place to another. Cuddling the rabbits was very therapeutic and lots of fun. We cleaned up the pond, finding lots of creepy crawlies and newts in there, and we spent time in our new memorial garden.  A good time was had by all.

K3 Science Club

This term saw the start of the key stage 3 science club. So far it has been a huge success, and the students are all really enjoying it. We started off with just 5 students, and we have grown in number, with 32 students attending our Halloween event.  We have had a great first term; the science club have been carrying out experiments within all three sciences starting with the classic coke fountain, moving on to pumpkin explosions, making wind turbines, and most recently making paint pigments, as demonstrated by four of the students in the pictures. The students have been using equipment they wouldn’t normally see until GCSE or even sixth form. 


We have had the first of our seasonal pond dipping evenings, and will be doing the second shortly after returning in the New Year, kicking off an ecology themed few weeks. The most exciting experiments are still to come, with February seeing a focus on edible science experiments; ice cream, honeycomb and sour dough.

It’s not too late to join up if any year 7s and 8s want to join us! Come along every Wednesday after school in Lab 12.


Y7 and Y8 'Maths' Battle of the Bands - November Winners Announced!

Some of our youngest students in Year 7 and 8 have just completed their first maths challenge using the online Times Tables Rock Stars application.  This fun and interactive web site encourages lots of times tables and division skills practice on a daily basis to help improve core maths skills.

10 classes have been pitched in battle against their peers to win the prestigious title of 'Winner of the Battle of the Bands' and 'Individual VIP' (highest scorer). Congratulations to the following classes and individuals: 7J2 (Deborah Okenla), 7T3 (Dorian Mangold), 7T4 (Olly Jordan), 7J5 (Mio Renolds), 8J5 (Todd Parry).

Well done to all those taking part too. The December Battle has now commenced!


Senior Maths Challenge

During the Autumn term students in Years 12 and 13 competed in the Senior Individual Maths Challenge. The challenge stimulates and assesses mathematical problem solving. Our students did extremely well - overall they achieved 2 Gold, 6 Silver and 27 Bronze certificates.  Special congratulations to Isaac Mort and Martin Walls who achieved 'Gold' certificates and have progressed onto the next round of the challenge, the Senior Kangaroo.

In addition four of our students, Joel McAllister, Martin Walls, Isaac Mort (Year 12), and Henry Osborne (Year 13) took part in the Senior Team Maths Challenge at Lancaster University. The competition was very close, but in the end the team came third out of twenty schools - a brilliant achievement. Well done



It has been a busy first term for the 40+ Year 9 cadets who have joined Ripley’s first ever CCF unit. After a few weeks learning the basics of marching they paraded in front of the school to commemorate 100 years since the guns fell silent at the end of WWI.

As well as learning the basics of drill and the history of the RAF, the cadets went on a trip to Inskip Cadet Centre where they took part in plenty of outward bound activities including climbing, an assault course and Close Quarter Battle Drills using paintballs. They also got a chance to use a high tech flight simulator and practised their marksmanship on the air rifle range at the centre. The fun continues over the next year with more trips to other bases including a Summer Camp.




 Sixth Form News 

Sixth formers have been busy this half term involving themselves in charity events for local causes. Our very own ‘Great Sixth Form Bake Off’ saw students baking some fabulous Christmas creations which were then sold off, raising £70.00 for The Olive Branch in Lancaster.  Special mention must go to the winners, Year 13 students Lucy Tidswell and Maria Ingram, whose professional standard entries amazed the judges!

Additionally sixth form tutor groups are currently working together to raise money to buy 20 sleeping bags for Lancashire & District Homeless Action Service’s Christmas shelter, making a real difference to those in need in the local area.

Congratulations to Georgia Helme in Year 12 who has been awarded an Arkwright Scholarship. The Arkwright Engineering Scholarships act as a beacon to the most talented STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) students in UK schools and help to ensure that high-potential young people stay engaged in the engineering careers pipeline, in the critical 16 to 18 age range.  Scholars are selected for their potential as future engineering leaders by assessing their academic, practical and leadership skills in STEM. These are gauged through a rigorous selection process comprising: an assessed application form including a teacher’s reference; a two-hour, problem-solving aptitude exam; and a university-based interview. The scholarships support students through their sixth form studies and encourage them into top universities or higher apprenticeships.

Year 13 Extended Project Qualification students recently went on a visit to Manchester University in a bid to develop their project management skills and find resources to support their projects.  The morning workshop focused on research and critical thinking skills, whilst the afternoon presented a fantastic opportunity for students to access the online resources in the university’s huge library. All students came away with ideas, inspiration and resources to take their EPQ projects forward to the next stage.

Finally, former student Elsa Holm, who completed her A Levels with us last year, has been in touch to update us on her year working in a school in India with Project Trust.  Elsa is now 3 months in to her adventure, teaching children between the ages of 3 and 13. With no formal curriculum to work from and no books to access, Elsa is challenged every day to come up with new, interesting and inventive ways to teach the children in her care.  If you would like to read more about Elsa’s experiences, she has a blog:

It’s always a real pleasure to hear how our former students are getting on as they branch out in new and exciting directions.


Sporting Highlights Autumn Term 2018

The number of Year 7 pupils turning up to rugby and netball practice each week is excellent.  Well done Year 7.


Table Tennis

Congratulations to Ethan Walling (Y10) Adam Dennison (Y8), Joseph Dennison (Y7), Jessica Felton and Anna Walsh (Y8) who qualified for the Lancashire county U15 table tennis team. Adam Dennison and Joseph Dennison have also been selected for the England 9-13 Hope training squad.

At the Lancashire Table Tennis Team Championships our U13 Girls and U13 Boys teams retained the titles won last year to be crowned county champions again. Well done to the U16 boys who, despite being a player down finished in a creditable 3rd place.



The U13, U15, 18 Boys and U15 Girls’ swimming teams competed at the English Schools Team Relay Championships in Liverpool.

Our Junior and Inter Boys’ swimming teams combined to edge out Bolton School 101-99 in a close, competitive gala. Bolton won the junior competition 57-43 whist Ripley took the inters 58-42 and overall win by 2 points.

Rio Quarry (Y13) represented Lancashire at the Swim England National County Team Championships in Sheffield and is swimming at the Scottish National Short Course Championships in Edinburgh this weekend. 


Congratulations to Owen Dodgson (Y11) who has been offered a scholarship at Manchester Utd.

Year 8 boys got off to a flying start in the Lancashire Cup football competition with a 5-1 win away at Clitheroe Grammar.


Over the October half term we had a Football Development Tour to Vitesse Arnhem.  The tour included 2 football fixtures against local opposition, a tour of  Vitesse Arnhem stadium, and we saw FC Utrecht beat AZ Alkmaar 2-1 in the Dutch first division.  


Our Year 8 rugby team beat Hutton Grammar 30-15 in the Lancashire Cup to qualify for the Lancashire Finals Day in January 2019.

Fine margins separated Ripley and Bolton School in the Year 10 Lancashire Rugby Plate semi-final with a 12-10 win to Ripley in dreadful conditions. They will now compete Lancashire Plate Final in January 2019.

We ran a Rugby Trip to Twickenham for Year 8 & 9 in November.  The trip included fixtures against The Campion School, Hornchurch and we were able to watch the England vs Japan match at Twickenham Stadium.


Congratulations to Lauren Helme, (Y12) who has been selected for the Team England Junior Advanced Cheerleading Team and will compete in the Junior world Championships in Florida Orlando in April 2019.


Congratulations to Mia Stonier, (Y10) who has been selected for the Lancashire Hockey North Academy Development Centre.

Parent volunteers

I am very grateful for the support of a number of parents who help out coaching school sports teams for both boys and girls.  If any parents or friends of the school would like to volunteer to help coach sport in school, please contact Mr Quarry, Subject Leader for PE, via Parentline.

Train to teach at Ripley

We are recruiting to our Outstanding (Ofsted 2017) teacher training programme for September 2019 for both Primary and Secondary. Please visit our website for details of the programme, finance and how to apply.

And finally, can I wish all pupils and parents a peaceful and enjoyable break.  I hope that the blessing of the Christ Child will enrich your life this Christmas and through the coming year.

With best wishes

M Wood