St Michael's : Head teacher's reports 1971-74

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St Michael's : Head teacher's reports 1971-74

Post by down south » Fri Sep 13, 2019 3:23 pm

One feature of prizegiving ceremonies was the speeches, and among them was always a report on the state of the school by the head teacher; these were often summarised in the paper, and here follow the reports for St Michael's from 1971-74; starting here with 1971.

ST MICHAEL'S HEADMISTRESS APPEALS FOR MORE TEACHERS

" With a sufficiency of good teachers we could do so much more, and we make a special appeal to pupils leaving school to consider well the needs of our schools in making their choice of career, and ask parents to encourage their children to enter the teaching profession. "

This was stated by Sister Pauline, headmistress of St Michael's Academy, Kilwinning, in her report at the school prizegiving on Monday, and she continued : " I feel that a number of our girls who opt for primary teaching are well fitted for university courses. Perhaps for such as these the introduction of the B.Ed. degree at Notre Dame College of Education will serve as a spur and incentive . "

Sister Pauline said the school had had a difficult year as far as staffing was concerned. The pupil-teacher ratio had been the highest among secondary schools in the county, and though some departments were adequately staffed they were understaffed in others.

At the beginning of the session they had had their largest intake of first year pupils - more than 220 girls and boys.

" The opening of the new St Andrew's Academy, Saltcoats, will bring changes to St Michael's , " said Sister Pauline. " Our links - spanning 50 years - with feeder schools in Stevenston, Saltcoats, Ardrossan and Largs will be broken . In the years ahead St Michael's will develop into a fully comprehensive school serving the needs of all pupils in Irvine, Kilwinning, Dalry and Kilbirnie. With the closing of the secondary department of St Brigid's, Kilbirnie, we shall add to our roll of next session their second and third year pupils.

" It is not without sadness that we begin to sever links with feeder schools already mentioned, but we realise that we cannot stop the wheels of change and know too that another six year Catholic comprehensive school in the area will bring many opportunities and advantages, We wish Mr Finn, Rector of St Andrew's, and his staff every success for the new academy.

" In the recent examinations, we presented more than 270 pupils for SCE examinations and more recently some Sixth Form pupils took at London , Advanced Levels in English, French, Latin, Mathematics and History, as well as others for Scottish Council Commercial Examinations. Results will not be available for some weeks.

" Two years ago, " said Sister Pauline, " I announced that an anonymous donor had presented to the school an electronic organ - a really marvellous gift which has proved of great value and use to the school. I am now happy to have been given leave to name the donor but am very sorry that she is not with us today to receive our public expressions of gratitude. The donor, Mrs Walsh, mother of John who is now leaving sixth year, died in early December after a serious illness. It was she who gave to St Michael's this organ in remembrance of her husband, Mr Leo Walsh who was such a loyal and faithful member of staff from 1948 until his death in September 1968. This organ will be a memorial not only to Mr Walsh but to its donor - neither of whom we could easily forget.

"A big number of former pupils have completed their courses at Notre Dame College of Education for Primary Training while five have finished postgraduate training. We are glad to say that three of them, Agnes McCaffrey, Rose McKee and John McFarlane will take up posts at St Michael's next session."

The Bishop of Galloway congratulated the school on their many successes in both academic work and sport. " The staff work very hard , " he said, " and the devotion they show to their work is much appreciated. "

Speaking of the teacher shortages, he said : " I think it's disgraceful that in a community of this size we are unable properly to staff a school such as this . I would appeal to those leaving school and going on to take a degree, seriously to consider entering the teaching profession. "

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 2nd July 1971


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Re: St Michael's : Head teacher's reports 1971-74

Post by exile » Fri Sep 13, 2019 5:30 pm

On staffing shortages, there was a class photo (now gone) from the early 60s which I saw on 3Ts some years back which showed about a dozen boys in 6th year. I was surprised to recognise half of them as already teachers when I went there just a few short years after they did.
It still strikes me as an odd recruiting policy if expanding minds is an educational aim.

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Re: St Michael's : Head teacher's reports 1971-74

Post by down south » Fri Sep 20, 2019 3:22 pm

Here now is the report for 1972. Staffing difficulties still get top billing !

SISTER PAULINE'S REPORT

" Staffing is the greatest worry that our secondary schools have to face; no term passes without anxiety on this score and we appeal to all who have the ability to do so, to consider teaching as a career. There is great need and great scope for teachers of homecraft, art, commerce, technical subjects and physical education. "

This was stated by Sister Pauline , headmistress of St Michael's Academy, Kilwinning, at the school closing ceremony on Wednesday of last week.

" The session that is closing, " said Sister Pauline, " is one in which there have been more changes than usual - changes in staff, school organisation and one in which much thought and a fair amount of preparation have been given to the change that will shortly be with us in the raising of the school leaving age to 16.

" During the session, we lost through retirement two outstanding members of staff, both of whom gave their whole teaching career to the service of St Michael's. When Mr Leahy, deputy head and principal teacher of physics, left us in early November, he had served St Michael's for 43 years. Miss Wade, principal teacher of English, retired at Easter after the completion of 41 years of teaching in this school. With their going, something that seemed of the very fabric of the school has gone too. Both were equally loyal, both very dedicated, both loved St Michael's and gave willingly of their best. "

After referring to staff changes, Sister Pauline continued : " The year opened with a roll of almost 1000 pupils - our largest number on record. Due to re-organisation by the Education Committee, consequent on the opening of St Andrew's Academy, St Brigid's , Kilbirnie, St Palladius, Dalry, St Mary's , Irvine and St Winnin's, Kilwinning, have been fixed as our feeder schools and we received from these a fully comprehensive intake into first year classes where pupils have followed a common course in classes of mixed ability.

" Due to the discontinuance of the secondary department of St Brigid's, Kilbirnie, we received pupils from it into our second and third years, and for the first time in the history of the school, we did not receive any pupils from Stevenston, Saltcoats, Ardrossan and Largs which now form the feeder schools of St Andrew's Academy.

" We presented more than 270 pupils for Ordinary and Higher Grade SCE examinations , a small number of sixth year pupils for Sixth Year studies - history, geography, physics and chemistry, as well as several for London GCE Advanced Grades in English Literature, Latin and French. Pupils studying commerce have been entered for SCAPE certificates as well as for SCE examinations.

While those following certificate courses have been eager, indeed at times insistent upon presentation for examinations, and while it is true that the majority work reasonably hard, a minority are reluctant to face the drudgery and discipline of hard work and are less careful about attendance and punctuality than they should be.Comprehensive education provides the opportunities, but willingness to face up to the challenges that are inevitable require responsibility on the part of the individuals themselves.

During the session, teachers have been called to In Service Courses and Conferences in preparation for the raising of the school leaving age while Mr Mellan and Mr Scullion have been seconded to industry for several days during the present term in order to foster liaison between school and industry. We hope that this preparation will bear fruit in the days ahead when the problems connected with the raising of the age will be upon us. On the accommodation side, we have the welcome assurance that we are to be provided with additional rooms for science, technical subjects, homecraft, commerce and art for the beginning of session 1973-74.

" In keeping with current educational policy, personal, social, curricular and vocational guidance has continued to play an increasingly important role in the school. Some changes have been made in the Guidance programme and structure and further changes are contemplated for the coming session. Mr Kavanagh was welcomed to the guidance staff as Housemaster of St Ninian's House and further appointments are probable during next session.

Sister Pauline reviewed the school sporting activities during the year and pupils' successes in various competitions, and added : " In speaking of successes , the very good news of some former pupils who have completed their university courses has reached us. Patricia Kelly has obtained a Top Second with Certificate of Distinction in Classics, Jane McDermid Top Second - History Honours , and Peter Timmons Second Class Honours in Chemistry. Maria Dorrian has obtained her MA in Maths and Geography. Other results are not yet to hand. A large number has completed courses at Notre Dame College of Education, and Anne Mary Macnamara has obtained her Diploma in Domestic Subjects.

" It remains for me to thank Mr Mellan, deputy head, the assistant heads and all members of staff for their help to me and each other during the session. Thanks also to Miss Higgins and Mrs Baird of the clerical staff, to Mr Frew, janitor and his staff, Miss Templeton, the cook and the kitchen staff. The school captains, Elizabeth Breslin and James Fitzpatrick, along with pupils of VIth Year, have rendered many services during the session. We are grateful and wish them all that is good in the future. For all leaving school, we ask God's blessing. Finally, I thank most sincerely Father Burke, our school covener for his outstanding help, generosity and support at all times, and our chaplains, Fathers Connelly and Crowley to whom we look for guidance and who give so generously of the services to the school. "

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 7th July 1972


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Re: St Michael's : Head teacher's reports 1971-74

Post by down south » Fri Sep 27, 2019 3:19 pm

And here is the report for 1973.

ST MICHAEL'S WILL NEED MORE CLASSROOMS

The raising of the school leaving age means that further accommodation will be required at St Michael's Academy, Kilwinning, where an extension consisting of hutted classrooms to house five subjects will be provided by the end of the year.

This was mentioned by the headmistress, Sister Pauline, in her annual report given at the prizegiving ceremony last week.

She said that the normal course for pupils intending to leave at the statutory age is now one of four years instead of three, and this involved a re-thinking and re-planning of relevant courses as well as the need for appropriate accommodation and equipment.Expectations that the extension would be in readiness for the new session were not to be realised, but the new buildings should be ready for use not later than Christmas.

Sister Pauline said that the session opened with almost 900 pupils, the number in first and second year classes being smaller than in several earlier sessions because of the reorganisation of the feeder schools two years ago, but fourth and third year groups were greater than anything experienced due to the raising of the leaving age.

After referring to staff changes, Sister Pauline continued : " General inspections of schools by Her Majesty's Inspectors used to be something which brought tension and apprehension. Perhaps among many of the staff there were still such feelings when we learned last September that a full-scale inspection was imminent. Nine years had elapsed since we had had such a visitation.

" Immediately after the Christmas vacation the first inspection took place. In the weeks and months that followed right up to just one week ago, inspectors for our 14 subject departments followed one another. As one succeeded another we found them encouraging, helpful and understanding so that apprehensions were stilled. Although we have not had a written report, verbal reports have indicated that things are in good shape and that standards are being maintained,

" In the examinations , we presented 330 pupils for SCE higher and ordinary grades while for sixth year studies we entered pupils in English, history, geography, physics and chemistry. In the present month, a few sixth year pupils have taken London Advanced GCE levels in English literature, French, Spanish, Latin and Greek while pupils in the business studies department have been busy with SCAPE examinations.

Parents as well as pupils are now becoming familiar with the changes in the " O " grade certificate where the pass/fail system has been replaced by a range of gradings from " A " to " E " which will indicate marks ranging from the very highest right down to 30 per cent. It will take time to evaluate the worth of the lower gradings but it is already certain that gradings not lower than " C " will be required for colleges and central institutions in lieu of " O " grade passes.All should take note that it is necessary to aim high and that the value of certificates will depend very much on the quality of gradings obtained.

" Linkage schemes between the schools and technical colleges in Ayrshire have been organised. Courses that are to be given in the technical colleges to school based pupils who intend to enter industry on leaving school , are intended to form a bridge introducing pupils to the wider world of industry and giving them a preparation for the future, the value of which should prove inestimable.

" In the present term, a group of third year boys and girls attended a one-day weekly sampling course at Kilmarnock Technical College. From next session, courses will be confined to fourth year pupils and will be offered to the extent that staffing and accommodation of the technical college permits. We hope to send one group of boys for a 36-week period and two other groups of girls and boys for a 10-week course - all for one day weekly.

" Recognising the need for personal, vocational and curricular guidance, " said Sister Pauline, " Mr Scullion, assistant head of guidance, in consultation with the principals of guidance, planned a scheme of guidance and one period is now given to this each week. There has been strong liaison with the careers advisory service, members of which have given talks and interviews during the session. We are also grateful to representatives from the professions and from industry who have collaborated in the giving of talks on careers.

" We are also indebted to the police of North Ayrshire for the community care involvement programme which they carried out over two terms and for the several interesting speakers whom they brought to address the pupils.

" It will be evident that school life is many-sided and apart from the routine of classes and examinations extra-curricular activities have been numerous and varied.

Sister Pauline referred to the successes of the school's sports teams and cultural clubs, and continued : " The Parent-Teacher Association with Mr McCutcheon as president, has had a successful year, though we would like to enrol many more parents. The members of the committee have been hard-working, generous and enthusiastic, showing an eagerness to be involved and to help the school. This has been most encouraging.

" Contributions to the missions for the year amounted to £200 ; other charities assisted have been the work of the Nursing Sisters, Ardrossan, and the West of Scotland Society for the Blind.

" I should like to make a special plea to parents to ensure that their girls and boys attend school regularly and punctually . While many pupils observe good standards a minority opt out , not through necessity, and their influence, if unchecked, could affect a greater number. "

Sister Pauline concluded by thanking the staff and donors of prizes.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 6th July 1973


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Re: St Michael's : Head teacher's reports 1971-74

Post by down south » Fri Oct 04, 2019 2:56 pm

Here finally is the report for 1974.

NO ACCOMMODATION PROBLEM AT ST MICHAEL'S NEXT TERM

A block of nine new classrooms being built at St Michael's Academy will solve all accommodation problems at the school next term, Sister Pauline said in her annual report at the school's prizegiving ceremony on Tuesday.

But Sister Pauline warned that the school could face staff shortages and other problems caused by the raising of the school leaving age to 16.

" It will be evident that the constant turnover of staff we had last year is very regrettable and does not make for the stability that is needed. It also appears most unlikely that it will be possible to fill all our staff vacancies for the new term , " she said.

" The raising of the school leaving age to 16 has brought attendant problems as was anticipated by all.

" It is natural that in the beginning a number of those girls and boys should not take kindly to the extra year at school and that they should await with eagerness the opportunity to go out into the wider world.

" The fact that there are only two leaving dates during the session has meant that a number have had to remain at school for several months after their sixteenth birthdays.

" A consequence of the irritation and resentment felt has been that a minority have attended irregularly and that their lack of interest has been marked.

While it will take time, effort and experimentation to produce courses that are relevant and interesting to the needs of pupils of such varying abilities in the comprehensive situation, priorities are adequate staff and accommodation.

At the beginning of this session it seemed that we were in a better staffing position than we had been for several years. But any complacency that might have existed was soon shattered. "

Sister Pauline went on to talk about all the teachers who had left St Michael's last session, as a result of being promoted to other schools. She paid special tribute to Mr McCutcheon, the school's assistant headmaster, who was appointed depute rector of St Joseph's, Kilmarnock, last Christmas.

Sister Pauline said that a record number of pupils - 365 - had been presented for SCE Higher and Ordinary grade examinations.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, 28th June 1974


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