Retiring Peterborough headteacher ‘will be missed’

Sean Hayes
Sean Hayes
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I wanted to start this month’s column by paying tribute to the work of Sean Hayes, who is leaving his role as headteacher of St John Fisher High School at the end of term, writes Jonathan Lewis, service director for education at Peterborough City Council.

Sean has worked tirelessly over many years at the school, produced some fantastic outcomes and has generally been a great advocate for Peterborough.

He was appointed back in 2008 just after the school had been placed in special measures and the previous head had resigned.

Sean has never been one to duck away from a challenge and through sheer hard work and determination, the school’s fortunes have been completely transformed.

Pupils are now progressing well at GCSE level and the school was recently rated as ‘Good’ by Ofsted.

Sean will be very much missed by everyone in education in Peterborough and I would like to personally thank him and his team for all their hard work and commitment.

We look forward to welcoming Kate Pereira as the new head and I’m sure the school’s success will continue under her stewardship.

As we move towards the start of the summer term, thoughts start turning towards exams with pupils and teachers preparing for SATs, GCSEs and A-Levels.

I’ve spoken a great deal about the work we are doing to improve outcomes across the city and am confident that we will start to see this come to fruition.

As I have said previously, this won’t be an overnight change and we are already making steady progress.

So in the meantime, I would like to wish everyone preparing for exams the very best of luck.

One of the most successful initiatives we’ve introduced in primary schools in recent years has been our reading buddies scheme.

A reading buddy is a volunteer who reads with children regularly on a one-to-one basis, helping to develop their love of books.

Volunteers only need to commit an hour each week for at least one school term and no experience is necessary as training is given.

We currently have 141 trained and active reading buddies working in 21 primary schools across Peterborough and these are people of all ages, backgrounds and experience.

Children really enjoy being able to read with an adult in a one to one environment, where they can do things at their own pace and get instant feedback.

If you’re interested in becoming a reading buddy, email schooleffectiveness@peterborough.gov.uk or call 01733 863794.

On the subject of reading, this year sees the Peterborough Celebrates Reading campaign take place with several activities planned across the city celebrating literature.

One of these will see children decorate ‘Book Bench’ sculptures with designs inspired by books, novels, comics, poems and prose.

Around 30 Book Benches will be displayed in public venues across the city in July next year, forming a trail for families to enjoy whilst at the same time raising awareness of the importance of literacy skills.

Finally, if your child is starting school soon and you’re looking for some practical advice and support, a helpful event is taking place next week.

The council’s START School Readiness programme has successfully helped many children to gain skills, independence and confidence ahead of starting school. Parents can also gain many practical skills from the scheme.

A special open event promoting the scheme is being held outside Primark in the Queensgate Centre on Wednesday, April 17, from 9am until 5pm. This is a great chance to find out more and take part in some activities including storytelling, games and singing.