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All Saints’ School

The second in our Youth Services Speaker Month, Sharon, an Assistant Headteacher at All Saints Roman Catholic School. gave a consummate presentation about her “dream job”. She summarised effectively the history of the school, founded in 1686, her own background and current role, the curriculum and success of the older students whom she leads and finally summarised the challenges faced in 2024. 

With a long history, All Saints, founded in 1686 as the Bar Convent Girls School, went through several more recent changes becoming a grammar school in 1920s, admitting boys in 1970s and joining the Nicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust in 2023. The original site in now the “Lowersite” housing the younger pupils and the “Uppersite” is a more recently acquired, idiosyncratic, former manor house, home to the older students and where Sharon is based.

A Business Studies Graduate, Sharon worked in industry for 10 years before starting her family and then seeking a more satisfying career and deciding to train as a teacher. She joined All Saints in 2007 and has worked her way up to her current position as the Assistant Headteacher / Head of Sixth Form. The Sixth Form of almost 500 is the largest in the City of York and attracts both internal and external applicants, creating a diverse community from a wide geographical area.

The academic focus is on A Levels with specialist teaching but the broad curriculum includes extra-curricular offers, personal development activities and good pastoral care, all within an ethos of care and compassion. The cognitive load of courses is challenging but opportunities to enhance the curriculum are seized - trips of all kinds, partnerships, visitors, the Duke of Edinburgh Award and leadership courses - promoted by Sharon and her staff who are always on the lookout for fresh ideas and opportunities. There is a basis of trust in relationships and expectations are clear. 

Student success is reflected in the 74% moving into university places and a further 10% into apprenticeships. Destinations are evolving; medical-related applications are increasing at the expense of Oxbridge subjects and apprenticeships are growing. This has implications for our mock interviewing! Staff retention is unsurprisingly high.

Sharon and her team seek to educate for the future and to keep up with changes in society.  Current issues include post-Covid effects on attendance and reading, mobile phones, vaping and some growth in poorer mental health. Artificial intelligence is already impacting. She ably fielded questions about violence against teachers, OFSTED and mental health.

York Rotary provides mock interviews for All Saints’ students and there are 2 more RYLA nominees this year. We might be able to offer support with invigilation, work experience and wellbeing – please share ideas with me as I am the Rotary School Ambassador. I mistakenly gave Sharon a promotion to Deputy Head, but linking regularly with her, sharing a Rotary lunch and hearing her presentation amply justifies my error! It was a very well received and impressive presentation.

Eileen Davis

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