Impact in 2022-23
The personal development program at Penistone Grammar School has had a number of successes to date, with positive feedback from both parents and students. In terms of addressing bullying, the school has implemented changes in how cases are handled and increased education on the topic through assemblies and mentor time activities.
The school has also seen an increase in extra-curricular activities and trips for students. These range from local trips such as Cadbury’s World and the Good Food Show to more distant destinations like Borneo, Croatia and Madrid. Additionally, the school has reintroduced year group reward trips, which have received positive feedback from students.
The school has also made efforts to bring in external speakers to broaden students' knowledge and skills beyond the classroom. This includes authors, politicians and people from a variety of other fields. They also did a local council husting with questions asked about local developments in Penistone, housing and the cost-of-living crisis.
In terms of mental health support, the school has made strides with having a full-time counsellor, two trainee counsellors and an art therapist, in addition to working with external agencies. They also retrained 45 Staff Wellbeing Ambassadors and train 45 students in peer mentoring.
The school has also been working on supporting local charities and local food banks, besides the ongoing partnership with Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
We will continue evaluate the effectiveness of these efforts to date and make any necessary changes; further developing mental health support and peer mentoring; continue to expand extracurricular activities and trips; and increase the frequency of external speaker engagements. The school will also evaluate if we are reaching students from different backgrounds and if we have to take any steps to address this. We also plan to continue to regularly solicit feedback from students, parents, and staff members to ensure that the program is meeting its goals and that any changes are made with their needs in mind.
Term One (22/23) in Review
Listening to student feedback we changed the way in which we dealt with bullying cases late last year and this has led to some really positive comments from parents and students alike. We have also increased how we educate students about bullying, with a series of assemblies and mentor time activities.
Extra-curricular and Trips
We now have more extra-curricular activities and trips than at any other time in Penistone’s history. On a Monday for example our Y7s can choose from multiple extra-curricular activities, from board game club to girl’s football. We have trips planned to as far away as Borneo, Croatia and Madrid as well as local trips to Cadbury’s World and the Good Food Show. We are working on ensuring students can access as many trips as possible and are working harder than ever to ensure they are as affordable as possible. This terms extra-curricular events are attached to this letter. Some of the outdoor events (such as PE) will be subject to the weather but we will continue to communicate this with students as soon as possible.
Responding to parent and student feedback we have reintroduced the year group reward trips. On Tuesday 13th December Y7 and Y8 went to Ice Sheffield and Y9, 10 and 11 went to Winter Wonderland at York Designer Outlet. Student feedback on this has been incredibly positive, especially about how heavily subsidised it was and the activities on offer, and we plan to run similar trips next Christmas.
There was also the house reward trip to Penistone Paramount to watch a Christmas film with some popcorn. Bowman won in what was the closest contest we have ever had, with Fulford only just missing out. The next house reward trip will be in summer to Alton Towers for the winning house.
We have focused hard on bringing in external speakers to help develop our student’s cultural capital (their knowledge of the wider world and developing skills beyond the classroom). We brought in Simon James Green, a renowned author who spoke to students on a range of topics including how to become an author, LGBTQ+ issues and anti-bullying. We welcomed back Dr. Marie Tidball, an ex-Penistone student who is standing as Labour candidate for the Penistone and Stocksbridge constituency. She talked about inclusive leadership, representation in public life and being future change-makers. We also had a visit from Miriam Cates MP who spoke to our politics students about life as an MP as well as being probed on some of the current issues facing the nation. We held our first husting of the local council, with questions asked about local developments in Penistone, housing and the cost-of-living crisis. We will continue to grow this provision and are hoping to get in more local speakers in the new year.
Mental Health Support
We are now one of the few schools in the country to have a full-time counsellor. We also have two trainee counsellors, an art therapist and work with 25 external agencies to support our students. We will continue to develop this provision and are currently retraining our 45 Staff Wellbeing Ambassadors. We are also training 45 of our students in peer mentoring and they will gain a level 2 qualification from the Royal Society of Public Health.
We have been proud supporters of Sheffield Children’s Hospital for the past five years, raising over £52,500. We conducted a large piece of student voice and they said they wanted to continue this link. However, we also received parent feedback that they would like us to support local charities to PGS. The Student Leadership Team have therefore led on keeping Sheffield Children’s Hospital as our school charity but each house having a local charity to support too. They asked for suggestions and have now asked students to vote on the shortlist. They look forward to sharing with you the outcome in the coming weeks.
Hampers and Food Bank
We are proud this year to have had an extra-large star on the hospital this Christmas, one of the only schools to have ever done so. We also continued a tradition we began seven years ago of putting together hampers for each staff room at the hospital. This was so that over the festive period staff had something nice to have on their breaks. We received some lovely feedback from doctors and nurses alike and it is an initiative we will be proud to continue next year.