Headmaster's Blog

Headmaster, Jonathan Standen's, regular newsletter to parents. Mr Standen talks about his vision for the school, new initiatives and latest news.

Parents Newsletter May 2018

Dear Parents


Sometimes you need a little luck.  We were lucky with the weather last week for the boys 1st XI fixture against the MCC.  Held on Thursday, it stayed dry for us.  The game was absorbing, the spirit of cricket was evident throughout the day, and there was a cracking finish.


Gary Player, the famous golfer used to say: “the more I practice the luckier I get.”  I’ve always believed that you make your own luck in large part.  It is true that there are some things you cannot control, but with the right attitude and preparation you maximise your chance of success.


It has been a pleasure watching the development of this side over the past twelve months, under the watchful eye of Mr Byrne.  Education has moved on so much since we parents were at school, but a great modern education must be rooted in traditional values.  That’s the Plymouth College way.  Mr Byrne believes first and foremost in creating the right culture in his squad, with players each seeking the best for themselves and for the team.  Excellence is impossible to achieve without that underpinning philosophy.  There is a set of standards the team adheres to, as they aspire to excellence.


Mr Byrne writes: “The First XI took on the MCC at Ford Park last Thursday in good form after an excellent victory over Exeter School the day before. Year 10 student, Ben Beaumont, with an explosive 66 from 41 balls, along with a classy innings from debutant Will Scott-Munden, helped the College to a 42 run victory against a team with a current England Under 19 player in it.


The all day game against the MCC offered the boys a different challenge altogether and, with OPM Matt Kidd amongst their number, the boys knew they would in for a tough fixture. The MCC batted first and progressed smoothly until the spin of Will Martin and Elliot Hamilton were introduced by Captain Sam Agnew.  Will's consistent line and length built pressure on the batsmen and Elliot's control and excellent pace brought him rich reward in the form of 5 wickets for 33 runs.  An outstanding effort and one that gains the Year 10 student an invite to Lords for a day at an England test match in September.  With the MCC 107-7 at lunch, the challenge was there for the boys to finish the job; Will Scott-Munden with 2 very important wickets for just 11 runs after the break helped wrap up the innings on 145.

James Degg and Sam Agnew started off with some classy drives through the covers and put real pressure on the MCC bowlers.  Ciaran Gray continued to show his enormous potential, with a small but impressive contribution.  However, the opposition bowlers were able to chip away at the Plymouth batting order and when James Degg was dismissed before tea for a superb 37,the game was in the balance.  In a demonstration of the renewed strength in depth of the College's first team, Ben Beaumont came in at number 8 with 30 runs still required.  


With nerves jangling on the balcony amongst the parental support group, Beaumont responded with an explosive 25 from 22 balls and, in partnership with George Spencer, carried the College to victory. 


The boys should be congratulated on their conduct and behaviour throughout as they represented themselves and the College with maturity and no little skill on the field.”


There is an old adage: provided the right ethos is in place, the score will take care of itself.  I was delighted to see the way the team backed themselves and their skills, honed through hours of practice, carried them to a great win.  



Mr Green and Mr Hawken bring that same Plymouth College ethos to the Music Department who entertained us last week with yet another wonderful evening showcasing the depth of musical talent within the College.  The Vocal and Guitar Evening provided an array of musical genres, from Schubert to Lloyd Webber and it was wonderful to see the influence of Mr Bennett's vocal coaching.  Sincere thanks to the peripatetic teachers and to the pupils who performed with such confidence.


Success in the fast approaching GCSE and A level examinations comes from the same attitude.  The best results go to those who revise hardest.


Yours sincerely

Jonathan Standen


Parents Newsletter April 2018

Dear Parents
It has been a good start to the summer term.  Last week I welcomed the school back after the Easter Break in whole school assembly, looking at the term ahead, and celebrating successes over the holiday.  Aspiration, Service and Resourcefulness are the three Plymouth College Principles we are focussing on this term.  Aspiration and Resourcefulness seem particularly appropriate in a term in which academic success in exams dominates the agenda.
We were pleased to celebrate successes too, in our wider holistic provision.  Eight former students, and four current students (Erico Cuna, Katie Kyle, Makaela Holowchak, Stefano Mitchell) competed in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, swimming well and setting some very good times.  Former students Ben Proud and Tom Daley medalled, achieving two golds and two silvers, and former students Tom Fannon and Laura Stephens reached the finals in their events.  I was particularly struck by our coach’s observation that there were around 10,000 spectators in the morning heats, making this a very special atmosphere in which to compete.  I feel sure Erico, Katie, Makaela and Stefano will have gained a wealth of experience from competing at this level.  Eleven of our swimmers travelled to Limassol in Cyprus for warm weather training.  Tegan Drew and Lana Broekhoven both won gold medals at the ESSA Interdivisional Championships, congratulations to them too.  This weekend, our partner Plymouth Leander, with a very healthy number of Plymouth College swimmers, won the National Arena Swimming League Final, their eighth national title, with the highest score of any club since 2007.
Elsewhere, out of the pool, our congratulations go to several other students.  Reuben Hart competed in the U14 British Gymnastics Championships.  Ben Beaumont and Elliot Hamilton attended the SW Cricket Trials.   Annabel Denton and Tomas Maksimovic competed in the U19 World Pentathlon Championships.  Annabel also won a silver medal in the U19 British National Tetrathlon Championship this past weekend.  In fencing, Ben Andrews competed in the World Championships in Verona and the Senior British Championships.  Ben has also been selected by England Fencing to join the national team at the Junior Cadet Commonwealth Championships in Newcastle in July, along with Abagael Black.    Abagael also won gold at the Public Schools’ Fencing Championships just before the Easter break, as did Tia Simms-Lymn – both girls were part of a strong school team, who together produced some impressive performances to win the Keeble Cup for Best Epee team of the competition.  Martha Miles was also in action over the holidays at the Winter National Dressage finals, gaining a first place and second place on her two horses Oragano and Father Ted respectively.  Gemma Kerr competed in the School Individual National Table Tennis Finals, representing Devon schools in the U16 age category, coming joint third in an incredibly competitive field.  

Subsequently, Gemma has been selected to represent English Schools’ Table Tennis  in the British Senior Schools’ International.  Michael Cooper has been signed by Plymouth Argyle as a professional footballer, having made his club debut earlier this year.  Our Year 10 Historians visited the Battlefields of the First World War, a deeply moving school trip, with the opportunity to see at first-hand preserved battlefields, and pay respects to OPMs who made the ultimate sacrifice.  And finally, for a busy holiday period, several students enjoyed the Outdoor Education trip to Ingleton, conquering the three peaks, of Ingleborough, Pennygent and Whernside.
I am pleased to report that our U13 Hockey team travelled to the West of England Finals as Devon Champions yesterday.  They finished the day having lost only one of their matches and third in the group.  Well done girls!
In other news, the Governors have appointed Perrett Laver to head the executive search for my successor.   May I thank the many parents who have congratulated me on my appointment to Harrow Bangkok, and continue to reassure all parents that my eyes remain firmly focussed on Plymouth College in the coming months!  The post will be advertised this week, and governors expect to announce my successor in the last week of the summer term.  It is worth noting that, following retirements from the Governing Board as terms of office come to an end, a number of high calibre appointments have been made in recent months, bringing a wide-ranging set of skills to the Board.  I would like to thank outgoing governors for their service and dedication, and for supporting me as Headmaster, in particular our former Chairman, Chris Robinson, who steps down from the board after 23 years of service to the College.
Finally, I am very much looking forward to seeing our First XI take on the MCC tomorrow.  As I sit here and type this letter, the sun is shining and I am hopeful of good weather for the match.  It is always a good occasion and if you are in the vicinity, please do feel free to pop in and watch at any point during the afternoon.
With my best wishes
Jonathan Standen Headmaster

Parents Newsletter January 2018

Dear Parents
It has been an exciting start to the term and, indeed the year, at Plymouth College.  
You may have heard the news that four of our current students have been selected to compete at the Commonwealth Games in Australia later this year.  Many congratulations to Erico Cuna who will be representing Mozambique, Katie Kyle will swim for St Lucia; Stefano Mitchell and Makaela Holowchak will represent Antigua.  I would also like to extend our congratulations to our former students, Laura Stephens (who left after A levels last summer), Tom Fannon (2016) and Jess Jackson (2016) and 50m Fly World Champion Ben Proud who have been selected to represent England.  Not only is this a great testament to their talents and efforts but also to the coaching team at Plymouth College, led by Robin Armayan and Roberto Pavoni, and our partnership with Plymouth Leander.  In addition, we were very pleased to welcome Tom Daley back to the College this week. Tom held a Q&A session with the students and spoke articulately of his experiences as an elite athlete, his time at the College and his journey since leaving school.  Tom has also been selected to represent England at the Games in the summer.
I was very pleased yesterday when the school league tables were published by the Department of Education, and confirmed Plymouth College’s top position for value added in the local area once again at A level.  With a score of 0.29 above average and with an overall average grade of B-.  The two scores illustrate the excellent nature of academic achievement at Plymouth College.  Once again, I would like to congratulate students who performed so well last summer and the staff for their excellent teaching and pastoral care.  This places us above all three local grammar schools and significantly above our local independent competitor, Mount Kelly.  You can find the tables by copying and pasting the following into your web browser 8&datasetFilter=final
Please note that the GCSE tables are of limited value as the Secretary of State decided that iGCSEs would not be included in these statistics.
The UCAS process continues and our Upper Sixth students are receiving good offers from their chosen institutions for further education.  I would like to take this opportunity to highlight that Ben Gittins has been offered a place to read Mathematics at Robinson College, Cambridge and send him our warmest congratulations.
I look forward to seeing many of you at the Gala Concert this evening or at any of the other forthcoming events later this term.
Yours sincerely
Jonathan Standen


Parents Newsletter December 2017

Dear Parents
The Christmas holidays are upon us!  May I wish you all a restful, safe and enjoyable break from school over the next three weeks.
It has been another term full of enjoyment and fun alongside the necessary hard graft.  I hope you find our Autumn newsletter to be an interesting read.  It aims to capture the breadth of opportunity at the College, highlighting as many of our students’ fantastic achievements as space permits.  Please forgive us if some events are not represented in the newsletter.
It feels as if we have accelerated towards the end of term in these past couple of weeks.  The School of Rock production, Boarders’ Christmas Dinner and party, our swimmers at the National Winter Championships in Sheffield, the final sports fixtures of the term, Year 7 & 8 Disco, House Waterpolo, House Music, House Quizzes and, of course, the magnificent Carol Service at St Andrews, have kept students and staff busy.  
OPMs are in the news with Ruta Meilutyte and Ben Proud doing very well at the European Short Course Championships in Copenhagen.  Last night, Michael Cooper was named Man of the Match having saved two penalties in the Plymouth Argyle Youth Cup match in which they dispensed of Manchester City.  Tom Daley, who was recently named FINA Diver of the Year, will be visiting the College in January to officially open the new gym.  Laura Stephens set a PB in the Winter National Championships to win the national title in the 100m fly.  We are also very much looking forward to welcoming last year’s leavers back to the College at 5pm tonight, in the OPM suite, to catch up on all that they have been doing since the summer.
Early in the New Year we will be attending The Herald Sports Awards where many of the Plymouth College family have been nominated for awards:  Georgina Mitchell (Modern Pentathlon), Ben Andrews (Fencing) and Gemma Kerr (Table Tennis) are shortlisted in the Young Sports Personality category, whilst OPMs Tom Daley, Ben Proud and Henry Slade (Rugby) are nominated for the main award of Sports Personality of the Year.  Henry is also shortlisted for the Champagne Moment of 2017 for his kick that took Exeter Chiefs to the Premiership Final.  Two of our coaches are also nominated for Coach of the Year: Pete Barrett (Director of Fencing) and Karen Dent (Netball Coach).  Congratulations to all of these.
The school office closes at 4pm on Thursday 21st December and re-opens on 3rd January, manned by a skeleton staff.  I’m sure you will understand if it takes us a little longer to respond to any queries over the Christmas period.
Lastly, you may be interested to know that I have finally been brought into the modern age having begun tweeting, @HeadmasterPMC, if you would like to follow what I’m up to on school business.  Thank you to Mrs Hayward for teaching me all about Twitter!
My very best wishes to you all
Jonathan Standen


Complaints Letter 2017

Dear Parents
As many of you will know, the arrangements and procedures for the inspection of independent schools have been subjected to various changes and revisions over recent years. Whilst the independent sector will continue to be inspected separately from the maintained sector, by the Independent Schools Inspectorate and not by Ofsted, the system has been modified in ways intended to bring the two systems of inspection into closer alignment. Essentially this involves shorter, more frequent visits, employing fewer inspectors, and with virtually no notice given, and a much keener emphasis on checking regulatory compliance.
One of the regulations with which we will need to demonstrate compliance concerns the provision of information to parents. Schools have to provide directly to parents the following items of information: 

  • The school’s address and telephone number and the name of the Head 
  • The address and telephone number of the school’s registered office 
  • The name and address for correspondence of the Chair of Governors 
  • A statement of the school’s ethos/aims

I am sure that this information is already well-known to you. However, to be on the safe side, please find enclosed an information sheet providing in one place, for easy reference, all the details required.
It is also a requirement of recent legislation that I inform parents annually that we have a clear and transparent procedure for dealing with any complaints and that the relevant policy document is available on the College Intranet or on request from the School Office. We hope, of course, that you will not have cause to complain; however, should you bring matters to our attention which are of concern to you we will endeavour to do all that we can to resolve things informally in accordance with the Procedure. If a resolution cannot be reached in this way, then there is a formal process to be followed as explained in the policy. I am also required to tell you how many complaints we have had to deal with in this more formal way during the last school year, and I can report that there were two such complaints.
Additionally, a number of school policies and documents now have to be made available on the web site and I am required to advise you, annually and in a list, of each and every item specified by the legislation. The relevant documents  are as follows:

  • Admissions and Exclusions Policy 
  • Anti-Bullying Policy 
  • Behaviour Management policy 
  • Complaints Procedure 
  • Curriculum Policy 
  • E-Safety Policy 
  • EAL Policy 
  • Fire Policies & Procedures 
  • First Aid Policy 
  • Health & Safety Policy 
  • ICT Acceptance Use Policy 
  • Risk Assessment Policy 
  • Safeguarding & Child Protection Policy 
  • Statement of Ethos and Aims 
  • Recruitment Policy 
  • Supervision Policy 
  • Terms and Conditions

You will be able to access any of these documents through the General Information area of the College Intranet or on the school website under the tab “Policies”. If you would prefer to receive a hard copy of any of these items, please do not hesitate to ask.
The Independent Schools Inspectorate advises that Headteachers should write annually to parents about these matters so that full compliance with the regulations can be easily demonstrated. I trust you will understand why I believe it is prudent to follow that advice.
Yours sincerely
Jonathan Standen


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