Rishworth School Prizegiving

Prize Giving 2018

On 29th June 2018 we held our annual prize giving. It was a fantastic celebration of the achievements of our pupils as well as an opportunity to reflect on the last 12 months.

Please see the Acting Headmaster's Speech below:

Mayor, Bishop Robinson, Distinguished Guests, Chairman, Governors, Parents, Colleagues and Pupils

Teaching and learning continue to be at the core of what we do but there’s much more to education at Rishworth that that going on in the narrow confines of the classroom. A curriculum that links topics across subjects so that students don’t think that they can only do maths in their maths lessons or that what they learn in science is only for doing in their science classes; the sharing of good practice amongst teachers; assessment with appropriate feedback; differentiation; individualised curricula to meet the needs of individual pupils - all make for the excellent education that Rishworth provides for its students.

Then we have the many out of class activities:

  • F1 in schools. Rishworth School’s Centurion racing team is officially the fastest F1 in Schools team in Britain
  • Space project – Modules 2 and 3 were launched this term
  • Intellectual Curiosity Programme and the associated Research Trips to London and Manchester
  • Extended Project Qualification which gives students an opportunity to create a project on pretty much anything that interests them and present their findings to an audience. EPQ worth half an A-level, packs significant punch in terms of stretch and challenge and is highly regarded by university admissions tutors
  • A day dedicated to Women in Science

I could go on but there are too many to list here today.

Inspired by the possibilities such scope for originality offers, some in education might be inclined to replace current exam-board specifications with an open school curriculum more conducive to this kind of breadth and inventiveness. At Rishworth, we are of course careful to follow the syllabus as laid down by exam boards, but we have done so with as much creativity and stimulation for the learner as possible and, just as importantly, we have continued to provide in other ways a wide range of opportunities through which pupils can foster their diverse talents.

To try to list all individual and group achievements from last year would take far longer than this occasion would allow, though at least some of these are recorded in our Newsletters and in The Rishworthian – as well as in the local and regional press. Here, though, is just a taster:

  • More and more pupils took on leadership roles beyond those of Prefects, Sports Captains and Principals of Music and Drama, for example by coaching others in sport (for which they gained their Sports Leadership Awards), by running clubs and by giving presentations.
  • Numerous students enjoyed successes in out-of-school competitions, for instance in the UK Maths Challenge and the Salters Festival of Chemistry at Manchester University
  • Among many of our sporting events, Rishworth played host to a touring cricket side from Oman. Students at the School have represented their country and many have competed at regional and county level.
  • Musical events and accolades abounded, including composition workshops, masterclasses with Northern Brass, the music and drama on show in the school production, School of Rock and events in School Chapel and at St Bartholomew’s. Trinity College Music Examinations were passed from Initial Grade to Grade 8, many with Distinction.
  • The extensive range of visits and activities for boarders has included trips to theme parks, to the National Media Museum, Laser Quest, Go Karting, Quad biking, archery, Chill Factor, trips to York, Blackpool and Scarborough, a visit to the Manchester Christmas Markets, Malham Cove. Yorkshire Wildlife Park and helping with Ripponden in Bloom. Our boarders should never say they’re bored!
  • In school during the summer holiday, we held a Summer Activity Camp run by Rishworth Staff, and out of school, there were trips to Barcelona and a Ski Trip to USA. In conjunction with Birkdale School, some of our students travelled to Nepal and there were numerous visits less far afield, such as the Biology and Geography trips to Cranedale, study trips to Liverpool and to Skipton Castle and Bolton Abbey and to Quarry Bank Mill in Styal. The psychology students visited Chester zoo to investigate animal behaviour, 6th form scientists visited Huddersfield University to work in the chemistry labs there, the L6 Leadership and Teambuilding adventured in Patterdale, and there were Duke of Edinburgh Award Expeditions, including those for Gold training and assessment.
  • Annual events were as enjoyable as ever, including the School Ball and, conscious of our charitable status, the numerous charity fund-raisers throughout the year collected more than £5,000 for good causes.
    Supported by such enriching broader experiences as well as effective learning in class, it is not surprising that academic success has followed, not least in terms of public examination results.


  • 92% of pupils attained 5 or more A* - C (or 9 – 4) Grades
  • 37% of the students gained 3 or more grades at A*- A (or 9 – 7).
  • 75% of the students experienced what it is like to gain an A or A* (or 9 – 7).

And at A-level:

  • the highest-performing students gained their strings of A Grades
  • 24% A*-A
  • 48% A*-B
  • 75% A*-C
  • the average UCAS point-score per candidate was equivalent to BBC
  • a fifth of the students gained the equivalent of 3 x A Grades at full A level

All of this of course reflects extremely well on the efforts both of the students and of the staff. We have – and are committed to having - not only academically-gifted students but also a wide spectrum of aptitudes, including some pupils who are singularly disadvantaged – for example by not having English as their first language. But most importantly of all, we don’t care much about global statistics anyway, however good they are: what we really care about – and what we believe parents and pupils really care about - is how each pupil fares relative to his or her own potential. To my mind, the sooner a proper ‘value added’ measurement is put at the core of league tables, the better.

In terms of distinctive, individual and group achievements that demonstrate just what can happen when the awesome potential of our youngsters is harnessed and unleashed, what pride our school should and does take when inspectors arrive and after spending several days scrutinising all aspects of what we do, judge that the school is excellent in every regard. The School received the highest grades possible in its major inspection - all whilst holding the top accolade from the previous inspection.

Pupils’ academic and other achievements – excellent!
Pupils’ personal development – excellent!

How does all this come about?

Firstly, of course, it is through the pupils themselves, whose capabilities, determination and industry take them to such heights. Secondly, the support of parents rarely plays anything other than a major part in the children’s successes, both individually at home and through concerted efforts such as those of the PTA. And thirdly, the climate of enterprise and encouragement fostered, as well as the specific support provided at school, are also key.

However impressive our facilities, what drives progress in a school is people, and whether it is the teaching staff, the support staff or the Governors, Rishworth is truly blessed with motivated, dedicated, top-quality personnel. As ever, it is when these three elements, pupils, parents and school all share the same values, all have the same aims and are all pulling in the same direction that young people are best propelled to success.

And by ‘success’ we at Rishworth always mean not only conspicuous, exceptional achievement; we include any achievement which, for that individual, represents the best he or she can do. It is worth remembering at an event such as this afternoon’s Prize Giving, which is conceived precisely to celebrate our young people’s triumphs, that there will be many achievers who will not receive a particular award, but each of whom we also warmly commend.

The School has fostered this climate of enterprise and encouragement and provided this specific support in four main ways:

  1. By unwaveringly focusing on Teaching and Learning. The teaching staff meet regularly to discuss the finer points of teaching technique and share best practice. When pupils are on holiday and staff are in school training, as often as not, we are further exploring aspects of teaching and learning. We have revised our assessment procedures. We remain forever conscious of the need to ensure that every pupil is suitably challenged and that pupils have differing learning styles.
  2. By refining specific forms of help for those who need or can benefit from it. This ranges from Prefect Training to our Particular Learning Needs provision, our English for Academic Purposes support for some of our international students and our highly imaginative Provision for the Academically Most Able.
  3. By listening to the pupils. We conduct surveys to collect pupil feedback, for example on revision techniques; we ran a consultative review with 6th form students about amendments to school uniform and we continue to provide an impressive array of conduits and structures for the pupils’ voice to be heard.
  4. Through the quality and diversity of out-of-class activities, a glimpse of which we had earlier.

The critically important role of the staff has been mentioned. It is of course vital that not only individual teachers inspire and individual departments buzz, but that the staff as a team operates as productively as possible, such that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

We will continue to encourage in our pupils: curiosity; a willingness to explore and to question; and the desire to develop a lifelong willingness to learn. We will continue to do our utmost ensure that Rishworth School delivers a curriculum that addresses the needs and aspirations of every child who enters the School. The curriculum review, undertaken over much of the Michaelmas and Lent terms during the academic year will ensure that, for next academic year, and moving forward thereafter, the broad, balanced curriculum is available to all. Our teachers will ensure that children continue to gain excellent grades at GCSE and at A-level, and that those grades reflect a consistently outstanding measure of ‘value-added’ for every pupil.

We will continue to provide opportunities and challenges beyond the classroom, fulfilling our stated aim of encouraging every Rishworth child to become an independent learner, building confidence borne of successful experience.

I’d like to conclude by doing quoting from our Statement of Aims to remind us of what it is we are essentially trying to achieve:

We are seeking to foster:

  • a love of learning, a thirst for excellence and the will to succeed
  • a sense of responsibility, self-discipline, purpose and fulfilment
  • a capacity for both self-reliance and co-operation
  • an appreciation of certain personal virtues and spiritual values, such as honesty, dependability, perseverance, commitment, humility and respect for others

In my judgement, in the last year the School met those aims very well indeed. I thank the support staff, the teachers, the governors, the PTA, the parents, and the pupils, for the part they all played in helping us do so.

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