IT IS a school which has undergone huge change in the last few years but one that has remained true to the same strong values on which it was built.

St George Catholic College in Southampton, now enjoys the talents of both sexes after it opened its doors to girls last year, having previously been an all-boys school.

The move was in response to parental demand as families were keen to have their children educated together at a school with Catholic values at its heart.

The result was a fresh new look for the Leaside Way school with head teacher Graham Wilson describing it as an exciting new chapter in the history of the school, where currently 550 pupils are on roll.

He said: “I have to honestly say I love coming to this school.

It is a joy to work here. “I think we have responded to what our parents wanted and as a result we are seeing applications from across Hampshire to come to St Georges.”

Mr Wilson said that for this Year 7 intake the school received two applications for every place available.

“I think we were one of the most over-subscribed schools in the city.”

Mr Wilson said the school itself has adjusted well to the new female intake. “Everyone has been made to feel very welcome.

I think that is what we benefit from as a school. We already have that foundation of respect and understanding of community because our families tend to go to church together and take part in things together.

“That is the ethos that we base our school on and one that we will continue to develop.”

A word from the headteacher:

Daily Echo: Graham Wilson

St George Catholic College is a school rooted in history with a very exciting future ahead as a mixed college.

We are particularly proud of our Catholic ethos and traditional values, which give us a strong spiritual foundation on which our students develop not only academically, but also emotionally and ethically.

We also have a very closeknit community of students, families and staff. Our parents speak very highly of St George and this is something we value.

Our school site has the largest outdoor fields of any school in the city.

Our pastoral care and guidance is also outstanding.

We know each of our students well and their families, and we work hard to ensure we do our best for everyone.

We are also proud of our academic achievement. Our maths department for example has achieved the best GCSE results in Southampton four years running.

Lots of people recognise what St George has to offer and consequently the school is the most over-subscribed in the region for the number of places it can offer.

Why the grass is greener here!

Daily Echo:

PUPILS at St Georges are now benefitting from a state-of-the-art AstroTurf which can host football and hockey matches.

The £650,000 facility was funded by the Youth Sports Trust, Southampton City Council and the Building For Schools funding.

It also provides some more outdoor space for pupils to enjoy at lunchtime and break times.

Along with students enjoying the new pitches, the AstroTurf provides a valuable facility for the

Teacher James Habberley said: “This really is a first-class facility for the community as well as
the school and one which allows us to generate income in order to plough back into our facilities.”

Pointing out achievements gains reward

Daily Echo:

THE SCHOOL operates both a school council in which students contribute toward the  development of the school, and a school house system for which youngsters can earn house

Both instil a sense of ownership and teamwork while rewarding and celebrating achievements.

Two members from each year group are represented on the council which, in the past has re-designed the school uniform, led to the installation of new seating in the grounds.

 Students earn house points for good work, effort or by showing some of the qualities that are at the heart of the school’s beliefs.

They are deposited in boxes and added up to give a running total.

The emphasis on reward also extends to termly reward days where students can win a place on the reward day.

These days have included a day at a theme park and time at sports events and bowling.

Arty pupils draw on creative talents

Daily Echo:

CREATIVE arts plays a big part at St George’s with the same emphasis put on the arts as in any other subject.

Talented youngsters are identified and their potential stretched.

Each year parents and families are invited in for an exhibition of the pupils’ work where they get to showcase their best pieces in a gallery viewing-style event.

The school’s music and drama shows at Christmas and summer are also well supported.

Head of creative arts Sarah Sumner said: “There are plenty of opportunities for the students to get involved with the arts, including art textiles, lunchtime clubs, afterschool boosters along
with the musical side of ukulele club, drama and the school band.

Every student can shine at something.”

Youngsters are given sketch pads in which to keep all of their work. The school also had two kilns so this term has also seen students working with clay.

Theo makes a splash

Daily Echo:

WHEN not at school, pupil Theo Barnes can be found in the pool.

Aged 14 he is already a talented diver representing Southampton in national and international competitions.

He took up the sport at the age of nine when talent spotters came to his school and started him on the programme.

As a result he was picked to go forward for regular training and hasn’t looked back.

“I really enjoy diving and the school has been very supportive when I have to go away for competitions.

I get the work to do or have extra time to catch up so the support is there.”

Rooting for Archie

Daily Echo:

THE school is also rooting for pupil Archie Waldock, pictured, who is currently representing
Great Britain at a Tae Kwando event in China in a bid to qualify for the Youth Olympic games.