THERE was a significant theme that dominated this year’s Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School speech day, which boiled down to one simple word: Change.
During his opening speech the school’s chair of governors Simon Griffiths explained that 2013 had been a ‘remarkable year’ and spoke openly about the fact that aspects of the school needed to be worked on following a poor Ofsted report earlier in the year.
He explained that, at the beginning of the year, it was found that nearly half of the lessons observed by inspectors were ‘not good enough’ but added that, following a recent monitoring inspection, the situation had improved dramatically and now 83 per cent of the lessons observed ranked as good.
He said: “It has been a huge achievement but I want the school to have a continued focus and to focus on the issues raised by Ofsted and to look at what QEGS will look like in the long term.
“It’s not just about being an outstanding school, which I know it will be, but it’s about how QEGS can now become a world class local school.”
Mr Griffiths, who has children at the Green Road School, spoke proudly and confidently about his hopes and aspirations for the school’s future and his optimism in the current team.
The annual speech day is a chance for Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School to round off its year, celebrate its achievements and award its hardest-working pupils.
To emphasise its message of ‘change’ the stage wall of the main hall had been decorated with massive baubles each featuring a picture of a new addition to life at the school. These included the new emphasis on the importance of the school’s four houses, the new uniform, student leaders and new lockers.
During the evening a video was played in which staff and pupils sang along to their own version of ‘Changes’ by David Bowie, while clips of the school’s new additions were slotted in among the lyrics.
Guest speaker at the event, which took place on Thursday, was Councillor Andrew Lewer - a county and district councillor, deputy chairman of the Local Government association and prospective East Midlands candidate for the European Parliament.
Councillor Lewer, who attended QEGS between 1982 and 1989, delivered an inspiring and passionate speech in which he adamantly referred to QEGS as ‘my school’ and explained his fondness for it.
He said: “It’s given me the grounding and the inspiration to do the things I’ve done over the years, including being the youngest county council leader in the country, leading the county council for four years.
“I hope that when you achieve success, and I know many of you will and I know that it can be defined in so many different ways, I hope you will always spare a thought and hold a place in your heart for this place and the inheritance that it has given you.”
A POSITIVE message threaded its way through head teacher Anne Martin’s annual speech, following a year of ups and downs.
Mrs Martin chose to focus on Queen Elizabeths Grammar School’s achievements throughout 2013 and made no mention of its rocky ride on the Ofsted treadmill, instead reiterating the message of the Green Road school’s ‘exciting backdrop of change’ and giving a few highlights.
She called Jo Gill to the stage to read a poem about youth that had been published in a book written by the poet laureate for Derbyshire – Matt Black.
Sporting stars were given credit incluing Harry Wakeman, from the school’s successful equestrian team; Oliver Fewtrell who represented England in rugby and Lialle James who won medals in gymnastic championships.
Former pupil Jacob Tong was invited to tell the story of his successful rugby career and how QEGS had helped him find a place in university. Art student Rosie Yates explained how the school’s current tie-in with Ashbourne jewellery CW Sellors had inspired her as the winner of a recent competition held by the jewellers to design a Shrovetide charm, which was on display during the evening.
Volunteering was also hailed as a strength among the pupils and the hard work done by pupils including Matthew Donnelly coaching football to disadvantaged children in South Africa and Emma Walker who participated in the Derbyshire Big Vote were given a mention.
Rounding off her speech, Mrs Martin said: “Despite the many achievements that have marked Queen Elizabeth’s history, we are focused on the future. We are inspired by what we have done, but we are most excited and energized about what we may do together in the years ahead.
“As you leave here I do hope you will be open to, indeed will seek out, the unexpected, the unfamiliar, and even on occasion the uncomfortable. You are not here to chart an easy course but to take intellectual and creative risks. You are not here to replicate your past experiences, but to have new ones, as you work with others, make new friends who will support you, challenge you, and significantly enrich your lives.
“I hope that each of you will take full advantage of the new beginnings that are available to you at this time in your lives. I hope, too, that your education and experience here at QEGS will not only prepare you for your life’s work but inspire you to create a life full of meaning.”