St. Michael's Catholic High School
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (February 2009)|
|Motto||Veritas (Latin: "Truth")|
|Type||Voluntary aided Academy|
|Headmaster||Mr. Edward Conway|
|Chair of Governors||Mr K Rylett|
|Location||High Elms Lane
|Local authority||Hertfordshire County Council|
|Houses||Fountains, Iona, Kells, Lindisfarne, Rievaulx, Whitby|
St. Michael's Catholic High School is a secondary school with academy status located in the town of Watford, Hertfordshire. A Section 5 Ofsted inspection in October 2007 and a Section 48 Inspection by the Archdiocese of Westminster in November 2007 both judged the school as outstanding. In September 2010, headteacher John Murphy was succeeded by Edward Conway.
St. Michael's Catholic High School was founded by the Dominican Sisters in 1955, opening its gates for the first time in September of the same year. The choice of location was a direct result of an influx of families moving out of Central and North West london to South Hertfordshire, a large number of whom were of Irish/Italian descent. Prior to the school's opening, there was no Roman Catholic Secondary School in the county. This caused considerable challenges to the existing Holy Rood Primary School, which provided education to the age of 14. The opening of St. Michael's Catholic High School was planned in conjunction with new feeder primaries.
St. Michael's Catholic High School became a comprehensive school in 1966, thus catering for the full range of student abilities. This brought with it the first significant enlargement of the facilities. The science laboratories and new classrooms supplemented the original main corridor as part of the restructuring. In the 1990s the school spent a period of time under grant-maintained schools status. This led to the construction of the current administration block. Since 2000 there has been considerable upgrading of existing buildings in addition to construction of completely new wings. The first of these was the St. Martin de Porres wing which houses the English department and Drama Studio. Next came a floodlit astroturf, providing all-weather outdoor sports facilities. Then came the St. Mary Wing, housing the Geography department and a media centre. A new Sixth Form block, the Aquinas Centre, was opened by Watford M.P. Claire Ward in September 2008. This was followed by the new St. Bernadette Sports Hall in March 2010.
The school is now an academy, part of the Diocese of Westminster Academy Trust.
The school standard intake number is 168, but can accommodate up to 180 students per annum in six tutor groups. Each tutor group is named after a monastic institution of learning, namely: Fountains Abbey, Iona Abbey, Abbey of Kells, Lindisfarne Abbey, Rievaulx Abbey and Whitby Abbey.
Students generally remain with the same tutor group throughout their education and year groups are therefore crossed vertically by house groups. Assemblies are conducted in year groups whereas school Masses are celebrated in house groups. Each year group is led by a Pastoral Academic Learning Co-Ordinator (PALC), who is in turn supported by six tutors and additional staff. Students aged 16–18 progress into the Sixth Form.
In keeping with current government policy that schools in England and Wales should adopt a specialism, since September 2005, St. Michael's Catholic High School has been a Humanities specialist college. The additional funding that came with this accolade was primarily used to construct the St. Mary Wing. Lead departments are under the title of Theology and Philosophy, English and Geography. All three departments have a lasting track record of excellence in examination results.
St. Michael's Catholic High School is held in high esteem by the local community in Watford, The Archdiocese of Westminster and Hertfordshire County Council (Children, Schools and Families). As a Catholic community the school is Christocentric and emphasises, through its ambitious Mission Statement "Bringing Christ to All and All to Christ", excellence in all things, particularly in relationships and care for the most needy. There is a longstanding tradition of excellence in musicals, going back to the earliest days of the school under Sister Francis O.P. The most recent of these has been Godspell performed in January 2010. The community choir regularly sings in neighbouring parishes, both Roman Catholic, Anglican and other denominations. The orchestra regularly performs at St. Mary's Church in central Watford. Both the choir and orchestra are regularly involved in Archdiocesan liturgical celebrations.
The school regularly produces its news magazine, The Word. Since September 2007, this has been sponsored by the Watford Observer newspaper, which publishes the magazine on a termly basis a supplement to its newspaper.
Further afield, the Rwandan Partnership encourages students to think on a global Christian scale. Having already equipped a clinic in Mubuga, through sponsored walks and enterprise initiatives the school went on to purchase a four wheel drive ambulance and houses. The next project, spearheaded by a sponsored walk in October 2010, is to rebuild the crumbling walls of a reservoir. This will sustain clean drinking water for children and avert an environmental catastrophe.
In October 2007 Ofsted acknowledged St. Michael's Catholic High School as a "particularly successful school" and the Specialist College Trust hailed the school at BAFTA as one of England's "High Performing Specialist Colleges". This success was repeated in February 2009 when Ofsted judged the school "outstanding" in every category during a focused inspection on Literacy and Numeracy. The Physical Education Department has a philosophy of inspiring the athlete in all, which contributes to Sport England's awarding of Sportsmark gold to the school. There is an annual Gym and Dance Display. In March 2010, over 250 students took part.
The Investors in People Award has been a feature of the school for the last five years. This recognises the importance of staff training as well as students and is seen as an integral part of the school as an active Christian community. Following a revisit by Investors in People, the school is now deemed to be in the "outstanding" category, recognising the school's focus on healthy living and professional development.
In March 2010, the school was designated a Centre of Excellence in Geography, one of only eighteen in the country.
The school is involved with several partnerships, all of which seek to share good practice with other schools. There has been a long standing partnership with the Catholic Junior schools in the Deanery. The One World Festival in October celebrates shared Catholic values through music, dance, drama and prayer. The Annual Sports Day with Junior Schools cements mutual commitment to a healthy life style and healthy eating. The Annual Master Classes in Philosophy and the laboratory National Curriculum Science Days mean that the most able budding scientists from the Junior Schools can benefit from senior school facilities.
The Garston Campus partnership involves St. Michael's Catholic High School and Parmiter's School, both of which are situated on High Elms Lane. Inter-school departmental meetings take place twice per academic year. The 14-19 St Alban's Consortium comprises St Michael's Catholic High School, Nicholas Breakspear School, St Albans Girls' School and Loreto College. The Consortium was formed in response to the government's Extended Schools initiative. St. Michael's Catholic High School is the hub school for this group.
Notable former students
- Adam Bowden is a member of the England Athletics Team.
- Nigel Callaghan played for Watford F.C., Aston Villa F.C. and Derby County F.C. He also represented England at Under-21 level.
- Craig Mackail-Smith plays for Brighton & Hove Albion of the Football League Championship
- Gary Phillips played for and then managed Barnet F.C.
- Paul Robinson currently plays for Bolton Wanderers F.C. on loan from West Bromwich Albion F.C.
- Terence Ryan is a DJ and record label owner, performing under the name Atomic Hooligan with music partner Mat Welch.
Notable former staff
- Eryl McNally was Member of the European Parliament for the East of England.
- Kate Rainsford is a noted authoress of children's books and a local magistrate.
- Father Desmond Cantwell became Provincial Head of the Salvatorian Order.
- John Ridgewell was coach to the Under 16 Girls' England Basketball Team.
- Laura Brown joined the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta under the leadership of Mother Teresa.
- Amanda Morgan became England's first Advanced Skills Teacher.
- Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster
- Watford Observer
- Hertfordshire Direct