ST. AUGUSTINE’S GRAMMAR SCHOOL
MANCHESTER, M22 4PJ

Head Master The Rt Rev. Mgr. F.J. McGuiness, S.T.L., M.A.
Telephone 061-428 3896

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17th December 1976

My dear Parents,

In the midst of the journey which is our life in this world, there are times when darkness comes upon us: the days grow shorter, the nights grow longer, and yet we are never in danger of losing our way, because we have only to look up and there we see the light of the world, Jesus Christ, bring us the warmth, the lightness and the clarity of God’s revelation. At the end of a long and tiring term, in which, I am happy to say, much hard work has been done, I wish you all the joy, the consolation and enlightenment of the Christmas Festival.

By the time you receive this letter we shall have brought the Michaelmas term to an end, but there remains one more celebration before the holiday commences,— the Festival of Carols in our Assembly Hall at 8 p.m. tonight, to which you are all most cordially invited.

I have one delightful item of news to give you to end the term. As usual, at the end of November, a number of our boys sat for The Entrance Examinations for various Colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. We do not normally expect the results of these until some time late in January; however, we have heard of one result which I am sure you will wish to know — Aloysius Gregg has obtained an Exhibition to read for the Mathematical Tripos at Jesus College, Cambridge. Aloysius Gregg is in the second year Sixth, and we understand that he was one of only five candidates out of seventy five pre’A’ Level candidates awarded places.

The Lent term will commence on Tuesday, 4th January, 1977. Thursday, 6th January, the Feast of the Epiphany, will not be a school holiday but will be observed here in our own Chapel with the greatest possible solemnity, and we invite you and all your families to join us in the High Mass at 11 a.m.

Enclosed with this letter is another one from my First Deputy, Mr. Matthews, giving you full information about the policy concerning examinations, assessments, and the half—yearly reports which will reach you in February.

When your son returns on 4th January he should bring dinner money for a four—day week, i.e. 60p. Let me again ask that he should also bring 1 for the Chapel Fund. It has been our custom ever since the Chapel opened eleven years ago to raise funds by donations from the parents, because the supply of the requisites for public worship is something which we cannot demand of the Local Authority. It has always been the policy here to use the best materials in the worship of God, and during these years our Mass vestments have received much wear. The time has come to replace and increase our stocks so that this great school community may be able to worship in a fitting and memorable manner. I hope that despite the many heavy expenses of this season you will be able to supply the 1 for which we ask.

My colleagues on the teaching staff and I all wish you every blessing and all happiness for yourselves and all your families during this holy time of Christmas, and we look forward to the privilege of being at your service in the New Year.

 

Yours sincerely,

(F.J. McGUINESS)
Headmaster

ST. AUGUSTINE’S GRAMMAR SCHOOL, MANCHESTER

17th December, 1976

My dear Parents,

School Examinations: Lent Term 1977

This year, we shall again follow the recently established practice whereby the progress of boys in the Lower School (Forms One, Two and Three) has been ascertained by the use of continuous assessment and informal tests during the course of normal class work rather than by any programme of full—scale written examinations. I feel sure that parents of boys in Form One, in particular, will wish to know why I have taken this decision. The reasons are as follows

I. The purpose of any method of examining is to provide information by means of which the progress of your boys can be measured as accurately and conveniently as possible — always bearing in mind that boys who have important public examinations to take at the end of the year (me Advanced or Ordinary Level examinations of the General Certificate of Education) need the experience of’ a trial run beforehand under the proper conditions. Formal examinations have always been an imperfect means of ascertaining progress in that there is an element of chance involved: the mood of the boy on the day concerned, and even the questions he may have to answer — and the boy of nervous disposition — the poor examinee — may well be tested the least fairly by this means. Some form of continuous assessment or regular testing of a less formal kind during the course of normal lessons over an extended period of time may well be a fairer and more accurate means of gaining the information we require.

As far as the regular routine of the school is concerned, formal examinations, though sometimes unavoidable and desirable, do interrupt the teaching of your boy over a p6riod of weeks, and any time gained by a modification of the traditional means can only be of benefit to your Sons.

You will nevertheless be aware that your Sons’ stay with us will culminate in public examinations for the Ordinary or the Advanced Level of the General Certificate of Education, taken in either Form Five or the Lower Sixth. Bearing this in mind, we cannot wholly dispense with formal examinations, and the arrangements for our Lent Term School Examination will therefore be as follows

a) Boys in the Upper Sixth will have a full programme of formal examinations in all subjects. These we regard as "mock" A—Levels;

b) All boys in the Lower Sixth will be examined formally in the two subjects they will be offering for additional Ordinary Level examinations in May 1977. There will also be formal examinations for some boys in those Advanced Level subjects where a particular need exists. Generally, however, boys All continue with their normal timetables,

c) Form Five will have a full programme of’ formal examinations in every subject. These we regard as "mock" 0—Levels;

d) Form Four will have a full programme of written examinations in every subject except English Language and Literature, Latin and Classical Studies.

For Forms Three, Two and One, progress will be measured by continuous assessment and informal testing.

The period of our Lent Term Examination will be from Friday, 7th January to Tuesday, 18th January; but only part of the school will be engaged upon examinations at any time. The remainder will continue with their normal work.

You nay also wish to be reminded that our midsummer Examination, which I expect to arrange for a period of about ten days commencing at the end of June, WILL be of the traditional kind for all boys not concerned with public examinations. All boys in the Lower Sixth and Forms Four, Three, Two and One will therefore have a full programme of written examinations.

With all good wishes,

Yours sincerely,

(G. H. MATTHEWS)
Deputy Head Master
Director of Studies