St Mark’s Catholic Primary School in Halewood has a vision to create a family environment for pupils, whilst ensuring that each and every child reaches their full potential both in and out of the classroom. On the cusp of the school’s 50th anniversary we caught up with headteacher Richard Coakley to find out more about his busy working week and what makes the St Mark’s community so special.
I usually arrive at school at 8.00am each morning and pop in to breakfast club to speak to staff and pupils, catching up on their weekend’s events. After that it’s back to the school office to meet office staff and check my messages. We have a briefing each morning for all staff at 8.45am to run through the day ahead, then it’s out onto the playground as usual to greet arriving pupils and parents. Monday is a busy morning as three classes are going swimming at Halewood Leisure Centre, luckily a short walk away. After school is our staff meeting, where we plan school improvement. We are fortunate in having such enthusiastic and committed staff, who are passionate in providing the best for our pupils.
Every pupil in Year 4 learns to play a musical instrument for the year and our teacher comes into school each Tuesday morning to teach ukulele, which is very popular. Last year I went with them to St Vincent’s School, West Derby to play in a world record attempt at having the largest ukulele performance. They also played this year with the Liverpool Ukulele Orchestra for the school and parents. Spanish lessons take place in the afternoon for pupils. I show a parent around our school and always feel proud as each class we go into sees happy, smiling children who obviously love being here. I usually visit every class for a few minutes each day, to meet with pupils and see their learning in progress.
I meet our PTA and run though the school’s 50th anniversary celebrations. They have organised a number of activities, including the annual summer fair and we plan the end of year assembly, with each class presenting significant events and music from each decade since the school began in 1965. I also speak to Fred Lawless, an ex pupil who attended St Mark’s when it first opened, who is going to talk at the celebration assembly. He is a playwright who has written the Christmas play for the Royal Court in Liverpool for the past seven years.
Each Thursday all classes have Big Maths, pupils are split into small groups to focus on specific areas they need to develop. I teach a group of ten pupils, mainly Year 6, but some Year 5 and a Year 4 boy. They are always enthusiastic and eager to learn, which makes a teacher’s job much more rewarding and fun. After school activities are numerous and varied, tonight a parent who is a secondary English teacher is rehearsing with pupils for their performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ as part of the Shakespeare School’s Festival. The athletics team are in training on the school field, following their double trophy winning feats at Wavertree two weeks ago. On the way home after school I met Katarina Johnson Thompson, ex pupil and Olympic heptathlete. She flags me down and a camera is thrust into my face, whilst Darren Campbell asks me questions about Katarina’s time at St Mark’s for a BBC documentary.
The morning is spent meeting with the governor responsible for pupil premium spending and looking at pupil progress within each class. Later I finish my Headteacher’s Report for governors in preparation for the end of year meeting. In the afternoon I go out onto the playground to see our zonepark. This involves all children being out on the playground with all our teaching assistants for half an hour in the middle of each afternoon for sports activities. Friday finishes with an assembly, where we celebrate pupils’ achievement in various aspects of their school life. Before I head for home I meet with senior staff to review the week gone by and discuss the week ahead.