From the Head’s Desk: December 2011

As I write, the Christmas celebrations have started and this means, of course, the final week of term will soon be with us. It is a busy time as we are in the season of House Christmas Dinners, the Sixth Form Christmas Ball, the pantomime and the traditional end of term service of carols and lessons in the Priory. New this year will be a nativity play performed by the youngest pupils in the school, those in Prep. 1 and 2. It is a particularly poignant time for me and my family as this will be my last Christmas at St. Bees as I shall be retiring this coming summer after twelve very happy years at the school. The governors have interviewed a long and then a short list of candidates who applied for the post of Head from September 1st 2012 and an announcement concerning my successor is expected imminently.

In September, part of Abbots Court was reopened as a second business for the Rainbow Day Nursery. The licensing arrangement that we have with Rainbow Day Nursery means that the St. Bees School site now offers care and education for the entire age range – the nursery 0 - 4 years, the prep. department 4 - 11 years and the senior school 11 - 18 years.

Another major change that will occur in the New Year is the closure of the Management Centre in its present form. The Management Centre has over the past twenty years provided conference facilities for local businesses and an additional income stream for the school, but in the present economic climate, the surpluses generated were decreasing to the extent that losses were being forecast for future years. We are now exploring alternative uses for the Management Centre and it appears likely that the International Centre, presently situated in Foundation, will relocate to the building.

Following the investment in the sports hall facilities by the English Cricket Board in new indoor nets and the installation of improved lighting, St. Bees School can now act as one of Cumbria’s Cricket Academies. In addition, the climbing wall has been refurbished with the assistance of a grant from the St. Beghians 200 Club and the school’s Family Association. Will Sim, a young local professional climber, opened the wall for us on the last Friday in November. The outdoor activities programme is benefitting from using this upgraded facility. This year we are offering senior pupils the chance to join one of the school’s outdoor pursuits instructors for a two week expedition to Morocco during the forthcoming summer holidays. The pupils will spend their time trekking in the Atlas mountains as well as undertaking local community service work.

The governors’ Development Committee, chaired by Bill Colbeck (F 49-55), has met several times over the past year, and this month a new member of staff will be moving into the marketing office with some responsibility for supporting the work of the Committee. Over the coming months we hope to launch a series of initiatives such as an extension to the school’s management information system, for example, to provide a portal for the alumni of St. Bees.
During my time as Headmaster of St. Bees I have enjoyed meeting and talking to many past pupils of this special and unique school. I have no doubt that you will support my successor in the same manner, and I look forward to hearing of the school’s successes in the years to come.

Wishing you all a happy and prosperous New Year.

Philip Capes.



The St. Beghian Society,    St. Bees School,    St. Bees,    Cumbria,    CA27 0DS.
         Tel: (01946) 828093