Nurturing every
child to exceed
their potential

Prizegiving Evening

SJB90YearsStampOn Friday, 17th November 2017 we were delighted to hold our 90th Annual Prizegiving Ceremony in our school’s Monty Green Sports Hall. Over four hundred invitees attended this prestigious event.

The evening featured a piano solo by B Woodrow playing Romance, a delightful performance from St John’s Choral Verse Group who performed The Lion and Albert by Marriott Edgar, the St John’s Vox Senior Vocal Group performed Hold back the River and our Songbirds performed Friend like Me, all conducted by our Head of Music, Miss Ibbotson.

Below is a transcript of Headmistress, Mrs Armour’s, thought provoking speech, which highlighted the multitude of successes throughout the past year. Pupils were then presented with their awards. Prizes were given for Achievement, Endeavour and Progress, as well as for excellence in specific subjects. Trophies and cups were awarded for elocution and for sporting success. The school was also pleased to welcome back former pupils, who left last year, who were presented with their GCSE certificates.

The evening was a wonderful celebration of the pupils at St John’s.

Mrs Armour’s Speech

Good evening Ladies, Gentlemen and pupils

I am delighted to welcome you all to our 90th Prizegiving evening.

It therefore gives me enormous pleasure to give you a very brief insight into the moment our School was born 90 years ago, and the reason we all have the joy of being here tonight and I quote from a historical archive: “On a fine sunny day in April 1927 a man aged about thirty and his wife might be seen leaning over the gate of a field in Stock Road, Billericay. Before them was a country scene of some beauty as ten young heifers grazed contentedly in a field surrounded by large oak and elm trees. Mr Higby, however, was not so much interested in the scenery as in the fact that here, at last, was a suitable site for the school which it was his ambition to establish”.

Mr Higby the first Headmaster was sadly blinded at a young age due to an accident but this did not deter him from achieving his degree at St John’s College Oxford in 1924 and starting his teaching career. However, he soon realised that his dream was to own his own school.

Once he had found the land, and enlisted the financial support of his best friend at Oxford alongside his father-in-law he was ready to build his school.

Consequently on Saturday 21st January 1928 the brand new St John’s School came into being offering excellent education for children between 5 and 15 with just 9 pupils! And the rest as they say is history and of course we now have approximately 400 pupils between the ages of 2 and 16. Many of whom are here tonight wearing their brand new uniforms we designed to celebrate our Anniversary.

For 90 years our school has built its unique path into the future and without doubt it still does today, in fact everything we say and do today is already paving the way to remarkable futures for our delightful pupils.

The pursuit of academic excellence starts with our very youngest children in Kindergarten so ably and warmly led by Sandra Revill and her team producing and challenging hungry little minds to achieve their very best but never forgetting the sheer undiluted magic of childhood giving them all the very best gifts of all, literacy and numeracy, the wonderful freedom to read and write what they wish!

The Junior School under the excellent leadership of Joanne Littlefield and her fun loving, staff takes up the baton of academic success culminating in splendid success at 11+. However once again we will never, ever overlook the importance of happiness and self-fulfilment and the joy that the reinforcement of success can bring. If they are trying their best we are delighted with them, it’s as simple as that.

After the age of eleven comes the enormous step into Senior education where so much more independence and self-motivation is expected leading to the tough rigours of the GCSE’s.

Following on from the Junior school our Senior school well and truly celebrates the individual and the fact that being an individual brings great success in adulthood. Once again quite simply if your’re the same as the rest you won’t get noticed, if you stand out and believe in yourself you can become whatever you want to be, fly as high as you want, achieve the unbelievable! Simply by trying your best.

Our GCSE results this year were outstanding and we never stop modifying and changing our methods in order to get the very best from the pupils.

All this is truly thrilling for us your teachers, there isn’t one of us who isn’t completely dedicated to helping, encouraging and guiding our pupils to be the very best they can! Inspectors have commented on the exemplary behaviour of our pupils where it’s considered “cool” to learn at this school.

Our pastoral system is second to none, I can honestly say from my heart we couldn’t care, listen and advise any more earnestly than we do. Each, and I mean every pupil is listened to and for that I thank with enormous sincerity the senior managers in KG and Juniors and Sharon Zoller and Barbara Hobbs in the senior school.

This term our pastoral team has been wonderfully enhanced with the new role of Behavioural Manager and the appointment of Liz Morgan to that role. Increasingly the problems, worries and concerns of pupils move on and Liz is at the forefront of all current matters.

To sum up our wonderful pastoral team, no child or parent at St John’s should ever feel alone. Quite simply we try our best to listen!

Both Lesley Hyland and Polly Lines continually work on the enhancement of our curriculum, tracking, monitoring and improving our pupils progress. Inspiring and motivating the truly able to achieve the highest heights and encouraging and assisting those that find academic pursuits more challenging to believe in themselves And develop their own personal gifts.

Quite simply we want every individual to try and achieve their very best.

Our sporting achievements are as always outstanding for a small school, producing sports men and women of a very high calibre! However, despite the importance of winning which prevails, so does the ethos ‘having a go’ once again we simply want each of them to do their best.

This ethos shines so brightly in our drama department, culminating annually in our school production, this year was ‘Oliver’ produced and directed by Sharon Zoller and Katharine Ibbotson, now it’s obvious St John’s certainly has talent! And this is wholeheartedly enhanced each year with our many Musical Productions, every child simply has a go and again tries their best.

Extra-curricular activities are numerous and varied including our LAMDA speech and drama pupils who achieve astounding results and the Duke of Edinburgh Award where the most unexpected pupils conquer amazing pursuits. All they are doing of course is simply their best.

This academic year we said a sad goodbye to the following members of staff: Sarah Greenin, Olga Sanz and Dee Causey. We wish them the very best for the future. In our Bursary Department we will be saying a very sad farewell to Sue Philpott after 24 years, she will be so missed and personally I will miss her wisdom, support and friendship, we wish her a long and happy retirement with her husband Brian. In September we welcomed Nicky Adams, Rosie Skeldon and Penny Nisbett onto our staff and I wish them all a long and happy association with us.

At this point I would also like to truly thank from the bottom of my heart Mike Butler, Andrew Angeli and Amy Fleming my Lead Management team, for their unfailing support, advice and most of all their love and friendship.

Now to return to our 90th Anniversary, you all know we offer our children every opportunity to ask and explore whatever topic they wish. However when several of our younger pupils earnestly enquired of me ‘were you here Mrs Armour when the school first opened’ for a rare moment I was left rather speechless thinking oh my oh my that expensive face cream can’t be doing what it said on the box!

Anyhow, I certainly didn’t wish to squash their inquisitiveness so I replied ‘well not quite girls’ and they peered at me with such glorious and honest innocence and replied ‘it must have been sooo different in the olden days!’ and off they skipped.

However, it must also be said I have been honoured to be Headteacher for many wonderful years and in fact Mrs Osen and I started together in the very same year, therefore we know each other extremely well! I know she can read me like a book, and when I start a sentence with ‘I speak to you from the heart’ she is always and suddenly filled with abject fear and dread at just how many noughts she will have to write on the cheque!

Indeed many teachers sitting before you have dedicated their lives to this profession giving many, many years teaching generations of children in our much loved school and it is the words of Louis Armstrong’s song, Wonderful World that come to mind. ‘I see children born, I watch them grow they’ll know much more than I’ll ever know! And its so profoundly true! So many pupils in front of us this evening we’ve known since the day they were born and we’ve watched them grow from babies, to children, to young adults. However the fact of the matter is, us teachers having been in full time education for more years that most of us like to admit, as it cannot be overlooked that many of us have never left school, ‘the children will know much more than we’ll every know’! After all it’s with undiluted shock and horror they react when we tell them some of us didn’t have a landline phone in our homes as children! Let alone a calculator or computer.

It has to be said undoubtedly our World is now overflowing with technology, our children do not know an existence without mobile phones, laptops, Ipads, Xboxes, DS’ and playstations. We the adults in this current moment in history have provided a future offering them the amazing freedom given with such wonderful and amazing technological advancement. But my message to us all tonight is sadly, this wonderment can so quickly turn into the most heinous of monsters in the hands of innocent young people and it holds in its grip unthinkable danger. My advice for the future is we’ve provided the monster now we the adults must teach them how to be in control of it and use it with respect, insight and understanding.

I for one truly want to sustain the innocence of children for as long as we can where they are allowed to use their imaginations to be creative, inventive and self-motivated. Remember there is nothing wrong with children being ‘bored’ from time to time. They will with certainty know much more than I’ll ever know ……. Because the whole world is now available on a screen in front of them, they only have to press a button!

Before us all tonight is a future of glorious young people who we will try our best to keep safe in their lives with everything we explain to them in school. We want them to leave us with the knowledge, strength and conviction to not only be the best they can be but also become decent, kind and honourable people who we are profoundly proud of. Thank you for sharing your beautiful children with us.

Lastly, my final hope for the future is for our beloved school. May it go on from strength to strength for the next 90 glorious years.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you our much loved pupils please join me and celebrate with them.

Head Girl & Head Boy Speech

Prize giving speech 2017

Good evening, we hope that you have enjoyed the presentation so far.

On behalf of the pupils of st johns we would like to thank you for attending our prize giving.

When thinking about the subject for our speech tonight, several topics came to mind but we kept coming back to the same idea – ‘numbers’

Now this maybe because …..we are in the same maths group and obviously it is our favourite subject!!!!

Or maybe it’s because numbers are all around us and play such an important part in our lives. We hope by the end of our speech you will agree with us that there is a great deal in a number.

I bet all of you have a favourite number. We asked one of our teachers what her favourite number was. She said ……..‘pi’ which is 3.14 and then went into great details as to why.

We then asked another member of the same department what they thought of ‘pi’. ‘lovely’ she said ‘apple pie is my favourite but it has to be with custard’!!!!!!!!!!!

So obviously favourite numbers can conjure up all sorts of ideas

What’s your favourite number hugh?

Well, it will probably come as no surprise ellie, but ………number one is pretty important to me! As children and young adults our families make us feel like we are number one – but i had never experienced that feeling in a school before, until i came to st john’s.

You are right, we are all made to feel that we matter. We are encouraged to strive to be the best we can – to be number one.

This was the first school that made me feel important, that i was cared for, that i could be myself – that i could be number one. Of course, you know one of the reasons for this, don’t you ellie?

I think i can guess

Yes, you’re right – its because we have a number one head teacher in mrs armour.
What about other special numbers? Birthdays are always important any one celebrating a birthday today?
Yes – happy birthday and thank you for spending it with us tonight
No – oh a little embarrasing – statistically that shouldn’t have happened, but moving on

18 and 21 are traditionally coming of age birthdays
And for those of you who are a little maturer remember 60 is the new 40!
Then there are wedding anniversaries and their associated gems

10 is tin

20 china

25 silver

30 pearl

40 ruby

50 gold

60 diamond – though we are guessing that in the armour household every anniversary is diamond.

70 platinum and so on

Out of all these wonderful numbers there is truly one amazing number.
Often confused with nineteen, a natural number between 89 and 91, –

Come on you budding mathematicians you must have worked it out by now- yes it’s the number 90.

Why is it so amazing you may ask – is it because there are 90 degrees in a right angle?
Or perhaps its because the number 90 is used 5 times in the bible

Or maybe because 90-60-90 is considered ideal proportions for models – that’s centimeters not inches!!!!

Perhaps its because thomas edison once said ‘success is – 10% inspiration
90% perspiration’

Or maybe its because of stugeons law that says ‘90% of everything is rubbish’

Don’t talk rubbish!
And did you know that the worlds oldest couple celebrated their 90th wedding anniversary in 2015

Wow that amazing, i bet that was an expensive gem

Actually no, its stone – mr armour don’t even go there!!!!!

However, we think 90 is amazing because this year we celebrate 90 years of st johns.
Think about it – st johns has been in existence probably longer than most of us here have been alive.

Throughout those 90 years the school has undergone many changes, the latest being the lovely new uniform launched this year.
Though rumour has it that it has taken 90 years to decide upon it! – only joking!

Although many changes have taken place over those 90 years the ethos of the school remains constant. You, our parents, send us here not only to be educated but also to become young adults equipped for todays society.

It is a place where we can be happy, secure, cared for and made to feel like we are number one.

We thank mrs osen and her family for providing the opportunity for this school to flourish, especially when we sadly hear of others falling by the wayside.

We thank mrs armour, teaching staff and non teaching staff– for all the time and care you give, and for making us believe we can be number one, a single thank you is not enough. Not even 90 thank yous would be enough, so we send infinite thank yous your way.

To you, our families and friends, thank you for giving us the best opportunity possible by sending us to st johns and supporting us through our formative years.

We hope that we have demonstrated the power of numbers and that behind every number there is a story.
Will we be here in 90 years time? – who knows, but one thing we are confident about is that st johns and its legacy will be.
Goodnight and have a safe journey home.