YSGOL St Gerard is beginning an exciting new era.
The pioneering independent day school – which again secured the highest GCSE and A Levels results in North Wales during the summer – will undergo a period of significant development over the coming months.
Attracting pupils from all over the region for more than a century, the Bangor institution is planning to build new sports facilities on its seven-acre site, including tennis courts and a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA).
They will also invest in cutting-edge IT equipment, a revamped website, social media channels and branding, innovative learning technology systems and improve signage, access, fencing and landscaping around its picturesque grounds.
The arrival of Business Manager Steve Griffiths in tandem with the inspirational leadership of long-standing Headteacher Campbell Harrison marks a fresh chapter for the beloved Gwynedd school, which employs more than 30 people locally.
“We have a long and proud history in Bangor for delivering high achievement while creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere for the children to reach their full potential,” said Mr Harrison.
“We are a small school but have reached great heights over the years because of the standard of teaching and support we offer, while retaining that identity.
“That will always be our priority, but we are also laying the foundations for the future, both academically and in terms of the facilities and footprint of the location.
“We are referred to as a well-kept secret, one of the area’s hidden gems, but now is the time for us to showcase and demonstrate how proud we are of the incredible work that’s taken place here, because it is truly outstanding.”
Mr Griffiths added: “I am thrilled to have joined the team here at St Gerard’s, it is a school steeped in history and tradition with a vision very much based on sustainability, progress, and innovation.
“That combination will lead to further growth on and educational level but also as part of the community, among our industry partners and the children and families it serves.
“Proposals for new sports pitches, tennis courts and other plans could also lead to us capitalising on commercial opportunities, as there is demand for these facilities locally.
“Ultimately, however, the education of the pupils is paramount, we are focused on that and building on the school’s fantastic reputation.”
Educating Welsh and English-speaking children from the ages of four to 18 years old, St Gerard’s had a busy summer period, joining the national Blue Light Programme – which provides a discounted provision for emergency service workers – and there has been a major overhaul of the gardens and grounds to cater for the health wellbeing of staff and learners.
The school is also approved by the MoD (Ministry of Defence) and for generations has been a source of inspiration and support to parents and carers in multiple industries, notably health, engineering, the military – given its proximity to bases including RAF Valley – and higher education.
For Mr Harrison, shining a light on the school’s “there for all” ethos, striving for excellence but not at the expense of a pupil’s welfare and happiness, is pivotal.
“I think what sets us apart is how personal the journey is,” he said.
“We sit down with parents for the first time and ask them what they want for their child, what their priorities are, whether it’s grades, a certain career, or for them to be safe and confident, to build character, resilience and do their very best.
“Given our approach, the size of classes and connection we have with our learners, we can achieve these things, because we know they are all different, they have different ambitions and needs – and we meet them consistently.”
Mr Harrison added: “Like so many schools and sectors we faced our challenges during the pandemic, but we are in a positive place and in a position to grow, stronger than ever.”