EDUCATION: Meet the Head of St Gabriel’s School, Newbury

Education has been, and continues to be, much in the news so it is always good to get the view from the top and so we spoke to Ricki Smith, Principal of St Gabriel’s School in Newbury.

St Gabriel’s has recently announced some very exciting news, tell us more……..

Yes, we are proud to say that from September 2022 we will be going Co-Ed in the Senior School, starting in Year 7. We have always felt the loss of our boys in Year 6 but now they will be able to join the Senior School with the rest of their Year Group and those boys and girls joining St Gabriel’s for the first time in Year 7.  This move to become a fully Co-Ed School has been well considered and planned and we cannot wait to welcome the boys and provide them with the opportunity to access the outstanding and excellent all-round education that we offer to all our pupils.

It really is an exciting part of the school’s story and whilst we started our Co-Ed journey in the Nursery and Junior School, the natural progression, the plan, has always been to allow this to extend through to the whole school. We have been busy getting things ready, making changes that are good for all our young people, equipping them and the school for a new educational chapter, building on the 90 years of excellence that has gone before. We have been delighted with the reception and ‘zoom’ calls, meetings and interactions with interested families!

During the past year, pupils of all ages have had to deal with some tough challenges, how has
St Gabriel’s managed to mitigate those difficulties?

We have always put our pupils at the heart of everything that we do, and so we were quick to make the move across to remote learning. All lessons were through Teams and we have been so impressed with the way that the pupils have adapted to this new style of learning and continued to excel in their studies. Pastorally we have been making sure that we have been there to support all our pupils (and their families) in a time of unprecedented challenges, in education, in the workplace and in society as a whole.

Looking forward to a more normal year ahead, what is the thing you are most excited about?

No bubbles, fixtures, visitors, and the whole school community being able to come together to celebrate being a fantastic school. (And no more U turns!)

And finally, what would you like your pupils to say about you when they are your age?

Not so much about me, but about the school…school cared about me and as one of my current Sixth Form students recently said, ‘St Gabriel’s is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me; supporting me to be who I am has allowed me to become what I am.’
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