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The meeting opened with a Buffet Supper prepared by Lennie Jenkins and the School Kitchen Staff.

1. Chairman’s Welcome
Maggie welcomed Mary Utton, the Headteacher, Peter Neve, Deputy Head and 51 members. She gave special thanks to those who had travelled – Gwen McLaughlin from Portishead, Jean Grant from Taunton, Barbara Gray from Redruth, Laura Mitchell and Jan White from Exmouth, Joyce Townsend from Ilsington and Heather Morgan from Chudleigh Knighton. She thanked everyone for their support and making the evening a success. This is still the best-attended event in our calendar. In a change from previous AGMs, Lennie Jenkins, School Catering Manager provided a hot buffet. He was thanked for the meal and, in particular for serving it to each of the tables.

At a School presentation last November, a former pupil, Corinna Lawrence was the guest for the evening. She was an inspiring girl, an Olympic fencer. Maggie invited Corinna as our guest tonight, but due to work commitments she was unable to come. She prepared a video for us to see tonight, which was enjoyed by members before commencement of the meeting.

2. Apologies
Apologies received from 29 members. The following received a special mention –

Elaine Sly – has had a knee replacement surgery and is making a good recovery

Joan Dugga – one of our oldest members, has had a hip replacement and is not able to venture out yet

Laura Fairburn – although living abroad for most of the year, is currently in Plymouth; but unable to attend tonight

Zela Cameron – unable to travel, but sends regards to all who remember her and donated a voucher to the raffle. She will be meeting with Ann Wilson and Carol Chase, fellow ‘old girls’, at her home in the Wirral to reminisce about school days.

3. Minutes of the AGM 2012
Copies of the Minutes were displayed on each table. These were accepted as a true record, proposed by Barbara Gray, seconded by Paula Roberts, all agreed.

4. Matters Arising
The only matters arising relate to the Annual Dinner and these were discussed as a separate item later in the meeting.

5. Chairman’s Report
The Association is still thriving, and this year we have had 27 new members, 7 came from a 1976 year-group reunion in September, organised by Helen Wright. Maggie emphasised how effective reunion events are in raising interest in our Association, as well as being fun to attend. She urged others to consider organising similar events for their year groups and suggested that the website can be useful in advertising such events. She also urged members to visit the website, to see photographs of the Dinner and the Cheese & Wine evening. Maggie thanked Gail Johnson in the School Office, for her help improving the site, and also Rob Banks who does all our letter copying.

We made a donation of £600 to the School at the Annual Dinner – £400 of it went towards new outdoor seating for the girls and £200 for the Belle Plate group who played for us at last year’s AGM. We hope to make a further donation when funds permit and Jennie, our Treasurer, will deal with this when appropriate.

The Languages Prize was won by Nicole O’Connor, presented last November, and the Technology prize was awarded to Gemma Kerr. The School has advised us that the prize money will be halved to keep it in line with other awards. Thus our commitment for the annual prizes drops to £40 per year for the 2 awards.

Last year’s AGM had 54 people attending, this year 53. The Dinner at the New Continental Hotel had 46 people, although 4 were unable to make it on the night due to illness. The evening was very enjoyable, although the food was not quite as described on the menu, but nevertheless, good. We held it at cost last year, rather than adding an extra £1 to contribute to administrative costs, and the committee has agreed to continue this.

The Cheese & Wine was again a great success with 44 attending; this is our best fund-raising event, as the Committee do all the work for the evening, so a very big thank you to everyone for all their effort. Dr Rob Van Es updated us on the Hummingbird Project and 2 girls from the Team came along. The Team qualified again for the National Finals at Goodwood, where they came 12th overall after being rammed off the course. This is a major ongoing project for the School and perhaps we can think of supporting them again in the future.

This year we have lost a well-known member, Mary Patel nee Quick, who died quite suddenly in April aged 83. Mary was a former pupil, a History Teacher for many years and a regular attendee at our events. Almost everyone attending will have known Mary, who will be missed. At much the same time a former Maths Teacher Mrs Coles (nee Truscott), also died. Again many attending remember her too, and we are all are sad to hear of their passing. A regular face at our meeting is here tonight - Jean Stark one of the 49’ers – Jean has been unwell for a while, so it is good to see her here tonight. We send our best wishes to Elaine Sly, who is almost recovered from a knee operation, and hope she will be with us next time.

It has been suggested again that our name may be a bit “off putting” especially to younger generations, and with boys now entering for sixth form studies, it may need to be more inclusive in the future. PHS Alumni has been proposed, so this will be put to a vote later in the meeting, giving members some time to consider it, or make other suggestions.

To finish off, Maggie said how much she has enjoyed being part of the “Old Girls”. Over the years she has got to know many members. Doreen Johnson (nee Horne) was showing Maggie her diary, with a record of her first Old Girls Dance – right after she left School, and she must definitely be one of our longest serving members. Maggie mentioned many other members there that night, familiar faces and she always enjoys having a chat. It is lovely to see everyone here and to have had your support over the years. But most of all, a big thank you to the great Committee, who put so much effort into making things work. Fran – who has taken over the database and has done a great job getting her head around it all. Jennie – who took over the Treasurer’s role, and has taken the replies this time, another busy role. Jennie also does the lovely flower arrangements – thank you for them Jennie, always really beautiful. Heather and Paula joined the Committee at the last AGM and have had a terrific input into our meetings. Heather has taken over the Secretary Role, so is particularly busy tonight, but she takes it all in her stride in such an efficient and competent manner. Paula has been very busy in her working life this year, but took some excellent photos at the Dinner. Deirdre is unable to be here tonight, but is well known to all doing the Raffle. Barbara has been on the Committee for 2 years now, and is a ready helper and another well-known face from the Raffles. She travels from Redruth, so quite a trip for events and meetings. Barbara has decided to stand down at this AGM. Maggie thanked her for all the help and commitment she has shown over the years and offered her a small token of our appreciation. Maggie hopes that she and Barbara can both enjoy a more relaxed time together at meetings now.

The invitation letter informed members that Maggie is retiring from the Chairman’s position after this AGM. She has been Chairman for only 2 years but has been 10 years on the Committee this time, and was part of an earlier Committee too. She feels this is long enough and that it is time for someone with fresh ideas to take on the role. The spirit of the Committee is great, and they have worked so well together that she feels sad to be going, but she hopes someone will stand for this role later on tonight.

6. Headteacher’s Remarks
Mary Utton said that she was delighted to be attending her sixth PHSOGA AGM. She informed us that this term the school has been reaffirming the core values that we would have been expected to embrace when we were pupils at the school –

• Consideration for others • Tolerance and Respect • Honesty and Integrity • Fairness

Mary confirmed that it is embracing these values that will enable the school to achieve its aim of becoming an outstanding Grammar School for the 21st Century, remaining true to the philosophy of the school’s motto ‘For Life Not School We Learn’ –

• Promoting a culture of high aspiration enabling personal and academic success

• Preparing students to become confident, independent learners

• Providing them with an outstanding education through high quality teaching

• And of course, providing enjoyment, excitement and challenge for all of them, with an enthusiasm for life-long learning.

Mary expressed her gratitude for the support the Old Girls give to current girls, and how much she enjoys this opportunity to share some of their achievements over the past year.

A level and GCSE results

At A level we again need to congratulate the students on their outstanding successes. The overall pass rate for A2 exams was 97% with 74% A* to C and 51.5% A* to B. Our average point score per entry rose to 236 points showing the improvement we are making at this level. 6 students gained A* and A grades across the board. Our top-scoring student was Hannah Bettison. Nicola Bowman, Alice Brown, Danielle Worden, Esther Gibbs and Jenny Little made the most progress against their targets. Our IB Diploma results were equally impressive. Harriet Boston gained a total of 35 marks (equivalent to 4 A* grades) and Clara Asmussen and Joe Morel each scored 34 marks. With regard to what they’ve gone on to do next: 77 gained a place at university and we’re delighted for Jenny Vallis that she achieved her Oxbridge place; 6 have come back into Year 14; 10 have gone into employment and 13 are taking a gap year with an intention of going into Higher Education next year.

GCSE results. This year 94% achieved at least five or more GCSE subjects at grades A* - C including English and mathematics. The number of A* - A grades that students achieve remains high with 48.3% of girls gaining 5 or more A* / A grades and 34% achieving 8 or more A* / A grades. This was disappointing as we had expected our outcomes with regard to A*/A grades to be higher but changes to English Language marking and grade boundaries pulled this down. However we do have many students who deserve praise, particularly Eleanor Borthwick, Aimee Ruffle, Jane Brooks, Aimee Burlison and Gemma Kerr, Victoria Stace, and Manon Louis Puttick who all achieved at least 7 x A*s and at least 11 A* or A grades. Eleanor Borthwick was our top scoring student with 11 x A*s. There are also many others who should be very proud of what they achieved as we are.

A key part of the commitment to improve literacy skills within the whole school is promoting the importance of reading for pleasure. Recently the school has introduced Whole School Reading Time, which works very successfully in other schools. All members of staff will be supporting the students to enjoy reading, and enable the girls and boys to read a wide range of good quality literature. Whole School Reading Time has been launched this term, and students bring suitable reading material to school every other Wednesday, when they read for 20 minutes during registration / Tutor time.

Team Hummingbird and the Formula 24 racing car continues to hold its own against opposition but Robert Van-Es has updated the Association on this at their Summer Social Evening, so Mary chose to report some other achievements.

Perhaps the most outstanding success for this year was when the Bar Mock Trial team went up to the national finals at the Royal Court of Justice in London and returned clasping the National Champions trophy. What an outstanding result! Mary emphasised how proud she is of them.

This year has been the 10th anniversary of the school’s link with Ahantaman School in Sekoni-Takoradi, Ghana. The link has enabled genuine curriculum projects to take place in both our schools and Ahantaman is now recognised as a leading school in Ghana for ICT. Staff and students led by Mrs Frean went out again at the beginning of July during Curriculum Enrichment Week.

Mary explained that she believes challenging adventures are important to the girls’ personal development. She is therefore delighted that Leon Graves has agreed to be the school’s lead for the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme, which has not been able to run for the past few years. It is expensive and time consuming for staff, but because of its value to our students it is something that Mary is determined to support.

Mary thanked the Association for inviting her to join us and be part of the AGM.

7. Treasurer’s Report
The figures were presented on the back of the Agenda, showing a closing balance of £848.45. Jennie thanked members for their continuing generosity. As in previous years, the raffles have been very successful with generous donation of prizes and purchasing of tickets. Members have also forwarded stamps, which is much appreciated as it reduces our administration costs.

Question from the floor:
Jennie was asked to explain the decision not to add £1 to the cost of the Annual Dinner in order to cover administration costs.

Response from Treasurer and Chairman

The decision was taken for a variety of reasons.
Due to the use of email and the generous donation of stamps, our administration costs have greatly reduced.
The Annual Dinner is the most expensive event and is attended by a relatively small percentage of the membership, therefore those who attend are subsidising the administration costs for all members.
The Cheese and Wine event has proved very successful in recent years and as it is organised by the committee we are able to raise sufficient funds to cover administration costs without asking members to pay an extra pound when they attend the Annual Dinner.
8. Membership Secretary’s Report
This financial year we have had 27 new members, bringing the active membership total to 214. Sadly, some of our members have passed away this year and Maggie has spoken of them. A few others have asked to be moved to the retired list, as they are not in a position to support any functions. We now contact 145 members by email, leaving 69 to be contacted by post. As usual, postage and stationery is a significant administrative cost, so members with an email address are asked to let us know. Could members also let us know of any changes to their contact details so that the database can be kept up to date?

Fran thanked Maggie and Jennie for their enthusiasm in encouraging new members this year. Existing members were asked, if they know any ‘old girls’ or ex members of staff, to bring them along to any of our three annual events, or to forward their details so that we can contact them and send a membership application form. Fran added her thanks to members for their continued support and generosity with raffle prizes and stamps.

9. Nomination and Election of Committee Members
Maggie Wilson and Barbara Gray announced their retirement from the committee and proposals were sought for the post of Chairman and committee member.

There were no proposals or volunteers for Chairman.

Committee members -

Angie Thorne and Angela Luscombe volunteered, proposed by Fran Easter, seconded by Rosemary Crawford, carried.

Jennie Rickard continues as Treasurer

Fran Easter continues as Membership Secretary

Heather Morgan continues as Minutes Secretary

Paula Roberts and Deirdre Harvey continue as committee members.

10. Annual Dinner Spring 2014
Last year’s dinner at the Continental was discussed and it was agreed that it had been a successful evening – photos of members enjoying the evening have been posted on the PHSOGA section of the school website.

In recent years there have been suggestions that we should consider a different venue, so Maggie has researched some of the suggestions, which were discussed before voting on the shortlisted options:

St Elizabeth House, Plympton – beautiful setting and the menu choices are good. Unavailable on Friday evenings but could offer a Sunday lunchtime, which would be considerably cheaper (£14 for 2 courses, £16 for 3 courses).

Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, The Hoe - offered a menu at £25 per head, but maybe costs for parking. Bar prices are lower.

Duke of Cornwall Hotel – similar menu to the Continental but slightly more expensive, £27.50, not including tea and coffee; limited parking available to the rear of the hotel (25 places), although street parking is available nearby at possible cost.

Newman Hall, PHS – Lennie would cater the event and we would provide drinks; this venue lacks the ambience of the hotels

The Continental Hotel - is a tried and tested venue with free on-site parking. Three course meal £27, including teas and coffees.

First vote to decide whether to continue with an evening event or move to lunchtime:

Evening meal – 22 votes Lunch – 15 votes Abstentions – 16

Therefore it was agreed that we would continue with a Friday evening event – this excluded St Elizabeth House as a venue.

Following a discussion it was agreed that neither the School nor the Yacht Club would be appropriate venues so a vote was taken on the Continental and the Duke of Cornwall Hotels:

Continental – 25 votes Duke of Cornwall – 3 votes

Most other members stated they had no preference so it was agreed that we would return to the Continental

Date will be confirmed for either 21st or 28th March 2014.

11. AOB

11.1 There was much discussion about a change of name for our Association, with suggestions for alternative names. It was decided that as this is a major decision it should be put to the wider vote of the entire membership in the next mailing. Suggested names are as follows and any other suggestions should be forwarded to the Committee:

Plymouth High School Old Girls Association – members may choose not to change the name

PHS Alumni – this reflects terminology used by colleges and universities, is familiar to potential new and younger members

Former pupils of PHS – this was thought to be inclusive, as it does not refer to either ‘old’ or ‘girls’

PHS Association – this was suggested as a name that could also include past members of staff, both male and female, who would be very welcome within our membership

11.2 Members were invited to the PTFA ‘Carols and mince pies’ event on 10 December 2013 in the Newman Hall, and a coach trip to Bath on 30 November 2013, the first Saturday of the Christmas Markets.

11.3 School raffle tickets were on sale during the meeting to help raise funds for the school.

11.4 Maggie was thanked for all her hard work whilst serving on the committee, particularly for her last two years as Chairman, and was presented with a card and gifts to express our appreciation.

11.5 Question from the floor – What happens to the committee without a Chairman?

Maggie agreed to chair the next committee meeting and follow up matters from this meeting; she hopes that this will give time for a volunteer to take on the role, and encouraged members to seriously consider this rewarding and enjoyable post.

12 Date of Next AGM – to be confirmed at the Dinner.