Employability, Success and Happiness were the key messages at Senior School Speech Day for pupils at WGS.

9th July 19

Wisbech Grammar School Senior Speech Day

Senior School Speech Day on Friday 5 July, was an opportunity for the Headmaster, special guests, staff and pupils to reflect on and celebrate last year’s successes and to pass the baton to the next generation.

Dr Catherine Mair BSc, BVetMed, MRCVS, School Governor and Chair Elect, welcomed everyone and paid tribute to Dr Dennis Barter, Chairman of Governors, who was sadly unable to attend. Dr Mair reflected on the number of exciting projects the School is undertaking within a tight, seven month deadline. She recognised the excellent work of the teaching staff, and celebrated the success of every pupil.

The School was very proud to welcome as Guest of Honour, Dr Gemma Witcomb – Lecturer in Psychology with a First Class degree from Loughborough (1998) and the Sir Robert Martin faculty prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement. Dr Witcomb now teaches the Loughborough BSc undergraduate Psychology degree, covering Developmental and Social Psychology, The Psychology of Eating Behaviour, Clinical Psychology, and Parenting and Socialisation.

Dr Witcomb presented prizes for outstanding performances, academic success, community service, sports, performing arts and many more. The Russell Hall was filled with a sense of pride and achievement.

“I urge you all to see gender equality and true gender inclusion as your problem. A priority for all of you, not just the girls. So champion each other, support each other, and as young leaders going off into the world, always make sure the door is open to everyone. Valuing the skills and expertise that other people bring to the table, other people that are not like you, is the most valuable lesson that I could teach you. I am very proud of what I have achieved on an individual basis, but recognising that others can add value to us and be our comrades, rather than our competition, can lead to some of our best work.

The final thing that I want to say is to… view your “extra-curricular self” as just as important as your “curricular self”. My time in India shaped me as a person in a way that I cannot even try to explain and I still dine out on stories of my adventures and near misses and hospital admissions! In fact, I pride myself on being a good dinner party guest. So I want to leave you pondering a question, what I call “the dinner party test”. If you had to throw a dinner party, of interesting, exciting people, who champion each other, would you invite yourself? If the answer is no, you know that you need to change something.

Headmaster Chris Staley’s address focused on employability, success and happiness.

“I am often asked by current and prospective parents, ‘What is a Wisbech Grammar School Education all about?’ My answer, to put it in a concentrated form, is Employability, Success & Happiness.

So what are some of the skills that employers today are looking for?

Complex Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Creativity, People Management, Teamwork, Emotional Intelligence, Service Orientation, what you can do for others… to name a few.  So how does WGS equip our pupils with these skills?

Natasha Richardson (4th Form), a talented singer-songwriter and recipient of a Governors’ Commendation whilst still at the Prep school participated in the Peterborough Music Festival showcasing her own material.  As a result she has had the opportunity to spend three days in a recording studio working on four of her own songs. This tells me something about Natasha that I can’t see in just her exam results and would certainly make employers keen to interview her.

Eighteen pupils from have entered ‘Mission Contamination’  – a writing competition being published in a collective book of short stories to be printed over this coming summer…

A group of pupils are going up to Edinburgh to perform at the Fringe Festival showcasing ‘The Rubbish Show’ this summer.

Not to mention Sport, Humanities, Science, Crest awards, Vrettos, Trips, Tours, Concerts, Plays, Trinity Guildhall exams, the growing lecture series for Junior and Senior pupils, DofE and all of the fundraising pupils undertake to raise money for fantastic causes like Cancer Research, Period Poverty, Homelessness, Hospice care and many more.

The latest results from a nationwide survey of employers concluded the paradigm has shifted to focus on the attitudes and aptitudes that will enable school leavers and graduates to be effective in the workplace.  These characteristics, which are ranked more highly than academic grades and formal qualifications, are.

  1. Have a positive attitude to work – enjoy what you do; it shouldn’t just be about the money.
  2. Be prepared to problem-solve – don’t wait to be spoon-fed; think about how you can add value to the business.
  3. Be resilient – you need to realise a career is a marathon, not a sprint.
  4. Be a good team player.


Now to ‘success and happiness’.  I am sure we have all noticed that people are generally happiest when they’re doing the things they like doing best – and that they’re best at doing.

Together we need to help pupils develop decisive life advantages – things they are good at and so passionate about that they stand out in adding value to their school, their community and ultimately their employers.

To all of the parents who place the greatest trust in us to care for, educate and inspire their children; we recognise the responsibility we bear, and the privilege in contributing to your children’s lives.  Thank you for joining us today. I hope you will feel inspired by the achievements of all our pupils and the commitment of their teachers, and enjoy the special ambience of a Wisbech Grammar School Speech Day

Heads of School Catherine Missin and Frazer Brown shared their final words of advice:

Be grateful and remember your voice is so important, and one person can make a difference.  Don’t be scared to fail, but bounce back and enjoy your time. We both encourage you to take advantage of all the opportunities on offer at WGS. Work hard, find your passion and defy convention and most of all have a sense of humour.  We want to thank everyone for their support and we would like to share a quote by Charles “Boss” Kettering, an American inventor, engineer, businessman, and the holder of 186 patents. He was a founder of Delco, and head of research at General Motors from 1920 to 1947.

“The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress”




More photographs can be viewed on the Speech Day 2019 page on our website.