June 15, 2024

Business boss reflects on investment, redevelopment and student rise in first year at independent school

AN ENTERPRISING business manager celebrating his first year with a leading independent school reflected on a period of growth, redevelopment, and investment.

St Gerard’s School has been a mainstay in Bangor since 1915, and the last 12 months has been among the most pivotal in its history.

Business Manager Steve Griffiths, from Church Bay, Anglesey, revealed how more than 25 years’ experience in the commercial sector – including sales, transport, and recruitment – played its part in shaping progress at the beloved institution.

A 10% rise in pupils, new sports facilities, a complete rebranding exercise and bringing all learners under one roof – neighbouring buildings currently used for early years provision have been sold subject to contract – are just some of the achievements he and the team, led by headteacher Campbell Harrison, have achieved since last summer.

“This is far more than a job for me, and that’s not just because of the personal connection as my daughter is a pupil here,” said Steve.

“St Gerard’s is a living and breathing environment, renowned for academic excellence, but while I am passionate about that side we also had to focus on commercial elements, with it being an independent entity.

“We have done so much in a short space of time, and from my side the emphasis was on bringing my private sector background into education and looking at how we can be more commercial to improve facilities – including classrooms, sporting provision, and general IT infrastructure – while retaining our core values.

“There have been challenges, and there could be others on the way, so we are becoming even more sustainable and efficient, by lowering our carbon footprint, creating revenue streams and future-proofing the school.”

Steve pointed to the “huge potential” at St Gerard’s given its unique location in the heart of the city.

“This is a seven-acre city centre site which is close to all amenities but surrounded by woodland and picturesque gardens in an idyllic region, it’s something of an oasis for the pupils and staff,” he said.

“We are maximising what we have and building on that, working in tandem and looking forward to seeing how things develop.”

Revamped sports facilities including tennis courts and a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) are proposed for this autumn and follow the construction of a wildlife ‘wellness walk’ around the campus and an upgrade to the gardens, access, fencing, signage, and external and internal redecoration, notably a mindfulness room and parent areas.

“We are in a positive place, but you must still anticipate and adapt, which is what we’ve done and will continue to do to grow,” said Steve.

“I’m proud of everything we’ve introduced, and importantly how the parents have engaged and supported us on our journey, while we in turn have done a lot for local charities, alumni, and organisations in the community.

“There have been little things which have a big impact, even a lick of paint and decorating corridors and rooms with pupils’ fantastic artwork for example, while being quite entrepreneurial in some instances, looking at best ways to utilise the space we have.”

He added: “There are a lot of USPs, and people can see that, which in turn led to an increase in numbers from Year 7 onwards, bucking the trend and fostering a sense of trust and responsibility that this is the perfect setting for young learners.

“This is a school, so learning is the priority, and this has definitely been a learning curve for me! But I have enjoyed every second and am pleased we have managed to upgrade and modernise areas of St Gerard’s while retaining its traditions and being sympathetic to our surroundings.

“We know our history but are focused on growth and sustainability, for the next generation and beyond.”

For more on Ysgol St Gerard’s, visit the website www.st-gerards.org and follow them on social media. Alternatively, email sgadmin@st-gerards.org or call 01248 351656.