Retirement of Sister Bernadette

On 23rd January 2017, after more than many years of service, Sister Bernadette announced that she will retire from Virgo Fidelis Convent Senior School at the end of the summer term. One could say without exaggeration that Sister’s life has been the school and her consistent and overriding aim has been the high achievement of all pupils that pass through the school, as laid out in the statement made by the founder of the school Mother St Mary,

‘You will have gained everything when you give children the desire to do well.’

Sister Bernadette attended the school as a student in the 1950s and later returned as a Biology teacher, a subject she loved. She became a Head Teacher in 1999 and has overseen a number of monumental changes. She led the school from Independent to Grant Maintained during Mrs Margaret Thatcher’s tenure as Secretary of State for Education and later converted to Voluntary Aided with great success.

During this period she has overseen many changes to the school including the addition of:

  • New classrooms and science laboratories,
  • The Hospitality Suite,
  • The Hair and Beauty centre and
  • ICT rooms.

In addition to the above she increased pupil numbers which necessitated the appointment of new and additional staff, and the introduction of a greater range of curriculum subjects. In 2006 Sister Bernadette led the school to becoming one of the first 12 specialist schools in Mathematics and Computing in the country. She commissioned the building of the Sister Madeleine’s Creative Learning Centre to accommodate these enlarged departments in order to deliver the required specialist teaching.

Sister Bernadette led the school through 4 successful OFSTED inspections improving the category from satisfactory to Good, achieving in 2012 some of the best results ever achieved by students in the school. The most recent OFSTED inspection which returned a ‘Good’ took place in March 2017. She also led an ‘Outstanding’ Rating for Section 48 – which measures the effectiveness of a school as a Catholic School.

Sister Bernadette has been characterised by her deep and unshakeable Catholic faith and convictions which she imparted at all times to her staff and students and which guided her whole tenure as head teacher. She has absolute belief in the potential and goodness to be found in all students and strived at all times to enable each and every girl to achieve her full potential.

We wish Sister Bernadette a happy retirement from the school, however you will still see her from time to time as she will continue to lead the Congregation and oversee the running of St Mary’s Centre. A special Retirement Mass will be held for Sister Bernadette on Friday 14 July 2017 at 2 pm at the Church of the Faithful Virgin, Central Hill, SE19 to which you are all invited to attend.

Yours faithfully,

Mr Femi Oresanya

Chair to the Board of Governors

  • Sister's letter to governors, staff, parents and students is below.
  • Also available is the full letter from the Chair of Governors.

New Headteacher Appointed

 Ms Jocelyn Lewis – New Headteacher of Virgo Fidelis Convent Senior School.

The Governors’ Head Teacher Recruitment Panel have been in consultation with the Catholic Diocese of Southwark Education Commission and Croydon Local Authority to ensure that there would not be a vacuum of Leadership between Sister Bernadette retiring and the appointment of a new Headteacher.

Following detailed consultations between the last weeks of the Lenten term and the commencement of the Summer term, we are pleased to announce that Ms Jocelyn Lewis has been appointed as Headteacher. Ms Lewis is the current Deputy Headteacher at Notre Dame School - an oversubscribed and Ofsted rated Outstanding Catholic Girls School in the London Borough of Southwark.

We are extremely fortunate to secure Ms Lewis as she has been part of the school’s continuing success at Notre Dame for over 25 years. We are grateful to her current Headteacher, Sister Anne Marie Niblock for allowing Ms Lewis to be seconded into our school.

Over the remainder of this term, Ms Lewis will spend time getting to know our school - liaising with Sister Bernadette, our Senior Leadership Team, staff and Governors, in order that there will be a smooth transfer of leadership for the start of the next academic year. 

Ms Lewis aims to be present at a number of school events between now and the end of term in order that she can get to meet with pupils, parents and other members of our wider school community.

We wish Ms Lewis every success in the year ahead.

The full text of the letter from Mr. Femi Oresanya, the Chair of Governors, as well as a bio from Ms Lewis are available to view below.

Collection for Syria

Our kind-hearted students collected money to help Syrian refugees. They raised an astonishing £234. Well done to everyone who helped out by collection and by contributing.