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Having said I would write another blog soon after the end of term – here we are at the beginning of the next. Christmas does that to you. We had a wonderful holiday. Apart from three days in our cottage in Cornwall (new heating system – the place is actually warm; bliss), we hunkered down in Taunton and enjoyed a stream of visitors for Christmas and New Year. The weather was diabolical – howling winds and lashing rain were the order of the day – but nothing could dampen the sense of festivity and fun. I do feel, though, that I’ve packed and emptied the dishwasher more times over the last three weeks than I care to remember.

The holiday ended on a particularly joyful note. Sarah and I were kindly invited to the wedding of Oliver Ridley and Nikki Dragonetti. Oliver joined us as our new Head of Sixth Form last term. For Nikki the move to Taunton was a step into her past: she is an OA, and was once Head Girl here. They met at Lancing College. The wedding was in Salisbury Cathedral. If you’re going to get married, that’s not a bad venue. It was a beautiful occasion, with a professional-standard choir of Nikki’s friends and our Provost, Bishop John Kirkham, leading the way. It was good to catch up with old Lancing colleagues; at that point all agog to discover who their new Head Master was to be (announced on Monday – Dominic Oliver from Bedales; it looks like an excellent appointment).

We’ve had two days of INSET before school starts properly tomorrow, the main thrust of which has been planning for the future. The teaching staff have been discussing what needs improving and how we move forward over the next five or so years. It’s been a fascinating exercise, with plenty of enthusiasm and a positive sense of shared purpose. And lots and lots of good ideas.

Today we welcome our two SACS exchange boys, Gareth Tate and Sihle Lonzi, to King’s. They’ll be spending the first half of term with us, along with Casey Morgan, a member of the SACS staff (SACS is my old school in Cape Town ). They always bring a healthy dose of old fashioned good manners and charm with them. I hope that, despite the appalling weather, they find a warm welcome at King’s.

I for one am delighted that for the first time in many years our sixth formers do not face module exams over the next few weeks. We used to lose a large chunk of this term to exams; now we are able to crack on with teaching and learning, which is as it should be. They will have a week of trial exams after half term. The poor old fifth form, though, go straight into trials tomorrow. This is not a particularly fun year for them – they seem to lurch from one controlled assessment to another and all their focus is on the large number of exams they need to get through between now and the end of the summer term, with endless revision and practice on past papers. We need to make a point of being as supportive and as kind to these poor souls as we can. Hug a Fifth Former (unless you’re a teacher…in which case you’d better not or OFSTED would get upset).

Happy New Year to you all.

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