Headmaster's Blog Archive

Having a Ball!

Friday, February 28, 2014 by Richard Biggs

The Parents' Association Valentine's Ball was a rip-roaring, foot-stomping, banner-waving success. What a hoot. The weather was appalling, the catering had to move from the planned marquee (which would not have lasted a minute) into the fitness suite. Guests arrived soaked and windswept, but we had a ball. A wonderful ball. Best of all we managed to raise over several thousand pounds for the Woodard School in Kenya. We'll make sure that money is well spent on a specific project for the school. My thanks and undying admiration go to the brave band of parents and to Fiona my PA, for the astonishing effort they put into the organisation of this very special King's event.

After the excitement of the ball the half term break was a welcome respite. Time to rest and to recharge. We enjoyed one stunning walk on Exmoor with the dogs, involving a rather lengthy lunchtime layover in a glorious pub in Winsford. And then a slight element of getting lost on the moors while trying to find the car, just enough to get the adrenalin flowing. Perfect.

This week has flown by. We've had the pleasure of welcoming 13+ scholarship candidates to King's. They are, as ever, a delightfully upbeat, sparky bunch and I enjoyed interviewing them. I hope they have not found the experience too challenging (I mean the scholarships, not necessarily my interview...). They'll be the core, I am sure, of an exciting bunch of third formers joining the school in September.

There was a pop and rock concert on Tuesday night. Actually this description seems slightly inaccurate. There was one rock band, of third and fourth formers, and they were fantastic - properly loud and dynamic! Perhaps we should rename the event the "sad ballad and funky folk" concert. It's good to see the pupils enjoying quieter, more contemplative music, and fantastic to see such a strong folk tradition developing. The standard was extremely high. A highlight for me was Jo Merriweather singing Billy Joel's She's Always a Woman to Me for his mum. So moving.

Because we no longer have January A level module exams (which I firmly believe is a Good Thing) we are holding trial exams next week for all sixth formers. It will be interesting to see whether we've got the timing right - late enough to cover most of the syllabus, but early enough to take remedial action in the light of the results. I get the distinct feeling that both year groups are working hard right now (I popped up to the library during Prep last night and it was absolutely full of sixth formers working hard…quite a sight!), which is encouraging, and I wish them every success next week.

We're beginning to plan a grand opening of our new amphitheatre for next term. Greek tragedy? A marathon of recitations? The Tempest? The Big Band belting out jazz numbers? Perhaps a bit of each? We'll see. We can't wait to get into that new space and see how it feels and sounds. I'm assured the finishing touches, including a spot of landscaping (aka spreading the stuff around that came out of the hole) are on their way...

Brilliant plays and dredging dogs

Monday, February 10, 2014 by Richard Biggs

You must admit that when it comes to persistence full marks must go to the jet stream. Apparently its unwavering trajectory, passing directly over the UK for the past two months and unlikely to be budging for the foreseeable future, is responsible for the consistency of our weather. And therefore the misery of those affected by flooding and the embarrassment of politicians and those who wallow in the soft embrace of their quangos.

At King’s life goes on, punctuated by the regular rhythm of the storms. Last week the lacrosse practice became a canoeing session on the 1st XV rugby pitch. The fallen trees have been neatly chopped up; Dennis made me a rather handsome set of rustic chairs from the trunk of the fir which came down next to the sports hall.

We issued a genuine and heartfelt offer to parents and families affected by the flooding last week: King’s will do whatever it can to help, especially as far as accommodation is concerned. It must be horrible to have your home inundated with water, I can only guess at how dispiriting that must be. Please get in touch if there is anything this school can do to help.

The A2 Drama pupils performed their exam piece last week in the theatre. Written themselves in the style of Theatre of Cruelty it was, as reviews often euphemistically call it, a “challenging” experience for the audience. Powerful, shocking, brilliant, and fully deserving of the excellent grades awarded by the examiner. Not something I could watch every week, but an impressive piece of theatre which showed to best effect the real talent we have in King’s drama. This week we have the AS play, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

I had the enormous privilege of visiting another prep school last week - St Neot’s in Hampshire. Set in a large, forested campus, this is a distinctly cheerful, upbeat, busy place, full of happy, energetic children. Enormous fun.

We also had, last week, our annual Chinese New Year Dinner. This event is organised by Lisa Wrobel and our senior Chinese students and is now a well established item in our calendar. Most impressive was the speech by Thomas Prayer, an Austrian pupil who is learning Mandarin at King’s, translated into English by William Fung, a School Prefect. The food was delicious. This, as you probably know, is the Year of the Horse. The horse is energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able – much like our pupils, in fact.

So…happy Year of the Horse to you all.

The Big Event this week is the Parents’ Association Valentine’s Ball on Friday. Tickets have sold like hot cakes – and the event is absolutely full, which is wonderful news, especially as the proceeds of the ball will be going towards our continued support for the Woodard School in Langalanga, Kenya. A small group of parents, and Fiona Byrne, my PA, have worked tirelessly to ensure the success of this important occasion. I know it’ll be fantastic, and the perfect start to the half term break.

For once we have nothing particularly planned in the Biggs household for the half term. A bit of fifth form revision for some of us. Hopefully a good deal of reading and walking for others. That’s if we can find anywhere dry to walk. Luckily our dogs are more or less aquatic creatures, but it does play havoc with our house when they come back and deposit a good deal of the silt on our sofas – presumably the same silt the Environment Agency should have been dredging all these years. Maybe I could rent Archie out – he might be the solution!

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