The ship that is the 2014/15 academic year has safely been launched and is sailing happily out of harbour. Like all sailing ships its launch has been a frantic and complex affair, relying on the hard work and last-minute scrambling around of a great number of people. But here we are in the serene waters of the first week. Always a quiet week for me; while others get on with the job of running the school and teaching I sit here waiting for the ISSUES to arise.
The holidays already seem a distant memory. They were busier for our family than we had planned. A number of last-minute opportunities and events meant that our initial intention of laying low and saving the pennies simply dissolved in an expensive but largely enjoyable heap. So we went to Northumberland for a week – which was glorious. We camped in Dorset for three days, in the middle of a heat wave. Also glorious. Then we went to Roses, in Spain, to see friends, and fell in love with the place. Then, because I got news that my father was ill and in hospital, I took an unexpected trip down to Cape Town. He’s on the mend, happily, and in many ways it was a wonderful chance to be there, not least because my son Henry was, coincidentally, coming to the end of his exchange with my old school, SACS, and we managed to spend some good time together before flying back on the same plane. Straight into GCSE exam results….collected at Heathrow. He did well.
As predicted, the exam results at both GCSE and A level were more “volatile” (a word often used in press articles on the subject) than usual. It was not a vintage year for us, but as always the detail is what counts, and there were some astonishing individual successes. Thomas Prayer, who came to us from Austria, achieved the amazing feat of securing five A* grades at A levels. He is, not surprisingly, off to Cambridge, along with three other leavers, all of whom made the required grade. The mixed bag of results soon bedded down into a very healthy picture of university successes.
And talking of Cambridge, the Oxbridge swingometer is moving inexorably in that direction amongst the staff at King’s. Three of our new teachers are Cambridge graduates, which has caused a bit of muttering amongst the staff from the other place.
One of the most exciting things about the start of this term has been the arrival of our third form cohort in their new uniforms. After the complex and lengthy process of designing, sourcing and stocking the outfits it is a pleasure to see them actually being worn. And very smart they look too. A retired Headmaster told me never to tinker with the uniform, because the process of change is always fraught with danger, but I hope that we’ve proved him wrong. In two years’ time the new look will be uniformly spread across all three lower school year groups and we’ll be delighted that we took the plunge, I’m sure. Once again, my warmest thanks go to Sassi Holford for her design input.
Amongst many highlights of the holiday (empty, sunny beaches in Northumberland, snorkelling in the Med, cooking a beef stew all day long in a three-legged pot on a field in Dorset, scootering to breakfast in Simon’s Town), was the joy of seeing Jos Buttler making his test debut at Southampton. Younger son and I got tickets for the second day, which was when when Jos strode out to the wicket and smote 85 runs in his first innings (admittedly riding his luck a tad along the way). I resisted, but only just, the temptation to stand up and say “he’s one of ours – a King’s boy!”. But the press coverage did us a huge amount of good in any case. He’ll make his mark, of that I am certain.
The holiday has been filled with heroics from our existing pupils, too. Eight boys cycled to Monaco to raise funds for a services charity. Sixteen pupils and three members of staff climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Six girls have been selected for the independent schools national football teams at U16 and U18. Josh Stickland is a Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet – continuing a long and largely unbroken line of King’s success in this important appointment. Pearllan Cipriano won both the U16 and the U18 Somerset girls’ singles tennis titles. Three of our pupils won prestigious Arkwright Scholarships for Design Technology. We live and work with extraordinarily talented and enthusiastic young people, which is really what makes this profession so exciting. And which is why we are all looking forward to another hugely successful year ahead.
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