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It is very hard to believe that we are only five days into the Lent Term. Already it seems as though we’ve had a whole term’s worth of work and Issues to deal with. There is something about this time of the year which leads to a certain degree of volatility. Anyway, deal with issues we will, and there is plenty going on to maintain high spirits.

One day into the week I headed off to the Woodard Heads Conference at Leamington Spa. This is an annual pilgrimage to a conference hotel a few miles from the town centre. I’ve been to about half a dozen of these get-togethers now, and I’ve never see anything of Leamington Spa. Is it worth visiting one day? It must be said that this was one of the more positive gatherings of Woodard heads. It’s an eclectic mix, representing a wide range of schools; some, like us, wholly-owned independents, others associated state or private schools. There are academies and prep schools, single sex and co-ed, boarding and day – pretty much every sector is there. Which makes for lively discussions and very useful opportunities to compare and contrast. There is a growing desire amongst the heads that we should derive some real benefit from our Woodard membership and links, not least in the sharing of good practice and ideas. Due to a moment of weakness I am now the chairman of the group and will do whatever I can to encourage this move towards closer, more useful engagement with each other.

While away I got the good news of the confirmation of an opportunity to form a partnership with a school that is being set up in India. There is no financial commitment expected, but a real chance to forge a meaningful connection with an important part of the world. Details have now to be worked out and I look forward to writing more about this in future. In the meantime, my February half term break suddenly has a distinctively Indian look to it.

We welcomed our three visitors from SACS this week. The two boys, Thomas and Liam, will stay for the month, the member of staff, “JP” la Grange, is here for just two weeks. They’ve settled in well, despite the shock of the sudden change in weather and the fact that it gets dark at teatime.

We have heard recently that, once again, four King’s pupils have been offered places at Oxford and Cambridge. For a small school with a wide and inclusive intake that is a pleasing achievement. Some of the applicants, we know, only just missed the offer of a place and I know that some of them will try again once they have their A level grades in the bag, a strategy that has worked well for our leavers in the past. Congratulations to the successful four, details of whom you can find elsewhere on this website.

I was much impressed by an article in the Telegraph magazine on Sunday which addressed the matter of “soft skills”. Employers are finding that graduates with top class degrees from the best universities are simply not much good at anything. They lack the social skills, stickability, good manners, punctuality and so on that are needed to succeed in the workplace. We have to make this an important part of what we teach, and to be honest I think that schools like King’s, with its slightly old-fashioned belief in good manners and its strong sense of community, does a far better job than most. But we could do better and we need to make it ever clearer to our pupils that it isn’t just about good grades. The article is at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-business/11326058/Forget-the-CV-Why-soft-skills-are-more-important.html

The promised snow has not materialised, which is disappointing. There remains in me a South African’s naïve glee whenever I see snow and a good fall would lift the spirits immensely. We live in hope.

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