The view from here

Published on: Friday, May 13, 2022

We have had a lot of visits this week and I have met a lot of new people – and what a treat it always is.  Greater insights, broader mindedness and an affirmation of purpose here are amongst the benefits.

The visits are the combined result of interviewing potential joiners to the staff team and meeting a lot of prospective parents (plus children obvs!).  There are plenty of the latter booked into my diary for the weeks ahead which is, of course, always a positive position.  In fact, there will be more children here in September than there were when we started last September. For example, the Nursery has very few sessions available even at this stage in the year and it’s looking as if Year 7 will need an extra class in it.

As well as a large number of new children, it is likely we will have up to 10 new faces on the staffing side, most of which you already know and I’ll share a few updates once all is clear. 

There is still a good deal of this year to complete but, rather like Janus at the changing of a calendar year, I have found myself doing a little bit of looking in both directions along a timeline recently.  Whilst we’re proud of the past and the present is to be lived to the full, the view ahead is an exciting one, too...

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Published on: Friday, May 6, 2022

In our busy lives it is always helpful to retain perspective and this week we have had a couple of occasions that have provided just such opportunities.

We had the School Council (Governors) with us yesterday and having a set of objective eyes and ears amongst us is so useful – rather like when someone else makes a positive comment about your own children where you may have fallen into the trap of focussing on their shortcomings.  They very much enjoyed time with children, sitting in classes, being in the woods, dining with them and also chances to chat to staff about all manner of things. We have several Council members who are very experienced educators and they bring a great deal of wisdom, common sense and support, yet are not worried about addressing matters for attention through supportive critique. I am very grateful for all they do across our age range 2-18.

Earlier in the week I was at the Heads’ conference for all boarding schools nationally and as with all sectors no doubt, one of the more beneficial components is to exchange views, situations, anecdotes, case studies, trends and generally chew the cud with your peers.  All the time you are subliminally collating intel and also benchmarking against your own setting.  Not denying that in a world of some uncertainties the strains and stresses do not exist, and also fully accepting that it is not always true for everyone, I certainly felt that from all aspects of child, parent, staff and whole school we are in a good place: happiness in the community, collective endeavour, richness of experience, positive outcomes and healthy mental state.

I say again, no organism of human beings is perfect – we are imperfect animals – but it has been reassuring to touch base recently with external sounding boards and sense we continue along the right lines.

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Published on: Friday, April 29, 2022

This May Bank Holiday always comes (quite naturally) so early in the term that it can take you by surprise – plus it is the only one that falls in term time and so the Monday not at school is another difference to our usual Long Weekends…this one really is a long weekend!  With the weather looking set fairish for the majority of the time there will be plenty of time outdoors and for visits I expect.

Meg, our spaniel, often heads out on the Front Field in the break times when it’s like this and she oscillates between charging around from child to child and then lying down submissively in a group, flaunting her tummy for a multiple hand rub.  Then, unexpectedly, she jumps back to her paws and hurtles off to visit the next group.

All animals shed excess waste of course and generally we are around to bag it and bin it.  If not, the wonders of modern technology come into play as I have in the past been sent a what3words reference by a member of staff.  It’s remarkable how long it can still take you to find the target even within a 3m square!

We have had Alistair Wilkinson, Deputy Head Academic from September, with us for the last two days, quietly familiarising himself with people, place and process.  Most important of those is the people and there has been little respite as Alistair has had many to meet across the full range of the ages. He will be back again this term and we will also be sure to welcome visits from other September staff joiners during the term, as well.

There is plenty to read about in the Newsletter, including news of a National Champion – congrats Humphrey, and so I hope you enjoy scrolling through, perhaps with some refreshment as you delight in the additional joy a Friday evening of a Bank Holiday weekend brings.


So much to look forward to

Published on: Friday, April 22, 2022

Happy Easter to you all as we start with a shortened week to get things under way - hence there may be not quite as stacked an edition of the Newsletter to follow.

It was very good to be able to have our Whole School photo this morning (yet another sign we are operating as normally as possible) and there is a palpable sense of belonging to something bigger than just ourselves on such occasions.  One gorgeous little two year old girl, for whom today was her first day with us in the Nursery, slept through the whole event in Miss Darlow’s arms blissfully unaware of the commotion around her!

Whilst we use the grounds extensively throughout the year, the estate comes fully into its own from roughly April to October. It has been just perfect to see the fields littered with children gainfully playing or involved in a lesson or an activity of some sort.  From the very first evening when the boarders returned it was patently clear that this was the summer term.

Arts Week, trips, exams for some, outings, celebrations, outdoor productions, jubilees and of course plenty of work plus loads of summer games and fixtures are all to come – so let’s dive in!

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Enthusiastic about enthusiasm

Published on: Friday, March 11, 2022

The week ends with a little pause before we enter the final period of this term. A week for me that included a visit to Parkfield School with Mr DJ as we look to establish a musical partnership for the mutual benefit of our pupils. Mrs Brickley, the music lead at Parkfield, and Mr DJ were full of possibilities and there is definitely plenty of enthusiasm to explore what’s possible.

Music lends itself beautifully to collaboration and as examples we have the King’s Symphony Orchestra across our own two sites that also involves other schools, there was the recent TYCA concert involving a few schools plus professionals from the Southern Sinfonia and later this term we will see (and hear!) enthusiastic ensembles from both junior and senior age groups within the House Music competition.

Mr Biggs, Headmaster of the College, came to our assembly on Monday for the penultimate time.  Enthusiasm was also a key part of his message to us all in that it was the commodity he welcomed the most in the children at the College.  In the same assembly, Mrs Naum and Mrs Lowery thanked everyone for their enthusiasm toward the World Book Day challenges – and I repeat here my thanks to them for providing such enticing and captivating activities that led to brilliant outcomes.

A clear theme for the week, then - whatever it is you’re doing, there is much more to be gained if you do it with enthusiasm or eagerness or gusto or passion or zeal or fervour (guess who’s found the Thesaurus button!).

No doubt we will see bags of enthusiasm from Year 6 as they tread the boards for their play performances next week – break a leg!

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