Friday, 12 December 2014

Head Master's End of Term Notes - 12th December 2014

And so another Michaelmas term comes hurtling to an end and I have always defined the arrival of the end of this term by the completion of reports (and Christmas cards) and this year it has certainly come early … then I remember that the majority of the world does not break up for a week yet, at least, and that I should pipe down a little - it is after all Friday the 12th.

It is always an oddity of schools like ours that the Christmas tree goes up at the end of November, the Christmas lunch occurs in the first week of December (this year the 5th), and by the time the month is half over, I will have attended four carol services, attended three nativities, had the Christmas playlist on the iPod on repeat, eaten innumerable mince pies and drunk a fair amount of mulled wine. My 'bah humbug' traits can rise to the surface, just as much as they do as Christmas advertising hits our screens almost as soon as the previous year stopped (or so it seems). But the festive spirit eventually holds sway: fuelled by images for example of the Annual Cross Country, Christmas Lunch, Christmas Concert, Secret Santa and of course, Feast Night - a Sexey's tradition, where the boarding community put on their best bib and tucker, have a sumptuous meal and then celebrate the end of term in their houses with a disco, bucking reindeers and lashings of ice cream! I had the honour of attending Coombe’s Feast night yesterday and it was a lovely occasion which further demonstrates how strong (and fun) the boarding community is at Sexey’s.

A true diehard Scrooge would have been hard pressed to avoid a sense of festive occasion at quite a superb Carol Service this afternoon at St Mary's the Virgin in Bruton and my thanks go to Mr Richard Kelley (our very own Professor Brian Cox), the Sexey's Choral Society (Leanne Baker’s solo was stunning as was Gaudete) and our readers in particular for leading that. The Parent Staff Association (PSA) were in full force in the Main Hall afterwards (and incidentally at the Bruton High Street Event on Wednesday evening – do they ever stop?) with their fetching aprons bringing festive cheer (and more mince pies) to what has been, in my opinion, a wonderful term. The achievements of our students were celebrated in Tuesday's Achievement Assembly with over 150 students being awarded various accolades for triumphs both in and out of the academic arena - it was a proud occasion for myself and my colleagues and we also welcomed Paralympian Kate Grey, who is part of the Sky Sports, Living For Sport project, who gave an inspiring talk on how she struggled through adversity and achieved at the highest level. We look forward to welcoming her back to Sexey’s in the New Year. As always the School Song was sung with great gusto and passion - a real sense of pride could be felt around the Hobhouse and I would like to take this opportunity to thank my staff (and Governors) for all their commitment, hard work and dedication in ensuring that Sexey’s remains at the top of its game, both pastorally and academically (the Raiseonline figures released this week are testimony to that with the school being placed in the top 10% nationally for Value Added with English results in the top 1% at GCSE; and of course our exceptional examination results this summer) -  I am indebted to their professionalism and work ethic; a fine common room on all accounts.

Highlights of the term? There are far too many too list, but I’ll give it a go – the Remembrance Service, the Christmas Concert, Acoustic Night, Sexey’s Choir, the Muddy Choir, Sixth Form Assemblies, House Cross Country, Tatler visit, PSA Quiz Night, Eton College, rugby and hockey fixtures galore, the Equestrian team, table tennis, Senior Citizens’ Christmas Party, Open Evenings, St Mary’s Sunday Services, Hauser & Wirth, Michael Morpurgo, Bath Literature Festival, China, Ypres and the Somme, Zambia, Ski Trip to Italy (best of luck to our skiers who have already departed), KDR lunches, Christmas Lunch, Feast Night, Y7 HM Suppers, Movember, Macmillan Coffee Morning, Charities committee….and I've only just scratched the surface!

After all, in the midst of all that goes on in this fine institution of ours (and I hope my ruminations have kept you up to date with all that goes on at Sexey’s throughout this term), it is the community spirit that really matters and the willingness of students and staff to put themselves out on behalf of others, both within and beyond Sexey’s. In a year that has seen real challenges, those values of tolerance, respect and kindness which underpins all that we do, have remained paramount and we have seen them in abundance again this term. At this time of year, as we celebrate the Christian festival that sees the sacrifice of God being ‘pleased as man with man to dwell', it seems a good place to pause, and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Even the Scrooge in me begins to fade away.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 5th December 2014

So the Christmas spirit has finally arrived at Sexey’s this week and it certainly feels likes Christmas now, with the Main Hall decorated to the rafters, the Christmas tree looking splendid and carols playing in school. After all it is December and all we need now is some snow…Father Christmas made a timely appearance at Sexey's this week at the traditional Senior Citizens' Christmas Party - it was a splendid occasion and it was a real pleasure to meet so many friends of the School - Old Sexeians who fondly remembered their time here; residents of Sexey's Hospital and those who served the School. Hearing the old stories over a cup of tea and a mince pie was inspiring and I look forward to welcoming back our friends next year. Our 6th formers were outstanding in looking after our guests and were in fine voice when we sang carols together along with the Choir and the Wind Band. The festive season is well and truly here! The Christmas Concert that very evening saw fine performances by the Wind Band, the newly formed Folk Band and some individual performances, namely Carmen Reynolds who belted out Frozen’s ‘Let it Go’ and Rosie Carroll's stunning rendition of A Great Big World’s ‘Say Something’. We were also given a taster of next year's Drama musical production; ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’ which looks very entertaining indeed – and the evening was compered by the genius that is Will ‘Harry Potter’ Annetts-Burke. Book your tickets now.

We have just been treated to an absolutely sumptuous Christmas Lunch by Mr Matt Briatore and his team in the KDR which was preceded by another Sexey's Christmas tradition - the Annual House Cross Country. The school was awash with students (and a number of colleagues) in their colourful kit and fancy dress running for their Houses and our school partner charity, Macmillan – from the Wizard of Oz team, Jon Poole running as Elsa from Disney’s Frozen to Harriet Perkins and the Head of School, Annabel Buckland riding the cross country on ‘horses’! Thankfully the weather was kind to us today (though it was perishing) but the atmosphere was very warm (as was the hot chocolate) and at times, electric. The camaraderie and support shown by the students for each other, and for colleagues was truly humbling - the Year 7and 8s singing the School Song set the tone for the morning. Again, it never ceases to amaze me the sheer talent that is in such abundance here and the fervent pride the students have for their Houses (house hockey and rugby matches have also been fiercely contested this week), let alone their School. I am sure this passion will continue long into the weekend, when we play our Saturday block fixture – hockey and rugby- against Warminster School. Come along and see for yourself. We are very privileged to be part of this spirited and warm community.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 28th November 2014

It was shocking to learn of the untimely passing of a young cricketer this week who died as a result of the injuries sustained when he was struck by a ball while batting for South Australia against New South Wales. The tragic incident will have implications for cricket the world over and our thoughts and prayers are with Philip Hughes’ family and friends. With England playing the One Day International (ODI) series in Sri Lanka and the test series about to commence next week between Australia and India, the cricketing world will be pausing for a moment to reflect on this week’s horrible accident - spare a thought too for Sean Abbott, the bowler who delivered the bouncer that hit Hughes.

And whilst England were doing everything they could to overcome Sri Lanka in the 1st of seven ODI matches, Government funding, collaboration with the private sector and the importance of state boarding schools were the topics of debate and discussion at last weekend’s SBSA Conference at Holyport and Eton College. Politicians, government officials and educationalists led a very useful conference which, I am sure, will help further shape the educational landscape as we see it. State boarding schools are the jewel in the state sector’s crown and the Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Theresa May MP was not surprised that state boarding schools prove so popular with parents and pupils. As Aristotle said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit’. And I believe we provide an excellent all-round education for our students – from our Key Stage 3 students producing sculpture with celebrated artist Peter Rush to numerous sporting fixtures – rugby, hockey and table tennis - all this week. Let’s not forget the annual Inter House Cross Country event next Friday – a test of resilience, stamina and character.

It is the most wonderful time of the year - with Christmas decorations nearly up, the Choir in fine form, preparations for the block sporting fixture against Warminster (rugby and hockey) next Saturday, Carol service proof reads and Christmas trees adorned with baubles in various places around the school, the festive spirit has certainly arrived at Sexey’s - and it’s still only November! Thank you to all parents who have contributed gifts for the Senior Citizens’ Christmas Party next week (Weds 3 Dec). That very evening, the Christmas Concert will be taking place at 7pm in the Main Hall and it would be lovely to see you all there to see in the festive season – it will prove to be a most wonderful occasion! This weekend will see our Mo Bros shave off their cultivated upper lips after growing and nurturing them for a month and today students, including Mo Girls sported fake moustaches in support of the campaign to raise awareness about men’s health issues – testicular cancer, prostate cancer and mental health.  I am still trying to grow one…

The boarders are off to Cardiff for Christmas Shopping tomorrow and by my reckoning, there are only 26 shopping days left to Christmas and only a day to the 2ODI in Colombo…

Friday, 21 November 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 21st November 2014

Last week I opened my mail in my study and I was surprised to find a Christmas Card in the middle of November! Firstly, I was surprised at the efficiency of the sender (an Old Sexeian by the way) and secondly, it alerted me to the fact that we are just four Fridays away from Christmas. Is it me, or does Christmas seem to be arriving earlier every year – the John Lewis ad (apparently this signals the start of Christmas), the annual battle of the supermarkets, the Sunday supplements teaching you ‘How to cook the perfect Turkey’ and a message from the Facilities Manager asking about Christmas trees for School and the Boarding Houses. So we are officially in the festive season, even though it is still only November - and this week we have seen a veritable feast of opportunities which have included drama performances from the critically acclaimed Muddy Choir, cracking sporting fixtures against Sherborne and Clayesmore, the Business Breakfast Meeting for our 6th Form students and business leaders in Bruton and the Yr 7 boarders for supper at Walwin. Of course, the Y11s have started their Autumn exams (the Artists completed their exam yesterday) and they all start in earnest next week. And alongside this, our own Christmas prep is underway - I noticed the Christmas decorations coming out the school attic, the boarders are putting up Christmas trees in their boarding houses; preparations are underway for the Senior Citizens’ Christmas Party, the Christmas Concert on Tuesday 5 December, the annual Cross Country event, Christmas Dinner in the KDR, the Christmas Shopping Evening on Bruton High Street, where the PSA will be in full force, as will our Carol Singers, and of course, the Christmas Carol Service on the last day of term at St Mary’s Bruton. This will round off the term and put everyone in the Christmas spirit, though some may already be spreading the Christmas cheer at School.

We have the extended exeat this weekend and this will be an opportunity to rest, relax and reflect, but I fear that I may well be writing Christmas cards…

Monday, 10 November 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 7th November

Welcome back after a splendid half term break where I hope you had the opportunity to relax and recuperate and spend quality time with family and friends; we are now back into the rhythms and routine of school life and concentrating on the core business of teaching and learning at Sexey’s. With Sixth Form assessments having taken place all this week followed by Y11 Michaelmas Exams in a few weeks’ time, the school is a hive of academic learning, as it should be, and I have been impressed with the conscientious approach taken by our Sexeians – I wish all our students the very best in their academic endeavours.

However, I am not writing this edition from the comfort of my study in Bruton (the poppy display outside my study on the front lawn is stunning) but from Ypres in Belgium (and the Somme in France) where I have the privilege and honour of accompanying the School’s WWI Centenary Battlefields Tour this week. As a pupil, I learnt about the war at school but had never visited Ypres, nor the Somme and so I really did not fully appreciate the significance of the sacrifice made by our young men. The Ypres Salient is vast, as are the graves at Langemark and Tyne Cot, where Brutonians and Old Sexeians are honoured at the latter. And as I sit here and reflect having reread John McCrae's ‘From Flanders Field’ and an old letter written by Harold Scott (OS) of an Old Sexeian, Trooper Harry Warr, who lost his life on 13 May 1915 during the Great War, I take on board the enormity of what happened here exactly 100 years ago. It's truly humbling and very powerful indeed, quite overwhelming in fact when you see the number of graves, monuments, memorials and inscriptions about the war. The war poets, Sassoon, Kipling, Owen et al brought home the madness of war in their writings and when I read ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’, it still sends a shiver down my spine - 'going over the top' will resonant for a long time to come. We have just come back from an emotional Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate where current Sexeians, Jack Lecerf (9 Kni ACA) and Georgina Bewley (9 Gol DJB) laid a wreath in honour of the Old Sexeian Harry Warr whose name is inscribed on this solemn memorial - a true honour. My wife’s two great uncles are also named on the Gate – the war affected everyone. In total 63 Sexeians lost their lives fighting for our country and the Remembrance Service at St Mary’s, Bruton on Sunday and the School’s service next Tuesday will hold even more poignancy. And I hope our Sexeians gain and learn much from this experience, as I have done, as we look forward to visiting the battle trenches at Sanctuary Wood tomorrow - they are the next generation who I hope will work hard to avoid such conflicts ever happening again and will endeavour to continue to bring peace in our world. We have much to thank the courageous and selfless acts of these young men (some as young as our Y11s) who gave their lives in fighting the Great War so that we could enjoy our freedom today and tomorrow - we will remember them, always. 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 17th October

The seventh week of this Michaelmas (Autumn) term is already here and while we prepare for the generous break ahead, it’s an opportune moment to pause for reflection on this very busy half term. This would have naturally occurred today at Speech Day, but due to circumstances out of our control we have had to postpone this event and are looking at rescheduling it next term. However, there has been plenty going on at Sexey’s which highlights all that is outstanding about this fine school - from music concerts, numerous House competitions, sporting fixtures, drama workshops (the Year 8 Macbeth workshop brought this Shakespeare play to life), art visits, Literature Festivals in Bath and Wells, Open Evenings and of course the matter of teaching and learning. It was great to hear the excitement from one of our Y13 students this morning who has already received an offer from university – 3 in total have received offers this week despite only sending off their applications on Tuesday! This bodes well for the future. And of course, the Y11s have their Michaelmas Exams after the half term break (w/c Mon 24 November) and it would be wise for them to use this time productively to prepare for these important examinations but at the same time to have some rest and to recuperate – it’s vital that there is a balance here. 

Whilst the students are relaxing and revising, Mrs Wilkinson will be in China with the Yueyang-Somerset partnership and the British Council to further develop our understanding of the Chinese education system and its intriguing culture. As we now offer Mandarin lessons as an enrichment opportunity after school for our students this relationship is even more important and we look forward to hearing about her research on her return. Keep up to date with her exploits in the Far East on Twitter @SexeysSchool.

The PSA put on a fabulous show last Friday night when we had a record turnout for the PSA Quiz (Cranium Cruncher) in the Main Hall which was expertly compered by our very own Mr Partridge and a team called The Management successfully defended their title. The atmosphere was competitive and the food was excellent and there was plenty of fine cheese too; and speaking of cheese, the French Exchange are having a great time and are immersing themselves in French culture, enjoying going to école and the delectable cuisine. The weather is apparently much better there too…
So as we hurtle towards the end of this busy term, I would like to thank staff and Governors for all their efforts in ensuring that our students receive the best quality teaching and pastoral care – it’s not easy at times but I am grateful for all their hard work, patience and commitment. And also to you too, for all the support you give to our school – by working together we can all bring out the best in our students.

I wish you, and my colleagues, a peaceful, relaxing and well-earned holiday.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 10th October

Abba, Ikea, Larsson, smörgåsbord and Zlatan Ibrahimović (I have been preparing for the PSA Quiz tonight!) are all Swedish icons which have become part and parcel of the British psychic and it was a pleasure welcoming Mr Tom Strahle from Scandanavia last week. Mr Strahle was instrumental in the success of our recent sports tour to Sweden and spent last week with us at Sexey’s looking at the way we operate as a school and investigating ways we can further collaborate with Sweden both from a sporting and cultural perspective (he is member of the Swedish Sports Council). He was bowled over by the school especially the enthusiasm and energy of our students and we look forward to working with Mr Strahle in further promoting our values and virtues – though he still needs to explain to me how to put together a chest of drawers with an allen key… And values and virtues were at the forefront of our discussions on Thursday when Sexey’s hosted the inaugural Candle Conference organised by our Head of Theology & Philosophy, Mrs Sue Nurse with the eminent theologian Mr Peter Vardy in attendance. Schools from all over the county enjoyed the religious discourse and debate at Sexey’s which fired up imaginations and got our students to think outside of the box, preparing them to have that conversation.

On Tuesday we had our 6th Form Open Evening for prospective students and their parents and with over 160 families in attendance, there was standing room only in the Main Hall. Again, our 6th form were a real credit to their parents and the school and our speakers articulated their thoughts on their experiences with great passion - not an easy task addressing 350 odd people in the Hall, but they did it. We have an outstanding 6th Form (the results at A-level speak for themselves) and a dedicated team who go over and beyond the call of duty. If any of our Y11 parents didn’t get a chance to come in on the evening or would like to visit again, then please do get in touch with Mrs Sam Brownlow, the Admissions Registrar who will be only too happy to organise a private visit for you. Speaking of the 6th form, a reminder that our Lower 6th (Year 12) ‘Meet the Tutor’ event takes place next Wednesday, 15th October at 4pm in the Sixth Form Centre.

And of course, my ruminations would not be complete without mentioning the weather and it really should make up its mind at what it’s doing – do I sport the Sexey’s scarf and carry around my brolly, just in case? But at least last weekend the weather was kind when over 30 of our intrepid explorers gained their DoE Silver qualifying award on expedition to Exmoor and again our students’ attitude and conduct was exemplary. Hockey and rugby matches continued to dominate the Elm and Daisy Fields this week with matches against Dauntsey’s and Milton Abbey and it was wonderful to hear the excitement of a Y13 girl who bounded towards my study this morning to tell me all about how the Senior Hockey Girls’ team  managed to beat Milton Abbey away - a tremendous feat and a memory which will last with that young woman for a long time to come. I hope she can draw on her experience on that astroturf in Dorset and use it as inspiration in her everyday life. Last weekend also saw the U16 Girls’ compete at Millfield in the Netball competition and Amber McCormick representing the Equestrian Team at the NSEA Dressage at Moreton in Dorchester - the full sporting stories and results can be found on our Sports website here.

Next Friday is not only the final week of this Michaelmas half term (is it really, I hear you gasp?), but it is also our Speech Day, which is an important event in the Sexey’s calendar where we celebrate achievement and success and we are delighted to welcome the distinguished journalist and broadcaster, Mrs Mariella Frostrup as our Guest of Honour and Speaker. Mrs Frostrup is the respected media voice on the UK’s arts and culture scene and on social issues and we look forward to seeing her at Sexey's next week. Please do come along and support the school and our students in their various endeavours – you are always welcome.

I look forward to seeing you at the many school events organised over the coming months at Sexey’s and, of course, at tonight’s PSA Quiz (Cranium Cruncher) – let the cerebral battle commence!

Friday, 3 October 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 3rd October

Literature, music, art and a culture of reading means so much in our day and age where technology seems to rule –  ironic as you are probably reading this through your phones and/or mobile devices. But understanding, appreciating and developing a passion for literature are crucial if we want our children to grow up with fervent imaginations and the ability to develop their own opinions.  Hence,  I am proud that the school is involved in community events such as the many Literature festivals in and around the county which brings the books that our students are reading to life. Last Sunday, a group of Sexeians and colleagues attended the Bath Children’s Literature Festival for an audience with Steve Cole, the award-winning author of the bestselling "Astrosaurs" series and the newly commissioned writer of the Young James Bond books. The packed event, which was sponsored by Sexey’s took place at the Mission Theatre in Bath and the energetic and manic Steve Cole talked about what inspires him and how he has learnt to be creative – his imagination certainly runs wild and I can see why he is such a success. The Q & A session preceding the talk with our Sexeians in the Green Room was entertaining and informative and my thanks go to the students for their excellent questions and behaviour. The welcome address was given by our very own Mr Manning who spoke very eloquently and is a big Bond fan – his son is named after a character from a famous work of literature, that is how passionate he is about his subject. Next week we are off to hear Michael Morpurgo and Andrew Motion, the former Poet Laureate, at the Wells Literature Festival – providing our students with valuable opportunities to feed their imagination. Speaking of feeding, we had an entertaining lunch in the Square adjacent to Bath Abbey and were given an impromptu lesson in life saving and CPR by St John’s Ambulance who had a stall there that weekend – carpe diem I say. As ever, our Sexeians behaved impeccably, looked immaculate and were a credit to both you and the School – I am very proud of them; and I have been meeting a number of students over the past few weeks who have been awarded commendations and the like for excellent work, both in and out of the classroom, in my study for the Head Master’s Reception. It’s been rewarding  getting to know them and celebrating their success over a cup of tea during morning break, whilst discussing current affairs and what’s going on in the world.

This week saw Music Week at the School with open rehearsals, free taster lessons and much more. Laurie McMahon kicked off proceedings by performing at the beginning of Assembly and I was really impressed with the high standard of singing – he has developed further and will now certainly give Ed Sheeran a run for his money! Tuesday’s House Music competition showcased the wealth of talent that is abundant here at Sexey’s with Glynn –Jones taking the spoils, and this was followed by last night’s hugely successful Acoustic Night in the Sixth Form Centre where our students, new and old, took to the stage to perform their compositions to the assembled crowd. The performances were both confident and assured, qualities I hope we are developing in our students. My thanks to the Director of Music, Miss Jemma Middleton and her ‘orchestra’ for organising such an impressive week. We have our Sixth Form Open Evening next week (Tuesday 7th October) and if any you or any your friends are considering sending their children to Sexey’s for Sixth Form, then please let them know. Full details are available on the website and it would be great to have another record-breaking Open Evening – do spread the word, either verbally or through social media via our Twitter feed (@SexeysSchool).

Next Friday sees the annual Parent Staff Association (PSA) Quiz taking place in the Main Hall and I recommend that you organise a team for Cranium Cruncher as soon as possible.  I hear that it is fiendishly ruthless and that the competition is stiff. The Head Master’s Team will be there defending their title and I will certainly be reading up this weekend…

Friday, 26 September 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 26th September

As I walked down to the boarding houses on Wednesday evening I could hear the church bells ringing at St Mary’s, Bruton as the sun was setting – a reassuring yet calming sound. And it’s a sound that you don’t often hear if you live in sprawling city and one that I hope continues to ring in our parishes for years to come. The art of bell ringing (campanology) is an important skill and a language in its own right and I am eager to support our two churches in Bruton and Pitcombe by setting up our own Campanology Society; if there are any students interested, please do give me a ring! And speaking of languages, today saw The European Day of Languages being celebrated at the school and the MFL department put on a variety of activities which engaged and enthused not only the students, but the staff too – from a pop up creperie to quizzes and competitions. Acquiring the grammar and linguistic skills to speak and understand another language is so important as it not only helps communication but also develops a deep cultural understanding which nurtures the values of tolerance, respect and kindness – the very values we as a school promote as part of our ethos – studying languages can only be a good thing.  And these values were demonstrated at the Lower School Opening evening this week which saw record numbers of prospective parents from far and wide come through the Sexey’s School gates. Parents commented on the maturity, enthusiasm and exemplary manners of the pupils  and I hope we left them with a good impression. Thank you for promoting the event amongst your friends and our next Open Evening, which will be for Sixth Form, is on Tuesday the 7th of October.

Not only am I proud of our students achievements in a variety of sporting and cultural pursuits, but also those of our staff on their personal achievements – congratulations to Mrs Hosford who completed the Bristol Half Marathon last weekend in a time of 2 hours 16 minutes raising over £300 along the way for Time is Precious - a local charity supporting children and their families during hospital stays. And speaking of success, our Girls’ Hockey teams have caused a riot this week with the U16s winning 5-1 over Holyrood Academy (having come back being 0-1 down) and the U15s and U14s claiming the spoils at Huish Episcopi yesterday winning 3-1 apiece. The U15s enjoyed their hard fought victory and celebrated by singing the School Song with great gusto after the match – passion and enjoyment. I watched the U16s game on the Daisy Field and amongst that game, the U14 Girls and Senior Girls had hockey practices, whilst the U12 and U13 boys had rugby practices. This was whilst the 1st XV and U15s were playing rugby against Wells Cathedral – tremendous to see so much sport going on after school. The U12 Boys’ rugby team had their first match on Thursday against Wells Cathedral School (normally they would play after half term) and they put up a tremendous performance winning narrowly 12-10 to a strong Wells side – commitment and dedication. Our philosophy is to inspire a lifelong interest in sport, promoting fitness, well-being,  team work and most of all, enjoyment and I hope our Sexeians seize upon and enjoy the numerous opportunities on offer to them.

The Macmillan Coffee Mornings are now a national institution and we hosted one today at Walwin House - Douglas Macmillan, the founder of Macmillan Cancer Support was an Old Sexeian (1894-97) and is the School’s partner charity. We were inundated by people at Walwin this morning raising over £300 and my sincere thanks to all those businesses who supported the event – we  even had proper coffee machines and a barista from Bean Shot Coffee with Nick Law serving cappuccinos, espressos and lattes. Plenty of cakes and scones too by the likes of our Catering Department, At the Chapel, Taylors Bakers, Taste Bruton, Somerset Dairies, Godminster Cheese and The Cole Manor Tea Rooms – working with the local community to help and support others.

There are plenty of activities going on this weekend, from a trip to Bristol, a visit to Bath Guildhall to listen to the author Steve Cole speak at the Children’s Bath Literary Festival, the Equestrian team competing at Stonar School to a Mountain Biking expedition. I am off now to Macmillan House, named after our illustrious Old Sexeian, for more coffee and cake as they host another Macmillan Coffee ‘Morning’ at Sexey’s. After all the cake I have had today, I may well have to join Mr Cowley on his mountain biking expedition. Now where are my cycling shorts…

The exeat seems like such a long time ago!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 19th September

Having tried to stay up through the wee hours of this morning, but failing miserably, I was delighted and relieved to learn this morning that our four nations will remain part of the United Kingdom. The union which has been in place for over 300 years will continue for generations to come and although almost half of Scotland wanted independence, the whole referendum process has engaged people in politics in a way the UK has not seen before. It has allowed people to have the conversation – people as young as 16 were given the right to vote and this has been a positive move. With turn outs at the ballot boxes of over 90% in some cases, voter apathy will, I am sure, be a thing of the past. And although voters opted for reform rather than revolution, this referendum has unleashed a process of transformation set to extend far beyond Scotland's border and I hope that the nations will continue to work together to bring out the best in each of them. Working closely with our communities on a national and a local level is a positive thing and will bring about benefits that will affect us all and I look forward in continuing to develop our strong relationships with many of the initiatives in our great community – providing opportunities both in and out of the academic arena for our students. It was wonderful to see the Y6s from our local feeder primary schools, Upton Noble and Bruton Primary, visit us yesterday for a day of challenge where they were engaged in activities which ranged from the creative arts, philosophy and food technology. And we had a splendid time at Walwin House last night with our Y7 boarders who came round for supper with my family - they were an absolute delight and we enjoyed their sparkling company.  The prefects on both occasions were a credit to the school and fitting role models for the younger members of our community - working together to bring out the best in each other.

And as we pause for breath this weekend, like many of us did this morning, I hope that you have a peaceful exeat in the United Kingdom.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 12th September

I have just time to draw breath after a host of events and fixtures this week at Sexey’s – from Girls’ Hockey against Sherborne and Bruton School for Girls, to the Y13 visit to Thomas J Fudge’s to rugby fixtures against Milton Abbey and the Gryphon, Y12 Meet the Tutor evening, The Mahoney Football Trophy competition, the Silver DoE expedition to the Quantocks this weekend, Mandarin Club and the Drama trip to the Theatre Royal in Bath. Has it only been a week? There have also been some other questions this week. Does it really matter if Scotland does become independent? How will it affect us here in the South West? Should we care? Would the previous Head Master of Sexey’s been worried about this potential rift within Great Britain? Why haven’t we been asked whether Scotland should become Independent? This is the story dominating the press and our discussions at school stemming from the whole school assembly we had last Tuesday. I think we should care about this issue and it will affect us, politically, culturally and socially. This union has been the most successful experiment in multiculturalism in history. For over 300 years it has made us wealthier, improved our culture, it has made us better, more tolerant people. And people across the globe marvel at the wonders and riches we have as a nation. It is equally amazing to think of ourselves as a family – Northern Irish, Welsh, English and Scottish – very different in many respects, bickering as families always do but united through wars, through depression and through recession and coming out stronger because we are a family who stick together rather than go it on our own, much like our family at Sexey’s. We have all grown up in a United Kingdom – that is all we know and for the sake of loved ones and friends in Scotland I hope with all my heart that it does not come down to the end of the United Kingdom, the end of Great Britain. At stake is a wonderful union with a successful single market and a shared heritage of artistic, scientific, humanitarian, diplomatic, cultural and military endeavour. If that is lost it will be a historical tragedy. I wait with baited breath for next week’s vote.
News from the Sixth Form
Congratulations to those Y13 students who have been appointed senior prefects this week in assembly – Jack Wingate and Annabel Buckland as Heads of School, Joe Stewart-Sendell and Ziana Azariah as the Deputy Heads of School with Phoebe Hung as Head of Boarding. The following have also been appointed as Senior Prefects – Laura Rossiter, Emily Harrison, Jess Mascall, Hatty Dukes, Jo Barrington, Eleanor Nurse, Zoe Whitcombe, Ellie Davenport, Amanda Lam, Alannah Travers, Harriet Perkins, Will Annetts Burke, Alex Petre-Mears, Ross Hilborne, Chris Gillanders, James Petrovic, Bob Brooker, Peter Clackson, Aaron Hooper. We wish them well in their endeavours this year as they lead the student body and act as positive role models.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 5th September

Welcome back to the start of the new Michaelmas Term and a warm welcome to our new parents whose sons and daughters have joined us this September. I hope my weekly ruminations do not clog up your inbox! So where did the summer go? Where did last year go? It’s hard to believe that a whole year has passed since we moved to Walwin and we as a family have not looked back. The first week is almost over and I hope that our students have settled back quickly into normal school routines and that our new members to the school community (students and staff) are beginning to understand how we at Sexey’s work and operate. It is a delight to see our new Year 7 pupils enjoying all that Sexey’s has to offer both in and out of the classroom and I hope their energy and enthusiasm continues long into the term.  It was wonderful to see the Head Boy, Jack Wingate and his peers sit with our new Y7s at lunch today and talk to them about school life – it was like older brothers and sisters guiding their younger siblings. And that’s what Sexey’s is about –  family. It was great to hear the School Hymn being belted out at assembly (I missed it over the summer!)  and the Head Boy and Head Girl of the Lower School reading with such aplomb about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and the ALS ice bucket challenge – do talk to them about it over the weekend and the implications for charitable causes. I have been nominated….

As you can imagine, it has been a  busy week for our students and staff – Leadership Training for our Sixth Form, meeting new students as well as new staff, girls’ hockey practices, rugby practice, various clubs and societies at lunchtime and after school, singing practices, learning how to play Squares, the introduction of ‘Show My Homework’, new boarding tutors in all the boarding houses, pre-season rugby training with the likes of The Oratory, Reading and Christ’s College, Brecon, music rehearsals, drama auditions (The Little Shop of Horrors will be making its debut at Sexey’s shortly) and of course lessons! There is so much going on here and I would like to thank my colleagues for making this happen – I am very lucky indeed to have such a dedicated and committed staff and I wish them well for the coming year.

We have had a very positive start to the term buoyed by the excellent exam results the school has achieved at GCSE and A-level over the summer. The outstanding performance at A-level (62% A*-B) is testimony to the hard work and effort by our Y13s and their teachers and our results give many of our competitors (independent and state) a good run for their money. Over 90% of our Y13s have now entered university, many of which are Russell Group. The AS results are equally encouraging and bode well for the future and the new Y13s know exactly what they need to do in order to enjoy the same success as their predecessors – academic discipline, commitment and dedication are all necessary attitudes which they are adopting in order to move forward and secure those coveted places in industry or university. Of course, there needs to be a balance and enjoying life outside the classroom is equally as important and it was wonderful to hear two Y13s after a hard day at school, enthusing about their hockey practice. The new look PE department is certainly moving things forward.

The stunning performance at GCSE by our Y11s achieving the highest results over a three year period are equally impressive and our results, on all accountability measures including the main measure 5A*-C including English and Maths (76%) by which all schools are compared by, are amongst the best in Somerset and possibly the South West. Our students and staff have worked diligently to achieve these excellent results and I am delighted for them. In amongst the headlines, there are numerous individual successes, students who have pulled themselves up to, and beyond, their fullest potential and it is just as exciting to see a student who might have expected a C achieving an A as it is to see those who achieve straight A*s or As. Many of our Y11s have now moved into the Sexey’s Sixth Form and are already knuckling down to the demands of A-level and also look very professional indeed in their smart dress – they are here to work and to lead by example; this can only be good for the school as we move forward.

Please do take a moment to look at the website which will provide you with a wealth of information and do try and support as many of the events that you can – from concerts to plays, from sporting fixtures to exhibitions. Please book the dates in your diaries and join us when you can - you are all very welcome to these. If there is anything you are not sure about, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at School or with your son’s or daughter’s tutor. We are always here to help. Do also follow us on Twitter (@SexeysSchool) and join in the conversation.

It is great to be back and to see our Sexeians getting stuck into business and I can’t believe that the sun is actually shining.  I do hope that our students have used the holidays to recuperate , relax and reflect and are now ready to take on the many challenges they will face over the coming year. We are here to help them face those challenges, but for now, I wish you and them a pleasant and peaceful weekend. I look forward to another successful year both in and out of the academic arena. If I blink, I might miss it all – I hope not.

Irfan H Latif JP
Head Master

Friday, 18 July 2014

Head Master's End of Term Notes - 18th July

It seems remarkable that the term and academic year has come to an end – 43 weeks have flown by since that crisp September morning when I stood at the lectern and met the school for the first time. The summer term, with exams, study leave, work experience and the like, always gives the impression that it is the easiest term, but I assure you, it isn’t. This last week alone we have had Sports Day, Shakespeare’s ‘The Comedy of Errors’, the FIFA World Cup Final in Macmillan House, Old Sexeian Cricket & Classic Car Show, the Y6 Boarding Induction weekend, Enrichment Week, Gold DoE expedition to Monmouthshire, new staff induction, the Y7 Summer Science Exhibition, the Farnborough Air Show…

It has been a privilege saying goodbye over the last few weeks to the departing Y13 and Y11s – the next generation of Old Sexeians (OS). Final Assembly this afternoon was an opportunity to say thank you to them on behalf of the School; they had their Ball and Leavers' service and the atmosphere at both was just right and it says much about these year groups that they have left in such style and with such affection for the School . . . there were a few tears, and not just from the parents! To those parents, as well as to the students, I emphasise the fact that you are all welcome at any time in the future.

Of course, we have also been saying farewell to departing colleagues and it was fitting that we should pay tribute to them this afternoon at Final Assembly. Dr Michael Genton who was the school doctor for 26 years and then Governor for 15 years (4 years as Chairman) retired after giving 41 years’ service to the school and we thank him for his dedication, commitment and wisdom. The Governors’ Dinner was a wonderful and moving occasion and an opportunity for the school to salute Dr Genton for his selfless work both to the School and the community of Bruton. There was a most moving moment at the end of assembly as the students saluted our departing colleagues: they have been schoolteachers of the very highest calibre, both in and beyond the classroom, and it was touching and fitting that they should be recognised in that way. Other academic staff we say farewell to are Mrs Byrne (PE); Mrs Davis (PE); Mrs Baker (Head of RE); Mr & Mrs Smith (PE and Macmillan House); Miss Young (Learning Support); Mr Ruddle (RE), Miss Rudolph (MFL - German Assistant) and Mrs Porter (Science Technician). We wish them all the very best.

The strength of the Sexey’s School community goes beyond its staff, parents and present pupils, however. The Old Sexeians is very much alive and are eager to support the school and last Sunday we had our OS XI Cricket match. It was lovely to see so many on such a glorious day and I would also like to note the generosity of the current 1st XI in allowing the OS XI to get away with a win! We have many plans for the OS and will be rekindling those friendships over the coming months with numerous sporting fixtures, ‘Class of’ events and dinners.

It is always a busy few weeks for sport but it has been a vintage summer at Sexey’s. The Cricket Club have had a successful season taking on the might of traditional cricketing schools such as Wells Cathedral, Clayesmore, KES Bath, Dauntsey’s, Milton Abbey and the like. Particular highlights include the 1st XIs emphatic win over Wellington School where we needed 6 to win in the last over and Tommy ’10 wickets’ Stewart success with the U14s at The Gryphon by achieving record breaking bowling figures of 10-2 and winning Cricket World’s Player of the Month. He only then went on to hit his maiden century against All Hallows a week later – a talent to watch out for in the future. Girls’ Rounders has had a good season against the likes of Huish Episcopi, Stanchester, The Park School and Bruton School for Girls amongst others and the talent coming through the ranks bodes well for the future. The Athletics Club have had a tremendous season with many of our students being selected to represent county in both track and field events and Caitlin Carnegie (9 GLY JM) being confirmed as the 14th fastest girl in the UK in the 3000m having achieved a new school record of 11.03:03. This is the 2nd school record she has broken this year having already beaten the 1500m time earlier in the year. Sport is strong and diverse at Sexey’s (Equestrian, Motor Racing, Sailing, Swimming to mention a few) and we are certainly making a name for ourselves both nationally and internationally (the 1st XVs fine win over the Swedish National side is another highlight) and with the addition of the new Head of Girls’ Sport to the team, it can only get stronger. The rescheduled Sports Day was a success last Friday with an excellent turnout from parents and friends of the school and the weather actually stayed fine! Knight House took the spoils with some terrific performances and Hobhouse won the inaugural Macmillan Cancer Race – a wonderful occasion overall with the PSA, as they have done all year, serving delicious tea and cakes and raising valuable funds for the school along the way. The PSA are incredible and I would like to thank them for all that they do for the school. If you would like to join the PSA, then please do drop the Chairman a line - they will be holding their AGM on Sunday 22nd September at 7pm in Walwin House. They have big plans for next year so do please support the events and keep up to date on Twitter. I have been so impressed with the parental support this year, from parents taking Sports teams to fundraising to accompanying trips - long may it continue.

The Creative Arts are never to be outdone and we have had some wonderful concerts, exhibitions and shows this summer. My thanks as ever to the students for their performances at assembly; the various groups that played at Acoustic Night, the Bands for their annual concert and the artists and dramatists who have worked tirelessly to deliver creative pieces of art and stellar performances on the stage. With Hauser & Wirth Somerset on our doorstep, the Young Cinema Foundation coming to Sexey’s and Trinity Guild Hall exams from September, the creative talent can allow continue to flourish at Sexey’s. And the Y7 Summer Science Exhibition was just that - creative in every respect and exciting - it was impressive to see all of our young scientists communicating enthusiastically about their various experiments, from making ice cream using liquid nitrogen to producing elephant toothpaste - you could feel the energy and electricity throughout the Main Hall – literally!

And so the academic year draws to an end. The School remains in good shape, with overall numbers strong for September and development plans over the summer include various upgrades and maintenance works and continued planning for the estate as we move forward as a School. There have been many, many highlights in my first year as Head Master of Sexey’s, too numerous to mention here, but I hope you have been kept informed of all them over the past year through the school’s weekly e-bulletin- From the Head Master. And have enjoyed reading them too! I wish all students the very best for exam results and hope that they all have a pleasant, relaxing (but not too relaxing?!) summer. Thank you to all parents and friends of the school for your undying support, encouragement and cooperation throughout this academic year – it means a lot to me, my colleagues, but most importantly, our students.

They say time flies when you are having fun; it certainly has in my first year at Sexey’s and I look forward to September, which no doubt, will be here in the blink of an eye!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 11th July

Our founder, Hugh Sexey would have been proud of last night’s School Production of Shakespeare’s ‘The Comedy of Errors’, which was performed with such confidence and aplomb by our Y7s and 8s. I thought I could tell the difference between Dromio of Syracuse and Dromio of Ephesus, but sadly I couldn’t – the parts were brilliantly played by the Forster twins, Will and Tim, and the cast and crew have produced a play which has set the standard for future productions - expectations will be high and the challenge even greater. Drama continues to excel at Sexey’s and with Trinity Guildhall examinations on offer to our Sexeians from September and our partnership with the Youth Cinema Foundation, I am confident Drama will go from strength to strength. England’s most popular playwright, Shakespeare was a favourite of both Elizabeth I and James I to whom Sexey was the Royal Auditor and I think after last night's performance, a new generation of thespians are going to acquaint themselves with the bard. Setting high standards and challenging our students is what we strive to do and this is exactly what I experienced at Hauser & Wirth’s Learning Programme which was launched yesterday at Durslade Farm to Art teachers and practitioners from all over Somerset. Having this world class gallery on our doorstep is exciting and will not only challenge our perceptions of art but it will continue to encourage us to ask questions, develop our opinions and to inspire us to think out of the box, i.e. have a conversation. Listening to the opinions of world renowned artists and designers at yesterday’s launch was fascinating and having access to their knowledge, creativity and experiences can only be a good thing. The Y12 students who accompanied the Art Department, Eleanor Nurse and Alex Petre-Mears, enjoyed meeting with Mr Wirth and learning about his journey and I look forward to working closely with Iwan on initiatives that will benefit both the school and the community. Bruton is bristling with excitement (Hauser & Wirth Somerset officially opens its doors to the public on Tuesday 15 July) and the opportunities available to Sexeians will be plentiful - this cultural renaissance will benefit generations of Brutonians to come.

I have just got back from an exhilarating Sports Day and thankfully the weather was kind to us; it was wonderful to see the students relishing in the competitive spirit (which unfortunately was not evident in the Brazil vs Germany football match earlier this week – how Brazil will come back from such a humiliating defeat only time will tell but with the Olympics only two years away, they need to be quick) and the swathes of parents who supported the event, in particular the Parent Staff Association who were out in full force and put on a fabulous afternoon tea. The inaugural Macmillian Race to officially mark our association with this worthwhile charity also took place with Hobhouse winning the shield. And speaking of internationalism and charities, Bollygood for Macmillan was a tremendous success and linking up with 20 countries across the world last Sunday really put things into perspective - our small community in Bruton made a significant impact and we hope to continue to host Bollygood in the future. We also welcomed back our Sexeians from the successful 1st XV rugby tour having beaten the U18 Sweden national side quite comprehensively and the tourists were a real credit to the school. And our Zambian explorers arrived safely in Mufilira and are experiencing life in the Copperbelt province – keep up with their adventures and other news on our Twitter feed - do join in the conversation. Sport, along with culture at Sexey’s continues to flourish and I look forward to supporting the Church Fete at St Mary’s, Bruton on Saturday, watching the Old Sexeians take on the 1st XI in Sunday’s cricket match;  the Classic Car Show on the Lisbury Field (do come down with a picnic on Sunday afternoon) and welcoming our new Y7 boarders who will be spending the weekend at Sexey's – it’s going to be a busy penultimate weekend. Let's just hope we won’t be needing our brollies….

Friday, 4 July 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 4th July

I was very fortunate to attend Worthy Farm last weekend and this was our first festival and we were taken aback by the sheer scale and enormity of the event – the acts and shows on offer to the thousands of revellers where interesting and diverse in their nature and there was something for everyone. My family and I embraced the whole festival experience – from Dolly Parton, the Indian street food, the toilets and of course the rain and mud – gallons and bucket loads of the stuff. Even though we were only there for a day, my daughter, Zara who is 6 years old, would like to camp at Glastonbury next year, that will be a true first! And it was great to see so many Sexeians and their families enjoying the atmosphere and taking in the rich culture at Glastonbury – the music, the art, the drama, the food – unique and special in so many ways, much like Sexey’s.

This week in assembly we were treated to musical performances by our Y7 group of Caitlin Taylor, Lucy Coville-Wright and Holly Webb who performed Labrinth’s ‘Beneath Your Beautiful’ and Kathrine Mayes who played ‘Carnival in Rio’. We were transfixed by Ellie Wilson’s (Y9) winning entry for the Bruton Short Story Competition (where she picked up 1st prize and Charlotte Peach (Y10) picked up 3rd prize) and she read an extract with great intensity and aplomb. Rehearsals are furiously underway for BollyGood for Macmillan (time to get those saris and tablas out!) which takes place this Sunday and of course  the Trinity Term Play, Shakespeare’s ‘Comedy of Errors’ which will be performed next week and I invite you and our new Y7 parents, who attended the Y6 Transition Day this week,  to attend these and other events this summer. I am also pleased to announce that the Drama department we will be working with the Youth Cinema Foundation next term to provide further cultural opportunities to Sexeians and the community and Hauser and Wirth in Bruton opens its doors this weekend. Culture is strong here at Sexey’s and we are not afraid to try other cultures either – World Cup Brazilian Day took place on Wednesday with a smorgasbord (sorry!) of South American cuisine for the students and staff to taste  – canja, fjeioda and samba were on the menu amongst others delectable delights; the school trip to Africa jets off next Monday as they visit our partner schools in Mufulira in the Copperbelt province of Zambia; our rugby players are currently taking on the might of the U18 Sweden national rugby team and enjoying such dishes as pickled herring and Gravlax in Stockholm and I am sure Jemma Jones (Y12) will be enjoying a ‘few shrimps on the ‘barbie’ as she flew yesterday to Perth, Australia to represent Great Britain in the Pony Club Tetrathalon - we wish our intrepid adventurers the very best. Culture is important to feed the soul (in more ways than one) and to embrace different cultures is equally as important as we learn to be tolerant and respectful of our neighbours. I may well have to if I end up pitching our tent next year in a field in Somerset…

Friday, 27 June 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 27th June

And it seems this month is a wash out, and not only am I referring to the weather (will we see the summer this year?) but to the summer of sport which promised so much. It hasn’t been a great week for British sport – England were eliminated from the world Cup – play two, lost two and drew one , thus finishing bottom of the group with one consolatory point. It seems that England added nothing to Brazil 2014 – the campaign was most similar to USA ’94 when England weren’t actually there to be humiliated and we turned our support to Jack Charlton’s Republic of Ireland who did manage to get through to the knock out stage. Today we see the likes of Algeria and Greece qualify for the KO stage – it does beg the question ‘Where is English football going?’ Next up, was England’s rugby players who completed a 3-0 series loss to New Zealand. Although the first two tests were closely contested they still will go down in the history books as losses and Stuart Lancaster, like Roy Hodgson, needs some serious thinking to do. I personally think that English sporting teams don’t travel too well – the recent dreaded Ashes tour to Australia springs to mind. Closer to home, Cpt Alistair Cook is coming under pressure after losing the test series to a rampant Sri Lankan team. He now has to get ready for the Indians next month – at least this is on home soil. And of course, we have Wimbledon this week and a number of Brits have already fallen by the wayside and we haven’t even got to round three! And so it goes on. It’s been a terrible week and you wonder why we bother. And yet we do bother because sport has that power – it has that unique capacity for hope, for belief, for endurance and for suffering. Already we are thinking of Ashes revenge next summer, the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and the Euros in 2016. There is an irrational belief that no matter how bad things are, they will improve. There is always the next time. My summer is pinned on the 1st XV RUGBY tour to Sweden
which leaves next Monday for a series of matches culminating in Sexey’s playing the U18 National side – I do hope we travel well and I wish the tour party the very best in their endeavours next week. Do follow their international campaign on Twitter @SexeysSchool.

It’s the end of June and it’s still raining which can only mean two things  – Wimbledon and Glastonbury. This small corner of Somerset is now under the global media spotlight and having watched it in the comfort of my dry home in London I don’t think I have quite appreciated just how big this event is. The biggest music festival in the world and its right on our doorstep and like sport, Glastonbury too wields a lot of power and influence - so much so the school is closed Friday through to Monday (extended three quarter term) to allow students and their families to attend and enjoy the festival. We are keen to support such cultural events and I hope it doesn’t rain too much or I will have to get my wellies out for Sunday as I wade through the mud at Worthy Farm!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 20th June

The Greek philosopher and scientist Aristotle said that ‘Educating the mind without educating the soul is no kind of education at all’ and this week in particular we have seen the creativity and talent that is so abundant at Sexey’s feeding our souls. The recent Inter House Music competition and Acoustic Night heralded in the summer season of music and it was wonderful to see the students perform both competitively and for the masses – the Acoustic Night in particular, with the Staff Rock Band performing Ruby by the Kaiser Chiefs, showcased the variety of talent we have at the school. The End of Year GCSE and A-level Art Exhibition also took place this week and my two daughters (aged 6 and 4) were inspired by the quality of work that was on display (they were kicking and screaming when I decided it was time to leave)  from intricate drawings, to lavish paintings through to innovative sculptures and textile designs. One painting struck in particular struck me which depicted Battersea Power Station (not too far from where I grew up) in the background with Constable’s Hay Wain in the foreground – pretty profound to say the least and it’s a good thing that art can provoke such a reaction – emotional or otherwise. The Y10 art work for  their summer exams was also in display and from what I can see it bodes well for the future. And I will be off soon to watch ‘A Night of Comedy’ by the Y10 GCSE dramatists which should prove to be very amusing indeed and the perfect start to the weekend with the  6th Form Prom later on this evening.

So with the World Cup in Brazil still in full flow and the samba beat still ringing in my ears, we could get the violins out to accompany England’s tale of sorrow. What they do need is to go back to the drawing board, paint a different picture and learn how to be more artistic and creative in the final third.  

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 13th June

For the next five weeks the sound of samba and bossa nova will be ringing in our ears as the World Cup kicked off in Brazil last night. With the favourites beating Croatia in the opening match 3-1, the protests surrounding the ‘greatest show on Earth’ by the anti-world cup lobby in Brazil and the furore about Qatar 2022 were momentarily forgotten. Does sport wield such power and influence in bringing communities together? It is certainly powerful and the tournament heralded the start of a glorious summer of sport – with the US Open Golf championships, Test cricket against Sri Lanka and India, England vs New Zealand in rugby, the climax of the F1 racing season, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and Wimbledon just around the corner, it’s going to be a busy time for us arm chair sportsman and the remote control. Even though Brazil may go on to make history and win the coveted FIFA trophy for an unprecedented sixth time, we at Sexey’s may well have made history with our very own Tommy Stewart (Y8) who will probably be immortalised in Wisden, for smashing all bowling records  – see the sports update below. Sport certainly is powerful and as I hear the final preparations being made for the Race for Life event which starts in a few minutes, we are fortunate that we have the opportunity to play, enjoy and witness sport at all levels.

As I settled down to watch the opening game of the World Cup, and over the next month or so follow with intent the progress of England (managed by the former English teacher Roy Hodgson), I and the whole of Brazil, I think was stunned by that Brazilian own- goal in the 11th minute. There was a stony silence that was heard the world over. I recognised that silence. The sense of impending doom. All England fans recognise it. After 48 years of hope, is this going to be England’s year?

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 6th June

At Tuesday’s assembly, I addressed the Lower School on the importance and significance of today, the 6th of June. Today, the world will mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day - the largest seaborne invasion in history; an invasion that changed the world. One of the wonders of history is to stand on a spot of grass and to try to imagine the things that have happened there, to conjure up the memories that have become part of the soil. Watching the D-Day ceremonies taking place in Normandy and in Portsmouth, I am struck by how serene and clean the beaches look. Seventy years ago, they were the site of chaos and bloodshed - of fathers and sons dying, of men pushing on against the guns with smoke and sand in their eyes. It might have seemed like the end of the world then. A final confrontation between good and evil where as many as 4,413 Allied troops died on ‘The Longest Day’. 

As I watch the grand commemorations taking place attended by the Queen, Barack Obama, David Cameron, François Hollande - and even Vladimir Putin - it is all too easy to be distracted by the scale of the events and the pageantry on display. But although the fly-pasts, wreath-laying, solemn services and banquets are sincere and appropriate, there are more intimate and perhaps more meaningful ways in which we as individuals can mark the event. We can learn so much by talking to elderly people about the past, especially those who took part in such conflicts but it is not something that either we or our children do much of.  It also occurs to me that our children will be the last generation who will be able to meet those who had participated in an event that really did change the course of history. With today’s commemorations, it will be too easy to think of the invasion in purely historical terms.

However, the events of June 1944 are still within living memory – but only just. When one thinks of the horror, scale and consequences of D-Day, it is humbling to consider that some of the men who were there are still with us. Just as with me, you may not notice them at first. After all, they do not wear berets and medals every day. A D-Day veteran could be the old boy at the bus stop, or the chap you see through his front window doing a jigsaw puzzle. These men will tell you that they are ordinary, and in a way, they will be right. However, what they achieved on the 6th June 1944 was extraordinary, and it certainly needs commemorating. But a greater way to commemorate is to listen while we still can, to hear the words, and to reflect on how lucky we are to be able to shake the hands of the men who gave us our freedom.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 23rd May

The weather (and politics!) seems to be the hot topic of conversation and yet again as I sit in my study I think of what could have been this afternoon. The blustery gales and the driving rain against the windows have led to our Sports Day being cancelled for the time being and it is terribly frustrating. All the athletes were ready for the challenges that lay before them on the Elm Field and riding on the success the school enjoyed at the Yeovil Area Schools Competition this week, (where many of our students have been put forward for county trials) we were going to be in for a real treat.  Not only is it one of our flagship events, it was also going to be the occasion when we formally cemented our relationship with Macmillan Cancer, our sponsored charity. Douglas Macmillan, the founder of the charity, was an Old Sexeian (OS) and attended the school back in 1894 and from its humble beginnings back in 1911, he established the 'Society for the Prevention and Relief of Cancer', which provided information on recognising, preventing and treating cancer to patients, doctors and members of the public. From those humble beginnings, it has grown into one of the leading  national charities and we are proud of our shared heritage with Macmillan and the importance of this very great cause. We will of course, let you know when we are going to reschedule Sports Day and I hope you will be able to support this wonderful occasion.

It was great sadness we learn of Paul Goslin, one of the four missing crew of the Cheeki Rafiki yacht that ran into difficulty when returning from Antigua Sailing Week in the Atlantic Ocean. He is the father of Claire Goslin (OS) and our thoughts and prayers are with Mr Goslin and his family at this difficult time.

The half term has flown by at a rate of knots (there is still an Easter egg in my study) and the half term holiday will be a welcome respite for our Y11s, Y12s and Y13s (and staff) who have currently been sitting their exams. It will also be an opportunity for the Lower School to prepare for theirs after the break. We had the Y13 Leavers’ assembly yesterday and it was a proud moment for me to see our Sexeians preparing to take the next step after their exams. I hope the school has done well by them and has given them a sense of pride and responsibility and that the values we have taught our Old Sexeians will help them along their respective journeys. As I listened to the James Russ (Head Boy), Aimee McCutcheon (Head Girl) and Ed Cramp (Head of Boarding) talk affectionately about their time here and the lasting friendships and memories they will have of Sexey’s, I can see that we have done a good job.  

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 16th May

The weather was very kind to us last Sunday, and long may it continue, when the Head Master's XI took on the 1st XI cricket team. Experience triumphed over youth but it’s not all about the winning - it's the taking part that counts which is important.

I had to leave the match early as I was attending the Boarding Schools' Association Annual Conference for Heads in Glasgow. I could probably have done without it: what is the collective term for a group of heads...a pomp? But Glasgow was fascinating and, as is often the case, I took more from the place than for the reason for being there - I had never been to Glasgow and was suitably impressed.

Glasgow was the 2nd city of the Empire and rightly so - it's architecture, industry politics and culture lent itself to that and the fact that it is the host city for the upcoming Commonwealth Games this summer is testimony to this. The plethora of museums - the Gallery of Modern Art and the outstanding Kelvingrove Art Museum to name a few, teaches us about our history and rich culture. The latter had Dali, Rembrandt, Picasso, Lowry, Guthrie and Van Gogh all on display for us to learn and appreciate. The two universities - one steeped in tradition and the other modern, complimented each other and the diversity of degree courses on offer reflected the ever changing educational and economic landscape. The cultural hotspots were breath taking - Glasgow Cathedral, the Necropolis and the Riverside were some of the highlights.

And of course, the debate about Scottish independence is rife amongst its people  - from the taxi driver to the Scottish Heads. Should Scotland stay? I believe it should and I hope the Scottish people do too - 400 years of history connects us and like any family we have had our differences and disagreements but ultimately we have stuck together for the benefit of the country. We can still learn so much from each other. With the European elections next week, the Scottish referendum in the autumn and the General Elections next year - the country will certainly be going through a period of change. 

Too much time is spent debating the problems of education - it is still high on the political agenda and the conference was no different. But it is the purpose of education that matters more and I hope that we at Sexey's still teach the right values, a good history and the importance of both a moral stance and a respect for those who differ. So perhaps the trip to Glasgow was worthwhile.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 9th May

Returning back to school after the Bank Holiday weekend for a four day week has not been different to any other week – you just cram more in those five days – the Windband Concert, Zambia Exchange Fashion Show, rounders matches, cricket fixtures, French and German GCSE Orals, Art exams, revision clinics… The pace and intensity has been relentless and has seen our students taking on the responsibility of public exams in a mature and considered manner. I have been impressed with their work ethic and positive attitude in and around school and I commend them for their efforts. No doubt nerves will be frayed and patience tried (and that’s just the teachers!), but we are here to help and support our students during this tough time. And I am sure they will do you and the school proud – everyone has the ability and potential to succeed, so long as one has self-belief and determination, which was evident over the course of the Bank Holiday weekend. Let me explain.

With a 3-0 advantage with eleven minutes to go and the Premier League title in their sights, Liverpool managed to squander their lead and drew 3-3 at the final whistle against a pugnacious Crystal Palace. Chelsea also blew their chances last weekend drawing at home with almost relegated Norwich. Who would have thought that Liverpool, would not come away from South East London with 3 points safely in the bag and Chelsea, having beaten Liverpool the previous week at Anfield, come away with a draw against lowly Norwich? It really does go to show that with a little self-belief and dogged determination, anything is possible and that we should not write off anyone and assume that the potential victors will indeed win the spoils. The same can be said for last Monday’s final of the World Snooker Championships – Ronnie O’Sullivan was 10-6 up going into the final session and it was assumed the five times World Champion will win his sixth title. But no, the underdog, Mark Selby won his maiden title winning 18-14 and proved the bookies wrong. Who will win the coveted Premier League title this weekend?  No doubt it will be eagerly watched by millions but on Sunday in a far corner of Bruton, the Head Master’s Invitational XI will be taking on the might of the School’s 1st XI, who have found considerable success this cricket season beating the likes of Warminster, Wells Cathedral School and Clayesmore. May the best team win…

Friday, 2 May 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 2nd May

The news of the untimely death of Mrs Anne Maguire has shocked the nation, from community leaders to the Prime Minister. No one had a bad to word to say about Mrs Maguire: quite the opposite, in fact. The 61-year-old Leeds teacher stabbed to death in her classroom was clearly an inspiration both to her pupils and her colleagues. She was greatly respected and much loved, not just by the current school community but for generations of students – she was a pillar of the community and ‘the mother of the school’. She had taught at Corpus Christi Catholic College for 40 years and was nearing a well-earned retirement later this year. A committed and dedicated teacher she was in on her day off to help students with last minute revision for their exams. The extraordinary outpouring of grief and affection from current and past pupils is testimony of the tremendous impact she had on so many lives. At some point in our school days, most of us will have come across a teacher like Mrs Maguire; and the impression they leave never fades. The brutal manner of her death has shocked not just the school and the local community, but the entire nation. Mercifully, such events are exceptionally rare: Mrs Maguire is believed to be the first teacher killed in class, allegedly stabbed by a 15-year-old pupil. It would be wrong to over-react to what has happened by introducing metal detectors in all schools, routinely searching pupils. By and large, schools are safe environments and we will work hard to make sure that they continue to be safe and secure environments where inspirational teaching happens. I am sure our thoughts and prayers are with Mrs Maguire’s family and the students and staff of Corpus Christi Catholic College.
Last weekend saw a multitude of events taking place, of which I was privileged to attend, from the Equestrian Team taking part at the Show Jumping competition at St Mary’s, Calne, the Iron Man Triathlon contest at school, Cricket at Warminster and the Motor Sports Team racing in the South West Regional Finals. The latter team, after some very canny driving, came 4th out of 30 odd teams and gained automatic qualification to the National Finals which will take place in Northampton in July. Well done to Dominic Shepherd, Dexter Hannant and Harry Purvis and we wish them all the best in their preparations, not only for their GCSEs but for the Finals too. Any parents, friends of the school or businesses who would like to sponsor the team, do please get in touch with the Team Manager. Mr Balch. This week has also seen our visiting Italian students from Collegio San Carlo in Milan, the Inter House Senior Swimming Gala, cricket against Wellsway, sailing at Sutton Bingham, the UKMT Maths Challenge, GCSE Drama and PE Moderation, the GCSE Art Exam, Hauser & Worth visiting the Year 10 Barlow Project and the successful ‘Life is a Cabaret’ yesterday evening – I hear on the grapevine that there may be more cabaret evenings to come which will showcase the tremendous talent we have here at Sexey’s. Also we warmly welcome Mrs Sarah Simms who started at the beginning of this Trinity term as the Head of Marketing, Communications and PR. Mrs Simms will be working with numerous stakeholders, including parents and Old Sexeians, in developing further and establishing links and enhancing the school’s presence both nationally and internationally. No doubt, she will be in touch with you in due course. Exciting times.

I’ve been revising with my Y11 scientists this week and we have been talking about the isotopes of carbon and how we use this important element in everyday life. I am hoping to use some carbon in the BBQ this weekend but only if the sun decides to show its face. I do wonder if it is still on its Easter holidays…

Have a wonderful exeat (quarter term) and Bank Holiday Weekend and don’t forget your brolly – Sexey’s umbrellas are available in Reception!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 25th April

Welcome to the new Trinity Term – a term traditionally when courses culminate in the taking of public exams, cricket and athletics are the major sports and the sun is supposed to be shining…where has the sun gone, I hear you ask, that we had over the Easter holiday and I’ve been asking myself that question as the new term started! However, it’s great to be back at school and to see the students in their summer uniform (pity the summer hasn’t quite turned up just yet – but we can only hope) and to get back into the swing of things. Over the Easter holiday the MFL department had a successful trip to Paris where the students immersed themselves in Parisian culture and practised conversational French.  It was lovely to receive a postcard from them, in French and to hear about the goings on. Learning a foreign language is useful in so many ways, as the staff learnt in their Inset on Tuesday.

It was a real privilege to watch the first cricket fixture of the season take place yesterday on the Elm Field with the 1st XI taking on the might of Clayesmore. To hear the sound of leather on willow is music to my ears and the 1st XI were in fine form indeed as you’ll read below. And there is more cricket to come this season - so long as the weather holds. Tomorrow we take on Warminster School with the 1st XI playing at home and the U14s away – do please come along and support the team if you can; bring along a picnic and an umbrella, just in case. The first ball will be bowled at noon. This weekend also sees the Triathlon team taking part in the Iron Man Contest, the Equestrian Team at St Mary’s, Calne Show Jumping Competition (a qualifier for the national championships) and the Motor Sports Team at the regional finals at Thruxton Circuit in Andover, Hampshire. Needless to say, I will be doing a lot of driving on Sunday, but rest assured well within the national speed limits.

The students have literally thrown themselves back into school life since coming back on Wednesday with the Junior & Intermediate Inter House Swimming Gala being the focus yesterday – I can see why Michael Phelps wants to come back from retirement. The Senior event takes place next week and will contribute to the Bint Shield – the coveted House prize, which I believe is very close indeed and could go down to the wire on Sports Day, much like this season’s Premier League.

And with exams not far away for our Y11s, Y12s and Y13s, it was good for them to take some time out from their busy revision schedules and listen to Professor Matthew Wills from the University of Bath speak last night on the subject of ‘What is the Evidence for Evolution’. A fascinating talk where Professor Wills took us through the ages and various theories and discussed the conflict that still exists between religion and science and religion. The lecture was well supported by parents and students, who asked some searching philosophical questions at the end of the lecture; we are looking to book next year’s lecture – watch this space!

So with enrichment activities in Maths taking place today and Business Studies on Wednesday, GCSE Drama productions taking place this evening, A-level and GCSE revision sessions and sporting fixtures, it’s like we have never had a holiday. Have we really only been back three days?

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Head Master's End of Term Notes - 4th April

So a busy end of term approaches as I grab a few minutes to write this, in between signing Y11 shirts and another parental visit; for example, this week alone we saw the Mothering Sunday service for the school and the community at St Mary’s, Bruton; the whole school Achievement Assembly where Boarding and Y10 prefects were announced; the County U15 Netball finals where are girls’ came 4th – an outstanding achievement; the St Cecelia’s Spring Concert with an eclectic array of performances to suit all tastes from the Wind Band to the Pop Choir to stunning solo performances – impressive to say the least;  numerous football matches against Bristol Grammar School and Wells Blue (thanks to the weather) and the Paris Trip which left at the crack of dawn yesterday with a group of excited students eager to test out their French and immerse themselves into Parisian culture – do follow their exploits on Twitter; I hear the weather there is hot! This is a fair reflection of exactly what we want at Sexey’s: a busy school. One where students are engaged, thriving and taking advantage of the numerous opportunities on offer. With over 100 football, netball and rugby matches combined this term alone (to name just three sports) the levels of participation have certainly increased in the school and I thank you for your continued support. However, contrary to popular belief, I am not banning the age old tradition of ‘Squares’ at Sexey’s and building a pagoda in the quadrangle to practice Tai-Chi…

And so the Lent term comes to an end and I hope these weekly emails have kept you abreast of all things Sexey’s. Whilst the Y11 students sport their colourful hoodies and have their shirts signed, it’s great to see the camaraderie amongst the students enjoying themselves at school and learning valuable life lessons about the importance of community and friendship. As ever, it is of course a crucial period for our exam candidates to undertake effective revision; I know I do not need to remind them of the importance of consistent and effective hard work over the weeks ahead and we will support them through the tough exam season. I wish them well in their endeavours and preparations and my sincere thanks go to the staff who go that extra mile to ensure that provision and care at Sexey’s is second to none.

I wish you all a peaceful Easter and a well-deserved rest and I do hope that I can put away my wellies and brolly….

Friday, 28 March 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 28th March

The caterwauling persisted and the stench of Victorian London lingered in the room. No, I wasn't conducting a Chemistry experiment with my Y11s but enjoying a night out at the theatre. I was privileged to attend the Theatre Royal in Bath with our Drama students to watch George Bernard Shaw's 'Pygmalion' on Wednesday evening. What an absolute treat and it was a real pleasure to spend some time with our students outside of the busy school day to discuss the finer points of this classic. The play itself was a triumph and true to the original as we watched with intent the tempestuous relationship between 'Enry 'Iggins and Eliza Doolittle developing. Observing the actors treading the floorboards in this period comedy in the surroundings of the opulent Theatre Royal was something quite special and inspiring. It felt one was transported to a different era - a different type of medium too to be entertained by. This was in stark contrast to yesterday's BBC School News Report where the school's media team, led by the charismatic Max Doughty, used a variety of media to broadcast the news. An opportunity for the team to develop journalistic skills from reporting, writing, editing, producing, directing, tweeting, blogging - see the outstanding results of their efforts on the website and for the subsequent launch of Sexey's TV. Watch this space!

Last week I had the Y10s bribing me with sweets to find out if they had been nominated for prefect ship, but yesterday afternoon they burst into my study to inform me that the U15 Netball team had won the area finals and were now through to the County Finals - they were so excited and talked me through every game, every pass and every basket until the final whistle was blown when they were crowned area champions. Just listening to their enthusiasm, passion and modesty as they re-enacted the final in my study is one of the privileges of being a Head Master. I wish them well in next week's final and more details can be found on the school'ssports website, including the U15 Girls’ Rugby team’s success in the South West finals and all the other sporting fixtures that have occurred during the week.

I think I spoke too soon last week about the arrival of the glorious Spring weather, it didn't last that long and it’s still raining…. but fear not, next week's St Cecilia's Spring Concert (St Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians) will certainly brighten up Bruton - I look forward to seeing you there. And don't forget the clocks also spring forward this weekend...

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 21st March

It has been said that Manchester United were the Goliath of football and then along came David…and until Wednesday night David Moyes’ job was under considerable pressure. Another glorious night in Europe was notched up by the Reds as they comprehensively beat the Greek champions, Olympiakos, 3-0 (all three goals coming from ex-Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie) having been 2-0 down. The team were fluid and worked well together and produced a performance that could go on to win the most coveted prize in European football. Let’s not get carried away, however, but it is still possible for Manchester Utd to win, though they have to overcome the might of the current champions, Bayern Munich who they meet in the quarter final. So perhaps Moyes has had a stay of execution? If the team have indeed found their groove and can channel their energies then who knows – the footballing season is certainly going to produce a thrilling climax. And if you can’t wait that long, then we have a two tantalising fixtures tomorrow morning where the 1st and 2nd XI will be taking on Warminster School. Kick-off is at 1030 on the football fields – I look forward to seeing you there supporting the boys. Full details are on the sports section<> of the school website where information on all sporting fixtures, including results can be found – football (65 fixtures this term), rugby (boys and girls), netball, swimming and indeed all other sports the school offers. Speaking of other sports, with the F1 season having started in Malaysia last week, the Sexey’s Motor Sports Team have seized their opportunity and have qualified for the South Western Regional finals in April and their qualifying and racing times suggest that they have a realistic chance of reaching the national finals. We will, no doubt watch with baited breath as the team take on the numerous chicanes and pit stops at the fiendishly difficult Thruxton Circuit near Andover.

Flight MH370 was on our minds this week as we contemplated in assembly its disappearance – there is still no definitive news on its whereabouts even after 12 days and I cannot imagine what the family and friends of the passengers must be going through. We all know in our hearts that we will eventually find the answer, and we all suspect that the eventual answer will be of little consolation to those grieving. But in the meantime, I take something positive from the sheer volume of global speculation – because it tells me that we as a species are still full of hope and care. This is one of the first times I can remember when the whole human race has seemed at one in their sympathy and their concern for others. As the story of MH370 unfolds and is followed around the world we are seeing how the internet and 24-hour news are turning the 200 nations of the earth into a single global public, in a way we have never seen before. As a school community we paused for a couple of minutes to reflect and be still (mindfulness) to give us the opportunity to think about this awful incident and to hopefully find some peace in our stressed out, multi-tasking lives. I hope this period of mindfulness will bring benefits to us – taking time out to think, to reflect can only be a good thing. Our Italian friends certainly found it enlightening and I hope they gained an insight into English culture in our traditional but modern boarding school.

As the sun beams through the windows of my study (a far cry from the hail and rain of a few weeks ago) I watch the boys playing ‘Squares’ and I think about our community and how we all strive to make it a better place for all of us. The Y10s are at my study door bribing me with sweets, itching to find out if they have been selected to become prefects and how they will contribute to the community. I had better go and make my selection…

Monday, 17 March 2014

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 14th March

I was looking at the school's website and our social media feeds trying to keep with all that is going on in and around school and I noticed a comment from the Good Schools Guide, particularly the last line, on the front page - Lots of good teaching here and a genuine sense of community".  And it struck me why we are such a close knit community at Sexey's. There have been numerous examples of community spirit here at school but one recent event particularly highlighted this - last weekend's Big Yellow Friday. This was a community event in every sense of the word masterminded by our very own Mr Hill which not only brought together students, their parents and staff, but also people from the local community and beyond - friends of the school, Old Sexeians, local community groups, local businesses, the fire service (there were no fires I hasten to add!), Olympians, bishops and the list goes on. It was humbling to see so many people take part (over 300 cyclists), how much people genuinely care and how we look out for each other in this special community of ours at this fine institution. The event has already raised a staggering £7,500 (and this figure is increasing every day) for the Children's Liver Disease Foundation and it is great to hear that Tilly is doing well after her transplant - we look forward to seeing her at Sexey's in the not too distant future.

Over the extended exeat this Saturday, the school is taking part in another community event - the Bruton Coffee morning in the Community Hall -  if you are around do drop in for a slice of cake and a cup of tea, it would be lovely to see you. And next Friday the school has been invited to take part in the 'Bruton Community Spring Clean' community event organised by The Mill on the Brue to give Bruton a real clean up now that spring (fingers crossed) has finally arrived. The 'Bruton the Way Forward' consultation afternoon took place not so long ago and from a town perspective it was interesting to see the community taking an active role in suggesting ideas and strategies to ensure that the town continues to develop for the benefit of the local and wider community - a real sense of community spirit which can only be a good thing. I'll keep you posted on developments here as the school (being one of, if not the largest employer in the town) will have a considerable interest in this initiative.

Closer to the home, we have had numerous rugby, football and netball fixtures; the rugby 7s ventured into deepest Wales (buoyed by last Saturday's 6 Nation victory) to take part in the prestigious Llandovery 7s - a tough competition in all respects and the U16s travelled to Berkshire to compete in the Independent Schools Association 7s competition - they managed to win their quarter- final match which is a tremendous effort. Not to be outdone, the Girls' U15 rugby team had excellent victories against Huish Episcopi and St Dunstans in the area tournament and progress to Burnham  next week - exciting stuff. The U13 netball teams also celebrated successes against King Arthur's and The Gryphon and the Motor Sports Team raced in the qualifying stages for the British Schools Karting Championship at Cheddar yesterday - Sexey's has a proud history in this prestigious national competition (founded by Old Sexeian Will Tew) reaching the National Finals in four of the past six years and finishing 5th nationally (out of 800 competing schools) in 2013; sport this term is going from strength to strength despite the poor weather and I'm grateful to colleagues for providing these valuable opportunities to our students to allow them to flex their sporting muscles in a variety of competitions. It’s wonderful to see so much participation, engagement and support - important life skills such as resilience, teamwork and leadership and are constantly being developed and it is my privilege as a Head to watch our students grow and flourish in these areas from the safety of the sidelines...

On the academic side, colleagues from Sexey's and schools from all over Somerset are coming together today as a learning community to share best practice and to learn from one another what works best in the classroom - over 1000 teachers in over 40 schools are working closely together for the benefit of the next generation. Community on a bigger scale and good to be part of. Also, it’s not every day that you receive a letter from the Queen acknowledging and thanking the students for the work they have done - Sexey's is now even being talked about  in the corridors of Buckingham Palace - thank you to Mr Manning for taking the time to write to Her Majesty.

So as the exeat beckons, I will be watching the climax of the Six Nations with the local community in Bruton with intent - will England win the spoils against Italy or will the talismanic Brian O'Driscoll have a fairy tale ending to his glittering international rugby career. There's nothing like a good game to bring the local, national and international communities together.