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!