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…