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…