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.