Friday, 11 December 2015

Head Master's Notes - 11th December 2015

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 11th.

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 6th), and by the time the month is half over, I will have attended four carol services, attended three nativities, had the Christmas playlist in Reception 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 (Sainsbury’s and John Lewis as Mr Richard Kelley referred to in his Christmas Lesson) almost as soon as the previous year stopped (or so it seems). But the festive spirit eventually holds sway as it always does: fuelled by images for example of the Annual House Cross Country, Christmas Lunch, the 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, air hockey and lashings of hot chocolate! I had the honour of attending Macmillan House’s Masquerade Ball last night, expertly organised by Ms Janie Budd, and it was a magnificent occasion, where even Santa made a guest appearance, 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 Kelley, the Sexey's Choral Society (Adam Wagstaff’s ‘Once in Royal David City’ solo was stunning) and our readers in particular for leading that. With 650 odd people in attendance, there was literally standing room only – thank you for attending this years’ service and to Fr Justin who soldiered on, despite his sore throat. We also gave valetes to Mr Paul Reddick, who takes up the Headship of Crispin School in the New Year and to Mr and Mrs Hinks who leave Lisbury House after seven years to take up positions in construction and Sherborne Girls’ respectively. Mrs Hinks has actually served the school for over 20 years in various roles and responsibilities and, as you read this, will be on her way to Montgenèvre with the ski trip. We wish them well in their new adventures. The Parent Staff Association (PSA) were in full force in the Main Hall afterwards (and incidentally at the Bruton High Street Christmas 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 very successful term. In Tuesday's Assembly the School Song was sung with great gusto and passion - a real sense of pride could be felt around the Hall 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 Government figures released this week are testimony to that with the school being placed in the top 1% nationally for attainment and progress; last year we were in the top 10%...)  and of course our exceptional examination results this summer -  I am indebted to their professionalism and work ethic; a fine common room and Governing Body 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, Macbeth, Jazz Group, Strings, Sixth Form Assemblies, UCAS success, House Cross Country, Sky Sports, PSA Barn Dance, Lancaster Castle, Y11 Trial exams, Philosophy Conference, Mr Roger Saul, Speech Day, Girls’ Hockey County Finals, Y7 Rugby triumph, the Equestrian Team, Winter Cricket Nets, Wells Literature Festival, Open Evenings, St Mary’s Sunday Services, Hauser & Wirth, Oxbridge interviews (good luck to all our candidates), Ski Trip to France (best of luck to our skiers who have already departed), KDR lunches, Christmas Lunch, Feast Night, Y7 Head Master’s Suppers, The Independent School Show, Macmillan Coffee Morning, Charities Committee, Christmas Carol Service….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 from the refugee crisis to the Paris attacks, those core values of tolerance, respect and kindness which underpin 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.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Head Master's Notes - 4th December 2015

So the Christmas spirit has finally arrived at Sexey’s this week and it certainly feels likes Christmas now, with the Main Hall decorated, the Christmas tree looking splendid and carols playing in school. After all it is December and all we need now is some snow…Wednesday’s traditional Christmas Concert was a wonderful 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 seeing them again soon. This year, we were treated to fine performances by the Wind Band, Strings, the Folk Group, Jazz Group and spirited solo performances too – Isabella Birt (Silent Night on the harp), Tom Chapman (Prokofiev’s ‘Troika’ on violin), Adam Wagstaff (Szelenyi’s School Break (only a week to go!) on violin) and Elena Gaffney (Mr Magorium’s Emporium on piano). The festive season is well and truly here!

We have just had 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 Cancer – from the Sexey’s Express to George Stewart running as Susan Hill’s ‘Woman in Black’ to the ‘Where’s Wally?’ team and the Heads of School, George Tracy and Julia Blackmore running as a Spice Girl and as the balloons from Up – don’t ask! Thankfully the weather was kind to us today (though it was perishing and quite soft underfoot after last night’s downpour) 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 students singing the School Song set the tone for the character building 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 will be fiercely contested immediately after the Christmas holidays), let alone their School. And speaking of talent, I would like to wish our nine Oxbridge candidates the very best next week as they travel up to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge having been invited up for interview. They have been preparing feverishly this week and have had tough mock interviews with colleagues who have been putting them through their paces. I am sure this passion for learning both inside and outside of the classroom will continue long into the weekend, when we play our Saturday rugby block fixture against Warminster School and the Equestrian team compete in the NSEA County Qualifier at Kings Sedgemoor. Come along and see for yourself. We are very privileged to be part of this spirited and warm community.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Head Master's Notes - 27th November 2015

I trust you all enjoyed the extended exeat last weekend. Our equestrian team were competing on the Sunday at the Team and Individual Show Jumping event organised by the South & West Wilts Pony Club and Isabelle Wilson, Jess Brewer and Georgia Silcox performed very well indeed. Myself and other colleagues were in Lancaster last weekend at the SBSA (State Boarding School Association) Annual Conference which was held at Royal Lancaster Grammar School, another successful state boarding school, on the edge of The Lake District. It was an excellent conference and we were inspired by the likes of Kevin Roberts, the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi and Brian Ashton, the former England Rugby coach – both Old Lancaster Grammar boys – and learnt more about the ongoing work of the sector to provide more boarding places to vulnerable children from the edge of care. The state boarding sector continues to go from strength to strength and the news of a national funding formula for schools announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Spending Review can only support the outstanding work that we are doing as a sector.

Earlier this 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 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, Black Friday, the Sunday supplements teaching you ‘How to cook the perfect Turkey’ and a message from the Estates Manager asking about Christmas trees for the 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 cracking sporting fixtures against Monkton Coombe and Milton Abbey, the Y7s, 9s, 10s and 11s all reaching the County Hockey Finals, the ‘Boarders of the World’ disco last night celebrating diversity and culture in our school community, Sky Sports visit and preparations for Music Week. Of course, the Y11s had their Trial Exams all this week and well done to them on approaching these exams with great maturity and purpose – bodes well for the future. And alongside this, our own Christmas preparations are underway - I noticed the Christmas decorations coming out the school attic, the boarders putting up Christmas trees in their boarding houses; preparations are underway for the Christmas Concert on next Wednesday– do come along and join in the yuletide festivities, the annual Cross Country event next Friday, Christmas Lunch in the KDR, 6th Form Christmas Jumper Charity Day, the Christmas Shopping Evening on Bruton High Street, where the PSA will be in full force, Feast Night 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…

Friday, 20 November 2015

Head Master's Notes - 20th November 2015

In light of the attacks last weekend I appreciate this week has not been easy for many and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the people of Paris and France during this difficult time. This week’s 6th form assembly was a solemn occasion where we took time to reflect on the atrocities that occurred in Paris last weekend – an attack of the values that we strongly believe in and cherish – tolerance, respect and kindness – and an opportunity to think about our place in the world and the importance of democracy and solidarity.  It’s hard to believe that we are here again a mere 10 months after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. The Deputy Head boy, Alex Amann, read eloquently and after the prayer, Y12 Josiah Berkeley performed a beautiful piano recital while we reflected on the events of the weekend. It was a poignant and respectful moment which highlights all that is special about our 6th form and school. After the assembly, I was impressed at how our students articulated their responses to the attacks (and at last night’s Head Master’s Supper at Walwin House for our Y7 Boarders) and it was encouraging to see young people developing their own opinions – something I am very keen for them to do here at Sexey’s. Do discuss with your children what’s going on in the world, encourage them to read the newspaper, listen to the radio, take an interest in current affairs and the political debate – those conversations around the dining table are vital in developing their intellectual curiosity and helping them to engage with what is going on beyond the safety of our school gates.

Congratulations go to a number of Y12 students who were awarded their silver DoE awards at the assembly and also to one Y13 student, Hannah Petrovic, who was awarded her Gold award (unheard of in DoE circles as this is normally awarded at the end of Y13 and not at the beginning) and again highlights the opportunities and possibilities that are available to our 6th formers here at Sexey’s. The 1st XV also went on to win convincingly against Sherborne School yesterday afternoon (20-12) in a very competitive and tough match and I wish the Equestrian Team the very best as they compete at the South Wilts Show Jumping event over the exeat.

I sincerely hope that the next generation of Sexeians will look closely at the world and use the qualities and skills they have learnt and developed to help build a safer and secure future for us all – education, I believe, is the key.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Head Master's Notes - 13th November 2015

It has been another busy week at Sexey’s, with 6th form assessments, numerous sporting fixtures, boarding activities, BBC Children in Need fundraising, 6th form interviews and preparation for the Y11 Trial exams. We also interviewed for the new Housemaster and Housemistress of Lisbury and I am delighted to announce that Luke and Rebecca Brailey have been appointed to take on this important pastoral role in the school. We wish them and their family the very best as they continue the strong legacy of excellent pastoral care established at Lisbury through the commitment and dedication of Richard and Jenny Hinks, who themselves will be moving on to pastures new. We thank them for all they have done for Sexey’s and for the countless Sexeians who have benefited from their wise counsel, compassion and warmth.

The three Bruton schools, the Brownies, the Scouts, members of the armed forces and the community paraded through town to pay their respects at a moving  Remembrance Day service at St Mary’s on Sunday. It was a time to remember and commemorate those Brutonians, including those from Sexey’s and King’s, who gave their lives during the Great Wars. In total 63 Sexeians lost their lives fighting for our country and the School’s Armistice Day service on Wednesday remembered them, with Air Commodore D A Whittaker OBE MVO present at the service to read the Kohima Prayer. Our buglers, Isaac Mills and David Clackson did the school proud as they played the Last Post and Reveille respectively (not an easy thing to do) as did the Heads of School and Senior prefects who read out the names of the fallen. It was a poignant service and I hope our Sexeians gain and learn much from this and Sunday’s experience - they are the next generation who I hope will work tirelessly to avoid such conflicts from happening again in the future 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 Wars and other conflicts so that we could enjoy our freedoms today and tomorrow - we will remember them, always.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 6th November 2015

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 Oxbridge exams and Maths Challenges already taken place, with Sixth Form assessments all next 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.

The Rugby World Cup came to a fitting end over the break with New Zealand winning the coveted Webb Ellis trophy for a record third time and we explored in 6th Form assembly why they are such a potent force – consistency, well-organised, team work, respect for one another, strong work ethic, commitment and dedication  – we can all learn so much from them to help us achieve our own aspirations and goals. With hockey and rugby matches in full flow this week and preparations for tonight’s Y10 performance of ‘Macbeth’ at the Merlin Theatre in Frome, it is as though we haven’t had a half term! However, over the break, two young Sexeians were recognized for their extraordinary talent at the Western Gazette's Gold Star Awards. Cricketing prodigy Ali Layard in Year 8, who won the Inspirational Young Sportsman of the Year Prize was told he would never walk again when he was caught in the propeller of a boat three years ago, badly injuring his legs. But he refused to take no for an answer, and through sheer determination, Ali has become a rising star on the cricket pitch, representing both Devon, Axminster and Sexey’s School and is a real source of inspiration. Y10 Fela Sowande, another prodigious talent was awarded the Young Artistic Achiever of the Year. You may recall that Fela’s extraordinary art work was curated and displayed at Bruton Museum during the summer. We are very proud of both Ali and Fela’s stunning achievements, as we are of all our students and hope that Sexey’s can continue to develop and nurture the talents of tomorrow.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Head Master's Notes - 16th October 2015

We stopped and paused for reflection at our annual Speech Day this afternoon where we welcomed our Guest of Honour, Mr Roger Saul. Here we celebrated the success of Sexeians past and present and I was thoroughly impressed with the slick organisation, the conduct and maturity of our students, the calm composure of the Wind Band, the assured delivery by the Heads of School (George and Julia) and the quality of our guest speaker, Roger. A truly memorable occasion which highlights all that is outstanding about this fine institution and thank you to all colleagues who made this happen today – a great team effort and the Hobhouse looked stunning. There has also been plenty going on at Sexey’s - from numerous House competitions, sporting fixtures (the Y7s Girls’ Hockey team made it into the County Championships), drama workshops, art visits, PSHE, Open Evenings, the Philosophy and Theology Conference and of course the matter of teaching and learning. It was great to hear the excitement from the Head of Sixth Form, when one of our U6 students had already received an offer from a university – 3 in total have received offers despite only sending off their applications last week! 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. The PSA put on a fabulous night last Saturday when we had the inaugural Sexey’s Barn Dance in the Main Hall – a real antidote to the cold evenings that are beginning to creep in. The family atmosphere was warm and convivial, the food was delicious and the dancing somewhat suspect. But a great evening was had by all and I would highly recommend that you come along next year.

So as we hurtle towards the end of this busy term I would like to thank all staff and Governors for their efforts in ensuring that our students receive the highest 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 in partnership we can all bring out the best in our students.

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

Friday, 9 October 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 9th October 2015

‘Now Is The Winter Of Our Discontent’ (or should that have been ‘Disconnect‘ as we lost our LEA provided internet connection for 3 days last week- apologies for any inconvenience caused, but it was also quite liberating) and ‘All the World’s a Stage’ by William Shakespeare are quite apt writings and poems in light of the school’s celebration of National Poetry Day, and England crashing out of the Rugby World Cup. Yesterday saw dozens of students scribbling away and creating their own poems under the guiding light of the English Department and I look forward to hearing them read their masterpieces. Providing such opportunities within the school day for our students to let their creative juices flow is important, and allows them to express themselves in a different context. I want to continue to encourage creativity here at the school and hope that our students will take up the many opportunities on offer. Our Y10 Drama students are currently at a Shakespeare work shop at the Merlin Theatre in Frome – the work and the world of the bard continues to inspire generations.

On Tuesday we had our 6th Form Open Evening for prospective students and their parents and with over 150 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 300 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 Stallion who will be only too happy to organise a personal visit for you. Speaking of the 6th form, a reminder that our Lower 6th (Year 12) ‘Meet the Tutor’ event takes place next Wednesday, 14th 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 weekend hockey fixtures against Leweston and weekday matches against Dauntsey’s, Wells Blue and Bruton School for Girls. It was wonderful to hear the excitement of a U6 girl who bounded towards my study this morning to tell me all about how the Senior Hockey Ladies’ team managed to draw with BSG 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 and use it as inspiration in her everyday life. 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 globally successful entrepreneur, Mr Roger Saul as our Guest of Honour and Speaker. Mr Saul is the founder of the luxury brand, Mulberry and a successful farmer and we look forward to seeing him 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 tomorrow night’s Barn Dance organised by the PSA (Parent Staff Association) and the Old Sexeian Rugby Match who take on our 1st XV on the Elm Field at 10am on Sunday – I hope our players show more creativity in their back line than England did last week…

Friday, 25 September 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 25th September 2015

Bonjour! Guten Tag! Buenos Dias! This week saw European Languages Week with the MFL department putting 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 this was clearly evident as we took on the might of Balmoral College from Buenos Aires in Argentina last Sunday in two excellent rugby fixtures – different culture, different language, different style, but the same values. 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 our students 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 our Sixth Form, is on Tuesday the 6th of October. The Macmillan Coffee Morning is now a national institution and we hosted our very own today at Walwin House - Macmillan Cancer Support, which was founded by Old Sexeian Douglas Macmillan (1894-97), is the School’s partner charity. We were inundated by people at Walwin this morning raising over £250 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 serving cappuccinos, espressos and lattes. Plenty of cakes and eclairs too by the likes of our Catering Department, At the Chapel, Taylors Bakery and Taste Bruton – working with the local community to help and support others less fortunate than us – values.

I wish you all a pleasant and restful exeat (good luck to the Equestrian team this weekend) and I hope that the weather continues to be kind to us all…

Friday, 18 September 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 18th September 2015

It’s been difficult to ignore over the past few months but today sees the biggest World Cup in the history of rugby union kick off, pardon the pun. 20 countries will compete in 44 matches over the next 48 days and England start their campaign this evening against Fiji at Twickenham. At Sexey’s, we have a proud tradition of playing the game and we will no doubt be watching with great interest and hope that England can repeat their emphatic win of the Webb Ellis trophy as they did back in 2003. Our Sexeians have been competing in tough rugby fixtures this week and our U14s were victorious against Beechen Cliff, but our own 1st XV lost in a tough game. And school rugby has come under the spotlight this week as momentum for the World Cup begins. Is it the preserve of the independent schools and should more state schools, like Sexey’s, be playing the sport? In the past, England teams would have predominantly been made up of those who were educated in the private sector (rugby is a major sport at such schools), but the tide is changing – the current England squad boasts 21 players from the independent sector and 10 from the state and I hope that schools like us and Beechen Cliff continue to play the sport and develop the sportsmen and sportswomen of the future. Creating a level playing field (sorry!) is what is needed and I have been working with our local MP to lobby the Government in order that we can secure fair funding that will allow our students such valuable opportunities. Sport, as well as art, music and drama are crucial in developing the whole person and I hope that we are providing an education which develops character and builds resilience. And speaking of resilience we will be hosting Balmoral College this weekend, a school from Argentina, and our U15 and 1st XV rugby teams will be playing them on Sunday afternoon and enjoying the World Cup afterwards. It will be a tough afternoon but a wonderful way of bringing the world and the community closer together.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 11th September 2015

I have just had time to draw breath after a host of events and fixtures this week at Sexey’s – from Girls’ Hockey and rugby fixtures (the Rugby World Cup kicks off next Friday) against Clifton College and Milton Abbey, the Silver DoE expedition to the Quantocks, Mandarin Club, whole school assembly, clubs and societies, the launch of this year's whole school production - Return to the Forbidden Planet and the appointment of the new Y11 Senior Prefect team. Congratulations go to Max Doughty (Head Boy), Katherine Mayes (Head Girl), Lewis Day (Deputy Head Boy) and Ellie Parnell (Deputy Head Girl) on their appointments. I wish them and the 6th form Senior Team the very best in their endeavours this year as they work together with staff and students in moving the school further forward.

Has it only been a week since we have been back? There have also been some other questions we have asked and explored this week. During a moving whole school assembly on the refugee crisis, Mr Kelley, the Chaplain, asked why? That single disturbing photo last week published on social media, has changed public and political opinion and possibly that of Europe too on the humanitarian crisis we are experiencing. Before that photo, there were calls to stop the migration, to limit the numbers entering EU countries, award penalties and sanctions, there were even calls by the media to have the army involved at Calais! However, last week, that harrowing image of the lifeless toddler being carried from a beach, having drowned during his family’s attempt to reach Europe, dramatically altered the conversation about Syria’s refugee crisis and has literally changed the course of history. There has been an emotional reckoning, a desire to see something done to help the persecuted and the desperate. I have been impressed at our students response to this crisis and they have been forthcoming with ideas on how we can help; the School's Charity Commission will look into ways we can offer our support - tolerance, respect and kindness are values that are certainly in abundance at Sexey's.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 4th September 2015

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 and give you a flavour of what we do here at Sexey’s!  So where did the summer go? And the rain seems to have stopped just as the new term begins. Here’s to the Great British Summer! And where did last year go?

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 of School, Julia Blackmore and her peers sit with some of our younger members at lunch today and talk to them about school life – it was like older brothers and sisters guiding their younger siblings. And the new L6 playing squares with the Lower School. This is exactly what Sexey’s is about –  family. It was great to hear the School Hymn being belted out at assembly yesterday (I missed it over the summer!)  and our Year 11 prefects reading with such aplomb about the awful events in Europe as the disturbing migrant crisis continues to unfold – do discuss this issue with them around the dinner table over the weekend. It’s quite harrowing what is happening outside our school gates…

We have had an excellent start to the term buoyed by the exceptional exam results the school has achieved at GCSE and A-level over the summer. The outstanding performance at A-level (65% A*-B) is testimony to the hard work and effort by our U6 and their teachers and our results give many of our competitors (independent and state) a good run for their money. Over 80% of our U6 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 U6 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.

Not to be outdone, the stunning performance at GCSE by our Year 11s achieving the highest results for a generation are equally impressive. Our results, on all accountability measures including the main Government measure of 5A*-C including English and Maths (81%) by which all schools are compared by, is the best in Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and Devon. Our students and staff have worked diligently to achieve these outstanding 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 Year 11s have now moved into the newly redecorated 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 carry on moving 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.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 3rd July

From the sweltering heat of the hottest day on record on Wednesday to probably the wettest day in Bruton on Thursday – we have seen a mixture of weather (and outfits) this week. Quite extraordinary to say the least. And last Friday you may recall that I was off to Hauser & Wirth to see the premier of the Youth Cinema Foundation films that the students have been making this year and again the range of talent (acting, editing, sound, production, costumes) was extraordinary. The quality of the performances was stunning and I hope that our students gained much from the experience and will remember us when they collect their Baftas and Oscars in years to come. My thanks to Jack Price, the parents, staff, Hauser and Wirth and the countless people behind the scenes who worked tirelessly to provide such extraordinary opportunities for our students. And not only our students, but those who are thousands of miles away; this week we played host to our Chinese guests from our partner school in Yueyang in the Hunan Province – Yueyang No 2 Middle School. Both our students and those from China have had a tremendous time learning about each other’s cultures and heritage and have been taking part in various workshops and activities – from Drama and History to St Mary’s, Bruton and Sexey’s Hospital, to Wyke Farm, Stourhead and Hauser & Wirth. This weekend, the students are off to the seaside at Weymouth (let’s hope the weather stays fine) and to Bath to visit the Abbey and the magnificent Roman Baths. Our students have benefitted from this enriching experience (the Farewell Assembly this afternoon was testimony to that with Annabel Thrippleton performing a brilliant solo) and will now have even stronger links with their partner school in Yueyang. We may even see some of our students travelling over to China next summer- do please watch this space.

This week’s Achievement Assembly was a great celebration of all the successes that our Sexeians have accomplished in a diverse range of endeavours. The new Senior Prefects, which were voted in by the students, addressed the school and we wish them well as they take on the important role of leading the student body next year. We also had an emotional presentation from our 6th form students who talked about their experience when they visited Auschwitz last term. This was especially poignant with the passing away of Sir Nicholas Winton earlier this week who saved the lives of hundreds of children destined for Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. An extraordinary man. We celebrated achievement of all sorts, from academic, music, drama and sport and in particular Ali Layard (Y7) who took 6 wickets for 10 runs in an U15 cricket match against Downside School last Saturday – do read the story in Cricket World. And the success of both Caitlin Carnegie (Y10) and Ziana Azariah (Y13) who will be representing Somerset at the National Athletics Championships at Gateshead next week – extraordinary achievements. We also prayed for the victims of the atrocities that occurred in Tunisia, France and Kuwait last week and observed a minute’s silence at noon today, as did much of the country.

We certainly live in an extraordinary world and I hope at Sexey’s we give our students the necessary life skills to live in such a world. We endeavour to ‘teach our students to think intelligently, act wisely and be fully engaged in a challenging and changing world’. This was clearly evident this week.
Zhōumò Yúkuài

Friday, 26 June 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 26th June

This last week has seen the departure of two year groups now that their exams have finally finished. On Saturday we celebrated with the U6 at the 6th Form Ball held at the swanky Haynes Motor Museum, whilst on Tuesday we had the Y11 Prom also at the Haynes Motor Museum – a popular choice for discerning students. The U6 have been a formidable year group admirably led by Jack Wingate and Annabel Buckland, and it was wonderful to see the cohort together enjoying themselves as they embark on life beyond Sexey’s. Similarly, the Y11s have done the school proud. The Y11 Leavers’ Assembly and BBQ last Friday was an emotional one with the Head Boy, Ed Deacon giving a rousing speech and the Head Girl, Georgina Chapman leading the prayers. The Heads of House recounted the many trials and tribulations that our Y11s have gone through during their time at Sexey’s and I hope we have built their character and confidence and have taught them essential life skills. The Y11 video made by the students was a work of art and thank you to all colleagues who contributed to it – highly amusing and well executed. Some of our Sexeians will be moving on to pastures new and we thank them for all that they have done for the school. And we will welcome back many to the 6th Form (Induction Day was on Tuesday) where we hope to continue our strong relationship with them.

So how will the Classes of 2015 be remembered? Will it be the success that they have found both in and out of the academic arena – art, music, drama, hockey, cricket, rugby, athletics, football, netball, rounders, horse riding, motor sports, swimming, services to the community …I could go on. Or will the Classes of 2015 be remembered for the qualities of tolerance, respect and kindness that is clearly evident amongst these group of students? I suspect that it will be a combination of both. For example, last week’s End of Year Art show was a fitting tribute to the hard work and sheer effort that our Sexeians put in. The quality of work produced by our artists was simply stunning – all credit to them. Developing such intricate skills and fostering a love of art is something I hope we do well here at Sexey’s. With Hauser & Wirth and now the Bruton Art Factory on our doorstep, Sexeians are very fortunate to be surrounded by such creative and artistic people from which they can learn and draw inspiration. And of course it’s Glastonbury weekend, the festival of contemporary performing arts – our Sexeians are very lucky indeed. A curtain raiser to Glastonbury on our very own stage saw the Summer Instrumental concert take place this week and it was wonderful to watch our talented Sexeians perform and to hear Miss Kate Stevens (in her last concert at Sexey’s) sing ‘Seraphim’ from Handel’s ‘Samson. The school is full of talent.

Speaking of Hauser & Wirth, I will be attending the film premieres of Shaftesbury End (a teenage Wolf Hall) and ‘Exposure’ that our Sexey’s students have been making this past year with renowned director Jack Price – the photos of the shoots have been stunning. Again creativity and opportunity in abundance at Sexey’s. I hope you can join me this evening to celebrate their work.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 19th June

This week we have been fortunate to be part of two important anniversaries – the sealing of the Magna Carta by King John on the 11th of June 1215 and the Battle of Waterloo on the 18th of June 1815 where the Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon Bonaparte in Belgium.

The History department have done sterling work this week in raising awareness and celebrating with our students the significance of these two historical events -  the Great Charter which has had a profound influence on eight centuries of history in England, Britain and the English-speaking world and the Battle of Waterloo which emphatically ended Napoleon’s stranglehold over Europe. The Magna Carta is and has been part and parcel of the history syllabus that is studied in British schools up and down the country – it formed the basis of the democracy, liberty and human rights that we live by today. But I was astonished to learn that the history curriculum in our schools barely touches on the Battle of Waterloo – forgive me, but I am only a mere chemist. The First World War is studied in great depth, and quite rightly so at this time of the centenary. The battlefields of Ypres and the Somme which our students have been fortunate to visit and experience, bring this part of history to life. But thereafter, it is all about Nazi Germany, Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin, particularly Hitler.
Students in schools will have little understanding of 20th-century history and particularly the dictatorships, if they have no idea of literally what happened in the past - Napoleon was the first modern European dictator. I don’t think one cannot understand the modern world without some in-depth knowledge of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I feel that every school student should be taught about the French Revolution - failing to teach this period is denying our students valuable opportunities to enhance their understanding of the birth of the modern European world – and it is this modern Europe that is now coming under intense scrutiny, from the promised in/out referendum to the austerity measures facing Greece’s very existence in Europe. It is sad that students do not study this rich period in any depth, but I understand the limitations of time and the curriculum. The Battle of Waterloo was one of the most decisive battles of modern history – it was a day of compelling drama where one could not predict the outcome between the warring factions. It is hard to imagine any student not being captivated by the extraordinary events of that day. The battle teaches us about strategy, cooperation and leadership with two of the greatest military commanders in history facing each other: the enigmatic Wellington against the flamboyant Napoleon. Students can learn so much from studying these formidable men. The Battle of Waterloo, and the events leading up to and following it (much like the Magna Carta), warrants study in all schools. It would be a great tragedy if the bicentenary were to pass without this void in our school history provision being filled. I am sure the Duke of Wellington deserves better.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 12th June

The examination season is now in full swing, the sun is shining (after an initial downpour, of course), cricket sweaters and summer dress are de rigueur and Mr Cowley sporting his salmon-pink chinos - summer is finally here. And I hope that the weather continues to be kind to us so that we can enjoy all the summer events that are on for the rest of this Trinity term, from the Junior Shakespeare production, art exhibitions, concerts, sporting fixtures, classic car show and the like. And it’s great to see so many of our students engaged in these activities – Acoustic Night on Wednesday is a perfect example and the support shown in assembly to Fela Sowande in Y9, whose art work has been curated and is being showcased at Bruton Museum this afternoon, was exemplary. The number of volunteers we received to accompany our Chinese visitors at the end of this month (more details below) whilst they visit Sexey’s again highlights the enthusiasm and engagement our students have for all things Sexey’s – they are rightly proud of the school (we celebrate 125 years next year) and show strong camaraderie and an unwavering support for our community - I hope they all continue to stay on TRaK in all that they do over the coming weeks.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 5th June

This time last year we had the sound of samba and bossanova ringing in our ears as we welcomed the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Exactly a year on from that and the organisation, which we have grown to love and trust somewhat, has fallen foul to scandal and corruption. It’s a sad indictment of the world we live in and the recent athletic doping scandal is testimony to this. Sport has come under a lot of scrutiny recently, from match fixing to the illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs and rightly so – sport is for all and should be, and please excuse the pun, be played on a level playing field. The global media coverage the FIFA story has received is vast. The question is, should it? You would think all of this is the most important matter facing the world - bigger than climate change, bigger, than the economy, bigger than religious extremism, bigger than world hunger. We have lost some sense of perspective. I know corruption is wrong, I know it should be rooted out, and I know it causes real harm. The perpetrators should be brought to justice. But this corruption is, with all due respect, in the world of sport. It is not something that really matters, or should matter, that much to people. If we were to discover that the World Health Organisation, or HM Treasury, or Google, or even the BBC were systematically corrupt, then, yes, that would matter a great deal, for obvious reasons. Real lives and livelihoods are at stake; real human welfare being perverted for personal gain by some unscrupulous individuals or other. Now I know football is a huge global business – the sponsorship and obscene salaries in our world-beating Premier league reflects this – but it is all rather irrational. However, we can learn a lot from sport at the fundamental level – the qualities of team work, leadership, endeavour, respect, integrity, winning and losing graciously, fair play – true sportsmanship; this is what we should be concentrating on moving forward. Teaching the next generation how to be good sportsman in every respect, both on and off the pitch is vital. With fixtures this past week against the likes of Millfield, Taunton School and Bruton School for Girls, I hope we are instilling those important qualities and building the character necessary so that our students can compete beyond our school gates. I trust the new custodians of FIFA will do the same too.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 22nd May

It didn’t look too good this morning as I peered through the window of my study and wondered if we were going to call off Sports Day due to the perennial Bank Holiday weather – rain.  However, it had brightened up by break and it was full steam ahead as we heralded in another successful Sexey’s Sports Day on the Elm Field. The Houses were in fine form singing with gusto their various House Hymns building camaraderie and team spirit with staff and parents encouraging our sportsmen and women to achieve to their potential. There is nothing like a good sports day to bring together the whole school community and my thanks go to the PE department for their meticulous organisation, to the Estates team for the finely manicured tracks, House staff (the Hobhouse cupcakes were particularly impressive), the PSA and of course the competitors. The spoils went to Golledge who won the West Midlands Relay Shield, the Macmillan Cancer Support Staff-Student Race (Mr Lawton ran a stunning 100m) and the overall Track & Field Competition. It was a fine way to round off this busy half term and a well-deserved break awaits our colleagues and students alike.

A moving U6 Leavers’ assembly took place yesterday in the 6th Form Centre and it was a fitting tribute to the maturity and diligence of this particular year group. They have been led admirably by Jack Wingate and Annabel Buckland who have encapsulated all the qualities that make a Sexeian – all commented on the friendly nature and warm atmosphere of the school, the life skills they have learnt and the strong relationships they have built which will last for many years to come. Many have been here since Y7, many as boarders and the experiences and opportunities they have gained has been second to none. As Einstein said,  ‘education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learnt at school.’ And boarding can teach students the value of stability in a caring and nurturing environment. The U6 now immerse themselves in public exams after half term and we wish them well in their endeavours as they pursue coveted university places (and gap years) come August. I thank them for the outstanding service they have given to the school – from music, art and drama productions, to a variety of sports teams and to the prefect body for setting the gold standard to the younger members of our community and keeping them on TRaK.

We salute the Class of 2015.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 15th May

The weather (and politics) seem to be the main topics of conversation over the past few days (I believe a tornado was spotted in Bridgwater last night, let alone in Westminster…). However, the weather was very kind to us last Sunday, and long may it continue, when the Head Master's XI took on the mighty 1st XI cricket team. It was a cracking game with plenty of drama and excitement but experience ultimately triumphed over youth. But it’s not all about the winning - it's the taking part that counts which is important and I am grateful to all those who participated and gave up their Sunday afternoon to play, support, umpire and serve teas – a wonderful community event and a great afternoon of cricket. And keeping with the sporting theme, we have seen our girls’ cricket teams triumph against the likes of King Edward’s, Bath and Millfield and our athletics teams competing at the highest level in the English Schools Track & Field Cup at Millfield School. This weekend also see our Equestrian Team take on the might of Stonar School at the Inter Schools One-Day Event and the Duke of Edinburgh expedition to Cranborne Chase with 47 eager adventurers hoping to complete their bronze award (hope the weather stays fine for them!). And of course there is our Boarding Open Morning on Saturday too. Plenty of quality opportunities for our students to get involved in and be challenged by which can only build character and resilience in the long run, qualities employers are always looking for. Personally, I believe that we should be continually challenging ourselves, both mentally and physically. Remaining in our comfort zones is an all too easy option and a culture of complacency could develop as a result.

Many of you will have noticed that whilst I was at the Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA) Conference last week in London, I took part in an abseil challenge for the charity Springboard which funds places for disadvantaged children in independent and state boarding schools – thank you for all your support in this (I made it down 100ft in one piece!) and to the Headmistress of Bruton School for Girls, Mrs Nicky Botterill – being continually challenged and being out of one’s comfort zone is a good thing. Whilst at the Conference, I had the opportunity to work with Sir Anthony Seldon (Master of Wellington College) in promoting state boarding and I look forward to more collaborations in the future which will undoubtedly provide further opportunities for our students. There is no doubt there are challenges facing the education sector – it’s 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 and the importance of both a moral stance and a respect for those who differ. So in hindsight perhaps, the abseil was worthwhile.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 8th May

I have avoided talking about the General Election in my ruminations over the past couple of months as I am not one to speculate, unlike the expert opinion polls, and decided to comment only once the polling booths had closed. As I watched the outcome of the election unfold in the wee hours of the morning, it was becoming apparent that the UK will be waking up to a new Government; not a coalition but a single party majority - quite extraordinary when you consider that this was touted as the most unpredictable elections in recent times. This has been an election which will have more profound consequences than almost any in living memory. Even our own Mock Elections run by the Sixth Form Govt & Politics students produced results that mirrored the remarkable exit polls and reflected the views of modern Britain and a generation who will now engage in political discourse. Only time will tell if the new Government will be successful and I hope, for the sake of our students, that they will make the right decisions when it comes to the important question of education– decisions that will allow us to continue to provide a high quality, all-round holistic education and excellent pastoral care – we cannot afford to compromise on these. We have the Union Jack flying proudly on the front lawn of the school, not to celebrate the new Government, but to commemorate the 70th anniversary of VE Day, when Winston Churchill announced the end of World War Two and the History Department (they have been busy this week!) marked the occasion with a variety of activities at school. How the world has changed since 1945. We now face a decision about our future in Europe, with an EU referendum almost certain in two years' time and there will also be serious questions about the future of the United Kingdom. It means the future of the Union could yet again be on the political agenda. It is an election which has not just defied all the predictions of the pollsters and the pundits - but which may yet prompt the most fundamental shift of British politics for a generation. Interesting times.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 1st May

Despite man’s astonishing technological progress, there are still certain events which just seem unsurvivable. The slopes of Mt Everest proved that last weekend, after the powerful earthquake that struck Nepal. I was very fortunate whilst I was at Bedford School to have organized and led an expedition to Everest Base Camp in 2012 with an Old Sexeian (that is a story for another time – the word serendipity and karma spring to mind) and 50 gung-ho students. Our adventure of a lifetime to Everest Base Camp in Nepal was both ambitious and fraught with their own difficulties, but nonetheless an experience that I, and the boys, will never forget – from the strong relationships that we forged within the group and with those who trekked with us, the Sherpa communities we worked closely with and Khumjung School in the mountains we fundraised for back in Blighty. Mount Everest is, and will be, the pinnacle of any boys’ (or indeed girls’) adventure and to reach base camp having climbed over 5000m over the course of 10 days was humbling in many ways. The sense of achievement and camaraderie and that spirit of adventure made for a unique and life-changing experience. When we saw the pictures last weekend of the avalanche triggered by the tremors of the devastating earthquake, sweep through Base Camp – traditionally a safe haven for climbers to recuperate before they embarked on the treacherous climb to the summit - there was no escape. It was a case of bad luck and being in the wrong place on the mountain at the wrong time. Others, by contrast, were able, almost miraculously, to tweet instant news of the fact that they were safe from their bivouacs and high-altitude tents on ridges high above the Khumbu icefall. Luck was unfortunately the great decider of fates on Everest. But in the rest of Nepal, where the great majority of the deaths have occurred, the toll was, sadly, nothing to do with luck. As the grim toll rises, and continues to rise over the next few days, it provides at least some small cheer to see an immediate, expert and heartfelt global response to the Himalayan country’s cry for assistance; the woman pulled out after being stuck under rubble for five days without food or water gives us hope. Sexey’s, in a county wide effort with all Somerset schools, of all phases, will be looking to fundraise a considerable amount for Nepal next week – bringing communities together to help those less fortunate than us. I have yet to hear from our friends in Nepal and we can now only pray that they are safe and sound.

However, it is not the actual earthquakes that kill, but it’s the shoddy man-made buildings that kill innocent people – the millions of houses and structures that have crumpled, the ancient temples and towers that have collapsed are now only a mere memory. Proper help in addressing this issue is the real foreign aid that Nepal needs, if the international earthquake relief teams are not to return again and again.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 24th April

Staying on TRaK (Tolerance, Respect & Kindness) continues to be our drive this term with preparation for public examinations fully underway (the KS3 Trinity exams take place next week), and it is important that our students remain fully engaged and focussed. The pace and intensity has been relentless since we got back last week 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, independence of thought and positive attitude in and around school, including the boarding houses, and I commend them for their sterling 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 has been evident over the course of these past few months.

The SIAMS inspection, as you will recall happened at the tail end of last term, was a very positive experience and I am delighted to announce that the report from the Diocese was excellent. We have moved on considerably since the last inspection and the Diocese and the Church of England were very impressed with what they saw and commented on the nature of the school and the excellent relationships that our students have. The strong sense of family and community at Sexey’s was clearly evident and this is underpinned by our core values. You can read the full report here and I would like to thank staff, students, parents, Governors, Old Sexeians and friends of the school for all their support. We are a special and unique school and we are certainly on TRaK in many ways and I hope that our students continue to value the first class education that they are receiving here and achieve to their potential, both in and out of the academic arena. Keeping on TRaK can be difficult at times, and some will invariably come off it, but we are here to help them get back on TRaK and to hopefully stay on it. You are very welcome to join us at St Mary’s, Bruton for the Schools’ Service with Father Justin this Sunday morning and experience this sense of community - it would be lovely to see you.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 17th April

Welcome back to the start of the Trinity Term – a term traditionally when courses culminate in the taking of public exams, cricket, rounders and athletics form the major sports and the sun begins to shine – and thankfully it is. It’s good to be back at school and to see the students in their summer dress and to get back into the swing of things after the Easter holidays.  And over the holidays, the Science department had a successful trip to Geneva, Switzerland where they visited the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator, and were treated to a tour of the facility and an opportunity to immerse themselves in  Swiss culture. The mind-boggling fact was that the protons generated by the LHC travel around the circular 27km track (which is on the France-Swiss boarder) at 11000 times per second…now if that was the case at Sports Day (Friday 22 May) we will be breaking all sorts of records!

Bullying of all types is not tolerated at Sexey’s and on Tuesday we welcomed musician Rich Cottell, who has toured with likes of The Wanted, to perform in assembly and speak to the students about bullying, in particular cyber bullying. He is an ambassador for the Anti-Bullying charity, Bullying UK and his message struck a chord with us – don’t be mean behind the screen. Something for all us to bear in mind.

We welcomed two new members of staff to the Sexey’s community; Mr Luke Brailey who takes up the position of Head of Boys’ Sport and joined us from Avon Valley College where he taught PE and ran the Duke of Edinburgh award and  Mr Nigel Blake, our new Facilities Manager, who was the Estates Manager at both Sherborne Boys and Sherborne Girls. We look forward to working with them as they help move the school forward.  So with enrichment activities taking place, cricket practices (we play Warminster School this weekend), Inter House Swimming, County rugby at Bath (well done Sam Wilson), rehearsals for next week’s Cabaret (next Thursday – do come along and support),  Parent Staff Association meeting (do join the PSA – they do so much for the school), Maths interviews, sports graduate interviews, revision sessions, it’s like we have never had a holiday. Have we really only been back a week? Time flies…

Enjoy the sunshine!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 27th March

The School’s SIAMS inspection, the Science Department’s trip to CERN to visit the Large Hadron Collider, the Deputy Editor of New Scientist speaking to our students, two of our Sixth formers visiting the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz and the prestigious Rosslyn Park HSBC National Schools’ Sevens tournament (Mr Boyd’s last hurrah) will hopefully give you a flavour of what is a typical week at Sexey’s! And this was all against the backdrop of the Whole School Photograph – a wonderful and fun occasion, London College of Music exams, numerous football and netball fixtures, Oxbridge conferences and Y13 reports. Yet the school continues to perform and function at the highest level and seeks to provide such varied and useful opportunities for our students. So as we hurtle towards the end of this busy term we stopped and paused for reflection at our annual Speech Day this afternoon where we welcomed our Guest of Honour, Ms Mariella Frostrup. Here we celebrated the success of Sexeians past and present and I was thoroughly impressed with the slick organisation (thank you Mrs Stallion), the conduct and maturity of our students, the calm composure of the Wind Band, the assured delivery by the Heads of School (Jack and Annabel) and the quality of our guest speaker, Mariella. A truly memorable occasion which highlights all that is outstanding about Sexey’s.

We say farewell to three colleagues today, Mr Vince Carroll of the Site Team , Mr Pete Prescott, our Facilities Manager, who retires after nearly ten years of loyal service to the school and Mr Allen Boyd, our Director of Sport. We wish them and their families the very best for the future and suffice to say here that they will all be missed, and greatly.

And as we congregated in the School Hall over afternoon tea, I looked around in awe at the wealth of talent that was present – students, staff and Governors and I felt very humbled and privileged to be leading such a fine school.

Wishing you all a very peaceful and Happy Easter.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 20th March

The next time we see a solar eclipse will be in 2090 – safe to say that I will not be around then so it was important we saw today’s phenomenon. Although most of the morning was overcast, at 0930 we managed to see the eclipse in all its glory as the clouds parted momentarily. The school community with their multitude of viewers cheered at the sight of this once in a life time opportunity – pretty impressive on all accounts and the students behaved impeccably. Earlier this morning we also had  a Business Breakfast in Walwin which was supported by business leaders from the community and an Old Sexeian, Christian Ball – they spoke to our A-level Business Studies students on the skills they will need to survive in the world of business – it was a fascinating insight into the entertainment and banking industries and how these areas are developing rapidly – technology seems to be at the heart of it.

We’ve seen a number of rugby, netball and swimming fixtures this week against the likes of Sherborne, Millfield, Sandroyd and Salisbury Cathedral with weekend football fixtures against Warminster and Rugby 7s at Embley Park in Hampshire. The Y12s have been at the UCAS Conference, have spent the day looking at cloning and DNA at the Microbiology Day at King’s and spoke with Cambridge dons and tutors at the HE+ day at the Kings of Wessex – certainly plenty of things going on in and out of school. The drama and art students are off this weekend to London and I am sure they will have a fabulous time immersing themselves in the culture of theatre and art at the National Theatre , National Gallery and the Barbican. The musicians were in fine form this week too and gave virtuoso performance sat Acoustic Night – the next Ed Sheeran and Billy Bragg is somewhere at Sexey’s. We also had the privilege of Mr Dominic Greensmith present that evening, who took time out of his UK tour with his band ‘Reef’ to attend Acoustic Night.

So this weekend, colleagues (and parents) will be preparing for our SIAMS Church of England inspection next week and I hope to watch the climax of the 6 Nations – it’s the last opportunity England have before the Rugby World Cup to make an impression and like the solar eclipse this morning, these opportunities don’t come around that often. I hope that our students make the most of them here at Sexey’s. Carpe Diem and I hope all of you stay on TRaK.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 13th 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, from Big Yellow Friday, to Macmillan Cancer Support at school but one recent event particularly highlighted this - last weekend's PSA Spring Dinner & Dance. It was resounding success and I thank all the parents, friends of the school, local businesses who supported and attended last Saturday and made it such a wonderful occasion. The parent community is very strong here at Sexey’s and I am forever grateful for their undying commitment, dedication and loyalty. Over the extended exeat this Saturday, the PSA and 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.

Closer to home, we have had numerous rugby, football, cricket and netball fixtures; this morning, the U14s left on the Football Tour to Staffordshire under the watchful eyes of Messrs Cowley and Balch and looked in good form last night as they spent the evening bonding in Cliff House. We wish them every success and look forward to hearing about their sporting antics over the weekend. I'm grateful to colleagues for providing these valuable opportunities (especially over the exeat) 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 that 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 see the staff get dressed up and perform Dickens’ ‘Oliver Twist’ to a rapturous audience yesterday afternoon - bringing literature to life, as the school did last week for World Book Day. The performances by colleagues (considering the time they had to rehearse) was outstanding, as were the Victorian costumes and 'singing'. The eloquent narrative by Dame Holmes and Mr Manning as the antagonist Fagin, made for a humorous and enjoyable afternoon.  Not to be outdone, the AS drama students gave a powerful performance of Steven Berkoff’s ‘Metamorphosis' this week and it was good to see the community supporting this event.

The untimely passing of Sir Terry Pratchett yesterday, a friend of the school, was indeed sad and his witty and inspirational writings will continue to amuse and excite generations of readers.

So as the exeat beckons, I will be watching the Six Nations with the local community in Bruton with intent - will England win the Calcutta Cup against Scotland at Twickenham and will Ireland be going for the Grand Slam? There's nothing like a good game to bring the local, national and international communities together.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 6th March

C S Lewis, the great novelist and poet, best known for his fictional work, The Chronicles of Narnia, once wrote ‘Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.’ And yesterday saw literature come to life at Sexey’s when students dressed up as their favourite literary characters and assumed their roles – from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, the school and the library was alive with literary references. Reading is so vital for the soul and events such as these can only encourage our students to pick up a book and become immersed in their own imagination – do please encourage this at home. To say it’s been a busy week is an understatement – best-selling author and (he’ll hate me for saying it) futurologist, Mark Stevenson, gave an insightful and thought-provoking Annual Centenary Lecture on the future and how we deal with it to governors, staff, parents and guests in the evening and our lucky Y10 and Y11s during the afternoon. He was outstanding and his knowledge simply breath-taking - he has promised to return to do workshops with our students in the future…

Amongst all this, the Y10s have kept their cool and sat their trial exams this week and I congratulate them on how they have conducted themselves during this important week – it will prepare them for the future. The Sexey’s U15 Rugby 7s competition was a great success with Marlborough College winning the spoils; netball matches, hockey matches, football matches (the U16s beat Millfield School 7-1), Big Yellow Friday (the buckets and yellow mufti have been out in force today collecting for The Children’s Liver Disease Foundation) and plenty more.

You may have noticed in the press yesterday the Headteachers of the local schools in the area talking about the state of education funding in Somerset. The national picture does not look good and the way South West schools are funded must change in order that our students have the same opportunities as those from London and the major cities. I am sure it will be at the heart of many a manifesto over the coming months.

We had the pleasure of welcoming the Head Master of Glasgow High School today, Mr John O’Neill, who dropped in to find out why Sexey’s is so successful – the news of our small school has obviously reached Scotland. And my answer to that is – the people who live and breathe the school – the staff, students, parents, governors, friends who all contribute in making Sexey’s the school it is today. And as I write this, I can see the Chair of the PSA and parents setting up for tomorrow’s Spring Dinner and Dance – commitment, dedication and loyalty are in abundance here.

Now, where is that yellow bow tie…

Friday, 27 February 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 27th February

So we have come back from our half time talk, eaten all the oranges, tended to any cuts and bruises and are ready to take on the second half with renewed determination, vigour and enthusiasm. And we have seen this in abundance this week from our students; from Captain Hannah Meldrum leading the U13 Netball team to a staggering 31-4 win over Stanchester and the U12s also coming away with a win. The U15s put in a stunning performance in the St James Independent School Rugby 7s competition winning the Plate competition (expertly led by Sam Wilson who also recently represented County) and football scores against Ansford have also been encouraging. The House Swimming Gala was keenly contested earlier this week with Golledge house winning the spoils and the U18s hosted ten schools (including a Barbarian side) at the 2nd Annual Sexey's 7s competition on the Elm Field yesterday. With sun, rain, wind and hail to contend with, not to mention the might of Marlborough College, Sherborne and Canford, our boys led by Matthew Owen won a closely fought Trophy Final to a strong Milton Abbey School with Marlborough College winning the Cup. The 7s season has certainly started in earnest and to have won two trophies in as many days is testimony to the hard work and commitment displayed by the students and staff.

The Joint Schools’ Concert on Wednesday was a wonderful occasion and it was a joy to see just how much talent we have here in Bruton amongst the three secondary schools – we look forward to even more joint ventures in the future. Music is integral to what we do here at Sexey’s and it’s important that pupils seize these valuable opportunities to be creative and to be challenged.  Talking of challenges our A-level Government and Politics students put the new Lib Dem candidate for Somerton and Frome, Mr David Rendel through his paces asking some pretty searching questions about the current political landscape, local and national issues and the challenges facing the Lib Dems in the upcoming General Election. Mr Rendel commented on how well informed our students were and I hope to continue to invite politicians of various hues to challenge our students. In a few weeks’ time we have a Ukrainian government official coming to Sexey’s who will be speaking to our Historians about the current conflict in the Ukraine. Ensuring our students are fully aware of what is going on beyond the confines of our Bruton bubble is paramount so that they can develop and form their own opinions.

Every so often, we need to remind our students to stay on TRaK – the Christian values of tolerance, respect and kindness which underpin everything we do here at Sexey’s and forms an integral part of our identity and community. They are clearly displayed in the school’s reception too – do please reinforce these values at every opportunity; they are important.  And as I get ready for the Centenary Lecture next week (Mark Stevenson is a tremendous speaker – do come along if you haven’t already signed up), cheer on our six netball teams against Leweston School tomorrow, prepare for the boarding interviews on Saturday morning, wave off our Year 12 Duke of Edinburgh walkers as they take on the Quantocks this weekend,  try to find my cheque book for the silent auction at next week’s PSA Spring Dinner & Dance (only a few tickets left), and work out the names and ages of the numerous Old Sexeians returning for the OS Football matches on Sunday afternoon, I do wonder where February and the half term holiday went. And of course, a belated Happy Chinese New Year – it’s the Year of the Sheep.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 13th February

And so the half time whistle is about to blow and after we have taken our slice of orange, taken shelter from the rain and wind and had any scrapes and injuries seen to, we huddle together to reflect on how we have performed in the first half. Did we play to our strengths? Did we maximise our chances and did we play together as a team? If we are in a winning position, how do we maintain that and not become too complacent and therefore not take our eye off the ball? How do we continue to work efficiently and effectively while maintaining a sense of balance and perspective? Are there any tactical changes that need to be made? I suppose what I am lamenting about here (Head Master’s prerogative) is that we as a school have also reached half time in our academic year. I am about to blow the metaphorical whistle and I hope the following week will be an opportunity for us all to reflect on the highs (and lows) of the first half and what we have learnt and how we can all move forward to ensure that we achieve our ‘goals’ at the end of the year. Are we in a winning position at this stage? Only time will tell, but I hope that we are, otherwise I would be doing the school a disservice. The changes that have been bought in this year in order to take the school forward in the next half are working through the system and we must continue to forge ahead in the best interests of the pupils and the School. The pupils, themselves, should now take stock of what has happened thus far and should now implement their plans, if they have not already done so, for the second half, whether that be changing one’s work ethic, developing revision strategies, training for the 1st XI or rehearsing for the next concert or play. It is important that we work together as a team to bring the best out of each other. So as I view the educational playing field and take on board some of the tactical changes that are being made (e.g. educational reform, changes to the exam system, educational funding), I look back at the first half and assess the plans going forward for the second. It is, however, worth taking a moment to pause and reflect at this stage, nurse a couple of bruises, pull one’s socks up and have a slice or two of orange.

I wish you all a peaceful holiday and don’t forget your wellies and brollies – it seems the storms are spending half term with us!

Friday, 6 February 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 6th February

There has been a lot of drama (in every sense of the word) this week, both in and out of the academic arena. President Putin’s controversial peace plans for the Ukraine which may split the West; England being accused of playing fast and loose with the rules on the eve of the Six Nations Rugby tournament; and the cast and crew of the school musical production having been practising and performing since the beginning of the week. I really didn't know what to expect and how the Drama and Music department would translate Frank Oz’s movie adaptation (which we grew up with) of Howard Ashman’s musical to the stage. But I was thoroughly impressed when I saw last night’s performance – the American rock musical sci-fi horror comedy (!) was outstanding. It was hilarious, witty, moving, dark in places, but full of energy, passion and verve – the quality of the performances and the presence these students commanded on the stage was second to none. I will not be surprised if in a few years’ time these students (too many to mention here) find themselves accepting little golden statuettes in Hollywood.  The talent here is stunning, both staff and students alike, and I am delighted that the school is able to nurture and channel this and provide such wonderful opportunities for the community to grow. The final performance takes place tonight and so please do book your tickets – I guarantee that you will not be disappointed!

And so the Six Nations starts today in the run up to the Rugby World Cup later on this year and we had our very own Six Nations Rugby curtain raiser last Saturday with Sexey’s taking on the might of Catholic University School, Dublin and losing in the closing seconds 19-20. This was followed by a block football fixture against Milton Abbey up on the football pitches where the weather was, shall we say, slightly chilly. Wonderful to watch the individual contests and the pride and passion our Sexeians played with. And this week we saw the netball teams take on the might of Millfield, Sherborne, King’s and Queen’s Taunton, Clifton College et al and we gave them a good run for their money – again playing out of one’s comfort zone will only build character and resilience, qualities essential in the world outside our school gates.

So the snow seems to have held off for now (we are still checking those forecasts, so please check the school’s website and social media for updates) which means the Equestrian Team will be able to compete in the dressage tomorrow at Millfield and we also wish our actors and musicians the very best for tonight as they tread the boards for the final time this week – break a leg (metaphorically speaking of course!)

Friday, 30 January 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 30th January 2015

The School Performance Tables were published yesterday by the DfE and the results were very pleasing indeed. According to the tables we are the best performing state school in Somerset and Dorset and our results rival many of our competitor schools in the county (and country). I am very proud to be leading such an outstanding school, but there is still plenty of work to do. Although the league tables give us an indication of school standards, I feel that they do not paint the whole picture about a school, particularly a special one like ours. Don’t get me wrong, we certainly care about these results, and celebrate the success of our students, but not exclusively. I believe education is about more than just grades; the published data doesn’t tell us about the character and quality of our school. Nor do they give a true reflection of the ethos, values and culture of our school – from the wide range of extra-curricular activities on offer (art, music, drama and sport to name but a few) to growing up in a caring and safe community. Personally, we need to be careful when looking at league tables in judging whether a school is successful or not when in reality a whole range of factors need to be considered before a judgement can be made. We will continue to strive to get the best out of our pupils both in and out of the academic arena, but at the same time understand what is important about education and the intrinsic values that make up a successful community. During assembly this week, we talked about the values which define us and underpin everything we do at Sexey’s -Tolerance, Respect and Kindness - and we reminded the students to ‘Stay on TRaK’ in all that they do. It is all about values and the reflective courage to live them; it is what you do and how you act and react which ultimately defines us. The liberation of Auschwitz which commemorated its 70th anniversary this week teaches us that these values are core if we want the world to be a safer place for our children and their children, and education is the enemy of ignorance and bigotry. And bigotry is the enemy of humanity and the only way we are going to survive as a human race and learn to be tolerant and respect one another is through education.

And so the weekend beckons and with the weather being as settled as it can be for this time of the year, we look forward to more boarding interviews tomorrow morning, welcoming Catholic University School from Dublin who will be playing our U15s tomorrow morning (KO 10.00am), the block football fixture (home and away) vs Milton Abbey School tomorrow afternoon (KO 2.00pm); the Somerset Cross Country Championships and rehearsals for ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’ the latter of which takes place all weekend. There is certainly plenty going on here at Sexey’s as well as plenty of prep and assignments to complete, Governors reports to write and of course, Y11 reports. Thank goodness for small mercies.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 23rd January 2015

January seems to be galloping away from us and the first exeat is already here. The Y7 boarders came round last night for their regular supper with myself and my family and it was lovely to see them and to see how well they have settled into boarding life, including those new students who started with us this January. They seem very confident (not arrogant), polite and articulate – they are enjoying all that the school has to offer and I hope they continue to grow in confidence while they are with us seizing every opportunity that is on offer – music, art, sport and drama. This is education – providing all our students with varied opportunities to engage with and to develop creatively, physically, spiritually and mentally. The St Mary’s Church service last Sunday in Bruton was wonderful and the students again were a credit to both you and the school – impeccable behaviour and turned out in their Sunday best. The choir too sang beautifully (many are Sexey’s students) and I look forward to further developing our relationship with Father Justin and the parish - the Campanology Society is also in full swing…

And the dull weather (thankfully its hasn’t snowed here yet) seems to be with us for the next week at least but that hasn’t dampened the spirits here. With fine performances against a strong Sherborne side in yesterday’s block football fixture (the 1st XI lost 4-2 having been up 2-1at half time) and the netball teams going from strength to strength with strong performances against Sherborne (3-3) and in the Inter House competitions, the weather can continue as it is! As I conducted my Learning Walks this week, in the rain, I was privileged to see students and colleagues in action – from understanding the five precepts of Buddhism in Theology & Philosophy, the Treaty of Versailles in History, Browning’s ‘My Last Duchess’ in English Lit, building cantilever bridges in DT and cytokinesis and gene diversity in Biology. Judging the Y7 History projects – Motte & Bailey castle –was also a privilege and the quality of the models was exceptional. Rehearsals for the School musical next month were also taking place (the set is stunning!) and I do urge to get your tickets. The Sexeian spirit of endeavour, ambition and drive are certainly evident in and around school – long may it continue and the non-arctic weather…

Friday, 16 January 2015

Head Master's Weekly Notes Notes - 16th January 2015

This week’s assembly was a solemn occasion where we took time to reflect on the atrocities that occurred in Paris last week – an attack on the values that we strongly believe in – tolerance, respect and kindness – and an opportunity to think about our place in the world and the importance of democracy and free speech. It was interesting speaking to a group of students after the assembly who questioned the actions and debated whether free speech is actually free. I was impressed at how they articulated their responses and it was encouraging to see young people developing their own opinions – something I am very keen for them to do here at Sexey’s. Do discuss with your children what’s going on in the world,  and current affairs, encourage them to read the newspaper, listen to the radio (Radio 4 is a family favourite), take an interest in current affairs and the political debate – those conversations around the dining table are vital in developing their intellectual curiosity and helping them to engage with what is going on beyond the safety of our school gates. We also talked about how we should be keeping those New Year resolutions that we made with all the best intentions at the start of the year. Making the resolutions is easy, but keeping them is the challenge.  I’m glad to say that I haven’t broken any of my resolutions (yet!) and it has been tough – the food served in the KDR is second to none…

Friday, 9 January 2015

Head Master's New Year Notes - 9th January 2015

So Yeovil Town, unlike last year failed to make it through to the 4th round of the FA Cup at the hands of the mighty Manchester Utd. This side of Somerset for the beginning of this year at least was a sea of green and white where we all hoped for a cup upset. Unfortunately it didn’t happen but the Glovers, and their supporters,  I am sure enjoyed the ride while it lasted. There is no shame in losing only 2-0 to a very strong Manchester Utd side and it is testimony to teams like Yeovil (and AFC Wimbledon earlier this week against Liverpool) who continue to fight and don’t give up – something we can all learn from. However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom over the Christmas holiday – the School was delighted to learn that it has been included in this year’s Tatler’s Best State School Guide – an accolade which we are very proud of (only 22 state schools made the list) and although this further raises the School’s profile and highlights the outstanding work that colleagues are doing at Sexey’s, our feet are firmly on the ground and we will continue to strive for excellence in all areas of school life. Nevertheless, it is a great way to start the New Year knowing that the fine work we are doing here is being acknowledged nationally.

The Lent term is packed (I wouldn’t have it any other way!) with plenty of activities in and around school – from sport, drama, music, art, charity fund raising and visiting lecturers. The music and drama department are busy rehearsing for the School musical production ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’ which takes place on the evenings of Wednesday 4th to Friday 6th February (we were given a sneak preview at the Christmas Concert and it looks incredibly entertaining) – do please come along and support the students’ efforts. For a list of this season’s sporting fixtures (Football, Netball and Rugby 7s) please do check the website which is easily accessed through the school’s website. Fixtures start in earnest next week against the likes of Sherborne and Chilton Cantelo  and if you can come down for the Home matches it would be wonderful to see you on the side line. The football season kicked off yesterday with an appropriate curtain-raiser as the school continues its WWI commemorations with a re-enactment of the Truce football match between Britain and Germany which took place on Christmas Day in No Man’s Land back in December 1914. It was a poignant occasion where the Head of History, Mrs Bazen, gave a pre-match talk about the significance of the Truce match in this centenary year and the Old Sexeians (OS) who gave up their lives during the Great War. We also welcomed back Old Sexeians who once again donned the school football jersey and played in this historic match. Although Germany won 1-0, the match was not about the result but about the values that we stand for as a community and a family - tolerance, respect and kindness. And those very values have been attacked this week, by the atrocities that have occurred at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families and to the people of France.

The new term is already in full swing and it proves to be a very exciting one – I look forward to seeing many of you at the numerous events that will be happening at School over the coming weeks and months. Thank you in advance for your continued support and loyalty and I wish you a very successful and prosperous 2015.