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.