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!)