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…