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.