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.