Friday, 9 December 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 9 December 2016

So the Christmas spirit has finally arrived at Sexey’s this week and it certainly feels likes Christmas now, with the Christmas trees looking splendid, tinsel in the classrooms, carols playing in school and the 6th form taking part in Christmas Jumper Day in support of the school’s various charities. After all it is December and all we need now is some snow…

Yesterday's traditional Christmas Concert was a wonderful occasion and it was a real pleasure to see so many parents and friends of the School in attendance - it was standing room only and the concert highlighted the wealth of talent abundant in the school. This year we were treated to fine performances by the Wind Band, the Strings Group, the Folk Band, Choir and spirited solo performances too – Leanne Baker (I Dreamed a Dream), Princess Ijaola (My Boy Lollipop), Adam Wagstaff (Infant Holy), Toria Ives (Away in a Manger) and Alexandra Macmillan and Jessica Taylor (Silent Night). There were plenty of other stunning performances (far too many to list here) and it was incredible to see the level of engagement, participation and most importantly, the sheer enjoyment of the students which was in so much abundance last night. From Year 7 to the U6, the breadth and depth of musical talent here is strong and the quality of music in a school reflects its ethos, spirit and creativity and I know that under the stewardship of the brilliant Mr Badley (who played more than 5 instruments last night!), music will continue to go from strength to strength at the school. The festive season is well and truly here!

We have just had an absolutely sumptuous Christmas Lunch by Mr Ben Futcher and his team in the KDR which was preceded by another Sexey's Christmas tradition - the Annual House Cross-Country (my thanks to Greg and Elaine Beedle at Gants Mill for their continued support of this brilliant event). The school was awash with students (and a number of colleagues) in their colourful kit and fancy dress running for their Houses and their chosen charities, UNICEF and SANE – from Santa’s Sleigh complete with reindeer to the Sexey’s Swim Team running in just their swim kit, to the ‘Mr Southwood Appreciation Society’ and the Sexey’s Christmas Presents. We also had the Head of School, Victoria Regan and the Head of Boarding Fran Llewellin together with Jess Perry and Rachel Palmer dressed as Santa’s Little Helpers. The PSA were also in fine form tackling the tough course in aid of SANE. Thankfully the weather was kind to us today (though it was perishing and quite soft underfoot after last night’s downpour) but the atmosphere was very warm (as was the hot chocolate) and at times, electric. The camaraderie and support shown by the students for each other, and for colleagues was truly humbling - the students singing the School Song set the tone for the character building morning. Again, it never ceases to amaze me the sheer talent that is in such abundance here and the fervent pride the students have for their Houses (house hockey and rugby matches will be fiercely contested next week and after the holidays), let alone their School. And speaking of talent, we had Ellice Pounder (L6) who participated in the Supadance National Ballroom and Latin Finals in Blackpool last weekend.  In the couples event she managed to get to the quarter finals and came third as part of the ladies team - a tremendous effort by our very own ‘Strictly’ star! I would also like to wish our Oxbridge candidates the very best next week as they travel up to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge having been invited up for interview. They have been preparing feverishly this week and have had tough mock interviews with colleagues who have been putting them through their paces. I am sure this passion for learning both inside and outside of the classroom will continue long into the weekend, when the boarders will be off to Southampton for Christmas shopping and also making preparations for next week’s Feast Night, whilst the Y11 Geographers will be getting ready for their expedition to Snowdonia. We are very privileged to be part of this spirited and warm community. 

Monday, 5 December 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 2 December 2016

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 Gretel White (won her class – well done!), Jess Brewer, Iris Anderson, Daniel Meir and Niamh O’Keeffe performed admirably and we are very proud of the team and of their efforts. This Sunday afternoon Niamh O’Keeffe and Georgia Silcox are competing at the Seavington Show Jumping Competition at King’s Sedgemoor – we wish them both all the best. And thank you to all parents who attended the Q&A last Friday on the recent Ofsted Boarding inspection – I hope you were reassured by our plans to move forward and also had a chance to read our new Boarding Newsletter, keeping you up to date with what’s going on in and around our boarding houses.

Earlier this week I opened my mail in my study and I was surprised to find a Christmas Card in 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 Christmas trees popping up around the School and in the Boarding Houses. So we are officially in the festive season and this week we have seen a veritable feast of opportunities, which have included County Cross Country Trials at King's School, Bruton, sporting fixtures against All Hallows' and The Blue School, Hockey Area Finals, indoor athletics, the Y7s, 8s, and 9s were treated to a performance of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ by The Quantum Theatre Company from London, PSHE talks to Yrs 10 and 11, Oxbridge interview preparation, code breaking, cake sales in aid of charity and ‘The Great British Brain Bake Off’ (a Psychology Department Production!) which involved a lot of baking, eating and thinking. Food for thought. And alongside all of this, our very own Christmas preparations are underway; I noticed the Christmas decorations coming out of the school attic, the boarders putting up Christmas trees in their boarding houses; preparations are underway for the Christmas Concert 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, Feast Night in the Boarding Houses 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…

Monday, 14 November 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 11 November 2016

Welcome back after a splendid half term break where I hope you had the opportunity to relax, 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.  However, we have been somewhat distracted by the extraordinary events that took place in the US this week – is the American dream alive or has it turned into a complete nightmare?  I am still in shock with the outcome of the most bitter and divisive presidential campaign in living memory and only time will tell if Americans have made the right choice.  I only hope that Donald Trump can 'bind the wounds of division' created by this campaign, bring people together and be a decent president that will represent all Americans. 
With Oxbridge exams and Maths Challenges having already taken place and Y11 Michaelmas Exams next week with Sixth Form assessments following closely behind, 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.  And speaking of endeavours, some of our Y11 and 6th Form students accompanied the School Chaplain Mr Richard Kelley this week on a Young Vocations breakfast visit to meet with none other than the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, at the Bishop’s Palace in Wells.  The breakfast was designed for young people exploring God's calling on their lives, and the Archbishop was excited to hear that the students which included Vicky Sanders, Chloe Thomas, Sophie Couper and Caroline de la Harpe, will be starting a Christian Union at Sexey's.  Another great opportunity for our students.

Whilst we enjoyed our half term, we had a number of Sexeians representing the school at various events and activities over the holiday.  Iris Anderson (Y8) won her class in the NSEA show jumping competition at the Addington Manor County Finals and will now represent Sexey’s and Somerset in the National Finals next year – a tremendous effort!  Our Y10 army cadets, Will and Tim Forster represented the school at the Combat Stress event in Castle Cary which is a Veteran’s mental health charity which supports veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.  My thanks to them and their parents for their continued support.

The three Bruton schools, the Brownies, the Scouts, members of the armed forces and the community will parade through the town On Sunday to pay their respects at the Remembrance Day service at St Mary’s.  It will be 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 this morning remembered them, with Warrant Officer David Hill present at the service to read the Kohima Prayer.  Our bugler, Faelan Sydenham (L6) did the school proud as he 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 and emotional service and I hope our Sexeians will 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.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 21 October 2016

We stopped and paused for reflection at our annual Speech Day this afternoon where we welcomed our Guest of Honour, Mr Kevin Roberts. Here we celebrated the success of Sexeians past and present and I was thoroughly impressed with the slick organisation, the conduct and maturity of our students, the calm composure of the Wind Band, the assured delivery by the Heads of School (Max and Victoria) and the quality of our guest speaker, Kevin. A truly memorable occasion which highlights all that is outstanding about this fine institution and thank you to all colleagues who made this possible today – a great team effort and the Hobhouse (30 years old this week) looked stunning, including the flowers. There has also been plenty going on at Sexey’s - from numerous House competitions, sporting fixtures, drama rehearsals, music practices, art workshops, PSHE, Open Evenings, the Philosophy and Theology Conference, Boarders’ Church Services, Bath Rugby, TEDxSexey’s, Duke of Edinburgh award and of course the important matter of teaching and learning. It was great to hear the excitement from the Head of Sixth Form, when one of our U6 students had already received an interview from a university – their application was only sent off last week! This bodes well for the future and I wish the U6 well. And of course, the Y11s have their Michaelmas Trial Exams after the half term break (w/c Mon 14 November) and it would be wise for them to use this time productively to prepare for these important examinations, but at the same time to have some rest and to recuperate – it’s vital that there is a balance here.

So as we hurtle towards the end of this busy term I would like to thank all staff and Governors for their efforts in ensuring that our students receive the highest quality teaching and pastoral care – it’s not easy at times but I am grateful for all their hard work, patience and commitment. And also to you too, for all the support you give to our school – by working together in partnership we can all bring out the best in our students.

Have a pleasant and peaceful break.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 7 October 2016

‘Now Is The Winter Of Our Discontent’ (as the weather takes a turn for the worse) and ‘All the World’s a Stage’ by William Shakespeare are quite apt writings and poems in light of the school’s celebration of National Poetry Day this week. Yesterday saw dozens of students scribbling away and creating their own poems under the guiding light of the English Department and I look forward to hearing them read their masterpieces. Providing such opportunities within the school day for our students to allow their creative juices to flow is important, and lets them express themselves in a different context. I want to continue to encourage creativity here at the school and hope that our students will take up the many opportunities on offer. Rehearsals for this year’s drama production, Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’ are well under way – the work and the world of the bard continues to inspire generations.

On Tuesday we had our 6th Form Open Evening for prospective students and their parents and with over 130 families in attendance, there was standing room only in the Main Hall. Again, our 6th form students were a real credit to their parents and to the school and our speakers articulated their thoughts on their experiences with great passion - not an easy task addressing over 300 people in the Hall, but they did it. We have an outstanding 6th Form (the results at A-level speak for themselves) and a dedicated team who go above and beyond the call of duty. If any of our Y11 parents didn’t get a chance to come in on the evening or would like to visit again, then please do get in touch with Mrs Stallion who will be only too happy to organise a personal visit for you. Speaking of the 6th form, a reminder that our Lower 6th (Year 12) ‘Meet the Tutor’ event takes place on Monday, 17th October at 4pm in the Sixth Form Centre. And of course, my ruminations would not be complete without mentioning the weather and it really has turned cold. I do feel for our intrepid explorers who are out on Exmoor this week looking to gain their DoE Silver award; I am confident our students’ attitude and conduct will be exemplary even when faced with such a challenge. Hockey and rugby matches continued to dominate the Elm and Daisy Fields this week with weekend rugby fixtures against Milton Abbey and weekday matches against Dauntsey’s and Bruton School for Girls. It was wonderful to hear the excitement of an U6 girl who bounded towards my study this morning to tell me all about how the Senior Hockey Ladies’ team managed to win 1-0 against BSfG away - a tremendous feat and a memory which will last with that young woman for a long time to come. I hope she can draw on her experience on that astroturf and use it as inspiration in her everyday life. The Equestrian Team are also competing at Leweston this Sunday.

I look forward to seeing you at the many school events organised over the coming months at Sexey’s (yes, it’s already October!) and, of course, it’s Speech Day in a couple of weeks’ time which also signals the end of this half term. It’s been a very busy half term and with play rehearsals, concerts, services, trial exams, more sporting fixtures to come, things will only get hotter…

Monday, 3 October 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 30 September 2016

From The Head Master

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 conversations and quizzes to posters and competitions. Acquiring the grammar and linguistic skills to speak and understand another language is so important as it not only helps develop communication but also fosters 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 a language can only be a good thing.  Mandarin Club takes place on Mondays after school, though not a European Language, the unique opportunity is still there for students to take advantage of. Much like the 6th form who have set up their on TEDx (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference after half term which was launched this week by the TEDxSexey’s team and by Miss Clem Calkin from TEDxYouthBath – curiosity, endeavour and independence all in abundance amongst our 6th formers. Incidentally, our 6th Form Open Evening takes place next Tuesday (4th October) - do please spread the word; all our Y11 students are expected to attend.

Sporting fixtures galore this week where all four rugby teams, U12, U13, U14 and the 1st XV had impressive victories against Warminster School – a tremendous feat by the boys which hopefully sets the tone for the season ahead, The girls had some encouraging performances in hockey this week against strong opposition at Bruton School for Girls and Dauntsey’s and Huish Episcopi and  we look forward to the block fixture against Stonar School tomorrow morning – the first of our Saturday fixtures this term. I hope the values of respect, integrity and sportsmanship will continue both on and off the pitch throughout this weekend amidst the controversy surrounding the beautiful game, football, which has unfortunately become rather ugly.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 16 September 2016

From the Head Master

I have just had time to draw breath after a host of events and activities this week at Sexey’s – from Girls’ hockey and rugby practices, the Silver DoE expedition to the Quantocks, Mandarin Club, 6th Form EPQ research trip to the University of Southampton, BSA, TLC, Roald Dahl Day, Y7 Sexey's Bug competition, Glow in the Park at Longleat, Splashdown in Poole (pun not intended), clubs and societies, 6th Form trip to the Royal Shakespeare Company to watch a performance of Marlowe's 'Dr Faustus' and the GCSE Geography trip. Has it really only been 10 days since the start of term? It still feels like summer...

On Tuesday, after the School Chaplain, Mr Kelley, explored the impact of 9/11 on the world some 15 years on with our 6th form, the English department celebrated the centenary of Roald Dahl's birth. A hundred years may have passed since he was born, but it remains impossible to imagine a literary world without characters he created such as Willy Wonka, Matilda, and the BFG. He remains one of the world’s best storytellers and his stories will inspire many a generation to come, much like his quotes. And one stands out in particular for me, which I would like to share with you.  
“I think probably kindness is my number one attribute in a human being. I'll put it before any of the things like courage or bravery or generosity or anything else. Kindness - that simple word. To be kind - it covers everything, to my mind. If you're kind that's it.”

Kindness is one of our core values, along with Tolerance and Respect and this quote by Roald Dahl really resonates with me and I hope it does with you and with our students too. How we treat each other speaks volumes about us and not losing sight of these values when times get challenging reflects our character and personality. It’s only our second week back and I can see these values in abundance at Sexey's. We have our Boarders’ Church Service at St Mary’s this Sunday at 11.00am – it would be lovely to see you there. 

Friday, 9 September 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 09 September 2016

From the Head Master

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 inboxes and subsequent posts will be shorter, I promise! So where did the summer go? Where indeed 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, Max Kaberry (U6) and his peers sit with our new Y7s at lunch today and talk to them about school life – it was like older brothers and sisters guiding their younger siblings. And that’s what Sexey’s is about –  family. It was great to hear the School Hymn being belted out at assembly (I missed it over the summer!) and the Head Boy (Freddie Seymour Y11) and Head Girl (Lucia Elliott Y11) of the Lower School reading with such aplomb about the Olympics in Rio this summer and how Team GB was funded – do talk to them about it over the weekend and the implications for sport in general in the UK. I am now glued to the Paralympics in Rio…

As you can imagine, it has been a busy week for our students and staff – Leadership Training for our Sixth Form, meeting new students as well as new staff, girls’ hockey practices, rugby practices, various clubs and societies at lunchtimes and after school, assemblies, prayers, singing practices, learning how to play Squares, the implementation of ‘GCSEPod’ (watch this space), new boarding tutors in all the boarding houses, pre-season rugby training, DoE preparation, Professor Collingridge’s lecture (winner of the Brain Prize 2016) to our students and parents last night on neuroscience, PSA (Parent Staff Association) meeting (more below) and of course, lessons! There is so much going on here and I would like to thank my colleagues for making this happen – I am very lucky indeed to have such a dedicated and committed staff and I wish them well for the exciting year ahead.

We have had a very positive start to the term buoyed by the outstanding exam results the school has achieved at GCSE and A-level over the summer. The excellent performance at A-level (62% A*-B) is testimony to the hard work and effort by our Y13s and their teachers and our results give many of our competitors (independent and state) a good run for their money. Over 80% of our Y13s 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 Y13s 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 and it was wonderful to hear two Y13s after a hard day at school, enthusing about Professor Collingridge’s stimulating lecture.

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 (83%) by which all schools are compared by, is the best in Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall. 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 our 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.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 8 July 2016

Our founder, Hugh Sexey would have been proud of last night’s School Production of Shakespeare’s ‘Taming of the Shrew', which was performed with such confidence and energy by our Y7s and 8s. The cast and crew have produced a play which has set the standard for future productions - expectations will be high and the challenge even greater. The quote by Katherine, who was played by the eloquent Leanne Baker, “If I be waspish, best beware my sting” will ring in my ears for many years to come and well done to Jack Fowler-Baxter in the lead role of Petruchio, a difficult part to play but Jack rose to the challenge. Drama continues to excel at Sexey’s under the expert leadership of Mrs Kiddell and with Trinity Guild examinations on offer to our Sexeians and our partnership with the Youth Cinema Foundation, I am confident Drama will go from strength to strength. England’s most popular playwright, Shakespeare was a favourite of both Elizabeth I and James I to whom Hugh Sexey was the Royal Auditor and I think after last night's performance, a new generation of thespians are going to acquaint themselves with the bard. We also sponsored last weekend’s ‘Shakespeare Comes To Lamyatt’, where Hamlet was performed at Speeds Farm by the Festival Players Theatre Company and I know many Sexeians attended and enjoyed this event. Bringing the Bard to life who continues to this day to influence us through his many quotes, which have become part and parcel (is that one?) of our vernacular, ‘The world is my oyster’ to ‘heart of gold’  a national treasure to say the least. Best of luck to our thespians who will be treading the boards this evening – don’t break a leg whatever you do! Get your tickets now if you haven’t done so already. And speaking of taking to the stage, our very own Deliah Ackworth (L6) has successfully auditioned for the highly competitive National Youth Theatre of Great Britain. Do read below her story and how you can help.

It was a real privilege to attend the Somerset Games this week at Millfield School with the PE department and the event was opened by the Olympian marathon runner Mara Yamaguchi who spoke about character and resilience. Our sportsmen and women performed well with the swimmers coming a respectable 7th out of 14 schools and the Y7 Rounders’ team, who have had a tremendous season anyway, crowned champions of Somerset. A tremendous achievement and we wish the track and field athletes the very best today. We also welcomed the next generation of Sexeians this week (our new Y7 Boarders and Day students) for their Transition Day and it was great to see so many parents at the event – our new students had a brilliant time and my thanks go to colleagues and the prefects for making it such an enjoyable experience for them, from the variety of lessons they attended, the dress rehearsal of ‘Taming of the Shrew’, Games and afternoon tea with colleagues . We will be hosting our new Y7 boarders again this weekend when they will be having a sleepover in the boarding houses and will get the opportunity to make new friends, get to know each other, learn more about our boarding houses and most importantly, have fun! Let’s hope the weather is kind to us when we have the New Boarders’ BBQ at the Head Master’s House on Sunday with the Men’s’ Wimbledon Tennis Final in the back ground and later that evening the Euro 2016 Football Final. And let’s not forget the race to become the next British Prime Minister – it will be between two formidable women, Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom, We will of course watch this, as Shakespeare would have said ‘with bated breath’.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 1 July 2016

It's been a dramatic time following the EU referendum - a result few saw coming. The resignation of a prime minister. Recrimination and infighting in both of Britain's major political parties; calls for a repeat vote and England's subsequent exit from the European Championships - Brexit, Regrexit and sporting humiliation all in such a short space of time!  And Friday isn't even over yet. It’s been a tumultuous time in politics and I guess we are all trying to make head and tail of what is going on. I wrote last week, will I be writing ‘From the Head Master’ next Friday from a different political landscape. And the answer to that is – I certainly am. I wrote the following to staff last Friday after the decision to leave was announced  and I would like to share this with you today.

After some 40 years, our close and influential relationship with the European Union has come to an abrupt and bitter end with us leaving the EU, an institution that has been part of our cultural fabric for decades, and the resignation of our prime minister. A truly monumental day for the UK to say the least. We are now sailing in uncharted territory with many unknowns which will inadvertently affect our working conditions, pensions, tax, economy, house prices, security and mortgages amongst other things.  It will be a difficult and complex minefield to navigate. Many of you will be disappointed in this morning's outcome to leave the EU; and many of you will also be elated with the outcome. However, it's important we respect the decision of the British people (and that of each other) and come together, putting aside our differences and work together in order to achieve the best for our students, our school and ultimately our country. The values of tolerance, respect and kindness mean so much now. This morning I have been working with the BSA and the DfE to understand the wide-ranging implications of Brexit for our EU students - the vote to leave has brought much consternation amongst many of our state boarding heads; for the time being it is business as usual. Boarders with EU passports will be completely unaffected by the referendum result for at least the next two years. The Boarding Schools Association has already highlighted this issue, and will be pressing for clarity. British education has great international appeal, and we will hope to be able to continue offer this opportunity to EU boarders for many years to come. 

Many of our students, including those from the EU, will not fully understand the implications of leaving the EU, I'm not even sure many of us do either. So they will need plenty of support and guidance to help them come to terms with this decision which has been made against a back drop of divisiveness over the past few weeks from both sides of the political spectrum. We will need to think long and hard about what our British values are and what they stand for. I don't think we quite realise the scale of the political change ahead of us with this historic decision which will permanently change the course of our country. It's the biggest political change that our country will have experienced for the past half century and I hope our leaders are well equipped and prepared to reassure and navigate us through this political storm.

We have spoken to our students this week about the EU referendum result and for us to continue to live by our values and we have continued to educate and provide as many opportunities to our students. This week our U15s played at the Wells Cathedral Cricket tournament where the likes of the MCC, Bryanston and Blundell’s School were being represented and our boys won their match against the Wells U15s, which is a great achievement. Man of the match was Jack Ives who took 5 wickets. The ‘End of Year Art Show’ highlighted all that is outstanding about Sexey’s –  creativity and diversity - and the art that was on display was stunning; I am sure we will give Hauser & Wirth a run for their money! And speaking of running, we have ‘the Race for Life’ around Bruton after school today, so do come down and support our students, staff and friends of the school and give generously to Cancer Research UK.

Today saw our students organise and deliver the Battle of the Somme Commemoration Service that took place this morning – a sombre and emotional occasion where we remembered the soldiers, including those six Old Sexeians, Harold Carver, Ernest Court, John Hodges, Horace Marsh, Harrington Sebright and Frank Withers who studied, lived, and fell together. They gave their lives during the infamous Battle of the Somme, so we can live ours. Moving poems written by our students (Tommy Stewart and Bryan Chow) were delivered with great confidence and aplomb.  It was an emotional event. After a century, the sacrifice of those soldiers is not forgotten. Let us always remember. 

Friday, 24 June 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 23 June 2016

The big day has finally arrived  - all the planning, the organising, the advertising, the fund-raising, the cajoling, the implementing – yes, today is the Macmillan Charity Day which took place this afternoon where the school raised vital funds for our partner charity, Macmillan Cancer Support (Douglas Macmillan MBE was an Old Sexeian) and the students had a brilliant time. The school was turned into a village summer fete with the Vicar of Bruton in attendance and traditional fayre games being the order of the day, from skittles and hook the duck to splat the rat and a coconut shy. Lots of money was raised as well as for a Leukaemia Charity (organised by Ryan Aldworth and his year group) and my sincere thanks go to Mrs Frost, the staff and Macmillan Cancer for getting involved and putting on such an excellent fund raising activity – again bringing our school community together to help those in need. It astonishes me how much we do as a school to help those less fortunate than us and it goes to show our values of tolerance, respect and kindness are inherent in all that we do. We said farewell to our Y11s yesterday at an entertaining and emotional Leavers’ Service and BBQ and we wish them well in their future endeavours (some still have exams this week and next) and we look forward to seeing many of them back in our 6th form in September. They have been a mature and talented year group (the Y11 Yearbook is just one example of this) and will be remembered with great fondness and affection.

We have also had considerable success in various sporting fixtures this week with an emphatic win over Taunton School by our U15 cricketers and U14 and U15 tennis at Milton Abbey – students enjoying their sport (when the weather holds up of course!) and developing in confidence and character. Huge congratulations also to Georgia Silcox (L6 Long Jump) and Caitlin Carnegie (Y11 1500m) who won their respective events at last weekend’s County Championships and will now represent the school and Somerset at the National Finals next month. What makes this achievement even more astounding is that this has been achieved with the back drop of public exams and I am so impressed with these two individuals and other students who work hard and play hard. We wish them every success possible. We have had even more success this week with Caroline De La Harpe (Y10) being awarded Silver in the Big Boarding Bake Off at Eton College – a tremendous feat (we were the only state boarding school in the final) and we look forward to tasting some of her creations shortly.  

We have the Glastonbury Exeat over this long weekend and I hope families will enjoy the extended time together, whether that be at the Festival or not, and if indeed you are braving the mud fest, I hope you have a great time. The Glastonbury Festival is part of the fabric of Somerset, part of the county’s DNA and brings so much to the local economy. But more importantly for bringing the performing arts, in all its shapes and sizes, to life. This cultural benefit should not be underestimated and we as a school will continue to support the Festival in any way we can and we wish Michael Eavis (whose grandson attended Sexey’s) and his team the very best this weekend (I do hope the weather is kind!). And speaking of performing, we wish Adam Wagstaff (Y7) all the best as he represents Sexey’s at the Big Boarding Choir this weekend in London. He will certainly be singing for his supper!

I also cannot ignore the significance of today, as today will go down in history. It is so rare that we as a country, as a generation, will have such an important decision to make today - to vote on our future in Europe in this historic referendum. Today's vote will have profound implications, not just for us in the UK but potentially could change the political landscape of a whole continent by breakfast time tomorrow morning. Will I be having toast or croissant with my tea? The planning, organising, advertising and debate over the past four months is now over. It's time to take a deep breath and to pick up that stubby pencil.... 

And by the way, congratulations to all the British and Irish teams for staying in Europe (Euro 2016 football that is!)

Monday, 20 June 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 17 June 2016

Joy and jubilation filled our hearts yesterday, as our national football team remembered how to play the beautiful game against our Welsh neighbours! The school community came together for this rare match which embodied everything about our British values. And before the match the students learnt about the value of sport and its place in society and for me, the most poignant part of this community event was when all the students (Y7 to U6) got up and sang the National Anthem with great pride and gusto, with no prompting at all. At 90 minutes I was getting ready to pour out my lament, recite Dylan Thomas and share recipes of leek pie, but instead we can now head into this wet weekend full of optimism and pride. And speaking of football, two of our talented footballers, Harrison McNairn and William Howarth are at a Tottenham Hotspur training day, perfecting their skills and learning from Premier League coaches – potential England players one day? This weekend, we wish Caitlin Carnegie (1500m Steeplechase) & Georgia Silcox (Long Jump) the very best as they represent Sexey's & Somerset at the South West Schools’ Championships in Exeter; Georgia will also be captaining the Senior Girl’s Somerset Squad – a huge responsibility and testimony to Georgia’s leadership skills. The Y9 boarders arranged a Sexey’s Fashion Show this week and tonight sees the first of our Leavers’ events, the much anticipated 6th Form Ball at the Haynes Motor Museum, where the U6 will bow out gracefully and reminisce about the highs and lows they have had whilst being a part of the Sexey’s family – it will be a wonderful occasion and I look forward to spending time with the next generation of leaders in our community and beyond.

However, yesterday we learnt of the horrific death of Mrs Jo Cox MP who was brutally murdered in her constituency in West Yorkshire whilst carrying out her regular surgeries with the people she represents. She was a compassionate MP dedicated to serving her people and ‘believed in a better world which she fought for every day'. At one point yesterday, we had a community made up of many colours, creeds and faiths coming together celebrating and rejoicing and the next moment we had a community, again of all colours, creeds and faiths coming together to mourn the loss of a loved one. Community is so powerful and we must embrace all that are part of our community. The husband of Mrs Jo Cox has urged people to "fight against the hatred that killed her" in the wake of her death and I hope through education and our values of tolerance, respect and kindness, we will all do this  - to make our communities safer places for us all.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 10 June 2016

For the next five or so weeks the sounds of Europe as well as its many national anthems will be ringing in our ears as the Euro 2016 Football Championships kicks off in France tonight. The EU referendum debates will be hotly contested too, much like the numerous football matches, as the 23rd of June fast approaches. The morning of Friday the 24th could be a very different UK by then as could the US in a few months’ time when the first female presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton takes to the campaign trail. The world is changing every day and we as a school need to adapt to these changes and equip our students with the life skills that they will need to cope with this ever changing world. Our mission statement resonates this - ‘Teaching boys and girls to think intelligently, act wisely and be fully engaged in a challenging and changing world’.

With the untimely passing of the greatest sportsman that has ever lived, Muhammad Ali, sport takes centre stage yet again. It wields a lot of power and influence in bringing people and communities together. It is certainly powerful and this football tournament heralds the start of a glorious summer of sport – with the US Open Golf championships, Test cricket against Sri Lanka, England vs Australia in rugby, the climax of the F1 racing season and Wimbledon just around the corner; it’s going to be a busy time for us arm chair sports enthusiasts and the remote control. This week saw over 50 of our students compete in the Yeovil Athletics championships with many of them surpassing their personal bests and finishing in the top 3, testimony to their hard graft, training and work ethic; something we saw during last term’s very successful Sports Day – thank you again for your support. Sport certainly is powerful and as I hear the preparations being made for the Race for Life event which takes place after school on Friday 1st July and is being organised by one of our Y10 prefects, we are fortunate that we have the opportunity to play, enjoy and witness sport at all levels.  Good luck to all those doing DoE this weekend across the Mendips, let’s hope the weather is kind.

As I settle down this evening to watch the opening game of the Euros, and over the next month or so follow with intent the progress of England (managed by the former English teacher Roy Hodgson), I wonder if this will indeed be like the summer of 1996, or even that of 1966. With the EU referendum looming ever closer and the noise and division it is creating on both sides, I hope this sporting event in Europe will bring people and communities together – solidarity and a unitedness which is very much needed at this time. On aside; after 60 years of hope, is this going to be England’s year? Or like Leicester City, will it be Wales? Nothing is impossible.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 27 May 2016

It didn’t look too good this morning as I peered through the window of my study and wondered if we were going to call off Sports Day due to the perennial Bank Holiday weather – rain.  However, it had brightened up by 9am and it was full steam ahead as we heralded in another successful Sexey’s Sports Day on the Elm Field. The Houses were in fine form singing with gusto the School Song building camaraderie and team spirit with staff and parents encouraging our sportsmen and women to achieve to their potential. Congratulations to Maddy Britton (Y8) and Josh Carr (Y9) on winning the most improved sports woman and sportsman respectively and for each winning the 100m at this week’s Yeovil Schools’ Championships. There is nothing like a good sports day to bring together the whole school community, from our Juniors through to the Sixth form, our staff, parents and friends of Sexey’s School. My personal thanks go to the PE department for their meticulous organisation, to the Estates team for the finely manicured tracks, House staff, the PSA, KDR, IT and of course the competitors, who battled hard but shook hands at the end. This time victory belonged to Glynn-Jones who won the prestigious West Midlands Relay Shield and the Track & Field competitions with Golledge winning the Macmillan Cancer Support Student – Staff Race. It was a fine way to round off this busy half term and a well-deserved break awaits our colleagues and students alike.

A moving U6 Leavers’ assembly took place yesterday in the 6th Form Centre and it was a fitting tribute to the maturity and diligence of this particular year group. They have been led admirably by George Tracey and Julia Blackmore who have encapsulated all the qualities that make a Sexeian – all commented on the friendly nature and warm atmosphere of the school, the life skills they have learnt and the strong relationships they have built, which will last for many years to come. Many have been here since Y7, many as boarders and the experiences and opportunities they have gained has been second to none. As Einstein said,  ‘Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learnt at school.’ And boarding can teach students the value of stability in a caring and nurturing environment. The U6 now immerse themselves in public exams after half term and we wish them well in their endeavours as they pursue coveted university places, gap years and internships come August. I thank them for the outstanding service they have given to the school – from music, art and drama productions, to a variety of sports teams and to the prefect body for setting the gold standard to the younger members of our community and keeping them on TRaK

I wish you all a pleasant and peaceful Bank Holiday and Trinity half term.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 20 May 2016

‘Take every opportunity that presents itself to you’ was the overriding message from the legendary chef Marco Pierre White who spoke candidly last Friday at Sexey’s about his life, family and extraordinary career. It was wonderful for our students and indeed our friends and the community (thank you for your continued support) to have such opportunities and it was a great experience for me to interview Marco and for guests to meet him afterwards over a glass of Bruton’s finest. Our very own chef, Mr Briatore, had prepared a tantalising feast after the interview (no pressure!) and Marco was genuinely impressed with the quality of food on offer here at Sexey’s. Although he will not be taking over the mantle from  James Martin’s ‘Saturday Morning Kitchen’, Marco has agreed to do a ‘Saturday Morning Kitchen’ here at Sexey’s with our boarders, who will work with him in our kitchens to prepare that day’s meals – another opportunity and experience not to be missed.

We also had a very successful Boarding Open Morning and again thank you to all colleagues and the community who go over and beyond to support us in our endeavours. Ultimately, we do all this for our students and I hope to provide even more opportunities for them – from the Sky Sports visit this week, rehearsals for Shakespeare’s ‘Taming of the Shrew’, acting classes for the Youth Cinema, art workshops at Hauser & Wirth, rounders, cricket and equestrian events to next week’s Holocaust survivor talk – plenty of opportunities.

Congratulations to our new Y10 prefects who were appointed this week and I wish them well as they seize this opportunity to gain leadership experience and lead the student body forward – they will be outstanding role models for the younger years. They succeed our Y11s who are currently in exam mode and good luck to our GCSE and A-level candidates who have started the exam season with a very positive attitude – long may it continue and we also wish them well on their journeys this summer. And speaking of journeys, the Duke of Edinburgh expedition last weekend was a huge success (the weather was stunning) and if there are any parents or friends out there who would like to accompany the next one (weekend of 11-12 June) on the Mendips, do please get in touch. Another opportunity not to be missed.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 13 May 2016

Over this past week we have witnessed something quite remarkable and extraordinary in both politics and sport. In one, we have seen a team who were nearly relegated last season and given odds of 5000-1 of wining the Premier League to lifting that coveted trophy over the weekend as they emphatically beat Everton 3-1 at the King Power stadium in front of their delirious fans. Their top scorer Jamie Vardy was playing non- league football for Stocksbridge Park Steels FC only a few years ago and has burst on the scene and may well win the Golden Boot too this season. Supporters of the traditional top teams overtly wanted Leicester City to win (including myself). They were a team of cast-offs and bargain buys, written off before the season had even started and led by a manager who had been sacked in five of his previous jobs. In fact the media had even said that the manager will be the first to be sacked this season. But Leicester's squad of freebies and unknown imports have shocked the football world with their Premier League triumph, becoming household names and fully fledged international stars along the way. They have given hope to millions – it seems, nothing is impossible.

Similarly, the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan did not have a privileged start in life. He was one of eight children born to Pakistani immigrants, a bus driver and a seamstress, on a south London housing estate. Khan could not be more different in style and background to his Old Etonian predecessor Boris Johnson. Much has been made, not least by his own side, of Khan’s humble origins. There is certainly something of the Dick Whittington about him; the hard-working state educated boy whose migrant family came to London in search of a better life, grew up on a south London council estate and ended up becoming Mayor of London – it seems, nothing is impossible.

And we continue to push ourselves here too. We wish our Y11s, Y12s and Y13s all the very best as they take on the challenges and demands of public exams next week and all summer and we hope that we have given them the confidence and resilience to help them overcome any obstacles and succeed – nothing is impossible.  This weekend also see our Equestrian Team take on the might of Stonar School at the Inter Schools One-Day Event and the Duke of Edinburgh expedition to Cranborne Chase with 47 eager adventurers hoping to complete their bronze award (and the weather forecast looks encouraging!). And of course we welcome Marco Pierre White this evening to help celebrate our 125th anniversary, a load of Old Sexeians who will be playing a Squares tournament tomorrow and our Boarding Open Morning on Saturday too. Plenty of quality opportunities for our students to get involved in and be challenged by which can only build character and resilience in the long run, the very qualities employers are always looking for. Personally, I believe that we should be continually challenging ourselves, both mentally and physically. Remaining in our comfort zones and in our comfy slippers is an all too easy option and a culture of complacency could develop as a result. Now where are my walking boots - it seems, nothing is impossible!

Friday, 6 May 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 6 May 2016

It is always good to get out of one’s study and take a look at what is going on beyond our school gates and indeed our town and for that matter, our county. And this week I have been in Manchester (some may say the home of football and I was certainly impressed with this powerhouse of a city) at the Boarding Schools’ Association Conference and it was interesting hearing and speaking to colleagues from both the state and independent sector. Boarding continues to provide fulfilling opportunities and its benefits can be transformational, as we heard how it has changed the lives of some vulnerable pupils. Building bridges between the sectors and other bodies (local councils, government, health etc.) is key in bringing about change and working together can only be beneficial in the long run and we as a state boarding school will continue to work hard to promote and champion the benefits of boarding.

It was useful to discuss and debate the issues we are all currently facing in education today - curriculum reform, assessment, funding, teacher recruitment, Brexit – all hot topics of debate that are shaping the new educational landscape. And we had the opportunity to do this with the Schools’ Minister himself, Mr Nick Gibb MP who spoke well at the Conference. Education is certainly changing with the forced academisation of primaries (or not as I have just learnt!), more testing, different grading and assessment systems and tighter inspection regimes to name but a few. Some might argue that it is an exciting time to be in education with all this change but my priority is to ensure that we deliver a first class education to our pupils amongst all this reform and to continue to provide opportunities to develop character, resilience and independence. Whilst I was away I heard that we had a successful Summer Concert with many of our talented musicians showcasing their talent and tough cricket fixtures against the likes of Wells Cathedral and Millfield Girls - all equally impressive.

My colleagues in both sectors are cautiously optimistic, especially with boarding numbers on the rise. This changing pedagogy can bring many benefits and we should not underestimate the power that boarding, in all its guises, can bring.  Just look at Leicester City.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 29 April 2016

Prince, the influential pop star who passed away last week wrote ‘Sometimes it Snows in April’ and it’s ironic that during this Trinity term it actually snowed a few days after his untimely death. The weather forecast is not great.

We spoke in assembly and at St Mary’s, Bruton last Sunday, about our strong values and those British values of service and duty that epitomises the work of Her Majesty the Queen and that of St George and what we do together as a community. It was a delight to hear the exploits of our sportsmen and women as they spoke eloquently about their Sports Tour to Paris and the trophies they won, the most significant being the Fair Play Award which reflects the maturity and understanding of our students and the values that I hope they subscribe to. I hope the KS3 Trinity Exams have gone well this week and that these will continue to inform and prepare our students for the future. Our Y11 and 6th Form students continue to display a strong work ethic with the exam season ever looming and amongst all this exam preparation, the students still find time to rehearse, perform and play tennis, rounders and cricket - there were fine performances against Milton Abbey, The Gryphon and All Hallows’ this week. It is so important that there is a balance between academic studies and extra-curricular activities  – there are plenty of opportunities to participate in the latter to test physical prowess, strategy, musicality (the Summer Concert takes place next Wednesday), team work, spirituality, confidence, creativity and simply being in the great outdoors (weather permitting, of course!) – we strive to deliver an all-round education which develops the whole person.

This week, I’ve mostly been revising organic chemistry with my U6 students and we have been talking about the isotopes of carbon and how we use this important element in everyday life. I am hoping to use some carbon in the BBQ this Bank Holiday weekend but only if the sun decides to show its face. I do wonder if it is still on its Easter holidays…

Enjoy the extended exeat.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 22 April 2016

Staying on TRaK (Tolerance, Respect & Kindness) continues to be our drive this term with preparation for public examinations fully underway (the KS3 Trinity Exams take place next week), and it is important that our students remain fully engaged and focussed. The pace and intensity has been relentless since we got back last week and has seen our students taking on the responsibility of public exams in a mature and considered manner. I have been impressed with their work ethic, independence of thought and positive attitude in and around school, including the boarding houses, and I commend them for their sterling efforts. No doubt nerves will be frayed and patience tried (and that’s just the teachers!), but we are here to help and support our students during this tough time. And I am sure they will do you and the school proud – everyone has the ability and potential to succeed, so long as one has self-belief and determination, which has been evident over the course of these past few months.

Opportunities continue to abound at Sexey’s – from auditions for Shakespeare’s ‘Taming of the Shrew’ which have kept our budding actors occupied, our 6th form film-makers being showcased at the world-renowned Hauser & Wirth, to the Macmillan House charity fundraiser for ‘Rescued Dogs 4 Life’ last night – plenty of opportunities for our students to grow and flourish.  House Rugby 7s took place all this week ably assisted and officiated by Old Sexeian Ben Chapman and it was a hard fought competition with Glynn-Jones as overall winners. Good camaraderie, sportsmanship and community. We are a special and unique school and we are certainly on TRaK in many ways and I hope that our students continue to value the first class education that they are receiving here and achieve to their potential, both in and out of the academic arena. Keeping on TRaK can be difficult at times, and some will invariably come off it, but we are here to help them get back on TRaK and to hopefully stay on it. You are very welcome to join us at St Mary’s, Bruton for the Schools’ Service with Father Justin this Sunday morning and experience this sense of community - it would be lovely to see you.

Speaking of community, may I politely request that parents do not use the main school entrance for morning drop-offs and afternoon pick-ups please? This practice is making the area unsafe for our students and staff and is an accident waiting to happen. The only place drop-offs and pick-ups should happen is the large overflow car-park between the Lisbury and Macmillan sites and the Coombe Garden. This rule does not apply to parents of boarding students in Coombe House who may enter the main school site, but only at the start or end of the three terms. Coombe parents should also use the overflow car park for dropping off and picking up at all other times. Thank you for your continued cooperation in this matter – let’s hope all of us can stay on TRaK, much like Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who turned 90 yesterday.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 15 April 2016

Welcome back to the start of the Trinity Term – a term traditionally when courses culminate in the taking of public exams, cricket, rounders and athletics form the major sports and the sun is supposed to be shining…Where has the sun gone? I hear you ask and I’ve been asking myself that very question as the new term started! However, it’s great to be back at school and to see the students in their summer uniform getting back into the swing of things (pity the summer hasn’t quite turned up just yet – but we can only hope).  Over the Easter holiday, the Sports department had a successful tour to Paris where the netball and football teams did the school proud and won trophies and accolades whilst they were out there. Time at Disneyland, Paris was also fun, I hear! And sporting success continues with the Y7 Netball, having won the area finals last term, are now at Millfield today taking part in the County Finals – we wish them well in their endeavours.

Also over the holiday, the school celebrated its 125th birthday (on the 6th of April to be precise) and I am sure its founders’ Mr Hugh Sexey, The Rt Hon Henry Hobhouse of Hadspen MP and the school’s first Head Master, Mr William A Knight would be proud of how far the school has come since it was established back in 1891. And to mark this auspicious occasion, we are having a number of events to celebrate; from an Old Sexeians Squares Tournament (that playground favourite), a Victorian Day to An Evening with Marco Pierre White – details of which are attached. I do hope that you will support these events and help us celebrate another milestone in our school’s illustrious history. Speaking of significant birthdays, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will also be celebrating her 90th birthday next week. We wish her the very best.

We welcomed three new members of staff to the Sexey’s community; Mr Tim Clements who takes up the position of Temporary Teacher of Geography, Dr Emily Deaney who will be undertaking her teacher practice with us, also in the Geography department and Mr Josh Brooker (OS) joins the Humanities Faculty this term where he will be gaining valuable experience as he also trains to become a teacher. We look forward to working with them as they help move the school forward.  And I would like to officially welcome Mr Dan Bull to the Senior Leadership Team as our new Deputy Head, and to thank both him and Mr Philip Clackson for stepping up and taking on the roles of Associate Heads last term – the positive impact both of these colleagues have made with the various responsibilities bestowed on them whilst on SLT have been far reaching and I thank them for their commitment and efforts.

So with enrichment activities taking place (Mandarin lessons on Mondays), cricket practices, early morning swimming, County netball finals, Parent Staff Association meeting (do join the PSA – they do so much for the school), Maths interviews, revision sessions, Yoga sessions, it’s like we have never had a holiday. Have we really only been back a week? Time flies…

Friday, 29 January 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 29th January 2016

January seems to have galloped away from us (the Equestrian Team are at the NSEA Show Jumping Qualifier at Bicton Arena, Devon this weekend)  and we have also had the first exeat of the year. This week we interviewed a number of candidates for the post of Deputy Head and after a gruelling round of interviews, which included presentations, a number of panel interviews, in-tray exercises and meetings with various colleagues, I am delighted to announce the appointment of Mr Daniel Bull to the post of Deputy Head – Teaching & Learning at Sexey’s School from April 2016.  Mr Bull takes over essentially from Mr Reddick who is now the Head at Crispin School, Street and he has some big shoes to fill.  He is currently Associate Headteacher and Head of the Humanities Faculty at Sexey’s and was educated at Aylesbury Grammar School and the University of Wales, Aberyswyth where he read Geography. He has successfully completed the NCSL Leadership Pathways and is currently studying for the NPQSL at the National College of School Leadership (NCSL). We look forward to welcoming Mr Bull and his family to his new role over the coming months and I am sure you will make them all feel very welcome.
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 Dauntsey’s side in yesterday’s 1st XI football fixture and the netball teams going from strength to strength with fine performances against Milton Abbey and other schools, the weather can continue as it is! Congratulations must also go to Caitlin Carnegie who will be representing Sexey’s at the South West Schools’ Cross Country Championships next weekend.
Rehearsals for the School musical next week, Return to the Forbidden Planet, are also taking place (the set is stunning!) and I wish the cast and crew the very best this weekend as dress and technical rehearsals take place; I do urge to get your tickets; the Maths Challenge takes place next week and our Mathematicians will be also be visiting Wellington School to hear the mathematician Simon Singh speak. We also look forward to welcoming David Dein, the former vice-chairman of Arsenal Football Club and former vice-chairman of the Football Association next Thursday. 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, 22 January 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 22nd January 2016

In the week where we had seen the first British astronaut, Major Tim Peake perform a spacewalk on the International Space Station and the original ‘Starman’, David Bowie’s untimely passing, it was a fitting tribute that we had the eminent astrophysicist and scientist Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell give the inaugural ‘Bell-Burnell Lecture’ at Sexey’s on Monday. Dame Jocelyn who is credited with making the greatest astronomical discovery of the twentieth century - the discovery of radio pulsars whilst doing her PhD at Cambridge, delivered an entertaining and accessible lecture on astrophysics, entitled ‘We are Stardust’. We were truly honoured to have such a distinguished scientist at Sexey’s, inspiring the next generation of students. Such has been Dame Jocelyn’s impact on the world of Physics, we have named one of our science laboratories after her – Bell-Burnell and this series of lectures. My thanks go to Dr Rocio Beeching and Mrs Sarah Stallion for organising the lecture and to you for your support.

The School Performance Tables were published yesterday by the Department for Education and the results were very pleasing indeed. According to the tables we are the best performing non-selective state school in Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall and our results rival many of our competitor schools in the county (and country). I am very proud to be leading such an outstanding institution, 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 (my congratulations go to two of our U6 students, Holly Austin and Lynsey Whittaker who received offers to read Psychology at Oxford and Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge respectively last week), 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 – teaching them to make the right choices  but at the same time understand what is important about education and the intrinsic values that make up a successful community. During 6th form assembly this week, we talked about the values which define us and underpin everything we do here at Sexey’s -Tolerance, Respect and Kindness – in response to Donald Trump’s ill-informed comments about Muslims. We asked the question, should we ban him from coming to Britain? These values are core and if we want the world to be a safer place for our children and their children, then 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.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 15th January 2016

This week’s assembly focussed on the remarkable career of the most influential musician of his era, David Bowie who passed away at 69 having lost his battle with cancer (and that of the wickedly versatile British actor, Alan Rickman who also passed away this week aged 69 from cancer). It was a celebratory occasion where we took time to reflect on how he influenced generation after generation with his music and style and was constantly changing, looking forward and moving forward. His career was defined by his relentless evolution and possibly revolution as he continued to challenge and change attitudes, both socially and culturally. The outpouring over the past few days is testimony of the impact Bowie has had on our lives – he will forever remain a part of British culture and form a part of our national identity. His music formed the soundtrack of many of our lives and we can all draw inspiration from many of them, in particular ‘Changes’, something we can all do to better ourselves and the lives of others and ‘Heroes’, we can all be heroes even if it is just for one day. Making a positive difference to a community and society can only be viewed as a good thing. It was interesting speaking to staff and students after the assembly on how Bowie had affected them and I was impressed at how the students 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 sons and/or daughters what’s going on in the world around them - encourage them to read the newspaper, watch the news, 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 capital and will help 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 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 if we all endeavour to keep them, then actually we have a chance of creating change.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 8th January 2016

Welcome back to the start of a new Lent term and although the weather is due to turn next week, the sun is currently on form, albeit there is quite a nip in the air. I trust that you all had a restful holiday (seems like such a long time ago) and are now settled into the New Year. Over the festive period, the School was delighted to learn that it has been included for a second year running in this year’s Tatler’s ‘Best State Schools in Britain’ Guide – an accolade which we are very proud of (only 21 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. Our congratulations also extend to our Old Sexeians - Lt Col Lucy Giles and Anne- Marie Minty. The former has been appointed to lead New College at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst (the first woman college commander in its illustrious history) and to Anne-Marie Minty who worked as the Property Coordinator on JJ Abrams’s iconic Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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, PSA events and visiting lecturers, including the world famous astronomer, Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell – quite topical since British astronaut, Major Tim Peake blast off into space over the holidays. The music and drama department are busy rehearsing for the School musical production ‘The Return to the Forbidden Planet’ which takes place on the evenings of Wednesday 3rd to Friday 5th February – 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 King’s College, Taunton and Warminster and if you can come down for the Home matches it would be wonderful to see you cheering on the side line. The football season will also see Mr David Dein, former Vic Chairman of Arsenal, a big supporter of Women’s Football and the architect of the Premier League, speaking to our students at school next month. It will undoubtedly prove to be very informative and engaging talk.

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 (the much anticipated PSA Quiz is next Friday – more details below). Thank you in advance for your continued support and loyalty and I wish you a very successful and prosperous 2016.