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.