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…