Monday, 20 March 2017

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 17 March 2017

Article 50, constitutional challenges between England and Scotland and school funding are dominating the news and the latter is of particular concern to us.  The National Funding Formula in its current format is going to see every school in England experience budget cuts before 2020 which will inevitably harm standards in schools up and down the country. Despite this, we continue trying to provide the best opportunities we can for your children and this week has been no exception.  I’d like to thank all of the parents and guardians who took the time to attend our forums on Wednesday and Friday last week.  They were challenging but ultimately productive sessions in which you raised some clear areas in which we could improve in our communication with you.  We have spent this week reflecting on the necessary actions to address the concerns that you voiced and as a result, we will be writing to you in due course with regards bullying, the use of Moodle and explaining the other specific actions that will be included in a summary of the sessions.  Thank you also for your expressions of support during this process – they are very much appreciated and we will continue our hard work to do them justice.  Fundraising was another topic of the forums and I will write to you separately on this matter in due course once the formula has been debated in the House of Commons next week – as it stands it looks like the formula may well be rejected, but we have seen things go the other way in the past…

Sporting fixtures aside in rugby, netball and equestrian where our sportsmen and women have excelled, we have had the opportunity to celebrate British Science Week during tutor time and in lessons this week. Our successful Duke of Edinburgh applicants collected their certificates for Bronze, Silver and Gold awards at the DoE ceremony at the Octagon in Yeovil this week, and our congratulations go once again to them for their endeavours including that of Mrs Wilkinson and her team.  Meanwhile, while continuing with our improvement plans in light of Ofsted, we have met with our Parents & Staff Association (if you are willing to help here please do get in touch) and been preparing for next week’s lectures which will both challenge and inspire – from the award winning film maker, Jo Ruxton who will be talking about ‘Plastic Oceans’ next Tuesday evening to our TEDEd team of Sixth Formers giving a series of wide-ranging lectures including topics such as existentialism, child mortality, literacy rates, sustainability and education on the Wednesday evening.  I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 10 March 2017

Our recent Academic Ofsted inspection unfortunately did not go well and the full report and response to it is on our website. We have an Academic Action Plan in place which we are working with colleagues and Governors on to address the shortcomings highlighted by the report. We are fully committed to rectifying those areas as well as continuing with our Boarding Action Plan. There are also many positives in the report and we should not lose sight of that - our students feel safe, are happy, well behaved, participate in a range of activities and enjoy coming into school. May I take this opportunity to thank you for the overwhelming support that you have given the school since receiving the report this week and for attending the Parents’ Forums - it speaks volumes about you and about our very caring and supportive school.

Despite the disappointing news, it’s business as usual here and I was impressed with the reaction of our students following the news of the report in assembly this week. They were considerate, articulate and passionate about their school and the way they conducted themselves for the Whole School Photo afterwards was indicative of the comments in the report.  We have learnt that four of our U6 students came in the top 30% of students in the U.K. who sat the prestigious and highly competitive International Chemistry Olympiad run by the Royal Society of Chemistry - an impressive achievement to say the least which we can all be proud of and there have been plenty of boarding activities too. With a number of sporting fixtures to exercise the mind and the body, auditions for next term’s Drama production of 'Bugsy Malone', rehearsals for this month’s Spring Concert in full flow, colleagues running the Bath Half Marathon this weekend in aid of the school’s partner charity, Macmillan Cancer Support and news of the proposed Sexey’s expedition to the Himalayas in July 2019 (more details to follow), the school carries on - a real strength of our community.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 3 March 2017

Despite the dreary and grey weather, the school has been awash in colour and bathed in a golden glow with everyone dressed in yellow to support ‘Big Yellow Friday’ in aid of the excellent work of the Children’s Liver Foundation, a charity close to school’s heart and my thanks to staff and students for all their help and in particular to Mr Dave Hill and his granddaughter Tilly (who is now a bonnie 3 year old), who took part in the fund-raising raffle at lunchtime today. It was lovely to see her and the community spirit displayed in full today by the whole school. It has certainly been a busy week!  Well done to the Y10s for keeping their cool as they sat their trial exams and I congratulate them on how well they have conducted themselves during this important week – it will prepare them for the future and I hope they have faced up to the challenge and that they have learnt a little more about themselves. The Sports department has played a number of netball, hockey and football fixtures this week (the 1st XI claimed a victory against Yeovil FC’s Academy side) as well as Rugby 7s competitions with the 1st VII last weekend losing in the plate Semi Final at Canford. Today the U13s and U14s are at the Perins School’s 7s tournament in Southampton and we wish them well in their endeavours.  Congratulations also to our Karate team who last weekend competed at the English Karate Federation Tournament in Birmingham and won three trophies for performance and fighting. The Y11 Oxford University trip was a success and we welcome back this evening our Y12 Geographers who have been carrying out their field work in Devon – it’s safe to say that the weather hasn’t been kind to them either. Where has this week gone?

I look forward to seeing you at the PSA Spring Dinner and Dance tomorrow evening where we will continue to celebrate our strong and caring community.