It is always great to start a term with good news, and learning about the prestigious national award that Mr Wilkinson was given by British Rowing is perfect. The local press have picked it up and he is on the front page! We are all so proud of him and the honour he brings to the school. He has worked so hard to build up rowing here over the years, and then more recently coaching the junior national rowers as part of the GB coaching team. He uses highly advanced techniques to train, develop and motivate boys of all levels to achieve their very best. He is very much at the top of his game and I suspect there is more to come. And last season was an absolute blinder! This award reminds everyone here that what we experience everyday from our staff and students as ordinary is, in fact, extraordinary to other people.
This week in assembly I have been encouraging students to look forward and I think that all students have something to look forward to which is then clearly motivational. Students in year 11 will receive reports and analysis of their mock exam and guidance for improving before the real deal in May and June. They literally are on the final stretch of a very long educational journey. Additionally they will be making some very significant transition choices about their next steps. As our sixth form goes from strength to strength, being in the top 20% of schools for progress, and being able to maintain a wide choice due to the collaboration with WGS, I would strongly advise all boys to seriously consider continuing their futures with us in our upgraded sixth form.
Similarly students in year 13 are building well to the A levels and BTECs. The atmosphere this week in the sixth form study centre and library has been impressive: so many of our students really want to achieve and fulfil their potential. UCAS applications are nearly closed, but already many students have been receiving good offers from universities. We have noticed that the calibre of these offers is high and many students look set to go to some prestigious seats of learning. And at the other end of the school our year 9 students will be choosing their options this term. Please watch out for the information evenings, booklets and consultation evenings that are coming up. At all levels in the school the academic milestones and opportunities are looming fast and there is much to look forward to.
But we also have a great deal to look forward to in the sporting and artistic fields. We still have several teams doing very well in various national, regional and local competitions, and so the possibility of another outstanding season is very real. Hockey starts again this term, and many boys will discover a new sport that they can excel in. In rowing the strength in depth is evident at all levels and it looks like it might be another bumper season. Music and drama have big plans in the next two terms, with more shows and events taking place than ever before, and more numbers participating than in previous years. We still manage to offer an unprecedented range of extra-curricular activities for all kinds of boy, which we know contributes so much to a young man’s personal development.
We are expecting Ofsted to visit this term, after nearly four years, when they gave the school a rather harsh judgement of ‘requires improvement.’ Since then the school has been working tirelessly to improve and everything we do is about improvement, which shows in the increasing success both academically and in other fields. I believe that the school has improved and is now not just ‘good’ but ‘very good’ and we want the Ofsted inspectors to validate that judgement, so that we can thereafter start building to restore our status as ‘outstanding’ which I know in some aspects we already are. I know that boys in this school make significantly more progress at GCSE than boys nationally and locally, and that this school is probably the best choice in the area for any young man who wants a fully rounded education. Ofsted put a great deal of store by what parents think of the school and I would urge you to visit https://parentview.ofsted.gov.uk/ to give them your view of the progress we have made since the last inspection in May 2013. If you are able to take the time and trouble to support us in this way, I’d be very grateful.