Headteacher’s News – 2018 01 12

Congratulations to three of our year 13 boys who have been given offers for places at Oxford or Cambridge University for next year.  Please read the news item for full details.  This is a fantastic achievement for the young men concerned and is a real testament to their intellect and their ability to study extremely hard.  However, as you know, they still have to get their grades in the summer exams and there is much work to be done to secure this great opportunity.  The school has worked hard as team to get these talented students this far – individual subject teachers have been teaching to a very high level, the year team have been supporting the students through their aspirations and the application process, and they have even been coached by Eton College in interview technique.  I wish them all the best for the summer, and we will all ensure that they have all the support they need to get the best grades they can.  It is also pleasing to note that very many boys in year 13 now have university offers from great universities that match their predicted grades and seem a real prospect.  We are proud of them all.

This week we launched the new arrangements for the school canteen, which already are showing massive signs of improvement.  After receiving a lot of feedback about the decline in the fine dining experience at break and lunch we worked diligently with our catering company, the site team and the senior staff to improve matters.  The canteen has some new kitchen staff and new serving arrangements which have drastically cut queuing time in half.  The site team have arranged the hall using all the available space, making everything much calmer and less fraught, enabling students to feel more relaxed and eat in a less rushed way.  Senior staff are supporting arrangements ensuring that everyone uses the right entrances, sits at the right tables and that boys don’t push in or sabotage the new system.  This week in assemblies I enlisted the help of the first XI football team to demonstrate how to use litter bins more effectively, encouraging boys to use what they know about putting a football in the back of a net to good effect when putting their litter in the bin.  It was all done humorously, but the message was serious.  They all now know that those who drop or throw litter will be asked to do a civic-duty (aka litter-pick) as a sanction.  It is great to see that already there are big improvements.

Next week we have our annual visit from Challenge Partners who will carry out a quality assurance review. Five reviewers, who are senior leaders from other schools, led by a qualified Ofsted Inspector spend three days in the school, looking at data, observing lessons,  reviewing documentation, interviewing school leaders and meeting with students.  At the end they write a report which provides us with an estimate of where we are against Ofsted criteria, and gives us advice for further improvement.  In the last three reviews we have been judged to be in the ‘good’ category, which is in line with our own self-evaluation.  The whole exercise is also great professional development for our middle leaders and senior teachers, as well as a strong networking opportunity. We are looking forward to hosting their visit, and I will let you know the outcome when we get it.

Although I started this piece by praising the boys who are seeking success at university, I want to end by praising the wonderful start to the hockey season.  The victories against Pangboure are truly fantastic and show massive improvement from last year.  It promises to be a wonderfully exciting season.  And on top of that the football squads have all started their campaigns for regional and national glory and the now customary array of silverware.  Well done all and good luck in the forthcoming fixtures.

Gavin Henderson