From the Headmaster - March 2015
Every year we take Year 7 to the Lake District where they spend four and a half days working in groups, participating in activities that take them out of their comfort zones. These activities include abseiling down steep rock faces, orienteering at night, raft building and canoeing, often in the pouring rain. Every year, I aim to join the visit for at least a day and every year, I come away deeply impressed by the boys and the staff who accompany them. For me, the trip contributes to the students' transition from being inward-looking children to becoming self-aware young men. The activities give the boys the opportunity to confront their fears and recognise that they share their fears with others. I hope this year's visit in a fortnight's time will be as successful as usual.
The same team spirit was very much in evidence on the recent school ski trip to Prato Nevoso in Italy, where I watched pupils from different year groups encourage one another to "take that leap of faith", maybe to go off-piste or attempt a black run. It is most impressive when the boys start to see the real value in each other, beyond their preconceived ideas of friendship groups. In showing their vulnerability, group members realised that instead of being rejected or judged they were supported. This was most apparent when the groups I skied with (not the advanced!) had to come to my rescue on more than one occasion.It is fantastic when pupils begin to understand the value of a supportive environment and the important role it plays in allowing us to thrive.
I promised to offer further analysis of the survey of parents completed by Kirkland Rowell in November: 375 questionnaires were returned, representing a response rate of 38%. I am pleased that parents believe that there has been significant improvement in Personal, Social and Health Education and school facilities since the last survey and that all non-academic criteria are considered, in Kirkland Rowell's analysis, to have been judged 'outstanding' by parents. This covers a vast array of aspects of school life, including everything from school discipline to developing potential and confidence in pupils. Parents consider the delivery of the following subjects to be 'outstanding': German, Economics, Business Studies, Psychology, Science, Physics, French, Religious Studies, History, Mathematics, Geography and PSHE and Citizenship. Whereas, the following subjects were related as good: Chemistry, ICT, Art, Music, English, Food Technology, Physical Education, Biology, Design and Technology, Spanish and Drama.
In many respects, it is the individual comments from parents that are perhaps the most revealing and we shall endeavour to respond to all concerns that have been expressed. In particular, we are working hard to further improve communication with parents, especially with regard to sports' matches. Additionally, we will continue to improve our careers education. There was some concern regarding the availability of healthy choices in the canteen. However, I can assure parents that healthy options are available, but it is true that the healthiest dishes are much less popular than the alternatives on offer. We shall continue to think of ways to address this. There was some call for a cashless payment system in the canteen. We have investigated this, but unfortunately the cost is prohibitive in the current climate of substantially reduced funding. Indeed, many of the improvements that we would like to make to the School are simply not affordable where the funding rate per pupil has remained static and has not kept pace with general inflation and pay rises. I do share the concerns of some parents regarding pupils carrying around heavy bags all day. I would like to point out that students may leave their books and other equipment in their lockers and they may access these before school, at break and at lunchtime and I would encourage all to use this facility.
The full report is now available on our website and can be accessed by following the link below:
We have added a section on our website entitled "Frequently Asked Questions" which I hope parents will find helpful. This can be accessed by clicking on the following the link:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank parents again for completing the survey and for giving such detailed feedback on the School. Whilst there is always room for improvement and it is not easy to read of situations where members of the School community are unhappy, all the comments, whether expressing concern or satisfaction, are extremely helpful in deciding our priorities for future development.