From the Headmaster - March 2018
Posted by MM - Monday 19 March 2018
As I write, I have just returned from visiting the highly successful exchange to our German partner school in Goettingen, Germany. This year we jointly celebrated the 40th year of the exchange, a remarkable achievement in sustaining and developing goodwill and cooperation between schools in different countries. When invited to speak about the partnership, I reflected on my belief that education is centred on encounters such as those afforded by the exchange. Our pupils develop language skills and self-confidence, and have the invaluable opportunity of understanding the culture of a country, not as tourists but from inside the community. Just before departure, some pupils were asked about the most interesting parts of the visit for them:
The exchange family welcomed me as one of their own.
Berlin was my favourite moment as I got a taste of city culture, in particular the tour was informative yet also engaging.
The opportunity to teach English to my partner’s little brother helped me integrate into the family.
The exchange has only flourished because of the excellent relationships forged between teachers in all the schools. Indeed, a former Head of German from the High School for Girls in 1970s was one of the invited guests. Productive relationships are at the heart of education, and that they really do enrich the experiences and opportunities of pupils. I am most grateful to all those pupils and staff involved in making the visit such a success this year.
March has been a busy month for us all at School. It’s at this time of year that we hold our student council meetings, at form, Key Stage and then whole school level. Each year, a number of issues are raised and discussed by pupils and these frequently lead to significant changes in how we do things in school. Members of the Sixth Form have been flexing their leadership muscles, running a very well attended political debate in which speakers for the Labour and Conservative parties presented their views on the economic significance of Brexit arrangements: a live on-line poll was taken and victory fell to the Tories on this occasion! Sixth Formers have also been instrumental in running the House Drama Competition, and it is pleasing to see the passion and commitment of so many performers across all year groups.
The Learning Resource Centre located in the Sixth Form Centre is developing into a real hub of learning, research and enquiry at the heart of our school under the expert management of Mrs Judith Case. Alongside expanding the range of on-line journals and research materials available to older pupils, she is determinedly cultivating a real love of reading in the younger years. The Bluecoat Book Award is in full swing, where a group of dedicated readers nominate, read, discuss and then vote on their best book of the year. This year, the scheme is being run in conjunction with The High School for Girls. World Book Day was celebrated with Year 7s making the Biggest Bunting Ever to display their favourite reads so far this year; Mrs Case also ran a ‘Where’s Tommy’ competition and a Book Exchange Café in the LRC. Perhaps the most exciting innovation though is the competition to win a place on the coveted National First World War Centenary Programme. Government funding has been made available to send two students, completely free, on this study trip to the battlefields. The opportunity has been advertised to pupils in Year 9, and the closing date for their entries in the essay competition to decide the two winners is 16th April. Further details are available from Mrs Case.
Educational trips and visits are at the heart of what we believe to be the best education here at School. However, it would be remiss not to mention the upcoming public examinations which are fast approaching for Years 10, 11 and 13. I know that teachers are working hard to ensure there is plenty of support for pupils on Share Point, in extra tuition and in printed revision booklets. It is absolutely vital that all our pupils plan carefully for thorough and systematic revision in the Easter holidays. Please can I ask for your support in helping us prepare your sons and daughters to achieve their very best in the next few weeks.