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Issue 44
14 december 2018

Yesterday, as some of you will have seen on social media, we had Curriculum Enrichment Day in the Senior School. Based on the School’s core message, ‘Why Not You?’, the pupils (working collaboratively in their Houses) had the morning to come up with and then pitch to a panel of judges with their ideas for activities that would take me out of my comfort zone. Ostensibly, therefore, about me, in reality, the purpose of the day was to take them out of their comfort zone, to work together (across year groups), to think creatively and imaginatively and then have the courage to stand up in a packed sports hall and present their ideas. It was a great example of what education needs more of – less focus on learning knowledge and more on developing these attributes of teamwork, leadership, creativity and the management of information. However, beneficial to the pupils it may have been, the fact remains that on Speech Day I will now be performing a Salsa, a song and a rap! I can’t think of much that takes me more out of my comfort zone than that.
 
Much of what has been going on in recent days has revolved around eating and we have enjoyed a very successful Sixth Form Dinner, a Year 11 Dinner and seemingly endless Christmas lunches! At the same time, in between the Brussels sprouts and stuffing, there has been time for two wonderful performances in the Minster Church: the Prep Carol Service and A Candlelight Christmas. We are, as a school,  incredibly lucky to have the use of a building as beautiful and uplifting as the Minster Church. In its 1000 year history, I cannot imagine it’s seen many more joyful events than these two. It was a pleasure to see both so well attended. The Pre-Prep Nativity play was also a delight – A Tale of Two Birthdays – and not hard to imagine the children involved, in a few years’ time performing on stage at The Athenaeum; the double bill there recently was an absolute treat. Year 6 performing ‘Macbeth’ (with every child in the year having a speaking part – an invaluable educational accolade) and the Senior School putting on ‘The Comedy of Errors’. Fabulous.  
 
Rick Clarke leaves the School today to take over as Headmaster of Frensham Heights School. He will be outstanding but also much missed. In his four years here, he has made an enormous contribution, much of it unheralded and unseen but without which the School simply would not have functioned. Intelligent, thoughtful and kind, Rick exemplifies the fundamental importance of being able to build and maintain trusting and healthy relationships. It is a singular mark of respect and of the esteem in which he is held that all week he has been receiving heartfelt thanks from pupils, many of whom ones he has had to admonish (regularly, in some cases!). A telling and pleasing indicator of the School’s current reputation was the fact that 70 people, many representing the best schools in the country, applied to replace Rick. At the end of the process, there was one outstanding candidate, unanimously the first choice of the panel and I look forward to announcing the news early next term. They will start at the School on 1 April. Next term, therefore, Mark Sully, the Deputy Head (Academic) and Sarah Shanks (Assistant Head of Pastoral Care) will provide the necessary cover. I am confident they will do a fine job.
 
Cathy Humpherson also retires today as Matron of Ivy House after 19 years’ service to the School. That’s a phenomenal length of time, a great many items of missing laundry returned and, far more importantly, a huge amount of care and support for a great many pupils. We wish her well. Also, best wishes to Natalie Clarke (and Olivia and Jack) who leaves with Rick. I am especially grateful for her high quality art teaching and for her wider support of the School.
 
Also on staff, I am delighted to tell you that our inspirational Head of Hockey, Jeremy Evans, has been short-listed as Wiltshire Life’s Coach of the Year, a fitting tribute and recognition of the enormous contribution he makes to the School and to his sport.
 
As you know, Stuart Morgan-Nash, a former deputy head here and a much-loved parent and teacher, died last month. The impact on the school community was significant, so may I flag up the Bath Rugby Walk event on 23 February 2019. ‘Mashy’s Marchers’ will undertake the walk as a tribute to Stuart and to raise money for the Dorothy House Foundation (the running total is already in excess of £2000). If you would like to support the team, or join in, details are below. On a similar note, many thanks to the generosity of the parents at A Candlelight Christmas, whose generosity to the retiring collection raised £868 for the same cause.
 
I hope you enjoy the School’s latest film – Christmas Socks II – and there is a link below.
 
I am currently reading through the pupils’ reports and I must emphasise how much time and consideration goes into them on the part of the teaching staff. They are about your son or daughter but written to you as the parents. However, given the amount of wise advice and clear targets contained therein, as well as the role pupils must have in taking responsibility for their own learning and development, I would ask you to go through it carefully with them when they go live next Wednesday. They should reflect on the advice and targets and return to school with a clear idea of what they need to focus on in the term ahead.  
 
Next term starts on Monday 7 January and boarders should return in the evening of Sunday 6 January.
 
May I end by wishing you all a very Happy Christmas.


Mark Mortimer
@markd_mortimer

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Christmas Socks II

Spotlight

The Christmas Spotlight twinkles brightly on our sharp suit wearer,
Gareth Williams, Head of Academic Music

Gareth was a professional performing musician for over 25 years before turning his hand and piano to teaching. He worked as a session musician on albums, TV, was a Jazz pianist/organist, Musical Director for big bands, keyboard programmer, arranger, conductor and musical supervisor for West End and touring musicals. He has a fondness for sharp suits, Piccalilli and Monte Carlo. Read more

 

Warminster School
Church Street
Warminster, Wiltshire
BA12 8PJ
www.warminsterschool.org.uk

     
 
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