It’s hard to believe that we are already at the end of the third week of term, although an awful lot has happened and the pace of life at school remains energetic! For me, since the last edition of Heads-Up, there have been three outstanding highlights. Last Friday the School hosted a gala dinner in aid of the charity, Walking With The Wounded. Well over one hundred guests enjoyed a wonderful evening, and I was delighted to welcome Ed Parker, the co-founder of the charity. He spoke eloquently about it and the work that it does to retrain wounded servicemen and women and help them find employment. What made the event particularly special was that it was entirely organised by Charlotte Brumby, a pupil in the Upper Sixth, as the assessed project for her Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), the equivalent of half an A Level. Charlotte also made a short speech – something that I know took her out of her comfort zone – and she will have learned much about her strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, the evening raised more than £7,000 for WWTW, a quite remarkable feat. We should all be very proud of her.
The second highlight took place earlier this week when we welcomed a musical ensemble from Wesley College, Melbourne to the School as part of their European tour. One of their teachers, Matt Stanway, used to teach here. On Tuesday evening, they firstly combined with many of our musicians for a mini-concert, before then performing alone for an hour in front of a packed TA Hall. On Wednesday morning, they entertained the prep pupils. The quality of music, the enthusiasm, the energy and the camaraderie was simply awe-inspiring and it was a privilege to witness it for those of us lucky enough to be in the audience.
As you know, the structure of the week has changed this term and it allows more time in the day for academic enrichment outside conventional lessons. One thing that we are very keen to develop is the idea of pupils teaching other pupils and so it was fantastic to walk around the School at the start of this week and watch sixth formers teaching other sixth formers, all without a member of staff in sight. The range of topics being taught was eclectic, and included Chinese, politics, ballroom dancing, piano, Latin, French, drama, and creative writing. It was evident that a lot of thought, care and attention had gone into preparing the lessons and the response of those being taught was enthusiastic.
In addition, we have celebrated the opening (by pupils) of the impressive new classroom block for Years 1 & 2, hosted a filmmaker producing a promotional video for the School, as well as a Ukrainian television crew, sent the Lower Sixth on a bonding weekend to Swanage and the boarding houses on a wide variety of trips and adventures. There has also been the usual host of sporting fixtures – I am delighted to report that there have been many cracking fixtures for teams ranging from the Under 8s to the girls’ 1st XI hockey team, the latter yet to concede a goal after three wins from three. Congratulations also to the boys’ Under 15 cricketers who played Marlborough College in the rescheduled final of the Wiltshire county cup. Although they lost, they competed hard and deserve much credit for making it to the final. I was also delighted that the School has had five boys chosen to represent the south-west region at hockey. There were only fifteen in total selected from the whole of Wiltshire, so the fact that a third of them are pupils here is most encouraging and testament to the development of the sport at the School.
On the subject of sport, last weekend we hosted our third annual U8/U9 hockey and rugby festival, an event that has already become an important fixture in the calendar of many schools. In all, twelve local prep schools participated and it was great to see the school so busy: in fact, we very nearly ran out of space in which to park cars! As well as witnessing and enjoying a lot of exciting sport, I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm for our school of many visiting parents, pupils and staff. As well as the sport, many of them commented favourably on the grounds, the atmosphere, the organisation (a particular thank you to Gay Butterworth and Jeremy Evans) and, as usual, the food. Three separate sets of visiting parents used the word ‘legendary’ to describe the reputation of our refreshments. A good thing to be famous for. The previous day there was another hockey festival at the School, this time for four local primary schools, organised entirely by a sixth form boy, Peter Tizard, as his EPQ project.
It was great to talk to many of you at the recent drinks reception laid on by the WSPA; I know that there was also a well-attended and (hopefully) fruitful parents’ reception in the Prep. As I have written, the Wesley concert was also popular with parents. As well as enjoyable occasions in their own right, these are also excellent opportunities for communication between home and school. May I draw your attention to another one. Next Thursday (29 September) at 7.30 p.m. we have the first speaker of the 2016-17 Thomas Arnold lecture series, Sir Hayden Phillips, a distinguished former civil servant and chairman of the National Theatre. More details may be found below.
Although we pride ourselves on the quality of our communication, it will never be perfect and there is always room for improvement. Hopefully, you know (and have communicated with) your son or daughter’s tutor, but please don’t hesitate to contact them, or you child’s Head of School, if there is something you wish to ask or clarify. It may be helpful to list the members of staff with overall responsibility for the relevant areas of school life:
Head of Pre-Prep: Gill Cross
Head of Prep: Philip Titley
Head of Lower School (Years 7, 8 & 9): Simon Rossiter
Head of Middle School (Years 10 & 11): Nia Davies
Head of Sixth Form: Tom Horler-Underwood
I look forward to the next few weeks.