Several times in recent years, I have been asked what I would like to be if I was not a Headmaster. I normally smile wanly, circumvent the question with political dexterity but then get a warm glow as I realise that in fact this is, without doubt, my ideal job.
Other people in my position appear to have more options at their disposal; this week Mark Mitchell, Headmaster of The Royal School Wolverhampton, delivered a talk on the biblical tale of Ruth and Boaz, which was as humorous as it was interesting. So humorous, in fact, that one of our Year 6 children was of the opinion that had Mr Mitchell not been a Headmaster he could have earned his living as a comedian. No pressure on yours truly then, as I take to the lectern and speak at Chapel next Wednesday! Joking apart, do please come along to any of our wonderful chapel services, and not just to the odd one when there is a Talking Head!
Before I take to the lectern, our boys and girls will be taking their exams for King Edward’s School and King Edward VI High School for Girls. Today and Saturday will, of course, be a challenging and testing time for all; we hope and pray for successful outcomes.
At School this week the staff have turned their collective focus on to developing our curriculum. We are focusing on assessment and planning, to ensure that we are challenging ourselves to meet the needs of all. Looking recently at the children’s books in mathematics, I am assured that quality comment marking and self-assessment techniques are a clear focus in the minds of the mentor and protégé. These techniques will ensure that children make the best possible progress in their learning.
This week the children also found time to complete their questionnaires on school life – a very productive exercise. I will be offering my response to the prep children during the next half of term. With regards to the parent questionnaire, I am working with Mrs Jenny Dredger (Marketing and Admissions Manager) to compile clear and transparent feedback, coupled with the School’s response to areas for development. I will share with you a comprehensive outline of the School’s academic, musical and sporting priorities for the coming year. I shall also outline future structural developments. This information will reach you early in December, once the Governors have ratified the document.
The constant flow of ABRSM certificates handed out in assembly underlines the commitment and ability of our children. I was amazed to hear that more than 250 children play at least one instrument here at Blue Coat. Meanwhile Mr Nicklin and Mrs Redfern have begun to make plans for the Chapel Choir mini-tour.
In drama, Year 4 is buzzing with excitement after the announcement of this year’s play – Shakespeare Rocks. Speaking of Shakespeare, Year 5 thoroughly enjoyed The Scottish Play workshop earlier this week. There is without a doubt an abundance of thespian talent on show across our School. Our choice of play will give the children a light introduction to the Bard, plus the chance to both ‘Shake a Leg’ and to ‘Break a Leg’ in one production. I can’t wait to see it!
The Blue Coat spirit was epitomized by all our children who took to the sports field this week. Talent aplenty and success too. The girls, who are improving weekly and developing more teamwork at all age groups, had another impressive set of hockey results. Next week our strong U9 squad prepare to take the field and I sure they will be a team to watch in the future with so many able sportswomen coming through.
Rugby wise, I was hugely impressed by the junior boys teams. They showed a great attitude and togetherness. The U11 A and B teams also played their opening matches this week against Eversfield. The passion and cohesion that they displayed was first rate. I was so proud of them all; their courage and conviction will serve them well.
It is of course our aspiration to be the number one prep school in all areas – academics, music, the arts and sport, and while I must not get ahead of myself, I believe that we have the potential to reach this goal. As mentioned in my comment piece for the Independent School Parent magazine recently, I believe in producing a well-rounded pupil with a curious mind.
I ask you again to persevere (like Ruth) and to support your child(ren) in achieving the high standards that we are setting here. Please continue to encourage them to go that extra mile; or – to change the metaphor – to reap the ripest possible harvest. Have a great weekend.
NOEL NEESON | HEADMASTER