Children, parents and Sir David Attenborough, let me assure you of something: even head teachers learn something new every day. Many a time have I seen the magnificent sight. But only in the past week did I learn why geese fly in that immaculate and disciplined ‘V’ formation.

It goes like this. Each bird takes his/her turn being in the front, and then falls back when he/she gets tired. In this way, geese can fly for a long time before they must stop for rest. Apparently, flying in formation helps with the communication and coordination within the group. That explains why fighter pilots – even the pilots of the Red Arrows – often use this formation. Like Lewis Hamilton, birds make the most of the slipstream effect. In formation or otherwise, even the most Spartan Canada goose must have thought twice about flying into Warwickshire this winter.

But we have all come through the worst that those west winds have thrown at us, and, like those intrepid geese, we are now determined to work together, taking our turn to be at the forefront but being quite happy to adapt to a subordinate role from time to time. We don’t necessarily have to honk to make ourselves heard. Instead, we have to learn to listen, to co-operate and to act as part of a formation. Or a team. This way, we will develop confidence, the sort of confidence that brings results in exams but, even more important, helps children to make friends in school.

A recent video released by Dr Ceri Brown of Bath University struck precisely this note. I attach the link below) Social and emotional security, the interaction between children and their teachers; the so-called ‘soft skills’: these are the ones that are important to parents who are looking for the ideal school. https://vimeo.com/247342386/5f2473d7d1

I like to think that at Blue Coat we are working very hard when it comes to pastoral guidance and care. This, I am sure, is responsible for the levels of assurance shown all the way through the school.

This week I enjoyed meeting a number of children in Year 1 to discuss school life and to have them show me the piece of work that they were most proud of! They were very articulate in their own special way. I look forward to meeting Year 2 next week.

On 17th January (next Wednesday) the Senior Leadership team are meeting with the Year 5 parents to discuss next schools. This is an opportunity for the school to guide parents and to ensure that your child thrives after BCS. As a staff we look at every child as an individual, discuss his or her key attributes and on that basis suggest which school will best help potential to be realised.

Looking at the wider picture, Damian Hinds, the new Education Secretary, looks likely to push for more Grammar Schools. Ideally, he will would concentrate on raising standards in the under-resourced maintained sector by lowering class sizes, but this will not be easy. I read last week that the number of applications for teaching posts has dropped alarmingly, by a third. Most would agree that the most valuable resource is the class teacher and his or her ability to inspire children.

Back on home ground, I enjoyed meeting a number of parents at the Pre-Prep information mornings. Mrs West laid out clearly the high mathematical expectations we have for the children no matter their starting points. We owe it to the children to give them the very best and in return the will acquire a thirst for learning.

Today and over the course of next week, a number of year groups will have Wow Days. These are designed to enhance the children’s knowledge in Humanities in a refreshing and dynamic fashion. I know that the children find them a great experience and they prepare them well for their studies.

To reiterate the start of term letter from Mr Wurr and Mrs Andrews, please keep an eye on the calendar for all the events taking place. Do come along and support your children. I would encourage parents to continue to join us for our Chapel Service every Friday. This is a lovely way to finish the week as a community. One event that I would ask you join us for is the Family Prayer Service – an opportunity for families to come together, to take time out of their busy lives and to reflect. Please do come along to this short Introductory Service on 23rd January at 4pm.

I need to inform you my PA, Mrs Unterhalter, is off poorly at present. Please bear with me with any emails sent to her account; I will try to respond within 24 hours. Any urgent queries for me should go through Miss Keeber or Mr Matthews on Reception. They will also be able to book appointments.

Last, but far from least, may I take this opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year and to thank you all for the kind wishes sent to my family over the festive break. It was greatly appreciated! With term now well underway, there is a real feeling of positivity and  purpose around the school. Have a great weekend and I look forward to seeing you at one of the many school events.

NOEL NEESON | HEADMASTER