☰ I'm pleased to be back

I'm pleased to be back

Posted on: May 17th 2010

I’ve had a pretty gruelling couple of weeks. My day to day workload is always pretty busy, but lately I’ve had to juggle that with various events and trips. I’ve visited a couple of schools within the last two weeks, first to have lunch at Lyonsdown in New Barnet. I know the Head there really well and she runs a lovely school. It was a great lunch too! It’s always good to get together with Heads in the area to share stories and ideas – we actually share a lot of the same kind of issues. I also visited a school in Wembley as part of my role on the Independent Schools Association board; it’s a nice small school with a committed Head. Visiting schools is always useful as I invariably pick up new ideas, and good practice we have here at Norfolk House is often reaffirmed.

I spent Monday and Tuesday of last week on a residential trip with our Form 4 pupils. It was great fun! We climbed, zip wired, abseiled and quad biked amongst other things. It was the most fantastic experience for our young pupils. They had great fun sleeping in dorms, but the boys got a bit of a shock when I popped my head round the corner at 5.45am after they had woke me up. In truth, I got off lightly – our pupils really were a credit to the school and themselves. I know this sounds clichéd, but they are incredibly polite and engaging, and I was thoroughly proud of the way they conducted themselves. They are also supportive of each other; they encourage and help. And if they weren’t sweet enough they all insisted on having a side bowl of salad with each meal! Every other school watched on in amazement.

I was back at school on Wednesday and I was then off to the annual Independent Schools Association conference in Bournemouth from Thursday through to Saturday. The theme of the conference was "Daring to be Different". I think i generally dare, so left feeling quite upbeat about what we do.

I had fun in assembly this morning. I set up the dinning hall to resemble the House of Commons and I re-enacted the results of the election. We spoke about the three major parties and the dilemma they all faced. The Lib Dem benches – quite literally – then swivelled around to join the Tories. I think the children found it interesting and hopefully informative. I’ve been thinking about the very positive way in which the politicians have handled the coalition agreement and I really do think it sets a good example to our pupils who are used to seeing politicians simply argue and shout. Major disagreements can be resolved with compromise.

I recently met with a lovely family at the school who have very generously made a substantial donation to our new library. I was really taken back by the offer and the interest they had in our pupils at the school. They believe very strongly in the importance of developing the minds of our young pupils so the books they are donating will be on fascinating subjects such as philosophy, politics and history. I would like to thank the family once again.

Mrs Gouws and I are off to Queenswood tomorrow to discuss our Sports Day arrangements. Queenswood very kindly hosted our Sports Day last year, and it was such a success that we were delighted to accept their offer to host it again this year.

Our school outfitters, Braggs, are visiting us tomorrow to discuss our school sports uniform. I’ve invited in the Chairs of the parent body to ask for their opinions. I think they in turn have asked for thoughts from various class reps. I’m hoping Braggs will bring in a nice selection of ideas to look at.

Finally, I’ve been working hard on ideas for the next academic year – this is very relevant as I’m about to start our staff performance management meetings. I ask all members of staff to complete a very detailed form outlining their aspirations, amongst other things, and my hope is that we can work together to help them achieve their targets. I think meetings like this are absolutely worth the investment (I normally spend around an hour with each person) – I pride myself on our motivated and hard working teachers, so I better make sure the office fixes my broken Nespresso maker!

Talking of our teachers, I’ve just come out of a really good staff meeting where we all looked at the same piece of writing from a Form 4 pupil. Our job was to define a level for the work using a defined criterion. Our aim is to have all staff (teachers and assistants) understanding the various assessment levels we use and having the ability to explain why the work is a particular level. Largely speaking we all agreed with each other. It was an engaging and productive session.

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