October 2013 Half Term Blog

The Senior School Prize Evening at the Town Hall always provides a focal point for reflection and review on recent events at our school. Yet again, we are able to celebrate some excellent GCSE results with some outstanding individual success and 46% of all grades at A or A*. Our Mathematics results once again led the way and another year of 100% of the Year 11 cohort achieving A* to C Grades provided a fitting end to Mr Langley’s tenure as Head of Department. The fact that we have a mixed ability entry and focus upon each child achieving their best possible outcome inevitably makes a comparison of results easy. The tracking of pupil performance and individualised targets does allow us to look at each year in terms of our Value Added Scores; that is the actual performance against what the children are likely to achieve elsewhere using standardised data. I am delighted that our Value Added Scores compare favourably with other years and emphasise the progress that we are making in developing the teaching and learning at our school.

This term we welcomed a Cognita Review Team to assist in preparing us for the inevitable Ofsted visit that is soon to come. Our pupils certainly made a positive impression as they were highly commended for their impeccable behaviour and excellent example for each other. All of the Review Team agreed that the school offers an outstanding learning environment; full of happy, enthusiastic and hard working children and staff.

Improving the learning environment is a constant theme at the school. The newly refurbished Chemistry Lab and the Early Years Rainbow Room provide evidence that we are working to enhance the surroundings for all sections of the school community. The introduction of three new Peripatetic Music Rooms has already generated greater interest in instrumental music and I have been delighted to hear of the progress of our Orchestra and music groups, should your child be interested in joining any of the music lessons on offer please click here for the application form. The temporary Pre-Prep classrooms have been warmly received and the building plans remain on schedule. Parents and pupils should notice the changes when they return from the October half-term.

The work on the Performance Garden and the new Reading Corner outside the North Porch are also scheduled for completion before the sunny weather arrives. This will provide some excellent areas for outdoor learning, outdoor recreation and outdoor performances. Plans for developing Outdoor Education within the Senior School have been incorporated into the Games programme and children will now have the opportunity to go climbing, canoeing and mountain biking, there will be a letter sent home shortly outlining the full programme. With more students that ever opting for the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze and Silver Awards, and having visited our new Year 7 students enjoying their weekend at Lakeside in Windermere and heard tales of the learning and fun of our Year 6 cohort at Cranedale, we can safely say that opportunities for personal development, teamwork, and a lifelong appreciation and enjoyment of activities in the outdoor environment are considered extensive and wide-ranging.

The new 3G Astroturf pitch provides an excellent venue for our football training as we have enjoyed moving our Games afternoons to the impressive Leeds Road Sports Barn facilities. Football tournaments have already been planned and our netball teams have made a positive start in the Independent Schools League and Pennine Sports Partnership competitions. Plans are already at an advanced stage for the Prep and Senior School sports tours next term, whilst we are all looking forward to a prominent showing at the Cognita UK Swimming Gala at Bletchley in November. The School has now joined the English Schools Equestrian Association and will be entering individuals and teams in show jumping competitions. With the Tour de France visiting Huddersfield this summer, I am sure that there will be other events for riders of a different kind.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the parents that took the time to attend the recent Parents’ Viewpoint meeting where the spokeswoman Mrs Halton gave a full and detailed account of the comments received from parents this term. The key points of the meeting can be found by clicking here; if you would like to see a more detailed version please do contact the school office for a copy.

Last week I watched the Head Boy and Head Girl of the Prep School deliver a lovely Harvest Assembly to their peers. The assembly was so good that this week they delivered a repeat version for the Senior School. It is at times like this, as with the traditional start of term pantomime, that you really get a feeling for the community spirit and support that runs right through the school. In this spirit, the School Council voted unanimously to introduce Halal meat for one day every two weeks to allow their friends to join with them for our curry lunches, whilst that same community spirit saw them vote for a return of fish and chips on a Friday as this was voted their favourite meal by the children in Kindergarten.

This week I enjoyed lunch out with the Head Boy and Head Girl at the venue they have selected as for the Summer Term Prom. It was a great pleasure to hear them talk so affectionately of their school and all that it has offered them. It was also wonderful to hear their own ideas for a Prefects’ Movie Themed Night for Preps and Pre-Prep, a Prefects’ Concert for Charity, and a School Environment Day where they will work to create a Senior Recreation Garden at the rear of the Senior Building. We clearly have a very exciting future ahead of us all.

I do hope that everyone has a restful October half term. The second half of the Autumn Term includes a wealth of educational, exciting and enjoyable events for all ages. An information leaflet outlining these events will be sent home during the first week back at school.

Regards

Tim Hoyle

Headmaster

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