Dear parents, carers, and friends,
There is a lot of talk about things getting back to “normal” in schools and elsewhere. Schools are often thought of, at least pre-Covid, as following an annual cycle with each year much the same as the last. I’m not sure that has ever really been true, and for students, staff and parents, this year feels very different to our recent experience.
Year 7 students have just returned from their trip to Ufton Court. They were so excited as they boarded the buses in the morning and were still buzzing on their return. They have missed out on so much over the last two years, and it was a delight to see them enjoying this opportunity.
The purpose of the trip is for the girls to develop friendships and esprit de corps in their tutor groups and to develop their problem-solving skills. We look forward to hearing all about it! A big thank you goes to Mrs Connor, the tutor team, and the other staff who have made this happen.
Extra-curricular clubs are most certainly back too. I was on duty at lunchtime today, and it was lovely to see girls engaged in lots of activities including textiles, board games and football. If your daughter is yet to sign up for a club, do look at the extra-curricular timetable and discuss with her what she might do. It is a great way to have fun and expand one’s circle of friends. Most of our Year 9 footballers were smiling today:
It’s the little details about coming back that sometimes surprise us. It’s been 18 months since we have regularly held assemblies in the school hall. Our students are brilliant at serving each other by taking turns to set the chairs out in the mornings. However, Year 7 and 8 haven’t done so before and the older students may have got a little out of practice. I have certainly had to remind myself about how we used to set up the hall, and how many chairs we need in each row!
This week, Mrs Martin (Assistant Headteacher and Safeguarding Lead) has been giving assemblies that have reminded us all that we need to look after ourselves and each other. She has reminded us of the importance of being kind in real life and online, and who we can talk to if we or others are on the receiving end of unkind or dangerous behaviour.
Speaking of assemblies, this week sees us celebrate Harvest together. Ahead of the COP26 summit, our Student Leadership Team will be talking to us about the positive action we can take individually and collectively to stem climate change and will remind us not to take what we have for granted.
We are really grateful to parents for your generosity in supporting our harvest appeal. Miss Pyle has supervised the collection of foodstuffs and toiletries in school, and we will ensure that they are distributed to members of our local community who are in need. We recognise that there will be those within our own community who might be struggling financially at this time. If you need help providing food for your family, we would be happy to point you towards organisations who can help.
The students seem to have been enjoying this warm September weather at break and lunchtime. As Mrs Pearce mentioned in last week’s blog, our new outdoor shelters are nearing completion. These will provide welcome, well-ventilated outdoor cover when the weather does start to turn. I know lots of you were involved in fundraising towards this project, so thank you!
I wanted to finish by mentioning some of our students who have made us very proud recently. Firstly, our Year 11 prefects have been brilliant in leading tours for prospective parents who are thinking of sending their daughters to us next year. We always say that our students are the best adverts for the school, and we have been tickled pink by the compliments paid to the girls by these visitors.
Secondly, many of our Year 13 students have been labouring away over the summer completing their EPQs. “What is an EPQ?” I hear you say. An Extended Project Qualification is an opportunity for our sixth formers to delve into independent study alongside their A levels and research or produce something that they find fascinating. It is great training for university, and also helps build a love of true scholarship. Having written essays or produced artefacts, they are now at the stage of presenting their work to staff and students in the coming days and weeks.
There certainly is some familiarity to the new school year. However, we are always conscious that each of our students is an individual who will only pass this way once. From our youngest students through to our oldest, there are always new things to learn, to share, to experience and to wonder at. That is why we want them to make the most of every opportunity to be kind, aim high and work hard.