Friday, 24 June 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 23 June 2016

The big day has finally arrived  - all the planning, the organising, the advertising, the fund-raising, the cajoling, the implementing – yes, today is the Macmillan Charity Day which took place this afternoon where the school raised vital funds for our partner charity, Macmillan Cancer Support (Douglas Macmillan MBE was an Old Sexeian) and the students had a brilliant time. The school was turned into a village summer fete with the Vicar of Bruton in attendance and traditional fayre games being the order of the day, from skittles and hook the duck to splat the rat and a coconut shy. Lots of money was raised as well as for a Leukaemia Charity (organised by Ryan Aldworth and his year group) and my sincere thanks go to Mrs Frost, the staff and Macmillan Cancer for getting involved and putting on such an excellent fund raising activity – again bringing our school community together to help those in need. It astonishes me how much we do as a school to help those less fortunate than us and it goes to show our values of tolerance, respect and kindness are inherent in all that we do. We said farewell to our Y11s yesterday at an entertaining and emotional Leavers’ Service and BBQ and we wish them well in their future endeavours (some still have exams this week and next) and we look forward to seeing many of them back in our 6th form in September. They have been a mature and talented year group (the Y11 Yearbook is just one example of this) and will be remembered with great fondness and affection.

We have also had considerable success in various sporting fixtures this week with an emphatic win over Taunton School by our U15 cricketers and U14 and U15 tennis at Milton Abbey – students enjoying their sport (when the weather holds up of course!) and developing in confidence and character. Huge congratulations also to Georgia Silcox (L6 Long Jump) and Caitlin Carnegie (Y11 1500m) who won their respective events at last weekend’s County Championships and will now represent the school and Somerset at the National Finals next month. What makes this achievement even more astounding is that this has been achieved with the back drop of public exams and I am so impressed with these two individuals and other students who work hard and play hard. We wish them every success possible. We have had even more success this week with Caroline De La Harpe (Y10) being awarded Silver in the Big Boarding Bake Off at Eton College – a tremendous feat (we were the only state boarding school in the final) and we look forward to tasting some of her creations shortly.  

We have the Glastonbury Exeat over this long weekend and I hope families will enjoy the extended time together, whether that be at the Festival or not, and if indeed you are braving the mud fest, I hope you have a great time. The Glastonbury Festival is part of the fabric of Somerset, part of the county’s DNA and brings so much to the local economy. But more importantly for bringing the performing arts, in all its shapes and sizes, to life. This cultural benefit should not be underestimated and we as a school will continue to support the Festival in any way we can and we wish Michael Eavis (whose grandson attended Sexey’s) and his team the very best this weekend (I do hope the weather is kind!). And speaking of performing, we wish Adam Wagstaff (Y7) all the best as he represents Sexey’s at the Big Boarding Choir this weekend in London. He will certainly be singing for his supper!

I also cannot ignore the significance of today, as today will go down in history. It is so rare that we as a country, as a generation, will have such an important decision to make today - to vote on our future in Europe in this historic referendum. Today's vote will have profound implications, not just for us in the UK but potentially could change the political landscape of a whole continent by breakfast time tomorrow morning. Will I be having toast or croissant with my tea? The planning, organising, advertising and debate over the past four months is now over. It's time to take a deep breath and to pick up that stubby pencil.... 

And by the way, congratulations to all the British and Irish teams for staying in Europe (Euro 2016 football that is!)

Monday, 20 June 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 17 June 2016

Joy and jubilation filled our hearts yesterday, as our national football team remembered how to play the beautiful game against our Welsh neighbours! The school community came together for this rare match which embodied everything about our British values. And before the match the students learnt about the value of sport and its place in society and for me, the most poignant part of this community event was when all the students (Y7 to U6) got up and sang the National Anthem with great pride and gusto, with no prompting at all. At 90 minutes I was getting ready to pour out my lament, recite Dylan Thomas and share recipes of leek pie, but instead we can now head into this wet weekend full of optimism and pride. And speaking of football, two of our talented footballers, Harrison McNairn and William Howarth are at a Tottenham Hotspur training day, perfecting their skills and learning from Premier League coaches – potential England players one day? This weekend, we wish Caitlin Carnegie (1500m Steeplechase) & Georgia Silcox (Long Jump) the very best as they represent Sexey's & Somerset at the South West Schools’ Championships in Exeter; Georgia will also be captaining the Senior Girl’s Somerset Squad – a huge responsibility and testimony to Georgia’s leadership skills. The Y9 boarders arranged a Sexey’s Fashion Show this week and tonight sees the first of our Leavers’ events, the much anticipated 6th Form Ball at the Haynes Motor Museum, where the U6 will bow out gracefully and reminisce about the highs and lows they have had whilst being a part of the Sexey’s family – it will be a wonderful occasion and I look forward to spending time with the next generation of leaders in our community and beyond.

However, yesterday we learnt of the horrific death of Mrs Jo Cox MP who was brutally murdered in her constituency in West Yorkshire whilst carrying out her regular surgeries with the people she represents. She was a compassionate MP dedicated to serving her people and ‘believed in a better world which she fought for every day'. At one point yesterday, we had a community made up of many colours, creeds and faiths coming together celebrating and rejoicing and the next moment we had a community, again of all colours, creeds and faiths coming together to mourn the loss of a loved one. Community is so powerful and we must embrace all that are part of our community. The husband of Mrs Jo Cox has urged people to "fight against the hatred that killed her" in the wake of her death and I hope through education and our values of tolerance, respect and kindness, we will all do this  - to make our communities safer places for us all.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 10 June 2016

For the next five or so weeks the sounds of Europe as well as its many national anthems will be ringing in our ears as the Euro 2016 Football Championships kicks off in France tonight. The EU referendum debates will be hotly contested too, much like the numerous football matches, as the 23rd of June fast approaches. The morning of Friday the 24th could be a very different UK by then as could the US in a few months’ time when the first female presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton takes to the campaign trail. The world is changing every day and we as a school need to adapt to these changes and equip our students with the life skills that they will need to cope with this ever changing world. Our mission statement resonates this - ‘Teaching boys and girls to think intelligently, act wisely and be fully engaged in a challenging and changing world’.

With the untimely passing of the greatest sportsman that has ever lived, Muhammad Ali, sport takes centre stage yet again. It wields a lot of power and influence in bringing people and communities together. It is certainly powerful and this football tournament heralds the start of a glorious summer of sport – with the US Open Golf championships, Test cricket against Sri Lanka, England vs Australia in rugby, the climax of the F1 racing season and Wimbledon just around the corner; it’s going to be a busy time for us arm chair sports enthusiasts and the remote control. This week saw over 50 of our students compete in the Yeovil Athletics championships with many of them surpassing their personal bests and finishing in the top 3, testimony to their hard graft, training and work ethic; something we saw during last term’s very successful Sports Day – thank you again for your support. Sport certainly is powerful and as I hear the preparations being made for the Race for Life event which takes place after school on Friday 1st July and is being organised by one of our Y10 prefects, we are fortunate that we have the opportunity to play, enjoy and witness sport at all levels.  Good luck to all those doing DoE this weekend across the Mendips, let’s hope the weather is kind.

As I settle down this evening to watch the opening game of the Euros, and over the next month or so follow with intent the progress of England (managed by the former English teacher Roy Hodgson), I wonder if this will indeed be like the summer of 1996, or even that of 1966. With the EU referendum looming ever closer and the noise and division it is creating on both sides, I hope this sporting event in Europe will bring people and communities together – solidarity and a unitedness which is very much needed at this time. On aside; after 60 years of hope, is this going to be England’s year? Or like Leicester City, will it be Wales? Nothing is impossible.