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Tuesday, 22 March 2016

22 March 2016

I cannot believe we have reached the end of term.  With Easter being early this year it has felt a lot busier than normal as we have crammed a number of things in before the holiday.  I am sure many of us are looking forward to a well-deserved break.  At the end of each term we publish a School Newsletter celebrating numerous successes and news stories, so please look out for the Spring edition coming out tomorrow.  The term has ended with the School community once again coming together to illustrate its charitable nature.  At this point I wish to acknowledge the team of students and staff that took part in a sponsored Football-athon last week.  So many 6th Form students supported by a number of members of staff played football for 24 hours.  It was wonderful to see so many wanting to take part; some even spent the entire evening and night playing non-stop.  Many, many thanks to the organisers of the event and to the members of staff who gave up their evening, and their sleep, to supervise.  Well done to everyone and thank you.  In addition to the Football-athon, many members of the School took part in the MGS Sport Relief Mile enjoying a lap round the School field together, and I completed my Three Marathon Challenge.  Thank you ever so much to everyone who sponsored me; in total you raised over £2500.  A huge achievement.  Thank you.

Following the weekend's exertion I spent a day in London yesterday looking at how schools can build character amongst young people.  There is a lot of research out there suggesting that building character amongst young people can lead to improved mental resilience and toughness; and this is something that I personally wish to see develop at MGS.  The day's conference had a number of eminent guest speakers who shared their thoughts and ideas, alongside schools who provided practical advice on how they had built character.  I will be sharing my findings with the rest of the School community in due course.  Last week the Senior Leadership Team spent the week visiting a number of lessons in the Social Science Department: Religious Studies, Politics, Sociology, Philosophy and Psychology.  Just like the Science Review a couple of months ago these visits are nothing to worry about, they simply provide an opportunity to share good practice, praise the excellent work going on across the School and give teachers ...I visited two lessons myself, and I must say I was incredibly impressed with the academic rigour of the work and of the level of debate amongst the students. 

Tomorrow is the last day of term and it is now tradition at this point in the year we hear from the current School Captain and School Vice-Captain about their year in the roles.  Both Harry and Alex will speak to the entire school in the final assembly about their year, what they have enjoyed and what they have learnt about themselves.  At this point I wish to say thank you to both of them for their service since last April.  They have been a pleasure to work with I wish them all the best in their futures.  Have a lovely holiday and we'll see each other on the 11th April.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

15 March 2016

This week we have three main events that are all contributing to the School's support of Sport Relief.  On Wednesday a group of about 100 students and staff begin a 24 hour Football-athon.  From break time on Wednesday to break time on Thursday, a non-stop football match will be taking place in the Sports Hall.  On Friday, the start of the Sport Relief weekend, I begin my Three Marathon Challenge in which I cycle, row and walk a marathon on each of the three days.  Your support has been incredible, so much so that a total of over £2000 has been raised so far.  Thank you ever so much, and if you would like make a donation please click on the following http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MGSThreeMarathonChallenge . Also on Friday many students and staff join together to complete the MGS Sport Relief Mile.  Good luck to everyone involved and thank you in advance for your support.
On Friday MGS also play Oakwood Park in the annual rugby fixture at Aylesford Rugby Club.  This annual fixture is now a key date in both schools’ calendars; many students from both schools come along and enjoy not only the rugby, but also the opportunity to share some healthy banter! 

At the weekend a number of cadets from the CCF RAF Section competed in the prestigious RAF Air Squadron Trophy.  Maidstone Grammar School has had an excellent record in this competition winning the trophy 9 times and winning it over three consecutive years; the only school to achieve this.  This year we came 6th out of 17 schools; Dulwich College being the winners.  Well done to the cadets and thank you to the staff who have supported them throughout the year.

Also last Friday a number of students took to the stage and performed in one of the School's Band Evenings.  These evenings have become very popular over recent years, not only for the musicians amongst the student body, but also for their friends who see this as an opportunity to support their fellow Maidstonians and enjoy an evening out.  Thank you to the staff and students who performed and organised the event. 

Yesterday I chaired a meeting with the Parent Forum: a group of parents who act as my and the School's sounding board.  A number of matters were discussed: the new assessment arrangements, reports, the new building and pavilion projects and the House system.  Much of what we discussed will be shared in next week's end of term newsletter and in future parental evenings.  Thank you again to the parents who sit on this forum; giving up their time for the benefit of the School.


Wednesday, 9 March 2016

8 March 2016

Firstly I wish to thank Ms Alloy and all the staff who organised a very successful Hurricane House Extravaganza last Friday.  This was a new event and one that we hope to see across all Houses in the near future.  Many thanks also to the students who performed at the event and to the parents who came along to support.  We raised over £500 for Demelza House.

This week is yet another busy one.  I continue to meet a number of Year 11 students and discuss with them their choices for A-Level next year.  I thoroughly enjoy this aspect of my job as, even though it is only about 10 minutes, it is nice to give my undivided attention to one student and hear about them.  I will finish my meetings by the end of the week.
Also this week I have a number of other commitments including governor meetings, a meeting with Mr Patrick Leeson, the Corporate Director for Education in Kent, and spending time in the D & T and Business Studies departments.  This latter commitment is something I also enjoy doing; visiting lessons and talking with students about what they are learning.  This year I am visiting each department and spending a couple of hours in each one getting a flavour of what the students experience.  What I have seen so far has been excellent.

On Thursday the Year 7 students complete Day 2 of the BBC Schools Report.  I popped in to see Year 7 during Day 1 and they were all enjoying the experience and discussing a number of topical news issues that matter to them.  This week each group presents their news broadcast, and I get a chance to watch a select few perform in front of the rest of the year group. 
I wish to congratulate both the U18 and U15 rugby squads that took part in last week’s Kent Sevens Tournament.  The U18 squad reached the semi-final beating schools including Skinners’ and Chis & Sid, but then sadly lost to our old adversary, Judd!  The U15 squad went one better and reached the final of their tournament, but sadly came runners-up, an achievement not seen for over 10 years.  Well done to both squads, thank you to the staff that supported the boys, and good luck to all rugby squads next Friday when they play Oakwood Park!


Friday, 4 March 2016

1 March 2016

This week is an extremely busy one for me and the School.  Starting yesterday and for the next two weeks the Senior Leadership Team and pastoral leaders in the Upper School interview each and every Year 11 student about their thoughts and aspirations for the 6th Form.  It is vital that we understand their choices and how best to support them during the last few months before the GCSE examinations in the summer.  I hope the boys find the interviews helpful.

Parents of Year 8 this week receive their son’s GCSE recommendations: the subjects that both the boys wish to study and what we consider to be suitable for them.  This then forms the basis of the Academic Interview Day on Friday when all Year 8 parents are invited to come in to school and meet with a member of staff to discuss progress and GCSE choices.

On Wednesday we welcome Year 13 parents to attend their child’s parents’ evening; their last ever one.  There are only about 8 school weeks left before Year 13 leave us and begin their A2 examinations.  Keep working hard everyone. On Thursday this week is the Spring Concert.  Once again students from all year groups will be involved in performing a number of pieces from a variety of musical genres.  The concert begins at 7pm, so please do come along.

On Friday students and staff from Hurricane House launch a new event that hopefully will be part of the School calendar each year and be enjoyed by all Houses.  Hurricane House parents have been invited in to witness some of the talent that the House can offer, and I know that many of the students are excited about this opportunity.  Many thanks to the students and staff who are involved, and particularly thanks must go to Ms Alloy who has led the organisation from start to finish.  Sadly I will not be able to attend this Hurricane House event as I am travelling up to Oldham to visit a school to look at how they have been developing concepts of mental toughness and resilience amongst their student body.  Developing mental resilience is being talked about a lot within the education sector and many schools are now beginning to look at how they can develop such skills amongst their students.  It is important that every school addresses the need to prepare young people for their future; not just in terms of examination success and providing an all-round balanced curriculum, but also in terms of characteristics and skills that young people can draw upon in their lives.  The intention is to build a positive relationship with key staff at the Oldham School to share their knowledge and experience with MGS staff.    

 Finally I wish to congratulate Tom Lindsey and Joshua Gray both of Year 12 who have been appointed as School Captain and School Vice-Captain respectively for the following academic year.  Well done to them both.