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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Tuesday 5 July 2016

 Firstly I wish to apologise that I was unable to update my blog last week; I was accompanying a group of students in the South of France on the PGL water sports activity as part of Extended Learning Week.  Since returning to school yesterday I have heard nothing but positive comments from students and staff about their own experiences last week.  Once again we have seen another successful Extended Learning Week, a week that so many students and staff look forward to.  Seeing students from different year groups mix over an activity they would not normally do is a delight.  The week is incredibly tiring and a lot of work goes on behind the scenes to ensure its success, but it is all worth it.  Thank you to everyone who took part, particularly to the former students and parents who volunteered their time to support the week.  During the same week Year 12 spent the time taking part in some work experience; placements that they had organised themselves.  I hope the week was valuable and helped shaped the many thoughts that students have in determining what they want to do in their futures.  School returns to some form of normality this week, but with the end of term looming there are a few events that are coming up.  Wednesday this week we see the outgoing Year 13 students attend their Leavers' Prom at Leeds Castle.  It is the last chance that the year group come together before they all disappear off for a well-deserved summer break.  We look forward to saying goodbye to them tomorrow.   As we say goodbye to one year group we say hello to another.  Thursday this week we welcome the Year 6 boys who will be joining the School in September.  They spend the entire day in school attending the Year 6 Induction Day; an opportunity to meet their form tutor, meet new friends, and see what is to come next year.  Part of that day is to attend the whole school assembly which is poignant this year as we will be, as a school, acknowledging the 100th Anniversary of the start of The Battle of the Somme.  Over these four years from 2014 to 2018 we are acknowledging key dates from WWI, and The Battle of the Somme is one of those events.  Sadly a number of Old Maidstonians lost their lives during the battle and so it is right that we properly remember them.

This week I continue meeting each class from Year 7 to year 10 to discuss with them a number of exciting changes that they will see over the next few years.  To date I have spoken with 16 out of the 24 classes, and generally the response has been positive.  As I said in my letter to parents about three weeks ago, parents will hear more about these changes at the beginning of the academic year from September, but it is important that the students themselves hear about the changes and be given an opportunity to ask questions that I can then answer.  Understanding change is so important, and this is what these sessions are intending to do.  I will have finished meeting all classes by the end of next week before Lower School Speech Day.  Despite the letter that was sent out last week regarding today's industrial action by the NUT members, I wish to again express my frustration with the action taken and the impact that it has created.  Asking some students to remain at home and having to cancel tonight's Year 10 Parents' Evening were decisions not taken lightly but sadly were necessary.  I am continuing to discuss with staff how we can rectify the situation particularly with regards the Parents' Evening, and should be in a position in the next few days to inform parents of Year 10 how we are going to do this.  Once again I deeply regret being in this position; it is incredibly frustrating that our hands were somewhat tied.