“Education is not the filing of a pail, but the lighting of a fire” WB Yeats

We have come to the end of week three and thirty six more learning weeks to go; without the holidays.  Autumn is definitely here, not just from the lovely iconic scene out at the front of school on Thursday with some of the primary school students knocking conkers from the trees but also from the torrential rain, mists and cooler air this week’s weather has brought around the school campus. Saturday evening at Wyedean School saw the incredible school’s gospel choir perform for their 10th anniversary concert with a lovely mixture of past and present students singing their hearts out. What struck me most sitting in the audience listening to students talk about their love of the songs was the incredible confidence these students had speaking to parents and their community.  In the week that Jeremy Corbyn tried a different style of engagement at Prime Minister’s Questions and the rugby World Cup is about to get underway engaging the rugby world the week at Wyedean saw engagement of a different kind with the huge turnout on Thursday at the 6th Form Information Evening. I spoke to the 6th Form this week about something that had inspired and engaged me in my life and it was interesting to listen to the experiences of our Year 12s and 13 and what had influenced them to do the subjects they wanted to do and the university and career paths they are looking at following now.  I did respect the one student who paused for a moment and said “sir, I am 17 and to be honest I haven’t a clue but then I am hoping school gives me something to think about”.  Well, he is right.  School will be giving him plenty to think about as he goes through his A Levels.

I spent some time with Year 11 and the English Learning Area this week and was impressed at how all the students could tell me where they were in their progress and what they were studying and more importantly who they were currently reading!  A visitor walked with me around the school on Thursday and was struck by the innovation and engagement of the students in the school’s motorbike club, aka “Barry’s Bikes” after our long serving caretaker who gives his time to spend with these students each week.  The Leadership Team has been working through the wonderful educational acronyms of SIP, SEF, QA & PM as well as looking at the Aspirational 8 and Progress 8 targets – the latter where the awful “bucket” system of rating subjects (Yeats would be spinning) is now how we describe the curriculum. What has sustained me and my colleagues through the week though isn’t the thought of “filing buckets” but how the sparks of learning and opportunities are setting alight the individual imaginations of our kids be it the gospel choir, the inspirational literature, the new Mandarin lessons or the motorbike club.  I have made a mental note to ask the 17 year old A Level student in a few months if the school has indeed lit a few sparks of inspiration in his mind.  I hope it will.  One final thing on a Friday, is it England or Wales in the World Cup in this corner of the UK? A colleague has Fiji in the sweep stake so that answers that one for him at least.

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