I drove back through the Forest of Dean today from a meeting of Gloucestershire Secondary Heads. The sun was shining and it was just glorious. One moment in a room full of serious conversation regarding the new OfSTED framework and potential further funding cuts, the next driving through the glorious sunshine of the Forest with the colours of autumn everywhere. The back drop from crossing the old bridge at Brockweir and through the Wye Valley and Tintern lifted my soul. You can see why Dennis Potter called it a heart shaped land on a day like this. On Monday I looked across the Severn when I visited Woolaston Primary School – what views. Actually what kids and staff at that school. Chepstow was bustling on a Friday as I passed Wyedean students on a field trip with Geography walking through the town.
On Thursday Wyedean School opened its doors and saw its community come through in their hundreds, from both sides of the border. Staff, students and governors showed off our school as parents and carers of years 5 and 6 came to look at their next destination in their educational journey. And a rugby match for Wales on as well! And we won! Cyrmu am Byth! Now England need to beat the Aussies. I asked my wife what I should be saying in my first Open Evening speech as the new Head after 5 weeks. It was easy, this school cares for all of its students and wants the best for every individual. If parents and carers want a school that takes their children and gives them support and stimulating, compelling learning and opportunities – come to Wyedean. And Open Day is every day for anyone at this school. We have so much to see here. I walked around the Creative Learning Arts area this week and was amazed at the creativity and original ideas from students in music, drama and art. I wrote to staff after Open Evening saying I was bursting with pride at the leadership and confidence of our students supported by the dedication and hard work of our professional staff.
The faith in the school and the strong foundations here have been rewarded with Wyedean School being chosen as only one of a handful of schools in the South West to work this year directly with the South West Regional Education Commissioner, Sir David Carter, on his group of schools working to become outstanding. This is an incredible accolade for the school and the staff as we continue to strive to deliver and develop World Class C21st learning here. The OfSTED meeting on Monday in Cheltenham was to look at how we should be working on progress for students as we shape as a school our curriculum and qualifications without capricious fads.
My Year 10 Critical Thinking group met with me on Thursday for our lesson and we looked at what we would need for an isolated existence other than food, shelter and water. The students all talked about stimulus for their minds. It was an enlightening discussion and refreshing to hear them say they would need to keep their minds active and to be engaged with the natural World. I mentioned Henry Thoreau living isolated in the woods in a cabin in Massachusetts to stimulate his senses for his writing. Not many of them fancied this for 2 years but wanted to get into the Forest of Dean this weekend, especially for the Forest Food and Drink festival this Sunday. I am going to take my wife and daughters. The festival of autumnal abundance and harvest bounty made me give another push to the school’s Harvest Festival support of Chepstow Food Bank appeal (see our school Twitter) this week. So with the sun shining and our heart shaped land looking at its best in autumn I finished the week looking at the plans for the school’s International Christmas Market on the 9th December. How long until Christmas? Staff are definitely smiling after this week in school.