“We know what we are, but know what me may be”

I was able to take my family to the Forest Festival on Sunday near Coleford at the kind of invite of a parent of students at Wyedean. The sun was shining and the colours of the Forest around the festival ground gave the day a lovely sepia feeling.  My daughters didn’t do too well at the turnip throwing competition but last year’s champion, “Bread”, sent a nice message over the school’s Twitter afterwards.  It was good to see so many students from the school helping at the Festival and with their local community.  I even managed to take in the steam railway at Parkend on the way back.

It was a delight to welcome the former Headteacher, John Claydon, into Wyedean School on Monday.  John was Head from 1990 until 2005 and there were plenty of colleagues who remembered John and loved seeing him back.  I visited St Briavels primary school on Monday afternoon and was just bowled over with the views from the playground looking down on the Wye Valley.  The learning and atmosphere there was pretty impressive too.  The week has seen a constant flow of parents and year 6s walking around and seeing the school working following the open evening. It’s been interesting to take questions about education from a national policy point of view from a lot of parents.  We have the Rt Hon Mark Harper MP in next week so maybe I will raise a couple of things with him as he sits in Cabinet.

The school’s cycle of looking at learning and progress is well under way and colleagues have been looking at lessons, learning and the work students produce as a focus.  I walked around the Applied Learning Area this week which was a great experience to see a range of subjects from Computer Science, Design Technology, Food Technology and Business producing some really compelling learning. The sophisticated use of digital learning was particular impressive.  School leaders looked at a really clever App in the Leadership Meeting on Thursday as a way of having a “Wyedean School” App that can help with better home communication with the school.  The Year 11s had their information evening on Thursday and colleagues worked with parents and students in ensuring the students have a plan of action and support for the year.  We are talking about “war boards” in leadership at the moment as we get to grips with the new Progress 8 measurement (another question perhaps for Mark Harper) and sometimes in education it does seem like you are preparing a military strategy. It’s why the talk of Christmas trees and the International Christmas market on the 9th Dec took my mind off OfSTED and government educational policy and back to the wonderful enrichment of whole school life. It was interesting to see how many students and staff could quote their favourite poets on National Poetry Day.  We tweeted a particular nice take on Philip Larkin’s poem, “This be the verse”. Yes, THAT one.

So week 6 ends and half term is a little over 2 weeks away.  Halloween and Bonfire Night still to come. The school’s Harvest Festival appeal for Chepstow Food Bank is in full swing and many thanks to all who have donated already.  Still time to donate. No mention of the rugby only to say if Wales need Mr Jenkins and Mr Thomas to plug the injury gaps against the Aussies we can let them go for a fee, a large fee.


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