I spent Sunday afternoon on the eastern side of the Severn looking across to Wyedean from Old Down Country Park as my kids ran around in the sunshine. Apart from feeling exhausted at the end of this academic year and my first year as Head my thoughts on a summer’s day were on the week the school had just experienced in terms of witnessing the positive culture in action we know will take the school forward to where anyone involved in and supporting Wyedean knows where it can aspire to.
The PE department celebrated their successful girls in sports at the start of the week with their awards ceremony and Lily Crawley has been representing Gloucestershire in the U15 High Jump at the English Schools’ Track and Field championship in Gateshead. I sat in a very stuffy hall in central London on Tuesday with other heads listening to Sir George Berwick and officially beginning Wyedean’s partnership with Challenge Partners, the network that grew from the highly successful London Challenge. This is where Wyedean School needs to be right now in terms of an effective network of over 300 outstanding schools across the UK committed to school improvement, leadership and compelling teaching & learning. The Head of Bradley Stoke School and former Wyedean Deputy Head, Steve Moir, spent a morning with us on Thursday. Steve was impressed with the progress the school has made especially in terms of positive school culture and as we walked around we saw many good examples of challenge in learning of all students. Global Learning has been at the forefront of learning innovation for us as a school this year and it made me very proud as Head to see the school awarded Global Learning Partners ”Expert Centre” status by DfID this week. There was a very interesting article in the TES from the principal of UWC Atlantic College, John Walsmley, on the importance of global learning, echoing the belief and commitment we have to it as a school.
With a week that started with American partner schools marking the 240th anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence, a national NUT strike on Tuesday, Year 10 IT students visiting the Fairford air show and new Year 12s in for their induction week it was a pleasure to see the Creativity Festival week in Wyedean School as a central part of the school’s culture and belief in creativity in the curriculum. We were really fortunate enough to have had a performer from the West End musical “Wicked” spend several days with students in Masterclass sessions leading to a stunning performance on Thursday afternoon. All week long the school production of “Blood Brothers” ran and I got to see the final performance on Thursday evening. It was a mesmerising production and illustrated how much confidence and ability students in this school have in the creative arts. My thanks to Drama colleagues for their hard work on producing this play. The Creativity week finished on a high with the festival here on Friday evening and our community coming into school to celebrate with us wonderful learning and work their children produce. My thanks to all colleagues, students, governors and parents involved for making this festival happen. The Wyedean school picnic the previous Friday had already brought a summer feel to school as we entered these final weeks. A huge thanks to Angharad, Sara and Layla for these events. Lots of photos on our school Twitter.
I sat in my final Full Governors meeting for the academic year on Tuesday as we reviewed an extraordinary year in the life of the school as we move forward. This has lingered with me hence my thoughts drifting back to Wyedean on a Sunday afternoon across the Severn. My thoughts approaching the end of my first year as Head are that I am definitely pleased to see the culture of the school is one where everyone is valued and can contribute to improve all the time what we are doing to give our young people the very best in education. Still more to do though and we are planning for the next academic year around continuing to raise standards as part of our strategy but without the right culture in a school any plan remains dusty and abstract on a shelf. This week alone illustrated the power of the right culture and the right strategy working in tandem for the benefit of the students.