“Small minds are concerned with the extraordinary, great minds the ordinary” Blaise Pascal

The follow up to our school Open Evening on the 27th September has been overwhelming and there is nothing ordinary about choosing your child’s next secondary school even if for them it feels as such. I have spoken to a wide range of parents over the last week on their follow up tours around the school with Wyedean students and I have been immensely proud of the feedback comments about our young people as ambassadors for the school. We currently are working on the “Taster Days” from the 10th October to welcome for the day Year 6s from schools like The Dell, Thornwell and Undy to come and see the school working on a normal day. There is no such thing as a “normal day” in any school and they should all be extraordinary in the very ordinary things they do. I have had a number of extraordinary moments at Wyedean just in the last few days and none more so than being invited by the English Learning Area to have a celebration lunch with the Year 9s who were successful in their summer IGCSE examination. I am going to speak to the NPQH cohort of senior leaders at the Cabot Learning Federation on the 12th October and will certainly be using the examples of this half term alone of some of the great moments in this job as a Headteacher.

Thank you for all the emails and conversations about Show My Homework. As a school we are more than surprised already at the impact in learning, stretch and challenge, individual organisation and home support it is having as a key element of our approach towards effective digital media. The first half term of this academic year is nearly through and it is astonishing to think we are only a week and a bit away from the break. There are many things students can be doing to extend their learning and if it incorporates a walk outside in the autumn air even better. Living in the Forest of Dean and the Wye Valley, as many of our staff and students do, this should be the perfect excuse for a walk. There are a lot of studies around at the moment looking at wellbeing and mindfulness of both students and staff and the conclusions are not surprising about rest and work/life balance. As a parent I am very keen to ensure my children use technology in a constructive and positive way even if it does mean reminding them not to be using an iPad when we have a meal together. A report out this week looked at how teenagers were suffering from lack of sleep because they were addicted to mobile devices receiving messages and updates throughout the night. The technology cannot be dis-invented but we construct ways we can avoid the distractions of modern life and balance how we live with our phones and tablets.

I met with the school’s LGBT+ group on Friday to discuss some of the issues they would like to see addressed in the school this academic year. I know I am getting older (wiser?) because I reminded them when I first started teaching it was still the era of Section 28 when educators couldn’t even discuss LGBT+ issues. It was nice to see there is progression in society even if sometimes it didn’t feel as if there was. The leadership of students on issues like LGBT+ always impresses me and it has been commented upon constantly by the parents visiting Wyedean to see the school over the last few weeks.

The grammar school debate rumbles on with the Green Paper out for discussion and apart from a few emails asking me as Head about things like a House system introduction there are probably more important things to pay attention to in staffrooms and leadership teams up and down the country right now. I will leave the last word to former Head girl and Wyedean alumnus, Joanne Rowling. She tweeted recently in response to an article from education correspondent, Nicola Woolcock, supporting the reintroduction of a “grammar school ethos” in state schools: “Just for the record, the comprehensive (state school) I attended had four houses, too”. We did and it works very well still in schools like Redland Green Bristol where it supports students. Which is why we would look at re-introducing a possible House system at some point on the basis of a system of wider student community support and enrichment opportunity rather than an attempt to revisit yesteryear. And as an “ordinary” part of school life. Elvis aside, the 1950s were very overrated, according to my father.


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