“The terminology of ‘a culture of high expectations’ is in itself complex and problematic, but any opportunity to explicitly raise expectations should be seen as a moral imperative”. Julie Smith, Director of Teaching and Learning, WyedeanSchool
It’s always good to have a long weekend with the Bank Holiday we’ve just had, but also it’s hard to believe we are now in May already and the countdown for Year 11s and 13s to go on study leave has entered the final few weeks in earnest. The sun shining today certainly gives a summer atmosphere around the campus. The focus on our commitment to compelling teaching and learning for all students at Wyedean School gets shared again this evening in Cardiff; at the kind invitation of South Wales TeachMeet our director of Teaching and Learning, Julie Smith, is presenting to Welsh colleagues on the innovations here at Wyedean. Julie’s recent blog contribution for UK Ed Chat highlights the drive and strategy we have to keep raising standards and expectations for all of our students. I am a huge fan of the Blunt Educator’s Twitter feed, and coming across this quote from April reminded me how important it was for all educators to remember it’s their moral imperative to use every opportunity every day to positively influence the pathways for all the students in our schools. It really doesn’t matter if it is a sunny Spring day in May or a wet Wednesday in gloomy November, the core purpose of a school is to ensure there is always a culture of high expectations to inspire students to learn more, to understand and access their world further and to develop all potential in a nurturing framework. That is the culture of Wyedean. For example, since the start of the new term last week, the brilliant Wyedean Gospel Choir have just won the regional competition to go forward to the national finals in Birmingham. This places Wyedean Gospel Choir amongst the 30 best nationally. Imagine the pride, the whole staff took in hearing that this morning at the end of staff briefing.
It was a pleasure to have former Wyedean student and a local entrepreneur, Neill Ricketts of Versarien, in school today at a careers event for Year 10 talking about his success in business, and inspiring students to think about where the skills, knowledge and understanding they are learning now could possibly take them in the future. Education is often erudite for good reasons but it cannot be in abstract and the best schools bridge this gap. I spent part of my day today working with the Assistant Principal and Director of Sixth Form, John Lane, on the enrichment programme for Post 16 and the careers developments for Sixth Formers. It is no wonder the Sixth Form is inundated with applications, and the curriculum is not narrowing down or excluding subjects for students to study post 16 such as Music or Maths.
The Wyedean Adult Community Learning programme gets underway this evening for the summer programme and this is such a rich element of not only supporting the local community but also the commitment to lifelong learning we have as a school.
Last week I was impressed with the commitment of the student leadership team, led by student president Matt Grindle, who represented the school in Chepstow at the WWI commemoration for Chepstow Victoria Cross hero Able Seaman William Williams who was killed at Gallipoli. A poignant reminder of what previous generations of people of this community have given to ensure young people today can enjoy the freedoms we often take for granted even in this uncertain world. These are the same student leaders who have continued to raise money and collect for Chepstow Food Bank this term. I often feel confident about the future knowing such strong moral leadership exists in our young people.
The school’s participation in the Carnegie/Greenwood reading scheme has got underway this week inspiring greater numbers of young people to read and develop further their passion for literature. There are two astonishing GB climbers at Wyedean, Finlay and Lyall Wood, who will represent the UK at four international climbing tournaments across Europe this summer. It is incredibly inspiring and both brothers epitomise the very best of our young people. The culture of Wyedean School makes you so proud as an educator every day.
Last week, Gwennan Jeremiah, the Vice Principal for the academic side of the school which includes teaching and learning as well as the curriculum, attended an ASCL conference in London looking at exciting opportunities for the future curriculum at Wyedean. Wyedean School is seeking to become an IB World School in 2018, and to offer International Baccalaureate programmes to our students. There are many reasons for any school to look at the IB, not least it’s global learning and curriculum but my central reason is the premise of IB, to look at what the student will become as a result of studying the programme at the end. How refreshing is that for an idea in education, and how exciting for educators, parents and students to look at education this way instead of through the narrow national prism of a politicised curriculum model. The IB learner profile is below. If only politicians were debating the merits of education from this perspective in an election campaign. You have to be an eternal optimist in education.
Finally, the English Learning Area are trending with#whyreadwyewrite throughout May, promoting creative and imaginative writing opportunities that don’t normally exist or happen in the confines and constraints of the formal curriculum. On the day that a former famous inspiring Wyedean student apologised to her fans on Twitter for killing Professor Snape, it seems appropriate that the next generation of writers are given the opportunity at Wyedean to alter their own future trajectories. I love this job.