Headteacher Weekly Bulletin 07.12.18

Good afternoon.

A day of playing catch-up today as I’ve been out at a conference in Birmingham with Mr Fenwick for two days.  There is so much going on in the wonderful world of education that it is crucial that we as a school keep abreast of things.  One has to be selective, however, of the events / meetings one attends as the priority lies very much back in School.  There have been times when I have returned from courses with a sense of extreme frustration and irritation having concluded that they were a complete waste of time and failed to deliver what was promised.  This was certainly not the case over the last two days at the annual SSAT conference entitled ‘Pure Imagination’.  As the title suggests, the principal focus was the theme of creativity in schools but I also took away some thoughts on building resilience, KS2-3 transition, how to reach those less engaged students and their parents and even the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in a school context. 

I was particularly impressed with key note speakers Will Gompertz (the BBC’S Arts Editor), David Lammy MP and Priya Lakhani (former AGSG pupil and barrister and now ‘social impact’ entrepreneur) and what they had to say on some of the themes mentioned above.  All three very much worth a listen.  Amanda Spielman, Chief Inspector of schools, somewhat less so.  Let’s hope she doesn’t read this bulletin or we might get a visit next week.

There were also some outstanding student performances ranging from a primary school choir who sang three songs in Mandarin to a truly inspirational 16-year-old girl who first told her story of how at the age of 14 and then again at 15 she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, survived but, inevitably, cannot have children, then performed her GCSE grade 9 self-choreographed dance piece which was a depiction of the cancer cells in her body.  Wow!! Not a dry eye in the house and what a young lady and what a dancer!  She spoke about how she would not have got through the experience without the help of three of her teachers in particular.  Teachers are so often more than mere experts in their subject area and imparters of knowledge. 

Regardless of the specific take-aways from the conference, I came away once again with the overwhelming feeling of privilege; the privilege that it is to be a Headteacher and particularly Headteacher of Wellington.  The privilege but also the huge weight of responsibility we have in education to make a difference, and there were countless examples of that over the last two days.  You know I am petrified at the mere thought of complacency and, although we are doing very well here at Wellington, there is always so much more we could do.  The key is selecting exactly which bits of others’ good practice we wish to ‘magpie’, tweak and implement here.  To that end Mr Fenwick and I will be catching up today to compare notes and plan ahead.  I believe the Japanese call it ‘kaizen’.

Great to have Mr Harrison (Head of REP) and Miss Hennessy (Head of Geography) join us on day 2 of the conference, invited by the SSAT as part of the leadership course they have recently embarked upon.  I have no doubt that, as two colleagues in the early stages of their leadership journey, they will have the same sense of privilege and the levels of passion and enthusiasm as I have in 20 years’ time.  After all, it’s that kind of profession; it hooks you and then consumes you.

Inevitably, I’ve been a bit out of the loop this week as a consequence of our trip to Birmingham.  Monday and Tuesday were a bit mad beforehand, trying to clear my desk and get ahead.  Tuesday was particularly manic; interviewing all day, mock Oxbridge interview with a Year 13 student period 5 (fingers crossed), rugby fixture at Sale FC after school with Year 8 (opposition didn’t turn up but I won’t name and shame) and then an EGM at my rugby club later that evening!  Quite frankly, I was glad to get on the train to Birmingham at 6.39 the following morning for a rest.

Looking at this week’s contributions from colleagues, it seems that the girls have been very busy with reports of dancing, cheerleading and netball.  Well done to all the girls who took part in any of these activities but I note the 3rd place finish (a big improvement on last year) of Mrs Warburton’s Year 8 netball team in the Trafford league.  A great effort.

Well done also to the Year 7 boys’ basketball team and also to all the ‘linguists of the term’ as announced by Mrs Williams and her team in MFL.

We’ve just had an almighty downpour and I hope that’s not an indication of this weekend’s weather, especially as I’m due to play rugby again tomorrow (foolishly).  You may recall that I played my first game in 18 years back in October (just about recovered) and the (clearly rather desperate) Warrington 3rd team have called upon my services again for an encounter with Congleton tomorrow.  I have said a provisional yes but, given the weather, a pint watching the local derby between Bowdon and Altrincham Kersal may be the better option. 

I got back from training with my son’s team last Sunday to find the Christmas tree had been bought and decorated and stood majestically in the front room.  There’s that oft-heard debate, isn’t there, over real or artificial tree; we seem to have taken a ‘collective’ decision in the Beeley household to have both, in fact 1 of the former and 2 of the latter!  I was assured the two artificial ones were brought down from the attic and so incurred no additional cost!  I shall be checking my current account.  To be fair, the girls have made a grand job of it and with the Christmas Fair two weeks ago, the Christmas decs going up, a walk round the Christmas markets in Birmingham on Wednesday night, Christmas lunch in School next Wednesday and the Carol service pending on the 17th December, I’m in full festive flow!

The Year 11’s may not yet share my enthusiasm with three more days of mocks to go but there is light at the end of the tunnel. 

Anyway, got to dash so have a great weekend and don’t go too OTT with the Christmas ‘spirit’!

S Beeley