Headteacher Weekly Bulletin 10.02.17
Perhaps we might spare a thought, first of all, for the staff and students on the ski trip who finally arrived at their hotel in Vermont a full 27 hours or so after leaving Wellington! The delay was due to flight cancellations from Heathrow to Boston following heavy snow fall in the States. At least there’ll be plenty of the white stuff for them. Of course, I extend my sympathies to the travellers for this huge inconvenience but, I have to be honest, any sympathy is tempered by the unadulterated jealousy I am feeling. This is a fabulous opportunity for the students and I hope the rest of the trip passes without incident; well, at least of the negative sort.
Lots of sport again this week; every Year group except Year 11 involved in some form of fixture across six different sports by my reckoning. As you will read, it hasn’t quite been the triumph of last week for the girls (it would be hard to match those feats) but still more than a modicum of success. Year 7, 8 and 9 boys all won their rugby fixtures, the latter a new venture; a Rugby League fixture against BTH N.B. there is no report for this as Mr Higginson is on the ski trip but well done nonetheless to the boys involved. The Head at BTH, Mr Cornally, is a huge Huddersfield Giants rugby league fan, so I will take great pleasure in discussing this victory with him next time our paths cross. Great result for the Year 8 basketballers again considering they are playing joint Year 8/9 opponents.
Inter-form sport is always a hugely popular and competitive thing at Wellington and so it was this week with 7LWN ultimately taking the spoils in the basketball tournament. Thanks as always to Miss MacGlinchey for her meticulous planning of these events.
The only sports’ results I’ve not heard this week are from the Staff v 6th Form charity matches. I can only assume it was an ignominious outcome for the adults in involved! As long as it raised some money, that’s all that matters.
Just a reminder, whilst I’m on the charity theme, Sponsored Walk takes place on the first Friday after half-term (24th Feb) and we are currently selling very reasonably priced Kidscan (this year’s chosen charity) merchandise outside the Vale Hall each lunchtime (wrist bands, pens, t-shirts etc). Please encourage your sons and daughters to spend any spare pennies they may have; every little bit helps.
I’ve mentioned in previous bulletins that out 6th Formers are helping to maintain the close link with our friends at the Teenage Cancer Trust after the £41,000 we raised on sponsored walk day last year. The ‘Runway on the Runway’ fashion show takes place at Manchester Airport on 31st March and rehearsals are progressing well (if a little tense at times). In addition to this, the 6th formers have been granted a permit to hold a bucket collection in Altrincham on Saturday 18th February. If you are in town, please look out for them, say hello, smile and give generously!
You will have read about the Holocaust Memorial event at Trafford Town Hall in last week’s bulletin, and commemorations continued in School for HMD on Monday. Please take a few moments to read Mr Gerschler’s piece about our guest speaker Tomi Komoly, a holocaust survivor. I was again unable to see the performance of Erika’s Story by the Year 9 cast but hear that it was as equally moving and well-received by the audience as the previous occasion at the Town Hall (please see more feedback received from that event below).
I do honestly believe our young people are extremely blessed with the level of support and guidance they receive from the ever-willing staff of Wellington School. We do whatever we can to assist them with their studies, develop them into confident, self-aware young people who want to succeed and ‘make a difference’ and steer them on the right course for the future. It is pleasing to read, therefore, about the Army and Apprenticeship drop-in sessions this week and also the Year 13 History visit to the University of Manchester library. Our students are more than capable of making informed choices and I am confident we give them sufficient quality information on which to base these choices.
Our 6th Formers have excelled themselves on a number of occasions this week, initially on Tuesday on an REP trip with Mr Harrison to hear the thoughts of renowned speaker on ethics, Peter Vardy. Read more in Mr Harrison’s report. It sounds like our Year 12s played an active part in discussions which is always pleasing to hear. Similarly, Year 13 seem to have excelled themselves in Mrs Stephens’ A level RE lesson this morning when God was put on trial in front of a jury of several members of staff. I believe the students were outstanding, displaying ‘the very best of Wellington’, according to colleagues present. Their level of intellect and their oratory and persuasive skills were something to behold. Finally, we are holding a Year 12 ‘Life Skills’ day today and from what I can gather from Mr Cropper, Mrs Copeland et al, the speakers have been informative and inspirational and the students have responded exceptionally well. The value of this sort of input really cannot be over-estimated. I’m sure a report from Mr Cropper will be forthcoming. Well done 6th Form! Let’s hope they carry this form into their mocks during the first week back.
Just a word on exam preparation and workload of students generally. Inevitably, we challenge our students and have high expectations of them but, in a world where mental health issues among young people have increased exponentially, we also endeavour to provide a balance and offer the support necessary for those who might find their adolescence and especially the challenge of public examinations somewhat stressful. Parents and family members have, of course, a huge part to play too, in terms of managing expectations, workload and the resultant anxiety levels. Yes, we want our young people to fulfil their potential in an enormously competitive world but at the expense of their health and well-being? I think not. And I say this openly and honestly as a Headteacher with performance tables, accountability measures and, of course, Ofsted casting a permanent shadow over schools. Nothing matters more than a child’s health, happiness and welfare. If we can assure these things, then academic success will follow. I do ask for your support at home and would ask that you consider how much pressure you may be putting your son or daughter under. I’ll explain why I say this; it concerns me enormously when I speak to young people in mentoring sessions, in lessons or in conversations on the corridor or the yard and they tell me from time to time (granted only a small number) about parental expectations which they feel are unattainable, hours expected to work beyond what the School would expect and the use of tutors to supplement what the School may provide. I am not in the business (unless absolutely necessary) of lecturing people on their parenting skills nor is this brief commentary any indication of a lack of aspiration for our students, but we are pretty adept at preparing young people for those crucial milestones in their lives and I know you have faith in us to do so. Your continued support, in an entirely child-centred way, is much appreciated.
Anyway, as I type, more and more items are being put on the website under Latest News and they will of course be included in the email which Mrs Roberts sends out each week. It was never my intention to comment on all the items that the wonderful Wellington staff forward to me, so I hope they won’t be offended when I don’t pass comment; I do read and digest them all.
The 6 Nations resumes this week with a trip to Cardiff for the ‘Red Rose’ army and the Super league season also kicks off with the mighty Warrington Wolves heading to south west France for their opener against Catalan Dragons. A perfect start to the half term holiday for me, if not for three fifths of the Beeley clan! Apologies to any Welsh readers but there really can be only one possible outcome at the Millennium stadium as we march on towards a world record 19 consecutive victories. I really don’t wish to antagonise anyone; it’s just ‘bants’, as my son would say.
To all the staff, students and parents, I hope you have a suitably relaxing half term break whatever you have planned. I hope it doesn’t involve any 8-hour flight delays!
S P Beeley