Today’s assemblies focused on International Men’s Day, and in the prep assembly I asked ‘What makes a real man?’. We looked at some gender stereotypes of male professions, and listened to Joe Marler (England rugby prop) talking about how he has tackled his mental health. We also considered some Forbes magazine headers on what a real man might be today – challenging the boys to be willing to be vulnerable, to be willing to change, to be self-aware and to be willing to be non-conformist!
Two months ago I was given the choice between inspecting another school on the school’s birthday or inspecting a school next week. I agreed to next week sincerely believing that the pre-prep shows would be streamed and that we would be pulling the shutters down on access into school. It has been a very odd month, missing the school’s birthday due to Covid, and the pre-prep shows all systems go for next week. Mrs Mayhew has worked incredibly hard on the shows; please do note that the pupils do not have the experience of last year to build on, but still look super! I will watch the dress rehearsals before I head to the Midlands – I hope you enjoy them!! We are in no way at the end of Covid challenges, the news today from South Africa suggests as much, but the new lateral flow regime, and inbuilt immunity has clearly had an impact.
Last week the Bellevue team visited the school to look at compliance and the educational progress made over the last six months. Thank you to all of you who gave up time to speak to them. They checked the assessment data we have gathered over the past six months and were pleased to find that pupils remain on track to progress beyond the national standardised norms, even with Covid in play. Their report affirmed that Holmwood is a happy (joyful was the word they used) environment where pupils are given the opportunity to flourish and grow in character. As you may imagine they also left the senior team with some challenges and will return in the summer to check further progress.
The senior team and I have two planning documents that we have been working on this year. The first is the strategic priorities for the year, which you can see by clicking here. The second is a more detailed development plan, that is an internal document and builds from these priorities. We started building these over the summer term and added to them over the holidays. I spent some time with the teaching staff last night feeding back from the Bellevue visit, setting out further these development priorities and discussing next steps.
Another letter that will follow in the next few days is a more detailed outline of the plans to take the school to 16+; throughout the discussions on this, a key goal has been to maximise the impact on all pupils, not just those who remain for year 9, and to ensure continuity of the brilliant prep school experiences that the younger pupils have today and seek to enhance those. As many of you know, I am passionate about Year 7 and 8, and the great opportunities those years in a Prep school can bring.
Have a great weekend