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Claires Court

Claires Court Maidenhead

from Nursery to Sixth Form

Mr Spanswick's Words Summer 5

What a wonderful week!

My word, your sons are talented! They really are. I have been blown away by some of the work I have been presented with, star struck at some of the beautiful artwork that has been shown to me, deafened by the singing practice for our end of term concerts (which Mr Rowan has let me have a bit of influence over!) and bowled over by our cricket performances. Very well done to Saiveer Vedhara and Connor Hill who produced the ‘work of the week’ with their wonderfully constructed leaflets.

However, the plaudits of the week have to go to our chess teams who were representing the school at the EPSCA regional finals in Bristol. The Under 11 team battled superbly and just missed out on the overall silver medal with some great wins over strong teams like Twickenham Prep. However, the Under 9 team made history…….for the first time ever at Claires Court, they qualified for the National Finals which are held in Birmingham early in July. They came second out of over 40 schools in the competition and are now down to the final eight schools in England. A wonderful achievement - please read Mr Hogg’s write up and check out our pictures in the photo gallery. Well done to all of the boys involved at the weekend in both teams, and a big thank you to Mr Hogg for inspiring our next generation of Grand Masters.

I am taking every opportunity available to spend time with boys this term, and this often means joining some clubs before school. Some of the Key Stage 2 cricket practices are great fun, but I have had a few brutal reminders of just how fast some of our older boys can bowl! I am sure that a test team awaits some of them, although from our conversations they seem to have a greater knowledge of the Indian Premier League than that of the Test cricket!

This week our boys in Year 1-6 have been taking part in some assessments which allow the staff a chance to gauge progress made, evaluate how well certain skills and topics have been considered, and also reflect on a pupil’s underlying ability. We will share these results with parents once they have been returned to us from GL Assessment (our provider) as the papers are marked externally. I would expect these to come out a week or so after half term, and you will have a chance to chat these outcomes through with your son’s form tutor at the upcoming Parents’ Evenings.

Some parents have asked me why we do not publicise the assessments more widely and give out timetables well in advance. The reason that we refrain from doing this is that the boys are being assessed on their application of skill, not on retrieval of information. Therefore, by not preparing with revision (the boys are very well prepared by the work they do in class with their teachers) we get to see the boys underlying ability and therefore a solid benchmark of their progress. Whilst some people in education believe that pupils need to be prepped through an over learning constant ‘drill’ of questions, I strongly maintain that we want to see the boys at their best...and their best is being themselves, assessing what they can do and what they can achieve, rather than simply what they can remember. Looking at how our boys have moved on to their secondary education options and listening to their feedback, I firmly believe that we are getting this approach right.

I began this philosophy with my staff when I started as a raw Head Designate nearly 5 years ago, still working in that year with my great friend and mentor, Jeff Watkins. Our current Year 6 boys have been with us for some time and been through this type of pedagogy and culture at school…...and my word, seeing how they are performing in every aspect of the school curriculum gives both myself and Jeff great pride, as well as Judy Nott, my Deputy Head and Curriculum Lead for many years. Our Year 6 pupils are one of the most successful and one of the most wonderful cohorts that we have had the privilege to look after, and I know that we are going to miss them greatly when they leave us in July.

So, as you will see from one of my pictures, I am surrounded by overnight bags from our boys and girls in Year 3 and 4 who are camping overnight tonight as part of their Outward Bound programme. They will all have endured some of my and Mr Gillespie’s outdoor cooking this evening, but it’s not all bad, the weather at least looks like it is behaving!

Well, as I write this I can see preparations for the Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 celebration of the Royal Wedding is well underway…..and I might just go and try one of the scones!

I hope you all enjoy a lovely weekend.

Justin Spanswick

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