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Claires Court

Claires Court Maidenhead

from Nursery to Sixth Form

Mr Bevis' Words Week 12

Nine days that encapsulate Senior Girls and an educational career...

The last nine days have encapsulated all that Claires Court Senior Girls are about. They have demonstrated to the full the characteristics and essence of our young people, and why it is a privilege to work with them.

The tunes from the musical “We Will Rock You” are still reverberating around my head as are the images of so many bravura performances.. but I spoke about that last week so we should move on.

On Monday night we celebrated the sporting endeavours and successes for the last year at the Sports Award Dinner. Dress to impress was the watchword, and my how they impressed... and not anything to do with whatever they chose to wear. We recalled the successes in netball, hockey, athletics, tennis, swimming, horse riding  and cross-country and awarded colours, Sports Personality of the Year and Service Above Self Awards.  Our visiting speaker international rower, Charlotte Booth, having tasted success spoke eloquently about her failure when she was not picked for the Olympics and how to deal with it.  We also emphasised that we cannot have success unless we have participation, unless we have our 2nd teams, and our reserves competing... our success is built on failing to win but failing well. Failing well means we have striven, given of our best, gone home, trained again...and come back for more. It was an inspiring evening.

So this week we have ripped up the Activity Weektimetable, abandoned formal lessons.... and learnt a huge amount. From Year 7 to Year 10 we have camped, hiked, rowed, sculpted, sailed, solved STEM problems, cleared waterways, orienteering, learnt circus skills and completed scavenger hunts. I was able to join Year 10 for a lot of the week, but also dropped in on Year 9 and Year 7. Year 9s on Tuesday withstood some rain, then some more rain and then after 4 hours of torrential downpour we had to admit that the tents weren’t up to it, we couldn’t keep ourselves dry so we beat a strategic retreat. But not defeated Year 9 came back the next morning, sorted out the sodden debris, got some new tents and reset the camp. When I met them Wednesday evening they were in fine fettle and good voice around the campfire.

Year 10s also battled the rain and also numerous setbacks caused by forces beyond their control. But to their huge credit they just got stuck in, worked to make the best of every rearrangement and proved to themselves what a great collaborative and community minded bunch of young people they are. I shall never forget watching them make fires, gut fish and then cook them..... and then experience the joy of eating fresh fish, simply cooked. To see pupils just pitch in to prepare food for each other, then to clean and leave their campsite or indoor area as pristine as it should be was just tremendous. Resilience, can do, won’t be beaten and let me help you were the watchwords for the week.

And then on Friday at final assembly we acknowledged the academic life of the school presenting subject prizes and awards for Attitude to Learning, Progress and Attainment. Having read something like 1700 reports over the last week or so I am delighted with the way that our pupils engage with and enjoy their learning. Not every pupil in every subject; no that would be unrealistic. Learning is also a challenge, and sometime we fail, and we can get it wrong in the classroom, in an exam or in our independent work completed at home. We will have analysed our data, reviewed and reflected upon our academic reports and made plans for how to raise the bar when we start back in September.

We said goodbye to a number of staff, some after a short time with us, some who have spent a significant part of their professional working life at Claires Court.

Sharon Rennardson who this year has been working as a teaching assistant and tutor is returning to Australia.

Hester Goodsell, our Director of Music has taken up a new post as Director of Music at Notting Hill and Ealing High School.

Kate Ing is leaving us to join Beaconsfield High School as Sixth Form Administrator and Head of Year 12.

Angela Fowke, our School Nurse is retiring after 23 years dedicated service to Claires Court, as member of the PE Dept, netball coach and most importantly looking after the medical and health needs of Senior and Junior girls.

This will be my final bulletin. I have spent 44 years in education and there is no doubt that my time at Claires Court has been the most fulfilling of my professional career. To work in a school that challenges educational orthodoxy and always seeks to find a better way of doing what we do has been refreshing and invigorating. I have been blessed with working with colleagues who put the needs of children first and as an article of faith believe that young people will find their way if we just stick with them and believe in them. It has been a joy to work with three separate leadership teams at College Avenue as well as colleagues as Junior and Senior Boys.

As teachers we are wonderfully supported by those that enable us to do our central job: teach. Colleagues in marketing, human resources, administration, housekeeping, transport, site management, catering along with our learning support and teaching assistants undertake work that if was not done extraordinary well would mean that the school would close within days.

Thank you as parents for your support, occasional advice and preparedness to be our critical friends. The kind words, letters, messages, cards and gifts from you and your children have meant a huge amount to me over the last few weeks.

Education is a great enterprise, without which our country would flounder and our communities would wither. Those of of us who have had the privilege to be part of that enterprise are fortunate to have found (or in my case stumbled across) a vocation rather than a job. I cannot see myself not being engaged with that but I am looking forward to taking a road less travelled.

Thank you and have a lovely summer.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

From the “Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

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