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Claires Court

Claires Court Maidenhead

from Nursery to Sixth Form

Head's Words Lent Term Week 9

In the Times Educational Supplement this week there is an article from a regular contributor, Colin Harris, a primary school headteacher, talking about a letter from an ex pupil of 18 years ago -

The ex-pupil enthuses about the time when they constructed some great extended learning around the Diwali festival. However Colin comments  that “we are now delivering our children a painfully reduced curriculum, while the testing regime is truly crippling us”, and went on to say “What we have instead is an educational landscape that turns our children into test junkies” and then Emma herself stated with great empathy “I feel sorry for the children now, whose school experience is so prescribed by the curriculum. But I worry also for all the future 10 year olds who will most likely never experience learning in the way I did. They'll be too busy with constant training for tests.”

Senior Girls Civil War DaySo it I feel incredibly privileged to work where I do, with teachers and pupils who engage in some diverse and exciting joint learning enterprises. This week Year 7 to a farm, Year 8 learning about the English Civil War through battle re-enactments, field hospital surgery, costumes, menu de jour, and weaponry all at College site - and my huge thanks to Miss Bullough for organising. Year 9 and 10 have learnt a great deal about managing their digital lives and protecting their images, whilst the Juniors, girls and boys, gave us an absolutely splendid night’s musical extravaganza, based around the Pixar films.

Our ‘Heroines of Science’ team (thank you Mrs Mulhearn) - Amna, Hattie, Niamh and Esmee went to University of Reading to give their presentation on Dorothy Hodgkin, who developed X-ray crystallography which lead to her discovering the structure of vitamin B12  for which in 1964  she became the third woman scientist to win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Our team came 2nd, competing in the Royal Society of Chemistry annual competition, against eight other teams mainly from Year 12 - brilliant. And on International Women’s Day, how appropriate...  follow the link if you missed it.

More medals from our netball squads when the Under 14s came runners up in the National ISA Netball Championships. As well as brilliant play - W7, D1, L1 they truly represented the Claires Court Values against some quite aggressive intimidation and spectator participation.

We are still awaiting the final positions from the ISA National Drama competition but the report back from Miss Barlow and Mr Morgan indicate that Mrs Warren’s senior and junior teams really did us proud, and the GCSE group relished the opportunity to perform in a fresh environment and get external feedback.

So I suppose we should take a breather next week? Hah - no such plans - Year 7 to the Science Big Bang Fair and the Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory at Oxford University, whilst year 10 musicians visit the ENO for a performance of the Magic Flute, and the geographers leave on Friday for their residential field trip to South Wales. The Under 13 netball team go for gold at the ISA Nationals, and at the end of the week girls will be striving for those last remaining scholarships - good luck to them all. Finally I do hope I shall see you all the Junior Boys PTA Easter Egg hunt on Saturday afternoon.....

So a final comment from Colin Harris - “can we see any government changing the present regime of testing that restricts creativity, nullifies self-belief, narrows our children's learning and stops them from reaching their potential?”

Well I don’t see a possibility of our national education system, up to and including A Level, allowing for the development of the whole child, in all their marvellous possibilities. But I know that we do, every day, every week and every term.

As our new website proclaims “A passion for learning that discovers the genius within”.

Have a lovely weekend

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