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Claires Court

Claires Court Maidenhead

from Nursery to Sixth Form

Mr Wilding’s Words Lent 6

Pride in our ‘noble’ young people was my message to the School at our awards assembly on Thursday morning. Please do catch my blog this week, because children in school giving their best is why I joined this ‘noblest’ of professions, education.

Working with both Year 8 through their exercise book review and with Year 11 at our recent parents evening, I cannot help but feel a burst of pride with the accomplishments of our boys, young and old. Young people inevitably have much to enjoy but their own pride in their efforts, their positive responses to the diverse challenges they encounter in the classroom and outside and their genuine willingness to be their best selves when on show is deeply impressive. Sure there will be setbacks, but it is as often through mistakes and misjudgements that the real learning happens. Well done school - you enjoy the well deserved half term break. 

The best evidence of the strength entering our community is seen in the scholarship assessments announced today by post to the participants, for our 11, 12 and 13 year olds. Through our academic and vocational scholarship awards we hope to attract and reward the talent emerging, and continue to secure the best role models for our learners moving forwards.

We learned on Monday of the death of Susan Payne, teacher and latterly Deputy Head at Junior Boys. Richard Hogg, teacher of Religious Studies at Senior Boys and form teacher for Year 6 at Junior Boys wrote this perfect snap-shot of Susan in her memory which I have copied in full below. I doff my hat to both Mr Hogg and Mrs Payne, teachers in the finest ‘noble’ tradition of educators in my school.

“She was a great servant of chess at Claires Court, an outstanding teacher, a patient mentor and a loyal friend. Susan continued to develop chess at Claires Court, taking the game outside these walls for the first time to play in the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and EPSCA leagues. She pushed for more tournaments to be played at the School and helped build the foundation for future success - not only driving the school minibus to weekend tournaments but, in the early days of EPSCA, Susan would take the boys off to Camber Sands for a whole weekend tournament; not to everyone's taste I hear you say, but a true testament to someone determined to give Claires Court pupils every possible opportunity during their time with us. So many pupils have so much to thank her for.

I will never forget the time I was visiting Susan in hospital after her miraculous recovery from meningitis. We had been chatting away about life, the universe and everything when a diminutive nurse knocked on the door and announced in a sweet Irish brogue that it was time for Susan to sit her psych evaluation; a must for all in her situation. At this point Susan asked, straight faced, if we could have another paper so I could sit the test too...

Mrs Payne was a kind and above all, a determined individual; possessing a regal quality that would in itself not be out of place on a chessboard. On the wall in what was her office she had a large poster boasting the poem 'Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night' by Dylan Thomas. Susan Payne would not "Go Gentle". She fought illness with a cheerful and faithful confidence, living to see the marriage of both her daughters, and the birth of two grandchild - two years after being given only weeks to live.

I still keep a text message from Susan from the morning after Claires Court finally, after much effort on Susan's part, broke into the group of top Chess playing schools in the country with triumph in Bristol. The message reads:

“Had a great night's sleep... Just sinking in what a momentous achievement it is. Thank you for inviting me to see history being made. WELL DONE to you all!”

No Susan - Thank you."

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