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A view from the Close - 8 September 2017

8 September 2017 – No. 90

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I am delighted to welcome you to the first View from the Close of the Academic Year 2017 – 2018.

Each week I write an email to all parents and guardians across the Junior and Senior School to inform them of what we’ve been up to. Sometimes I’ll reflect on specific parts of the school, on education policy nationally or internationally, or maybe even my own personal musings. Either way, I hope that this weekly letter will keep you in touch with what is happening at the College, and with the pupils activities, whether you’re reading this in Folkestone or Phuket.

Academic ambition

I’ve welcomed the Junior and Senior Schools in their first assemblies of term. In different ways, I’ve highlighted the same message: that we are an academically ambitious school, and that as Headmaster I’m not going to be satisfied with the satisfactory. Staff have been given extremely clear and unambiguous direction in raising both the expectations and results of pupils across the whole school, and rewards initiatives have been introduced to celebrate success, as well as a robust set of policies design to address under-performance or lack of industry. So much of what we achieve in the classroom resonates through life. Although I have been satisfied with the public examination results, I want them to be better. We’re not going to do this by changing the fundamental values of the College, or the way we select pupils. We will do it by the robust, forthright, ambitious and tenacious approach of staff, clear direction to the pupils, and continuous tracking and monitoring, all within a caring, family environment.

Summer Works

So much work to the campus has happened over the last year and summer. I put the main points here, but I hope you’ll agree that the school is looking much better as we improve our facilities and provision.

  • All the Junior School external windows have been repaired and redecorated;
  • The opening of a new sports Strength & Conditioning Facility next to the gym on Top Ground;
  • The complete renovation and opening of the Squash court including new lighting, electrics, heating, fire and buildings alarms;
  • The Redecoration of ISC main entrance and a new carpet to Priory House common room.

These achievements are on top of the College’s ongoing maintenance plan, and I am very grateful to the Maintenance, Bursary, Housekeeping and Catering Teams for the extensive work that they undertook over the Summer Holidays.

Improving numbers

In an interesting national and international climate, our numbers are extremely positive with a particular growth in boarders. This not only develops the College 24/7 boarding life, but creates an even more diverse and dynamic environment where everyone benefits from learning in a community with a strong international flavour. I’m particularly grateful to the Admissions Department, Alison Wilson and our new Admissions Assistant Dina Kudinova, as well as Kate Jackson, for their work in this area.

New Staff

I was delighted to welcome the following new staff to the College at the start of this term:

Tom Brady, Head of ICT

John Platts, Teacher of Science

Kitty Myers, Director of Performing Arts

Danielle Carter, Mandarin Teacher

Daniel Higgins, New gap student

Dina Kudinova, Admissions Assistant

Sophie Myers, Bursary Apprentice

Marcus Hoyle, Maintenance Team

Trevor Gasking, painter / decorator

David Hanks, Apprentice in the Grounds Team

Governor and Management Strategy Day

The College’s Management Team and Council of Governors met on Saturday 2 September at the College for a strategy day, facilitated by Dr Ralph Townsend. Ralph started his career at the College prior to leading Sydney Grammar School, Oundle School and Winchester College. He was magnificent in encouraging discussion and debate, and I’m very pleased to report that the day was a great success. It is clear, and reassuring, that the Council and the Management Team are thinking as one, and the meeting was the final part of the Project 150 discussions and consultation. The SMT are putting the strategy discussed and proposed together at their Strategy Day next week, which means that by the end of this term the onward renovation, redevelopment and building strategies will be launched, as well as exciting developments in our academic provision. The meeting heralded Mike Goodridge’s first nine months as Chairman, and his freshness of approach, collegiality, visibility and support for the Management Team has been quite exceptional. Mike and I speak on the ‘phone each week and he is kept fully abreast of what is happening at the College.

Michaelmas Plans 2017

If you visit the College’s Refectory after Open Day you’ll see something different: lots of scaffolding! We are delighted that to announce that this magnificent building is being refurbished, with refreshed paintwork, lighting, sound system and panelling. It will look wonderful, but pleased bear with us during the disruption. Other work will take place over the term time, including new lighting around the car park next to the Senior Girls’ Houses, lighting of the pathways and other key projects to improve the campus.  

Our new Prospectus

Every parent will soon receive a copy of our new prospectus. Please display it proudly on your coffee tables around the world, showing your friends and family! It’s a bit different from other prospectuses, because we like to think differently at the College. I am very grateful to the legion of staff and parents who have added their thoughts to the project. We weren’t able to include everything, but each print run will be adapted and developed as our photographic library increases.

The Week Ahead

Lots going on this coming week, including our first major collection of sports matches and a welcome tea for priory parents. Please don’t forget to refer to the College’s website and Red Book for more information.

Jess and I hope that everyone has a successful and happy Michaelmas Term.

As ever,

Gareth Doodes.