Headmaster’s Blog 08.10.21

11th October 21

I hope this finds you well and that you have all had a good week. Here in school, we have enjoyed a busy week with a full programme of events. Before I note some of the highlights, I must begin with a vote of thanks to all of you who so generously sent in items to Hannah House to be forwarded on to the Afghan refugees who are currently being accommodated in the Hilton Metropole nearby. A huge number of donations were taken over by the PTA and they were very gratefully received. I am extremely proud to be a part of a school that can spring into action so adroitly in order to help others. On a further fundraising note, Mrs Magee oversaw an extremely successful recycled uniform sale, raising the terrific sum of £1844. My thanks go to her and those who were helping.

This week’s theatre trip was to ‘The Mousetrap’ which is playing at St Martin’s Theatre. Returning to a familiar theme of our enjoyment of normality, it was great to chat with the boys before they went about their looking forward to an evening out, and the following day Miss Twomey made a point of coming to see me to let me know that the boys had very much enjoyed the play and had also been exemplary ambassadors for the school. My thanks go to Miss Twomey for organising, and a well-done and thank you to the boys for their representation of the school in such a fine fashion.

Over the course of the week, some Sixth Form boys have started to receive offers from different universities. Those who have finished their UCAS forms and submitted them, and those who have been applying overseas are starting to see the fruits of their labors. European destinations are already well represented with offers from IE University in Madrid, and Bocconi in Milan. Over the coming weeks I will keep you abreast of other offers as they come in, and I wish all boys well in the process.

The Music department has their first performances of the year, and I am very much looking forward to the piano recital programme on Monday afternoon, and also to the Brass Band performing in assembly next Friday afternoon to play us into the half term break.

Headmaster’s Blog 01.10.21

5th October 21

I hope that this finds you well. The school has felt rather empty this week as we waved off all of Years 7 and 9 on Wednesday on residential visits. At the time of writing, the dispatches we have received back here at HQ are all positive – the boys seem to really be enjoying themselves and (in the main) the weather has held up nicely! As with so many aspects of school life over these past few weeks, it is great to be able to offer trips and visits again as they are such an integral part of the broad offer that we make here. It is often the case that when pupils look back on their time in a school, their experiences on tips and visits stand out. They are a chance to cement and develop friendships, to challenge oneself in unfamiliar settings, and to come together as a class / year etc. and enjoy a shared experience. For the boys out this week, I very much hope that this has been the case and although they will be tired this weekend, they will be able to say that the trips were well worth it. Of course, trips do not happen without significant input from members of staff, and I’d like to thank all those staff who have been away this week and given up their time so that the Wetherby pupils can have the best possible experience.

This week has seen the last of my ‘Meet the Headmaster’ coffee mornings, and I have very much enjoyed all of them – it has been wonderful to meet so many of you in person and to begin to get to know you. As I have said to many of you, schools work best when there is honest and open communication between all parties, and I would encourage you to remember this – if there is anything at all you have questions about, or would like to share with us, please do not hesitate to get in touch. For matters relating directly to your son, please write to his form tutor in the first instance.

It is our Open Day this Saturday, and I want to thank you in advance for supporting us with your son’s presence as a tour guide! The boys are the very best ambassadors the school could hope to have, and I know that I will feel very proud indeed watching them guide groups around the school and share with prospective parents what a wonderful place this is.

With best wishes for the weekend.

Headmaster’s Blog 24.09.21

27th September 21

I hope that you have had an enjoyable week; as you would expect, it has certainly been busy here. We hosted a film crew this week who were shooting some new video footage for the website, and I hope to be able to share the finished product with you in due course. Their day was very busy as they endeavoured to capture as many aspects of school life as possible. The boys they met were fantastic, and as they always are, were terrific ambassadors for the school; I am much less certain about my contributions – I felt rather wooden in front of the camera!

Some of you may know that we have now been working for a number of years with an organisation called Beyond Equality who are a community interest company working across the UK to promote healthy behaviour and an awareness of gender issues amongst young men and boys. Their project aims to combat the negative stereotypes and attitudes sometimes held by boys towards girls – as well as themselves – that may adversely influence behaviour in later life. They returned this week to run some extended workshops with all Year 11 boys, and I am told that they went very well indeed. I know that our boys find these sessions incredibly useful, fun and thought-provoking. They appreciate the opportunity to discuss key issues in a safe environment, and always comment on how much they have learnt from the workshops. We are proud of our important work here and I am grateful for all members of the pastoral team for their continued commitment to providing the best resources and speakers for boys of all ages as we continue to help them develop and grow as individuals and seek to prepare them for the challenges of life beyond school.

Some of you who live locally may already know that Westminster and other London Boroughs are helping to support a number of refugees who have recently arrived from Afghanistan. Currently, there are about 500 Afghans staying at the Hilton London Metropole Hotel on Edgeware Road. There are approximately 100 women, 100 men and 300 children. About 20 newborns, a further 25 under 2, and another 10 on the way! Many different members of our local communities have been amazing at supporting and donating clothes and other required items to help these people who have arrived here with very little. I am extremely grateful for members of the PTA for bringing this to our attention, and I would like for all of us here at Wetherby to also help if we can. From Monday 4th October, we will be asking pupils, parents, and staff to bring in what they can from a list of required items. A mixture of boys and PTA members will coordinate the sorting of donations and their delivery.  It is at moments like this that we can demonstrate our commitment to our school values and shared humanity in helping those who need it.

Headmaster’s blog 17.09.21

20th September 21

This week has been a busy one for all members of the school, and some fantastic things have been happening.  We have held our first three ‘Meet the Head’ coffee mornings, and it has been lovely to see so many of you and great that you are able to make connections with each other as well. For some, it is their first time in school and in noting this, I am reminded of just how normal things feel at the moment.

Our relationship with Queen’s College is going from strength to strength this year, due in no small part to Mrs Dedat and her hard work on behalf of the Sixth Form boys. This week we hosted all members of Queen’s Y12 for the first shared lecture of the term. The speaker was Erwin James – former convict who is now a published author and journalist. Our second joint-enterprise that started this week was the Young Enterprise business competition. Ms Holmes noted that she had rarely seen Wetherby boys so bashful and reserved! However, after some initial encouragement, she believes that the boys from Wetherby and the girls from Queen’s College will make a great success of their companies and build some lasting friendships along the way.

In the Drama Department, rehearsals for Neville’s Island began this week after the casting auditions and I am pleased to hear that some very good boys indeed have been recruited into the play. Miss Twomey assures me that it will be a fantastic play to return with this Autumn.

The footballers were in action this week against Radnor House School, and we rather dominated proceedings – the U13 A,B,C all won their games on Thursday, and on Wednesday, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd XI all won as well. Next week sees our first competitive rugby fixture of the season in the CALM cup.

As you can see, it has been a very busy week, and there is a lot to look forward to this term.

Headmaster’s Blog 10.09.21

14th September 21

Dear parents,

At the end of our first full week back, there is a real feeling of being back to business. Boys have now had a full week of lessons and a chance to meet their teachers. There have also been a lot of decisions to make for boys as they fill their diaries with clubs and activities for the weeks ahead. Today has seen the re-launch of our Friday afternoon activities programme, with a most impressive 34 different activities on offer. When the after-school activities begin on Monday, the total number of things on offer across the week will be 116! This is an amazing number of different activities for pupils in all the different year groups to take advantage of – it really is an enriching programme on offer to them.

Our full games programme is also now running, and with a much-expanded range of choices, it has been great to know that we are sending pupils to a fantastic variety of activities nearby; competitive football and rugby continue to be offered at the wonderful Ealing facilities. Closer to home, boys have been swimming, climbing, and playing recreational football in Regent’s Park. Here on site, the gym and new spin studio have been very busy indeed. The spin studio is a terrific facility to have on site and is of a quality you would expect to find in a commercial gym. More than one parent has remarked to me this week that they would like to be able to use it!

Last week, I promised to update you on the fixtures taking place this week. On Thursday, the Year 10 footballers travelled to Barnes for a six-a-side tournament. Although they had not played together for some time, Ms Bachmann noted to me how impressed she was with their individual performances and resilience in the face of stiff opposition. At the end of the afternoon, the boys left with a record of: lost two, won one, drawn one. Well done to Jack for his captaincy and all of the rest of the squad.

Having welcomed the boys back last week, it has also been nice to welcome so many of you this week at the events for Year 7 and 9 parents. Both evenings have been a wonderfully normal way to meet you and begin to build relationships with you.

With best wishes for the weekend.

Headmaster’s Blog 02.07.21

5th July 21

Wetherby Senior School has a proud history of film-making.  You may recall that Oscar and latterly Isaac in Year 10 have triumphed in the Independent Schools Association short films competition as national winners for three years in a row.  As proof that our talent pool runs deep, I was delighted to receive the link to the latest film by Max P in Year 10.  Remnant is a moody, tense exploration of post-apocalyptic life with a time-travelling twist.  The plot has a well-conceived structure and is very carefully shot – with technical skill (including CGI) and creativity.  Jake P (in Year 7) gives a powerful performance as a wearied, impassive survivor on a mysterious Groundhog Day quest.  The film’s original score is especially effective in its spare snatches of melodic guitar phrases and open, lugubrious strings.  Congratulations to John A (also in Year 10) for its composition.

Fantastic news that Aidan in Year 12 has gained a place in both the England and GB Ski teams for the 2021/22 Season, his first inclusion as a Senior.  Many of you know that Aidan has been involved in elite skiing throughout his Wetherby career.  In person he is a quiet and unassuming young man but he shows tireless dedication, skill and courage to excel.  I would also highlight that he manages to balance a commitment to the slopes with a fierce determination to succeed in his A Levels and (most recently) in his SATs for potential entry into US universities.  Aidan will represent Great Britain throughout the next season and he is short listed for a place on the National Team competing at the European Youth Olympics which is scheduled for February 2022 in Finland. We wish him all the very best in his coming glacier training camp in Italy.

I will be writing to parents before the end of term but I would like to take the opportunity to thank all the teaching and support staff for their dedication and professionalism throughout a year that has offered plenty of challenges.  I would also like to congratulate the boys on their resilience, creativity and good humour in the face of what have been, on occasion, uncertain and even anxious times.  It is to their very great credit as individuals and collectively that they have come through with such a strong spirit as a community.  To all who are leaving Wetherby Senior, staff and boys alike, I would like to extend my very best wishes for the future and thanks for their contribution to the successful life of the School.  Finally, I would like to thank you all very much for your support this year and especially throughout the course of this term when I have been acting headmaster.  Next term sees the arrival of Mr Joe Silvester and exciting times lie ahead.  Have a relaxing, delightful and well-earned break over the summer and I look forward to seeing you in the new term.

Headmaster’s Blog 25.06.21

28th June 21

I don’t know what you think about golf.  Sadly, I don’t think Mark Twain actually did describe a round as ‘a good walk spoiled’ even though it is a great line and it sounds like the sort of thing he would have said.  I played a bit on a social basis in a former life and to me it was more a reminder of the fact that even in the most charmingly bucolic surroundings there could lurk a threat to one’s patient sanity and pride.  Perhaps it’s a kind of pastime designed to remind us of the fact that et in arcadia ego? Inevitably, after a spot of localised excavation, I would shy the ball into a dense thicket of couch grass from whose close embrace the ball would only emerge after several air shots.  My score card would frequently resemble an eighteen number lottery ticket.

Imagine then my delight on hearing that the Wetherby Senior golf team had won second place on Monday at the Independent Schools Association championship at Worksop College in Nottinghamshire?  A fantastic effort from our team of Jamie M, Oscar C, Santiago E (all in Year 11) and Killian M (in Year 12).  Oscar won the individual silver medal and well done to Killian for stepping in at the last moment.

Good news also came through about the results of the recent British Biology Olympiad entered by boys in Year 12. The BBO is a national post-16 competition that consists of two, 45-minute multiple choice papers taken online under supervised exam conditions. The papers test topics and ideas with which the boys are unfamiliar and are not on their A Level specifications.  They have to compete in the Olympiad with their problem solving skills and understanding of core principles. Congratulations to Sebastian on being awarded a gold medal and to the other Year 12 boys for their silver and bronze medals.

Headmaster’s Blog 18.06.21

21st June 21

One of the things that I am very much looking forward to about next term is the opportunity for year groups to reintegrate into the School community at large.  This is incredibly important in any educational setting but nowhere more so than in a senior school where the maturing effect of seeing (in the case of WSS) older boys at work, in clubs and in positions of leadership helps to shape the attitudes and aspirations of younger boys.  If you cast your mind back to your own experience of being at school – and I am aware that one of the great strengths of the Wetherby Senior community is the rich diversity of backgrounds and experiences – there will be moments that come to mind when you were profoundly impressed by the words or actions of older pupils.  It may be that you recognised at the time that they were role models or it may be that you unconsciously adopted their ways as you become one of the older pupils yourself but their positive influence was there.

The Tribs are a great way of harnessing this potential as they connect boys from different year groups within the School.  They lend an additional focus for belonging, for promoting healthy competition and collective endeavour.  Tribs, named after tributaries of the Thames, are more than just a convenient set plucked from the imagination.  They have a greater symbolic power, as names often do.  They are hidden rivers – unseen and yet power streams that flow independently into the larger whole of the Thames.  They are distinct but collectively join a mighty river.  Smart new Trib boards will soon appear in Hannah House hall, there are Trib prizes at the end of term and, very exciting indeed, there are brand new Trib lapel badges to designs created by none other than our own Ms Bradley.  A highlight of the end of term will be the Trib charity fair for the boys which is a great opportunity for Killian, Himat, Nick, Josh, Jacques and, of course, Henry, to lead the younger boys in what promises to be an afternoon of fun and charity fundraising.

Barometer Half Term 1

One of the things that I am very much looking...

Headmaster's Blog 08.10.2...

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