17th January 22
Happy New Year!
It has been great to be back this week, and so nice to catch up with many of the boys and hear about what a relaxing time they had over the break.
As you will know, our new term began with lateral flow tests for all, and I’d like to thank all pupils and staff involved in our testing programme, which went very smoothly this Monday and Tuesday. Particular thanks must go to Mmes Phillips and Westphal – our two wonderful Science Technicians – who set up and ran the test centre extremely efficiently. Thanks also are due to our PTA volunteers for their valiant work, and without whom we would have been much slower in getting all boys tested.
While media reports suggest that pandemic infection rates are starting to fall, and numbers within our School remain much below the national trend, it is important that we continue to be vigilant. As such, I’d like to thank everyone for their adherence to government guidance to wear facial coverings in communal areas and, for pupils, during lessons. I’d also like to stress the importance of regular testing in helping keep all within our community safe. We have a good stock of lateral flow test kits, and these have been given to our boys so that they can continue to test at least twice a week. Do please ask if you need more – your son can collect a pack from reception in either building.
Whilst most of our boys have been back in normal lessons, Years 11 and 13 have been beavering away in the hall at Hannah House completing their mock GCSE and A Level papers. This week has gone very smoothly and I am pleased that our boys have been preparing carefully over the break and will, I am sure, give a good account of themselves.
It was wonderful to gather this afternoon for our first assembly of the term, and I spoke to the boys about the importance of our being kind and caring towards one another. It is a cornerstone of our community that we are considerate to one another and, in doing so, our actions can have a lasting impression on those around us. In my final assembly of last term, it was a great privilege to read out so many names of boys who had been nominated by their peers for their kindness and supportive actions across the term. So, to begin this term, I asked our boys and staff to pause and think of a time when someone had been kind to, or cared for, them. I have no doubt that each person will have been able to think of a particular time and person and moment that made an impression on them, and I encourage you to do the same. It was Aristotle who suggested that, ‘we are the sum of our actions and therefore our habits make all the difference.’ As we re-start after a break, and some of us resolve to do or not do particular things this calendar year, I would suggest that continuing to cultivate a habit of kindness would be no bad thing at all.
From Monday, our co-curricular activities begin and I’m looking forward to reporting in the coming weeks of sporting success, academic endeavours, and fascinating co-curricular clubs and societies.
My final note for this week is a quick flashback to last term’s Christmas Jumper Day. I’m happy to say this event raised £435 for our School’s chosen charities, so thank you to boys and parents alike for your contributions and for your colourful knitwear.
17th December 21
At the end of my first term here at Wetherby I already feel very much a part of the school and have had a wonderful time meeting many of you as well as getting to know the boys and the staff. What has been a recurring theme over the term has been the cohesive nature of the community of which I am now a part. Relationships between boys and between boys and staff are kind and considerate and grounded in respect. What is particularly pleasing is that many of our prospective parents and visitors can also see this. When I have spoken at visitor mornings and open events, I have said very clearly to people that I am extremely proud of the school and feel it is a privilege to be trusted to lead it. This bears repeating to all of you, as it is absolutely true; this is a wonderful school to be a part of, and I am confident of our continued upward trajectory in all areas of school life.
Of course, it is not me who is really responsible for this, it is the staff and boys who need thanking. I am extremely grateful to all of the staff who work with dedication and passion in supporting your sons and allowing them to flourish here as individuals as well as preparing them for exam success and life beyond school.
At the time of writing, we have just finished an afternoon of festive fun. Boys have eaten Christmas lunch together in their Tribs, enjoyed a range of fun activities and spent time decorating a ‘Trib grotto’ as the final inter-Trib competition of the term. The highlight of the afternoon however, by some margin, has been the staff pantomime production of ‘Jack and the baked beanstalk’. I cannot believe that there is a finer half hour of theatre available anywhere else in London this festive season – well done to all involved. As you may know, ticket sales for the pantomime raise money for the school’s chosen charities and I am delighted to report that over £1000 was raised this afternoon alone.
I hope that you all get to enjoy a break in the coming weeks and are able to relax wherever you are and whatever you are doing. I look forward to our return in January refreshed and reinvigorated and ready for another exciting term.
13th December 21
I hope that this finds you all well. This week has had a very ‘advent-like’ feel to it; with one full week to go of term, we have been dividing our time between the business of cracking on with lessons and activities, but also ramping up the planning for next week.
One exciting feature of this week has been seeing boys in the meeting room opposite my office having their interviews for Oxford and Cambridge university places. For them to have been offered an interview is testament to their hard work, and the quality of support they have received. Ms Zaman is our Head of Scholarship and she has worked tirelessly this term to support boys in their preparation for a wide range of competitive universities. Layered on top of this is Mrs Deedat’s oversight of the higher education process, her focussed support and knowledge of universities both here and abroad means that boys are very well looked after indeed. I am expecting this year to be the third successive year of offers from some of the best universities in the world, and a summer of superb results that are the culmination of hard work from the boys, but also their dedicated teachers.
Tickets are still being sold for the Christmas hamper raffle and I am grateful to the members of the PTA who have organised this. There are now hampers for boys and for adults, and you have until Tuesday to buy a ticket. I will be drawing the winning tickets live on Instagram which will be a first for me!
The music department were out this week, having visited The Gower School in Islington to perform for the staff and pupils there. I am told that the performance went very well indeed and the pupils there were delighted. My thanks go to Messrs Martin and Repa for organising the trip, and thanks also to those pupils who performed.
For those of you coming to the Christmas Concert next Tuesday, tickets are not required and all are welcome. The concert starts at 6pm and will take place in Hinde Street Methodist Church. In keeping with mitigation measures in place for events, you will see that we have asked you to RSVP to an invite sent via School Post so that we have a record of who has attended. We would request that you take a lateral flow test before attending and wear a mask during the performance. The church itself is a large and airy space which is well ventilated. These measures notwithstanding, I know that the musicians are rehearsing hard and very much looking forward to performing for you!
With best wishes for the weekend.
6th December 21
This week I was treated to my first Wetherby Senior drama production – ‘Neville’s Island’ performed by boys in Years 10 to Year 13, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was struck by a number of things. Firstly, what a talented group of students we have in our school! The acting was superb as the boys seamlessly shared roles between scenes – an inspired idea of Ms Twomey’s to make the production as ‘Covid-proof’ as possible. Secondly, it was a perfect example of the well-rounded aspect of our students – boys who represented Wetherby Senior at last week’s rugby fixture against Sevenoaks, along with boys who are members of the brass band and others who are talented artists and graphic designers all appeared together on stage. Thirdly, it was lovely to see the vertical integration of the boys across different year groups, something that is integral to our Trib system. Finally, an enormous amount of preparation and planning went into the production, most of which went on quietly and unnoticed at school. A huge thank you to Ms Twomey and all the cast members for a wonderful evening of entertainment and all their hard work.
Congratulations to the UK Senior Maths Challenge students, in particular Patrick Q, Nico S and Aryav L who were awarded Gold certificates. In addition, there were 14 Silver and 12 Bronze certificates. More good news from Year 13 university applications, with two further interviews for Oxford. To be invited to interview out of the huge number of applicants is a great achievement and we wish the boys the very best of luck.
We are supporting the WLM Shoebox Appeal again this year – a very worthy charity that provides social work projects for some of the most vulnerable people in London who have been affected by a range of social issues such as homelessness, poverty and trauma. More details can be found at the end of the newsletter and I would urge your boys to donate a shoebox.
The next couple of weeks will, I think, pass very quickly indeed. We now have Christmas trees up in each reception and some decorations are beginning to appear around the building. After the play this week, we can now look forward to the Christmas Concert in the last week of term – I know that Mr Martin has everyone rehearsing to a tight schedule to ensure a festive extravaganza!
With best wishes for the weekend.
29th November 21
At the end of another week, I am conscious that the remaining weeks of term are speeding past. The boys continue to work hard, and I would urge them to ensure a balance of their time at weekends between the work they must do, and also making time for rest and relaxation as we approach the end of term.
For the Upper Sixth, this is an exciting time as university offers start to come in, and the boys are doing exceptionally well so far, with one pupil having already received five offers to read Business and Management. Two pupils have been invited to interview at Cambridge and a further pupil is interviewing next week at Manchester to read Maths with Finance. Of those boys who have applied to universities in the UK, 74% have received at least one offer. Offers will continue to come in and we wish the boys the best of luck. Beyond considering the next stage in their education, members of the Sixth Form continue to be great role models for the younger boys as they carry on with their prefect responsibilities and running of co-curricular clubs.
Many thanks to the PTA for the wonderful Curry and Quiz Night they hosted on Wednesday. Hannah House hall was transformed and I appreciate a huge amount of work went into the organisation and planning of this event. People had given generously for the auction, and some lucky bidders walked off with (amongst other things) a wonderful piece of art, a unique cashmere cape, football tickets, and an Apple watch. We are lucky to have such a committed parent body and they are a very important part of our Wetherby Senior community. On the night, there was fierce competition in the quiz, and some pained faces in the music rounds as people knew the tune but couldn’t name the artist! One important thing to note was how well the members of the Sixth Form, who were there to support the event, helped everything go so smoothly. In recognition of this, the staff table gallantly allowed the pupils to finish ahead of us…
I hope our American families are having a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, I know that some of you will host gatherings this weekend and I am sure you will have an enjoyable time. On Thursday afternoon, I was visited in my office at about 4.30 by a Year 11 boy who had come to offer me a Krispy Kreme doughnut as an act of sharing on thanksgiving. I was genuinely moved, and after enjoying my doughnut we chatted about how he was preparing for his GCSE mock exams. It was a lovely meeting and reminded me just why we hold kindness to be so important in our community.
The notable sporting success of the week was the first XI beating the DLD College first XI in their annual ‘local derby’. WSS carried away the Marylebone Cup with a score line of 8:2. Very well done to all players. I wish the 1st XV boys good luck in their fixture against Sevenoaks at Ealing Trailfinders this evening. As our first game under lights at an exceptional sport ground, this will be an experience the boys and the supporters will relish and good luck to the team.
With best wishes for the weekend.
22nd November 21
This week has been anti-bullying week, and across the country schools have run a range of different events to highlight ways of preventing the bullying of young people and emphasising the importance of being upstanders, not bystanders. The week at Wetherby Senior started with odd sock day, with lots of interesting and colourful socks on show, and culminated with our anti-bullying ambassadors leading a thought-provoking assembly on Friday afternoon. Well done to the boys involved – it’s not an easy task to address the entire school at assembly, and many thanks to Mrs Atkinson for co-ordinating the events during the week.
On Tuesday, I went out to Ealing to our sports facility with Messrs Lawrence and Sullivan to meet with Shaun Justice who is Ealing Trailfinders’ facility manager. The purpose of the visit was to view the very impressive new £4m indoor facility that has just been finished and will be opened later this month. It is a fantastic addition to the offering there and adds another option for the Games staff to take advantage of in continuing to provide a terrific sporting programme for our boys. Seeing again the quality and variety of what is on offer, I was reminded of just how fortunate we are to be working with a professional sports club. It means that our boys really do have access to some of the best pitches, facilities and coaching in London. I am confident that our partnership with Ealing will continue for many years to come, and many more Wetherby boys will benefit from it.
The remaining weeks of term promise to be busy with the PTA organised Quiz and Curry night next week, followed by our first Friday Night Lights when Wetherby Senior’s First XV take on Sevenoaks under the floodlights at Ealing Trailfinders. The eagerly anticipated Upper School Production, Neville’s Island, debuts at RADA the following week. It will lovely for the boys to return to live performance in front of a live audience.
With best wishes for the weekend.
15th November 21
Our weekly assembly has just taken place and as is customary we have had an act of remembrance. The brass band accompanied the hymn, trumpeters sounded the last post and reveille, and a Sixth Form organist played us out. Given the Hinde St church setting, and the occasion, our talented musicians have contributed to a fittingly reflective end to the week.
As a school that has been more recently founded than many, we do not have a war memorial to lay wreaths at or past pupils who have fought in previous conflicts. However, I do not believe this diminishes the importance of taking time to pause and reflect on the human cost of wars past, and current conflicts. In my brief address to the school, I spoke about the history and representative significance of the tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey. This powerful representation of the lives of many distilled into a single point of focus seems to me to be an appropriate image and idea to focus on in a moment of meditative silence. Prior to the silence, I read the poem ‘The Bed’ by Simon Armitage. He composed it to mark the 100 year anniversary of the burial of the warrior. It is a moving piece to read, and you can do so here if you wish. As a school with pupils that hail from a diverse range of international backgrounds it is important that we have considered the initial establishment of the Remembrance Day and associated traditions, but also that we acknowledge as a community the much wider and continuing human cost that is wrought by conflicts across the globe.
In my own time, one thing that I very much enjoy is to support an older member of my local community who does at times get lonely. I try to see him now and again and we occasionally text one another. This week, he was in touch with me this week to ask (of all things) about a crossword clue, reminding me of the importance of remembering those around us when we remember past lives. Staying in touch with friends and family members and those more vulnerable members of our communities is a valuable and practical way that we can have a positive impact on people.
With best wishes for the weekend.
8th November 21
I hope that you have all had a restful half term; after a busy first half term I was delighted to be able to get away with my family to Portugal for a few relaxing days of sunshine. Sitting on a plane for the first time in nearly three years certainly felt strange, but it was good to be able to travel again and continue to get back to something approaching normality.
Now that we are back up and running, it has been a busy week for both pupils and staff with lots to report on.
A number of boys sat their university admissions tests earlier this week and I wish them all the best for their results – a favourable result for a candidate means a likely invitation to interview at his chosen university. It is very much the case that those boys who are in Year 13 are applying for the very best universities here in the UK and also in Europe and further afield. The quality of support and guidance they receive throughout this process and also for their studies more broadly means that they are extremely well-positioned to be offered places. Following two years of boys not having public exams, but still progressing to excellent destinations, the boys in the current Year 13 will most likely have exams ‘as normal’ and I have every faith in them doing very well indeed. Later in the term, and early next term, I will keep you updated on the offers that they will be in receipt of.
Today is the Autumn Term ‘Field Day’, it is a day when the normal timetable is suspended to allow a terrific range of trips, visits, and workshops to take place. Mr Sullivan has worked very hard indeed alongside many different members of staff to ensure a varied and interesting programme for the day. Visits have been arranged to a diverse range of places, and I am looking forward to hearing about how things have been at the French Institute, The Globe, Tate Modern, Bletchley Park, the Royal Observatory, and for Year 7 (with a nod to Simon and Garfunkel) someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo!
For those families who have either celebrated Diwali this week, or are gathering together this weekend to mark the festival, I offer my best wishes and hope that you have had an enjoyable time.
With best wishes for the weekend.
19th October 21
I hope that this finds you well, and that you and your sons are looking forward to a well-deserved half term break.
This half term seems to have flown by, and as we head into the break, there is much to reflect on and be grateful for. Having spoken with a number of other Heads this week, I certainly think that we have been quite fortunate in the low number of Covid cases across the school. Where others have had to return to bubbles and large numbers of pupils at home, we have been able to carry on fairly normally albeit with our appropriate mitigation measures in place.
This Monday the Music Department put on their first recital of the year, and there were some very fine performances indeed. As with other areas of school life such as sports and visits, it was lovely to return to live performances and I know that there are more concerts in the diary for next half term. We were also treated to a performance by the Brass players in assembly yesterday, and their playing was fantastic – a fitting end to the assembly and half term and I am extremely grateful to Mr Martin and all of the players for their efforts.
We were also privileged to be spoken to in assembly by members of the school’s diversity committee. Formed last year and looked after my Ms Nash this a committee formed of boys from all year groups and is a superb example of boys and staff in the community demonstrating our commitment to, and engagement with, issues relating to diversity and inclusion within and beyond the school. The School Council has also been meeting in the last few weeks, and they have been engaged in reviewing some key school policies for us – a very adult but important aspect of their role and it is an opportunity for the voices of our pupils to feed into what we do.
Before I sign off, it is important to offer my thanks to all members of the school community for their hard work over the last seven weeks; and to note the hard work, enthusiasm, and good cheer of boys and staff alike as they have all come back together. My thanks also to you – the parent body for your support of me and of the school. I have very much enjoyed meeting many of you at the coffee mornings and parents’ evenings this half term.
I hope you have a lovely restful half term, and I will see you in November.
The Barometer Half Term 2 2021-22 by Wetherby Senior School...
Happy New Year! It has been great to be back…
Happy New Year! It has been great to be back...
Happy New Year! It has been great to be back...