23rd November 20
We follow last week’s news about the ISA’s film competition with more good news from the ISA awards. Each year they award the Whitbread Memorial Prize. Schools are invited to submit two pupils who have performed outstandingly in their GCSEs and also made a significant and sustained contribution to the wider life of the school community. We have had boys recognised for the last two years but this year’s entrants have done exceptionally well. Max Hashem was announced as the winner and our other entrant came second. Both have contributed a great deal to the School since they joined us and I am delighted this has been recognised by the judges. When pandemic restrictions allow, there will be an invitation to the House of Lords from Lord Lexden, the President of the Independent Schools Association, to celebrate their success.
Thank you to the anti-bullying ambassadors for an excellent assembly and also for a great week of resources. They have spent the Autumn term planning how the School could celebrate and fundraise for Anti-Bullying Week, although unfortunately the bubble restrictions put a stop to a few ideas the Ambassadors wanted to do (colour-runs through Regent’s Park and a school bake sale). The Ambassadors chose two boys from each year group to represent them in the sale of Anti-Bullying wristbands and stickers for their respective year groups. Odd Socks Day turned into an Odd Socks Week after its initial success and boys have worn very bright and odd socks each day. Boys have also been learning about the importance of being an Upstander to bullying rather than a Bystander; a key message of their assembly this week.
I hope that you all have a good weekend,
16th November 20
Next week is anti-bullying week and the Year 11 anti-bullying ambassadors who were trained jointly with Queen’s College pupils last year on the course offered by the Diana Award are leading the week. Their plans last year were cut short by lockdown but the team are still in place and working together. It has been launched in this afternoon’s PSHE lesson and next week the boys will provide resources for each morning’s registration and will finish by leading the assembly on Teams next Friday afternoon. They are an interesting bunch with a variety of talents and interests and what I am most pleased about is that the training brought together ten boys who knew each other, but weren’t necessarily friends, into an effective team. I am very much looking forward to what they will be doing next week. It starts with odd socks day on Monday 16th November in support of the anti-bullying alliance. All boys are encouraged to wear odd socks and make a donation of £1 to the anti-bullying alliance.
Cyber-bullying and online safety was the focus of the talk Karl Hopwood delivered to the Year 7 earlier this week. Karl is a regular speaker at the School and I am glad that we have been able to draw on his knowledge even though he could not visit in person. I have picked up the theme of sensible use of online resources for my assembly this afternoon, focussing on the impact social media and the internet has on our ability to pay attention to other things and asking the question of what might have been lost with the growth of our online lives.
Finally, as we approach the Christmas concert and the Senior Play, which will take place online, I am also pleased to announce that casting has begun for the Staff Panto. The popularity of this performance, and the size of the Drama studio meant that we had to disappoint a few boys. This year, it will be recorded and shared with all boys on the final day of term. I know that some staff are already lobbying for a larger role (and some for a smaller one) but as ever it will be fun way to end this challenging term.
With best wishes for the weekend,
9th November 20
It started two years ago with The Penguin, it continued last year with The Adventures of Lobsterman and Oscar Tracey has made it a hat trick of victories in the Independent Schools Association Short Film Awards with Sleep. His co-star and co-director Isaac Evans has been involved in two of the three wins and I congratulate them both. The judge’s comments were very complimentary: “This is a truly outstanding piece of work; the filmmakers should be very proud indeed. Razor-sharp editing, atmospheric lighting, fantastic performances, and some effective jump-scares (especially the ghostly hand over the sleeping boy) made this a gruelling pleasure to watch. I am really interested to see what this group does next. Excellent!”
In spite of the challenges facing many undergraduates and universities at the moment (first-hand accounts from our first set of leavers suggest it has been far from easy), the Year 13 are still excited about planning for the next stage of their education. The boys who have submitted applications are already picking up offers from some top universities: Queen Mary, Manchester, Exeter and Bristol so far. Receiving offers is both a source of relief for the boys and also a great motivator.
We marked Remembrance Day this afternoon in our online assembly with all boys observing the silence and the Last Post being played over Teams. I have remarked to the boys in previous years that it is unusual, but I think positive, to mark Remembrance in a school that doesn’t have a memorial to fallen former pupils and it has allowed us to take a different approach to other schools I have worked in. Over the years that has seen personal reflections from a member of staff who was a former serviceman, one from a pupil about his grandfather’s involvement in conflict and last year was a historical reflection from Mr Warner. This year we are focussing on the large numbers of non-Europeans who joined up to serve in a variety of roles and who are not always at the forefront of our minds when we think about those who gave their lives in the Great War.
17th October 20
12th October 20
The Sixth Form lecture series has been running for a few weeks now – the speaker either visits us or Francis Holland – and the lecture is filmed to be shared with those that can’t be there in person. The Drama Studio hosted something a little different for the Year 12 on Monday. Harry Baker, a Bristol Maths & German graduate and the youngest ever World Slam Poetry Champion, talked to the boys about his love of language, shared some of his poetry including the first poem inspired by an idea he had on his paper round, and the poem he wrote on his favourite prime number (59).
The School has today focussed on mental health and wellbeing as it is World Mental Health Day tomorrow. It was the focus for this afternoon’s PSHE session and also for this afternoon’s assembly which was done by Section so that age appropriate advice and information could be shared. The Year 13 have also produced a video on their techniques for coping with pressure. It is impressive that they have found the time to do this at a point in the year when they are juggling competing academic demands.
The Year 13 are focussed on their applications to university at the moment and for some the application deadline is the end of next week. Those applying to Oxbridge or for medicine and dentistry are pulling the final pieces together. The medics have all recently sat the UCAT and there are tests coming up in early November for Oxbridge. It is a challenging time for them, and with such competitive applications there are more challenges to come but I congratulate them on all they have done so far.
5th October 20
Throughout lockdown the LAMDA teaching continued online and I am very pleased that so many of the boys managed to sit the exam over the summer. The results that we have received so far have been excellent. 7 boys passed with Merit and 3 with Distinction, one in Grade 8 and two in Grade 5, which is a great achievement as only around 10% of entrants receive this grade. These qualifications help build confidence with public speaking and communication skills so are well worth pursuing as they build important skills for later life.
One teacher has also had something to celebrate. Mr Astbury-Palmer, the Head of Maths, has been selected for an Outstanding Educator Award by the University of Chicago. The award has been running for the last three decades. Each year new undergraduates are asked to “to nominate an educator whose guidance has helped them along the path toward intellectual growth”. Mr Astbury-Palmer was nominated by one of our students who left us at the end of last academic year. I am sure you will join me in congratulating him.
I am pleased that Miss Twomey and Mr Tibbles have started rehearsals for the Sixth Form play. As those who have been here for some time will know, the Drama department have moved easily between genres – from promenade and physical theatre to horror and farce – and have chosen an interesting piece and approach for this term’s production. Beat the Devil, a monologue written by David Hare about his experiences in lockdown, will be divided between a number of boys and will be streamed in early December. We look forward to seeing it!
28th September 20
I hope that you have all had a good week. Again I have been pleased by the way the boys have responded to the circumstances in which we are running the School. I am also grateful to you for the steps you have taken to make sure the school is safe and kept your sons out of school if they are showing potential symptoms. It is tough that the last few months have seen us all make sacrifices and it is to last for a while yet, but I hope you will continue to reinforce the message with your sons that the steps being put in place at School and more widely are important for all of us.
Clubs are now running every lunchtime for those year groups not attending games. Please encourage your sons to get involved in the activities where possible – duty staff in Hannah House are encouraging them towards the clubs and tutors will be monitoring involvement but do also have a conversation with your sons about what they can do to make the best use of their time. From Ukelele Club Ensemble to Cryptic Crosswords, from DJ-ing to Mandarin, Debating to Coding as well as Psychology and Sociology Club for the Sixth Form. It is sad that the full range cannot be open to everyone but there is a broad programme in place for when normality returns.
I was pleased today to be given an afternoon off my weekly Team assembly by the Head Boy, Monty Cortazzi, and his two deputies, who made a film for the School about studying and study skills. They not only shared their own experiences but also drew on the knowledge of some of the teaching staff – Mr Bray, Ms Ataii and Mr Eade. It is not easy to establish yourself as the leaders of the student body when you are operating in a bubble but they delivered a strong message to the community and I hope the boys will take away a few tips that they can incorporate into their own routines.
21st September 20
Today started well – first thing this morning, as the boys were arriving at School, a number of last year’s leavers gathered to present an honours board as a souvenir of their time at the School. Some have already made their way to university, others head off this weekend and a few are starting courses remotely at home. It was lovely to see them all, to give them their Old Boys ties and to share a few memories with them. They were a year group, and a set of parents, who did so much to support the School in its early days and although it wasn’t the event we planned, it was great to see them and hopefully the rules will let us be all in one place soon.
So, as the leavers pack their trunks, we turned our thoughts earlier this week to the future plans of our current pupils. On Wednesday evening, Mrs Deedat and Jason Smith from UES hosted a webinar with representatives from USC, Notre Dame, NYU, Wake Forest and the university I find most fascinating, St John’s College, at which all students follow the Great Books curriculum, reading around 200 of the greatest books ever written, starting with Homer’s Iliad and finishing in the modern era. Listening to the different speakers I find myself both envious of and excited for the boys who have such a range of opportunity today.
Sixty clubs and activities returned to School from this week, with all the boys having their first Friday session today. The bubbles do not allow the free choice across all the clubs that the boys had last year but there is a range of options in each year group which I hope they will enjoy. Once the sports venues reopen we will add those back in too. As with all things, we will keep reviewing the offering and making adjustments. The Barometer, our pupil-led publication, is the first club that will operate across all year groups via Teams and we look forward to their first edition at half term. All boys are welcome and encouraged to contribute to it.
24th August 20
Wetherby Senior announces another strong set of GCSE results – the school’s third set of results since it first opened its doors in September 2015
Seth Bolderow, Headmaster, said: “The uncertainty that has surrounded this examination period has been very unsettling for boys and their parents. I am, therefore, particularly pleased that the system has recognised the boys’ hard work over the last two years. I have been so impressed by their positivity and resilience and look forward to welcoming them back knowing they are well positioned for their onward transition into the Sixth Form.”
Based on the results received:
17th August 20
Wetherby Senior announces the school’s first ever set of A Level results. 2020 is a pivotal year in the school’s development with the first intake of students being awarded their A Level results. Based on the results received this morning, we are proud to report that 58 % of entries were graded A* or A and 85% A*-B. A quarter of the year group were awarded all A* and As with 3 boys gaining 3 A*s, 2 gaining 4 A*s and around half of these ‘pioneer’ students gained at least 1 A* grade. The success of the boys also demonstrated the strength of the academic departments with the top grades being achieved in all subjects.
Seth Bolderow, Headmaster of Wetherby Senior commented, ‘I and all the teachers and staff are so proud of our ‘pioneer’ boys and their achievements at A Level. For 58% of the boys to achieve A* or A is testament to their determination and hard work while also being fantastic ambassadors for the values of the school. Speaking to the boys this morning, we could sense their excitement about taking up the fantastic university offers as they move on to the next stage in their education.’
Following these results boys will be moving on to top universities in this country and abroad, reflecting the international nature of the cohort. The majority of the boys are joining Russell Group universities, including places at Cambridge, LSE, Imperial, UCL and Warwick. Boys heading further afield will be taking up places at Notre Dame, the University of Chicago and Wake Forest in the US, with three boys heading to Europe to study at KU Leuven in Belgium, IE Madrid and Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. The sporting talent of two boys has also been recognised by sports scholarships to Brunel University (Rugby) and the University of Akron (American Football).
Concluding, Seth Bolderow, Headmaster added ‘The challenges of the global pandemic were not unique to Wetherby Senior, but we were very impressed with the resilience of the boys and staff as we moved seamlessly to online learning. Uniquely for Wetherby Senior, they were our first Upper Sixth cohort and we will never forget the mark they have left on the school. No other group of boys can be a ‘pioneer’ group but we hope they will endeavour to follow the wonderful example set by our A Level class of 2020’.
Wetherby Senior announces the school’s first ever set of A...
We follow last week’s news about the ISA’s film competition...
We follow last week’s news about the ISA’s film competition...
We follow last week’s news about the ISA’s film competition...