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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

26 January 2016

At the weekend the Year 12 students attending the Harvard Model United Nations Conference jetted off and hopefully have not been affected by the heavy snow too much.  We should feel reassured though that the Americans can deal with heavy snow much better than we can!  We look forward to hearing about their experiences when they return.

This week the Senior Leadership Team is spending some time popping into a selection of Science lessons to experience what the students experience each day.  This is simply routine and nothing to worry about.  Part of the Senior Leadership Team’s responsibility is to monitor teaching and learning across the School and part of that process is occasionally spending some time visiting lessons.  The main aim is to share the very good practice that is currently going on in Science and to celebrate its success.  It also can provide opportunities for members of staff to reflect on their own teaching style and develop further as a professional.  I am sure that everyone involved will learn a lot.
Before I arrived at Maidstone Grammar School many of you will know I spent six years at The Judd School as Deputy Head.  During those six years I undertook a one-year secondment at The Coopers School in Bromley, and this week I am returning to Coopers to meet up with the Headteacher.   I have not been back to Coopers for nearly five years and so returning there this week will certainly bring back some memories.  The Headteacher of Coopers is an extremely experienced Head and so I will use the opportunity to share with her the developments that we are seeing at MGS and how we are continuing to evolve.

Every two weeks I spend some time meeting with Harry Webster and Alex Harward, the School Captain and School Vice-Captain, and this Thursday is that opportunity.  The meetings are not only used to discuss operational matters within the School and how the prefect body can support them, but also provide me with a sounding board to share with the two of them a number of developments  I have in mind for the future.  It is incredibly valuable hearing a student perspective, and both Harry and Alex have provided me with that during their time in office. 
Congratulations to Ryan Ambanpola of 7Cl who has been selected to represent West Kent District U12s Cricket team for the 2016 season.  Well done Ryan.

A final reminder that the Parents’ Association annual Quiz night takes place next Friday 5 February starting at 7.30 - please contact the School Office if you would like to book a table and come along for an enjoyable evening.

 

 

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

19 January 2016

Last Tuesday the teaching staff took part in an activity where they all became learners again.  Four different activities were on offer: Bridge, Yoga, Samba Drumming and Russian, and each member of staff chose one of them which they had never done before.  I chose Bridge.  The idea was to put ourselves back into the mindset of a learner and consider what it is like learning something we know nothing about; something our students go through probably every day.  Not only was it incredibly informative and created much conversation over the following few days, but it also was an opportunity for staff to work with others that they would not normally do so.  It was a brilliant experience.

On Monday this week Dr Everett, the Assistant Headteacher in charge of the Upper School, and myself launched the application process for next year’s School Captain and School Vice-Captain positions.  I particularly like this time of year as I get to read about, meet and interview a number of students who really do value what it means to be a Maidstonian, have huge amounts of pride for their school, and who wish to give something back to a school to which they hold close to their hearts.  We will know who the successful candidates are by the end of February.  Good luck to everyone who applies.
At the weekend a group of Year 12 students leave us for a week and fly to the USA to attend the Harvard Model United Nations Conference.  This trip takes place each year and is a fantastic opportunity for those who are able to go to join young people from all across the World and debate a number of global issues that matter to us all.  Enjoy the experience.

On Friday I am attending the termly Kent and Medway Grammar Schools’ Association meeting.  Three or four times a year all of the Kent and Medway Grammar School Heads meet up and share good practice and advice about a number of matters that affect us all.  The meetings also provide excellent opportunities to network with like-minded colleagues and ensure that we continue to support the many thousands of young people in Kent and Medway in our care.

 

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

12 January 2016

The first week of the New Year where we all reflect on the Christmas holiday is now over and we can get on with the everyday business.  At this point I wish to thank all the students for a really good start to the term; please may it continue. 

Last week Year 8 took part in a Careers Day – a day off timetable in order to take part in a number of activities that help young people think about their futures.  One parent emailed into school on Friday saying, “my son came home yesterday absolutely enthused by the careers day that you held at MGS.”  It is pleasing to hear such encouraging feedback, and well done boys for approaching the day’s opportunities with positivity and enthusiasm.
This week Year 8 also begin their process of thinking about what subjects they would like to study at GCSE.  On Wednesday evening Year 8 students and their parents are invited to attend the Year 8 Options Information Evening to hear from key staff about the next few months and what to expect when making these important decisions.  We look forward to seeing you all there.

Tonight after school all teaching staff will remind themselves what it is like to be a learner again.  As part of our year-long work on learning at MGS, staff will be learning something that they currently know very little about: Bridge, Samba Drumming, Yoga or Russian.  The aim is to get teaching staff to imagine what it is like learning something new again, and so evoke thoughts on how they teach in their classrooms.  The session will be both informative and reflective but hopefully fun too.
I received a letter from The Salvation Army yesterday thanking us for the toys and gifts generously donated by our parent body.  As a result of this generosity, Christmas presents were given to 340 children who would have otherwise received very little if anything at all.  In addition, mums and carers were also given a small present and 210 food parcels were distributed to families.  I would like to thank you for the support you give to this worthy cause, it was overwhelming to see the gifts around the Christmas tree at the end of term.

Finally, an advanced notice of Friday 5 February which is the Parents’ Association annual Quiz Night.  Please look out for flyers giving details of the event, and come along to enjoy an evening’s entertainment.  

 

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

5 January 2016

Happy New Year to you all.  I hope you all had a wonderful and relaxing Christmas and not regretting eating that last mince pie! 

Just at the end of last term we held once again the Great MGS Christmas Quiz: a tradition that Mrs Anderson, former Deputy Head, left with us.  The main aim of the Quiz is to build greater allegiance and community spirit within each House and be one of few opportunities where students of different ages work together to win points for their House.  It is in its third year, and this year proved to be stressful for the ICT Technicians.  The Quiz relies on running the questions through our ICT infrastructure to ensure that all students see each question simultaneously.  The 2013 and 2014 were a great success, but this year proved somewhat challenging.  We got there in the end thanks to some quick reactions by the ICT Technicians, and thank you to all the students and staff that waited patiently in what must have been a frustrating and anxious time.  Results will be announced in the assemblies this week.
This week is a quiet one; the aim of it is simply to get everyone back into the swing of things.  This term, I find, is the hardest.  Despite the Autumn Term being the longest, the Spring Term sees the beginnings of the build up to the summer examinations.  Many students are completing essential pieces of coursework, they need to be marked and moderated by staff, and additional revision sessions and one-to -one offers of help are put on to support a number of individuals.  In addition Year 8 students make their choices for which GCSE subject they wish to study next year and all Year 11 students meet with a senior member of staff to discuss their A-Level thoughts and future plans.  Alongside all of this a number of initiatives that are being worked on in preparation for next year come to a head: how we will assess students, what the House structure will look like and how teaching and learning will continue to evolve all need to be answered.  A busy term.