Musings from the Head’s Study – 26th April 2013


Another week seems to have whistled past – this always seems to be the case in the Summer Term. I suspect that it is because one always has an eye on the much closer deadlines of the start of Study Leave and almost immediately thereafter the onset of the public examinations themselves. This makes the Term feel foreshortened. This week has seen the harbingers of the full-on examination season arrive in the form of the Language orals and the GCSE Art practicals. I have to say that Year 11 have been acting with great calm – I now have confidence that they could face a firing squad with some kind of dignity should they have to ~ not that I see this as an eventuality for any of them, but one never knows in this life.

This week has been a busy week for other sections of the School as well. There have been trips to the Natural History Museum and to an Art Gallery as well as a Geography field trip to the wilds of Epping Forest.  We also had the delights of the whole school photo – no rain this time but more than a little windy it has to be said. Rehearsals continue apace for next week’s production of The Girl in the Blue Coat and it is a delight to hear the music being rehearsed after school.

Another delight for me this week was to attend this half-term’s Food for Thought lunch with a group of Householders. For the uninitiated More’s Household holds one of these events at lunchtime each half term. A group of mixed-age Householders entertain members of Staff and themselves to lunch whilst discussing a particular topic. This allows them to rehearse playing with ideas whilst eating – both useful skills especially when combined. This week’s lunch was led by Mr Bignell and the topic he selected was story-telling and he introduced this by reading us a chapter of Alice in Wonderland. As I observed to the Householders I had forgotten what a delight it is to be read to. Interestingly another of the girls commented that it made her feel sleepy because it reminded her of when her mother used to read to her before bed. The conversation which followed ranged far and wide over topics as diverse as homelessness to whether electronic books are ‘better’ than real ones – clearly no contest in my mind but perhaps that merely proves what a dinosaur I am. It was a delightful way to spend a lunchtime.

Can I make my annual plead for help with finding work experience placements for our last few LVIth Form? If you could bear to have one of them around your place of work – they really are very pleasant, hard-working and house-trained – please let Mrs Maudsley (Head of VIth Form) know as soon as possible. Work experience can be a great motivator for members of the VIth and is something which can help in their university applications so any help you can give is greatly appreciated.

On a point of information I shall be out of School from Wednesday to Friday next week as I will be helping to conduct an ISI inspection of another school. This is an obligation which is placed on all GSA Heads who have been trained as Inspectors. It seems a very long time ago since I was one of the first Deputy Heads in the country to be in an ISI training cohort – actually it was, as it was in the last century! In my absence Mrs Leach will be Acting Head.

It was Mark Twain who is said to have remarked that news of his death had been greatly exaggerated on reading of the premature publication of his obituary in an American newspaper. I have been feeling a little like this myself this week. I am very grateful for the very kind sentiments which a number of you have expressed on the announcement, by the Chair of Governors, of my eventual retirement. However I feel that I must stress that I am not going at the end of this academic year, but rather at the end of the forthcoming one, thus the news of my impending retirement has been greatly exaggerated. May I also say a heartfelt thank you to those parents, pupils (and, it has to be said, Staff) who have expressed surprise that I will be old enough for such a thing next academic year.  I am massively flattered that my boyish good looks and enthusiasm clearly belies my chronological age!

With best wishes for a wonderful, sunny late Spring weekend.

Robert Carlysle



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