Musing from the Head’s Study – 14th June 2013

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There really is life beyond examinations although this week would have led many to question that assertion. It is remarkable how Exam Week transforms the School, and not all of it in a good way. The School looks drabber with all of the classroom displays down (with the notable exception of the Art Studio and Drama Studio of which more below), the pupils are less creatively sparky and thoughtful, the Staff are never seen around corridors but they are scurrying to another invigilation slot clutching the pile of papers for the next exam, and laughter is rarely heard in the Staff Room as everyone is bent over their marking allocation because Staff face tight administrative deadlines for such things and not just because they know that the first, ill-advised question which will be out of the mouths of at least one pupil will be ‘have you marked our exams yet?’ (Note to the pupils I teach ~ I consider taking marks from the totals of pupils who ask me that question ~ you have been warned, ladies!). The place does not feel like our School at all, but instead has become some kind of ‘hot house’ school. At this time of year I always feel sorry for the Minis in particular because many of them suffer ‘after shocks’ from the last time they did examinations which was their Entrance Exams as Year 6s. We all know that the preparation for those examinations was not a good experience for some of our girls, and sometimes the wounds open again which is understandable but is a terrible shame nonetheless. So what is it all for? Well, as I have tried to explain to Year 7 every year since I arrived in 2007, it is not about competition with others. There will always be people whose results are better than yours and some people whose results are worst than yours ~ if not this year then at some point in your career at More House. This is perfectly normal.  It is about competition with oneself. It is also about measurement of the intellectual distance you have travelled since the start of the year, and the distance you still have to travel. It is finding the gaps and filling them, and finding the strong points and building on them. That is why, in some ways, what teachers say on a piece of work is more important than the mark they give it ~ indeed I was reading about a set of schools where they do not use marks with their pupils, they only write comments; something to reflect on for the future perhaps.

However, despite all the examining that has been going on, there have been the green shoots of real More House forcing their way through. Wednesday saw our contribution to the annual Race for Life. Once again my role was to stand sentinel over the handbags and rucksacs, and steady the School flag, Les Misérable-style, against the wind which, it has to be said, was considerable at times, as was the lashing rain and the low temperatures. However we are More House and when we say we are going to do a thing, then we do it. The girls shrugged off the poor conditions and had a great time. Music is also starting to re-surface through the permafrost of the examinations, and pupils can be heard starting to practice for the Summer Concert and the House Entertainment. Art has also blossomed out in the displays of GCSE, AS and A2 work which have been put up in the Art Studio and the Drama & Dance Studio in preparation for the examination moderation and then the annual Art Exhibition. If you can make it to the Exhibition, if only to have a quick whizz around, then I suggest that you do. The standard this year looks to be astonishing ~ it feels more like an Art Foundation Course end of year show than a school exhibition but don’t take my word for it, come and see for yourself ~ and have some refreshments thanks to the support of MHPA.

Finally, can I just remind you all that next Friday is St Thomas More’s Day and thus is a very special day for us ~ not that it is the actual feast day itself because that is the 22nd June which is the Saturday. We will have Mass as usual at St Mary’s, thanks to the kind invitation of Canon Stuart Wilson who will actually be our celebrant for the Mass as our Chaplain, Father Michael, is not available. Any parents who wish to share that Mass with us would be most welcome. From there we will go to the Field of Glory that is Battersea Park for the Inter-House Rounders competition. We have received our dispensation which gives us exemption from ‘fish Friday’ on that day so that the Saint’s Feast can be suitably feast-like. All we need is good weather but given the fact that it is summer now, we should be fine!

With best wishes for a wonderful, and perhaps dry, weekend,

Robert Carlysle

Headmaster

 

The weeks ahead

Monday 17th June  
Tuesday 18th June AM: Y11 GCSE Book return and Strawberries and Cream in the Courtyard

All day: LVIth School Officers’ induction

Wednesday 19th June AM: Year 6 Induction Day

End of GCSE Examinations

6pm: More House Singers

Thursday 20th June AM: Year 9 English trip to Brompton Cemetery (Gothic Literature project)

PM: House Entertainment rehearsal

Friday 21st June All Day: St Thomas More’s Day

6.30pm MHPA ~ farewell party for the UVIth and their parents

Saturday 22nd June All day: Jazz dance examinations
Monday 24th June A2 Exams finish

Rehearsals for the Summer Concert

6pm More House Singers

Tuesday 25th June Rehearsals for the Summer Concert

SEN Annual Reviews

7.30pm: The Summer Concert

Wednesday 26th June PM: House Entertainment Rehearsals

4.30 ~ 6pm: Art Exhibition

Thursday 27th June PM: House Entertainment
Friday 28th June All day: Choir Trip to Thorpe park

 

In the Chapel this week

Steer the ship of my life, Good Lord, to your quiet harbour, where I can be safe from the storms of sin and conflict.

Show me the course I should take.

St Basil the Great (c330 – 379)

 

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