Happy new year to you all! We were delighted to welcome everyone back last week after the holidays and to be joined by a number of new pupils whom we hope will settle in quickly. Our Sixth Form students started the term with a workshop run by Young Enterprise focusing on employability skills. In different sessions, they learned how to present themselves at interview and how to design a good cv for when they enter the workplace, and also practised communicating effectively. This built on the opportunities our older pupils are given here at school to develop their confidence, leadership and personal skills, which include acting as prefects and House representatives, taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, touring visitors and so on. We recognise that, while their academic progress and examination results are of vital importance, the so-called 'soft skills' are also crucial for their success at university and in the world of work. It was back to the books from Wednesday as the Sixth Form and Year 10 and 11 pupils sat their mocks, tests that will help us see what they need to do to reach their full potential in the external examinations. They have certainly had to hit the ground running this term!
What a pleasure it was to see all the pupils enjoying themselves and getting into the holiday spirit on Monday. The Prep School party was great fun, complete with dancing and games and a visit from Father Christmas. In the evening, pupils in the Senior School looked glamorous and elegant as they celebrated together, enjoying the buffet, disco and photo booth - a new feature this year. I am grateful to all the staff and pupils who helped make both parties go with a swing and to the PTA for supporting the events again.
We look forward to welcoming our families and friends to the end of term Carol Service on Thursday in St Andrew's. I wish you all a peaceful and happy Christmas and every good fortune in the New Year.
Christmas always comes early to Gosfield! The tree is up and twinkling in the entrance hall and the School Office is decked with holly. Our first Christmas event took place yesterday: the Reception to Year 2 nativity play, 'A Little Bird Told Me.' Our young performers were fantastic, singing beautifully and delivering their lines with confidence, whether they were wise men, sheep, angels or some of the less traditional but most welcome visitors to the manger: birds of all shapes and sizes. We are looking forward to the Prep School concert on Friday which will no doubt contribute further to the Christmas spirit and to our traditional parties and carol service next week.
In assembly today, Year 5 reminded us of a Christmas long ago as they re-enacted the 1914 truce, when German and British soldiers put down their weapons and joined together in peaceful celebration. The pupils sang Silent Night in both English and German, which was very poignant. At a time when we are all hoping for peace on earth, in the face of so much global conflict, it was salutary to be reminded of the spontaneous goodwill that the Christmas season can create.
Our annual Cut Hedge cross-country competition took place this morning, and it was good to see so many boys and girls from local school s coming to take part in this traditional event. The weather was perfect for the races: not too cold, and even a little sunshine, but plenty of mud under foot, which is, of course, a prerequisite. The runners displayed talent, determination and stamina to complete the course. I was delighted to hand out individual and team medals to boys and girls from 10 different schools—including Gosfield—and to present the coveted Cut Hedge Trophy to this year's overall winning school, St Margaret's. I am most grateful to the PE staff and everyone involved in making the event such a success, including the PTA who kept us warm with hot drinks. My thanks also go to all those who took part and came to support the runners. I hope they enjoyed visiting our school and our magnificent grounds.
Last week, Mrs Redfern, Director of Studies, and I attended the annual ISA Autumn Study Conference. As usual, the session covered a broad range of topics, this year’s theme being curriculum innovation in Britain’s independent schools. Presentations on examination reform, curriculum design, creative learning and SEN provision proved stimulating and thought-provoking, and we have brought back to Gosfield plenty of ideas. One panel session focused on outdoor learning, and it was excellent to hear forest school schemes being championed for all they contribute to children’s development. I am delighted that we have been able to extend our forest school provision to Year 7 pupils, who are now spending some of their PSHE lessons in Cub Wood. The lessons are proving extremely popular and we are already contributing to our youngest Senior School pupils’ confidence, risk-taking, leadership and co-operative learning skills. Another session at the conference reminded us of the importance of the arts to children of all ages. The ISA national art competition took place on the final day, and we were very proud that two pieces from Gosfield were being exhibited alongside the very best school artwork from across the country. Although they did not win prizes, they were much admired. It really is all about taking part, as our swimmers also showed us recently: we entered a good number of boys and girls from both Prep and Senior schools in the ISA regional events. Not all of them will go forward to the national competition at the Olympic pool next term, but many only narrowly missed out, and they should all be very proud of their achievement and having represented the school so well.
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