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A co-educational independent through school
Nursery – Prep – Senior – Sixth Form

2nd March 2016

This week, our Year 9 pupils attend their Options Evening with their parents. This is an opportunity for them to think carefully about the GCSE courses they will choose and talk to teachers about what is involved in each. It is not easy to make such decisions but we hope that our pupils feel supported and informed, as the choices they make are important for their future. We explain to all our pupils the importance of a broad and enriching education, encouraging them to continue with a wide range of subjects that will help them build their analytical, communication, practical and creative skills. Whatever they go on to do in the future, these skills will stand them in good stead. They are fortunate at Gosfield to have an extensive extra-curricular programme, too, which can complement and extend their learning and development. We believe in helping them keep doors open so that, as they refine their plans for the future, they can take those next steps with confidence.

25th February 2016

I attended another wonderful Prep School assembly this week: our Reception class presented their recent topic of farming through words, songs and pictures, showing all they had learned and having great fun in the process. Their enthusiasm and confidence were delightful. Seeing our youngest pupils loving learning and achieving so much makes me all the more excited about our new nursery, which opens in April. Extending our educational provision to even younger children enables us to offer them an excellent, teacher-led start to their Gosfield learning journey. We have welcomed a good number of families to visit our nursery rooms at Meadow Court, showing them the fully-equipped indoor and outdoor learning areas and speaking to them about how we will nurture and encourage their children. If you, too, would like to see the nursery, please do contact us.

9th February 2016

This is one of the times of year when I spend a great deal of time in my study reading reports—in this case, of pupils in Year 10 and up. While in some ways I would rather be around the school, spending time with our young people, reading about what they have been studying and achieving, their progress and development, their interests and activities is a real pleasure. One of the joys of leading a small school is that I do know all of our pupils, but reports give me a greater insight into their personalities, attitudes and aspirations as well as their academic achievement. I always say to staff, what parents want from a school report is to know that the teachers really understand their children—warts and all! There is no doubt that frequent grade cards give a useful snapshot of attainment and progress and can flag up any concerns. The written reports go beyond this, though—and that is why we still ensure that a full report is created for each pupil at least once a year.

Parents' evenings are also an important aspect of our reporting, and yesterday we invited our Prep parents to come and discuss all that their children have been learning this term. The Tapestry online system that keeps parents of Reception pupils in touch with their children's activities and progress will also be used in the Nursery when in opens in April.

We believe that the more we communicate with parents, the better it is for our pupils, so we are very pleased that after half term we will be launching our online Parent Portal, allowing all parents secure access to information about their children, including timetables, attendance and both current and historical school reports. More information about this will be sent out to families soon.

As half term approaches, I wish all of our pupils and parents a pleasant and refreshing break.

4th February 2016

Today we welcomed plenty of families to our Open Doors event. They were taken on tours by our pupils and members of the PTA committee to see the school on an ordinary day—and were all very impressed by what they saw, in terms of the work going on in the classrooms, the facilities and the courtesy and confidence of our young people.

When I say it was an ordinary day, for Year 7 it has actually been a bit unusual, as they are enjoying cross-curricular activities based on the theme of Italy. Dressed in the colours of the Italian flag, they are designing masks for the Venetian carnival, listening to opera, learning some Italian phrases and making potato-based pizzas—much more delicious than they sound!

It is always important to involve our pupils in activities which can develop and enrich their appreciation of other cultures. We also continue to build their understanding of their own culture and have been focusing in assemblies and tutor time this term on what it really means to be British. We are lucky to live in a society that has throughout history embraced traditions, products, languages and religions from across the globe and we can celebrate this diversity.

It is particularly appropriate that our older pupils are being encouraged to consider ideas of Britishness as the country prepares to vote on whether or not we should remain a member of the EU. They have been given this quotation to consider in tutor time:

'Being British is about driving a German car to an Irish pub for a Belgian beer, grabbing an Indian curry or a Turkish kebab to enjoy whilst sitting on Swedish furniture and watching American shows on a Japanese TV. Britishness like individuals is a mass of contradictions. We are what we think we are and ultimately there is nothing wrong with that if it inspires that sense of community and collective bond that patriotism can.'

28th January 2016

Over the past two weeks, I have had the pleasure of interviewing our own pupils and external candidates for Sixth Form entry and for Year 7 and Year 12 scholarships. This is an ideal opportunity for me to get to know the pupils better and gives them valuable practice in interview technique. Those who impress most are not over-prepared but speak with genuine engagement and spontaneity. They take the process seriously, making sure they are well-presented and punctual, and a firm handshake and good eye contact convey confidence. Most importantly, they demonstrate enthusiasm, whether speaking about their specialisms in music or sport, for example, or answering some of my more challenging and unexpected questions. I am sure some of them leave my room wondering exactly how we got onto the subject of Viking invasions, land management or tight-rope walking!

At Gosfield, we recognise the importance of the so-called 'soft skills' that will stand our pupils in good stead in the future - but these soft skills can be hard to master. That is why we ask pupils to present in assemblies, take on leadership roles and organise House and charity events, to build their confidence and develop effective communication and interaction with others. We also offer activities that support this development, not least the Duke of Edinburgh Award programme.

Debra Searle MBE, British adventurer, author and Gold Award holder says that DofE 'enables a young person to develop their mind, body and soul... elevate their self-confidence, skills and aspirations.' This week, I trained as a DofE verifier; we are now an awarding centre and this allows us to approve awards and certify our candidates. The course I went on reminded me how enriching and challenging the programme is and how well respected it is by universities and employers, since it says so much about a young person's commitment and character.

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