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

22nd January 2016

As the league tables hit the headlines again, I have been reading with interest and empathy comments from fellow independent school heads on how they fail to tell the whole story about pupil performance. To start with, the data itself is far from easy to interpret: for example, the IGCSE examinations, which many pupils—including our own—sit as a rigorous and well-recognised alternative to GCSE in one or more subjects, are no longer counted. This is why some of the top schools in the nation have a 0% 5+ A*-C record for 2015. Also, the current tables do not take into account the progress that independent school pupils have made on an individual basis. Gosfield and many schools in our sector are non-selective, welcoming children with a range of abilities and helping them reach and surpass their target grades. We do recognise the importance of examinations, as good results open doors for our young people, but so do all the other things they gain from an independent education: confidence, resilience, creativity, communication skills, collaboration and leadership. We are immensely proud of all their achievements and how they reach their goals, be they places at world-class universities or apprenticeships with major companies. And they have fun and form lasting friendships along the way. I challenge any leagues tables to try and measure the significance of that.

Here are two links you may wish to follow to read more on this issue:
League tables: When does zero mean excellent?
School performance tables a "travesty against what schools set out to achieve"

18th January 2016

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending an assembly in Meadow Court led by Year 1 pupils—and what a super assembly it was! They were very excited about their recent work on castles and fairy tales, and had prepared all sorts of ways to share their learning with the other pupils. Dressed as knights and princesses, they gave a detailed and fascinating account of their trip to Colchester castle, where they had clearly learned a great deal (memorably about medieval toilets!), and told us about versions of fairy tales they have been reading. They spoke clearly and with confidence throughout and ended their assembly with a song about Goldiocks, complete with actions. I was most impressed at how much they had remembered, how well they expressed themselves and the poise they displayed. I congratulate Mrs Smith and all the Prep teachers on helping our youngest children develop not only knowledge, understanding and a love of learning but also the confidence and communication skills that will stand them in such good stead as they go through life.

11th January 2016

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!

9th December 2015

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.

1st December 2015

Dove of Peace

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.

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