Last week, I attended, on behalf of ISA, the Independent Schools Universities Committee meeting in Prague. We had travelled to the Czech Republic to visit one of the oldest universities in Europe. Charles University, established in 1348, has an excellent reputation for teaching and research and has links with top universities across the world, including Oxford and Harvard. It is now offering courses taught in English, in its Economics faculty and Medical school. Studying in English in Europe may be an attractive option for some of our Sixth Form leavers, who could benefit from the lower fees and cost of living, small teaching groups and a vibrant, international community as they study for highly valued degrees. It is important that we advise our young people about the range of opportunities available to them in an informed way, so I very much appreciated visiting Charles University and meeting professors and students to find out more about the courses on offer.
Last week, I attended the ISA annual Heads’ conference in Manchester. The theme of the conference was ‘No Boundaries’ and sessions focused on innovation in education. We are fortunate in ISA schools to be able to use our independence to explore new ways to stimulate our pupils to achieve and develop a love of learning. Professor Guy Claxton from King’s College London spoke about raising attainment through building ‘learning power’: he sees it as important that we do not simply equip our young people with skills but encourage them to be ‘disposed to learning’. As many of the speakers pointed out, we do not know what awaits our pupils in the future in terms of the workplace, so it is essential that they leave our schools as active learners, with enquiring minds and a flexible attitude, ready to take on the challenges ahead. Attending such conferences always gives me plenty to think about and bring back to Gosfield. We have taken strides recently in our curriculum design—for example through the Creative Learning Journey and Forest School in the Prep School and by offering new examination courses and a range of enrichment and cross-curricular opportunities in the Senior School—but I know there is more that we.
Celebrating success of all kinds is something that we always enjoy at Gosfield. Pupil achievement is, of course, our main focus, and we are very proud of our silver duke of Edinburgh candidates for completing their expedition successfully last weekend. This week, we have also been congratulating members of staff on their own notable accomplishments. Mr Lloyd and Mr Cutbush of the PE department played an important role in the promotion-winning season for Colchester Rugby Club, where Mr Lloyd is the Backs Coach and Brett plays Full Back. Colchester has been promoted to the national league for the first time in their history. Another star athlete is Mrs Flynn Haddon who completed the London marathon on Sunday, raising money for Echo, a charity supporting children with congenital heart disease. We are fortunate to have such excellent staff role models for our pupils.
It is a beautiful time of year here at Gosfield, with signs of spring wherever you look. Pupils enjoying all of their outdoor pursuits—sport, forest school, gardening, cycling—cannot fail to notice the primroses, violets and cuckoo flowers in the woods and on the meadow, the insistent birdsong in the trees and hedges and, of course, our resident nesting ducks. The mallards, our regular occupants, have been joined on the pond by a pair of tufted ducks, who are very elegant and serene. It won’t be long until we have ducklings waddling around the grounds—so do watch out for them, as they don’t stop to look both ways before crossing the drive!
What a busy day we had on Saturday! We welcomed a record number of prospective pupils and their families for our Open Morning. They enjoyed their tours and we appreciated the opportunity to show them our wonderful new Prep classrooms, refurbished areas of the main building and, of course, our splendid grounds. No one seemed to mind that the sun wasn’t shining as the daffodils and primroses were in bloom, and the catering team had made a lovely Spring buffet for our visitors, complete with hot cross buns and Easter egg cup cakes. I received many positive comments about the School, particularly our pupils who always do us proud on such occasions.
At the end of Open Morning, the younger pupils in their Easter hats led a parade which marked the start of the PTA Easter Fayre. We had an excellent turnout for this fundraising event which was fun for all the family, with pony rides, cake decorating, craft stalls and raffles. Huge thanks to the PTA committee and everyone who came to help, including our pupil Enterprise team. The event raised £500, part of which will be donated to the Daisy charity we have been supporting this term.
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