This week, we have been conducting Sixth Form interviews. Many of our Year 11 pupils plan to stay with us for their A Level studies, and it was interesting to hear what it is that they are looking forward to as they move to the final stage of their careers at Gosfield. I was impressed by how thoughtfully they discussed the importance of being fully supported by teachers they know and trust, the challenges of organising their own time and the opportunities to develop leadership skills. In a through school such as ours, our Sixth Form students are role models for the younger pupils and do a great deal to help and guide them—from running activities and listening to readers in the Prep School to presenting assemblies and mentoring individuals. They also get the chance to organise events, including the Prom, and some are involved in fundraising for the Kenya expedition this summer.
It is not only those at the top of the School who take the initiative and make a positive contribution. Last Friday, two of our Year 8 pupils, Ellena and Libby, did a sponsored silence for cancer charities. They dressed in pink to raise awareness of breast cancer and raised a good deal of money by managing to keep quiet the whole day. I think they have been making up for it since! Well done, girls.
As I write, I have just attended an assembly run by our Sixth Form girls who wanted to speak to our younger girls about how to cope with puberty and growing up. I was so impressed by how confidently and sensitively they raised a whole range of issues from acne to exam stress, encouraging their fellow pupils to take care of themselves and each other, to avoid the pressure to look and be perfect, and to seek help and advice to support them through their challenging teenage years. The Sixth Form students were candid, friendly and approachable, so I am sure our Year 7-9 girls will feel comfortable speaking to them about their feelings and concerns. This was not a one-off presentation: the Sixth Form girls will be following it up in tutor time over the coming weeks. It makes me very proud when our young people take the initiative in this way, especially when it is to help others and to nurture the family atmosphere that is such an important feature of the school.
While our Prep children enjoy their 'Star of the Week' awards, it is important that we also have the chance to congratulate pupils of all ages who have gone above and beyond. This week's Personal Excellence assembly was a great opportunity to celebrate the success of our older pupils as well as some in Year 6 who will soon be making the transition to Senior School. Mrs Gwynne spoke about their achievements, which ranged from service to the school community as prefects, librarians and parliament representatives to fantastic performances in sport and the arts, as well as excellent attitude towards academic studies. She included wise words from Steve Jobs about teamwork and inspirational images from the Rio Olympics of sportsmen and women reaping the rewards of years of hard work. We hope all of our pupils go on to fulfil their potential, use their talents to the maximum and make a positive and lasting difference to their communities.
I wish you all a very happy new year. The term is already well underway. Our older pupils were straight into mock examinations last week—a bit of a shock to the system after the festive break, but they seemed well-prepared and will, I hope, have gained a lot from the exam practice. There is plenty of hard work ahead of them and all our pupils as we face another busy term—and plenty of extra-curricular opportunities, too.
In January, we tend to take stock and think about what the new year will hold and how we can make positive steps towards our personal goals. In assembly this week, we thought about all those special people who have received New Years Honours for not only fulfilling their own ambitions but for making a positive contribution to their communities. We are all familiar with the famous sportsmen and women, actors and celebrities who have been honoured. However, there are many people who are not in the limelight but have achieved a great deal. The oldest recipient this year was 99 year-old Dorothy Start for over half a century of committed community work and charitable giving. The youngest was 13 year-old Jonjo Heuerman who has raised over £200,000 for the Bobby Moore Fund at Cancer Research UK.
As we start a new year and a new term, I hope we can all be inspired to help others, use our time and our talents wisely and pursue our goals with confidence.
What a fantastic event our 50th Cut Hedge cross-country event was today! We had more schools than ever take part and it was marvellous to see so many young athletes rising to the challenge of the course and enjoying our wonderful grounds. Many congratulations go to the overall winners from Elm Green School who took home the coveted Cut Hedge trophy and to all the runners who placed in their races. We were delighted that Gosfield’s Year 7-8 boys won silver in the team event, with the Year 7-8 girls achieving bronze medals. As ever, I am most grateful to the PE Department, all the staff and pupils helpers and the PTA who supplied hot chocolate and other refreshments for our runners and visitors.
Cut Hedge is our last big event before we start to prepare for all of our Christmas celebrations as we approach the end of term. I can sense some of our pupils—the young ones in particular—getting excited already, and we all got in to the festive spirit early when the Prep School gave us a sneak preview of their nativity and concert in assembly on Monday!
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