Headmaster’s Blog

Did you enjoy the summer? The two super-hot days we enjoyed last week seem to have been it, and it has been back to the predictably-unpredictable weather this week. Choosing when to call shirt-sleeve order is a famously-mysterious dark art, and I suspect it’s a little way off at the moment, given the rained-off fixtures at St John’s this week and the reappearance of a couple of ECS scarves in the last few days.


The sun was not hiding on Sunday, however, which makes Mrs Tamblyn’s weekend achievement all the more extraordinary. Claire ran the London Marathon (the hottest on record) in aid of the charity Mermaids, and waltzed back into School on Monday without so much as a grimace and not a stiff joint in sight.  Do congratulate her next time you see her – what a terrific thing to have done.

I promised you last week that I would share the news of our new Headmaster’s PA and Office Manager when an appointment had been made. Following a rigorous recruitment process which culminated in two days of interviews last week, I am delighted to announce the appointment of Miss Katharine Pearce to this crucial post. Katharine was the stand-out candidate from the extraordinarily-impressive shortlist (drawn from the 90 expressions of interest in the role) and will be taking up the post on May 14th. Katharine has exceptional experience as a PA, as a team leader, and as a communicator: she is currently Senior Parliamentary Assistant to the Rt Hon Alun Cairns MP, Secretary of State for Wales. In addition, she holds the role of Senior Parliamentary Assistant to Glyn Davies MP, and she is also Membership Secretary of the cross-party Members’ and Peers’ Staff Association.  Katharine was Head Girl at Queen’s College, Taunton before graduating from Exeter University with a 1st Class Honours degree in Politics. She holds a postgraduate diploma (distinction) in Events Management and Public Relations, and has previously worked as a Fundraising Coordinator for Scope. We’re looking forward to welcoming Katharine when she moves back to the South West next month, and I am sure she will be a terrific asset to the whole ECS community.

It was good to welcome Year 8 pupils and their parents/guardians to Kalendar Hall on Wednesday evening for an exam skills seminar. This was the second installment of focused exam-related advice for our senior pupils and their families, following Mr Bartlett’s Active Revision workshop in the Michaelmas term. Wednesday’s seminar focused on exam technique, and each Head of Department presented their top tips for their subject’s papers. Seeing the line-up of HoDs at the front of the room and listening to their passionate presentations was an excellent reminder that there is really high-quality experience, passion, knowledge, wisdom, compassion and skill on the ECS staff, and that our pupils are in very good hands indeed as they approach their public exams.

Internal exam week (a chance for us to get a snap-shot of pupil progress to help shape our practice and approach and ensure well-informed and tailor-made provision; and a chance for the pupils nearer the top of the School to get a feel for the exam process) takes place just before half-term. Timetables, tips for revision and the like are all available, and we always take care to ensure that it’s a normal week with exams included within it (rather than promoting the idea that normal life stops for tests). Academic success is important, but so too is a continuing love of learning which allows children to become sparked-up and engaged by exciting subject material and creative ways of exploring it. We don’t so SATS – we teach for understanding, enrichment and enjoyment rather than to the exam – and we don’t put everything else on hold whilst exams take place: clubs and activities still run, Games still happen, pastoral contact time is undiminished, play times and socialising opportunities remain, and time spent together with peers and staff continues. The Good Schools’ Guide proclaims that ECS ‘balances childhood and academia perfectly’ – that’s a very pleasing summary indeed.

James Featherstone

27 April 2018
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