Headmaster’s Blog

I think I may have been a little hasty in proclaiming last week that Week 10 was a really busy one: we have just emerged from Week 11, and it’s pretty clear that there has been no shortage of activity over the last seven day, either.  Having written last week about the public exam success with which our pupils have recently met (over half of all papers were graded A* or A), I want to say some ‘well dones’ to the pupils and staff for their extra-curricular endeavours this week.

‘Sport for all’ is Mrs Ross’ ethos, and she and her sports department have certainly laid on a terrific number of sporting events for all pupils to get involved in.  We enjoyed a festival of athletics at the Exeter Arena last week as our Junior Sport Day saw everyone in Years 1 to 4 come together to compete and have fun, and this week has been the turn of our senior athletes and of our most junior.  Senior Sports Day took place on Wednesday at Exeter Arena, and was a really great example of teamwork, sportsmanship, high standards, sport for all, and healthy competition.  I’ve no doubt that we are in for a treat with another of Mr Kelly’s famous Sports Reports, so I will leave it to him to give a detailed analysis of what was a really good day.  A huge well done to all competitors and helpers, and particular congratulations to the epic staff relay team who waltzed across the line ahead of the parents’ team, the senior girls, the senior boys and the Gap team, to claim their place at the top of the podium.   Our 4 staff runners (Messrs Pennington, Meeke, Kelly and Bartlett) were obviously given the very best possible coaching at school, three of them being ECS alumnae.

And then today the venue was the County Cricket Ground for the EYFS (Nursery and Reception) sports day.  What a terrific display of exercise, colour, enthusiasm and fun.  Our youngest athletes worked really hard as they negotiated their way around the 8 sports stations that the sports department had set up, and it was clear from the buzz in the air and the smiles on the faces that they were really enjoying themselves.  The only downside of the morning was that someone apparently managed to snap a photo of me in a rubber ring and purple sparkly hat, brandishing a bucket and spade – should you ever see this photo, I wish it to be known that this was the ‘beach race’ station, and that I had just won (by miles) the parent race.  If you hear from one of the ultra-competitive Year 1 mums that she was only just narrowly beaten, don’t believe a word of it: I beat Mrs Featherstone with yards to spare.

And then last night, a week after Year 4’s mesmerising performance of Scheherazade under Mrs Butler Evans’ expert direction, I saw something that was a wonderful summing up of everything that’s important in a school, and of everything that we hold dear at ECS.  The Featherstone family have supper each Thursday with the boarders, and this week we were treated to the keenly-anticipated Boarders’ Pantomime.  This is the second year that our Boarders have put on a summer panto, and this year’s Peter Pan was a hoot.  The script was written entirely by one of our Year 7 boarders, and she also directed the show.  Between them, and during their evening activity sessions, the boarders have worked out a rehearsal schedule, practised their movements, learnt their lines, choreographed the dance moves, sorted out costumes, made scenery, written programmes, made posters, organised interval refreshments, coordinated a half-time collection for charity, and organised thank-you presents to give to their helpers at the end.  What a brilliant snapshot, I thought, of all that is good about childhood and schools.  Children working together to be creative; children planning together to be organised; children practising together to iron out differences and reach compromises; children being appropriately confident to get up on stage in front of their peers, teachers and friends; children being quick-witted and sparky enough to improvise (hilariously) when lines got forgotten or when entrances didn’t happen; children using their initiative to create solutions to logistical problems; children being inventive enough to allow their imaginations to take over;  children being fun-loving enough to have a real laugh throughout the whole thing.  I loved it, every home-spun slightly chaotic minute of it.  And I am very proud indeed to lead a school where all of that creativity, all of that confidence, all of that teamwork, all of that initiative, and all of that fun is nurtured and encouraged to allow wonderful things like an in-house pantomime to happen.  Oh yes I am.

29 June 2018
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