Head’s blog

An Insight into Independence

Trinity - Week 9

It has been exam week for the Upper School and the children have worked incredibly hard in their revision and during the exams themselves. The Year 8s are now to be seen in their Red ‘Leavers’ Hoodies and have left for their two night expedition with great excitement. My thanks to Charlie Pritchard and Claire Smith for organising a wonderful Leavers’ Programme featuring events such as circus skills to a murder mystery event — cycling to Topsham and other excitement.

We have recently received the results of the Independent School Council Census taken this year (2018). This is the authoritative source of data providing a picture of where independent schools sit within the UK’s education landscape . The Census which has been conducted annually for the past 45 years, is completed by all schools in the ISC membership and provides some fascinating insights into the sector.

There are now 529,164 pupils at 1,326 ISC member schools – the highest number since records began in 1974. Almost £400m was provided in means-tested fee assistance for pupils at ISC schools, 4% more than last year. There are nearly 60,000 full-time equivalent teachers at ISC schools, equating to a pupil-teacher ratio of 9:1. 91% of pupils who leave ISC schools go on to higher education. The majority (54%) to Russell group universities of which 5% choose Oxbridge.

Barnaby Lenon, ISC chairman and previous Head of Harrow School writes “Independent schools play an important part in the UK’s internationally-recognised and diverse education system. Our independence from central government and local authorities enables each ISC school to follow its own curriculum – offering a wide range of learning opportunities – and be innovative and experimental, better to meet the needs of pupils.”

Julie Robinson general secretary of the ISC writes: “Parents choose independent schooling for their children because they value the broad all-round education on offer, including academic excellence, learning opportunities outside the classroom and outstanding pastoral care.”

It is very interesting to read this feedback and reassuring that the independent schools’ sector is performing so successfully nationwide as well as here in Devon. Another super week here!

C. Johnston

So Many Achievements…

Trinity - Week 8

Residentials. As we complete the risk assessments, the food orders, the activities, the transport requests, organise our own childcare for two days we mop our brows – Why do we do them? I will tell you why. Because on residentials children learn to work together, they face challenges they would never have faced before, they conquer their fears, they get wet, they get muddy, they have fun away from school and they experience independence. As I had some chats with Year 3 following their return last week highlights were the high ropes, the tower challenge, and for another the telling of stories and poems around the campfire in the evening. Mr Cunliffe attempted the high ropes as well, much to the children’s glee. Emma and Thomasin told me about their worries about some really challenging activities but they both did it; they conquered their fears and they felt ‘amazing!’ I visited Year 4 last week. What a time they had, my thanks as always to the staff involved.

This week Year 6 has performed their drama in two class based drama showcases. These took place in the new Performing Arts room and what a performance. The children performed in the centre of the room and on the staging at the back. We were treated to a play dealing with friendships and bullying, choral performance of poetry, individual stories based on Julia Donaldson books and some awesome musical theatre from ‘The Greatest Showman’. The space created a real intimacy for the audience, we could hear every word and really connect with the performance. I was proud. I was delighted. Two wonderful evenings. The children have loved their drama lessons this year, throughout the school, and my thanks particularly to Ms Claire Smith, Mrs Colwill and Mr Hoban for their outstanding teaching with them.

This week I welcomed Year 5 for juice and biscuits. I see all the children over the year in small groups and really enjoy hearing about their experiences at school and ideas for improvements as well as looking forward to their performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ later in the term.

C.Johnston, Head

Totally Brilliant

Trinity - Week 5

It was one of those days where being a Headmistress is totally brilliant. The children had loved receiving their class invitations to the party a few weeks ago from the Queen (℅ Mrs C Johnston) complete with embossed gold carriage and I was particularly delighted to receive handwritten replies from Reception children from the ‘Lady Anna’ (Bruce-Jones) and the ‘Hon. Harriet’ (Atkins) at ‘Reception Manor’ declaring that one is never too young to learn etiquette! Agreed. And this reminds me of a tour I took for prospective parents last week where we happened to come across ‘manners and etiquette’ club where the three and four year olds were sitting in a circle practising the correct response to a ‘sneeze’. It went like this…

Four year old 1:  ‘Atishoo! Excuse me.’

Four year old 2: ‘Bless you!’

Four year old 1: ‘Thank you’

Four year old 2: ‘You are most welcome’.

It was possibly one of the sweetest things I’ve seen in a long time.

And so the day started with a the Union Jack being raised, a royal wave and welcome to the children who arrived in their ‘wedding’ outfits of red, white and blue. All had made and brought in the most wonderful spread of party food and a special mention to Year 7 where all food was hand made from the sausage rolls to the flatbreads. We sang ‘God Save the Queen’, parents enjoyed teas and coffees and then we danced and played games. The silver tray and champagne flutes race was particularly enjoyed by the Year 6s. Thank you to all involved. And then Millie  went home in her sequins on her pony!

St Peter’s enjoyed tremendous success in the IAPS’ national sailing competition with a special mention to Josh and Will who WON for the U11s. We are inviting Mr Ben Rhodes (OSP) back to St Peter’s to award them their trophies. Well done everyone. The chamber choir were also away at the Taunton Prep Schools’ competition and we had huge success at the Blundell’s athletics on Friday as well. Records were broken and new ones made. Well done to all – a wonderful community week for the School.

Summer Time

Trinity - Week 4

This view caught my eye as I was working at my desk this week. The new ‘traffic awareness’ activity club for our Early Years children went brilliantly as they biked and ‘drove’ down towards the Astroturf listening to instructions from Miss Paver – but trying to get back up the hill again certainly tired them out!

The pool is open and the tennis nets are up. Summer has certainly arrived at St. Peter’s. We plan a House tennis ladder as well as one for the staff…! The children may bring in racquets and balls to play at break and lunch time.

Visitors to Harefield House may notice some simply spectacular, original clocks made by our Year 8s. These are hanging in pride of place outside my office. (We took out the batteries to save my PA’s sanity).

C. Johnston