The start of the Autumn Term is always one of my favourite times of the year. I feel very rested after an excellent summer holiday and some quality time spent with the family. It reminds me of days long gone by of my own school days when this time of year meant a new pencil case, a new school bag, a blazer just a little too big for me to grow into, the start of the football season and eternal hope that this year would be the one for Arsenal, new shoes, the start of school sport, some new teachers and the occasional new class member.
As a Headmaster I still go into the new term with a sense of excitement for the year ahead. This coming year is a huge one for Nottingham High School as we continue to prepare for the arrival of co-education in September 2015. We are at the interesting part of the planning now when we start to put into place all of the arrangements that we have spent so long discussing. This summer’s exam results saw us as the highest achieving school in the local region and this bodes well for the future.
Another reason for excitement at the start of a new term is the arrival of a number of new staff. Those long days last Spring when we undertook all of the interviews have now gone but now comes the exciting part in welcoming them into our team of staff and then seeing them start to inspire our students. Recruiting excellent staff remains the most important thing I do and when we met them all again last week their enthusiasm shone through and I know that they too are excited by the challenges ahead. New Heads of Department with energy and enthusiasm do so much to help the School move forward. I know as well though that they will also be very warmly welcomed by all colleagues and will draw on the experience of those who have been at the School longer.
It was exciting on Friday to take a wander around the School. The real heroes of the summer the maintenance and caretaking staff were busy moving so many boxes around the site and getting things ready for us to start next week. During the summer we have undertaken a major refurbishment of the Junior School and the Year 7 corridor and surrounding classrooms. Whilst I knew this was happening I was blown away by the quality of this refurbishment. The Junior School feels like a brand new school and so much light and freshness has been brought into the building.
The start of term also sees Speech Day. We have so much to celebrate particularly the stunning GCSE results this year. It is fantastic to have the opportunity to bring the whole school community on the second day of term to celebrate our achievements of last year and to look forward to the new one. Whilst fitting it all in to a speech which does not go on too long is a challenge, I love looking back in this way as it is so easy to forget just how much we can celebrate as we go through day by day each year.
In the next couple of days we also welcome all of our new students into the School. Each one of these families has chosen us for the next stage of education and this is a huge privilege for us to undertake. Each one of these students will go on to make their own mark on our school and its achievements and it is a huge privilege for me to address them all as they embark on what I hope will be a fantastic period of their lives.
We also have a number of new initiatives to look forward to. This term sees the start of our new curriculum arrangements. Again this has involved a huge amount of work over a long period but with a move to longer lessons, a better balance of subject time and a real focus on independent learning we now have a curriculum which I believe will prepare our students so well for university and beyond.
Schools should be places full of energy. As we return this September I look forward to seeing this throughout the School in the way that staff inspire our students and provide them with so many fantastic opportunities. I look forward to seeing it too amongst our students new and old. I look forward to meeting the families of many girls looking to join us in the future. In terms of my list from my own school days though I can still tick off some of the items on the list:
A new pencil case – No albeit that I did get a new laptop at the end of last year.
A new school bag – Yes
A blazer just a little too big for me to grow into – Now a suit I hope still to be able to get into after many good meals on holiday!
The start of the football season and eternal hope that this year would be the one for Arsenal – Never lost this!
New shoes – No
The start of school sport – Yes, September often sees some of the sunniest days down at Valley Road!
Some new teachers – Yes and their energy will bring much to the School
The occasional new class member – I look forward to getting to know all of our new students and following them as they make their mark on our school.