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All Work and All Play

31st January 2018

Music Through The Ages
I have to start this week by thanking everyone for the very positive feedback you have given to Mike Holland over the new website. We are delighted with its look and feel – well done Mike and MCC!

Last weekend saw the Upper Transits and Shell at the Kassam stadium for bowling with Radley. As a veteran of these events, it was a pleasure to be there, by which I mean with the girls rather than at the bowling alley (noisy, smelly and full of screeching!). It was such fun to observe the first 45 minutes where there was very little discussion and some serious bowling.  Why do girls turn their backs as soon as they have delivered their bowl and only check their score when no one is looking while boys follow the bowl every inch up the run? Then we had the second 45 minutes with barely a bowl sent up the runs and a great deal of chatting followed by mobile phones coming home much more laden with data than they had left the house.

It has been a quiet week in school with the Shell sitting their mocks.  Mocks week is always a trial because all the examinations that will be spread over some six weeks in the summer are packed into 10 days and it is intense. GCSE mocks are also tougher than any of the others as these girls have never tested themselves against their peers throughout the country before and so are very unsure of themselves and their potential. This year is worse than most as we have so many new 9-1 specifications being tested for the first time with no real idea of what will be set, how the questions will be structured nor grade boundaries: experience over several introductions of major changes in examinations has taught me that no matter what a specimen paper looks like, the real thing is very different. However experience has also taught me that, in the long run, girls usually do better than they ever expected. The Shell will need to look at the blanks in their knowledge and the rough patches in their examination technique and start filling and polishing and we do have time to do that. Grades can increase by up to three between mocks and the real thing with a good focus and a solid revision programme.


On Monday we focused on sleep with the second of our Sleep Sessions run by Dr Sharpley from the Oxford University Psychiatry department and a former parent and school governor.  Judging by the thanks that came in to Council today from a number of year groups her input has been really appreciated. On Tuesday we had a junior mass exodus to the City Hall in Birmingham for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s concert of Music through the Ages which the girls have been chattering about ever since. The Upper Transits had an employability skills forum to give them some food for thought and some ideas for next week’s Launchpad day at Radley College. Tuesday evening saw the first heat of the ARTiculation competition at Wychwood for the first time – it is always good to get new people in, although we did hear ‘Oh I’ve never been in here before’ and, worse ‘Oh, I’ve never heard of you’ more than once. However the frequency of that last one is decreasing substantially which means our marketing must be doing something good! The Shell were working on Impressing at Interviews on Wednesday – partly to remind them that there is a reason why we put them through the effort of mocks and they finished the week with a lunch with the Study to talk through the lessons learned from the mocks and to get advice from the coalface!

Finally it was a pleasure to talk to the Remove and Inters parents also on Wednesday – the transition between primary and senior school leads to such quick changes in their daughters that parents often find it almost unbelievable but the girls are ready to move on and take full advantage. We have a strong cohort in both year groups and they are working hard and are ambitious.

May I give advance notice that the Astrochemistry day has been rescheduled for next Wednesday as the presenter has recovered from the flu?

In the meantime, we look forward to only one more week to half term – where has January gone? And to everyone who has enjoyed dry January – you have a small breathing space before Lent begins on Valentine’s day – that does seems a cruel trick of the calendar!

Mrs Andrea Johnson, Headmistress