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Baking, Books and Form Plays…..

28th February 2018

Img 0255As we come to the end of the second month of the year I think most people in Wychwood are wondering at the speed at which the year is spinning past. Most of the adults are accustomed to the increasing pace of each year as we get ever older but the pupils find this a shock and the public examination pupils are beginning to wonder how much faster this year can get. Most examination subjects are beginning revision programmes now and the girls are settling down to consolidating and polishing their knowledge and examination technique and with the next four months spent productively, we will look forward to what they achieve. However, some subjects are in the thick of examinations already. The arts subjects are in the middle of their examination projects and many of us enjoyed the Shell GCSE drama performances of extracts from Teechers by Jon Godber very cleverly adapted by Ms Jones to make the most of her three thespians’ individual strengths. Their performance was very slick and excellent character changes contributed to an intelligent and very entertaining abbreviation of the piece. So from now on as the girls go through their preparation and examinations, we are emphasising sleep and proper diets alongside hard work and a little bit of fun, and the next four months will fly past.

Last week finished with the form plays, that uniquely Wychwood tradition. I explained to the girls in assembly why we do them. In the arts as a whole and especially in the performing arts there is immense and very underrated intrinsic value: arts and culture illuminate our inner lives and enrich our emotional world. This is something to cherish and protect and we neglect the teaching and practice of the arts to our great personal and emotional detriment. I for one am not surprised that in a world where there is little arts teaching in mainstream education we are seeing an increase in mental health issues. In addition to the wider cultural impact, the form plays also develop transferable skills in individuals – those skills and knowledge that people learn and develop in one situation that can then be used and applied in another. We could see that development in action on Friday afternoon as person after person contributed to a laughter-filled afternoon with some sharp social observation included. The title for this year was Remember that time when…. as chosen by the school in School Meeting a month ago and we had plays on relationships, on internet dating in Tudor times, a detective story and many other variations. The Lower Transits won Best Play and Best Script, Ruby won Best Actress for her portrayal of Henry VIII and the Inters won Best Set.

Over the weekend the MUN team had a very successful conference at Magdalen College School with some very serious debates as well as having a lot of fun. We would like to congratulate Jasmine who won Best Junior Delegate for her committee – a well-deserved prize for someone who has been honing her MUN skills for a year now and they were finally recognised in a very competitive forum. The value of preparation was also apparent as Mr Siantonas has been helping the girls for the last month and his input has given the girls greater confidence on how to approach the debate. The weekend also saw the kitchen being invaded again as the girls baked the best brownies with Mr Ilott – sadly none were left on Monday for the staff to assess! On Sunday there was much screaming and shouting down at the ice rink as the girls attempted to imitate the gorgeous Alina Zagitova and came to an understanding of how different their lives were to hers.

The Upper Transits and Study met for lunch this week in order for the older girls to pass on their experience and understanding of how to best manage the GCSE years. That first-hand discussion from someone who has just gone through the whole experience is so useful in helping those approaching it to work out how to cope for themselves.

The boarders baked again on Tuesday and iced their cookies with lurid colours now occupying the staff fridge. I am wondering if Ms Jones needs to do something on the beauty of subtle colours. After our very successful Golden Ticket boarding night last term we are looking forward to a second one so I do hope your daughter is lucky enough to be invited! We are also welcoming more than 25 parents, both current and prospective, to the Open Classrooms morning this week. We do so much good work in class that is a real pleasure to allow access for just one morning. Of course, the Observer Effect applies (not quite the same as Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, one of my favourite principles in science along with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, but often confused with it) and so the presence of so many observers will necessarily change the experience, compared to the absence of such observers. However, it does serve to show the quality of what goes on in our classrooms and I am very proud of that. The same day sees World Book Day, where (weather permitting) author Cassandra Wye will be talking to the junior girls about the creative process and encouraging them to engage with it.

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We have a great deal happening in the next three weeks, so please could I ask you all to pay close attention to Wychwood Weekly, with all the information it imparts? We are trying to ensure all the information gets to you via the newsletter or website, to reduce the number of places that you need to look, and so any feedback would be most welcome. Looking out of my window, the flurries of snow that caused such excitement at lunchtime have disappeared and the sun is shining again. However there are yellow weather warnings in place for Thursday and Friday with a 40% chance of snow on Thursday and an 80% chance on Friday. A yellow warning means ‘be aware’ that severe weather is possible over the next few days and could affect us and so please could we all plan ahead and think about possible travel delays or disruption of our day to day activities. We plan to carry on regardless at the moment but please do keep an eye on the latest forecast and be aware that the weather may change or worsen, leading to disruption in the next few days.  We will email and post on the website if plans change.

Andrea Johnson, Headmistress