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Happy new year!

11th January 2019

A Welcome back to school – I don’t know about you but I feel the holidays have been marvellously long and a wonderful break. I do hope the same applies to all of you and that you have had a truly joyous time with your families and friends.

To think back to December – how long ago it feels now – I must thank everyone who was involved with our Carol Service, as usual an eclectic, thought-provoking and uplifting event which I always regard as the beginning of the Christmas season. Mrs Walster and Ms Sherlock gave us yet another beautiful and joyous appreciation of the seasons, the choir was magnificent, the girls read with feeling and expression and the whole was so much greater than the sum of its parts. It was such a pleasure to be able to speak to so many of you afterwards over mulled wine and mince pies before we all went our separate ways to get some sleep and recuperate before Christmas at home began!

The Inspection report arrived in school just after the end of term and has been published on the website – thank you so much to all those who have sent congratulatory comments to us – we do appreciate it! I would like to congratulate the staff in every department for all for the huge amount of dedicated preparation that ensured we were fully compliant, and that we were rated Good for academic and Excellent for personal development. The girls were a real credit to the school and to their parents and I could not have improved their answers at interview if I had written them myself. The parents’ survey results made very good reading – thank you all – and we will take the points that we need to address from them. We will be expecting another Regulatory Compliance Inspection in three years’ time and have opened the paperwork file in anticipation!

This term has opened as we mean to go on with the Intermediate Youth Speaks team winning the local round last night with a very witty and intelligent reflection on Introspection – huge congratulations go to Mabel, the main speaker, Natalie, the chair and Alishba, the proposer of the vote of thanks who wowed their audience and the Rotary Club judges. I felt the Wychwood B team also did a marvellous job with The Art of Squeezing Oranges but they were just pipped to second place by a much older team from Mathew Arnold. We wish the Senior team every success next week as they embark on this year’s competition.

BThe Shell embark on mocks next week and, as I said in the first assembly of term, the mocks themselves do not really matter but what each girl does with the results of the mocks really does. This is an important time for the Shell: practice makes perfect and, as we all know, rehearsal is essential to make us really polished at anything we do – that is why we do these exams. And mocks tell us what we do and do not know, what we do and do not understand and sometimes they tell us things are there that we simply did not know existed and we certainly did not understand them. However, the analysis of the results to tell us exactly what we need to do is the place to start moving forward. I reminded the girls of our fundamental aim for this year which is the aggregation of marginal gains. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment – a Damascene conversion – and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis. Almost every habit that we have — good or bad — is the result of many small decisions over time. Small improvements of just 1% are not really notable (and sometimes are not even noticeable) but they can be just as meaningful as a Damascene moment. In the beginning, there is basically no difference between making a choice that is 1% better or 1% worse – it is not really noticeable and will not have much effect today. But as time passes, small improvements add together and compound and develop into a significant change for the better which continues to improve. Small choices don’t make much of a difference in the instant, but they really add up over the long-term.

Until next time.

Mrs Andrea Johnson