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No January Blues at Wychwood!

26th January 2018

Wychwood girls


With our wonderful new website to celebrate all things Wychwood, may I begin my official ‘blogs’ with best wishes from all of us at Wychwood for a very happy and successful new year in 2018. Mr Holland has done a great job in getting this up and running as his first major project since arriving at the school and we would welcome feedback. We hope it will be much more interactive than the previous website and that you all enjoy using it.

The staff spent the two days before term working on inspection preparation and our three-yearly safeguarding training. We are likely to be inspected this year because our last compliance inspection was in 2015 and our last full inspection in 2012 so we are due for a visit from ISI (the Independent Schools Inspectorate). We will get very little notice (2 days) and we will send out the parents’ and pupil surveys immediately on notification. In turn, you will get very little time in which to return the surveys. May I ask that as many of you as can return the surveys when they arrive in your inboxes – in a small school it really helps to get as much of an all-round view of the school as possible.

This week our Shell and Lower Transit girls have been thinking hard about their futures and what option subject choices they will make. It is such an important time for the girls and a number of parents have already been into school to talk to Mrs Stacey or to me and anyone else who would like to do so is most welcome to come in to discuss any queries, especially in this time of increased change in the examinations system. Please do ask Mrs Bridge for a suitable time. Also this week, the first set of several internal examination sessions this term is about to end. The Shell mocks are nearly over, much to the girls’ relief. Many of them have achieved beyond expectation while some are feeling a little sobered by what they have just gone through. What matters is that we all are clear that these examinations are rehearsals, not the real thing, and that their value lies in the information they impart on which areas of learning each pupil can manage well and which areas of learning require further effort, not in the final mark.

We started the term with purpose as the Intermediate Youth Speaks competition was on the second evening back and so we needed to practise in the very first morning’s assembly. Congratulations go to the Wychwood C team who came second in that competition with a strong speech by Anu on the likely effects of Artificial Intelligence and robotics, well supported by Sophie and Olivia. In the next week came the Senior Youth Speaks competition and we are all very proud of Anaïs, Georgie and Ella who won the round and who will progress to the next round on 1st February in Witney, especially as one of the teams they beat was a Year 13 team and our girls are in Years 10 and 11. The National Space Academy Astrochemistry lecturer was sadly ill on 15th January so we are rescheduling that event. Dr Sharpley, parent of two old girls, and member of the psychiatry department at Oxford University came to give us the first of two Sleep Sessions which was well attended and we are looking forward to the follow up on Monday. The girls should have kept a sleep diary in the meantime to help them gain some insight into when and why they sleep well – or otherwise. We welcomed back two very recent Wychwood leavers to talk to the art, photography and textiles pupils about studying architecture at university – it was a complete pleasure to see Ivy and Alicia looking so well and clearly flourishing in their chosen courses. Mrs Walster took the GCSE music girls to a GCSE extension conference in London which was valuable although I think somewhat dry. Absolutely not dry at all was Mrs Kirby’s trip to the Harry Potter studios last Sunday which clearly was one of the most exciting trips ever judging by the feedback at Council and formed a worthy treat for all those loyal attendees at Harry Potter club for the last year!

The Friends of Wychwood met early this term and Mrs Stacey presented to them as Director of Studies, requesting a set of 10 iPads for use in school, mainly in science. My thanks go to the committee for agreeing and we have placed the order and are looking forward to returning with some examples of the work we plan to do. The science department will be delighted to lend them out to any department who wishes to use them so the benefits should spread throughout the school.

It is two years now since Karl Hopwood came to talk to girls, staff and parents about e-safety and he has very sadly retired from the schools circuit – however he recommended Childnet to us and we were very impressed with their advice and breadth of knowledge. The girls had age-appropriate sessions, the staff were trained after school and we welcomed parents in the early evening.

I wish you all a very enjoyable exeat weekend with your daughters and we all hope the Upper Transits and Shell enjoy the social with Radley at the Kassam stadium on Saturday. We are so sorry that the confirmation of this came so late but I am intrigued to see that the girls can make arrangements fast and effectively if they so choose and will be using this as an example in future!

Mrs Andrea Johnson, Headmistress