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There’s snow stopping Wychwood

6th February 2019

My congratulations go to the Shell as their mock results come out – they are rightly pleased with what they have done in their mocks and know what they have yet to do. Most of the girls have done as expected or better at this stage which is most encouraging and what we have to do now is to focus and polish!

Across the school it has been a busy and productive month but with a positive sense of purpose without pressure. I am always impressed by what the girls can not just manage but instigate alongside their academic studies and the intent with which they approach their lives. This term we have had successful Youth Speaks teams at two levels and tomorrow will bring the next round for the Intermediate girls. I have also been asked to find about starting a Combined Cadet Force in school and must chase the CCF as they have not yet replied to my email from last month. Other girls have launched a competition for a logo for the school newspaper The Branch, which was started, also at the girls’ request, last year and which has been handed on to a new generation this term. We have had our first presentation at assembly on the Crest awards, a nationally recognised system of science awards that are done at bronze, silver and gold levels. These are challenging and thought provoking real-world STEM projects for young people of all ages. As in every year, the girls are working individually on the Charlotte Kell poetry competition entries which, for new parents, is the annual competition run by the English department. Named after the old girl who endowed the competition, the lucky winners have tea at the Randolph Hotel and enjoy a shopping session in Waterstones for books. Young Art Oxford, the Oxford schools’ art competition supporting cancer research, which we won outright last year with Leony Ye’s beautiful piece, is also in full swing. After the assembly given by the schools’ liaison police officer earlier this term, girls have asked for a female police officer to come into school to discuss careers in the police and again I need to chase that up as I have not had a reply to last month’s email on that topic either. It does point out the flexibility and speed at which a small school can respond to the girls’ requests as compared to much, much larger institutions!

Snow finally arrived on Friday having threatened all week and my thanks go to all the staff and girls who made it in so that we could run lessons for all the year groups all morning and across the GCSE and A Level year groups in the afternoon. When time is tight – and we only have some four months left before public examinations begin – every day matters. The younger ones had a house competition to build snowmen on Friday afternoon and while my personal favourite must have been the ‘sculpture’ of my cat, the ingenuity and sense of fun that was palpable made it impossible to decide which was ‘the best’.

Having been to Council this morning I thought it would be a good thing to talk about Council in my blogs as it is such an integral part of what Wychwood is but parents often do not really understand what happens. Council was founded by Miss Geraldine Coster, author on psychology and teacher, in 1918. Wychwood has had student voice for decades before it became a fashionable educational buzzword. To quote Miss Coster on the origins of Council “We decided after a brief trial that the prefect system did not provide a suitable form of government for Wychwood. We found it gave too much of the wrong sort of authority to too few girls, and it supplied no training to the rest of the school in progressive communal responsibility. We decided, therefore, to try an experiment in what at that time was called self-government, but may be better described as co-operative government. The scheme was gradually worked out then and is still in use, though with modifications from time to time to suit changing conditions; and it has proved its value by results.” So – Council has venerable origins and I think those words stand true in 2019 – to be continued!

Mrs Andrea Johnson