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The times they are a changing

26th February 2019

Having just watched the girls racing around Sir John’s lawn in the short sleeves at break, and then, thinking back to this time last year when we were dealing with the Beast from the East, I think we are all feeling slightly surreal. I do hope you all had a wonderful half term and are enjoying this totally unseasonal spring weather. We, of course, had a flood at school but I have to say the staff and girls are dealing with the aftermath with stoicism and good humour and we hope to be dried out and rejuvenated by the beginning of next term.

The highlight of the week before half term was the trip to Les Misérables on the Thursday before we broke up, which the girls were raving about through eyelids propped up on matchsticks on Friday. However, the majority made it through the day and the lesson learned of paying for one’s pleasures by continuing with commitments is a valuable one. The Remove to Shell also enjoyed the Onatti French play and the Remove to Lower Transits had the hand-in for Young Art Oxford and we now have the very enjoyable task of deciding what to submit. Meantime, the Study II had the last of the series of study skills forums with Elevate Education that we run throughout the public examination years to help girls to prepare, firstly, for GCSEs and then for their A Levels. It seems no time at all since those girls went to their first session, way back in the Upper Transits. Now they are preparing for their mock A Levels in two weeks’ time and it is remarkable how quickly that time has flown.

We are at the time of year when we hand over the reins from one group of head girls to the next and my thanks go to Matilda and Heather and to the rest of the Study II councillors for their service this year. They now stand down in order to focus solely on their A Levels. Head girls are chosen by the Head after the school has done head girls’ preference. This is not a vote but a system whereby all the eligible councillors from Study I are put to the school and each girl can state who would be their first and second choice as head girl. This gives us a chance to talk about proportional representation in democracy and one of the really valuable aspects of Council is its education on democracy in action. The head girl’s preference choices are then analysed in a number of different ways, looking at how the junior school voted, how the seniors voted, how the staff voted, how the boarders and day girls voted and various combinations of the above. After all that is done, the Head chooses the officers for the next year guided by the results. This year, from the Study I councillors we welcome Anaïs as head girl, with Scarlet and Betty as deputies and we wish them every success during their tenure. The head girls are the people who manage the School Council: the Head or Deputy Head chairs the meeting every Wednesday period 4 and we take it in turns half a term at a time. The head girls take minutes, record the form totals as they come in and pass on messages after Council while all councillors and all staff who are not teaching attend.

There is a great deal of anticipation in the air here – the Study are anticipating assessments or mocks with some trepidation while everyone else is looking forward to seeing the girls at Performing Arts and Wychfactor: for new parents, Performing Arts is the school’s evening where the girls are asked to perform and their parents, friends and relatives form the audience.  Wychfactor is the girls’ evening and is a fundraising evening run by the Citizens and this year they are raising money for the Alexandra House of Joy – a work in progress on land donated by a local farmer just outside Bicester to build an inclusive community, where adults with severe and profound learning disabilities can have a voice. Their aim is for each person who visits to feel heard, loved and included. The items at Wychfactor are different to those in Performing Arts and both make great evenings out – do come along!  We are also greatly looking forward to the Wingfield Digby lecture by Senior Lecturer Laura Novo De Azevedo of the Department of Planning at Oxford Brookes University who will be talking on Transforming lives through critical optimism: from people to places. Town and city planning is an aspect of modern life often ignored by those of us in towns and cities and I think we will find this fascinating.

Mrs Andrea Johnson