Letter from the Headmaster, 23 May 2019
23 May 2019
The School inevitably feels very different now that the Fifth Year and Upper Sixth have departed on study leave. I wish them all the very best with their exams and would remind them that teachers remain on hand if they would like any guidance or support with their revision.
This week has been designated Eco Week and we have focused on questions of sustainability and climate change. This included an excellent forum on Tuesday about climate change which many boys attended, asking some thoughtful questions. As I left the forum, I went to watch the cricket on Upper Field and I couldn’t help noticing a large number of plastic bottles scattered around. As the weather gets warmer and pupils get thirstier, I would encourage every pupil to bring in a reusable bottle so that we can avoid having single-use plastic in school. There are plenty of water fountains around the School where boys can top up their bottles and if everyone could have their own bottle, it would really cut down on our waste.
There’s lots to look forward to in the second half of term as we mark the end of the academic year with concerts, the Lower School ‘Be the Best’ evening, Prize Givings, cricket festivals, Henley and so on. I would particularly like to draw your attention to a new event, a Celebration of the Arts which will take place on Wednesday 19 June from 5 to 8pm. This will be a multi-faceted event, including an exhibition of the work completed for GCSE and A Level Art, poetry readings and drama. There will also be an open-air concert - weather permitting - outside Beech Court, featuring rock and pop music as well as jazz. It will be a great opportunity to hear some of the School’s bands and singer-songwriters. The Arts play such a crucial role in the life of the School, providing a vital outlet for creativity, imagination and emotion, as the recent Lower School production Futures showed, and I am sure the event on 19 June will be a great way to celebrate them.
Many boys also face internal exams during the second half of term. Although these exams are important, we need to keep them in perspective and recognise that they are primarily an opportunity to develop study skills and exam technique, as well as to refresh material covered earlier in the year. There is lots of revision advice available on Firefly and the key message is that simply reading through notes is very rarely effective. Revision needs to be active and I’d urge the boys to use their revision time to make flashcards with which to test themselves, to construct mind-maps, to complete practice questions, and use a program like Quizlet. Each pupil needs to discover what works best for him but the emphasis must be on the active. You might like to read the blog that Sarah Beynon from our Learning Support department recently wrote about revision.
While I hope pupils will spend a suitable amount of time studying over half term, it’s also important that they strike a balance with their other interests and activities, and in particular that they find time for fresh air and exercise. Recent research indicated the beneficial impact that taking part in sport has on academic performance, so I hope pupils are able to give themselves the time to get outside over the half term break.
Finally, I would like to thank you all for your support over this first part of term. I will look forward to catching up with many of you at the events of the second part of term.