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‘First day back at a new school’ by 3 Headmasters!

There’s nothing more exciting than the first day back at school.  What with new classmates and dorm members, freshly labelled uniforms and pristine pencil cases, the beginning of term couldn’t have come round fast enough this term for the children and parents alike!

We meet 3 new Headmasters from Twyford School, Windlesham House School and Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate to find out how their start of term has been

Andrew Harvey – Twyford School

“The start of term was anything but normal but it was wonderful to welcome back so many smiley and cheerful faces! Being a new joiner myself, I have spent the first few days dipping in and out of lessons and observing enthusiastic children being taught by knowledgeable and committed teachers.  I have to say I’ve been struck by the incredible care that each and every child receives here – it really is a community. That the pupils also have so many opportunities to thrive is the icing on the cake! We are delighted to be offering just about a full curriculum; the pupils and staff have adapted to the changes quickly and effectively.

I’ve enjoyed being on ‘court’ each morning meeting and greeting the children and look forward to getting to know all the Twyford families.  This is undoubtedly a very special school with a great heart and a very bright future – I’m honoured to be a part of it.”

Ben Evans – Windlesham House

“The moment I stepped through the doors of this beautiful, historic school nestled in the West Sussex countryside, I knew it was going to be a very unique and special place.  Despite its obvious natural beauty and impressive grounds, it’s people that make a school what it is and what has really struck me about Windlesham is the warmth, kindness and friendliness of the staff and pupils.  This is a happy place. It has been easy to ‘feel at home’ quickly with the smiling faces and a genuine spirit of community.

Starting a new school as Head is always exciting and full of new possibilities and opportunities. Of course, making this transition during a pandemic has its obvious challenges, but in many ways, it has given me a deeper understanding of how the school operates in a shorter space of time than would normally be the case.  I’ve worked extremely closely with the senior team throughout the summer holiday period, which was necessary to ensure we are ready to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment.

The term ahead will undoubtedly be a different one to the normal, but for me, the most important aspect is that the school is open and full of children, all of whom are over the moon to be with their friends again and happily engaged in their learning.  My personal ambition is for Windlesham to become a centre of excellence in education, known for being an exciting, vibrant and inspirational place of learning, and a little bit different too!”

Mr Jeff Smith – Queen Etherlburga’s Collegiate

Starting as the new Principal of Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate has been a very different experience to that which I had envisioned when I was first appointed. Having been in education over 30 years, I’ve seen some change in practice. The challenges facing schools across the UK in preparing for full reopening in September are unprecedented.

With key worker and Forces boarding students staying on campus throughout lockdown, and a successful welcoming of our Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 cohort in early June, we now have plenty of experience of operating in a controlled lockdown.

Our priorities for the next year build on QE’s success story to date. We know that the key to academic excellence is the consistency in quality of teaching; therefore, this will always be the focus for the Collegiate. Continuous improvement is also key. We will be reflecting on everything we do and will always seek feedback from our students, parents and teachers so that we understand our community needs and find ways to meet them. We will continue to find ways to broaden and improve the curriculum and enrichment opportunities we offer and continue to extend students learning beyond the restraints of the classroom. We will use our recent online teaching experience to update our IT strategy, taking the opportunity to develop e-learning in an impactful way. Through our academic, pastoral and enrichment programmes, we will continue to develop the personal qualities of our students, such as leadership, resilience, critical thinking and responsibility. As always, we will prioritise the safeguarding, health and wellbeing of all our students and staff – a busy term awaits!

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