Head Master's Beginning of Term Letter LENT TERM 2019

Friday, 11 January 2019

Dear Parents and Guardians,

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all”

A very warm welcome back to you all for the new academic year. There is a tremendous atmosphere throughout the school and I have hugely enjoyed meeting so many children and families this week. It is already very clear to Catherine and me that St George’s is an immensely special school and we feel honoured and proud to be part of this community. At the outset, we would like to thank you all for your generous welcome to us.

Our choristers have, once again, had a very busy Christmas period in St George’s Chapel, and my warmest congratulations to them, Mr Vivien, Mr and Mrs Onions and our boarding team for all they have done following an exciting year in the Chapel. Many of you will have seen their clip of ‘Carol of the Bells’, now viewed over a million times on various platforms. I attach their clip here:

In assembly on Monday morning, I spoke about three main objectives for us all to adopt this term.

1. Look up – physically, and in how we view the world around us

2. Bounce forwards – taking risks, embracing mistakes and learning from these

3. Be outward thinking – showing generosity of spirit, and sharing our strengths with each other.

Building up this ‘Growth Mindset’ in our pupils is essential so they can be encouraged to take risks in the classroom. It is by doing this that they grow from the challenges that they will face, both here and beyond. Supporting the children to treat setbacks as positives will continue to be a focus here. For interest, I attach a diagram outlining ‘Growth Mindset’, by Carol Dweck, who has been at the forefront of researching the impact of this in children. I would encourage you to read her book, Mindset, and watch her recent RSA animation, which can be found here:

New Staff

I am absolutely delighted to welcome the following new staff who have joined the school this term:

Jamie Elston joins us from Kensington House Prep School to take on the role of Teacher of PE and Boys’ Games.

Adam Jennings joins us from Stage Coach Theatre where he was Drama Teacher and Principal, to take on the role of Drama Teacher.

Aisling Gilbert joins us from Notre Dame Prep School to teach a Year 1 class in Lower School.

Ellen Pullen is covering Miss Longato’s Ballet teaching for the duration of her maternity leave and joins us from Rona Hart School of Dance.

Rebecca Watt joins our peripatetic team to teach Woodwind.

Music Department in full flow!

Weekly Newsletter and Mailing

A weekly School Newsletter will be introduced this term, to feature news and photos from a wide range of activities across school life. This, along with my weekly blog and a mailing for parents, will be sent out to parents and guardians every Friday afternoon. I hope this will streamline our communication with you to ensure that it is as effective and up-to-date as possible. We will also be introducing a School Podcast which will feature interviews and discussions for our families, allowing you to tune in when it is convenient for you. This will go live in due course and will be added to at regular intervals.

Parents are encouraged to follow the social media channels to keep up to date and interact with school news, pupil progress, successes and achievements. Please find below links to our School Social Media Pages and Groups:

We are also very excited to be relaunching our school magazine. This annual publication will encompass life at St George’s, across all stages. We look forward to releasing the 2018-2019 edition after the Trinity Term.

As with all areas of school life, I will be very pleased to hear your feedback.

Having fun on the field and in the gym!

Parent Coffee Mornings

I very much look forward to meeting you all properly in due course over the term, and would like to extend a warm invitation to various occasions to meet with Catherine and me:

  • Friday, 25 January 8.00-8.40am Kindergarten and Reception, Lower School Hall
  • Tuesday, 29 January 8.00-8.40am Years 1 and 2, Lower School Hall
  • Thursday, 31 January 8.00-8.40am Year 3, Lower School Hall
  • Friday, 1 February 8.40am Chapel Assembly (Years 3-8), followed by coffee in The Victoria
  • Friday, 22 March 8.40am Chapel Assembly (Years 3-8), followed by coffee in The Victoria

I shall give details of specific coffee mornings for Years 4-8 after Half Term.

Please do not hesitate to contact Shelley Wall, my PA, at any time to arrange a meeting with me. I shall be at pick up and drop off as much as I possibly can and aim to be accessible to our parents and guardians.

Senior School Entrance

Many of our pupils are currently preparing for various entrance assessments for their senior schools, and I wish them all the very best this term. Preparation for this is an incredibly important part of our role, both in terms of support to our pupils and parents, and establishing links with a wide range of schools.

Please do keep me informed of any applications you have / plan to make, and do not hesitate to make an appointment with me to discuss the options and the entrance procedures. As you will know, the admissions process is a minefield and we are here to support you through this, and give our insights into the various schools. I shall be visiting a great number of these schools over the coming terms, and we are delighted to be hosting a Senior Schools Fair on Monday, 4 March, 6.15-8.15pm, where a number of leading schools at both 11+ and 13+ entry will be joining us. I shall provide further details of this event, and various presentations to parents I plan for next term and beyond, in due course.

An everyday morning in the Lower School

I am working closely with the Governors, Senior Leadership Team and staff in setting the direction for St George’s. Involvement of our parents will be key to this, and I look forward to engaging with you on our core priorities as a school. As I said to parents last term, I shall share these values, our ethos as a school, and the next stage of what will be a very ambitious development plan with you as soon as I can. Schools should be places of joy, wonder and enchantment, and full of life. It should be an educator’s desire that every child leave school every day, week, term and ultimately St George’s, with a developed sense of who they are and what they can achieve. Finding those talents, strengths and unique skills is what makes this the most privileged job in the world. Developing a quiet confidence and self-esteem so that our children can move on from here on their way to becoming global citizens, equipped to seize the opportunities that await them is our ultimate goal. Happiness and a sense of love and understanding is fundamental for our pupils to grow academically, socially and developmentally, without which learning becomes much harder. In short, happy children succeed.

A powerful mantra for children by James Shone to raise self-belief and esteem in children.

Learning is an adventure where the fun and joy of childhood is preserved, and we must never lose sight of that. To reach their full potential, children must be captivated by their learning and feel happy and supported, not pushed. Education is no longer about getting good grades – as important as this is – it is the ability to learn and have a lifelong love of learning, to communicate, to be adaptable, to inspire others, and build and maintain compassionate relationships with others. My vision is to nurture a community with a strong sense of mission, animated by a desire to draw the best out of every child

All in a day's work in the Upper School

I am sure that 2019 will be a year full of adventures, triumphs, challenges, perhaps disappointment at times, mountains to climb, and I very much hope great happiness for all our children. Whilst some will take the ‘A roads’, a more straightforward route, others will take the more scenic route. However, whatever their route, the destination will be the same, and we look forward to sharing the ups and downs, and ultimately the triumphs of every boy and girl here. We will all have plenty of opportunities to be immensely proud of them all.

In one episode of the Simpsons, Homer questions the value of education: “and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes old stuff out of my brain”. By ensuring we provide opportunities for curiosity, imagination and challenge in the classroom, a breadth of opportunity across school life, and a culture of building up confidence, self-belief and a desire to seek challenges, we are building up a child’s life-long learning power.

My firm belief is that learning has to be engaging and interesting. I feel privileged to be leading St George’s through the next stage of its development, and I look forward to what I hope will be an immensely happy and fulfilling term for you all.

Our partnership with you is paramount in achieving all we want to for the children at St George’s, and I strongly encourage you to come and see me at any time. I very much look forward to establishing a positive relationship with you all in the coming weeks.

Finally, I ended Assembly on Monday by outlining my three key rules for the children of St George’s to live by:

  1. Be Kind
  2. Be Kind
  3. Be Kind

Kindness is courageous, and great success on an individual and collective level is driven by a culture that runs on kindness and a generosity of spirit.

Wishing all St George's families the happiest of terms.

William Goldsmith

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