BEHIND THE STUDY DOOR
“We rarely employ straight A students. What we’ve discovered over the years is that their field of knowledge is too narrow and they haven’t developed as people. We find that they just can’t cope with life, and they cause endless problems and frictions. We like to choose students who are bright, but broad, with character. The thing is, if somebody’s intelligent we can teach them the skills we need – and the skills they learnt at school will probably become outdated anyway. But what we can’t do is teach them to be rooted.”
Sundar Pichai, CEO Google.
At a Key Stage 3 curriculum meeting on Tuesday morning at Highfield School, I was among a number of senior and prep school heads discussing, with great optimism, the opportunities for a curriculum that leads the school sector internationally. Whilst exam success is important, we were presented with the quote from the CEO of Google, above, that focused our minds to what employees really do look for in their job seekers. Indeed, in many of the discussions I have had with our parent body over the past three months, all agreed that skills, attitudes and character are crucial in our future workforce.
One of the presenters on Tuesday, Mungo Dunnett, stressed that the journey to employment doesn’t start at sixth form and university, it starts at junior school, and that schools should be preparing well-adjusted and employable pupils from a young age. This mustn’t be blurred with enjoying a preservation of childhood, and of course long gone are the days that a child might have a predetermined pathway into a career of his or her choosing. Mungo reminded us that our young people will be experiencing so many different types of employment in various sectors and numerous roles throughout their careers. Yet, throughout this, there are several characteristics that they will need to show in abundance: the ability to define and solve problems (and indeed use their creativity to find an edge to the solution); communication and the ability to get on well with people; and self-control, knowledge of oneself, a sense of perspective and the ability to listen to and take advice. These cognitive, people and personal skills, Dunnett argues, will ensure people succeed and make a great difference, whilst leading fulfilled and happy lives.
Sir Anthony Seldon, now Vice-Chancellor of Buckingham University and previously Master of Wellington College, spoke of what he saw as a need to create a fusion of knowledge-rich curricula with creativity and critical thinking. In a move away from the original purpose of education (its derivation being ‘to draw out’), learners are now so often taught to deliver the right answer, in the right way at the right time, and we – as teachers, exam boards and society – are in danger of not being interested in what their own answer or interpretation is. Perhaps last week’s SATs are a good example of education being a means to an end and we have lost sight of the true purpose of learning. In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey speaks of the need for our pupils to be holistic as well as binary; open-minded and reflective; and have the ability to see problems as opportunities.
I have just attended the annual St George’s House Lecture in St George’s Chapel. The academic, writer and former politician, Michael Ignatieff, gave an address titled ‘When the Times Are Out of Joint: The Consolations of History’. Behind his extremely well presented enlightenment of modern history, his message was one of hope and optimism for the future, even if we feel our international stability, domestic politics and environmental concerns are in grave peril. It is with a similar great optimism, and if I may add excitement, that we are pushing at an open door with how we can educate the next generation with the competencies and self-efficacy they need to flourish.
I am enormously grateful to all those who have been able to attend our focus groups as part of our strategic planning for the next chapter of the school. Curriculum, our approaches to learning and emotional literacy are part of what we are looking very closely at. Yes, acquiring great knowledge is important, achieving the grades and credentials for senior school entry is key, but so too are learning competencies. At St George’s, we are all so excited to be building on our current successes to further develop our curriculum to be holistic in every sense.
Sir Anthony closed his address with a powerful reminder about the other aspect of schools: to prepare children for life in the widest sense. By this he means to promote empathy, feelings and love. There is no doubt that our pupils, staff and parents embody these and bring great heart, life and soul to our school. To illustrate how this emotional literacy has such a powerful connection to our cognitive and neurological development, do watch this clip by Dr. Andrew Curran. It lasts twenty minutes and I wholeheartedly recommend.
Wishing all St George's families a happy weekend, wherever your adventures take you.
Head Master's Commendations
Many congratulations to the following pupils who were presented with Head Master's Commendations during Assembly on Monday:
Carys C – for working extremely hard to produce an outstanding PowerPoint presentation on Renewable Energy and Climate Change
Henry B – for working on a beautifully presented extension project to complete a synthesis of travel he has undertaken
Zara T– for undertaking extension work to create a PowerPoint presentation about the French Trip
Dhyaana S – for undertaking extension work to create a PowerPoint presentation about the French Trip
Lucy K – for undertaking extension work to create a PowerPoint presentation about the French Trip
Cici B – for undertaking extension work to create a PowerPoint presentation about the French Trip
Immy H – for undertaking extension work to create a PowerPoint presentation about the French Trip
Mansa H – for effort in French lessons
Noah N-C – for effort in French lessons
Zeph K – for working consistently hard in class music
Inara H – for creating an outstanding poster in Spanish about sports
Spirit of St George's Award
The following pupils were presented with the Spirit of St George's Award on Monday, for encapsulating the core values of the school:
Carl A – for being an outstanding role model and mentor for a younger chorister
Ella G – for helping a friend to catch up on missed work
Sports Players of the Week
Years 3&4: Leah H – for her focus and determination to improve her bowling technique
Years 5&6: Max C – for his efforts as captain, encouraging and motivating his team to victory against Hampton Prep
Years 7&8: Dylan M-H – for his focus throughout the course of the term to improve his batting technique and repertoire of shots
Maths Puzzle Awards
In 1st Place: Radley H, Alex W, Monty S, Jennifer W, James E, Eva R, Isabel G, Alex L, Owen H. In 2nd Place: Zara T.
Choristers of the Week
From this week there will be two Chorister of the Week awards: one for senior choristers and one for junior choristers. This week senior awards go to Alexios S and Yann S for singing lovely solos in Evensong last Sunday. The junior chorister award goes to Max C for making such huge progress since he joined the Choir.
On Sunday, 12 May Benji, Felix, Fede, James and Daniel all received their surplices in a beautiful Evensong service, and are now ‘full choristers’.
The celebrations continued at school with friends and family as well as the rest of the chorister community. The boys were presented with a book by Mr Vivian, and then the race was on to see who could tie their new chorister tie the quickest!
Good Luck to all our choristers who will be singing at the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor and Mr Thomas Kingston in St George's Chapel on Saturday!
We were thrilled that factual TV presenter, author and all-round space buff, Dallas Campbell, came to visit the school on Monday. Dallas gave separate presentations to the Lower School and the Upper School and brought with him his own amazingly detailed replica of the space suit worn by Neil Armstrong and some space food made for Tim Peake. Both staff and children were fascinated by his account of the history of space travel and the development of the space suit over time. He was incredibly generous with his time, answered lots of questions and no doubt inspired many of the children to consider a career in space science in the future.
A big 'thank you' to Helena Lee for arranging Dallas's visit!
On Thursday BBC News Correspondent, Helena Lee, gave a thought-provoking presentation on her own career in journalism. She described how her inclination to ask, "Why?" from an early age led on to her choice of career, and told the children about the techniques and skills involved in becoming a successful TV journalist and broadcaster. She answered some interesting questions from twins Jeevan and Bikram H, and her advice to everyone was to be determined, to work hard, to ignore any rejections and to be persistent once they had decided on a career path in journalism.
On Friday the hugely successful entrepreneur, Christian Candy, came to speak to the assembled Upper School about he had built his career in property development and finance. He described that having goals, taking risks, teamwork, effort, learning from failure, hard work and persistence were all fundamental steps on the 'Stairway to Success', but he had learnt that kindness was also important along the way. After his presentation, Elliot D and Rene M asked some very probing questions which he answered with great consideration and generosity.
Lions of Windsor
On Tuesday the school was invited to take a group of children to attend the media launch of the 'The Lions of Windsor 2019', a public art event which will feature individually decorated lion sculptures displayed across the Royal Borough to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria and raise funds for local charities. The children took part in a workshop and were able to meet several of the leading artists who will each be responsible for designing lions for local businesses and organisations.
The school has sponsored a lion cub which will be decorated with a design created by one of our pupils. The organisers are looking for more sponsors for this worthwhile local event; for more information, please see https://lionsofwindsor.org/.
Our U11 girls travelled to Hall Grove on Wednesday and took part in their first paired cricket fixture against Felton Fleet. They have been working hard on perfecting their bowling technique over the last few weeks and this was a great opportunity to put this to the test. The team worked well together and showed some great communication and decision making resulting in many wickets. Special mention to Immy H and Lucy K who showed some impressive catching skills and determination throughout the game. Also accurate and powerful bowling from Asees D and Dhyanna S. When batting, the team demonstrated that they thought about the positions of the fielders which resulted in many runs. Special mention to Cici B who hit some impressive shots resulting in 4s and 6s. Well done to all the team and a great winning result of 239-211 in your first cricket match.
Years 3 and 4 played against Daneshill last Friday. They enjoyed the pleasure of some very competitive games and performed well with both the bat and ball. They had been working hard all week on developing clearer communication between the batsmen, and we were pleased to see this put to good effect in key moments of the game.
Our Colts teams played Holme Grange and our Colts development team travelled to Hoe Bridge for an afternoon of pairs cricket. It was an impressive display from many of our Colts teams with both bowling consistency and an eagerness to keep the scoreboard ticking over evident. Special mention must go to Harry W who was awarded the match ball after his performance as team captain of the Colts Bs.
The senior players took on three Holme Grange teams in three different formats of the game. Special mention must go to Tom G for his efforts in the field and to Nicholas P who just fell short of his half century.
Good luck to our fencers Radley H, Sophie D and Jimmy N who will be travelling to Millfield School on Sunday to take part in the annual IAPS Fencing event. We are looking forward to hearing all about the great experience.
Congratulations to Jamie P who has qualified for the 25m Butterfly in the IAPS Swimming Finals to be held at the London Aquatic Centre. We wish him luck in the preparation for his race.
Pupil Council Meeting
Our Pupil Council met on Thursday and brought some great suggestions, including:
- Could there be more 4-square grids painted on the playground (this is a game invented at STG that is incredibly popular!).
- Could a Year 6 and 8 Leavers’ Board be introduced?
- Could the money raised in the Tenner Challenge over the past two years to towards playground equipment for the top two year groups?
Parents and were treated, once again, to an evening of music variety delivered with the usual panache and style that is second nature to our young musicians. Tuesday night saw a number of children in Yerar 3 perform for the first time under the lights, with numbers like Where is Love? and Truly Scrumptious. Other highlights included a 'cello solo of Harry Potter themed music and some Schumann on the xylophone.
Do look out for the next concert on 10 June!
On Monday Mrs Padam took eight Year 6 pupils to Sunningdale School for an inter-school maths quiz club championship. They did tremendously well on the day as the questions were extremely challenging. The pupils will receive their certificates on Monday in Celebration Assembly.
Many Happy Returns to Isobel P, Reuben C, Sophie D and Johnny W who will be celebrating their birthdays in the coming week!