Welcome back to school to all students after the summer break, and an especially warm welcome to those students and parents who are new to Bennett. We are a thriving and dynamic community and it is a pleasure to have you with us. This first full week of term is always a busy and exciting one, no less so this year with large numbers of new students in year 7, and a good number in other year groups as well. We still receive many applications from parents for their children to join the school in years other than year 7, and sadly, because the school is so full, it is difficult to accommodate all of these. Welcoming new year 7 students to a school is always a special pleasure, and they are very positive this year, looking also very smart in their new uniforms!
We are feeling very buoyed up at the start of this year by strong results across the school, with record-breaking figures in year 11, year 12 and year 13. This is, as I said in the press releases on the website, a real tribute to the hard work and commitment of students, teachers AND parents. Of course, none of this is a reason for complacency, and we are already working intensively with colleagues to identify and address pockets of the school’s work which have not met the high standard of the vast majority. This we will do uncompromisingly.
We are also welcoming a number of new teachers to the school this year. In English we have Miss Walkes, Mrs Silberston and Dr Kennedy; in science (physics) we welcome Dr Marchesini; in RE Mr Green joins us; we have a new director of music, Mr Showell, and also in music Mr Crane; Mrs Judson joins as head of ICT, and Mr Bryant as head of Latin and Classics. We wish them happiness and success in working at Bennett.
The project to expand what we offer to students in music is an important one for us this year, and we are aiming to make music making and singing an activity which permeates the life of the school, and gives students the opportunity both to learn more music and have the experience of team work and enjoyment which music also brings. We are targeting all levels of music and singing, from mass participation and complete beginners, to the experienced and highly skilled end of the spectrum. Please do encourage your children to take as full a part as possible in all the musical opportunities offered. Mr Showell ([email protected]) is happy to make contact with interested parents and is open to new ideas.
Activities week this summer went exceptionally well, and we have had a lot of positive feedback both from students who took part in activities and from organisers about the approach and behaviour of Bennett students, which was exemplary. I myself was in Italy with a large group of year 12 students, and we had a wonderful time seeing the cultural and historic sights of Rome and the Sorrento area, and enjoying each others’ company.
I think all of us will have been shocked and horrified by the riots which affected many cities in England over the summer. It throws into greater relief than ever the importance of a values-based education and upbringing for young people which helps them to understand the difference between right and wrong, enables them to see our interdependence, and shows them that our choices and actions have consequences, and are not just arbitrary and meaningless. It was disappointing that the national flurry of discussion about school assemblies this week did not focus a bit more on this – rather than denouncing assemblies as anachronistic and old fashioned, the commentators might have reflected on how important the opportunity to do something corporate and to lift our hearts and minds to what is beyond ourselves was more needed now than ever.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish all members of the Bennett community a very profitable and enjoyable term. As I say on frequent occasions, this school is extremely conscious of the support it receives from the prayers of so many parents and friends. Please do continue to pray for the school and all its members this year.