As I have mentioned before in this blog, this school year is marking Bennett’s sixtieth anniversary, our very own diamond jubilee! This evening after school the whole staff gathered for an informal photograph to mark the occasion. We were planning on doing this outside, but unfortunately the persistent fine rain made that difficult, if not impossible. So we had to relocate to the gym. Nonetheless the result is good. We also just putting the finishing touches to a Bennett Diamond Jubilee Souvenir Yearbook, which has photographs and reminiscences from the whole sixty years of the school’s existence, and which will be available at the open afternoon in July. Anyone with any connection at all is welcome to come to the afternoon – full details are elsewhere on the website.
We are now approaching the final days of study for years 11 and 12, who begin their GCSEs and AS Levels respectively in the next week or so. Year 13, who of course have their all important A2 examinations which will secure them their places at university, hopefully, have a little longer, as their examinations largely begin at the very end of the month. This is a stressful and demanding time for our young people, so please do keep them in your prayers. Whatever anyone says in the media about examinations, for the young people going through them they are demanding, and real hard work and commitment is needed to do really well, which is exactly what our students do year after year.
The May bank holiday was a welcome break in this long term. At school, one half of our bronze Duke of Edinburgh students undertook their expedition – a two day walk carrying all their kit, with an overnight camp in between. I would like to thank all the staff who assisted with this. Meanwhile, I managed a short visit to the Brecon Beacons in South Wales, where amongst other things I undertook the long walk up to the top of Pen-y-Fan, the highest peak in southern Britain. It was certainly bracing – there was the odd snowflake in the air – and it’s May!
Next Monday is one of the more pleasurable duties of the school year for me. Every May we invite the sixth form students who have served the school as head boy, head girl, their deputies, and the senior prefects, to join us for a simple farewell and thank you meal at a restaurant in town. We have been doing this for many years now, and it is a lovely opportunity to talk in a bit more depth with our senior students about their experiences of school, and their hopes and ambitions for the future. It is difficult not to feel a great sense of pride. Once again, their courtesy, maturity, ambition and awareness of others belies so much of what is put around by the media about young people.
The end of the school year is of course the season of staff changes. We have a relatively small number of teachers leaving us this summer, but we have expanded our staffing in the core areas of mathematics, English and science, and have additionally recruited teachers in modern languages, business studies, history and music. Teaching interviews are traditionally somewhat different to interviews in other walks of life, and those coming in to teaching from elsewhere find it rather odd at first. Everyone shortlisted comes to the school on the same day and at the same time, even though they are in competition with each other. References are taken up at that point, largely for safeguarding reasons, so there is no hiding from the current employer that you are looking for a job. Demonstrations lessons are always required, which are observed by those who have a part in the selection process (those with students at the school may well have reported this experience!) and we always ask students what they thought of each of the teachers we have for interview to incorporate their views into the selection process. Interview candidates get to know each other quite well over the day, and often exchange contact details. Sometimes they meet again at future interviews! Anyway, we have recruited some very promising teachers this year, and look forward to working with them next year.
Finally, I would like to wish all examination candidates the very best for all their exams.