The problem with blogs and twitters and the like is that once you have started them you feel a pressure to keep on making interesting posts on a regular basis! I am in admiration of bloggers I know who manage to find 500 words of interesting thoughts to post almost every day on their blogs, and seem to attract a fairly large following, I am afraid that my delay in making this final post for this half term must mean that I am not a ‘true’ blogger! I am certainly not, as I hear so many people are, ‘addicted’ to social media!
Anyway, we have reached the end of another half term at school, a slightly longer one than usual at this time of year because the half term is a week later to coincide with the Diamond Jubilee. These past few weeks have seen the start of study leave for students in years 11, 12 and 13, and the high jinks which sometimes accompany this moment. I was berating these activities, which cause considerable stress each year, to an old school friend of mine recently, and expressing the view that this never existed in our day, and must all come from some sort of recent American or Australian soap. He was less convinced, and a few days emailed me a photograph clearly showing me, as an 18 year old, leaning out of a window of the ‘sixth form block’ at our school holding a placard saying ‘keep back – under siege’. We were presumably inspired by the Iranian embassy siege which had taken place in London a few weeks before I left school. I have to say that although the photographic evidence proves that it happened, and that I took part (in the school version, that is, rather than the real thing!) I had managed to obliterate all memory of it. It’s a good corrective sometimes to have people you have known a long time to set you right about your own past!
I wrote at the beginning of this term that this would be the term of the Ofsted inspection for Bennett. We had all rather hoped it would happen soon after the Easter holiday, both in order to ‘get it out of the way’ but also because it would have shown the school at full capacity and actually teaching students about to take examinations in years 11 and 13. Clearly that is not going to happen now, and if the inspection happens after the June break there will be no lessons in those year groups for the inspectors to see. I am beginning to suspect that some of my colleagues at school think that I have been calling their bluff all year, as I have begun each half term with a reminder about the forthcoming inspection, which so fat, with just a few weeks left in this school year, has not materialised. Earlier this week I sought confirmation from Ofsted that we would definitely get an inspection this year. I got a typically cryptic response simply repeating that the maximum inspection interval for schools such as ours is five years. We were last inspected in April 2007.
The Queen’s diamond jubilee is obviously going to be a major focus for attention this next week, and I for one am particularly looking forward to seeing the Thames boat pageant on Sunday. It promises to be an amazing sight and is somehow redolent of historic events in London in previous centuries. The Church of England’s official prayer for the royal jubilee has been on our website this week and has been used in many tutor groups.
However we at school are still very much focussed on our own 60th anniversary which we are celebrating all this school year. On Saturday 7th July we will be hosting an informal afternoon ‘open house’ where friends, former staff, former students and so on to visit the school for an afternoon of music, Pimms and the chance to have a look round the school, especially interesting perhaps for those who have not been here for a while. We have put together a special commemorative diamond jubilee yearbook collating memories, pictures and snippets of history form the school’s sixty years and that will be available both at the afternoon and from June onwards through this website. There is a special jubilee email address, [email protected], where any queries about the event or our jubilee in general can be sent. We very much hope that we will get a good turnout on the afternoon of 7th July, 2pm to 4pm.
I reported in an earlier blog that we had taken a special photograph of the staff a few weeks ago, and briefly posted it on the blog. It was met with a number of cries of protest from colleagues – eyes shut, couldn’t see me properly, manky PE shorts visible in the background (it was taken in the gym owing to wet weather!). So last week we had another go, this time outside. I just hope this version meets with more approval!
Jubilee celebrations will be somewhat ‘snatched’ for many of our students over the next week, busy as they are with revision and study. It is a demanding time for young people, and they do best, of course, when they have the support and encouragement of their parents and families to give themselves over to their examination preparation. All three of our examination year groups have worked really hard this year, and we very much hope that they sustain their efforts right through to the end of the examination period and get the results they so richly deserve. I know many of us will be praying for them and their success.