A very warm welcome back to school for all Bennett students, and a special welcome to new members of the School, particularly new year 7 students and their families.
Indeed, we welcome you as a family, because Bennett, as a Church school, aims to be much more than just a place where children go to learn and do well in their examinations. Which they do of course do, as this year’s superb results for year 11 and 13 demonstrate, but alongside much more. We aim to be a community as well, nurturing and supporting our young people in much broader and deeper ways than only formal education. We do this in many ways, but one is the forthcoming family afternoon for new year 7 students and their families on Saturday 28th September from 2.30 to 5pm. It is a very enjoyable afternoon which helps many parents feel more at ease in the school and gives the chance for them to get to know other Bennett families a little better.
This summer has been a very successful one for the school. The end of term saw superb co-curricular activities right across the spectrum, including week long residential visits to the cultural and historical sites of Italy for students in the sixth form, a ‘first’ in the form of a visit to China led by Mrs Douse, head of geography, another ‘first’ in the shape of a Duke of Edinburgh expedition by canoe on the Wye valley, as well as a number of other day and residential visits for students across the spectrum. As I have mentioned above, Bennett students in both year 11 and year 13 achieved excellent examination results, and we had extensive media coverage of these locally, particularly for the A Level results. The press releases detailing these are on the front page of the website still so do have a look if you have not done so already. We are hugely proud of all out students achieved, and wish those who are now starting at universities around the country every success as they begin the next stage of their education.
The start of the new school year is a very happy and uplifting time for all those who work in schools. The sight especially of enthusiastic new year 7 students moving to secondary school is one which gives hope and points to the future. It also reminds us all of the awesome responsibility which both leading and teaching in a school represents. We recall at all times the real investment made in schools by our families and endeavor to live up to it in all we do and offer to those young people. Walking around the school on Friday once normal lessons were underway for all students it was inspiring to see teachers and students already working hard and engaged in their learning in all the classrooms I looked into.
As well as new year 7 students, we do of course have a new year 12 (lower sixth) intake, the vast majority of whom are from our own year 11, but with a significant number, more than in previous years, from other schools. This year’s year 12 is by quite a wide margin the largest we have ever had. They will be eagerly awaiting the completion of our new sixth form building, which is due for use after Christmas, and which has grown in height considerably over the summer. We are very much looking forward to its opening in order to enhance facilities for sixth form students, creating a study and research facility inspired by the types of modern working space students use in universities now.
Sometimes there are complaints that education is an almost constant subject of discussion and debate in the national media and among politicians and others. ‘Why don’t they just leave us alone to get on with the job’ one hears at times. But actually, I personally welcome the fact that education is right at the top of the agenda. Yes, sometimes it is misreported, and many people have ideas about it with which I might not agree, but I would much rather have it being discussed than have to deal with indifference about our young people’s futures.
One of the strange things about the regular cycle of terms and holidays in schools is that as soon as you are back at school the holidays seem a long time ago! Nonetheless, I managed to fit in some very enjoyable activities over the summer, including a very demanding week long mountain trek in Bulgaria. I thoroughly enjoyed the exhilarating scenery and the challenge of all day hikes with rough terrain and very long and steep ascents, though my legs took some time to return to normal afterwards! I also had the opportunity to take advantage of some wonderful cultural opportunities, including two Shakespeare plays at the Globe and the National Theatre, The Tempest and Othello.
Finally, I would like to wish all students and their families a very happy and productive term ahead at Bennett. As always, we are happy to know we are supported in our work by the prayers of friends and families of the school.