Dear Parents and Friends
What a wonderful moment! The end of term is a good time to pause and feel a sense of pride in what has been accomplished as we reflect on all that has taken place against the backdrop of challenge and change in 2020.
I invite the whole King Edward’s community to share in the feeling of great achievement, not only for reaching the end of the longest term in the strangest of years, but for recognising that the commitment to teaching and learning continues to flourish alongside our all-important co-curricular programme. None of this would have been possible without the genuine dedication of all staff and governors, the enthusiasm and resilience of the pupils and the understanding and support of so many parents.
There are many highlights. First, I would like to congratulate all pupils who have given their best and worked conscientiously. To affirm how well they are doing, we award Commendations. We note all pupils who gained Distinctions and Commendations. In each year group those awarded the most Distinctions this term are as follows:
|1st Form||Isabella Benyon||27 Distinctions|
|2nd Form||Bernice Onojeide||27 Distinctions|
|3rd Form||Cameron Shields||27 Distinctions|
|4th Form||Yoon-Jee Nam||24 Distinctions|
|5th Form & Pre-Sixth||William Bensley||19 Distinctions|
|Lower Sixth||Louis Harmsworth||15 Distinctions|
|Upper Sixth||Deniz Acar||14 Distinctions|
The academic life of the School is in very good hands, shown by its upward growth in terms of ambition and achievement. As a result of the success, it is entirely understandable that Mrs Zeba Clarke, our wonderful Academic Deputy, has been lured away by keen head-hunters and so will be leaving us in May to go to St Paul’s in São Paulo, Brazil. We will recruit her successor early next term.
During the last few weeks, we have been experiencing something of the Christmas spirit as chocolates, Christmas jumpers (some tasteful) and Secret Santa presents have created an atmosphere of fun and joviality for our youngest pupils. As part of the celebrations, you may have enjoyed viewing our end of term carol service which created a beautiful opportunity to focus on the meaning of Christmas. The Choir and readers performed remotely and were brought together through wonderful technology to offer a lovely service to us all.
Where better to feel a sense of triumph than in the Exhibition Hall as QMH held their end of term concert. An eclectic programme was performed with great energy and enthusiasm by our 1st and 2nd Forms. They all participated brilliantly. Hearing them sing, watching them perform ensemble pieces, sharing in their enjoyment was a heart-warming moment. Rather poignantly the concert ended with a haunting and lovely performance by Mrs Gardner. As she sang “For Good”, it was easy to think that she intended the goodbye message to those around. This was followed by Mr Gardner’s song about lockdown. All of QMH joined in the singing before thanking their wonderful Houseparents and wishing them good luck as they move to their new job. It was a good moment on which to end the term, complete with hot chocolate, gingerbread and a snow machine.
None of this would have been possible without the hard work and collaboration between the Music, Drama and PE Departments. They worked brilliantly together with the 1st and 2nd Form. Please see below for more detailed reports of their work.
House is a home for creation, an outlet for and expression of the creative and exploring spirit which is so evident in so many areas of life at King Edward’s. House Magazine collates contributions from pupils and features moving memories from the very first lockdown period covering poetry, creative writing, video diaries and even a horror story. I am pleased to be able to announce that the latest edition of House Magazine, edited by Mr Joseph Allen, Head of English, is now live. Please click here to read the magazine.
Working together has been key to all that has been achieved. I am very grateful to the School’s cross-departmental COBRA group led by Mr David Corran, Deputy Head, as they steered us through the impact of the invisible presence of COVID-19. Although the small details seem to take up time, it is the large issues that weigh upon our minds. We are aware that anxiety in uncertainty needs to be recognised and managed. Good mental health and wellbeing are important areas on which to focus. We have recruited a new counsellor who will be able to be at School more often to support pupils. They will also be able to help guide colleagues as they look after pupils.
I am sorry that we are saying goodbye to some colleagues and we wish them well as they move on in their careers. Jess Emsley, our graduate artist in residence has finished her placement and is resuming her university studies. She has had a great impact in the short time that she has been here. Laura Sessions, one of our dedicated medical team and Head of PSHE, is going to Cranleigh School. We are grateful to Laura for her enthusiasm, kindness and care. Steve and Kitty Gardner are leaving so that Steve can take up his new role of Deputy Head at Holyport College. Together they have been a dynamic duo in QMH. We bid goodbye to colleagues and we wish them well. We look forward to welcoming Mr Josh Andrade and his family.
Another key change in the School is in Finance and Administration, Mr Andrew Lewis will leave us in April and his successor Mr Dan Rogers will be joining us from King’s Canterbury. Andrew has been a great support to the new team. His expertise, skill and encyclopaedic knowledge of the School have navigated us through changing times and into calmer waters.
January will be a busy month! We are delighted that we are seeing increasing numbers of registrations as our recruitment is strong. Alongside the decisions about which pupils to offer places to, we will also be recruiting new members of teaching staff to help provide the best learning environment for your sons and daughters. To help keep apace with innovations in the curriculum, we are advertising for new Science teachers and a Graduate Assistant in Science.
On the theme of communication, we value our relationship with parents and are keenly aware that we have missed our normal face to face chats around School, at drop off or pick up time, while waiting in the car park or watching a match or attending a concert or play. Early next term, we will invite you to Zoom meetings. We hope that the introduction of ‘Schoolpost’ will help us to tailor information to specific groups as well as track responses. It will allow parents to respond to one mailing. We hope you will soon see the benefit of this and will be interested in your feedback.
I will write again in the New Year but in the meantime, on behalf of the School, I send you very best wishes. I hope that you and your families will keep safe, know joy and peace this Christmas time.
As the saying goes:
“If exercise could be packaged in a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation.”
I am sure it goes without saying that the last few months have been extraordinary. With these circumstances in mind, we have looked to provide as much physical activity as possible for the pupils to ensure a healthy mental and physical wellbeing.
During games lessons, pupils have been training to improve their skillset in football, hockey and netball (girls) and are fully prepared for the season as and when it starts. We have also taken the opportunity to add some variety into our sports programme whilst the fixtures have been on hiatus. Basketball, tennis, squash, cricket, futsal, hockey goalkeeping and health related exercise have all featured prominently during this first term.
We have also had the exciting revamp of the Emerging Athlete Programme (now named the Elite Performance Pathway). Pupils now have access to dedicated mentors, a hugely increased lunchtime offering that is designed to develop their fundamental movement as well as detailed tracking of their fitness levels. We have exciting things planned for the group which include trips to Loughborough University and the Surrey High Performance Laboratories next term. The sports scholars within this group have been treated to personalised rucksacks as a reward for their successes.
Another development has been the creation of our ‘Sports Council’ which is designed to allow a more fluid method of pupil feedback into the PE Department. This is made up of the ‘First Team Squad’ who are a very prestigious set of pupils who participate in at least two first team squads at Senior level as well as demonstrating exemplary behaviour across the school as a whole. These pupils are invited to vote, along with the PE team, for the Sports Ambassadors who are made up of one boy and one girl in the 1st-4th Forms. All pupils in 1st-4th Forms were given the opportunity to nominate themselves as a sports ambassador and wrote a short letter of application before voting commenced. All successful pupils form the Sports Council and are listed in the table below. The ‘First Team Squad’ can be identified by personalised jackets that have their unique number on the arm sleeve. This number will be theirs forever and no future member of the ‘squad’ will be able to take this from them. A truly unique reward.
Finally, I would like to say a huge thank you to all pupils and parents for their ongoing support of sport at King Edward’s Witley. These are difficult times but you would never had known looking at the Saturday attendance at the sports sessions or the smiling faces during games lessons.
Fixtures and normality will return, I promise!
|First Team Squad
(Sports Council Lead Members)
|Eddie Campbell-John #||April Klein||Jess Combes||Jess Foulston||Harry Veevers|
|Oscar Roberts #2|
|Quinn Tierney #3||Oscar Perkins||Felix Terry||Oliver Fitch|
|Jake Tapley #4|
|Maya Manek #7||Zoe Rinaldi|
|Sibel Oztas #10|
|Kelly-Bella Ansah-Yeboah #15|
|Hector Scott-Hughes #19|
|Chloe Kayiranga #23|
Mr P Miller
Head of Sport
The Art Department celebrated excellent examination results in Summer 2020. Due to the nature of art exams taking place early the majority of our GCSE pupils sat all or most of their exam and coursework was not too badly affected by the pandemic. A fantastic exhibition of their work has been on display most of this term. The shift to online learning and the challenging circumstances we found ourselves in led to many taking up creative interests – such is human nature, and this is one positive we can take from the current climate.
Before leaving King Edward’s and Barrow Hills, Miss Edwards had initiated an online exhibition of work and a competition on the theme of ‘Kindness and Community’ and this stunning collection of work can be viewed here.
Miss Cutler joined us in September as our new Graduate Assistant in Art and has already made a positive impact on learning in the classroom. She has also created a regularly changing display on the 1st floor landing of South Side to celebrate work of current pupils in all year groups. We hope this engages the interest of those heading up the stairs to the top floor each day. A new exhibition began in The Bunker Gallery on Wednesday 9th December which marks the culmination of the one term residency of Artist Jess Emsley. In this show Jess explores the School woodland and explains some of the processes and ideas behind her artwork and her work with King Edward’s pupils – please see the full news story here.
Jess has also been instrumental in setting up the new Bunker Gallery Website, an online interactive studio space to showcase the artwork of pupils, artists, and staff at King Edward’s. In future we hope to have assistance in running this website from the student body. We can feature more work here than is possible in the actual gallery space – pupil submissions have already been invited, and it will widen the audience able to visit our gallery. It is a very exciting venture. During her time with us Jess has also run an art activity with pupils taking them outside into the wider school environment and encouraging direct responses from nature. We have been very fortunate to have Jess join us for this last term and will be sorry to see her go.
Despite the restrictions in place, we successfully managed two separate art trips to local galleries – the 5th Form visited Roche Court in Salisbury and enjoyed a beautiful sunny day exploring the sculpture park, art gallery and workshop provided by the excellent staff at Roche Court. The Upper Sixth and Lower Sixth visited our local Watts Gallery and were led in a drawing session by Jess Emsley and Annie Cutler.
Art activities have continued with some ‘bubble’ limitations and our new Artist in Residence, Emma Trussler, has now joined us and is meeting weekly with a group of scholars and other talented young artists. Emma has also created a range of competitions for pupils to enter and maintains a strong focus on her own practice as an artist which is invaluable for our pupils to learn from. Art is very much in the hearts and minds of people across the globe as we seek to make sense of the challenges that have faced us in 2020. It helps us to heal and it secures its place as a sanctuary that we can all turn to because to create is to be human.
Mrs C Shouksmith
Head of Art
It was wonderful to return to socially distanced face to face lessons and ensembles this term after last term’s virtual music-making online. With the challenges of year group bubbles came opportunities for new ensembles and allowed music-making within year groups. Challenges were also presented with Chapel Choir and Orchestra both of which involve pupils from all year groups. With some careful planning, it was business as usual. Although our younger pupils did not have the benefit of being supported by their elders, it was an opportunity for them step up to the mark and they did so admirably. It is a testament to our younger pupils that they rose to the challenge of demanding music both in Choir and Orchestra holding their own with real style. After half term, the Chapel Choir sang together for the first time since Bridewell Day in early March and what a sound they made! As there was no Admissions Day nor cathedral visits this term, our focus was very much on the Carol Service which we managed to record with a reduced choir of Inters and Juniors in separate groups.
Our Scholars managed to get together just before half term for a concert in the Recital Room. Showcase concerts and exeat concert have taken place as normal and it has been wonderful to hear the sound of music back at King Edward’s. It has been sad not to be able to welcome parents to School for our concerts this term but all concerts have been recorded and made available for parents so they can be enjoyed time and again rather than simply being in the moment and hearing them only once.
Over half term our new recording studio was installed which has created many new opportunities for pupils. Bands and ensembles have started rehearsing and recording in there and we really look forward to it becoming a hive of activity just like the Music School.
The last two weeks of term saw our focus turn to music-making for QMH in preparation for their end of term musical extravaganza showcasing their musical talents. It was super to be able to focus on nurturing the talents of our youngest pupils. From samba to music technology, all pupils were involved in creating wonderful music for the concert.
Face to face individual music lessons resumed and it was wonderful to welcome back our Visiting Music Teachers. Over 1500 music lessons have been taught this term in preparation for concerts and exams. The final week of term saw ABRSM and RockSchool practical exams return after an absence of a year. It was wonderful to see our pupils so well prepared with some starting their musical journeys taking Grade 1 through to our more seasoned performers taking Grade 8.
Despite the challenges of the term, there has been so much music-making this term in new and creative ways. It just goes to show that nothing can stop the music at King Edward’s Witley!
Mr S Sliwka
Director of Music
We have adjusted to the mode of live streaming our Drama performances so that our pupils can continue to share them with audiences beyond the year group bubbles. We began this year’s performance schedule with the 4th Form House Drama Competition. The competition involved the entire year group writing, directing and performing original plays based on an historical event. Wakefield House were crowned winners with a comedy version of Robin Hood, closely followed by Elizabeth House’s Agatha Christie style mystery saga. Next to be streamed was the brilliant IB Theatre Showcase which was seen by audiences reaching as far as Singapore, Germany and Ukraine.
The Green Room, next to the main stage in Charter Hall, has been converted into our brand-new Studio Theatre. We filmed our GCSE Drama performances in there and plan to host our monologue competitions there during the Spring Term. This new studio space provides all our pupils with the facilities to learn about theatre lighting and sound design complementing the existing curriculum.
Although we have missed out on our regular theatre visits, we have subscribed to the National Theatre collection of plays enabling us to watch inspirational theatre from school. All members of the School community may access the collection from home by using this link.
We continue to work with professional theatre companies and practitioners and will be taking part in the National Theatre New Views programme via zoom. Our pupils will be mentored by the professional playwright Alexandra Wood who will help them shape their own scripts for entry into this nationwide competition.
Drama productions will resume in year group bubbles in January 2021 starting with a 3rd Form production of a murder mystery play written and directed by 5th Form drama scholar, Felix Wood.
Mrs L Cleaves
Head of Drama
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