Rough Notes – June 2018

The summer exams are over at last and we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief. All we have to do now is wait anxiously for the results. The last few weeks have not been easy, particularly for students facing the new GCSEs and the new A-Levels. They have had to cope with harder exams, more content and more papers. Teachers have had to try to work out what the exam papers might look like based on incredibly limited information from the examination boards; students have had to prepare for exams having seen only one or two sample papers. Still, it is the same for everyone right across the country and Woodroffe students are likely to be better prepared than most. We are confident that our results will once again be among the best in the county, if not the best - as they were last year.

The summer term is traditionally a time for trips and visits, and this year is no different. One of the most remarkable things about the Woodroffe experience is the range and variety of extra-curricular activities and, even if you work here, exactly how much students do can come as a surprise when you look back across the year. I recently prepared a report for the governors on extra-curricular activities and it is worth including a section of it here to make the point about just how many things happens at Woodroffe.

This term alone has already seen an amazing range of trips and visits including:

A theatre company performing Romeo and Juliet for Year 9; the Y11 live screening of Macbeth from the RSC; a performance of Macbeth for Year 10; a bronze D of E expedition; an A Level enrichment day in Honiton delivered by Aberystwyth University; Science camp at the Met Office in Exeter; a series of lectures provided by the Natural History Museum as part of the Fossil Festival; Year 10 Employability day; three teams in Ten Tors; the Year 7 Aquarium visit; a CCF visit to Devonport; the Year 12 UCAS convention; Life Drawing Classes for sixth formers; Year 12 Geographers to Leeson House; a GCSE Music workshop at the Corn Exchange in Dorchester; and the Big Band Bash.

Still to come we have Junior Awards Evening; a Year 9 Maths Live day; a History Department visit to Chalke Valley; CCF Army camp; the Year 7 Maiden Castle Trip; the Year 11 and Year 13 Proms; Year 10 Careers College day; the Gold D of E expedition; Year 8 Writing day; Year 10 Discover and Explore Day at Exeter University; Year 10 Sixth form Taster Days; the Singers Showcase; a Y10 visit to Oxford University; the Year 8 Robot Day; a Year 8 Normandy trip; a Year 10 art trip to London; Mountjoy Day; Year 7 Rocket Car day; Year 12 Progression days; Sports Day; Silver D of E; a Year 12 visit to Glenside Hospital Museum in Bristol; CCF RAF camp; Year 9 Enterprise Day; Years 7,8,9 and 10 Activity days, and Sail France.

Very few schools offer this range of experiences and still manage to produce academic results as good as ours. This level of participation is a tribute both to the enthusiasm of the students and the commitment of staff.

The only fly in the ointment this year has been the struggle to safeguard the future of the CCF (Combined Cadet Force). With both the Contingent Commander, Miss Morley, and the leader of the RAF section, Mr Mould, leaving this year, we are left with only one member of the teaching staff involved, Mr Ransome-Williams. The Woodroffe CCF has all three sections, RAF, Navy and Army, and over 100 pupils involved. We therefore need a significant number of qualified adults to take part. Despite repeated appeals, we have not had enough interest from potential volunteers to enable us to ensure that the CCF can be run effectively next year. I have had discussions with Colonel Carter and the CCF support team, but we have now reluctantly come to the decision that the CCF will have to be disbanded next year. We appreciate how disappointing this decision will be to those students who really enjoy the experience the CCF offers but if we cannot find the staffing, it cannot run.

We do, however, have a comprehensive programme of outdoor education activities run by Mrs. Vincent and this becoming increasingly popular. Over 100 students took part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme this year, for example. Indeed, the success of our other outdoor activities is part of the reason for the demise of the CCF. The plan now is to ensure that students don’t miss out and we will be looking to make sure that, the military experience aside, we are able to offer students the chance to do most of the activities they have been doing with the CCF but in other ways. An expeditionary society may well be the first step.

Finally, a few positive developments. First, we have been successful with a number of bids lately and these include £20k from the Mandarin Excellence Programme to enable us to introduce Mandarin into Year 7 and Year 12; £20k from Sports England to help develop our already extensive programme of sporting activities; and another £1500 to allow us to continue to offer Latin as an after school class in the lower school. We have also secured the funding to improve the security of the site over the summer, with new fences and electronic gates and barriers, and to replace the lights in the sports hall and drama studio with new LED units. Thanks to the PTA, we will be installing a large canopy on the paved area outside the sports hall to allow students to shelter from the rain or, in ‘flaming June’, to hide from the sun.

Enjoy the summer while it lasts.

Dr Steward