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King's Worcester

29 March

Reflections on the Spring Term (Final Assembly)

For the Spring Term End of Term Assembly, Mr Doodes gave our Head of Lower Years (Miss Arnold),  Head of Middle Years (Mr Davies) and Head of Sixth Form (Mr Hand) the opportunity to reflect on the achievements that their pupils all had achieved this term.

 

Miss Arnold – Head of Lower Years

2000 Covid tests. 312 periods of remote learning. 120 classroom-based lessons. 54 morning registrations. 11 Lower Years assemblies. 6 Lower Years newsletters. 4 competitions. 1 surprisingly busy Easter term in the Lower Years.

In just 110,880 minutes, Lower Years pupils have learned how to make the best castles, why not to build on flood plains and what it is that makes A Midsummer Night’s Dream such a well-known and well-loved Shakespeare play.

Despite this term not being *quite* what we imagined when we all left school at the end of last term, ready and excited for Christmas, I think it is safe to say that the youngest pupils here at King’s have achieved some great things. L4 rose to the challenge of remote learning admirably, despite many of them not having done it in “The King’s Way” before, whilst U4 quickly settled back into the routines they had developed before the summer. All in all, they reacted admirably to their change in circumstances and I could not be prouder. And, of course, the keyworker pupils deserve a special mention of their own for adapting to the strange new school in which they found themselves.

In addition to settling into new ways of learning, the Lower Years have been kept busy outside the virtual classroom too. This is in no small part down to the commitment of Games staff, music staff and those running the virtual co-curricular activities. On behalf of all the pupils involved, thank you.

Pupils have participated in a range of fundraising events, most have continued to enjoy Games sessions and many have further developed their Table-Tennis skills during Long Break. Co-curricular clubs have continued and participation has been kept high – the remote baking club has been a big hit, the lockdown Dance studio saw a particularly committed group of pupils learning new routines at home with Miss Lane, and Mr and Mrs Doodes are now the proud owners of birdboxes for their garden thank to those that have participated in Eco-club.

In Form, as well as reflecting on their remote learning experience with their tutors, pupils have passionately debated a wide range of emotive and political topics, ranging from the pros and cons of the new Covid vaccine to everyday sexism. I did feel a particular sense of pride when I heard the mature, eloquent discussions that took place following Mr Doodes’ assembly on “changing the narrative” following the tragic death of Sarah Everard. Clearly, it is never too early to get young people involved in the discussion of current events.

The Lower Years tutors and I have also been taken aback by the willingness of our young people to engage in the range of Lower Years activities and competitions we have offered across this term. The photo competition produced some outstanding imagery, which you can see on your way up the stairs in the Annett building. I cannot imagine demonstrating the levels of patience and creativity shown by our students whilst trying to capture that “perfect” image.

We have had over 340 Random Acts of Kindness completed by pupils within the Lower Years, reflecting the love, kindness and compassion they have for their community. Lillie (U4C) deserves a special mention for the sheer number of kind acts she has carried out, whilst Amar did some additional fundraising for the WWF. In addition, 30 pupils entered The King’s Bake Off. Whilst I was disappointed not to test these creations myself, I am very much looking forward to seeing the pupils on Channel 4 in the near future – I believe Mrs Ford has already circulated the applications for The Junior Bake Off!

Music has continued to be popular amongst the Lower Years, so much so that a special Young Performers Concert had to be created just for the Lower Fourth. In addition, Ava, Rosie and Angelina also performed in last Friday’s Open Mic Night, an opportunity usually reserved for our older pupils, demonstrating their considerable talent and confidence when performing. Outside of school, pupils have continued to participate in a range of performing arts too and Molly (L4C), Rosie (U4F) and Elizabeth (U4D) also deserve a special mention here for achieving Bronze with Distinction, Gold with Distinction and Gold with Honours respectively, in their The Worcester Competitive Arts classes.

In addition to all of this, the tutors have been pushing the importance of regular exercise, especially during lockdown. Too much time sat in front of a screen, no fresh air, no exercise, means our mental health is all the poorer for it. I was thrilled to see so many pupils taking advantage of a walk after their remote lessons each day, keeping me up to date with their activities via Firefly messages and emails. After all, walking regularly can improve self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, and it reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue. I was particularly thrilled with L4E’s efforts at keeping walking logs on Firefly. Photos, maps, videos, descriptions…. It’s a rambler’s paradise in there and is, no doubt, good preparation for their Duke of Edinburgh!

To close, I would like to refer back to Tuesday evening,  when I interviewed current Lower Sixth pupils for possible Monitor positions. Everyone who had been a part of the Lower Years at King’s couldn’t help but speak highly of their time, reflecting on how they had been encouraged to be ambitious in their plans and how to be resilient when they weren’t successful the first time. They spoke with great humility, despite their overwhelming talents, and it brought me great joy to hear how many felt the Lower Years had shaped their journey so far.  It comes as no surprise, however, when I reflect on this term and the discussions, competitions, performances and opportunities to which our pupils have access.  They have developed, matured, shown resilience and a desire to succeed when faced with challenge… Throughout what has been a truly challenging term, I am hugely proud of all the Lower Years has achieved and I am really looking forward to seeing their future successes along with, hopefully, a little bit of normality!

Dr Davies- Head of Middle Years

Despite being locked down for much of this term, you have certainly proven that by no means have you been locked out of opportunities to continue to excel. From Bake Offs to virtual concerts, charity events to Mock Exams there has been much to celebrate in the senior part of the school this term. Not least of course Phoebe winning Mr Rickett’s Whole School Quiz this term.

Back in January, one day into term, our Fifth Form discovered that their January exams were postponed, and little did we know then, that they would soon become the first-ever King’s year group to take their Mock Exam’s Online at the end of February. Eight gruelling school days later, it is fair to say that they rose to this new challenge. I could not be prouder of how they conducted themselves, how quickly they learnt to juggle technology and a new exam platform, and nor could I be more proud of how well they performed as a year group.

January also saw pupils engage with the sports departments Jantastic initiative. The aim of the challenge was simply to get active for 30 minutes each day and the challenge was designed to help people become healthier in both body and mind. It was fantastic to see both pupil’s and their families engage so positively with activities from yoga to boxercise, running to Pilates, cycling to live circuit sessions and let’s not forget a good dose of mindful colouring in too. Jantastic enabled pupils to get into good healthy habits at the start of a new year and the flexibility of the challenge got them away from their screens.

Sport at King’s is about far more than what usually grabs the headlines and there will never be a bigger win than pupils and families becoming healthier through sport.

I was inspired to read this term of two charitable efforts this Middle Years. Maddie and Massie decided to walk a Marathon in one day to raise Money for Cancer Research UK. On a sunny February morning they set off and 26 miles later raised £1313 for their amazing efforts too.

In a similar vein, on a wet and dreary February morning, Upper Removes Freya and Jaime both of Bright House also raised a staggering amount for Cancer Research UK walking the Malvern Hills.

These are phenomenal achievements and are testament to the wonderful people that make up this community.

Music has continued excel this term and push the boundaries of virtual concerts in school. The Open Mic Night last Friday and this week’s Cleobury concert were released as Facebook Live events and rounded off a truly spectacular term. It is a great credit to all those involved that the standard and sheer number of performers has been so high. The Open Mic Night featured 16 outstanding performances and some guest introductions by members of staff as well as an appearance by Old Vigornian Chris Tarrant. I love seeing the pupils I teach excel in unexpected ways. A particular highlight was the final Act performing Demons, showcasing 5 remove boys and 3 L6 girls exquisite talents. The breath taking Cleobury Concert was a phenomenal showcase of instruments and genres. From the Operatic powerhouse that is Amy to the energetic piano Solo of Henry Halford, 17 outstanding performers showcased the very best of King’s. Both concerts are still available on Facebook and I would encourage you to enjoy these outstanding showcases over Easter.

This term saw Upper Remove pupils take part in the Meet the Employer Interviews. Each House was tasked with finding and recording a Teams interview with an employer about their roles. These ranged from Engineers to Chief financial officers, Graphic designers to Broadcast Journalists, it was a real smorgasbord of careers.

The questions asked were all generated by group discussion in form time, and many were particularly probing. A particular highlight was to GMB Journalist of “what is Piers Morgan really like?” which garnered a very professional and diplomatic response. But our most probing team was certainly Wulstan, who asked some particularly challenging questions of their FI Engineer – such as – Do you live to work or work to live? Or Some people say that F1 racing contributes unnecessarily to Global Warming and wastes millions of pounds which could be spent on feeding starving people in Third World counties.  How would you counter these arguments? Clearly there are some budding investigative journalists in this house.

It has been brilliant to hear pupils discuss these around school and now that this particular virtual change has been a success.

At the end of this term, it is only natural that we begin to look ahead to the summer and hopefully relaxing of restrictions. We are all looking forward to the return of Easter training camps and some competitions/fixtures returning in the Summer months. I encourage you this Holiday to stay safe and rest and get ready to return next term with renewed energy and gusto.

Mr Hand- Head of Sixth Form

I am tremendously proud of our Sixth Form this term. Like all years, they have coped more than admirably with a range of teaching styles and locations, all whilst under the banner of not quite knowing the next step Gavin Williamson might decide upon.

For the first time in King’s’ history, U6 mocks were completed online. It was impressive to note the speed with which students picked up the digital techniques required for online invigilation. Undoubtedly this will help for future assessment centres and workplace interviews.

The U6 have begun to receive many university offers and it is tremendously exciting to see students begin mapping out the next stages. The L6, meanwhile, have successfully launched the Post-18 Options process earlier than ever before. Helpful feedback from the first presentation enabled a really tailored and bespoke follow-up Q&A.

Monitor addresses

The Monitor addresses have been thoughtful, poignant, moving and brave. I commend all those who have spoken up about the issues that are dear to them.

For the first time in hundreds of years of King’s history, L6 applicants to be Monitors were interviewed. Group interviews were run by the current Head and Deputies of School, before one-ton-one interviews with members of staff. I hope this gave invaluable interview practice for future years, whilst enabling all applicants to truly understand the roles ahead.

Music

Covid restrictions over the past year have halted most of the school’s co-curricular music programme and this term has been no exception. In its place staff and pupils have been living in a virtual world, creating online concerts which have been enjoyed by the wider school community. Lunchtime concerts have featured 9 soloists and two ensembles, the flute group and the U4 choir. There have also been four performances on Fridays this half term from Old Vigornians.

On Tuesday we hosted a new online event called ‘an evening with Nicholas Cleobury’. Nicholas was a student here in the 1960s and went on to have a successful career as an organist, opera conductor and orchestral conductor. He spoke to a large virtual audience of pupils, parents, staff, OVs and guests about his time as a chorister in the Cathedral and his experiences working with some of the biggest names in music at the time such as the American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein; one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century, Adrian Boult and some of the most significant composers of the 20th century such as Michael Tippett and Pierre Boulez.

In the Worcester Competitive Arts Festival, Amelia in L6K won two Golds, both with Honours (the highest mark, seldom given out) for her Musical Theatre Acted Solo Song Class and the Rock and Pop Vocal Class.

Sport

The inspiration for the KSW Around the World fundraiser follows Mark Beaumont’s world record in 2017 where he cycled 18,000 miles around the world in 80 days. We attempted to do this as a whole school in just 8 days!

The journey lasted from Friday, February 5th-12th and the charity The Mental Health Foundation was chosen by our Monitors and Heads of Houses.

Not only did we complete the challenge, but we also raised over £1000 for the charity. The top three Houses in terms of contribution to the ‘Around the World’ challenge were School, Oswald and Bright. Thank you to everyone who got involved.

House/miscellaneous

In Houses, a real highlight of the year has been presentations on a very wide range of subjects. In Castle, these were produced and presented by the Lower and Upper Sixth, sharing topics they feel passionately about. They have been inciteful and delivered superbly, covering everything from the impact of corona virus on professional sport, to feminism, to a comparison between the bible and the Matrix.

Jamie has been volunteering for 3dcrowd who are producing face shields for the NHS. He has run the Worcestershire Hub and also coordinates the west midlands region which includes a further 3 Hubs. In addition to this, he has also been leading a ventilator splitter design and production project liaising with a team, lawyers, clinicians, regulatory experts and manufacturers across several time zones and countries.

Hannah, Alex, Charlie and Harry have been helping at the vaccination centre; Jess completed a squat challenge to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust and Georgie and Alice continued their outstanding individual rowing exploits at the British rowing indoor championships, with Luke, Jack and Beatrice having great success in the relay events.

Fleur was amongst those who contributed so beautifully to the open mic night, streamed live on Facebook.

Toby has won the Young Innovator award from the Engineer Magazine – we are all excited to see where he takes this promise in the future.

Deputy Head of School, Will Hunt, spoke to BBC Hereford and Worcester about his reaction to the news that A-Level exams are to be cancelled this summer. He spoke articulately, giving a real sense of the thought processes the 17 and 18-year-olds throughout the country will be going through.

Katie and Maia helped plan and organise the Christmas Costa vouchers for staff on the ICU at Worcester Royal. These were hand-delivered to some very appreciative and welcoming staff.

Library

The ever-vibrant Library team helped create a staff ‘guess who is reading’ competition, with many a giggle at the chosen titles. Felicity and Megan scored an impressive 32 and 33 out of 40. The Great Book Exchange has inspired many reading opportunities. If you have not already, do ensure you get some fun reading for the Easter break.

Bake off

Top three houses in terms of entries to the ‘King’s Bake Off’ were Bright, Oswald, Chappel. There were some incredible entries – I am hungry just thinking about them!