As I now walk through the top floor of our teaching building, down what could have been referred to as '…past the old lab…', I find it not only unbelievable [the tremendous development of our facilities], but also hard to remember what the corridor looked like before, genuinely.
As a school, we have always excelled in the teaching and learning of science (of course, I truly believe our teaching and learning is excellent across the board in all subjects, but…), with many students going on to study biology, chemistry, physics as well as medicine and other science focused engineering courses at some of the top universities in the world. Indeed, just before Christmas I bumped in to a 2022 graduate in town who is reading Chemistry at St Anne's College, University of Oxford.
So, when looking to order our school's significant development plans intended over the next 5 years, the Science Faculty seemed a very prudent place to begin. Of course, great teaching and learning isn't reliant on 'the best' facilities, but we wanted to begin with our school laboratories because we understand, with great teachers, how much further great science students, can be stretched and challenged in a great learning environment. I hope you agree, looking at the photographs of our new Science Faculty - and 'yes', we did all of it (well, if you're serious about something…why not?) - this development's been truly transformational.
To ensure we developed the best possible teaching and learning arrangement in the laboratories, we actually moved 3 doors, 2 walls and 1 window, but can you tell from the quality of finish? No, you can't. What do you see? You now see a large fully-equipped Chemistry and Biology laboratory with the most stunning teaching wall behind the teacher's demonstration island: a superb concept encouraging group participation, and ensuring greater synergy between practical demonstrations and whiteboard theory teaching. You now see a brand new Biology and ESS laboratory with gas taps and sockets fitted at each workstation, creating more opportunities for practical experiments; and you now see a developed Physics laboratory with the teachers' resources so cleverly stored on the back wall to maximise students' individual work areas. '…resources cleverly stored…to maximise students' individual work areas' may sound salesperson-esque, but it isn't, think of the space needed by each student for their text books, laptop, notebook, practical equipment, etc., etc., etc.: each worksurface, window, light, storage drawer, sink, gas tap and plug socket of this development was so carefully drafted on the plans, to ensure our students enjoy the best possible science teaching and learning experience. And you know what? I think we've done it.
February in school is always a funny month, particularly for our Year 2s who are currently sitting their mock examinations. These mock examinations are, of course, very important 'markers' and I encourage you to talk to your daughter / son not just about their results, but how they felt sitting these papers, too (i.e. prepared?, excited?, challenged?). Teachers will be feeding back to students in detail about their progress and achievement, and what they need to do to increase it; but I have always felt the 'positive questioning' from home following mock examinations, completes the triangle of support young people need during this crucial preparation period.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you all our Graduation Ceremony is on Friday 21 April this year. I hope as many of you as possible will be able to attend. Further details will be sent out shortly, however, for the moment, please save this date in your diaries.