Calling the term just drawing to a close the “Spring Term” will probably only raise a hollow laugh given the weather (snowing again as I write…), but for schools these few months are always a time of growth, and there is so much that has been achieved.
We have recruited further high quality colleagues to join the JCoSS staff team from September, once again including teachers and leaders from an excellent range of schools and backgrounds; the first round of offers to our new Year 7 and Year 12 students for next year have also been sent out, to bring our student numbers up to 830 from September; Year 9 students have continued their run of “JCoSS firsts” by making their GCSE choices from an exciting range of options, including some brand new subjects.
We have also had our first public examination results, from a small number of AS Modules taken by Year 12 students in January: nearly half of all grades were A or B, and the analysis from the exam boards reveals that in many cases the quality of our students’ answers was higher than those in other similar schools, and higher also than schools nationally. The statistics show also that we are adding value, especially at the top end of the ability range, and a Study Skills day for all Year 12 students this week means they are well placed to make the very best of the weeks remaining until the summer exams.
Stunning performances by our students at the Barnet Dance Festival under Miss Gustard’s expert direction, and under Ms Miller’s at the Welwyn Garden City Youth Drama Competition made for one extremely proud Headteacher; we once again won our category at Welwyn – the 2nd time in 3 years. News has reached me today that we have also swept the board at the Maccabi Badminton and Table Tennis competition held at JFS, while our Public Speaking Team in their first ever competition won the North West London heat of the Rotary Club’s “Youth Speaks” competition, coached by Mme Armon. (There were those who felt we deserved higher recognition at the all-London final as well but we are of course much too Menschlich to make an issue of it.)
Still to come as I write is the Spring Music Concert, which promises to be a wonderful evening under the direction of Mrs Kos. The cultural accomplishments of JCoSS students of all ages are rich and varied – as are the delicious concoctions at the annual JCoSS Bake-off Competition, run by Miss Mawdsley. Someone has to taste each item, and I feel it would be remiss of me to delegate this to anyone else, so duty calls…
In the midst of all of this, our G&T Year 9 have begun work with Russell Group PhD students as part of the “Brilliant Club” initiative led by Miss Kemp. After an induction day at Sussex University they are now working in small tutorial groups every few weeks in school, and will each complete an assignment of their own. The programme culminates with a graduation event at Oxford – where I suspect that duty may call again for me to accompany them. It is a tough life at times. We have also been privileged this term to have visits from the Israeli ambassador and from the Nobel prize-winning Chemist Ada Yonath, one of the seven Jewish Scientists after whom we named our form groups. Both have spent considerable time with students and been generous with their time to us.
All this, and a glorious early celebration of Purim too. There is stimulation for mind, body and soul at JCoSS, and it is as ever a great place to learn and to work. I have mentioned a few staff names above but the breadth of expertise and the generosity of dedication from the entire staff team leaves me in awe.
I wish you chag sameach for a happy Pesach break.