Summer is firmly with us, and the educational biorhythms I described in my last newsletter have delivered us at last to the holidays. Tisha B’Av has been a brief pause for more sombre reflection in this final week of term, but the atmosphere in School as I write is a celebratory one.
Holidays – the word originally comes from ‘holy days‘ – are more than just days when we are not at school or at work. They should be ‘holy’ in the broadest and richest sense, and indeed the word ‘holy’ in turn is connected to the words ‘wholeness‘ and ‘health‘. Holidays are times for reconnecting ourselves to the deepest sources that feed us, so that we can be restored to our highest and best selves.
That might mean time by the pool, it might mean time to read something we don’t have to, it might mean mountain climbing or seeing friends and family. It might even mean times of boredom: that, too, has its place in encouraging creativity and innovation, and in reminding us that there needs to be light and shade in life. In all cases holidays are about recreation – space to re-create ourselves afresh, so that we return to the necessary business of life in a new frame of mind.
And yes, they are also about rest and, as the pages that follow amply demonstrate, there is much to rest from in the term ending this Friday. Physical endurance, intellectual stretching, international travel, charity fundraising, artistic and poetic creativity, athletic competition, business entrepreneurship, cultural and social awareness…all JCoSS life is here. As my first year as Headteacher draws to a close, I am immensely proud of the quality and range of what JCoSS staff and students achieve. About a third of the school was officially commended at Celebration Evening, but we have many more excellent students than available awards and I celebrate and commend all of our students for their successes in so many fields, as you will read.
We are still some way off GCSE results for our first cohort of students but we do at last have some nationally benchmarked figures for their Key Stage 3 levels in Core Subjects. (Please click here to view). The coloured bars on the graphs below show the national percentage of students reaching each level (the print is tiny, but Level 6 is the highest bar in each case). The black lines show the performance of JCoSS students, in all cases as you can see there is a marked shift to higher attainment. Our students in all these key areas emphatically outperform expectations. We do not, of course, select by ability, but to pick one example 25% of our students achieve at Level 8 or above in Maths where the national expectation is Level 5. These students are some 4 years ahead of the national average!
I salute the hard work of all our students, and I salute the professionalism of all JCoSS staff in getting them to these outcomes. These are truly results to be proud of, and the future is bright. I wish you all a very good summer, full of rest, re-creation, diversion and – in the broadest and richest sense – holiness.