Education in the Age of Entitlement – part 1.

If you have not read last week’s post, that might help you, dear reader, to understand how we got to here. The arrival of the Age of Reason saw the the beginnings of the explanation of the the universe in which we live. Whether in Ancient Rome or times modern, Reason per se does not necessarily mean things are done for the best. Power has continued to corrupt rational processes, with those in power working by whatever means to keep hold and sway, most notably monarchies and religious doctrines.

The arrival of the age of enlightenment across the eighteenth century saw scientific reason and philosophy undermine such traditional power bases, and saw the birth of what we now understand as modern, western democratic principles. The separation of powers between government, the law, the courts and the emergence of civil liberties including the emancipation of woman, abolition of slavery, sense of fair play and free speech are central tenets of what we teach in our ‘British values’ today in schools.

Anyone picking up the international press and scanning its pages will be well aware that all is not entirely well in 2016. Not only are there vast swathes of the middle east and Africa far from peaceful, but closer to home in both the United States, Europe and here in the UK, the rising clamour of intolerance is very plain to see. Presidential Trump’s campaign seems to be built on invective and lies, with his supporters perfectly happy to agree that the fabric of his policies has no foundation in truth, but a lie ‘rings’ true and they’ll support his right to lie to the death.

President Merkel’s grip on political power seemed to be almost complete earlier this year, but in the wake of mounting majority concern in Germany over her loss of control of the migrant crisis, support for her party has fallen to third in the recent state elections in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania this week, behind the Alternative for Germany (AfG) anti-immigrant ‘volk’.

The visible political and economic uncertainties are now being pitched even further into conflict through the new confusions arriving with ‘The Age of Entitlement’ – probably best seen in the support given to such a notion by those born in the 1980s and 1990s, Gen-Yers, ‘Generation Y’, that age group of adults now in their 20s and 30s. This is not new ‘News’, but said age group is being researched into quite deeply (probably by University grads of the same age!) and being increasingly labelled by the research data that implies that  Gen-Yers have a highly inflated sense of entitlement and self-importance, suffer from serious commitment issues and lack of financial reason, often causing them to ‘bounce back home’ for rehab and parenting.  In short, and in some way, we have developed in our younger adults a belief system that  is giving rise to “unrealistic expectations” and, ultimately, “chronic disappointment”. Ouch. An easy read longer article on this appeared back in 2010 in the Telegraph here – https://goo.gl/8azSbH.

Whilst I am certainly the first one to say “Not so fast, Professors and researchers”,  I think the evidence and our experiences are telling us that whilst not universal across any age cohort, there are certainly emerging trends we need to be wary of. The word Entitlement is a beguiling word, suggesting a universal emancipation for all, irrespective of current location and disposition. Here’s a snapshot from the dictionary:

entitlement-snapshot

In the 3 bullets shown of its meaning, you can see just how readily misconceptions can build if the word is used. For example, if I spend £1 on a chocolate bar, I do feel I am entitled to receive a product that is worthy of consumption. I don’t however feel I should receive chocolate heaven in the first bite. Having worked now for 41 years, I have paid my ‘stamp’ so feel entitled to receive a pension in 3 years time when it comes available. I am prepared to argue with those that feel my entitlement is too costly, and that the nation might not be able to afford it.  I am not prepared to argue that a 29 year old is entitled to my pension now. They’ll have to ‘pay in’ through their labours for 36 more years or whatever society then dictates is the appropriate period and only then become entitled.

Entitlement very clearly comes with the notion of ratio, ration and quota, being rule-based on a variety of constraints, including time, space, human resource and money. Currently in the UK, we believe that children should attend school from the age of 5 to 16, and that ‘school’ word is really quite specific. Everyone in England is entitled to a school place funded by government, and now, from age 16 to 18, all must continue in some form of education and training too. They can’t just down satchel and up labourers’ tools at 16 (in my parents’ time it was 14).

There’s certainly an active battle in terms of entitlement in the Health sector too, currently, where/when the government feels we should have 7 day working in hospitals, and pretty much all those inside are stating ‘we don’t the resources to meet the proposed entitlement’.  At times the argument here, as with the Brexit debate that went before, is almost ‘Trump-esque’, full of gross lies and false-hoods. Imagine for example how we would make our classrooms safer in the UK if we permitted teachers to carry guns therein? I digress.

As I mentioned last week, research from 10 Downing Streets’ own Innovation unit highlights that most government decisions are “based on hunch, gut feel and narrative. …We are effectively flying blind, without much of a clue as to what really works, and what doesn’t. It is actually quite scary.” Our job, those who work in and run schools, as I see it, is to try to ensure we do somewhat better then this approach. Leading Claires Court, I have the very good fortune of being able to set our tuition fees at a level that suggests we can look after rather mote of the whole child’s needs whilst at school, not just those that are educational. And setting out the framework for the curriculum, the co-curricular the pastoral and medical support, it is true I have had to ‘up the ante’ because of my own perceptions that the ‘market’ either expected or needed more that before.

At the Senior school Speech Day yesterday (22/9/16), our principal guest, Professor Andrew Williams spoke to the whole school about the ongoing inevitable march of the robots and computers. Where we like it or not, soon our fridges will be speaking to the delivery trucks, and before we know it the fresh punnet of blueberries will be back on the chill shelf. This has already happened of course; I used to have to religiously check the oil and air pressures on my car prior to any long distance journey, and prepare for the break down that was all too often. Now I don’t, and short of driving itself to the service garage, my little iQ needs nothing from me other than a monthly squirt of petrol. Prof Williams is our expert Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths ambassador, and is seen in school most weeks. In peon to Stig of Top Gear, Andrew has been renamed STEM, and it is really worth heading STEM’s warnings.

You can find Professor Williams’ short presentation here – https://goo.gl/dZ5Oj0 –  and it does need his narrative to make full sense of it. In short, the onward and increasing march of technology is reshaping our entitlements for pretty much everything every year, if not in an even shorter time frame. Technology has almost brought us the cheap, reusable, self-filling water bottle, which can refill even in the most arid conditions from the moisture in the air. Given this, and the challenge that brings us all is this – given that 2/3rds of the humans on the planet do not have access to clean water, might not humanity’s choices about what to do about same be massively influenced by the arrival of such a life saver?

 

See part 2 for the second part of this blog.

 

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The Age of Reason v the Age of Enlightenment 

Almost 7 thousand years ago, mankind entered the Age of Reason. Ancient cities in the middle east and Asia show that mankind could be ordered, think, communicate using writing of a form and have a settled society. Long before the birth of Christ,  mathematics existed in a recognisable form and travellers had worked out how to navigate far and wide using the night sky.  All was indeed well.

aorfrotntcoveropThe trouble with the Age of Reason is that it held no checks and balances. Power was in the hands of the mighty, and practices such as slavery, torture and worse were the order of the day. States tinkered with democracy, but tyrants largely ruled the roost. To this day, we still know that Reason per se does not go far enough.  If reason alone was sufficient, you would not need to learn the Highway code, because intellect should suffice. Any learner knows the folly of that. Here’s some current practices that seem reasonable but are disastrous:

  1. Teenagers at risk should be given screaming dolls to put off teenage pregnancy. This does not work. 
  2. Showing at risk teenagers hardened criminals in gaol. Again, this does not work.

Now the Cabinet office are increasingly doing their bit to highlight that hunches and gut-feel as drivers of government policy are unhelpful, and so they set up and partly own a specialist team knows as the Behavioural Insights team.  You’ll remember the former prime minister, David Cameron talking about ‘nudge theory’, and thus unit is where that came from. Here’s what their website has to say:

“The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) is a social purpose company. We are jointly owned by the UK Government; Nesta (the innovation charity); and our employees.

BIT started life inside 10 Downing Street as the world’s first government institution dedicated to the application of behavioural sciences. Our objectives remain the same as they always have been:

  • making public services more cost-effective and easier for citizens to use;
  • improving outcomes by introducing a more realistic model of human behaviour to policy; and wherever possible,
  • enabling people to make ‘better choices for themselves”

I am indebted to Alex Quigley, a school leader up in Yorkshire who reads and writes extensively and whos recent blog, http://www.theconfidentteacher.com/2016/09/screaming-dolls-scaring-em-straight/, aided me in my thinking.

In summary, David Halpern CEO of BIT has this to say from their research: “Many areas of government have not been tested in any form whatsoever. They are based on hunch, gut feel and narrative. The same is true of many areas outside government. We are effectively flying blind, without much of a clue as to what really works, and what doesn’t. It is actually quite scary.”

enlightenmentWhen mankind entered the Age of Enlightenment, all sorts of new beliefs started to emerge, not developed intuitively by the survivors of the societies what went before. The Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries provide sufficient wealth for philosophers to have time to think, playwrights produce the complete works etc.; all sorts of changes started to occur, which led to the various revolutions, agrarian, industrial and political that permit us now to find ourselves where we are and who we are. Almost 400 years ago , the philosopher René Descartes proclaimed “Cogito Ergo Sum”, broadly translating as ‘I think therefore I am’, continuing the theme that in ancient times Plato and Aristotle promoted on how personal consciousness arises, and it led others to advance ideals such as liberty, progress, tolerance, fraternity, constitutional government, and the separation of church and state.  To this end, we hold these ideals to be of the highest regard, and indeed the last government appropriated them as British values, and directed schools to teach them!

Back to Halpern then: Government actions …” are based on hunch, gut feel and narrative”. We have so many examples evident of this in 2016 in schools.  Take Theresa May’s recent advocacy for the expansion of grammar schools. Her beliefs stem from her survivor mentality which says “I went to grammar school and look where I am now, so it must be good for everyone else”. In reality, all the evidence is stacked up against her policy, and her performance in the House of Commons this week when responding to Jeremy Corbyn who challenged her on the evidence was beyond dreadful – see snippets from the independent here – https://goo.gl/2acPg0.  Survivor mentality is classic Age of Reason stuff – it worked for me so it must be good – but as Richard Branson and Jeremy Clarkson show, you don’t even need to complete your education to make a success of your life – indeed Clarkson when out big on A level results day suggesting that failing your exams is a good thing, which is another example of survivor mentality!  What he tweeted was:

“If your A level results are disappointing, don’t worry, I got a C and two Us, and I’m currently on a super yacht in the Med.’

keep-calm-and-cogito-ergo-sumSchools and Society more generally need both to be reasonable and to be enlightened, and there is a delicate balance to be struck. What we must not do is tip over into the all-reason category, because then only the children of the privileged can rise out of slavery, nor offer only enlightenment, because actually I want to know that there is an order of things for driving on the road, for example. Education needs to be broad, balanced and beneficial to all in receipt, and in turn those new learners need to acquire the motivation to extend their interests into their society and offer value back in return.  At a time when entering service, be that the military, the police, education, healthcare and local government is at a worrying low, I do recognise my responsibility as a school principal to engender in our youngsters the willingness to serve others above self. And to get some great exam results.  And above all to find happiness in who they are!

Next week, prompted by Dr Alisdair Findlay, “Education in the Age of Entitlement”. 

 

 

 

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A record – best ever or steepest decline

As dawn on Thursday 25 August broke, the news channels were welcoming GCSE students and their families with best wishes prior to visiting school to collect their personal GCSE results. The narrative this year is different because the government has changed so many of the ground rules about what the exam boards are able to publish and how they (the DfE) are going to measure school performance.

Here’s the editor of Schools Week’s, Laura Mcinerny, take on the matter, writing on the 24 August: “Not having knowledge of these headline measures tomorrow will be massively annoying for school leaders trying to work out how well they did nationally”. It has not been annoying just to school leaders but to the press as well, so instead they find the following headline to run from about 10am:

BBC headline

So that’s typical of lazy journalism for you, seeking a fear and doom headline to attract clicks and attention.

Before I continue with the above ‘bad news’ stuff, I’d just like to confirm that Claires Court students have had an excellent year, beating all sorts of previous high tide marks in specific subjects, and more generally, doing very well thank you kindly.

We are a school that values the talents in all of its children and our 108 Year 11 students cover the full ability spectrum. For 90% to gain 5 or more GCSEs indicates outstanding outcomes for the cohort, reflecting the hard work put in by our students, teachers, and it must be said families, over the past 2 years. Elsewhere will see overall % pass rates stall as GCSEs revert to terminal examinations only, yet I am delighted that so many top grades  have been achieved across our really broad and innovative curriculum offer. We don’t narrow choices and the breadth of these successes means our students are able to proceed into Sixth Form studies in a myriad of subject styles and mix.  Boys get a really bad press at this time of the year, given their failings nationally to demonstrate high levels of  academic achievement, but when 93% gain 5 or more GCSEs, a school record performance in the last 10 years, that does need mentioning! Boys and girls will be rightly celebrating when they open their results this morning, and actually if their results are not quite as high as they would like, after 5 years in a good school, maybe this is indicating that a different subject mix of approach is needed for that next set of steps. 

The Independent Schools Council publish our results next week, and good though our results are, ISC vet our work for quality assurance purposes. You’ll already know the DfE do not accept that at least half of the GCSE taken by Independent Schools are to be included in their data trawl, and schools such as Eton are recorded as having Zero% gaining 5 or more GCSEs. This winter when DfE reports on school results, it is to ignore our sector completely, Praise the Lord, so the ISC published data becomes even more important as a source of information on school performance.

Here’s Laura Mcinerney at the close of her article: “As schools are judged by a series of measures, rather than just the 5A*-C grade pass rate, and as those results get harder to work out (which they will in upcoming years due to more changes) it means the focus of results day will go back to where it should be. The hard work of pupils and their teachers. All we will be able to tell is that individuals got the grades they needed for the next step, or they didn’t. And concentration can go on ensuring everyone is going to an appropriate course, job, college, university, whatever, that will best help them learn the next things they need to learn”.

Now back to that ‘lazy journalism’. The decline in performance does not mean that pupils are doing worse or that standards have risen. Actually no one really knows what this set of one-off figures means for sure but in essence the big changes are:

From this summer, State schools are being measured for their attainment and progress measures against a narrow basket of subjects, and Science, History or Geography and a Language are all in there. BTEC is no longer permissible at this level, so there has been a massive increase on 22.5% entry in Science GCSEs for example. Likewise, Geography, History and Languages are really demanding disciplines, and if candidates are switched in to them from non-exam based courses because of the new system, then expect to see an apparent drop in pass rates, because more weaker students have been returned to these core disciplines. So it is not a real decline, just indicative of the narrowing of the curriculum in state schools so that they meet the performance targets set for them.

As ever, we now have the target becoming more important than the process, which is not an approach that I welcome for our country’s state schools, and the headlines that results are getting worse is a crap welcome to the day for those opening their GCSE envelopes today.

And finally for the record:

CCresults2016

 

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“Building a better Britain.”

An open letter to our Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP.

Dear Theresa,

Firstly, on behalf of the Claires Court community, may I congratulate you on becoming the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.  You have been Maidenhead’s only MP ever, since 1997; before then, the constituency used to be shared with Windsor, whose castle of Royal residence for reasons of history and heritage somewhat overshadows our larger suburban town to its north.

MaidenheadMapMaidenhead…perhaps Maydenhead now…has developed into the town we know, because of its central importance as a transport hub in the South East. The River Thames, navigable at Maidenhead, was the way long distance transport of goods and chattels could take place. The Bath Road, in its heyday carrying almost 100 coaches a day fed, watered and stabled, the large stone bridge over the River cutting the journey time down considerably than on the old route south of Windsor. Brunel’s great bridge over the Thames permitted trains to thunder in ‘Rain, Steam and Speed’ as depicted by J.M.W. Turner in 1844, in a painting that captures both bridges. And of course now, the presence of many of the world’s leading companies are based in the area, assisting us in the use of the superfast, broadband digital highway that now spans the globe.  I have learned this over the past 4 days from one of our 12 groups of Year 10 students researching how their lives are shaped and changed by the circumstances around them. It seems very odd to mention this,  coinciding as it has done with such a period of tumultuous change for you!

turner_-_rain_steam_and_speed_-_national_gallery_file

Maidenhead’s 2 bridges over the River Thames, as depicted in “Rain, Steam and Speed” by J.M.W Turner (1775-1851), to be found in the National Gallery, London.

I watched you speak on the TV on Wednesday night.  You called our country to attention, you asked us to believe that your government will show it has listened to the outcomes of the recent referendum.  Central to your message, you had this to say:

“We will do everything we can to help anybody, whatever your background, to go as far as your talents will take you.”

Prime minister, you know our school well; you have visited on a number of occasions, presented prizes and awards, been interviewed by our BBC school reporters, listened to our pupils across the age range and shown us, as you have so many other in our constituency, that you take your responsibilities as our local MP seriously and with goERAyerod humour.  Here are you being interviewed by Ellie Rayer back in 2011, then aged 13, talking about your pride on bringing to the town a local minor injuries clinic, the value of local sports clubs for the development of our youth and the value of volunteering to the health of our local area.

Ellie went on to become our Head Girl, is now studying Sport Science at Loughborough University, and plays international hockey for England. She is one of many children who have emerged from our broad ability independent school, whose core ambition matches yours for your government, to do everything we can to develop the talents in our young people. Ellie was back at school this week, volunteering  with other former pupils in the summer vacation, to give back to the school and wider community.  They are doing as you have asked them to, inspired by your clear sense of purpose.

72785499_130923seymour23We have had other fantastic visitors this week, meeting differing groups of our children dependent upon age and stage. At our secondary girls sports celebration on Monday night, Dr Natalie Seymour, hockey international, triathlete and now professional iron man encouraged our girls to take every opportunity and have no regrets. Dr Seymour’s day job as a clinical psychologist is spent in urban London with some of the most damaged young men of our times, helping them come to terms with their illness and showing them their road to recovery.

row-img_3541-copy-300x200At our junior girls prize giving, Julia Immonen, founder of the Sport for freedom charity inspired our girls to sit up, take notice and do something special to resist the growing presence of modern day slavery that our economy can’t help but encourage. Young people can be trapped into car wash work, begging on the streets, or working in sweatshops. How could the girls not be inspired when someone like Julia speaks to them about her own challenge to row the atlantic, which she did so successfully in 2011, in order to highlight the blight of human trafficking. .

At the Junior boys prizegiving, you would have been so proud of the 160 boys summer musical, an original production written by their teacher, Linda Stay, in which they sang loud and clear about the need to learn to treat others, boys, girls, those unclear of their gender, of all colours, faiths and nationalities as equal and to converse with them and make a better society.  You have been brave enough to choose a new Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, not just because of being the first SoS drawn from a comprehensive background.  It was Justine who tweeted only last month this celebration of her own domestic circumstances:

Greening tweet

I can’t tell you how important this statement is, to the British values agenda we are proud to deliver here in school.  Those predecessors in the Department of Education, recently Nicky Morgan, and before her Michael Gove, have said lots of pious soundbytes, but they have collaborated in undermining most that teachers and pupils hold dear, that being to work together for success and to take pride in their community.

JMSThe headmaster of our Junior School, Justin Spanswick, spoke on Wednesday this week of the extraordinary damage wrought on our state primary schools. Now almost 50% of our children have failed to achieve the target expected of them for English and Maths.  “Was that their fault?” he asked. “Certainly not”, he continued, and then explained that the sudden change in ground rules for assessing what’s needed to pass was not caused by the teachers or the children, but by the Secretaries of States misplaced trust in whim and fancy, rather than grounded in pedagogic evidence and academic understanding. This unnecessary mania for testing is set to reach new lows when the new Year 7s could be asked to resit these tests to ensure that catch up with the standards required. That’s 50% of them, Theresa, and that would add insult to injury.

A range of experienced guests judged the year 10’s extensive group project work work on the way they might rise to meet the challenges of the modern era. The winning boys entry was from a combined Drama and Music group, subjects not considered in anyway important enough to be included in the Ebacc measure Mr Gove and Mrs Morgan have pedaled as being vital to the health of our education economy for the future. What made the entry so remarkable was not just the excellent blend of modern technology and  performance skills on show, but the text they based their project on, that being the last published yet uncompleted work of William Shakespeare, “The Book of Sir Thomas More”. In a series of speeches written by Shakespeare 400 years ago, Thomas More makes the argument for the humane treatment of those being forced to seek asylum by being expelled from their home land. Just read here how bad our reputation was as a place of asylum for Immigrants from Northern Lombardy (Italy) travelling over to England in 1517.

“Nay, anywhere that not adheres to England, shakespeare

Why, you must needs be strangers, would you be pleas’d
To find a nation of such barbarous temper
That breaking out in hideous violence
Would not afford you an abode on earth.”  You can read more here.

What is remarkable about the way we encourage our pupils to work is that they create beauty and depth from ‘chaos and ignorance’, not just spout a litany of cant that I know annoys you so much.  It is with reason that Ken Clarke has made unguarded remarks about you being a “bloody difficult woman”.  As the press have all made clear this week,  you loathe any sense of impropriety in public service, of sloppy and self-serving behaviour leading to injustice.  If I may take you back to Shakespeare for a moment, we do have some really hard work to do to impress Europe that we are not a nation of racist bigots, and sadly in recent years, the cronies in government have let down so many.  We all know you have done your best to include women into careers in parliament, and forced your own party to recognise its ‘nasty’ face.  As Prime Minister, I do encourage you to keep on this tack, as we know only you have the courage and spine to deal with it.

Theresa, there are some that say this Independent school cannot speak for all of education, because by our very nature we are ‘exclusive’, requiring of our parents that they pay fees, beyond the reach of most.  Our Nursery is of course open access to all, and many of the parents of the other 1000 children, many being nurses, policemen, shopkeepers and teachers like me, might reply that “these costs are choices we make for the benefit of our children, because first above all for anyone must be an outstanding education”. This independent school is training 15 teachers currently, we have vocational education and apprenticeships seen as important here as A levels and University entry. We commence our undergraduate programme in September, in partnership with the University of Winchester, so we can develop even more key workers as experts in Childhood Studies. Claires Court is a microcosm of all that is fine and noble in English education, perhaps as our area is too, with its rivers, industries, natural beauty and business bustle.  We’d love to help more, from all financial backgrounds, but as we are like Maidenhead itself as a constituency, the first school of our kind, our ‘newness’ does not give us the resources to reach everyone.

As a conservative, you were not voted for by those whose ballot spoke for Liberal Democrat, or Labour or other political hue. But you have made it clear that whatever the majority vote, you are going to represent that majority view.  It’s not just that ‘Brexit means Brexit’, but that you plan to champion those “left behind”, people struggling financially who voted to leave the EU because they didn’t see how things could get worse.  In educational terms, honestly, I am so pleased you have come to power because we in education have been traduced by that loathing of ‘experts’ that Michael Gove used to such good effect in the referendum. I understand perhaps as well as any that you are both willing to listen and change your mind to well reasoned argument.  Please permit us to help, to demonstrate and to be part of the nation’s solution for education. I have no doubt that if you could include our sector as an offer for all of our children, standards would indeed rise immeasurably.

In conclusion, I don’t expect you to concentrate on this small beacon of excellence you know well in your constituency any time soon. But as and when you turn your attention to education, as you so surely will, I’d ask you to remember us here back at Claires Court, and that we continue to model effectively that any good school can look after the whole of the children, can focus on building character first, establish a modern values system that transcends faith and class, culture and nationality, whilst still concentrating on delivering world class academic results and sporting success. As world skeet champion, Amber Hill goes off to represent Claires Court, Maidenhead, Great Britain in the Olympics in Brazil, you and I will both be supporting her ambition to bring back Gold. And we know that she stands every chance, because she has worked at her skills for many years, and she now has the opportunity to express her talents to the full.

We have our own challenges of course now, as we set out to expand and consolidate our school on one campus.  In normal times, we’d have expected you to have shown up and taken an interest, because you so often do, but we will forgive you this once; last weekend had its own priorities! But in case you missed all news, our neighbours and community reacted both with excitement and caution. Our nearest neighbours have to cope with our need for change, and we’ll respect their views and work hard to convince them that all is not to become a mudbath and traffic jam.

In conclusion, as with so many things, it’s an ill will that blows no good, and the circumstances leading to the self-destruction of both the Cameron administration and the Corbyn opposition have opened the door for your ‘kind’ of administration.  The news tells us you are building a very new government, and we have every faith that you will take this opportunity.  We wish you good luck and God’s speed. You’ll need both of course, and some extra friends in addition from time to time. You know where to find us if you need our help.

All best, James

 

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Claires Court win the Fawley Cup at Henley Royal Regatta

CCBC2016hrrMedalsThe Henley Standard published this report of the race shortly after it was raced at 3.50pm on Sunday 3 July 2016.

FAWLEY 3.50 Claires Court Sch. vs The Windsor Boys’ Sch. – A local Maidenhead / Windosr derby between two school boy quads. A tough 7 minutes for these boys. Quality sculling from both crews as they come along the Island.

At the Barrier the crews are neck and neck with the boats surging in unison. A very mature performance from both crews, stroke for stroke.

Previously won by Sir William Borlase school, Claires Court are aiming to make this the thrid major winin a row. Claires Court have a slight advantage by about 2fft on the Berkshire station, at Fawley but then Windsor boys push through at Upper Thames. The lead swaps as they trade the lead within 10 strokes.

At the Remenham Club the crowds are yelling and Claires Court gain an advantage again.

CCBC2016hrrHitting the wall of sound at Enclosures both crews increase the rate. Claires Court push through to a length lead. Can Windsor boys respond? Claires Court seize the initiaitive at the Grandstand and push through to the line. Both crews lift again in the last 30 strokes of the race and Claires Court hold on to the length distance they gained. Gladitorial racing at its best.

Claires Court Sch. beat The Windsor Boys’ Sch.

The Claires Court Quad comprised:

Finlay Gronmark at Stroke, Jonathan Cameron at 2, Alex Richardson at 3, and Oliver Costley at bow. Coaches Tom Jost and Chris Clarke.

This Claires Court Quad has also won the School’s Head at Putney and the National School’s Cup at Dorney, winning the coveted ‘Triple’ crown.

Following the event, in  the subsequent GB trials, Findlay and Oliver won selection to the final GB junior squad – Jonathan and Alex are already at that level.

I can only express the entire school community’s admiration for the work of these boys and their coaches. In 2012, under the new Rowing Development plan, we targeted one of these titles to be achieved within 4 years. To win all 3 is extraordinary!

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Consultation – not Presentation

Claires Court opens its junior school’s doors on Friday afternoon 2pm t0 4pm to our own parents and on Saturday from 10am to 2pm to our neighbours, to consult with them on our proposals for the future development of our school on a one site solution.

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Sovereignty v the Economy

Thursday 23 June was polling day in the EU referendum. As I write this post at 5am on Friday morning, 24 June, the votes are not all in but the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union, by an expected margin of 52% Leave against 48% remain.

Secondary pupils were able to post their poll via the school ‘Hub’.  The turn out was small, circa 25%, but their vote was overwhelmingly in favour of ‘Remain’.  Here’s the pie chart of the outcome:

CCPoll2362016

The young boys and girls of course were not Childternable to vote in the ‘real’ referendum, unless they were 18 years of age. As it happens, in terms of the geographical areas of the country in which our pupils live,  their vote followed in the main how our local constituencies voted. The majority vote went to remain in RBWM, Wycombe, South Oxfordshire, Chiltern and Wokingham. South Bucks, Slough and Bracknell Forest voted to leave, giving us a pictorial spread of our school’s catchment area looking as opposite.

The detail spread of voting went as follows:

RBWM etc

It’s a short post this; early in the morning and a sense of ‘awe’ has struck me.  In this Royal Borough, we have clearly voted as Clinton’s aide and campaign campaign strategist James Carville coined “It’s all about the Economy stupid”.

Well clearly it is not, as far as the country is concerned. 48% consider that, but the turn vote of an extra 4% think it differently. JM Barrie had his Peter Pan say “To die would be an awfully big adventure”. I do sincerely hope that those that lead our country from this day forth have amazing navigation skills, as they pilot our country into such uncharted waters, because to say that we are to face uncertain times is very much an understatement. We are a Sovereign nation, and as things turn out, that’s the route we have chosen, to be distinct from our neighbours and separate in our future. So be it.

Anyway – as life goes on:

Claires Court Old Boys Cricket match is taking place tonight Friday 24 June from 5.45pm at our Taplow playing fields.

Saturday 25 June – Claires Court PTA Summer Fete at Claires Court Junior Boys from 12 noon to 4pm.

Hopefully see you there, and of course happy to talk to anyone about our own exciting journey, announced in this week’s Maidenhead Advertiser. That is a big story too!

CCNewschool

 

 

 

 

 

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