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Thoughts from the Head

Discover our Head of School's blog

The Learning Curve 240921
  • Thoughts from the Head
Lise Cudin

Welcome to the Learning Curve, 

A few weeks ago Mr Cook wrote a piece for the learning curve on the importance of attendance. I won’t repeat all that he said here but suffice to say that the key messages were: 

  • High levels of school attendance is important and expected. 
  • There is a wealth of research that shows a direct correlation between attendance and achievement. 
  • 90% school attendance or above is expected for all of our students. 

Towards the end of last year and over the early weeks of this new academic year we have been discussing attendance a lot. I have asked us to look at how we can improve it, monitor it and ensure that we challenge poor attendance. We have brought in a new monitoring system and electronic registration program that better allows us to analyse data and highlight concerns. This is now in operation with some final components being added over the break. 

We have overhauled the schools attendance policy and added a new page to the PARENT ROOM which now allows parents to access the policy and it’s related procedures. I urge you to take a look. On this new page you will also find some simple FAQs on what to do if your child is ill or if you wish to request an authorised absence for an upcoming event / appointment etc. 

We now have a week of holiday after a busy half term which has seen lots of new things to get used to. Although tiring it has been a successful one and I am happy with the progress we are making. Our teachers are getting a very well deserved break too so please take the time to say thanks or wish them a nice vacation if you can. They too have had to get to new rhythms and systems this half term. 

Finally, a big thank you to all of our families. I have greatly enjoyed spending time with and talking to our students and having discussions with all of you. I am pleased to see our values being lived both on and off campus and feel confident and excited for the next half term. 

After the break you can expect more information on our strategic plan as well as information sessions for parents on assessment, reporting and the curriculum. Onwards we go! 
 

Have a lovely break.

James Wellings
Head of School
 

The Learning Curve 240921
  • Thoughts from the Head
Lise Cudin

Welcome to the Learning Curve, 

Mougins meets stonar

Shameless plug time. Last week I recorded and released a podcast with Mr Matt Way, Headmaster at Stonar School in the UK. Stonar is one of the schools within our British cluster and will be a key partner for us in the months and years to come. I’d encourage you to have a listen HERE. It follows nicely from my update in the Learning Curve a couple of weeks ago. 

I recently gave you an update on the strategic plan and shared with you that assessment and reporting are high on the agenda for development. With this in mind I’d like to ask you to keep the 18th November at 17.30 free for a whole school Zoom update with myself and the senior leadership team. 

At the risk of jumping around a little I’ll finish with some thoughts linked to our Community Value. 

“We are supportive, encouraging and considerate. Together, we celebrate diversity and are committed to equality”

I would like to nod to our sports day last Friday. I wrote about this with the hope that our values would live large in the event and I am so pleased to be able to reflect on the event and state with confidence that they most certainly did. The first half of our community value was truly evident. There was a lovely sense of encouragement across the day with a high rate of participation and support from our students. I was also in awe of the almost constant supply of oranges and water that was on offer from the PTA and supporting parents. Thank you! 

As I have said before at various meetings the second half of our community value is perhaps more difficult to really “live”. Diversity and equality are certainly buzz words of the moment but behind the hype there is much to consider. Conversations related to this can be controversial but they are worth having. In the Stonar podcast and during sports day our house system was front and centre. Currently, our four houses are named after some of this continent's most well known artists. Great! This makes sense, we live in an area that is dominated by their work and their art has brought joy to many before us and will continue to do so long after us. Their talent and influence is undeniable and worthy of celebration. 

However, if we state in our values that we wish to celebrate diversity then perhaps we run into a problem. As with so much in history, particularly European history, we find ourselves celebrating worthwhile achievement but inevitably discover that our celebration defaults to caucassion european men. Of course they could not help been caucassion european men, that's not their fault, they had no choice in the matter.. However, the question arises, are we really celebrating diversity? Can we be more diverse in our recognition of people from the past or present? Any women or non-Europeans deserving of a mention? Afterall, there are quite a lot of both in human history.  It’s worth asking, discussing, debating and I’ll be asking us to do so. If we state something in our values we have to hold ourselves accountable to it. Otherwise, they mean nothing. 

Our  house system will develop and grow and perhaps this is a place where we can test our “community” value and cast our net a little wider in terms of  those we choose to honor and celebrate. Not because these four white european men don’t deserve our praise but because we may just have missed some others who can inspire a more diverse group of people in a more diverse way. 

If you have read this far I am sure the debate has already started. There may have even been some battle lines drawn. I look forward to getting into it with you! 


Have a lovely weekend.
 

James Wellings
Head of School
 

The Learning Curve 240921
  • Thoughts from the Head
Lise Cudin

Welcome to the Learning Curve, 

It’s the evening before secondary sports day. I can’t wait to see it and I know that many of our students can’t wait to take part in it. As I walked around campus today I saw students practising their sprint technique and listened to them discussing the upcoming events and the likelihood of records being broken. There was a very real sense of excitement. I love these big school events. In full transparency, sport has played a huge part in my life and I love seeing young people benefit from all that it offers. I believe that competition can be a real force for good. It teaches us what both winning and losing feel like. It encourages effort and resilience and at it’s best it promotes respect and integrity, two of our school values. 

...but I’m also careful not to be biased by my own experiences of sport at school and beyond. There are many who cannot wait for tomorrow but, for sure there will be some who are anxious and worried about it. Sport is not universally loved and it nor does it have to be. For those who don’t naturally align themselves with physical activity or competition, I hope that tomorrow can still be a positive and worthwhile experience. Don’t worry, your time to shine will come in a place and space that is right for you! It must be remembered that effort, trying something new and placing oneself out of a comfort zone also have significant value. Just as much as winning or breaking records. Supporting others, embracing a sense of collective spirit, cheering for the house and congratulating others on winning, trying hard or taking part is in itself a wonderful and worthwhile pursuit. 

Perhaps most importantly, sports day, along with other types of school events are a chance for us to come together as a community. To celebrate a diverse set of skills, qualities and attributes that have an enormous collective value. 

By the time you read this the day will have finished so whether the day was about winning a medal or making sure a friend feels good about themselves I hope everyone had a good experience and got something from it. 
 

Have a lovely weekend.
 

James Wellings
Head of School
 

The Learning Curve 240921
  • Thoughts from the Head
Lise Cudin

Welcome to the Learning Curve, 

I know that you have missed me in the car park this week but a big thank you to our PTA volunteers for taking the strain and donning the yellow jackets in my absence. I was back this morning in full arm waving glory and it was nice to see you all. 

This week I have been in Madrid attending the first workshop session for the Heads of Schools at Globeducates British International Schools (GBIS) from France, the UK, Spain, Italy and Portugal. Despite many jokes to the contrary I can promise you that this was not a tapas eating holiday bonanza but rather a chance for the schools to get together and plan the leveraging of opportunities for our communities over the coming years. It was an excellent and worthwhile exercise. The cluster is new but highly motivated to work together and I am happy to share some of the key talking points with you here. 

Following last week's learning curve article I was pleased and encouraged that the strategic aims of the cluster schools very much mirror our own. Reporting and assessment was front and centre followed closely by developing an aspirational culture and professional development. I hope to do a “Take the Stairs” Podcast with a few of the other heads next week to give you some more detailed insight. 

We also looked closely at combined events and exchanges between the nine schools. I think that this is where it gets really exciting. Sports competitions, music festivals, MUN conferences and academic challenges were all on the agenda. Whilst these things will not materialise overnight it was very clear that the Heads of the schools were highly motivated to get things going as soon as possible. I will keep you updated as there will be the chance for your children to benefit greatly from these collaborations. 

With regard to the strategic planning discussion I mentioned last week we will be announcing the dates for phase one of our new reporting and assessment structures in the next two weeks. 

Please remember to visit our PARENT ROOM website which is an ever growing resource to help parents understand the school, it’s curriculum and a portal for useful information, available when you need it. 
 

Have a lovely weekend.
 

James Wellings
Head of School
 

The Learning Curve 240921
  • Thoughts from the Head
Lise Cudin

Welcome to the Learning Curve, 

Last week I wrote about the discussions leadership are having around the strategic plan for the school. Speaking with some parents at the PTA coffee morning (outside at our wonderful new Juicebox cafe) the topic came up. The parents concerned asked two very simple and very important questions: 

  1. What is the focus going to be on? 
  2. How long will it take? 

The first is relatively simple to answer whilst the second is a lot more complex. Since starting at the school I have been keen to identify the key areas for development over this first year that will help us to set up for success in the longer term. We are still a few weeks away from publishing this plan to you (and we will) but I’m certainly happy to share our thoughts so far.

The main focus has been around 4 areas: 

Assessment & Reporting 

This has been an area that I have heard many conversations about from parents and teachers. Effective assessment (which is more than just tests) is a key stone of a good school and drives excellence in teaching and learning. It allows teachers to plan and deliver effective learning, students to know how they are doing and how they can improve, and for parents to have visibility on progress. We are therefore taking a very close look at how we assess and how we report. This is a big project but you will see some movement this year. 

Student Wellbeing & Engagement 

We are seriously exploring the role of Positive Education in school (see this week's parent learning). This is about developing the whole self in preparation for a happy and successful life. As our THRIVE program develops it should also become a key part of this strand. 

Developing a Culture of Aspiration 

Aiming high and being the best we can be is a worthwhile pursuit and we will be looking to drive a truly aspirational culture at the school. That might be getting into the very best universities, performing to high standards in school productions & sport or ensuring that we have exceptional academic results. This should exist in classrooms, physically on campus and in the way that students communicate and act around school. 

Teachers Professional Learning 

It’s a simple truth that the best schools have great teachers. Great teachers are those who strive to learn, develop and improve in their own practise. We will be increasing the focus on teachers' professional development which in turn will impact student learning. 

These are ambitious goals and I look forward to sharing more detail with you as it develops. In terms of the timeline we hope to make significant progress during this academic year. 

As I’ve discussed before we will also be moving to a 1:1 laptop setup for students from year 6 upwards in the new year. There will be a lot more information to follow on this. This is a big project that spans across the above areas rather than a strand within itself. 

So watch this space. In the meantime I look forward to seeing you at our new on campus cafe the JuiceBox that you can find just inside Gate 4. I’ll be happy to have a chat over a coffee. 

Have a lovely weekend.

James Wellings
Head of School