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Thoughts from the Head

Discover our Head of School's blog

The Learning Curve
  • Thoughts from the Head
James Wellings

Welcome to the Learning Curve, 

My note today will be a little functional but sometimes that is no bad thing. It’s great to have had a full week and although we have not fully escaped the ravages of Omicron we have not been hit too hard. We mustn't rest on our laurels though as it has certainly not gone away. 

Thank you to all of you who completed the school wear survey. The data is very useful in helping us to decide the next steps. We now have responses from teachers and parents and the stats show around 65% in favour of a mandatory approach and 12% in favour of an optional approach. We will await the student results and then move forward with our next steps. Interestingly the survey showed an appetite for shirts and more formal wear and some that we had not expected to be popular. This is why we gather opinions! We have some samples in school and I might ask for some models to show you all the full range. We will communicate the next steps to you as soon as possible. 

Before the break we shared with you some details about the 1:1 laptop rollout here at Mougins British International School. This is a big step in the right direction for us in helping to improve learning and developing lifelong skills and attributes in our students. You can find out more details on the Parent Room - Technology Page including our intended timeline for rollout. 

I will also be running a parent workshop that will look at how you can expect the devices will be used in school and what you can expect. We completed a teacher training session this week on the use of technology and the Google Workspace and we are excited to get the program started. 

Please save the date of TUESDAY 25th January at 6 pm for the Google Workspace Workshop. This will take place on Zoom. 

Finally we will be sending all families' re-enrollment letters next week. This is a three step process that is consistent across all schools in the Globeducate group. I thought I’d give you all a heads up here. 

  1. You will receive a letter stating that your child will be automatically re-enrolled and providing you will all the information needed to inform us if they will not be returning to Mougins.
     
  2. The following week you will receive the new terms and conditions for the 22/23 school year to review. 
     
  3. All those who are renewing will then receive a pack to check personal details and to provide us with more detailed information regarding payment, canteen etc. 

We are aiming to streamline this as far as is possible and make it easy for families to complete. We will, of course, be available for questions relating to any of the above. 

Finally, I have just been informed that our Year 6 Eco Warrior Team have won the Globeducate WWF eco quiz involving 21 schools from the group. CONGRATULATIONS. It’s great to see us bringing home the silverware already. 

The sun is shining once again this weekend so I wish you all a lovely few days break and I look forward to seeing you all next week. 


Have a lovely weekend. 
 


James Wellings
Head of School
 

The Learning Curve
  • Thoughts from the Head
James Wellings

Welcome to the Learning Curve, 

Today is both a sad day and one of celebration for an individual who has been the beating heart of Mougins School for just over a quarter of a century. We are incredibly sad to be saying farewell to Elisabeth Ward today but we also want to celebrate all that she has brought to our school. 

Elisabeth heads into retirement after 26 years at the school. Let’s put that in perspective. In 1995 the children at Mougins School would have: 

  • Just watched the original Lion King movie at the cinema 
  • Been amazed by magic eye posters 
  • Never heard of or even thought about the internet 
  • Considered a walkie talkie a state of the art piece of communication equipment 
  • Rocked a Sony walkman cassette player with “double playback” and a “graphic equaliser”
  • Tried to keep a Tamagotchi  electronic pet alive for a week. 

At that time I was sporting an unforgivable haircut (curtains with an undercut) and just starting my A levels. 

What this means is that Elisabeth has had a very real impact and involvement in the lives of very many children. I estimate around 4000 plus their wider families. There are Mougins kids who were helped and supported by Elisabeth who are now in their 40s. Many of them will remember her smiles, her kindness and the speed of her walking with great fondness all these years later. Likewise, we have 3 year old children right here right now who interact with her daily and are visibly sad that she is leaving. 

There are not many people in the world who can genuinely say they have positively impacted such a range of humans in everyday  meaningful ways. For many parents and teachers too, Elisabeth is the face of Mougins School.  She is the first in every morning, the first to pick up the phone and the first to help solve a problem. She waits with children after school for late parents and comes in early to make coffee for staff. She embodies the values that we have spoken so much about this year. 

Her professionalism and dedication has also been vital in helping Mougins School through the good times and the tough. Schools need kids and Elisabeth has done a huge amount to make sure that happens every day, every week, every month and every year in her admissions role. 

People often talk about what makes a life well lived. It is a goal for all of us given the finite nature of our existence and that so much of that time is spent at the places that we work. If we look at the professional life and achievements of Elisabeth it is impossible not to do so with a smile.

Simply put she has spent 26 years making other people feel happy, supported and valued. Small children with a grazed knee through to adults and children in need of someone during their darkest moments. This, by any measure, is a professional life well lived. 

So thank you Elizabeth. Congratulations for all you have done here. You are going to be sincerely missed.  Go forth and enjoy the new adventures that are now available to you. 

This is not a goodbye but a farewell and we’ll look forward to seeing you soon. 

To all our students and families. Have a lovely weekend and a wonderful holiday. 


James Wellings
Head of School
 

The Learning Curve
  • Thoughts from the Head
James Wellings

Welcome to the Learning Curve, 

During the first presentation I gave to the Mougins community I set out some of the key areas that I would be looking at in my first year. One of the big ones was technology in school. Without  downplaying some outstanding efforts made by teachers during the  lockdown before my arrival it was very clear, very quickly that our school is quite some way behind the curve when it comes to the use of technology for learning. I have been a big advocate for edtech for many years now and I have seen the positive impact it can have on learning and teaching when applied correctly and used well. The opportunities for personalised learning, better formative assessment and improved organisation are incredible. 

Of course, that is not to say that it does not come without its dangers. I am very aware of these. Distractions linked to gaming and social media don’t have much of a place in the classroom (I have seen them used well but only by very experienced teachers in very mature tech environments). As you know we now have a very clear rule on mobile phones in school that has been brought in for exactly this reason. Whilst I am a tech advocate I am not an evangelical! 

So, it’s time for us to take the next step forward with technology here at Mougins. I am happy to share with you the details of our 1:1 laptop program that we would like to start from February 2022. This will be from Year 6 to Year 13. At the top of the school we will operate a bring your own device (BYOD) program. For Year 11 and below we will be asking parents to purchase a learning ready device from the school. 

Having now completed 3 tech rollouts in different schools it is very clear what works and what does not. BYOD at the top end of the school is effective as a preparation for life after school and gives young adults a little more freedom. 

School controlled devices are hugely effective as we move down the school. It means they will come to students locked with the things they need for effective learning at school and at home. They are centrally controlled so new programs can be uploaded to them on mass as we wish. We now have the highest level of Google Workspace for Education which provides us and the students with an incredible range of software to aid their learning. The devices we have chosen are HP laptop tablet hybrids with an outstanding reputation for speed and durability at a cost that is substantially lower than iPads and Macbooks etc. On a side note I think the Apple products are great for schools (I have rolled out two such programs) but come with a degree of complexity that we do not need. Our option should provide simplicity and security. I’m excited to get it going. 

Please visit our new Technology page on the parent room for more details on the program. 

There will be further information to come but I thought it wise to flag this before the festive break. 

Have a lovely weekend.


James Wellings
Head of School
 

The Learning Curve
  • Thoughts from the Head
James Wellings

Welcome to the Learning Curve, 

I am writing this during a short break in our first Professional Learning Conference. One of the strands in our strategic plan is “professional learning”. The reason being that great schools have great teachers and great teachers are, more often than not, the ones who engage in their own development and regularly reflect on their practice.

Over these last two days teachers have been attending workshops on tech in education, formative assessment, using data, cognitive load theory in practice, middle leadership, the importance of play, teaching students with English as an additional language, positive education and psychological wellbeing. 

It has been great.

When I asked one of our teachers how their day was going yesterday they answer: 

“It’s been really good. It is making me think a lot” 

What a wonderful answer. When we have to think hard we will often learn more or reflect more effectively. 

Our keynote speaker on Thursday was Steve Garnett from the UK. Steve has been a teacher for 24 years. He has delivered INSETs to over 7,000 teachers over the past 10 years in the UK, Ireland and across Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. He is an award-nominated author whose book ‘The Subject Leader’ was shortlisted for Best Secondary Resource in the prestigious BESA awards. He has also written ‘Using Brain Power in the Classroom’ which TES Review described as ‘strong in its resume of the latest research into what constitutes effective learning’. 

It is so important for us to be exposed to the thoughts, ideas and practices that can be brought to us from outside of the organisation. Steve did a wonderful job of making us all “think hard” and I am sure we will see some of that in classrooms next week. 

 

Next week also sees the beginning of our parent teacher flexi conferences. A new approach to learning discussions with parents following the release of the reports on Wednesday. Although we think we have a good system set up it will be important for us to collect feedback and reflect on this reporting cycle to help inform the next round. We’ll be sending out a feedback form once the conferences are completed. 

It looks like bright sunshine and fresh air for the weekend. Enjoy it and I’ll see you on Monday.

Have a lovely weekend.


James Wellings
Head of School
 

The Learning Curve
  • Thoughts from the Head
James Wellings

Welcome to the Learning Curve, 

What a busy week it has been! Yesterday we spoke with 136 of you on the Assessment and Reporting webinar. It was great to see such a high turnout for this. As we discussed this is another big change that aims to provide consistency across the whole school along with useful, accessible, reliable and valid information for parents. You can find more information regarding the accessing of reports and the parents flexi-conferences in the noticeboard section of the Learning Curve this week. 

We have also added a page to the Parent Room on assessment and reporting. We will populate this with more resources for you over the next week and for now you can access the full recording of last night's webinar on that page.

Please click HERE 
 

This week we have also had Speakers on the Rocks with lovely lectures on architecture, the PTA AGM and this afternoon there is a Happy Friday event for parents at the Juice Box Cafe near the early years. 

This all links wonderfully to our community value. 

So much of what goes on here is supportive, encouraging and considerate but we cannot remind ourselves often enough as to how important this is. Within our direct community we have well over 1000 people from different countries and  backgrounds all with opinions and ideas. This must be leveraged and cannot be a source of conflict. The diversity we have is one of our greatest strengths and our school will keep on getting better and better if every one of our 1000 individuals keeps that in mind each day. It really does add up. 

On the back of this and very closely linked to some of the points we made in the session last night we should all seek and reflect upon good formative feedback. This is a genuine way of leveraging the wide range of opinion, skills and knowledge that exists within our community. Whether it is to do with approaches to reporting, hot chocolate Fridays or curriculum matters, considerate, respectful and constructive feedback is a real force for good. It is to be encouraged! 

Have a lovely weekend.


James Wellings
Head of School