A Busy Start to 2018
We have made a busy start to the new calendar year, with a pleasing number of successful events, not in any particular order.
RGS’s Got Talent
It will resonate with many of you that I arrived late for RGS’s Got Talent as my car acquires ‘Hackney Carriage’ status (without the metre) at the weekend. We all enjoyed a range of ‘acts’ from solo singers, Rubik Cubes being ‘done’ in record time (including blindfolded), magic tricks and bands. The winner was ‘Paradigm’ consisting of Michael Cary, Shaan Sagoo and Elliot Whitehouse with Fourtune (nice play on words!) in second place and Rubin Sanghera in third. The compere for the evening was Ajay Patel and the experience was enhanced by good sound and lighting designed by Matt Shraga and Harry Kettle. My thanks to the Parents Association @RGSPA who arranged the event to raise funds for the refurbishment of our Drama Studio. Their latest newsletter is here and gives dates of forthcoming events, which I encourage you to support.
The Rotary Club arrange a national public speaking competition. We had excellent representation across the year groups and I am delighted to announce that our Year 11 team were the winners. Dominic Martin delivered an impressive speech on the subject of ‘Grief’, suggesting that our culture does not grieve well and exploring the physiological symptoms of grief. He was accompanied by Rohan Chopra as Chair, and Ayush Sanghavi as Vote of Thanks. They go through to the next round on 1 February in Marlow so I’ll keep you informed. Special mention was made of Peter Houston (Lower 6th) who delivered a particularly impressive speech: ‘Boys in close harmony – an endangered species?’ My congratulations to all concerned.
There have been a number of rugby fixtures with a competitive set of results against Solihull (four wins and three losses). The photograph above is of the jubilant U14As following a 24-5 win last Saturday. The other photograph is the squad for the Chile/Argentina tour all wearing their very smart tour blazers and ties. Congratulations to Henry Chilcott and James Tunney for consistently representing Wasps U18s with much success. Hockey The season is well underway and I will keep you up to date as the year progresses. Have a read of some Hockey News. Maths Four of our boys have been sufficiently successful in the Senior Maths Challenge (110,000 entrants, nationally) to qualify (Harry Walden and Harry Kettle) and qualify with distinction (Chris Finn and Sean Cohen) to sit the British Mathematical Olympiad. There were 1,792 students who entered this award of whom the top 25% achieved a Distinction. Chris Finn was one of the top 55 students who was awarded a medal. Very impressive.
I am pleased to announce that three of our year U6th Physics students (Ibrahim Sajid, George Mercer and Harry Kettle) achieved a Gold Award in Round 1 of the Physics A2 Olympiad This places them in the top 10% of the students that entered the competition.
Bat Oar Ball/Sportsman’s Dinner
We are looking forward to the Bat Oar Ball next Saturday. A complete sell-out, it promises not only to be a fun evening but also to raise funds for all sports at the school. As I have said on many occasions, our state grant would not stretch to facilitate the sporting opportunities, which are a significant part of life at RGS. The Sportsman’s Dinner takes place on 8 March. This is also a very popular event with Old Boys, former parents and those currently associated with RGS and will, like the Bat Oar Ball, sell out quickly. Please do look out for the flyers and book your tickets by return.
National Youth Orchestra
Flicking through the radio channels whilst driving, a week or two ago, my finger hovered (as it often did in my more musical days) over the Radio 3 selector. I pressed it, gingerly, to hear a performance of ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’, not one of my top ten but, I perceived it to be a vibrant youthful rendition which warranted further listening. I was proud of two things: firstly that I had recognised the youthful vibrancy as it was in actual fact the National Youth Orchestra performing, and secondly and principally that our own Daniel Kimberley (Year 11) was one of the percussionists. Well done, Daniel! The only dampener was the presenter who gave a doom and gloom message about the poor provision of music in state schools. As I have said more times than I can count, it need not be this way – with the right musical leadership, keen students and supportive parents it is very possible to have very high-quality music in state schools, as we well know at RGS!
Careers on the move
At RGS we highly value Careers Education with Ms Sowah as Director of HE and Careers. Her department has now moved to the two rooms in The Space and there are large signs to ensure that boys do not miss it! I thought that it might be helpful to give an update on some aspects of the work taking place to prepare your sons for their futures.
Congratulations to the fourteen boys from RGS who have received offers from Oxford and Cambridge. This is an impressive 30% of (a slightly smaller field than usual) this year’s applicants. The offers received were made across a range of subjects: Engineering, Music, Mathematics, English Language and Literature, Maths and Computer Science, Physics, Biochemistry, French and German, Biological Sciences, Material Science, Economics and Management. This reflects the wide-range of subject areas in which our candidates impressed interviewers. To earn a place at these leading universities is an exceptional accomplishment and testament to the hard work and commitment of our applicants and their teachers.
For some, an impetuous decision to apply to Oxford and Cambridge it often more successful if discussions are held when a boy is younger. This is not to put undue pressure on a student but rather to broaden his horizons. We are now starting to look at ways in which younger boys may benefit from some aspirational work.
For Sixth Formers there is a UK University/Careers Fair on 2 March – see here for details and the Wycombe Management Conference which we jointly run with Wycombe Abbey School. The programme is here. These are two high-profile events but I would urge all students to keep an ear out for the regular notices in assembly for symposiums, career talks, lectures, etc, which run throughout the year.
Early indications are very positive following the mock exams. Year 11 results are particularly pleasing and represent a step-change from a few years of decline. One of my first missions was to ask staff to really push Years 7-9 and it is pleasing to see that the work of teachers and the dedication of the boys is really starting to promise an even higher number of the very highest grades. The Year 11 Parents’ Evening for parents and boys takes place on Monday 5 February. The booking software tells us that there will be a very high turnout (it is a formal school occasion so boys should be in their full school uniform). This is an excellent opportunity to find out from your son’s teacher what needs to be done to nail the highest possible grades. I would also draw your attention to the Easter Revision Courses which run at RGS in the Easter Holidays. They are run commercially and are open to GCSE and A level candidates from all schools. There will, of course, be ‘in house’ revision sessions run by departments for our own boys as the term progresses. Please do encourage your son to avail himself of every opportunity – one source of frustration for teachers is that those who need the extra help are often the last to seek it. In light of the new Progress 8 League Tables being published this week, may I just remind you that, as last year’s Year 11 sat IGCSE for both English Language and Literature, our Progress 8 measure is meaningless. Although IGCSEs are common in the independent sector, those schools are not subject to accountability measures. Do not be alarmed. See here for my fuller explanation.