In the final week of term I have been treated, as part of our Advent preparation, to our Christmas Concert in the Sports Hall and then to two wonderful Nine Lessons and Carols. It strikes me that these events are a typical microcosm of life at Truro School, where dedicated teachers harness the enthusiasm and effort of our boys and girls such that it takes on a life of its own. The pupils then never cease to amaze us with their sublime performances. The talent of our new 1st Years has already been much on display this term. Listening to the mightily impressive school choir, seemingly masters of all they attempt, gives a good sense of how, as pupils progress through school, we hope to nurture a culture of participation and performance throughout all areas of School life.
It has been an excellent term and I would like to mention a few highlights, even if I can’t begin to do justice to all that has happened. Our upper sixth students seem to have picked up where they left off, after success in the summer AS exams. As a year group they are working very well. I have now read almost all of the UCAS references (one batch to go) and it appears that they are well poised to move on to great things. Eighteen of the cohort applied to Oxbridge, of whom twelve were invited for interview. I know that the preparation work led by Mr McCabe, our Head of Scholars, and the advice offered by Miss Thompson, our Head of University Admissions has been first rate. Mrs Jupp, our overseas universities adviser, has also been very busy.
The talent that has stepped forward to audition for places on our new girls’ chorister programme has exceeded our best expectations and I am delighted to have been able to write to fifteen girls inviting them to be part of this new venture with Truro Cathedral. The final set of auditions is scheduled for next month and I am hopeful that we will have a full complement of twenty girls across the 13-18 age range who will set to work in September. I was reminded by the sheer genius of Christopher Gray, the Cathedral Director of Music, when I attended their Christmas concert last weekend. We have much to look forward to.
As school major productions go, Sweeney Todd was as good as it gets. I accept that I might be accused of Headmasterly bias, so you might just have to take everyone else’s word for it. As a collaboration between our drama, music, theatre and tech departments, it was splendid. My only sadness is that more people did not get to see it. Tickets for a smallish theatre went like hot cakes. There are some lessons for next time, but I reckon that memory of the success of Sweeney will live long enough to guarantee sell out audiences next time around.
In Wednesday’s Colours Assembly it was super to reflect on successful seasons across a wide variety of sports; we continue to shine in our heritage winter sports of rugby and netball. The Under 14 and Under 19 netball squads have both been successful in the county tournaments and now progress to the Regional Finals in Bournemouth. In rugby, we have enjoyed another outstanding term with the junior sides dominating the Cornish rugby scene and the 1st XV progressing to the last 32 in the country in the National Cup before being defeated by Sherborne. The Under 12, Under 14 and Under 15 are all county champions and hope to be joined by the Under 16 who play their county final in the New Year. There has been a hive of high level performing in many other areas including swimming and badminton. Our reputation as a fencing powerhouse continues to grow and, following recent success at international competitions, Caitlin Maxwell and Maria Chart are the number 1 and 2 ranked GB fencers respectively at both Under 17 and Under 20 levels! News of our fencing academy is traveling and we look forward to welcoming some international talent to our boarding houses in the near future.
Talking of boarding, our four houses have never been busier with many students signing up for taster nights and mock exam packages. The strategy of offering Headmaster’s Boarding Awards for the 2013/14 and 2014/15 academic years has been a popular move and I hope that spare beds next year will be few and far between.
I was saddened by a recent call from the Headmaster at GEMS Bolitho to announce that the school will be closing at the end of the academic year. I believe that the independent school sector in the UK does a fine job in offering a genuinely holistic approach to education and it is a pity that there has not been the market in the deep South West to support this. At the same time, it is always a pleasure for me to show off our fine school and I have enjoyed meeting prospective parents and pupils from Bolitho. They are a delightful group attesting to a strong and supportive Bolitho community and we look forward to welcoming several new pupils to Truro School.
The external reputation of our Sixth Form is catching up with the reality of what is a very impressive aspect of our school offering. About one third of this year’s Lower Sixth are new to Truro School, coming here to take advantage of an excellent pre-university springboard. The current picture of registrations is that we can look forward to another significant fresh injection of talent into next year’s cohort. I’m rather excited about how this is coming together.
The first art exhibition in the Heseltine Gallery this year features a mix of work from our pupils, students from Falmouth University’s school of art, as well as pictures from our fabulous school art collection. A focus this year will be to build upon this relationship with Falmouth University, which is rocketing up the league tables as a truly fine creative institution.
My ‘critical friends’ on the parents’ working group that was established this year have been a really useful sounding board, and our half termly meetings are off to a constructive start. Our early discussions have included the nature and quality of communication between school and home, how best to keep parents informed about progress against the strategic plan, as well as a fairly detailed sharing of views about planned changes to our academic curriculum. I am very grateful to have this as a forum for the frank exchange of views from such advocates of the school.
One of our five core strategic objectives is about our role as a socially responsible member of the Cornish community. Wherever we can we will be looking to support local suppliers. It is with this in mind that we are in the process of renegotiating with our suppliers of school uniform. Quality, affordability and service are key measures of success by which we will be judged. I am pleased that we are continuing to work with Trevails who have agreed to run a January sale on uniform and sports kit in stock.
Our annual carol services challenge me to reflect on the mystery of the Incarnation, as I read the wonderful opening verses in the gospel of St John. I would like to wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas.
Christmas 2014 (PDF)