And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain…

And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain… (just the end of term, forgive the hyperbole)

Owning and running a school is not quite the same as leading it. As the end of term disappears into the rear view mirror, the academic pressures ease and the organisation adjusts to ensure that (in our case the 140+) teachers and nursery leaders get a proper break after their exertions for our community’s behalf for the last 185 days. And rest they deserve, because to be honest, it’s difficult to maintain the intensity of effort required to achieve the levels of progress expected of a private school.

I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain …

At the British Rowing Championships

Off to Cape Town, for Rugby and Hockey

And then to the Edinburgh Fringe

And the Summer works…

I travelled each and ev’ry highway, And more, much more than this…

No more is that so obvious than in the efforts of our boat club, still flat out in the arena of competitive sport, facing as they did the British Rowing Championships this last weekend.

Rowing under Maidenhead colours, our lead oarsmen of Josh Harris and Rory Kempson won the J18 Coxless quad with their colleagues from Maidenhead, and in so doing won selection for the Home Counties International this coming weekend at Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham. This gold medal follows hard on the heels of their silver medal won at National Schools in May, and on an excellent performance reaching the semi-finals at Henley Rowing Regatta in the Fawley Cup. Whilst it is a shame that Josh and Rory did not row in our colours, all of our boat club know that we produce joint membership with MRC who host us so well at Maidenhead, and composites don’t win the club shield that goes with the victory!

But the news does actually get better, because our J16+ crew won silver, J15+ gold, and J14+ silver as well, and where we lost a race, we did so by milliseconds, a canvas or less.

For Head of Rowing, Tom Jost and his colleagues, Chris Clarke and Tim Wallis Cadell, I offer my full congratulations, because these results highlight as best as any that Claires Court has returned to be one of the premier school boat clubs in England. The coaches work amazingly hard, are outstandingly focussed on why they have a role in the school, and exert a commanding and positive influence on the athletes themselves. Our status in rowing is confirmed by the Championship Victor Ludorum list, in which Claires Court is placed 9th, the leading school with 29 points, not of course including the points they could have gained through the J18 gold performances. You can see that table here –

J16+ – Dan Gordon, Will Hobden, Toby Jones, Jo Saunders.

J15+ – Tom Ives, Alex Richardson, Billy Richards, Curtis Heartburn

J14+ – Tom Ballinger, Jack Harris, Hadley Thomas, Toby Yate, Tom Moreland (cox)

One of the major reasons outside of coaching for our success is the intensity, quality and longevity of training the coaches have managed to coax their athletes to engage with over the past 2 or more years, providing a real extra motor when needed in the final 500m of events. other major factor has been the quality of support engendered by the parent support groups – to get a flavour of that read their final announcement of the year, pushed out as the boys received their medals:

I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption …

“Dear All, on behalf of the parents of all the boys, I wanted to say how proud and impressed we are to be part of the CCS rowing community. Every single boy representing the school this weekend was impressive, from their own rowing or coxing delivery through to their fantastic team support and commitment to each other – all celebrating their schools success. Their attitudes were amazing. Also to being part of an amazing bunch of parents, carers, grandparents and friends – from those who got to Nottingham and joined us yesterday or today to those who sent texts and emails sharing support from a distance – you are all a great bunch of parents that have spent huge amounts of time supporting the boys this year. Finally to our brilliant coaches, and our head coach Tom Jost – your strong vision and resilience to keep the boys engaged, ensure they balance their demands of the sport with the needs for study and in keeping their spirits up throughout the highs and lows. Today has been a great finish to rowing for the summer, we hope you have wonderful well earned holidays and look forward to many more successes for CCSBC!  Best wishes.”

One of the club squads that performed even better than Claires Court was Eton Excelsior (by 1 point), for whom our own Emma Moores (J16) rows, and she won 2 bronze medals at the Regatta as well. In many ways, Emma has done it the hardest way of all, without the opportunity to row at school and club, and she has my full admiration.

I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway …

2013 Ist Rugby and Hockey Tour to South Africa – July 2013

Good Luck and Beste Wense to our sporting tourists from the top teams who travel to South Africa yesteday (23 July).  The boys will be playing rugby and the girls hockey, in Cape Town. Fans will be able to keep in touch by following the Tourists’ News from our School website. As well as playing fixtures against Jan van Riebeeck High School, Milnerton High School and De Kuilen High School, the tourists have a full itinerary during their stay including visits to Robben Island, the Aquila Game Reserve and Langa Township.  They will also tour the Cape Peninsula with its spectacular scenery, seals and penguins.   The party will be staying at the Ritz Hotel (tourist standard, not quite Piccadilly!) at the top of which is the only revolving restaurant in Cape Town and one of the most unique eating experiences in town.

You’ll be able to catch up with the Tour news via the main school website,

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried …

The Kites are flying in Edinburgh – Saturday-Monday,

6 evening performances over 3 days at the Columcille Centre

Director of Drama at Claires Court, Maggie Olivier, and her A Level students are really excited about the opportunity to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe showcasing their production of Michael Morpurgo’s book The Kites are flying at the Columcille Centre from Saturday 17th through to Monday 19th August, with two performances each afternoon/evening. The performers are Brooke Snowe, Elliot Stokes, Hayley Howard, Charlie Tuck, stage design by Lucy Wardman and technicals by Callum Plain.


Working in the style of epic expressionism with an exceptional artistic designer, these Sixth Form Drama and Theatre Studies students adapted this beautiful and poignant children’s novel of Michael Morpurgo for the stage. Their adaptation tells the story of a journalist visiting the war stricken West Bank where he meets children from both sides of the wall: two Jewish siblings on one side and a little Palestinian girl on the other side. His experience reveals how children’s friendships can be stronger than any wall built to divide nations and religions.

The cast tells the story from the perspectives of the journalist, the Jewish children and the little Palestinian girl.  They reveal the impact of war on children and  convey the message that shared hopes and dreams can make even the highest wall disappear.

This production tells this fascinating story of tragedy and hope as truthfully as possible to do justice to Michael Morpurgo’s objectives. The cast hopes to get the powerful message of this novel across to many people and to leave them with joy and hope in spite of the divides in the world we all live in.

‘We talk, we laugh, we dream. You are a dreamer too, like me. I think we even dream the same dreams.’

Morpurgo: The Kites are Flying

I am flying up to assist in selling tickets and to see the 6pm performance on Monday – hopefully by then storming the fringe audiences and not quite in demob last show state of unwind!

When I bit off more than I could chew …

Summer works within Claires Court Schools

The main building works are taking place on the College site, where the Chapel’s conversion into a full scale performing arts area is well under way. The pneumatic drills have lifted out the old altar threshold and pieces to bring the stage area down to main floor height (an H&S requirement these days), before bringing in the AVs that will make this a really exciting space in which our actors, musicians and dancers can work.


Externally, the poppy fields of Ridgeway have 20 acres destoned in the next 2 weeks, then 2 new cricket tables will be laid, and then we wait with baited breath for some late summer rain before seeding with playing field grass seed. All being well, we’ll be using the fields in the spring of 2015.

And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing …

The next Edition of the Court Circular is already on its way, our chronicle of life within Claires Court. I know this year will be a bumper edition, so much achieved the length and breadth of the school. We have lost some great staff who have retired or moved on to promotion or pastures new elsewhere, and saying goodbye to colleagues who have inspired so many is bitter-sweet. And yet, the visible excitement of our new staff, itching to join us and make their own contribution to this fantastic school because they will be allowed to express themselves brings a real smile to my face and heart and soul. Make no mistake dear reader, there is awake in the land a giant within Education at Claires Court, a place which avowedly believes that in the broad abilities of children, and provides for them an all-round education that inspires them beyond their imaginations. Here’s the Junior Boys Year 6 choir, conducted by Mr Justin Spanswick mourning the passing of the ‘Ridgeway’ name, yet in CCJB reminding us that the ‘new’ is coming….—ridgeway/year-6

The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!


About jameswilding

Academic Principal Claires Court Schools Long term member & advocate of the Independent Schools Association
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2 Responses to And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain…

  1. Esme says:

    The Year 6 powerpoint and u tube is just fabulous- I bet the Year 6 parents laughed and cried all at the same time! Really captures the creative, caring Claires Court spirit. Well done Mr Justin Spanswick! Love to hear their end of school version of…..
    The Rembrandts, “I’ll Be There For (you) Ridgeway”
    Rascal Flatts, “My Ridgeway (Wish)”
    Carrie Underwood, “See Ridgeway (You) Again”
    Michelle Branch, “Goodbye To Ridgeway (You)”
    Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, “I’ve Had The Time Of My Life”
    Dixie Chicks, “Wide Open Spaces”
    John Lennon, “Imagine”
    Sarah McLachlan, “I Will Remember Ridgeway (You)”
    Vitamin C, “Graduation (Friends Forever)”
    Green Day, “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Lives)

  2. Esme says:

    Long may the Ridgeway spirit continue – such an amazing school with big school opportunities but a small school heart and soul. The Year 6 powerpoint and u tube is just fabulous- I bet the Year 6 parents laughed and cried all at the same time! Really captures the creative, caring Claires Court spirit at the Ridgeway site. Well done Mr Justin Spanswick and Mr Watkins! Love to hear their end of year version of…..
    The Rembrandts, “I’ll Be There For (you) CCJB”
    Rascal Flatts, “My CCJB (Wish)”
    Carrie Underwood, “See CCJB (You) Again”
    Michelle Branch, “Goodbye To CCJB(You)”
    Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, “I’ve Had The Time Of My CCJB Life”
    Dixie Chicks, “Wide Open CCJB Spaces”
    John Lennon, “Imagine CCJB”
    Sarah McLachlan, “I Will Remember CCJB (You)”
    Vitamin C, “Graduation (CCJB Friends Forever)”
    Green Day, “Good Riddance (Time Of CCJB (Your) Lives)

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