End of Summer Term Newsletter 2014

The full colour edition here – http://goo.gl/396qMz

“If you want to go fast, travel alone.  If you want to go far, travel together.” [African proverb]

Once again we end our Academic Year reporting on a wealth of pupil achievement in and around the classroom, on stage and the playing fields, lakes and rivers, and out there in the wider community at large. The amazing report by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) of our School started this Summer Term in “excellent” manner. During their visit in March, the Inspectors came to a whole series of “excellent” judgements about our provision, the opportunities we make available, the care that we bring, and the excellence of our achievements, by pupils and by our colleagues.  Your reaction to the published report was heart warming in congratulating us on the quality of the judgements received and in affirming that it came as “no surprise and thoroughly deserved”. Thank you!

New Campus Consultation for Claires Court

During May, together with our chosen partners, the Institute of Medicine & Surgery, Berkshire and The Berkeley Group,  we held a number of events around Maidenhead to showcase our vision for the future of Claires Court. If you were not able to attend one of these you can see more at http://www.clairescourt-consultation.co.uk . Since then we have worked continuously with our architects to ensure a sensitive development of the Ridgeway estate and the retention of its unique ecology. We expect to make an outline application for planning during the autumn and will consult further with you at that time.

Farewell to Mr Jeff Watkins, Head of Claires Court Junior Boy A fuller appreciation will appear in the Court Circular Review of the year 2013/14

Jeff Watkins retires this summer as Head of Junior Boys leaving a huge contribution to the development of Claires Court. Jeff joined Senior Boys in 1985 as a teacher of English and  transferred to Junior Boys to serve as Deputy to Karen Rogg (then Miss Boyd) when she took over the Headship from David Wilding on the latter’s retirement in 1988. Through his clear sighted leadership of sport, Junior Boys became one of the powerhouses for Under 11 physical education, promoting inclusivity and the opportunity for all to play for their school. As parents of young children, Jeff and wife Anne placed both son Alex and daughter Verity at Claires Court, from where they graduated after A Levels to successful University careers in Sheffield and are now working in Law and Media respectively.

Jeff has led the Junior Boys’ School since April 2010, and has provided clear, engaging and supportive guidance for his staff, so that they have been able to develop post National Curriculum, a unique blend of academic and collaborative disciplines that particularly suits the young males in his charge. His insistence on manners, courtesy and service above self has been the ideal exemplar of the four values we promote of Responsibility, Respect, Loyalty and Integrity, and ensures that ‘Ridgeway’ boys are not arrogant in any sense, yet have a quiet confidence and unreserved enthusiasm for their School and all it stands for.

Jeff stands aside at a time when the future for Claires Court is exciting and challenging, and his successor, Justin Spanswick could not have asked for a better legacy – a full school and an outstanding Inspection report!  

We wish Jeff and his wife Anne the very best for the next stage of their professional lives.  Jeff will stay close to Claires Court over the next few years, assisting us in a variety of ways, not least on the further development of our Former Pupils Association.

ISA Awards 2014

Claires Court is among the 340 schools that make up the Independent Schools Association which earlier this year invited its members to apply for awards marking success in 14 categories from excellence in early years, prep and senior provision, to outstanding achievement in sport, IT and the arts. In our application for the Award for Excellence, we cited our extensive range of partnerships with other local and national organisations with particular reference to ‘3for3’, our major commitment to support three local charities, and our sponsorship of  ‘Art on the Street’, Maidenhead’s biannual art event.   

Here is some of the detail that gave rise to our award in 2013/14:

ISA Community Award 2014

Claires Court set out by way of its 2007-2012 School Development Plan to become an integral part of its town, Maidenhead, covered by its postcode – SL6.

We have partnerships with:

Maidenhead and Bray Cricket Club

Maidenhead Rugby Club and Phoenix Rugby Club

Maidenhead Sailing Club

Maidenhead Rowing Club

Maidenhead Golf Club

Maidenhead Centre for the Arts, Norden Farm

Maidenhead Rotary Club

Maidenhead Lions

We are an integral part of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead’s strategic plan, providing 50% of their holiday child care needs for Maidenhead through our innovative Holiday Club and Sports Club provision. http://www.clairescourt.com/holiday-club/

This March, our Year 12 BTEC students ran a football tournament for all of the local primary schools, known as the Sainsbury’s Games.

16 teams from schools in and around Maidenhead and Ascot competed to be crowned the ‘Winners of Level 2 Sainsbury’s School Games’, giving them a free pass to play in the Level 3 Tournament, representing Ascot and Maidenhead.  

Through our innovative use of technologies, we now work with hundreds of other schools in the UK and Europe assisting them in developing their use of digital services in the classroom. This January 2014, we welcomed 150 headteachers and digital leaders from Sweden over three days to see at first hand our use of these technologies. We work with local primary schools, in the post GCSE period for Year 11, to introduce to them what cloud-based learning looks like, and you can see Barnaby Woodruff presenting our work with Ellington [now Riverside] School at BETT14 – 4min 40 secs into the Video.

We host a whole variety of Artistic events for our Community, from Public Speaking, Orchestra Day for local schools and our own Drama productions for other schools to visit as well as Activity weeks to engage and involve our children in the local community.

We have two major Jewels in our Community work.

Charity work – 3for3

Our School Councils determine each year our charity work involvement, with 3 local charities being supported by the 3 sites of CC – hence 3for3. Each year during the second half of the Lent Term (March), we then set out to have as much fun as possible whilst making as much money as possible for the three charities supported.  Here’s what it looks like through our ‘blurb’ to parents:

The Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service (previously The Alexander Devine Children’s Cancer Trust). This charity was set up in memory of Alexander Devine who sadly died at the age of 8 having been diagnosed at just four years of age with a brain tumour.  This charity already provides a service and is looking to extend this by ultimately building a children’s hospice in Berkshire to help all families with children with life–limiting conditions, not only those suffering from cancer.

Thames Valley Adventure Playground

Most children love being able to get out and about, explore, climb trees and play with friends, but for many children and adults with a special need, it isn’t possible. The Thames Valley Adventure Playground provides a chance for children and adults with all types of special needs to enjoy fun, freedom and friendship in a safe and stimulating environment. Our own Sports Leadership students support this worthwhile cause by giving practical help and assistance.

Kids in Sport

This charity is close to our School as it was set up in memory of Julian Budd, a past pupil of Claires Court, who sadly died in 2007 at the age of 33. Julian was a keen sportsman and raised money for charity to support children. His parents have set up the charity to continue this work. Kids in Sport aims to help children participate in sport who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity.

The fund raising is colossal – each charity receiving some £4,000+. This year, Junior Boys alone have exceeded £5,900 and still counting (‘til the end of April!). [When the final monies were collected, each of the three charities received a cheque for £4,262.84.] In addition, we support a further 20 charity collections a year, Jeans for Genes, Help for Heroes and so forth – but our localism is really important for us and our pupils!

Art on the StreetSome community activities don’t need money; what’s needed is the get up and go of enthusiastic adults and/or children, either on their own or on groups, lending a hand and putting on a show. Claires Court is the main sponsor of Maidenhead’s major artistic open air event, Art on the Street. This does not just mean cash (which the organisers do find helpful it must be said) but organisational people-power and jaw-dropping, show-stopping performances from our Actors, Musicians, Singers and Artists (the latter running workshops for much younger children in otherwise closed town centre units we open up for the day).

Following our work with Art on the Street,  with young offenders from the Maidenhead PRU and with disabled adults we continue to work in partnership with Maidenhead Centre for the Art at Norden Farm, as we take the innovative Arts Award forward to Bronze and Silver in this academic year.

Here are some examples of the Arts Award candidates work for their Bronze award, June 2014.

As we move towards creating a new campus for our School at the west of Maidenhead, it seems we have very many friends now in the local community who want to see us succeed. If nothing else, the evidence above highlights why!

And finally…

This Summer Term has seen challenge aplenty for the various Claires Court PTAs with hugely successful events in the May Ball, the Summer Fete and the Rowing Dinner. Four extraordinary parents have led our PTA communities for a number of years; Felipe Foy at Junior Boys, Vanessa Shander Kelsey for Senior Boys, and Louise and David Johnson for Girls and we thank them and their committees for all the wonderful events, awards and donations to the School and its Departments they have caused and overseen during their watch. They step down in September for the next generation of willing Parent volunteers to take us into the future, posing the question ‘how do you follow that!’ To which the obvious reply is ‘if not you, who?’ – names on a postcard, please!


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

Whilst our own educational landscape seems to enjoy many successes, nothing happens without intense hard work, and we hope you join with us in paying tribute to all of the teachers together with administrative and support staff who have gone that extra mile and kept so much of what we do at such an ‘Excellent’ level. They may be salaried for their work, but in no way does that cover the exceptional care they give to our pupils, your children. We could not be better supported and the Faculty of Claires Court 2014 step into their holidays knowing they have worked remarkably together and ‘Gone Far’!

Hugh and James Wilding

CC Colour Logo Jpeg

Link to Academic Principal’s Blog here – www.jameswilding.wordpress.com

About jameswilding

Academic Principal Claires Court Schools Long term member & advocate of the Independent Schools Association
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.