Principals’ Blog – end of Summer Term 2019

The following blog was published to our parents and community on 12 July 2019.

A year ago at this time, I was writing to parents in such a newsletter, briefly, about the challenges facing the English Football team, just after they had lost out in the Semi-finals of the World Cup, and about our Prime Minister & local MP, the Right Honourable Theresa May. Twelve months on, and I see that the headlines carry fresh stories of an England Football team losing at the same point, and Theresa May still struggling with her colleagues in Parliament. Dear Reader, please forgive me now that I do not reference matters of school, national or indeed international importance; I have become deeply superstitious over the past year, and fear that I can ‘jinx’ almost anything. For those unfamiliar with the verb, I rephrase the definition found in the on-line ‘Urban’ dictionary:Jinx

  1. Verb – To unintentionally curse someone or something by paying attention to them/it and in so doing cause bad things to happen to them/it in the near future.
  2. JTW speak* – And to cause it to continue in like manner for ever onwards.

N.B. *Brexit being an example.

That’s not of course that I cannot speak well of great things that have happened in the recent past, or indeed the current moment, so at least I can do that, and do so with great pleasure.

We have a number of wonderful teaching and non-teaching staff leaving us at the end of this term, for retirement, for pastures new or indeed to take up a well-earned place at University. They include Hugh Wells, who retires at the grand old age of 89, whose service commenced in 1986 as our Director of Studies at Senior Boys and for 18 years has been coaching Maths GCSE for two days a week to older boys and occasional Sixth Formers. As Hugh is 90 this August he felt it time to retire completely with his wife Jenny, thus ending one of the epic tenures here at Claires Court!

Eric Leuzinger’s career at Claires Court began as a pupil back in the 1970s, when I taught him Science before his departure to the Royal Grammar School at age 13. Welcoming Eric back as a teacher 20 years ago felt like welcoming back an old friend; looking after his son’s, Jake’s education for 9 years has given me an even greater respect for Eric’s qualities as a mentor for boys becoming men. He retires as Deputy Head Operations this summer to enjoy a little more time with his wife and hobbies, including fishing. Also laying down their toolkit are Linda Carter, Junior Boys Maths teacher, whose husband Alan introduced a young Dean Richards, now Head of Junior Boys, to the noble game of rugby. Linda’s skills as a Maths teacher has caused many positive breakthrough moments in Juniors, inspiring all that they could do Maths. Cameron Denton also leaves Junior Boys after 8 years with us as a teacher, gaining his BSc in Coaching Science and PGCE en route, following seven years as a pupil. Cameron’s a much loved holiday club key worker, so we’ll still see him there this summer, as he seeks coaching roles in the corporate world. Mother and son Linda Hine, teaching assistant, and Matthew Hine, gap student, also leave Junior Boys with Matthew looking forward to his degree at Kent University.

Nick Lee leaves Senior Boys for an academic role leading Humanities at Long Close School, after a superb 7 years of History teaching, rugby coaching and pastoral leadership of Year 11. Alice Nutkins is another former pupil who has qualified to teach with us after taking her degree in Psychology at Plymouth University, moving on to spend next winter snowboard instructing. Patrick Meaney, our digital guru at Senior Girls steps into retirement too, along with Julie Nicholas, SENCo and fount of so much wisdom on additional learning needs for both parents and pupils.

Lelo Wright has been our first EAL teacher across all 3 sites for 20 years now, and retires willingly into grandmother-hood. Lelo has made so many friends amongst our international families, by assisting their boys and girls in their first steps in English on arrival here for school. Leaving administration is Debbie Parker, who has fronted house at both Junior Boys and at College Avenue so capably for 8 years. Sandra Young has looked after our dining room and outdoor duties at College Avenue for an amazing 35 years, and we’ll certainly miss her kind smile and watchful presence in the autumn. Also departing are Franklyn Hamilton, rowing assistant; Jack Hill, Junior Boys sports instructor; Cheryl Lawrence, Junior Girls higher level teaching assistant; Annabel Pearce, Junior Girls gap student; Arunjit Samra, Nursery assistant. In their own ways, all have contributed brilliantly to the success of Claires Court, and we wish them well with their future careers and university courses.

For the many staff, pupils and parents who will still be with Claires Court in September, I extend my most grateful thanks to you all for all of your hard work, and hope that we can continue to rely on the same in the autumn. In the meantime, it seems that almost nothing is predictable anymore (except that it is unpredictable), so let’s reach out and follow the Dalai Lama’s own words:“Bekind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

New Campus update

From the Administrative Principal, Hugh Wilding.

My brother couldn’t have fed me better words to describe the slow but sure progress that we have been making with our partners, Maidenhead Hockey Club and Berkeley Homes as we have worked patiently with the planning function at the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead to ensure that we have dealt with all their questions and provided the many answers required.

There have been several “false dawns” to date, thus placing me in the same “jinx club” as my brother and covered in embarrassment, but at last there seems to be some real indication that a decision will be taken before school returns in September.

Clearly, we will make the best case we can to the panel that will determine our applications, and of course we can point to the positive responses from the likes of Sport England and the “no objections” on highways grounds and from elsewhere. Most of all, we can show the overwhelming level of support for the new campus that pupils, parents, staff and well-wishers have already recorded via the RBWM planning portal. A reaffirmation of that support may be very helpful and to that end, I would ask that you keep a close watch on the usual channels of communication from the school as the summer unwinds.

One supporter is the Leader of RBWM Council who today posted on his Twitter account “…I fully support the planning application and wish this fantastic school all the best for the future.” That is very kind of you, Mr Dudley!

About jameswilding

Academic Principal Claires Court Schools Long term member & advocate of the Independent Schools Association
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