18th December 2017
After a very discombobulated week with the snow, everything is back to whatever passes for normal at the end of the Michaelmas term! On the last Thursday we had colour, fun and lights with girls in Christmas jumpers and there has been a concentrated flurry of present giving, secret Santas and card exchanging going on as girls catch up on the missing Tuesday in school. Today we have been celebrating the girls’ achievements over the term which has been both long but very full and very productive. Since exeat we have been going through the Remove to Lower Transits winter assessments and looking at examination and revision techniques to improve but overall we are pleased with what the girls have done – there is an encouraging engagement with work for almost everyone in those years which will serve them well. The extended scholarships at 13+ and 16+ have been sat and we will be making offers imminently.
The end of term seasonal events have been moving on apace and the Christmas Fair was another evocative and successful afternoon – thank you so much to the hard working FoW committee and their helpers, especially Mary Anne Sinclair, queen of the raffle. The participation from so many of you and from the girls means we have raised some £1,800 to benefit the girls for which I would like to thank you all so much. The CCTV cameras recently put in by FoW have been extremely helpful this term and everything that you all do to support us is very gratefully received.
The Remove and Inters went to War Horse at the Playhouse this time rather than in London and they loved every moment although there was much weeping! A new addition to the end of term at the request of the girls was the Urban Strides dance workshop for the lower school who came out puffing and panting and smiling all over their faces. My thanks to Mrs Walster for making that one happen.
The MFL department ran an extremely successful outreach Christmas languages’ day with some 90 pupils from Phil and Jim’s who loved the day – their feedback was ‘The children really enjoyed the activities and were keen to tell their teachers and parents about it. Please thank all those who helped to make the day so enjoyable for them, including your pupils who set such a good example to our young language learners. Please pass on our thanks to Wendy and her catering team – the children and staff thought the food was delicious.’ The Inters acted as the Christmas elves, helping the staff that day and were excellent to a girl.
The choir and Remove went up to Green Gates nursing home in Summertown to sing carols for the residents and their relatives again this year and we have had a lovely email to thank everyone concerned saying ‘Thank you so much for yesterday’s performance by your students, absolutely beautiful and so emotional to say the least!
It is always a very enjoyable experience for our residents and staff/family members. Please pass on our sincere thanks to your choir and of course to you for arranging this wonderful concert.’ There is something very special about singing much loved traditional favourites of which there are so many relating to Christmas to people who may never do this again and the girls feel this strongly. Noel Rainbird has been a stalwart in enabling us to do this by playing for us and my sincere thanks go to her.
We are blessed with Wendy, Agnes and Jarek – nothing is ever too much trouble for them: Wendy stayed in school overnight on Monday to ensure that the boarders’ Christmas celebration went ahead as we always have a formal sit-down dinner on that evening. Dinner was delicious and Christmas Lunch on Thursday gave us all a lovely preview of Christmas and we may not need another meal until Christmas Day itself!
Many parents and girls heard the Shell Work Experience speeches which, as always were well worth listening to being both informative and amusing and very well delivered. The variety undertaken was slightly less this year with a gratifyingly large number choosing (or perhaps not?) to go into schools where they actually enjoyed themselves! Being a teacher really is one of the best jobs in the whole world and I am so pleased that so many of our Shell gained a small understanding of this during Work Experience.
One of the things we have noticed both with boarders and day girls is how many of our girls are having trouble sleeping well. This is counter to all the research on normal adolescent sleep patterns but in line with the research into adolescent mental health. We are tremendously lucky to have Dr Ann Sharpley on the governing body who is a member of the Oxford University Department of Psychiatry, Medical Sciences Division and whose research focuses on the effects of drugs on sleep. As such, she is an objective and informed expert on sleep patterns and she will be running two sessions aimed at helping the girls sleep better early next term.
May I offer you the very best wishes for a wonderful holiday and Christmastide from everyone at Wychwood.
Mrs Andrea Johnson – Headmistress