Dear Parents - DOC

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Dear Parents - DOC Powered By Docstoc
					July 2008

Dear Parents Summer Term 2008 The last three years have been builder-free, but on the Monday after term ends the builders will return to begin the construction of the new Music School. In my letter a year ago I had mentioned this development, intimating that the preparation and the planning application would take a long time, yet this has gone smoothly and all is in place to begin the £3 million project. The building will include ten practice rooms, a recital room to accommodate an audience of a hundred, an ensemble room, a recording studio, as well as specialist (extra soundproofing!) rooms for percussion and rock music. Also included are individual teaching rooms for every member of the permanent Music staff and three classrooms. All this will be based on a street idea, similar to the George Hill Building, and it will be next to the Bushell Hall, where so much music is performed. We are also taking the opportunity to landscape the area between the Junior School and the new development, providing better play space and two small amphitheatres for the children to sit and talk. The adventure activity area will be moved and improved with a rubber-based safety surface. The Music School will be ready for the beginning of the Christmas Term 2009, but inevitably there will be disruption over the year. As it is a stand-alone building, the problem can be minimised and will chiefly impact on movement around the site. Part of the Level will become a builders’ yard and the whole area will be fenced. The builders will use a separate designated entrance off School Lane, next to my house, and deliveries will be limited so that they do not conflict with the beginning and the end of the school day. The builders may not use the normal entrance in School Lane and so access to and from the Junior School will not change. However, it will not be possible to access the Level by car from either School Lane or the Chapel car park and this may cause some problems on Saturday afternoons. I would ask for your patience and we will do our best to minimise any problems. Certainly, past experience tells us that the pupils quickly adapt to the inconvenience that a new building project can cause. A second Music project was completed this term. Although smaller financially, it was nevertheless just as important. The rebuilt organ in Chapel was completed and we celebrated in style with a recital by David Briggs, a past pupil and an internationally renowned organist. He is based in Boston, USA, was a King’s College, Cambridge organ scholar and is organist emeritus at Gloucester Cathedral. He tours the world giving over fifty recitals a year. The Chapel was full to overflowing and David not only began by talking about the composers he had chosen, but also about the anthem he had composed for the Chapel Choir. They had sung the world premiere the previous evening in Chapel and they were superb. /over…

2 I wondered what the young choristers were thinking when he explained to them that he had sat in their place nearly thirty years ago. Another past pupil and celebrated organist, John Butt, will be giving a recital at the very beginning of the new school year on Thursday 4 September. He left Solihull School to become organ scholar at King’s College and has also taught at the University of California. He is currently Gardiner Chair of Music at Glasgow University and acknowledged as the leading authority on Bach. His recording of Handel’s Messiah won the Classic FM Vocal Album of the Year in 2007 and I am sure he will provide another stunning concert. Another past pupil has been making musical news. Philip Achille, who left last year, performed at the Royal Variety Performance and also reached the final of the Eurovision Young Musicians 2008 competition. Competitive success was also achieved by our present pupils, but in local competitions. At the Northfield Music Festival in May Madeleine Lavery, Nadine Nijim, Oscar Street, Harriet Ryland, Samuel Troth, Jackie Lewis, Alexander Hurst and Christopher Troth all won first place in their respective vocal class and some won more than one. As their ages span the School, then there is great potential for the future. The Choral Society’s performance of Schubert’s Mass in G emphasized the strength of singing, as all the soloists - Alexander Chadwick, Georgina Rhodes and Alexander Hurst - were school pupils. The singers were not the only success at Northfield - Jamie Turpin won first place on the piano in his age group and the saxophonists came first with a Distinction, whilst in the Lichfield Festival David Cobbald won the piano duet class (with his sister, who will join us next year) and Winston Yap won the saxophone class at the Solihull Festival. Saxophony, the school saxophone ensemble, mutates yearly as members leave the School and others join. Their concerts have raised money for a cancer charity that provides respite care and in October they have been invited by the charity to perform in Lanzarote. There is now a junior version - Saxbeats - who performed at a recent Informal Concert. These Informal Concerts are so enjoyable, with no expectation of perfect performances but to provide an important opportunity for pupils to take part in a public performance. The Summer Concert was dedicated to Tsz Fok, the remarkable pupil who gained ten A Levels, eight at grade A, and went to Worcester College, Oxford to study Engineering. Over £1000 was raised for the Trust set up in his name and his mother came over from Hong Kong especially for the concert. Tsz was tragically killed in a road accident in Oxford as he was cycling to a practice with the university dance team. The concert was the best I have heard for many years (and that is not just the Headmaster having to say such things), with some superb playing. In his final concert Tsz had played Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto and at the end of this year’s concert Alice Jackson flawlessly played the first movement of Beethoven’s Concerto No 1 in C. We had already heard some Vaughan Williams (string ensemble) and Grieg (brass ensemble), not to mention the Big Band playing a superb rendition of Over the Rainbow and Summertime. I have heard Alice play in assemblies and at recitals and concerts; it is magical, done effortlessly. Her playing brought back memories of Tsz and Stephen Perrins’s eulogy to Tsz created an emotional end to the evening. During the Easter holiday a group of pupils from various years went with Miss Pike and Mr Geldard to stay for a week in a small cottage at Totleigh Barton on the edge of Exmoor. They spent a week on a creative writing course and produced an anthology of work over the week. Some weeks after their return I had a letter from one of the tutors, who is also Lecturer in Creative Studies at Bath Spa University, praising the quality of their work which was comparable to that of her first year undergraduates. Such trips away really do extend our pupils and complement their schoolwork. At school the mathematicians have been busy entering the UK Junior Maths Challenge. 129 certificates /over…

3 were gained, with 23 at Gold standard, and Joseph Halbert, Oliver Griffin, Joshua McGillicuddy and Hannah Smith qualified for the Junior Maths Olympiad. This completed the cycle, as four Upper Sixth had qualified for the British Maths Olympiad in the Christmas Term and Alex Kirke and Michael Goodwin had qualified for the Intermediate Olympiad in the Easter Term. Michael has been selected to attend the National Maths Summer School that is run for the forty most talented mathematicians in the country. Congratulations must also go to David Elliott and William Smith, members of the Upper Fifth, who have won national Arkwright Scholarships. These are for Design and Technology and it is most unusual for a school to have two Arkwright scholars in a year group. Another Arkwright scholar, Alexander Chadwick, will leave this year and we have had years with an Arkwright scholar in both the Lower and Upper Sixth. This success very much reflects on the strength of the Design and Technology Department and over the summer a three-dimensional router will be added to the rapid prototype machine installed in the Department two years ago, giving students access to a wide range of computer-aided manufacturing tools to use in their projects. Last year there was success for the Lower Sixth involved in the Engineering Education Scheme with National Grid and this year that success has continued. Ben Johnson, Sian Rees, Stuart Clarke and William Paskins were set the challenge by National Grid of developing a simple and cost-effective way of replacing old decaying pipes. National Grid, once again, is interested in the prototype. At the beginning of the year a large number of the Lower Sixth decide to become involved in Young Enterprise. As the year progresses the numbers reduce, as the challenge of setting up a business and making it successful becomes a serious commitment. We are very much dependent on volunteer advisers who give their time and expertise freely, and again this year three of our teams were selected for the area final. ‘Cherish’, ‘Feature Light’ and ‘White Publications’ competed against three other teams from Borough schools. ‘Cherish’ received an award for Best Presentation at the Borough competition and ‘Feature Light’ went through to the regional final, impressing the judges with their entrepreneurial skills. This is the second successive year that a team from the School has done so well. If any parent would be interested in becoming an advisor, I would be grateful to hear from them. The Wider World In my Easter letter I mentioned the large number of trips leaving school over the Easter holiday for Europe or even further afield. This summer holiday will be similar. There will be several sports tours. New Zealand and Fiji are the destination for the senior rugby squad, whilst the hockey team will make a return visit to South Africa. The girls are going to Barbados to play hockey and netball. The cricket 1st XI visited Barbados last summer for the Sir Garfield Sobers tournament and they will return there in the summer of 2009. There will be a great deal of sport played by Solihull pupils across the globe this summer holiday. In contrast, Greg Kirby will be visiting Wessex School in Chile for seven weeks’ work experience. The link with Wessex School has developed because of the enthusiasm of Mrs Julie Brown. Two Gap students from Wessex have been with us for four months, working in school, and Greg will be the second Solihull School pupil to go to work at Wessex School, following Joe Hone. Mrs Brown led a group to Chile in the Easter holiday and on their travels they visited Oxford School, whose pupils will be with us in September… and so the link grows. Even before term ends some of the Lower Sixth will be on work experience in Coutances in Northern France. This is just one of the eleven language trips the Modern Languages Department organizes over the school year. This link has developed with the help of Small Heath School and has now extended to Calthorpe Special School. All will be in Coutances together. /over…

4 The Army Section of the CCF is going to Longmoor Camp in Hampshire, taking 58 cadets, and five of the RAF Section are visiting RAF Valley on Anglesey. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award team will mount yet another massive expedition. At Easter over 50 were involved in Silver and Gold expeditions in North Wales, based at the Mountain Cottage, and this summer there will be 48 pupils on the Isle of Arran. The Cottage will also be used for training for the expedition to Ladakh in 2009. Fifty years ago Henry and Betty Fricke wished to celebrate the life of their young son, David, who had died from leukaemia. It was their vision to create for the School an outdoor pursuits centre in North Wales. It has been a remarkable addition to our facilities and hundreds, if not thousands, of pupils have benefited from it, as the number of each Snowdonia School testifies. A portrait of David still hangs in the Cottage. Although it does not quite match the travelling outlined above, I went to Sandhurst as guest of the Commandant to see the Sovereign’s Parade. The Princess Royal took the salute as nearly 300 cadets marched past on their final parade before being commissioned. It was a spectacular sight and at the front was Charles Mulira, a past pupil who was to be awarded the top prize, The Sword of Honour. Charles is to join the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the parent regiment of our CCF. Junior School The Junior School has also been on its travels, with all J3 going to Boreatton Park for the weekend in April. This was a new venture, replacing the Centre for Alternative Technology at Machynlleth. There were lots of team-building games, as well as raft building, kayaking and climbing, and the pupils had a great, if somewhat testing, time. The J1s have been to Umberslade Farm and the J2 pupils have been involved in a Monks and Nuns Day at Wootton Wawen. The Drama Club put on a play called ‘A Load of Rubbish’ with an ecological theme, set in a local rubbish dump. The costumes were superb, made with lots of help from the parents and also from our two Chilean exchange students. It was marvellous to see so many of J3 and J4 on stage in the Bushell Hall and Mrs Humphreys gave a sigh of relief that her first production there went so well. The Bushell Hall was also the venue for the Junior School Concert, with lots of variety and the whole of J3 and J4 involved in the singing. There were some superb individual performances: Joe Price on the trumpet, Giles Lawrence on the bassoon and Ben Davidson on the violin, for instance. It is at these concerts that the future stars of the Senior School ensembles and orchestras can be seen. The use of videoconferences continues to grow, allowing pupils to gain entrance to museums across the country without leaving the Junior School and providing access to resources that would be timeconsuming or difficult to reach. The National Maritime Museum provided the chance to learn about the Vikings and Tudor Seamen; the Imperial War Museum gave an insight into what it was like to be an evacuee during the Second World War, whilst the National Portrait Gallery allowed J1 to see royal and personal seals. Videoconferencing is not just one extended History trip, as the mathematicians of J2, J3 and J4 explored labyrinths and mazes. This must have had some beneficial impact, as in the UK Maths Challenge 14 pupils gained Bronze, 12 gained Silver and 5 the coveted Gold. There have been some significant achievements in sport this term, with the pinnacle being the Borough sports where the Junior School were overall champions, with the boys winning their part of the competition and the girls coming second. This came after a successful, albeit cold, Sports Day. In the cricket, Mr Swain’s team are Warwickshire Lord’s Taverners Hard Ball Competition Champions, Jack Hines being voted Man of the Match with 3 wickets for 5 runs in 2 overs. They are in the regional final in July and I wish them every success. /over…

5 Sport Last year rain created havoc with the cricket season and this term it has also given problems. The 1st XI drew against the Warwickshire Imps, a selective club side, but it was the rain that nearly won. Played on the same day as the one-day international at Edgbaston, at least the match was played fully and did not end in controversy. In between heavy showers the Imps amassed 292 runs and obviously felt safe. With three overs left, the School needed 13 to win with one wicket remaining. They just failed to make it, but it was an exciting end. There have been other close matches. The 20/20 against Bablake was won on the last ball and the 1st XI lost to Royal Grammar School, Worcester in the final over. The season began well, with a string of victories over Wolverhampton, King’s Worcester, King Edward’s, Birmingham, Warwick School and King Henry VIII, Coventry. Tom McNeillie scored 105 not out against King’s Worcester and across the teams there have been six centuries. Tina Gough (who went with the Warwickshire Girls’ Under 19 team to South Africa over Easter) in the Under 14 team took 5 wickets for 11 runs off 4 overs against Arden School. The Under 15 XI lost in the County Championship final to King Edward’s, the Under 14s lost in the quarter-final, but the Under 12s have reached the semi-final of their competition. There are three County players in the side (Christopher Beaumont-Dark, Oliver Haley and Nicholas Hooper) and Jonathan Coleman (Under 15), Jack Lucas (Under 16), Tom McNeillie and James Lankester (Under 17) have also represented the County. At rounders the girls have had a mixed season. The Sixth Form girls have won all their matches, but examinations curtail the number of games dramatically. The Under 14 team lost in the semi-final of the Borough competition to Arden and the Under 13s have won all their games to become Borough Champions. I am still not sure I fully understand the rules, but it is becoming clearer. At athletics the Year 7 and 8 combined team got to the regional finals in the Sainsbury’s Cup (a national competition) and Emily Hughes and Grace Keeling have been selected to represent the Borough at the West Midlands Championships. There is a full programme of athletics, both on Thursday evenings at Tudor Grange track and on Saturdays. The Under 16 boys are Borough Champions and Stephen Bowland is Borough Javelin Champion, whilst Daniel Younan at Under 14 level is the Hurdles Champion. James Trueman, Alexander Crichton, Lewis Grinsell, Daniel Younan and Elliot Gordon have all represented the Borough at the West Midlands Championships and there have been significant victories on Saturdays over Uppingham, Trent, Old Swinford, Bromsgrove, Malvern College and Dean Close at senior level, with the Intermediates repeating this, plus victories over Oakham, Rugby and Clifton. Tennis continues to flourish, not least because of the ministrations of Mr McGowan. In the Glanvill Cup the Under 18 team defeated Princethorpe and Campion School from Northampton. In the third round they played Wolverhampton Grammar School and after three hours of play both sides had won three matches. On a champions’ tie-break, on the final point the ball hit the net and dropped stone dead. Sadly it was to the detriment of Solihull and Wolverhampton went through. The Under 13 girls’ team has won half of the matches and both Under 15 and Under 13 boys’ teams are undefeated against local schools in the local leagues. Both teams are Borough Champions and will go forward next term to the West Midlands Area tournaments. Two teams are off to the annual Eton College tennis tournament in the final week of the term. Just as tennis will continue into the Christmas Term, so hockey has continued this term and Julie Whiting has been selected for Under 14 England hockey training. The success of James Trueman at rugby was too late to mention in my last letter. Selected for the England Under 16 team, he was the top try scorer, playing in all matches. /over…

6 Valete The end of a year inevitably brings goodbyes, but this year there are more than usual as six men, who have served the School for over 160 years in total, retire. As well as these six, Miss Holden leaves for Whitgift School. She has made a great contribution to the Modern Languages Department in the four years she has been at Solihull School. She is an Officer in the CCF and has organised the Third Form trip to Normandy. She has been involved in every musical since she came and helped with the choreography. Most recently she has been an excellent Shell Form Year Tutor. Madame Pierre came for the year to cover Mrs Sanganee’s maternity leave and will also leave us at the end of term. Mrs Sanganee has decided to become a full-time mother. Arriving in 1999, she has been Head of Spanish for four years and, like Miss Holden, has also been involved in the organisation of a number of Modern Languages trips. Her skill with the interactive whiteboard resulted in requests to lecture on the Warwick University PGCE course and she, too, has been involved with the musicals. Her choreography for Cabaret will long be remembered, as well as her cameo part as a gorilla. All schools need staff who are long-serving colleagues. They provide the continuity and experience. I will miss Mr McGowan, Mr Ginns, Mr Willshire, Mr Goatham, Mr Wormald and Mr Swain, but they have decided to move on to the next exciting phase in their lives. All have their plans for the future. John McGowan is Head of the German Department and it has flourished under his care. The link with Elisabethenschule in Hofheim has grown, as have the number of trips to the German Markets or Berlin. He took over tennis from Mr Harding and there have been several significant successes, including winning the Phillips Cup at the Eton tennis tournament. John has high hopes for his present junior teams. Gareth Ginns created the PE and Games Department as we know it today, with a strong philosophy of what he wanted and setting very high standards. His 1st XVs were regularly the strongest on the circuit, at one time boasting a 43-game unbeaten run, and the Department grew rapidly in manpower. He moved to become Upper School Housemaster of Pole in 1997 and retained that post until the pastoral system was restructured in 2004, since when he has been Head of the Third Form. After 23 years at Solihull Gareth will retire at the same time as his wife, who teaches at Saint Martin’s. Richard Willshire came to teach English 24 years ago and he was very much involved in the development of drama, producing 16 plays. The trio of Willshire, Ginns and Wormald did six Snowdonia Schools together and many boys have benefited from Richard’s culinary ability. He has been a compassionate Head of Lower School for ten years and was in the vanguard of the introduction of coeducation. His love of Birmingham City Football Club is well known amongst the pupils and I am sure he will be following them with even greater fervour in retirement. Mark Goatham arrived in 1981 as a member of the Modern Languages Department, teaching French and German. He became Upper School Housemaster of Fetherston and, at the same time as Mr Willshire became Head of Lower School, became Head of Middle School in 1998. Mark has a passion for sport, particularly athletics, and he took our teams, with Mr Ginns’s support, to a higher level of competition. Amazingly, he can quote times and distances of pupils from the very beginning of his time at Solihull and is still there at athletics matches, exhorting his team to win. Mark and his wife, Von, are to retire to Southern France where they have a house and can sit looking at the sunset over the Pyrenees, when not playing golf. /over…

7 Brent Wormald has been at Solihull School throughout his entire teaching career and will retire after 35 years. He is a remarkable physicist and sets the Oxbridge groups some challenging and innovative questions. A County bridge player, he has masterminded the timetable for several years, regarding it as a giant crossword. In his time he has been Warden of the Sixth Form, Examinations Officer and Coach to innumerable hockey and cricket teams. He will be out on the golf course (with Gareth Ginns) in retirement, but will also be about to advise on the timetable. Malcolm Swain arrived in 1972 from George Dixon Grammar School. At that time he was also playing rugby at the highest level, with Moseley and captaining Wales B. For several seasons coach loads of Third Form boys would go in the evening to watch Malcolm play at The Reddings. He has coached rugby throughout his time at Solihull, but he has also taught in the Junior School and became its first Deputy Head six years ago. He has given invaluable support to Lindsay Brough during this time. He, too, has a love of golf and led many golf tours with Mr Loynton, who retired last year. Like John Loynton, who is now the School’s Archivist, Malcolm will return next year as a rugby coach and we will gain tremendously from his experience. As term rushes to a close with its two prizegivings for the Lower and Junior Schools, the Leavers’ Chapel Service and staff goodbyes, thoughts are already on August and the GCSE and A Level results. I wish all the examination candidates good luck for 14 and 21 August, the dates for the A Level and GCSE results respectively, and trust all will have a restful summer holiday. Yours sincerely

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