Somerset College Preparatory School

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					Preparatory School


   IQAA Report
    Summary

     August 2010
Contents                                            Page Number

Evaluation Team                                         3

Mentors                                                 3

Date of evaluation                                      3

Areas of Operation evaluated                            4

Means and methods of finding evidence                   4

Key Strengths of Somerset College Preparatory           5

Areas of concern                                        5

Evaluation Team‟s Recommendations:

   1. Communication with parents                        6

   2. Facilities                                        6

   3. Refinement of management/staff structure          6

   4. Assessment                                        7

   5. Informal School Atmosphere                        7

Appendix 1: Mr Dave Shutte Report                       8

Appendix 2: Mrs Jenny Masterson Report                  13

Appendix 3: Mr Doug Blackmur (Executive Director)       18




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Evaluation Team:

Warren Bevan (Team Leader and Deputy Head)

Liz de Gouveia

Debbie Erasmus

Ruth Evans

Steve Nock

Beth Pohl

Jillian Steenkamp



Mentors:

Dave Shutte and Jenny Masterson



Date of Evaluation:

26-28 July 2010




                                             3
Areas of Operation evaluated within the school

      Teaching and Learning

      Sport

      Arts and Culture

      Management

      Staff

      Facilities



Means and methods of finding evidence for the report

      Surveys: parents, children, staff (forms provided by IQAA)

      The school has an extensive electronic system where curricula, mark schedules,
       tests, exams, minutes of meetings and so forth are stored and are accessible to
       the whole staff.

      Classroom visits: evaluation team and mentors

      Focus Groups:

          o    Grade 000-3
          o    Sport
          o    Arts and Culture
          o    Staff
          o    Management
          o    Learners




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Key Strengths of Somerset College Preparatory

     The children at Somerset College are happy and enjoy coming to school. This is
      evidenced by both the surveys completed and the discussion in the focus group.

     Children are offered a balanced school experience: academic, spiritual, sports
      and culture.

     Staff are enthusiastic and caring and committed to what they do.

     Management are forward thinking and seek to improve all areas of school life.

     The school is well equipped with modern technology.

     The school has strategic planning and people/departments are held accountable.

     The school is situated within wonderful natural surroundings that provide a well-
      resourced and safe educational environment.



Areas of concern

     Communication with parents, with regard to policies, finances, sports fixtures,
      functions could be enhanced.

     Being a young school, certain facilities are still needed: library, changing rooms,
      art and drama venues and a hall.

     A clear appraisal system should be put in place for the staff. Staff need to
      understand this system and see it as professionally developmental.

     Assessment policy needs to be refined in order to have a consistency of
      standards across the Intermediate Phase.

     An informal and friendly atmosphere is desirable but has the risk of becoming
      discourteous familiarity among some learners in some classes.




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Evaluation Team’s Recommendations

1.   Communication with parents

     Although the school endeavours to communicate well, often information does not
     find its way to the parents and as a result parents are unaware of certain
     events/information etc. It is recommended that the school re-evaluate its means
     of communication.

     The introduction of the school communicator is a positive step towards a more
     efficient and better communication. Furthermore various policies are to be made
     simpler and clearer and then communicated to the parents more frequently.



2.    Facilities

     Somerset College is a relatively young school. The school has excellent facilities,
     but it is not yet fully resourced. In 2009 the swimming pool was completed and is
     being well utilised. The school has also upgraded the Aftercare and Pre-school
     facilities and a Grade 000 class was recently opened.

     Plans are in place to build a new library and a school hall and a currently used
     building on campus is ideal for development into an Arts and Culture Centre.
     There are plans to create a Music Block as well. The urgent issue of additional
     changing facilities for the learners has been highlighted elsewhere and this
     matter will be addressed as a matter of urgency. Parking remains a problem
     despite our new „drop and go‟ system. There are plans to build an additional staff
     parking area in an attempt to alleviate the problem.



3.   Refinement of management/staff structure

     School management need to clarify this issue and make the structure available to
     all staff. An understanding of where teaching posts, specialised posts, promotion
     posts and portfolios are positioned within the staff structure needs explanation.

     Staff need to clearly understand the difference between a portfolio, which may be
     moved between various staff members in turn, a promotion post, which involves
     extra duties for extra remuneration and needs to be applied for, and specialist
     posts. Accurate job description should be available for every staff member.


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4.   Assessment

     The school has a policy of continuous evaluation.

     The Foundation Phase has clear guidelines for assessment and evaluates
     consistency across the grades. In the Intermediate Phase a more comprehensive
     assessment policy is needed to ensure an easy transition between grades and
     teachers. Children need to know precisely what is required of them and
     assessment practices must be consistent in every grade.

     Subject Heads need to meet and formulate this policy. Meetings should also take
     place between teachers of the same subject but in different grades.



5.   Informal School Atmosphere

     Somerset College has a lovely, relaxed atmosphere however, not all staff
     members can manage this in practice. A basic baseline of what is acceptable
     behaviour in every class should be formulated. Not all teachers are comfortable
     with an informal atmosphere in the classroom, while others are able to achieve
     effective discipline within a relaxed structure.

     The existing discipline policy functions well, but lacks a basic framework of
     acceptable behaviour, manners and respect. The Leadership Team, in
     consultation with all role players, will refine the existing policy, which should
     achieve a balance between mutual respect and a friendly atmosphere.




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Appendix 1: Mr Dave Shutte IQAA Report



              MENTOR’S REPORT
        (Preparatory School: Intermediate
                     Phase)

                                  Compiled by
                                 DAVE SHUTTE




INTRODUCTION
SCHOOL:                             Somerset College Preparatory School

MODEL:                              B

DATE OF EVALUATION:                 26th – 28th July 2010

TEAM LEADER:                        Mr Warren Bevan

CO-ORDINATING MENTOR:               Mr Dave Shutte

MENTOR:                             Dave Shutte

RECEPTION AND TONE
Throughout the evaluation process I was treated in a collegial and professional manner.
The team under the leadership of Mr Warren Bevan, the deputy head of the preparatory
school, were well prepared for the evaluation process and at the initial briefing meeting
all members ensured that the mentors were made to feel most welcome.

The atmosphere throughout the school is warm and friendly and staff and pupils
generally reflect this ethos in their interaction with visitors. I was grateful to the staff for
all the courtesies extended to me during the visit.
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RIGOUR AND EFFICIENCY OF THE EVALUATION
Team
Prior to the intensive period, it was decided by College management that the
evaluations would be separate and that the College and the Pre-primary/Preparatory
school would compile independent reports. Mr Warren Bevan led the preparatory
school team and Mrs Jillian Steenkamp was appointed as the scribe. Both had been
fully trained at the IQAA workshop in February 2010. The timetable for the intensive
two-day process was carefully planned by the team in accordance with the decisions
taken at the initial meeting on 31st May 2010. The team and the teachers were
enthusiastic for the internal evaluation and it was apparent that the evaluations done
prior to the intensive visit had been viewed in a positive life/light. The process was not
seen as an imposition, but accepted as a means of professional self-improvement. It
was appreciated that the head of the school, Mr de Waal had managed to relieve the
team of some of their teaching duties for three days to ensure that work during the
intensive period was completed as planned.

Opinion Surveys
The opinion surveys formed the point of departure for the evaluation process. The
evaluation team was successful in ensuring that opinion surveys were completed and
collated in preparation for the visit. Much valuable work was done by the team based
on the opinion surveys and interested groups were consulted widely to elicit opinion
before and during the intensive period. There was a keen understanding that the final
report would provide a crucial resource for future development of the school and
ultimately the strategic plan for Somerset College as a whole.

THE EVALUATION PROCESS
Introductions and briefings.
Prior to the visit, mentors were provided with a folder of promotional material including
copies of ‘The Acorn’ which initially gave the mentors a good idea of the ethos of the
school. At the initial meeting with the evaluation team on the 31 st May, plans for the
intensive evaluation were finalised and mentors had an opportunity to tour the grounds
of the school. Mentors were given an opportunity to meet the teachers and to discuss
issues of the intensive phase of the evaluation with them. Mr Warren Bevan
accompanied me on a tour of the campus and valuable time was spent hearing about
the history and background to Somerset College. This briefing visit was certainly
beneficial and it was clear that the team had been working hard to ensure that the
forthcoming internal evaluation would be a success.

Teaching.
I was privileged to observe 13 lessons over the two days and most learning areas were
covered during this time. A member of the team was able to accompany me on the
visits and provided valuable information on the circumstances that prevailed in each
learning area.

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The class sizes are optimal (on average 24 children per class) and without exception, a
secure, friendly and nurturing atmosphere pervades the Preparatory School
classrooms. Despite inadequate library, art, drama and music spaces, in every case,
these specialist teachers have managed to deliver the curriculum with passion. I was
privileged to observe some outstanding lessons in these learning areas and the school
can be justifiably proud that these subjects have not been relegated to a minor place in
the school‟s curriculum.
It is noted that exciting plans for improved infrastructure are in place including possible
new specialist facilities.

The planning and preparation of lessons was detailed and effective and available on the
internal „S Drive‟ computerised programme. Lessons were didactically sound and
frequently interfaced with sophisticated electronic classroom media. The Revised
National Curriculum Statement forms the basis for the outcomes that are expected in
each subject.

Learning.
Learning takes place within well-resourced classrooms that without exception create an
educational and invitational atmosphere. Children responded enthusiastically and it
was evident that where individual learner support was needed, structures were in place
within and beyond the classroom. I was impressed by the responses of pupils during
lessons and it was clear that they felt confident and secure within formal classroom
environment.

Assessment.
Continual assessment of teaching and learning takes place in a well-planned manner
and the personal work of the pupils is effectively controlled and marked. Records of
pupil assessments are captured on the „S Drive‟ programme and a full academic record
is immediately available on every classroom laptop. During discussions with teachers, it
was suggested that a uniform standard of assessment was needed across the senior
classes to ensure that unrealistic results did not occur at any stage in the phase. An
examination of the current assessment policy was probably necessary in this regard.

Safety and security.
The campus of Somerset College is a safe environment for children. Within a fenced
and access controlled campus, pupils are still able to use the wider reaches of the
property into the farm lands. This aspect of Somerset College life certainly enhances
the education experience of the pupils. To run a cross country in real rural surroundings
must indeed be a special experience! When changes are made to parking and vehicle
access on the campus, the safety of all on the roads within the school will be improved.
Without exception, children in the focus group expressed, the fact that they felt
completely safe and secure at their school.




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ESTIMATION OF THE SUCCESS OF THE EVALUATION
Compliance
So as not to duplicate efforts, the Compliance Checklist was the responsibility of the co-
ordinating mentor and the Head of the College. Except for this, the reports of the
College and the Pre-primary/ Preparatory Schools are individual reports.

Key Strengths
The evaluation team was successful in isolating the intrinsic strengths of the school. It
was heartening that the IQAA process was a catalyst in bringing these to the fore.
Without repeating all the strengths as they are listed in the report, it must be
documented that the human resource at the Preparatory School is a most valuable
asset. They are dedicated and professional and successfully drive the ethos of the
school. I regret that I did not have sufficient time to personally affirm teachers that were
doing excellent work in their classrooms and beyond.

The intramural and extramural learning environments at Somerset College are
conducive to the achievement of a quality education and it is apparent from discussions
with staff and pupils, that they value their surroundings greatly. The establishment of
school traditions will be easy for this young school in the future.

Mention should also be made of the impressive improvement in sport at the school over
the last few years. Much energy, planning and enthusiasm on behalf of children,
families and teachers has made Somerset College Preparatory School a beacon of
sporting excellence in the area.

Areas requiring attention
While children do attend Chapel service regularly it was not evident that the Christian
faith was being nurtured within the classroom as could be expected from a school
based on a stated strong Christian ethos. This issue is an important one for every
independent school in South Africa and careful consideration should be given to exactly
what role Somerset College wishes to play in the spiritual lives of its pupils.

Enhanced professional development and improved opportunities for leadership and
responsibility could serve to relieve management and leadership of some of their tasks.
Restructuring of positions and portfolios as expressed in the report could go some way
in providing improved career paths for some teachers.

While mention has been made of plans for improvement of certain education venues at
the Preparatory School, an immediate solution to the change room issue would have a
dramatic effect on pupil movement through the school. The shortening of academic
time when learners change into sport uniforms can interfere with teaching and learning.

The Areas of Concern highlighted in the Opinion Surveys and discussed in Focus
Group meetings have been explored thoroughly and effectively so as to focus the
forward planning for the school.

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GENERAL COMMENTS
It was a great privilege to have been part of Somerset College life during the internal
evaluation process. The time spent with pupils, parents and staff left a lasting
impression that here indeed is a quality school. Leadership has an honest attitude
towards further school improvement and it was heartening to witness an enthusiasm
towards ongoing assessment. The attitude of the head Mr de Waal towards enhancing
professional development and his quest for excellence at Somerset College Preparatory
is noteworthy.

Special mention should be made of Mr Warren Bevan and the team who ensured that
the two intensive days were very well planned and productive. The mentors were
hosted warmly and given every courtesy, for which we were most grateful. Mrs Jillian
Steenkamp was a wise choice as report writer. Her efforts in the finalisation of the
report ensured a successful conclusion to the process.

ENDORSEMENT OF THE INTERNAL EVALUATION REPORT
I am pleased to be able to endorse the findings and recommendations of the evaluation
team as set out in the report of the Intensive Phase of the Self Evaluation Process at
Somerset College Preparatory School. The process was openly and efficiently carried
out, with appropriate rigour.

I believe that this report is a fair and honest reflection of the activities and administration
of the school.

Dave Shutte
August 2010




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Appendix 2: Mrs Jenny Masterson IQAA Report



           MENTOR’S REPORT
   (Preparatory School: Pre-Primary and
            Foundation Phase)


                            Compiled by
                         JENNY MASTERSON




INTRODUCTION
NAME OF SCHOOL:            Somerset College Preparatory School: Pre-primary to
                           Foundation Phase

TYPE OF EVALUATION: MODEL B

DATE OF EVALUATION: 26TH – 28TH JULY 2010

TEAM LEADERS:              Mrs Liz de Gouveia – Foundation Phase
                           Ms Beth Pohl – Pre-primary
MENTOR:                    Mrs Jenny Masterson


RECEPTION AND TONE
From the very first contact with the school until the final debriefing, I was made to feel
very welcome and an essential part of the school‟s internal evaluation. I had good
communication with the team leaders of each phase and with Mrs. Debbie Erasmus, the
Head of the Foundation Phase. The team was highly organized and efficient. The staff
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was well prepared and relaxed and received me warmly into their classrooms and the
staffroom. Pupils, too, were relaxed, confident and friendly and everyone went out of
their way to assist me.

RIGOUR AND EFFICIENCY OF THE EVALUATION
The Evaluation team and the staff took the whole evaluation process seriously and were
extremely diligent in their efforts to objectively evaluate the school. This they did over a
long period of time with classroom visits and evaluations taking place well before the
formal evaluation, as well as during the intensive period. The staff was well briefed and
there was a high level of consultation and participation. They were proud of the positive
findings and did not shy away from areas of concern. The Head was kept informed at all
times.

THE EVALUATION PROCESS
The process began with the IQAA training workshop at Somerset College in March
2010, where the mentor met the team and set up arrangements for the initial meeting.
This meeting took place on 31st May 2010 and comprised the full Prep School staff, the
evaluation team and two mentors. The whole evaluation process was outlined and
expectations expressed and shared. We then broke away into phase groups for more
detailed planning. The results of the Opinion Surveys had been received and these
were discussed and formed part of the planning. The Intensive visit was set for 26 th and
27th July 2010. The mentor was shown round the Pre-primary and Foundation Phases
by the Head of this section of the school, and information about the school was
provided.

INTENSIVE VISIT
Sources of Evidence used by Mentor: Prospectus, newsletters, pupil files and
portfolios, record books, curriculum , planning, reporting and assessment records,
workbooks, timetables, interviews, focus groups, opinion surveys, inspection of
premises and facilities and playground and classroom observations.

AREAS OF OPERATION EVALUATED
Somerset College as a whole school, embarked on a model B evaluation, with some of
the Areas of Operation being dealt with by the Senior School team leader and mentor.
At the Pre-primary and Foundation Phase level, the main focus was on Teaching and
Learning, with special reference to the key aspects and quality targets specific to these
phases.

TEACHING AND LEARNING
The team and mentor conducted a thorough investigation into all aspects of the Pre-
primary and Foundation Phase and met daily to discuss and record .their findings. The
team has recorded these findings accurately in their report and I confirm the following:

Curriculum:
The school has planned its curriculum with the State Curriculum (RNCS) in mind and
the necessary outcomes are being met. The planning is thorough and is done jointly
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with the whole Prep School using the very detailed “S drive “computerized system. This
displays yearly, termly and weekly planning across the phases. Planning is theme
based and executed and this is evident across the learning areas, in the library, music
and art classes. The programme allows for both free and guided activities, and is
flexible, allowing for informal spontaneity.

Learning:
Learning takes place in bright, well displayed classrooms and a happy and informal
atmosphere prevails. Children interact well with their teachers and peers and the
lessons are age appropriate and stimulating. Children are exposed to learning in
groups and as individuals and there is much encouragement and motivation.

Resources:
The classes are well resourced and there are clearly defined areas for play,
investigation and work. Theme tables and interest tables are inviting and creatively
displayed.

The outdoor area is well laid out and equipped and is set in a beautiful rural
environment. Much has been done to improve this area to make it more exciting and
challenging. There are areas for wheel toys and sandpits and well designed climbing
frames. A lovely indigenous garden provides secret hideaways and nooks. The
timetable is structured to ensure that each class has maximum use of the equipment.
The staff sees the outdoor area as a work in progress and has innovative ideas to
develop it even further.

Assessment:
Children are assessed in a variety of appropriate ways and detailed records are kept.
Reports to the parents are regular and comprehensive. These are reviewed regularly
with creative changes and updates being made.

Support:
The school‟s inclusion policy is commendable and should be acknowledged as a
strength in this section of the school. Children with special needs are well supported by
the teachers and the specialist therapists involved. They are well integrated into class
activities and are afforded the respect they deserve by the teachers and their peers. All
the pupils appear happy and engaged in their lessons, interacting with each other and
their teachers in the learning process.

Safety and Security:
The school is well maintained and safe and regular drills are held to ensure that
emergency plans are well executed. Children are well supervised at all times. There is
a sun smart policy in place and health and hygiene are encouraged in the school
programme.



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Ethos:
The school lives up to its advertised ethos in providing excellent all round education a
happy, nurturing learning environment in beautiful surroundings. There is a sense of
trust, respect and caring between staff, pupils and parents and an awareness of the
needs and interests of others in the Somerset College family and the wider community.
Pupils are engaged in projects with those less privileged than themselves.
Teacher Development and Assessment: Teachers are encouraged to attend
workshops, in-service training and lectures and cluster group meetings. Non-teaching
staff are also offered the opportunity to improve their skills. A teacher appraisal system
is in place but, according to the Opinion Survey, some feel that this should be reviewed.

ESTIMATION OF THE SUCCESS OF THE EVALUATION
The Pre-Primary and Foundation Phase evaluation team members worked extremely
hard to make this an effective process and they had the full co-operation of their Head
and the rest of their colleagues.
They worked well as a team and recorded their findings objectively, giving realistic
comments and recommendations.
The team felt that the evaluation came at an appropriate time in the development of this
relatively new school and that the findings will be of great value for future strategic
planning.
The staff felt that the process was energizing and they enjoyed looking into all aspects
of the daily functioning of their school. They have a renewed sense of pride and
purpose and feel that the evaluation has been a bonding experience.
Given these positive outcomes, evaluatory practices will be embraced in the future.

GENERAL COMMENT
I endorse the strengths and challenges listed in the Evaluation report but would like to
make the following comments:

Strengths
The greatest strength of the Pre-primary and the Foundation Phase is its team of
dedicated and competent teachers. That their pupils are benefiting is evident, but
special mention should be made of the contribution they are making to the development
and training of future teachers. Almost all the classes had student teachers from a
variety of tertiary institutions, who are receiving huge in put, encouragement and
experience alongside these professionals.

Challenges
Taking into account the school‟s ethos, a privileged school like Somerset College,
needs to constantly look at innovative ways to broaden its pupil base to be more
inclusive.     This is an ongoing challenge and thus, should have mention in any
evaluatory process.
It is stated that Somerset College is founded on a strong Christian ethos. This would
naturally encourage respect for all, no matter what their beliefs, but this should not
detract from the stated intent - to foster Christianity. In the Pre-School and Foundation
Phase, there was little evidence of Christian teaching although pupils do attend a
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weekly Chapel service. Perhaps the school needs to look at how they wish to express
themselves in this regard.

CONCLUSION
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Pre-primary and Foundation Phase sectors of
Somerset College Preparatory School. The school is extremely well organized, as was
the team. I thank the Debbie Erasmus for her support and her confidence in the team
and I also thank Liz de Gouveia and Beth Pohl for their part in making this evaluation
such a positive experience.


Jenny Masterson
Mentor
August 2010




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Appendix 3: Mr Doug Blackmur (Executive Director: IQAA) Comments

Mr Jan de Waal
Head
Somerset College Preparatory School
SOMERSET WEST

21 September 2010

Dear Mr de Waal

Thank you for the final report on the IQAA self-evaluation which I have read with great
interest (copy attached). I hope that IQAA is playing an important part in the progress of
the Southern African education system. This can, however, only take place if schools
enter into the spirit of the IQAA model as Somerset College Preparatory School has
done. Thank you for your dedicated participation. Please also thank the members of
the School Evaluation Team: I was particularly impressed by the excellent range of
means and methods used in the evaluation.

The Somerset College Preparatory School self-evaluation report is a penetrating
examination, and is a creative “look in the mirror” by the School and at how its
stakeholders see it. The mentors are, moreover, extremely complimentary.

It is very pleasing to read comments such as:

The time spent with pupils, parents and staff left a lasting impression that here indeed is
a quality school. Leadership has an honest attitude towards further school improvement
and it was heartening to witness an enthusiasm towards ongoing assessment. The
attitude of the head Mr de Waal towards enhancing professional development and his
quest for excellence at Somerset College Preparatory is noteworthy.

The school‟s inclusion policy is commendable and should be acknowledged as a
strength in this section of the school. Children with special needs are well supported by
the teachers and the specialist therapists involved. They are well integrated into class
activities and are afforded the respect they deserve by the teachers and their peers. All
the pupils appear happy and engaged in their lessons, interacting with each other and
their teachers in the learning process.

Implementation of recommendations is, of course, the key to the success of the whole
self-evaluation process. I have seen strategic plan after strategic plan gather dust in
many cases as people continue their old ways after each annual strategic planning
“workshop”. To its great credit, Somerset College Preparatory School has embraced a
challenging set of recommendations for school improvement. It is very pleasing to read
the excellent school improvement plan.


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There is, of course, no need for you to come back to me regarding any of my
comments: I just wanted to draw some matters to your attention and any action is for
the school to decide.

Please let me extend special thanks to you for your co-operation with, and warm
welcome to, the mentors, Dave Shutte and Jenny Masterson. This is greatly
appreciated. The credibility of the IQAA process depends essentially on the high level of
independence, expertise and reputation of the mentors. They provide the external
reality check which is the essential part of a valid self-appraisal.

With best wishes

Dr Doug Blackmur
Executive Director




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