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Mr Ford-Celebration for Success Speech

Mr Ford-Celebration for Success Speech

At the recent Celebration for Success, Mr Ford spoke passionately to his to his guests about a school he is clearly incredibly proud of. Invited were the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor, Ms Sally Brooks, Chair of Governors, the Rotarians, staff, parents, carers, and the prize-winners of 2018. The text of what he said is recorded below.

“Good evening, tonight is a wonderful chance to celebrate the success of our prize winners, but also to reflect on the progress made by the school as a whole over the past year.

At this point last year we had just been visited by Ofsted, although we, as a school, may not have agreed with the final headline judgement that we were simply a ‘good’ school, we did agree with the more detailed report that more accurately captured the true quality of this school. It recognised the ‘high quality education’ that we provide for ‘every student regardless of ability or circumstances’, and the ‘caring and stimulating ethos…which enables students to make strong progress and achieve well’. In addition, it highlighted that students behave very well, are kind, respectful and proud of their school.

At the time I said that the Ofsted visit was important because it does significantly influence people’s perception of the quality of a school. However, the most important aspect of the experience was the incredible feedback from our students, parents and carers that clearly spelt out that, in their view, Great Marlow School was far more than simply a ‘good’ school! This incredible feedback has continued over the past 12 months: in letters, emails and regular parent surveys; it makes me incredibly proud to have the privilege of being the HT of this school. That is not to say that everything we do is right, like any organisation or individual we make mistakes, but we do learn from those mistakes.

Each and every day, all members of staff at this school strive to be better than they were the day before, so that the students, and by extension, the wider community have as many opportunities as possible to release their potential and achieve excellence. We are constantly striving to further develop this high quality learning environment, so that it inspires students, staff and the community to be compassionate, successful and resilient contributors to a better society.

When we consider the school’s environment over the last six years, its improvement is a result of approximately £9 million being invested to improve the facilities. This is not money that has been simply given to the school but is money that the Governors and Leaders in this school have worked incredibly hard to obtain from a variety of sources: all for the benefit of the students who attend the school and the wider community.

As I have said on a number of evenings like this one, our core purpose is learning. School is a place of work for learning and achievement. We challenge our students academically, but we also challenge them aesthetically, socially, practically and physically, too. We believe there is more to life than examinations: although we fully recognise their importance.

On that note, I wrote in the Year 11 Leaver’s Book that I hoped their examination results this August would be the springboard to the next chapter of their lives…but I added that the personal qualities such as perseverance, integrity and humility will have as big an impact on the rest of their lives as any examination grades: which is very similar to what I wrote the previous year, because I truly believe it!

Like the world itself, education never stands still; there is constant change and whether we think the changes are positive or negative, it is absolutely vital that we hold on to our core values and that they steer the work of this school. All too often, particularly in some circles of education we tend to value what we can measure, or more accurately what we are being judged on, rather than measuring what we value!

The compassion of our students has been clear to see through the charity work that students in all year groups have been involved in. By the close of play on Friday, I anticipate that we will have raised approximately £7000 for a wide array of charities including local, national and international organisations. Supporting charities such as the homeless in Wycombe through the One Can Trust; the Alexander Devine Hospice, based locally that supports children and their families with life threatening and life limiting illnesses; and a national cancer charity, Lymphoma Action. Alongside these is our continued fundraising to support the education of children in a school in Tanzania.

Over the course of the year, opportunities have been made available to every student in the school to further develop their ambition and aspiration with GMS offering the largest number of educational activities, visits and trips ever run: one weekend in October we had students and teachers from five different year groups in Paris, Barcelona and Venice, respectively.

In addition, to visiting culturally diverse cities at home and abroad, students and staff have visited, explored and experienced areas of outstanding natural beauty, galleries, theatres, exhibitions, universities and the battle fields at Ypres. The Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme has taken children on camping trips, other outdoor adventurous activities undertaken included sailing, climbing and archery.

In school we have organised, developed and hosted a plethora of academic and cultural events: business events, fashion shows, hat shows and the outstanding drama productions of ‘Into the Woods’ and ‘Oliver’. The number of students involved in musical performances continues to grow through the passion and ambition of the music department.

Sport at GMS is an integral part of the school, the breadth of sports played and the quality of performances continues to grow year on year. The Sports Awards Evening, held at the school last Thursday, and the Rowing Awards Dinner at the Crowne Plaza last night, had a combined attendance of almost 600 people – a true testament to the strength of sport at this school. This weekend we will have four Year 13 students rowing as the England Four at the Home Counties Regatta in Ireland.

Furthermore, the physical education and sport, provided at this school, was recognised by the Youth Sports Trust, a national charity, that champions high quality PE, sport and physical activity for children and young people; they awarded Great Marlow School the title of Secondary School of the Year for the quality of our sporting provision. This was a highly prestigious award from an organisation that works with UK Sport, Sport England and other NGBs, alongside government to shape national policy in this area.

It is at this point that I would like to thank every member of school staff for their continued hard work, passion and enthusiasm. I would particularly like to thank the members of staff that, through their discretionary effort, really do go the extra-mile for this school and its students.

I thank the Governors who give so willingly of their time and challenge us to improve the school even further; I thank you the parents and carers, who week in week out, support us and your children with unwavering commitment.

A very strong personal thank you goes to the Leadership Team for their continued hard work, professionalism and for ‘picking the ball up, when I have occasionally, dropped it’.

At the end of an academic year, it is the tradition to say a formal goodbye to colleagues who are leaving; it is testament to the quality of the school that we have a very small number of staff leaving, particularly when you consider that there are 154 adults working here. So, I take this opportunity to wish all the very best to the following staff: firstly, Mrs Leibowitz, who has been excellent this year teaching mathematics. Secondly, to a group of teachers who are leaving to take up promotions in other schools: Miss Clare King is moving on to be Head of Science in a school in Bournemouth; Mr Joe Clarke is to be an Assistant Headteacher at a secondary school in High Wycombe; Mr Matthew Smith is moving to be Head of Design Technology in a school in Reading; and Mr Mark Payne is to be Head of Science at a school in Shropshire. Thirdly, to Mrs Giselle Sorgo, who is leaving after 10 years as a Learning Support Assistant; to Mrs Carrol Lee, a fantastic teacher of English, who is relocating after 12 years at GMS; and Mrs Bracey who is leaving after 32 years as a science technician.

My final comment is addressed to the students. Congratulations on your awards and prizes this evening, may they spur you on to continued and further success in the future.

Finally, as this academic year comes to a close, I wish everyone an enjoyable summer break: make the most of, what I hope will continue to be, a warm and sunny period of time and return in September ready to seize all the opportunities, that will come your way in the next academic year.”

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