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Head’s Report – Lent Half Term 2020

Posted: 14th February 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Thank you all for your support this term and I want to take this opportunity to reflect on what has been an extremely busy, productive and successful six weeks.

Academically speaking, the public exams are beginning to loom large on the horizon, of course, and it has been great to see the pupils working with a real sense of purpose. The U6th have the incentive of some excellent university offers to spur them on over the coming months, but I also challenged those in the 5th Form in my assembly this week to make good use of the forthcoming half-term to get on with some diligent revision, in preparation for the mocks which start on Tuesday 25 February.

We have continued to enjoy considerable success in hockey this term. Following on from our U16 boys becoming National Champions, our U18 boys beat Forest School 6-2 yesterday and are now through to the quarter-finals of the National Independent Schools Cup. Our senior girls remain in contention for medals too, having reached the semi-final of the U18 National Finals Tier 2 competition. They face the Leys School on Wednesday 26 February, with the final being played the following day. On the rugby pitch, our U15 team recorded an historic win over the Crypt School (20-10) in very challenging conditions on Tuesday afternoon. They now face St John’s Leatherhead in the semi-final of the National Vase competition. Were we to win, the boys would have the opportunity play in a dream final at Twickenham!

On the music front, the Inter-House singing competition proved, once again, to be a tremendous evening; indeed, it was fantastic to see your sons and daughters performing and enjoying themselves so much on stage. As ever, I was enormously impressed by how much hard work had clearly gone into their rehearsals, but it was also lovely to see how well the pupils supported one another. Meanwhile, rehearsals for the Senior School Production ‘The Great Gatsby’, continue apace, and I hope that a good number of you will be able to come and watch the show on 20 or 21 March in Taylor Hall.

I also wanted to make you aware of a number of important staff appointments. After what will have been four years of excellent service to the school, Will Scott, Deputy Head (Academic), leaves us at the end of the Summer Term, to take up his position as Principal of Dame Allan’s, a very highly regarded HMC school in Newcastle. We have appointed Ben Pennells to be his successor. Ben is currently Head of a large and very successful Modern Languages Department at King’s Canterbury, having worked at Tonbridge Grammar School prior to that. Ben impressed all of us hugely and I know he is very excited about joining St Lawrence College.

As I believe some of you know already, I am also off to pastures new. Having returned to my role as Deputy Head (Pastoral) in April, following the arrival of the new Headmaster Barney Durrant, I will be leaving at the end of this academic year to take over as Head of Farringtons School in Chislehurst. I am delighted to confirm that Tom Moulton, known to many of you in his current role as Head of History, as well as Head of UCAS and Careers, will be taking over from me. Tom is a very highly regarded member of the SLC community, having worked at the College for many years, and I have no doubt that his considerable experience and knowledge of the school will help ensure stability and continuity at a time when there will have been a number of changes within the Senior Leadership Team.

Elsewhere, Fiona Jackson (Housemistress of Laing) will (I hope!) be moving with me and our three girls to Farringtons over the Summer holiday. Like me, she will be very sad to say farewell to the St Lawrence College community, and particularly the Laing girls whom she has got to know so well over the past four years. Replacing her in Laing will be Dr Kate Barwell (currently Head of Chemistry), who is already very well known to the girls since she is a Tutor in the House. Sam Palacios, Housemaster of Lodge, also sadly leaves us at the end of this term to be a boarding Housemaster at Clayesmore School in Dorset. He will be sorely missed, both in the House but also within the Music Department. Charlie Sharp, having already gained a great deal of experience of Housemastering from his time in Kirby, will be taking over from Sam in Lodge in April. This move has necessitated a slight restructuring of the pastoral roles in Kirby with effect from the start of next term. James Rawbone (currently Assistant Housemaster in Kirby and Head of AEN), will be taking over from Charlie as the Kirby Boarding Housemaster. Lizzie Young (currently Assistant Housemistress in Kirby and Head of Drama) will assume the position of Head of Year 8 (2nd form), whilst Derry Snowden (Art and Photography) will be Head of Year 7 (1st Form). These two roles will help ensure a very smooth transition for pupils moving up from the Junior School, but also for Year 8 pupils as they leave Kirby to join one of the Senior Houses.

Finally, may I take this opportunity to thank you for your messages of support yesterday and to wish you and your children a lovely half-term – I know many of them are ready for a well-deserved break!

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