Celebrate, Good Times... And Happiness!

Ah, and indeed we did.


Last Thursday saw the most special of annual ex-Year 11 GSCE Prize Giving Evenings, where we very proudly celebrated the many, varied and record-breaking achievements of the Class of 2019.

Ex-year 11Prize Giving 2019

Academically, we celebrated our best ever results with no fewer than 22 students collecting the Gill Appleby Memorial Prize for achieving 8 or more GCSEs at grades 7-9 (A and A* in ‘old money’) and a significantly positive Progress 8  score. The latter evaluates the progress made by young people in eight different subject areas across the whole curriculum - and is now the principal measure used by the government to judge how well a school is seen to be performing overall.


But we also celebrated far more than that.


The tone was immediately set by a truly amazing opening performance of ‘Grease is the Word’ by the brilliant cast of our forthcoming  production of the show this January....



‘We start believing now that we can be who we are’.


A song about growing up and the hope and optimism of youth. Young people developing their self-belief. Their own identity.


What a pleasure it therefore was to reflect on exactly that. The collective, five-year journey of a wonderful year group towards becoming who they are; achieving their wider potential.


School is of course about adding value to young people’s experience, in so many different ways; supporting their personal growth as rounded, responsible and positive and caring young adults. Ensuring their happiness. More on that in a moment.


Many of those things you can’t measure. You wouldn’t ever want to measure.


It doesn’t take a genius to work that out.


And then we had the wonderful London 2012 Olympic Rowing Gold Medallist Katherine Copeland as our inspirational guest of honour and speaker...

Katherine Copeland

Inspirational, and wholly appropriate. For a number of reasons.


Firstly, Kat was herself responsible for an iconic moment of celebration!

Katherine Copeland

Her wonderful reaction with partner Sophie Hosking to winning Gold on the morning of what became known as ‘Super Saturday’ – itself the most successful day ever in British Olympic history - becoming one of the defining images of the glorious summer of 2012.


Secondly, she was exactly the same age as the students whose successes we were celebrating when she first represented Great Britain, having rapidly progressed over the previous two years as a result of British Rowing’s World Class Start talent identification and development programme  - studying for her own GCSEs at the same time!


And thirdly, that key theme of... Happiness!


In an interview that Kat gave reflecting on her Olympic victory she identified happiness as the key to truly great performance.


‘I always find that when you’re happy and sorted outside of sport you just perform so much better…. There’s a lot of science behind it.  Your body can’t tell the difference between physical and emotional stress.  So if you’re mentally going through some big things it will come through in your body and your performance’.


And it was the central message of her mesmerising speech to the students...


Deliberately echoing John Lennon...

John Lennon

Kat concluded her reflections on the highs and lows of Olympic performance with the advice that...


"Your direction in life should be led by what makes you happy. If you are working at something that makes you happy, you’ll never have a wasted day – even when days don’t work out quite as planned."


A message which I believe absolutely resonates with what we set out to achieve at school, seeking to ensure that a focus on student well-being – and a rounded and healthy sense of perspective - underpins all that we do. 


Because it was very much the collective ‘happiness’ of this special year group that goes a long way to explaining its successes - and approach to tackling head on the challenge of last summer's exams, widely acknowledged as the toughest for a generation - which we proudly celebrated together last week...

Good times. And happiness. To celebrate.

Prize Giving 2019
Prize Giving
Prize Giving