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15 Jan 2016

Friday, 15 January 2016

david-whalley-blogDear Colleagues

Belated Happy New Year greetings to you all, however I am sure that by now the demands of recruitment and Year 1 interviews have left the tinsel and Auld Lang Syne as nothing more than a distant memory. Thanks to colleagues in schools who invited me to observe the Year 1 selection interviews, this has really helped me gain an insight into the process as well as allowing me to observe the high levels of professionalism and commitment by staff in making those difficult decisions.  I now have a greater awareness of the demands on staff time as well as the physical challenge of assessing the language ability of four year olds whilst sitting on a carpet making Lego petrol stations and farmyards, I was barely able to walk!

Just prior to the Christmas break, Belinda wrote to schools with regard to the ongoing discussion around the middle years curriculum for students aged 11-16. Schools have now agreed that a common framework will be in place across ESF schools and that schools will explore how the MYP can be developed as an alternative to current school based curriculum arrangements for Y7-9. It is important to note that the current arrangements with regard to iGCSE /GCSE will remain in place for students in Y10-11.  Myself and Belinda will soon be visiting school Principals and discussing timelines with individual schools and also the implementation communication strategy with key stakeholders.

You may recall that in my last blog I made mention of a meeting with colleagues from the Education Bureau around the potential of partnership working with local schools in the future. I have since received a further communication confirming that there is an interest around developing professional exchanges on teaching and learning, particularly around literacy, the promotion of e-learning, debating, support for SEN and around CPD. There was also a willingness to develop links between ESF schools and local schools that all students can benefit from. I am aware that a number of ESF schools have already explored and engaged in partnership activity, it would be helpful if those schools that have undertaken such activity in the last year or two could drop me a line briefly outlining the activity so that I can begin to develop this agenda further.

I met with ESF colleagues at the Therapy Centre earlier this week, we discussed a strategic approach to enhance provision around the health and well-being of our students and it was agreed that this was an important and relevant agenda that we need to develop further by discussing with colleagues in schools. I intend to share this thinking at the next available meeting with school principals and in the meantime will look to circulate any updated documentation. Included in this meeting was the document that has recently been updated; ‘Coping with Grief and Bereavement’, colleagues are advised to be aware that this document has now been circulated to all schools.

It is good to note that both Beacon Hill School and Kennedy School have now received reports from CIS following visits earlier this academic year. Both were very positive and confirm the quality of education highlighting the positive school ethos, high quality learning experiences and commitment to inclusion. Congratulations to staff, students and Councilors in both schools.

Just to confirm that Bec Clements has been appointed to the role of Senior School Development Officer, this on an interim basis. Bec is already working closely with school principals and staff in schools and knows our schools very well, if you need to get in touch her email address is

It was great to see so many of our students at the ESF Netball Tournament last weekend, Gary Lineker once said about football, ‘it is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.’ It wasn’t quite so straightforward up at Quarry Bay, there were some nail-biting finishes with games being decided in the last seconds. The girls from all schools were fully committed and showed great skill and determination. The final was played out between Peak School and German Swiss International School, with Peak school narrowly missing out, perhaps Mr Lineker was right!

Many thanks to the staff from Glenealy and Bradbury who helped to ensure the event went so smoothly despite the arctic chill which appeared from nowhere. Also well done to the netball squads from Peak School and Glenealy School in reaching the final stages, I am already looking forward to the next tournament, just need to remember my balaclava!

David Whalley