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I have spent much of this week in London at the HMC Heads’ Conference. It has been a stimulating and fruitful few days. There has been a fair bit of press coverage of the event, so you may have seen articles appearing in the national papers. Top of the agenda, understandably, was discussion about the Labour Party’s threats to independent schools. While it appears that some in Labour have pulled back from seizing assets, threats of VAT on school fees and removing charitable status are very much on the agenda; for smaller schools, these impositions may well prove terminal, so it is being seen very much as abolition by the back door. The key point was the real desire for independent schools to make meaningful relationships with the state sector and to widen access to their schools, both of which I am committed to as the Head of Frensham Heights. If you have thoughts on this, or are willing to support these endeavours, do please get in touch.
I had an interesting chat with a few Heads about student involvement in activities at school and the link to reaching academic potential. There are understandable worries that if children over-commit to activities at school, they can struggle to keep up, but in fact all the Heads were in agreement: often, the most successful children at school are those who are busiest. I would have to agree with this. I am always worried about young people who opt out of the many wonderful opportunities on offer at a school such as Frensham. While we are not in the business of forcing children to do things against their will, we certainly do believe in providing opportunities and strongly encouraging participation. Andy Spink, in his new role overseeing Student Development, is looking at this closely to ensure we have a balance of exciting activities and a clear idea of who is making the most of them.
Looking ahead, I am embarking on a whistle-stop tour of America from 15 October for 10 days. I will be visiting a number of progressive schools in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York to learn from them, I will be hosting events with Old Frenshamians and I will be attending a boarding student recruitment fair in California.
With best wishes
Rick

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