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Welcome back to the school in what is going to be a busy, exciting and productive second half of term. There were two hugely successful school trips over half term that I want to mention. Firstly, a group of 36 students and 4 staff spent time in the Black Forest region of Germany on a languages trip. Secondly, Matt, Charlie and Amanda took 30 students to Washington and New York on a History and Politics trip. In both cases, the students were outstanding ambassadors for the school and it is clear that they gained a huge amount from their experiences. I want to thank the staff for giving up some of their half term to lead these trips.
As you all know, I spent 10 days in America visiting progressive schools and meeting up with Old Frenshamians. I am intending on writing more extensively about my experiences, so to do my trip justice in only two paragraphs will not be easy, but here goes! I was really moved by the experience of meeting OFs in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. With ages ranging from early 20s to the 90s, it was extraordinary to hear the range of experience of the OFs, and to hear about the fascinating careers they have all had: doctors, actors, engineers, musicians, photographers, fashion designers and public servants. What united them, however, was a genuine love for Frensham and a belief that the open-hearted education they had received here had prepared them superbly for life. Some of them had not been back to the school since they had left it, but they had kept in touch with other OFs and were fascinated to hear how the school was doing.
My visits to other progressive schools presented a different angle to my trip. While the OFs provided a link with the past, and the impact the school had on them, my school visits were helping me to think about the future and how Frensham can continue to support, inspire and challenge our current students to be the best they can be and follow in the footsteps of these OFs to make an impact on the world. There were lots of similarities with Frensham in the schools I visited: warm, respectful and open relationships with staff; a focus on experiential outdoor learning; a focus on the encouraging individuality, to name a few. What did strike me as a key difference, however, is the freedom American schools have with their curriculum right up to the age of 18. With no compulsory external exams, a number of them have developed innovative, exciting and dynamic programmes to prepare students for the world outside school, with a real focus on social justice and changing the world. I am hoping that I will continue relationships with a number of these schools, as I see an excellent opportunity for professional growth for staff, and potential for students to form links too.
With best wishes
Rick

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