Dear Parents and Old Sedberghians,

The pace of the final week of the Lent Term feels like the sprint from Library Corner, down Loftus Hill to the finishing tape.  By mid-March the School is tired yet every year our pupils rise to the challenge of the House Cross-Country Competition, the Wilson Run and associated Concert, House Unisons and the Rosslyn Park Rugby Sevens Tournament.  Then, before we know it, Gold Duke of Edinburgh Expeditions set off into the Lake District mountains, Fives players travel to the National Championships at St Paul’s and the Shooters disappear to Bisley.  We have been particularly fortunate this year to have concluded Term with such fine weather and I hope that this, coupled with all that we have enjoyed since early January will mean that your sons and daughters have returned home happy and with the sense of satisfaction that only comes from time and opportunities used well.

The Lent Term is the most diverse and so it is always a pleasure to acknowledge the breadth of achievements amongst our pupils at this time of year.  Many of the most enjoyable events are those that take place exclusively within the School community and House competitions abound with good-natured competition.  A quick review shows that Sedgwick won the Junior Rugby competition and that Powell will play Sedgwick in the final of the Senior competition on the first Monday of the Summer Term.  Hart House captured the Griffiths Shield for Academic Challenge for the fifth successive year, whilst songs from previous generations dominated House Unisons; Lupton won with classics from Elton John and Dolly Parton, whilst School House won the Part-Song competition with Simon & Garfunkel.  Robertson have dominated House Netball and the Ten Mile Relay was won by School House for the 8th successive year.  Almost every pupil competed in the Morgan Run which was a riot of colour and in the same week our School’s Challenge team were runners up in the North West.  Away from House competitions, we have enjoyed excellent presentations by pupils in Academic Societies with titles including ‘Political revolutions in modern China’, ‘Can artificial intelligence create art?’ and ‘Does Physics allow us free will?’.  In a different sphere, the A Level devised Drama was particularly innovative and highlights how much progress this important area of School life is making.  In many ways, the Lent term also provides the greatest variety of music with the Jazz and Swing Evening an annual highlight and the Wilson Run Concert an opportunity for the whole School to enjoy the plentiful talents of our musicians.

Of course, the Wilson Run is the pinnacle of intra-School competition and every year brings its own drama.  As we have come to expect, many pupils set themselves the challenge of qualifying and the Epics which form the backbone of training are major weekly events after which staff and pupils share stories of gruelling climbs, treacherous descents and bottomless bogs.  Four days of uninterrupted rain before race-day created uncertainty about the safety of the course, but 36 hours of dry, fine weather transformed the becks and ghylls so that we were able to race without worry.  A record 188 runners completed the race which was claimed by Joe Bird in 1.13.09.  Maria Page won the girls’ race in 1.30.10.  Their winning times reflect the prevailing conditions and both are worthy recipients of their medals.  Elsewhere, pupils competed well against the clock, old friends ran the course together and those at the end of the race finished with determination in a good time.  I reflect that it was a well-run race in every respect and matched by the best rendition that I have heard of the Long Run in the Concert that followed.  Thank you for all your support for our runners and this great event.

Turning to events outside of School, our Rugby Sevens teams across all age groups have won eight out of thirteen tournaments and the 1st team concluded the season by winning the National Super Tens Championship held annually at Sedbergh, beating Millfield in the final.  Our Netball and Girls’ Hockey teams are County Champions in every age group with the Netball teams reaching the North West finals; the Hockey team, the National quarter finals, whilst our Lacrosse team won the Scottish Open 2nd Division for the first time.  The Boys’ Hockey team are Northern Champions for the second year running and our Golf team advance to the National finals.  Runners, too, have had a good season winning the Midland and Northern League, the Northern Inter-Counties Championships and South-Eastern Schools Championship.  Our Riders have qualified for the National Championships at every height and in every discipline and we wish them well as they travel south to compete at the highest level next Term.  Meanwhile, those who joined us for the Wilson Run Concert will see that our Piping is going from strength to strength and we were delighted to be placed fourth in the North of England Competition.

Alongside our collective success, we offer congratulations to those who have excelled individually with Harry Brook performing impressively on the Young Lions Cricket Tour to Dubai and again in India with the England Under 19 team.  Sam Moore, Cameron Redpath and Bevan Rodd have all played Rugby for the England Under 18 team and Jack Hutchinson for Scotland.  Brad Clements played for the Scottish Under 19 team and Tom Walsh and Bevan Rodd for the English Under 17 team.  Archie Davies continues to excel on the Golf course and has been selected for the Welsh Under 18 team and Will Ross will travel to Canada to shoot for the British Under 18 Athelings.

The Easter holiday is clearly a period of rest for some, but for many it represents a critical period of revision in preparation for public exams.  GCSE Exams start on 2 May, AS Levels a week later and A Levels straight after Half Term in early June.  All of our pupils have been given revision advice, guidelines about how to organise revision across different subjects and guidance about the content of their revision.  In many cases they will have exam papers to work on.  We work on the principle that pupils have largely completed their revision by the start of the Summer Term, so that we may concentrate on exam preparation in the weeksleading to the start of exams.  For this reason the 100 Hour Challenge is an important guide to the amount of time need to complete that work.  We know it is not easy for pupils or families and appreciate all the support you give your sons and daughters through this demanding period.

Some staffing changes will take place in September and we have been busy appointing their successors.  Mr Follett will become Head of History and travels north from Charterhouse where he is Assistant Housemaster and Commanding Officer of the CCF, having served with the Royal Green Jackets in Afghanistan.  Mr Sharma joins us with a Double First from Cambridge to take over from Mr Hollingbury in the Classics Department and from Mr Nuthall as Shooting Coach, having shot at the highest levels for Wales and Great Britain. Mrs Pallister is currently Head of Maths at Yarm School and will take over Mrs Chamberlain’s classes when she takes Maternity Leave in September.  Miss Crone and Mr Wells join the Modern Languages and Science Departments respectively.

Shortly after Term commences we expect to be subject to an Inspection by the Independent Schools’ Inspectorate.  The School is given 24 hours’ notice of such a review which happens on a six year cycle.  We were advised that Inspectors would come on the morning that the Wilson Run was taking place, but after some explanation about the difficulties they would encounter in their work it has been delayed.  Once we know the exact date we will send parents a questionnaire to be completed anonymously online as a part of the Inspection process.  I do hope you will feel able to complete it in support of the School.

Finally, I am delighted to tell you that work has started to mobilise contractors onto the site where the new Sports Centre will be built.  We have set Tuesday 2 May as the date for the official ground-breaking ceremony and look forward to work progressing from then onwards.  Construction is expected to take a year and so we hope to have the facility open during the Summer Term 2018.

This brings this lengthy list of news and success to an end.  I hope it has touched a chord with you and that you will share my delight in all that our pupils have achieved; they can now look forward to the Summer Term.

With best wishes.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Fleck