Monday, 28 September 2015

Open Evening

Last Thursday was our Open Evening. The event was designed to showcase the school to parents and their children. Especially children who are considering continuing their educational journey at Matravers from September 2016. The evening included a stunning performance by a school choir, engaging talks by our head students, a word from me, and an address delivered by our Headteacher, Dr. Riding. After that parents and children were conducted on a tour of the school where they were able to mingle with students and staff. If anyone missed the Open Evening, feel free to contact the school to arrange a personal tour. 

The role of the Board of Governors is to set the vision for the school and agree the strategy for making that vision a reality.  It's my job on such occasions to try and set out the board's vision for Matravers and what that means for those who opt to study with us. Below is an edited version of what I had to say:

"None of us would be here this evening did we not believe that education has the power to change lives. Its core purpose is to provide our young people with the knowledge, skills and values that they need to get on in life.

The Board of Governors’ vision is for ‘Matravers to be a world-class centre for teaching and learning at the heart of the Westbury community.’ Making that vision a reality means ensuring that every student from 11-18 exceeds their potential in all aspects of their education.

Matravers offers a broad and enriching curriculum with a good mix of academic and vocational choices. We want to make sure that our students achieve the highest possible exam results and vocational qualifications. We want to fire their ambitions and help them reach their goals on leaving school, whether that’s work-based training, taking a college course, or attending a top flight university. We are passionate about ensuring that studying here will open up our students’ life chances in ways they never could have imagined.

Our commitment to excellence in the arts has earned us three prestigious Artsmark Gold awards in a row. But we also boast students who compete at the highest level in a wide variety of sports. Our science results are top of the range year after year. Whatever our students’ gifts and interests, we hope to support and inspire them in their quest to be the best.

On a personal note I am grateful to Matravers for what the school did for our children. My son is now studying Chemical Engineering at the University of Nottingham and my daughter has just started her Nutrition studies at Bournemouth University. They are just two of the young people whose dreams Matravers helped to make a reality.

This is a good school. An outstanding one in many respects.  But don’t take my word for it, as I may be just a little biased. When Ofsted came to visit earlier this year they judged Matravers Good with many Outstanding features. (See the report from February 2015). This summer our students achieved their highest ever exam results, with a record breaking 63% getting 5A*-C GCSEs including best English and Maths.

The Ofsted report recognised the outstanding leadership of our headteacher. We trust that with Dr. Riding at the helm the school will continue to go from strength to strength. 

We certainly want our students to be academically successful, but that’s not all. We also want them to feel valued as individuals and assured that their views about this school matter. It was the students who asked governors for the change to a blazer and tie-based uniform. They told us, ‘We don’t want to look like the poor relations anymore’. In changing the uniform the board simply supported our students’ aspirations for themselves. Now Westbury young people can hold their heads high when mixing with their peers from other schools.

Education at its best is an exercise in character formation. It involves instilling a set of positive values and virtues. Our values are defined on the school website. As far as key virtues are concerned, we expect Matravers students to be considerate, courteous and conscientious at all times. Our staff are not afraid to challenge behaviour that falls short of our high expectations.

Parents are, of course, the primary educators of their children. With your involvement and support we aim to mould our students into rounded and grounded individuals with a strong sense of moral purpose; the kind of young people who will go on to make a difference in the world.

Because at Matravers we believe that education is not just for school, but for life."

The Board of Governors currently has two Parent Governor vacancies. See here for more info on what's involved and how to apply.