From the Headmaster
As ever, the new school year began in a blaze of sunshine and impressive levels of enthusiastic activity – inside and outside the classroom. There is always a great sense of excitement and anticipation in September but this seems to have reached new heights this year – maybe the ‘golden summer’ will have a lasting effect!
The summer months are, of course, dominated by the publication of examination results and the aftermath of those results are still headline news. From an Oakham perspective, I was delighted by our IB results – they were exceptional, our best ever, with 83% of candidates achieving 34 points or more (equivalent to AAB at A-Level) and the Oakham average of 37.8 (out of 45) is significantly above the world wide average of 29 and the UK independent school average of 34.2 points. Once again, Oakham was placed in the top 10 of UK schools for the International Baccalaureate.
At A-Level, the results were good, although short of the superb results from last year. However, despite the raising of grade boundaries, over thirty Oakhamians - a fifth of Oakham’s A-Level cohort - achieved straight A*/A grades, and over three quarters of all A Level entries attained a grade B or above. Nonetheless, I now want to see the new 7th Form A-Level students rise to the challenge of taking our number of top grades (A*/A) to new heights which, with the right approach, is very achievable after their encouraging AS results.
This year was the first in which all of the so called 16+ core subjects (Maths, English, Modern Languages and the Sciences) were examined through the more academically rigorous International GCSE (as opposed to the ‘normal’ GCSE) system. I was therefore very pleased with a set of results (over 65% A*/A grades) which equaled our second best results on record. It was also pleasing to see that the top 75 pupils in the year group achieved 96% A*/A – which is a new record.
Over 70% of this year’s leavers, who applied to UK universities, had secured places at their chosen university by late August. This figure rose to over 80% once UCAS Clearing opened a few days later. The majority of Oakhamians are moving on to study at Russell Group Universities with the largest numbers going to Leeds, with Edinburgh, Durham, Newcastle, Exeter, UCL , King's and Cambridge also very popular. In addition to the UK picture, there is a growing international dimension, with more students now going to European, US (17 Old Oakhamians, a new high, are crossing the Atlantic this year), Canadian and Australian universities.
One way to bolster a university application is by being able to present relevant work experience. Any such experience can be used to show an interest and awareness, as well as being able to evidence many of the personal attributes universities are increasingly interested in. Furthermore, a period of work experience, when viewed reflectively in the UCAS Personal Statement, shows an individual’s ability to learn and engage beyond the classroom.
For competitive courses, at the selecting universities, work experience is a strong addition to the application. However, work experience need not be just about a university application. Rather it can be used for career research. At best, it will stimulate and excite. At worst, it will steer thought away from a particular career area before too much time and energy is invested in the wrong direction. In the last 18 months we have actively increased the number of work experience placements arranged through the school and there has also been an encouraging growth in the number of students who have organised their own work experience – which provides good evidence to universities and future employers of initiative and independence. Following the international theme, a number of Oakhamians have taken up work experience outside the UK; the medical work carried out by four students last summer in Costa Rica being one of the more innovative work experience initiatives.
As we move forward, I hope that both at school and at home, we will continue to work together to ensure that all Oakhamians appreciate the huge benefits that work experience will bring to them personally and to the choices that they will make in the years ahead.
I am delighted to inform parents that during the last week the school has received news that we have been granted associate membership of the ‘World Leading Schools Association’, which aims to develop links between the top schools in the western world with those in China. We are the first UK co-educational school to be granted membership and we will join Eton and Winchester as the other UK members.
A matter of days later we were awarded the prestigious ‘International School Award’ from the British Council in recognition of the international links that the school has established in recent years and the global perspective of many areas of the Oakham curriculum.
Summer Holiday Trips
As is the case every year, many pupils enjoyed a variety of school trips during the summer break. The Duke of Edinburgh participants and CCF cadets were put through their paces on expeditions and camps in the early weeks of the holiday, while several Jerwoods pupils sampled French living. The two biggest trips of the summer were the Chamber Choir’s series of concerts in Paris and a conservation/diving/trekking expedition in Borneo. Parents whose children went on either of these trips will know what an exhilarating experience they had in both cases, for which I’m sure they would join me in thanking Mr Davis and Mr Gorman. Among the highlights were the Chamber Choir singing Byrd’s Ave Verum in a packed Notre Dame Cathedral (to deafening applause) and on the Borneo trip summiting Mount Kinabalu in the early morning, deep diving with tropical fish and working on rainforest and turtle conservation projects.
A schedule of school trips for the next 12 months is published termly in the Red Book and on the website to assist parents plan their children’s participation. If you require details that are not listed, please contact the named trip leader.
Please note that an electronic version of the complete Red Book is now available on the Parents’ Portal of the Website. Please use this link Red Book to access it directly . You will be asked to log in when you click the link.
Development Work over the summer
It has been an incredibly busy summer for the school’s estates team with a number of projects either competed or near completion including: the first phase of refurbishment of the sports hall (due to be completed in early 2013); the conversion of the Ashburton Hall to a second, smaller lecture theatre, finished to the same specifications of the Wilson Auditorium (our target for completion being January 2013); completion of the Mehra Faculty of Science and work has now begun on upgrading some of the older parts of the Science Departments.
We are also now beginning some of the preparation work for the demolition of the Johnsons teaching block in the summer of 2013. This will be replaced by a new extension to the Merton Building, which will provide outstanding new teaching facilities for the Geography, Religious Studies/Philosophy and Learning Support Departments. The Classics Department will then move onto the top floor of the Ashburton Building which will also be refurbished over the next year or so.
This year, as every year, we are very keen to sustain the strong Jerwoods reading habits through and beyond the Middle School. As we all know, reading matters, and the correlation between academic success and a steady reading diet is well proven. Whilst we dedicate specific and carefully managed time to reading in Jerwoods and the 3rd Form, as pupils progress through the Reading Passport, the Reading Wall and Carry On Reading, we are aware that the pressures of public exams and the intensity of school life in the 4th Form and above can threaten these habits. We seek your help and support from home. Whatever you can do to encourage your child or children to read, on a daily basis, will be invaluable to them, be it reading a quality national newspaper, factual literature or novels. The Library and the English Department websites have several reading lists available and every Department in the School encourages reading and can help with suggestions for subject-specific texts. Many online resources also provide useful recommendations.
Communication with Tutors
Hopefully by the time you read this letter you should have heard from your son or daughter’s tutor. If this is not the case, please do not hesitate to contact the relevant Housemaster/Housemistress.
After a couple of years of unbalanced term lengths caused by early or late Easters and the Jubilee, we are back to a more usual format this year: Winter Term 12.5 weeks, Spring Term 10 weeks, Summer Term 10 weeks.
This term there are two Leave Outs. The first is a short Leave Out (22nd – 23rd September) which starts on Saturday lunchtime, the second is a long Leave Out (16th -18th November), starting at Friday lunchtime.
As our carol services will be in Peterborough Cathedral this year (see below), Jerwoods term will end at 12.00pm on Wednesday 12th December. Term will end for Middle and Upper School pupils at the conclusion of their carol service that afternoon. Jerwoods pupils with siblings in the Middle and Upper Schools can be looked after at school until collection later in the afternoon. Please ask your son or daughter’s Housemaster/Housemistress if this is the case.
Carol Services in Peterborough Cathedral
This year we will celebrate our carol services in Peterborough Cathedral. All parents are warmly invited to join us for either service.
The Jerwoods Service is on Tuesday 11th December, 2.30 – 3.30 pm
The Middle and Upper School Service is on Wednesday 12th December, 2.30 – 3.45 pm
Please would you note the following:
- All pupils are expected to attend their carol service.
- Please communicate with the relevant Housemaster/Housemistress for leave of absence in case of special circumstances.
- Pupils should be collected from their Housemaster/Housemistress at the end of the services.
- Pupils not collected in the cathedral will return to Oakham with the school. The last bus should be back at school by 5pm.
- Bus to Stansted. There will be a bus continuing to Stansted after the Wednesday service for pupils flying on from there at the end of term. To book a seat on this bus, please e-mail Gill Wood on email@example.com by 1st October.
- Mr Davis will communicate with parents of the Chapel Choir regarding their schedules.
There are two Service Weekends each year: one this term, and one next. Details will follow from the staff organising each activity.Please note that it is important for pupils to be available to fulfil their commitments over service weekend as planned (see the Red Book Calendar for details).
5-8 October 2012
8-10 March 2013
||Activity Day in school Mon 8th
otherwise normal school
||History trip to Warwick Castle Mon 8th
otherwise normal school
||Geography Field trip Mon 8th
otherwise normal school
||Creative Arts visit to London Museums Mon 8th
otherwise normal school
|Forms 4 & 5
||Service Activities (Duke of Edinburgh aware, CCF or Voluntary Action
||Service Activities (pupils not signed up for DofE, CCF or VA have lessons on Friday and Saturday as normal and participate in a Voluntary Action project on Mon 8th
||Service activities for DofE, CCF and VA pupils; others normal school
||University Application and Reading Day Mon 8th
otherwise normal school
Launch of new web videos: “Boarding at Oakham” and “IB at Oakham”
I am delighted to announce the release of two brand new videos to add to our growing library of short films promoting different aspects of life at Oakham. I believe that they are a vibrant reflection of the enthusiasm, talent and commitment of our pupils and staff.
Boarding at Oakham captures boarding life and highlights the friendly and supportive atmosphere for which Oakham is known.
The International Baccalaureate at Oakham aims to build awareness that Oakham is a leading IB school, and includes valuable endorsement from the IBO UK Schools and Universities Liaison officer.
Click the video link on the website home page to see the new videos or use your mobile phone's QR reader
Private Music Tuition Outside School
The Director of Music, Mr Peter Davis, would be pleased to know details of any pupils receiving music tuition outside the school. He is keen to ensure that the opportunity to participate in school music-making is open to all. Please e-mail him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
With best wishes for an enjoyable and successful term.
Nigel Lashbrook BA