Apologies again for the relative infrequency of the HM’s blog. I had made the foolish mistake of lulling myself into a false sense of security, convincing myself that the Michaelmas term was going to be a cake walk….and then the inspectors called.

This has been my fifth inspection in six years as Headmaster, so I’m getting pretty used to it now. But it still takes control of your life from the moment the ‘phone call comes in until the moment the inspectors leave 10 days later.

The final report is being sent out to all parents next week and should go online soon after that but, in summary, I am tremendously pleased with the result. For me, the most interesting and, perhaps, most valid feedback during the inspection came via the pupil and parent questionnaires. It was fascinating to see what the boys and the parents really thought of Woodcote, and their experiences of it.

All the boys in Year 5 and above filled in the pupil questionnaire, and I was delighted to see that 100% of them ‘strongly agreed’ that they were making good progress in their work, that there was an excellent range of extra-curricular activities; that their teachers really helped them to learn; that they felt safe; and, that they thought the food was good!

It was really pleasing that so many parents took the time to fill in the questionnaire – nearly 70%. Again, there was a whole raft of statements with which 100% of the parents agreed: that their children are happy at Woodcote; that their children are well looked after; that the school achieves high standards of behaviour; that communication with parents is good; that their children enjoy boarding; that the school keeps their children safe; that boarding helps their children’s development, and so on.

The response to both questionnaires was commented on by the inspectors, who had never seen such positive responses, or in such volume. I cannot tell you how much it means to us all to know how much the boys enjoy and benefit from being here but also the huge level of support that we have from parents.

Inspection aside, the term continues to gather pace. We have celebrated Harvest Festival, enjoyed a Spanish theme day, run the House Cross – Country, taken the Juniors on an overnight stay to Ufton Court and the 6th form and Shell on a Geography Field Trip to the Brecon Beacons, and enjoyed a Halloween Feast and ‘Fright Night’.

The boarders have been on outings Mountain Biking, Go Karting, Rock Climbing, and, this week, to Gravity Force. There has also been a trip to see the Remembrance Poppies at the Tower of London.

We have had matches against St. Andrew’s Pangbourne, Greenfields, Ashdown House, Milbourne Lodge, Pilgrim’s, St. George’s and Sunningdale, with return fixtures against the ‘Dale on Saturday. Almost every boy in the school has had the opportunity to represent the school at one level or another.

We have also had a series of development drinks evenings to show off what we have already achieved and what we propose to do as far as the redevelopment of Red Lane and the gym is concerned. I am enormously grateful for all the pledges that have already come in and we are steadily making our way towards our goal. It is looking increasingly likely that we will be able to begin the building of the new theatre / concert hall in March next year, so that it will be completed ready for the first day of the Michaelmas term 2015.

This weekend is Remembrance weekend, which will begin with a lecture on Saturday given by the grandfather of one of the boys who is a collector of medals and the stories behind them. He is coming to talk to the boys and parents about some of those acts of gallantry.7

On Sunday, we have our Remembrance service and, once again, Mr Mark will talk to the boys in Chapel about ‘Remembrance’, having not only been alive, but actually taken part in the Second World War.

It is a talk not to be missed.

That is all.