While I have been relaxing for the last month or so in Devon, much has been happening at Woodcote, and various members of staff having been working extremely hard on my behalf – it’s great to be able to delegate at last!

The front of the school has undergone a remarkable transformation, foremost being the long overdue redecoration of the front hall. It looks stunning, with a new wooden floor and more contemporary (slightly controversial!) lighting and will be, amongst other things, a perfect venue for match teas, social occasions etc. Boys will still have the wooden bench to recline on before an appointment with the Headmaster in his study but, with a cushion soon in place, it will at least be a more comfortable and relaxing wait! Alongside the hall, the new Junior classroom and my study have also undergone a facelift, as has the outside front wall and shutters above the wisteria, and the Junior and Pelican dormitories now have a brand new heating system which will, hopefully, be a little more consistent than it was previously.

The only slight hiccough has been with the re-fit of the Science laboratory. Work has started but completion will not be until two weeks into term, so our new Head of Science, Mrs Emer Gardener, is faced with having to rethink her initial schemes of work! Habitat studies will, I think, feature prominently in her plans and I just hope that the weather plays ball.

Along with Emer, my nephew Oliver Paterson will also be joining the staff to teach Maths and Spanish. Emer has been Head of Department at The Hall School in Hampstead for the last 7 years, while Oliver has been teaching at Bethnal Green Academy since 2012 and spending large parts of his holidays preparing boys for Senior School pre-tests. Between them, they will bring a great deal of knowledge and experience to the staff room and I am delighted to welcome them to Woodcote.

With a week to go before the start of term, it will now be the usual rush to finalise preparations. For my part, I can’t wait to start my new job in earnest and look forward to welcoming the boys back, including 34 new starters.

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