December 2011

Dear Parents and Guardians

There is an old saying "The proof of the pudding is in the eating". This means that the best way to tell if something is good is to use it rather than just look at it. By that measure the Dining Hall has been a huge success. For the first few days pupils did not know how to choose the right queue to one of the many serveries in order to be served as soon as possible. But pupils learn fast (!) and the system now pretty much runs itself.

Serving almost a thousand Christmas Dinners on the final Tuesday and Wednesday evenings of term is an amazing feat. Congratulations to Mark, Catering Manager, and Jeff, Chef Manager of Harrison's Catering, who, with their hardworking team, produce such great meals.

Cornwall Girls have been getting used to their new ICT Room and Common Room which was completed at the end of the Summer holidays and boys in Albert and Gloucester House have had to get used to remembering where their houses are, following the swap of buildings over the Summer. Mr Craig Harrison, Housemaster of Gloucester House and Mr Carl Bingham, Deputy Head ( Boarding-Pastoral ) have already fitted into the School and it is difficult to remember that they have not always been here.

The other really noticeable change to the School this term has been the Lower Sixth. Eighty young adults smartly dressed and approaching their work in a businesslike manner. They are excellent ambassadors for the school and many visitors have commented on how good they look. For next September's Lower Sixth we have 77 boarding applicants and around the same number for Day Boarding places. We can only admit 110 into the Lower Sixth so a significant number will be disappointed, but all current pupils who applied before the cut-off date are guaranteed places as long as they can achieve the required grades at GCSE.

The Chairman of Governors, Bill Gillen, has asked to contribute a section to this letter. He writes: I do not know if many people really understand what the Governors of a School actually do and, in particular, what the Chairman does ! The task of Governors is to make strategic decisions and to decide the way in which the School should develop. It is then up to the Headmaster and his team to achieve this and to make all day-to-day decisions. A simple example is that the Governors decided that the School should have a Sixth Form, and now we monitor developments as the Sixth Form grows and adds an extra dimension to the School.

I have to say that being Chairman of Governors of this School is a task that I really enjoy. I take every opportunity at events such as Founders' Day, Junior Prizegiving and Sports Day to talk to parents and I am struck by the enthusiasm that you and your children show for the School. Governors are also continuously indebted to all Staff - academic and ancillary - for their immense expertise, dedication and loyalty, without which the RAAS would not be the thriving school it is. Setting the strategic directions for this School is a responsibility which I and my fellow Governors take seriously and to which we devote a lot of time.

The end of term has, as always, been busy with the Carol Service, performances of The Good, the Bad and the Donkey our Junior production, a Secondary production The Legend of Sweeney Todd, not to mention mock GCSE and AS level exams and the writing of hundreds of reports.

Two dates for your diaries. Founders' Day with prize giving for Secondary and Sixth Form pupils is on Sunday 13th May and our visiting speaker will be Dr Peter Briggs, OBE, Master of the Company of Educators. The Junior Prizegiving will be on Saturday 16th June. Both events are in the morning and are followed by a drinks reception and lunch.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish staff and pupils a well earned Christmas holidays and I also thank all parents for their tremendous support over the last term.

With my best wishes

Paul D Spencer Ellis