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HEADMASTER'S DIARY

The Headmaster provides a diary updates, to keep members of the school and local community up to date with all the goings on at Shiplake College. 

Previous diary entries are available to view below. 

Autumn Term 2017 Part 1

Shiplake College had a very busy and successful summer holiday! Just a couple of days after the end of term, it saw its 1st VIII reach the semi-finals at Henley Royal Regatta (the last crew to achieve this was in 1990). Two pupils, Henry Blois-Brooke and Seb Newman, also represented GB at the World Rowing Junior Championships in Lithuania, taking bronze medals in the GB VIII. Not only that but there was a rugby tour for over 30 boys in South Africa, the College’s theatre company Scruffy Penguin performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 15 members of the Expedition Society spent 4 weeks in Kenya climbing and volunteering in schools, CCF cadets completed the Caledonian Challenge and 18 Gold Duke of Edinburgh participants undertook walking and kayak expeditions in Scotland. The College also held very successful rowing and DT camps.

The summer was rounded off with record-breaking GCSE and Sixth Form examination results, with 99% of pupils going to their first or second choice university. The College started the new academic year with a record 478 pupils, including a record 55 girls in the Sixth Form.

The summer period is also busy for our maintenance and grounds staff; there was an extension to the girls’ House to incorporate a new Year 12 day prep room and changing facilities, which in turn led to a new tractor shed to house the grounds machinery and tools. Four new classrooms have been created, allowing for a reallocation of departments and some redecoration. Also as part of the ongoing maintenance and refurbishment programme there were new boilers installed and most excitingly the roof of the Sports Hall was replaced. This included 160 solar photovoltaic modules which provide the College with a 41.6kW capacity PV system to convert sunlight into electricity, which will power the Sports Hall itself and save the College £7k a year.

Little over a month in to the new school year, we’ve had some amazing sporting successes. Sunny Pong of Year 13 recently took part in the NATD British National Championship in Latin and Ballroom Dance and finished sixth overall! He competed against much more experienced dancers and his success has inspired his parents in Hong Kong to learn how to dance. A little closer to home however, the Henley 10k was won by Year 10 Adam Hunt who finished the race ahead of 324 runners with an astounding time of 40:34!

We have also had success with our recently established Clay Pigeon Shooting club, as they competed at the Marlborough College Sporting Clay Shield Competition. Of the 32 schools that competed, the Shiplake team finished in eighth position, which in their second year of competition, is most impressive!

Looking to the not-too-distant future, Shiplake College hopes to open a sixth form centre which will include a café, with toilets and outdoor seating, on the ground floor. It will also contain two classrooms and an office space. The pre-application response is favourable and the College will now submit the planning application.

Apart from the shortage of rented residential space for teaching staff, the College has a long term problem of securing better playing fields on which to lay out six rugby pitches. The existing facilities comprise a shared use of open agricultural land close to the River Thames and are often waterlogged and susceptible to flooding for about 25% of the time they are needed. The College is examining a variety of options to resolve this difficulty.

The College has also received planning permission for a new boathouse to consolidate and replace nine structures within the ‘old quarry’ area. The new boathouse will include boat storage, CCF and outdoor education, water sports, a workshop, a fitness area and an archery and rifle range centre. It is likely that planning will be resubmitted to include changing facilities, an indoor climbing wall and a kitchenette. A fundraising campaign will be taking place and it is hoped that the development will be completed by during 2019, to celebrate the College’s 60th anniversary.

Our Christmas Fayre takes place on Saturday 11 November and we welcome all members of the Shiplake village community – 10.00am to 3.00pm in the Sports Hall!

March 2017

There is no doubt that Shiplake has had a fantastic spring term; many moments are standing out as highlights. On the sports fields, on the river, in the classroom and on the stage, the pupils have worked tirelessly to make this as a very successful term. The 1st rugby VII team took part in a number of competitions, winning the Society of Heads’ Sevens against large rowing schools such as Reed’s. The 1st VIII crew also impressed, gaining a historic victory in the Schools’ Head of the River, against prestigious rowing schools such as Eton and Westminster. This was the first time that Shiplake have won the Schools’ Head, and it shows just how strong a crew we have. A new eight boat was named in my honour, and I was utterly humbled when it was this boat that the crew rowed to victory.

Shiplake’s talented musicians have recently played in the annual Spring Concert, as well as a Soloists’ Concert and an informal BTEC Gig evening. It is testament to the hard work that they put in that each concert, with varied content, was absolutely fantastic. 18 pupils have been appointed as prefects for the 2017-2018 academic year, when they will assume their duties.

And finally, it is with a very heavy heart that I announce the departure of much-loved staff members Bursar Neil Walne, and Digital Librarian Claire Knight. Neil has been at the College for over 11 years now, and he has been not only a significant help in leading the College from strength to strength, but also a great friend to me, and a voice of logic and reason. Neil leaves us for a new challenge as Bursar of Pangbourne College. Claire leaves after three years being in charge of the Thinking Space, during which time she has made the innovative space the heart of the College. Many pupils use the space for classes and private study, and make full use of the digital resources that are available to them. Claire leaves to join Reading Blue Coat as Head Librarian, and we wish them all the very best in their new adventures.

January and February 2017

The last month, from the start of term after the Christmas holidays to this half term, have absolutely flown by. Sir William McAlpine has stepped down as a Governor from the board after a significant 27 years in the post. The Drama Department has been busy with the Junior Production of The Jungle Book, and much-loved members of staff have left the Shiplake College community.

We said goodbye to Head of Physics Mr Luke Cottrell, and School Accountant Mrs Kim Burrell. Luke leaves after five and a half years in his position, to pursue a career in management. Luke, a stalwart of the Science Department, has also been actively involved with the Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, and his absence will be felt keenly by pupils. Kim leaves after 11 years in her role. She has had a significant impact in the smooth running of the school’s finances, and leaves for a slower pace of life on the South coast of England.

The sporting community have been as busy as ever; rowing crews impressed at Wycliffe head winning four events and coming second in four more – a promising start to the year as we head towards regatta season. The rugby 7s event which took place at Shiplake was a resounding success, with 16 schools from across the country travelling to take part.

We are now looking to raise money for the budding athletes of Shiplake to attend sports tours, providing them with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel and train, playing fixtures against a variety of different schools and teams, as well as learning new cultures.

November and December 2016

Happy New Year from Shiplake College! The lead-up to the Christmas break was incredibly busy; pupils and staff were working hard before enjoying a well-earned and restful holiday. The Good Schools Guide review was released, describing the School as ‘uniquely nurturing.’ The Christmas Carol Service and Lessons, held at St Mary’s Church, Henley, was packed to the rafters.

There were a great deal of activities going on throughout the College. Over £200 was raised for Movember; Business pupils enjoyed an educational trip to Cadbury World; Sixth Formers received a visit from Director of Plan A at Marks and Spencer, Mr Mike Barry, discussing the environmental and economic impact and responsibilities of large companies. DT pupils visited sculptor David Harber, and musicians enjoyed a masterclass with professional session drummer Gabor Dornyei. GCSE pupils attended a nationwide debate about ethics held by Candle Conferences, and became involved with posing difficult questions. Refugee and political activist Gulwali Passarlay visited Shiplake to give a talk on his experiences escaping from war-torn Afghanistan, and watch Shiplake’s own take on his life, in an original play called The Lightless Sky.

The 1st XV rugby team faced their final fixture, finishing the term on a victorious note with a 34-17 win against Cokethorpe School, and the rugby players celebrated the season with awards. Pupils from all years took place in the House Ergo competition. The Shiplake College Boat Club Supporters’ Association raised an incredible £7,000 for the Boat Club.

October 2016

What a start to the term! The 2016-2017 academic year has so far proved to be a busy and fruitful one; pupils are back in classrooms, back on the sports fields and back in the rowing boats, and that is just the beginning.

The Shiplake cohort have been raising money for a variety of charities. The biennial 20 mile sponsored walk took place in September, and has so far raised over a whopping £12,000 for four different charities; Gap Africa, Sue Ryder, NOMAD Henley and Paars. The charities were chosen by the staff and pupils, and the amount of money raised is a reflection of their hard work and generosity. The Macmillan Coffee Morning also took place, raising over £420 for Macmillan Cancer Support. This is the most successful coffee morning that the College has raised to date, and we are extremely grateful to the parents, friends and staff of the College for helping the College to raise a significant amount.

Sport has not been overlooked; the rowers have been back on the water training, and it is paying off. Deputy Head of College Henry Blois-Brooke won the IM3 pennant at the Wallingford Head of the River, whilst Georgia-May Fry finished in second place in the Women’s Junior 17 category. The Reading Small Boats race also went very well for the Shiplake rowers; four crews won first place in different categories in the morning’s races.

Many co-curricular activities have enriched the life at Shiplake since the beginning of term; the visit from author and adventurer Matt Dickinson was a particular highlight, as he gave a workshop on creative writing to Year 7 and 8 boys. A visit to the Henley Literary Festival was enjoyed by Lower School boys, and a number of staff members have taken on the challenge of learning a new instrument alongside the pupils.

There are a number of upcoming events: the Christmas Fayre is taking place in the Sports Hall on Saturday 12 November from 10.00am, and we are looking forward to seeing many of you there. The Winter Concert takes place on Thursday 24 November, and all are welcome to join us there!

September 2016

The Shiplake College cohort have plunged into the beginning of term with enthusiasm and vigour – back on the sports fields and in the boats, as well as giving it their all in the classroom. It has been quite the charitable affair since starting back at school; the Macmillan Cancer Support Coffee Morning went ahead, and parents flocked to the College with baked goods and donations to help make this the most successful Macmillan morning to date. The amount raised was more than £420 for the charity. The biennial sponsored walk took place; the entire Shiplake College community walked 20 miles along the Thames Path, from Moulsford back to Shiplake, raising money for four very worthy charities. Gap Africa, Sue Ryder, NOMAD Henley and Paars will all benefit for the money raised, which was in excessive of a whopping £12,000.

Co-curricular pursuits have been a hot topic of conversation at the College; actors from a range of year groups headed to Edinburgh, performing an original piece of drama called Lightless at the Fringe Festival. Author and adventurer Matt Dickinson visited the College, giving Lower School boys a workshop on creative writing, and inspiring them with tales of his own mountain-based escapades. Rowers headed to their first Head of the River race at Wallingford, with Deputy Head of College Henry Blois-Brooke coming away with a convincing win in the IM3 pennant, and Georgia-May Fry gained second place in the Women’s Junior 17 category. The Chapel Wardens and Prefects received a visit from Bishop Colin Fletcher, Bishop of Dorchester, to bless them into their duties for the next academic year. We are looking forward to seeing what that year has to hold!

July and August 2016

These summer holidays have been a record-breaking one for Shiplake; the A Level results were the best set of results that the school has ever seen, with the percentage of results at the top rising from 36% A* and A grades in 2015, to 41% A* and A grades in 2016. Alongside this, the College achieved a 100% pass rate for the first time, and, most significantly, a 13% rise of A*-C grades, up from 74% last year. GCSE results were also impressive, with 23% A* to A grades, up from 21% in 2015. The percentage of A*-C grades overall also increased, from 88% to 91%.

Alongside academic achievements, pupils and former pupils have accomplished incredible sporting feats. Old Viking Will Satch rowed with the Men’s Eight at the Rio Olympics, becoming a Gold medallist! Will Carey and Henry Blois-Brooke, fresh from their achievements at the Henley Royal Regatta, both headed to the Coupe de la Jeunesse to represent Great Britain in the Junior World Rowing Championships. They both rowed fantastically, achieving gold medals – helping GB to win the competition overall, for the first time since 2013! Year 12 pupil Matt Godwin ran the length of the Thames Path in seven marathons over seven days, raising over £3,000 for Great Ormond Street Hospital. A crew of Shiplake rowers (including staff and pupils) rowed the Queen’s barge, the Gloriana, as part of the fleet at the Thames Boat Festival. Despite the rain, the event was an incredible one, seeing Shiplake involved with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity such as this!

Duke of Edinburgh expeditions also took place; pupils headed to the Highlands of Scotland to partake in the challenge of kayaking the Caledonian Canal, through three of Scotland’s lochs – Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness. CCF cadets also undertook a challenge this summer, travelling to Penally in South Wales to complete a wealth of different tasks at a summer camp.

As we move into September and term begins again, the College becomes busier than ever. The Touch Rugby and Beer Festival is being held on Saturday 10 September, from 12noon at the school, and we welcome all guests to attend.

June 2016

This time of year is incredibly busy; from bidding farewell to our leavers, to rowing at the Regatta, there is a plethora of activity which keeps pupils and staff alike busy up to the last day of term. The Henley Regatta was a highlight for me; after the glorious results at the National Schools’ Regatta, where the 1st VIII crew were finishing amongst such championship schools as Radley and St Paul’s, confidence was high for Henley. And the crew did not disappoint; getting through to the Friday for the first time in 15 years was an exceptional feat, having beaten Choate Rosemary Hall and London Oratory School. Unfortunately, the boys narrowly lost out to Westminster Friday, after giving them a brilliant race. The rowers, joined by others, were back at it for the Thames Boat Festival, rowing the Queen’s barge, the Gloriana, down the river as part of the procession.

Amongst exams, time was found to host a private art viewing, which ensured that the spectacular art produced in various forms (paintings, sculpture and print) was enjoyed by friends, family and staff members. Business BTEC pupils visited local primary schools, hosting Enterprise Days to inspire young children and teach them the basics of business. Headmaster Gregg Davies headed to Buckingham Palace to receive recognition of the fantastic Duke of Edinburgh work done at the College, and charity Gap Africa received recognition, with a beautiful black tie dinner to celebrate 25 years since its foundation.

Saying goodbye to another cohort is always tough, and this year was no different; a sensational Leavers’ Ball was a definite highlight of the last week of term, as was a moving Leavers’ Service in the Church. The achievements of the last two, five or seven years were celebrated in a Prize Giving ceremony, which was well attended by families and friends. As we wish the leavers well on their next adventures, it was also an incredibly exciting time for the College, as we welcomed the first ever female Head of College to the post. Emily Wilkinson steps up after impressing with her commitment to academic and co-curricular pursuits throughout the last year here. Henry Blois-Brooke take the metaphorical baton from Anna Davies, to become Deputy Head of College for the following academic year.

May 2016

As I get older, time seems to speed up – indeed, this year has flown by with alarming speed. Or perhaps that is simply because of all that we at Shiplake College have packed into the timetable since the beginning of the year. Most noticeably, we bid farewell to Deputy Head Academic Mr Ian Munro, and appointed Dr Gareth Hughes for the position. He will join us from Radley College in September, and we await his arrival eagerly. Teachers Mr Chris Ham and Mr Joel Rowlinson also left our ranks, and we have welcomed Mr Richard Curran as Director of Music and Mr Tom Bayley as teacher of Design and Technology.

Lower School became thespians in the Drama Department’s spectacular production of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, performing a contemporary version of the popular classic during February. The Chamber Choir and Scholars’ concert took place in Christ Church, Henley, at the end of April, and the church was packed with supporters. It was an exquisite evening of music. Year 7 pupils got involved with the Institute of Engineering and Technology’s Faraday Challenge, a coding competition which challenged participants to create products to use in the home. Author and mountaineer Matt Dickinson came in to speak to pupils about his career and summiting Everest; pupils were utterly captivated. Our catering team became award-winning: manager Blain Shepherd won ‘Overall Manager of the Year for Independent Schools’, chef Mauricio Manglicmot won ‘Senior Chef of the Year for Independent Schools’, and Food Service Assistant Geoff Searle won the prestigious ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’.

Plenty has also been happening outside the classroom (and theatre) walls; pupils working towards their Duke of Edinburgh awards visited the Brecon Beacons and the Chilterns, to complete the Silver and Bronze qualifying expeditions. Sixth Form Geographers went a little further afield, travelling to Iceland on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, to learn about many of the world’s natural wonders. And College athletes also spent time abroad; hockey players headed to a very chilly Amsterdam to play a series of international opponents, and tennis, cricket and netball players were bound for warmer climes, travelling to Barbados on a highly successful sports tour.

The rowing season has also kicked off in fantastic style – the 2nd VIII crew won first place in their race at BASHER, where they took on winners of the Schools Head. The 1st VIII had an outstanding race at the Schools Head, starting from 10th position and ending in 2nd position, ahead of Eton College and Abingdon School.

Exciting events are coming up in the Shiplake calendar, and it would be a great pleasure if members of the local community were able to join us there. A fundraising dinner for Gap Africa is taking place on Saturday 21 May: for anyone familiar with the charity, tickets are still available for a fabulous celebratory evening, which will include a three course dinner, a champagne reception and an international opera singer. The PA Summer Ball is also open to the local community; a black tie event held at the College on Saturday 18 June, the ball promises to be a wonderful night, and tickets are still available. Please visit the Shiplake College website for more information. For keen sportsmen and women, there is a Touch Rugby and Beer Festival being held on Saturday 10 September. It was a resounding success last year and this year we are very hopeful to have a team of community members to participate in the touch rugby tournament. Please email organiser Chelsi Challis at cchallis@shiplake.org.uk if you are able to play, or would like further information.

April 2016

April has passed by in a flash of mock examinations and revision for a large part of the Shiplake College cohort. However, pupils across the school have still found the time to fit in a variety of activities, from taking part in a music concerts, to kayaking through the Brecon Beacons. There is a never a dull moment in the life of the College!

The arts have had a particular focus during this month: a very successful Chamber Choir and Scholars’ Concert took place on Friday 22 April, at Christ Church, Henley. The concert was magnificent, and the performances utterly spell-binding. The musicians played to a packed church of family, friends, staff and members of local community, so thank you to all who came to show support. Each year group have been working hard to put on a performance evening over the course of April; Year 10 performed a wonderfully wacky range of comedic performances, whilst Year 9 covered a wider spectrum of genres, ranging from the sombre to the pantomimic. The Tithe Barn theatre was, once again, packed to the rafters, and each member of the year group was involved in some aspect or another. All inhibitions were lost, and the performances were outstanding.

The Headmaster’s Business Award took place for the second year in a row; we welcomed governor and local entrepreneur Mr Jonathan Hobbs to the school to judge the awards, which showcased the high level of work from Business BTEC pupils. An internal house debate took place, which saw pupils tackle some controversial subjects, such as the effects of leaving the EU, and the threat of the National Debt to the UK. A group of Sixth Form pupils took part in a Model United Nations Assembly, and Year 7 pupils became software engineers for the day as they entered in the Institute of Engineering and Technology’s Faraday Challenge.

And pupils impressed outside the school curriculum too: senior CCF cadets had a celebratory dinner as they prepare to leave the College, whilst the girls celebrated a fantastic sporting season to date. Sixth Formers Matt Brown and Olli Riley cycled from London to Paris, raising money for charity Gap Africa. Year 7 table tennis star Jamie Liu competed in the Eurotalents Hopes Selection Camp in Luxembourg, hoping to take his table tennis career further.

February and March 2016

As the College enjoys a well-earned break over the Easter holidays, I look back over the past month and the many milestones that March brought with it. First in my mind has to be the Schools Head of the River. The race, which takes place on the championship course from Chiswick Bridge to Putney Embankment, was blessed this year with beautiful weather. Traditionally a very competitive race, Shiplake turned heads with outstanding results, and, for the first time, boated a girls’ VIII. The 1st VIII, starting from 100th position, managed to overtake rival Kings Chester, and finished in 2nd place. Football and hockey awards took place, celebrating the fantastic input of pupils across the sporting season.

It was also the month that Thomas Franks, the fantastic onsite catering staff, became award-winning. Catering Manager Blain Shepherd won in the category of ‘Overall Manager of the Year Independent Schools 2016’. Head Chef Mauricio Manglicmot won the ‘Senior Chef of the Year Independent Schools’, and Geoff Searle won the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’, who has been in his post for over 20 years. The College cohort are delighted with these awards, which recognise the skill and passion of the catering team.

Over the course of the previous months, we have worked hard to introduce a wider variety of activities for pupils. One of these has been basketball, which has proved incredibly popular, and March saw the first official fixture take place against Leighton Park. Other co-curricular activities have been kept busy; CCF cadets took on a variety of different tasks, such as climbing, section battle drills, and escape and evasion exercises. We look forward to a busy and productive summer term.

January 2016

Already a month into the year and the timetable at Shiplake has been packed. The College community warmly welcomed two new staff members: Mr Tom Bayley, who joins us as a teacher of Design and Technology, and Mr Richard Curran, who assumes the post of Director of Music. Dr Gareth Hughes has been announced as the new Deputy Head Academic, and will be joining us in September.

Mock exams have been a priority for GCSE and A Level pupils, although it hasn’t stopped them from getting involved with co-curricular competitions. House Art was a triumph; pupils got involved submitting art work in a myriad of formats to the close contest. A return to Spring sports has proved popular- pupils have thrown themselves into hockey and football, with notable triumphs for the 1st XI, Under 15 and Under 16 hockey teams over Lord Wandsworth College, and the 1st XI football team over Abingdon School. Activities are back in full swing, with a new one added to the mix- geocaching - the world’s biggest treasure hunt - using GPS-enabled devices.

Burns Night was a success, with many pupils keen to try haggis and tatties, serenaded by Year 12 pupil James Croser playing the bagpipes- a personal favourite day in the calendar! Charity and Event Captains Carl Harris and Anna Davies organised a fundraising evening with pupils from Queen Anne’s School, Caversham, which helped to raise over £390 for chosen charity Gap Africa. Pupils from the Lower School were awarded with a commemorative shirt from the RAF, to recognise their hard work during the International Rugby Competition, where a group of pupils acted as ball boys- a once in a lifetime opportunity! So far so busy then-and may it continue into a productive and progressive year.

December 2015

Happy New Year from Shiplake College! The run-up to Christmas was, as ever, a busy one; a flurry of activity preceded the end of term and Christmas holiday and the school enjoyed a hard-earned, restful break. The Christmas Carol Service and Lessons, held at St Mary’s Church, Henley, was a wonderful bookend to the festive term. Pupils and staff were joined by friends and family, filling the church to the rafters, to enjoy the popular service. The Shiplake College Chamber Choir offered sublime renditions of traditional Christmas carols, alongside readings from pupils and members of staff.

The end of the term did not mean a slowing down of sports and activities; quite the opposite, the school was incredibly busy with a variety of different happenings. Sixth Form boys and a select few male members of staff raised over £300 by sporting moustaches for the charity event Movember; Drama pupils enjoyed a workshop run by theatre company Gecko, who specialise in physical theatre; Religious Studies pupils headed to Oxford for a conference on the Philosophy of Religion; the Henley and Watlington Fire Station Watch Master paid a visit to Sixth Form pupils to discuss choices and consequences when driving; and Year 13 Geographers visit St Helen and St Katharine School in Abingdon for a lecture on Human Geography and Inequality.

This was just a small selection of the many activities going on within the College-walking around the College on the penultimate day of term, every single pupil and member of staff were buried in books for an hour, as part of initiative ‘Drop Everything and Read’, which prompted the school community to spend an hour reading, in line with inspection targets to encourage reading. A House Rowing event saw Everett House walk away victorious, and pupils from Years 7-9, as well as those studying Computing at a higher level, took part in the UK Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge – of the 14,000 pupils who took part nationally across the UK, Shiplake’s Year 7 pupil Jamie Liu was one of only 20 participants to achieve the top grade of full marks!

Finally, it is with sadness that the Shiplake College community bid farewell to teachers Mr Joel Rowlinson and Mr Chris Ham; Joel moves on to teach internationally in Peru, at Markham College, Lima. Chris moves to live near family and friends in London, taking up a post teaching at North London Collegiate School. We wish them the very best for their future endeavours.

November 2015

I can hardly believe that we are just two weeks away from the end of term- the Shiplake Christmas tree went up in the Great Hall two weeks ago now and festive cheer has been permeating the buildings and student body ever since. The Winter Concert, which took place recently, added to the wonderful holiday spirit; pupils from all years of the school joined staff and participated in the spectacular musical extravaganza, playing well-known Christmas songs to help get everyone in the Christmas spirit. The Drama Department have also been busy, and put on an exceptional performance of At Break of Day – a hard-hitting piece on the aftermath of war for soldiers and inhabitants of war-torn countries.

In the month that houses Remembrance Day, the Shiplake College community participated in a moving ceremony on Remembrance Sunday, and a whole school silence on Armistice Day. Year 9 boys took a trip to the Belgian and French battlefields, for a poignant visit to the location of World War I.

On the sporting front, the annual Friday Night Lights event took place at Henley Rugby Club at the end of the month. The Shiplake 1st XV took on Merchant Taylors’ School and, although the score wasn’t quite what we hoped (narrow defeat to our esteemed rivals) the support for our teams was astounding and the atmosphere electric; we’re very grateful to all friends, family and pupils who came down on such a cold and wet evening to join us.

Many trips have been taking place this past month: Year 8 boys visited the largest mosque in Western Europe; Year 13 Psychology pupils attended a ‘Science and Pseudoscience’ conference, and those studying A Level Mathematics enjoyed a talk from internationally renowned writer Alex Bellos. And it wasn’t just these subjects straying from the College site to extend learning outside the classroom: Sixth Form PE pupils visited Bath University to learn about pursuing a Sports Science degree; A Level historians ventured to Cambridge University for a lecture on twentieth century Russia and Director of Marks and Spencer’s sustainability scheme Plan A gave a talk on the future of business to interested Sixth Formers.

Here’s to a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year for all!

October 2015

We are at the halfway point of the Autumn term already, and what a half term it has been!

It has been a busy month for trips, with many subjects choosing to take classes out of the classroom. Boys from the Lower School enjoyed a trip to Legoland Windsor, learning to put mathematics coding to good use by operating a robot. Year 8 Historians also enjoyed a trip to Hampton Court Palace to learn about the life of Henry VIII – a subject which they have been studying in lessons. Boys from Year 9 were also taken away from the classroom to give them a different perspective on the literature from World War I, taking in a talk given by former teacher Mr Jon Cooksey at the Henley Literary Festival.

And it has been a busy month inside the classroom walls as well; Sixth Form students from the Business BTEC course experienced a seminar on the merits and challenges of entrepreneurship by young businessman James Davey. James offered advice and tips for success to our budding business enthusiasts. The PE Department invited record-breaking sportsman Rob Young and Adam Holland in to give a talk to keen sportsmen and women about their inspirational story. Perhaps better known as Marathon Man UK, Rob teamed up with Adam to complete an astonishing 2,200 miles over 25 days, with one man running and the other cycling at all times, proving an inspiration to the audience.

Co-curricular activities have also taken off this term. The Drama Department have put on an evening of monologues and duologues. CCF cadets impressed at a recent inspection, with their enthusiasm and commitment to the activity. Students threw themselves into a photography competition held over the summer holidays, and Year 9 pupil Tommy Dudderidge claimed the coveted first place.

The Boat Club Supporters’ Association enjoyed a sumptuous three course dinner at the Leander Club, to celebrate the rowing achievements made over the past academic year - of which there are many! I look forward to seeing everyone back and refreshed after half term, raring to create further memories worth celebrating.

September 2015

A month has flown by and the Autumn term is well under way. The return to College has, as ever, been packed with trips, sports fixtures and exciting academic lessons.

Areas of the school site underwent something of a makeover during the holidays, meaning that the return to school saw a freshly refurbished catering department open, and a beautifully updated Gilson House common room for the ever-increasing number of girls we have attending Shiplake. Shiplake also joined the Boarding School Association’s orchard, by inviting the National Director of the BSA, Robin Fletcher, to plant a mulberry tree on the grounds of Shiplake.

Pupils have been incredibly busy with co-curricular activities; two Year 10 pupils, Dominic Brown and Zack Green, enjoyed a helicopter ride courtesy of Old Viking Mr Bill Eaton, who sponsors the Eaton Prize, of which both Dom and Zack were recipients. The Shiplake Art department entered a national art competition, hosted at the Reading Crown Court. Year 13 pupil James Hargreaves walked away with a prize presented by the Home Secretary Theresa May. Media Studies pupils swapped the classroom for film sets as they used cameras to film an opening for a television show around campus, as experience for creating their practical coursework piece. Musicians took to the stage again for the return of lunchtime concerts, giving pupils a fantastic opportunity to perform for a live audience. And Year 13 biologists headed off to the Isle of Wight to collect data for upcoming A Level coursework.

Of course, sporting fixtures are back in full swing. It has been a mixed bag of results so far, but the Shiplake rugby teams work ever harder to ensure victory over local rivals.

Pupils enthusiastically take on a wide range of positions of responsibility across many aspects of school life, so they develop their character, confidence and leadership skills.
ISI Inspection - Spring 2015