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Headmaster's November Blog

04 December 2017

4 December 2017

Dear Parents
At the beginning of the month it was good to welcome all the parents from Upper Five to meet with Mrs Wise, our Head of Sixth, and myself to talk about their daughters’ journey into our Sixth Form and to look at the Sixth Form Centre for themselves. The following week it was time for the girls and parents to have their first look at the options for post-16 study by talking to the teachers about their courses. We also welcomed Mr Tickner and some of his teachers from NSB where extra A-level courses are taught to broaden the experience on offer to both the boys and our girls in the Sixth Form. The following week a delegation attended NSB’s A-level evening to demonstrate the courses that we offer to the boys.
I had a lovely afternoon on 3 November, with members of Junior House singing carols at the Living North Christmas Fair before coming back for the traditional Bonfire and Fireworks in the school grounds. There was a fabulous atmosphere and the fire works were spectacular, special thanks to Tom Deevy for these. It was wonderful to see so many people of all ages coming together, from girls and parents in Early Years, to many of last year’s leavers who came back to visit.
The following week saw the whole school coming together for our Remembrance Assembly and the laying of the wreath in the Memorial Garden. We started with a very moving recollection of the Senior girls’ trip to the battlefields where they had researched members of their families who had been killed in the Great War before all going out to hear the Last Post and hold our minute’s silence.
Our Girls in STEM spectacular, organised by Mrs Swift, was an amazingly busy day and we were pleased to be able to welcome our own Upper Two girls as well as Year 5 girls from three local schools to take part in a full day of activities. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) is such a key area to engage girls in at a young age as research has shown that STEM graduates tend to earn around 15% more over their lifetimes than non-STEM graduates but the number of women in STEM careers is only a fraction of males. This day builds on our ongoing commitment to boost STEM at Westfield.   We were also delighted to welcome the support of Newcastle University, Proctor and Gamble and Northern Powergrid for this very special event. Even better, after last year word had spread and places were oversubscribed within a week of announcing the day!
As the nights draw in it is traditional for Early Years and Key Stage 1 to have their ‘bedtime story’ event. I joined the girls for hot chocolate and then we all settled down to listen to some favourite bedtime stories read by staff and visitors. Even better the Lower Three Big Sisters came down to join their Little Sisters for the afternoon.
The Westfield Association had a very busy November with their second event and AGM towards the end of November. I really enjoyed attending the Christmas Fair and seeing the number of girls running around and enjoying themselves, stocking up on presents for Mums and Dads from a variety of stalls. The WA are an entirely voluntary group who work hard to put on fun social events for the whole school community while raising money for extra equipment for the school and I look forward to seeing many of you at their next event in February, the Quiz Night. The following week was the AGM and, after a discussion there, I have decided to hold a Parents’ Forum next term, just before half term, so that any minor queries that parents don’t wish to email or telephone about can be raised there. The officers of the association felt, and I agree with them, that a Westfield Association meeting is not the right place to discuss these as other business is on the agenda. 
At the end of November we held our annual Round Square non-uniform fundraising day, raising just over £1,000 for our sponsorship of two girls at Starehe School in Kenya.  The theme this year was internationalism and the girls certainly put a lot of thought and effort into their outfits, particularly Hannah Carter who drew her inspiration from the film “Cool Runnings” and came to school complete with bobsleigh! 
And so onto December! Traditionally a very busy month, we have already started with Lower Three and Upper Three being invited by St Oswald’s Hospice to sing carols in NatWest Bank to celebrate St Oswald’s being voted the bank’s Charity of the Year. I look forward to seeing all of you at the Musical Soiree on Wednesday 6th, the Christingle Service on Sunday 10th December and/or the Carol Service on the 14th.
Until then I wish you all happiness in the run up to the holidays.
Yours sincerely
Neil Walker

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