man sitting on a bench

School Life

Headmaster’s Notes

In pursuit of excellence

As March gracefully dances onto the stage of our academic calendar, it has presented a multitude of opportunities that seamlessly intertwine with the vast array of events that have taken place at Bishopsgate this week.

In sport, our budding athletes are certainly embracing the shifting winds of March with fervour. Our U11A and U13A Netballers showcased their prowess at the IAPS qualifier hosted at Wellington College, their performances mirroring the newfound vigour of the season albeit with some tough matches. Yesterday, our swimmers dived headfirst into the IAPS Regional Qualifiers, their strokes cutting through the water of our pool with a renewed sense of purpose, echoing the ebb and flow of March’s tides. Meanwhile, our skiers who depart this weekend eagerly anticipate the upcoming challenges of the IAPS Ski Championships in Italy, their anticipation fuelled by promising new adventures and triumphs on that fresh snow that has just landed on the slopes.

In the academics, March brings with it a sense of renewal and growth. Amidst the academic hustle and bustle, our quiz team shone bright this week, securing a commendable third place in the National Quiz. With each passing day, our pupils continue to soar academically, such as is the case with some outstanding offers coming in from some of the most academically competitive schools in the country.

And amidst the flurry of activity, the arts took centre stage this week with last night’s Spring Serenade with pupils captivating all in attendance, with stunning choral melodies from around the world that echoed the vibrant spirit of spring.

I am deeply grateful for the insightful discussions held during our termly meeting with Class Representatives yesterday. Your invaluable feedback reaffirms our school’s direction whilst also embracing the wealth of fantastic ideas that contribute to Bishopsgate’s success.

As March unfolds, we eagerly embrace the changes and opportunities it brings, ready to tackle whatever comes our way with determination and enthusiasm. There’s a palpable sense of positive momentum propelling us forward into March, united in our shared commitment to excellence and innovation. Together, Bishopsgate continues to thrive as a powerhouse of a school!

Mr Peter Thacker

Previous Headmaster's Notes

Cultivating Harmony

At the official launch of the 117th Windsor Flower Show this week, Bishopsgate is honoured to announce our participation in something close to our hearts in the local community and an opportunity to showcase our dedication to this year’s theme of ‘Gardening in Harmony with Nature.’ This theme resonates deeply with us as it reflects our belief in the importance of introducing gardening and horticulture to children from a young age.

Gardening has been proven to have huge benefits for children. It fosters a sense of responsibility and stewardship as they learn to care for living things. It also promotes physical activity and healthy eating habits as they engage in planting and harvesting fruits and vegetables. Additionally, gardening provides valuable opportunities for hands-on learning across various subjects, including science, maths, and environmental studies.

What truly touches our hearts is the news that Bishopsgate will be receiving the showcase ‘Harmony Garden’ after the show. Crafted by the talented and award-winning designer Alan Williams, this garden will serve as a living classroom where our children can explore, learn, and connect with nature first-hand whilst bringing to life another area of our beautiful estate.

This marks a significant moment for Bishopsgate and the Windsor Flower Show, as it’s the first time a living garden will be transported from the show. It’s a milestone that reflects our commitment to providing our children with meaningful experiences that inspire a lifelong love of nature and environmental stewardship. As we prepare for this remarkable journey, I am filled with gratitude to members of the Bishopsgate community and beyond who have come to realise this ambition. Our vision aligns with the King’s manifesto on environmentalism, and we are dedicated to nurturing this bond with nature through gardening and horticultural activities.

My passion for the great outdoors and our ambition to ensure the whole of the Bishopsgate estate remains a place of learning, not just inside the classrooms, drive us forward. On that similar note, we shortly close the door on a remarkably successful BSocial Project Play fundraising initiative. With just two weeks to go before the project ends, please do read further in this week’s Nutshell about how you can still have a direct impact on helping us complete the final phase for our children.

As we head into the weekend, we embrace the beauty of nature, celebrate our achievements, and continue an exciting journey of learning and environmental stewardship in this very special corner of The Crown Estate.

Virtual Realities

Virtual Realities

As we gathered to observe Internet Safety Day this week, little did we know the eye-opening insights that awaited us during our Bishopsgate parents’ online forum. Among the discussions that unfolded, we learned that 75% of our Bishopsgate children do not yet have a mobile phone. Delving deeper, we discovered that 38% of those that did possess a mobile, received their first device between the ages of 10 and 12. These statistics, amongst others, paint a fascinating picture of the evolving digital landscape that shapes our children’s lives.

In today’s digital age, the allure of connectivity and entertainment is undeniable. Playground conversations increasingly revolve around the latest games and apps, highlighting the potential peer pressure young people face in the digital realm. Despite the absence of mobile phones for most of our children, most still access the internet through laptops and tablets, underscoring the importance of equipping them with the skills to navigate the online world responsibly.

Our digital workshops this week aimed to understand online influence and strategies for enhancing digital experiences and were well-received by our children. As adults, we know we hold a crucial responsibility in creating a secure digital environment. With over 70% of children aged 8 and above engaging in online gaming, it’s essential for us to initiate open discussions about our children’s digital activities. Building trust is paramount because children will inevitably navigate the online world, often bypassing parental monitoring with ease.

Navigating this digital landscape also requires addressing the pervasive distractions faced by young people. The average teenager receives a staggering 237 notifications per day, prompting concerns about attention span and mental wellbeing. Investing in monitoring apps like Net Nanny and Qustodio can provide additional safeguards for parents, allowing them to monitor and block content on their child’s phone. However, we must also acknowledge the broader societal impacts of excessive screen time, including ADHD, sleep deprivation, and mental health challenges among Gen Z users.

At Bishopsgate, our commitment to internet safety extends beyond restrictions to empowering our children with the skills and resilience needed to thrive in the digital age. As we continue this journey, we approach it with hope and promise, knowing that by fostering open communication and guidance, we can help our young people navigate the digital world confidently and responsibly, ensuring a brighter and safer future for all. I do hope you find the guidance in this week’s Nutshell helpful.

In the meantime, as we embark on this well-deserved break, may it be filled with cherished moments, renewed energy, and the joy of spending quality time together as families.

Fruitful wisdom

What an exciting and fruitful week it has been here at Bishopsgate, filled with vibrant activities and engaging experiences that have left us feeling refreshed and invigorated.

On Monday, we were delighted to welcome Mr Justin Nolan from Eton College, who delivered a captivating assembly on Apples and the History of Art. Through his presentation, we learned about the rich symbolism of the humble apple, which has inspired artists for centuries. From Greek vase painters to Pop artists, the apple’s myriad of associations were certainly explored in all their wonders this week resulting in fascinating interpretations that enriched our understanding of art and culture.

In Year 3, our children embarked on a Virtual Reality workshop, immersing themselves in interactive learning experiences that stimulated their curiosity and creativity. Meanwhile, Year 5 opened their classrooms to welcome parents, providing them with a first-hand glimpse into the wonderful activities and achievements happening in the Upper School.

Year 6 children had a stimulating experience at the Oratory School Debating Day, honing their persuasive skills and intellectual prowess through engaging debates. And we are also reminded of the exciting matches that took place this week, as we witnessed sportsmanship and teamwork blooming on our fields.

Last night, our Chapel was filled with the melodious tunes of another recital, showcasing the remarkable talents of our young pupils. Today, we were treated to a Lower School poetry recital, where our budding poets enchanted us with their eloquent words and heartfelt expressions.

As we reflect on this week’s events, we are reminded of the importance of embracing new experiences, nourishing minds, and celebrating the abundance of talent and creativity within our school community. Just like fresh fruit, our children continue to grow and flourish, enriching our lives with their zest for learning and boundless potential.

As we head rapidly towards the half-term break, we celebrate progress being made on so many fronts where every day is ripe with opportunities for growth, discovery, and joy for our children.

Wishing you a most relaxing weekend.

In the footsteps of leaders

In the footsteps of leaders

This week, I had the privilege of joining a small gathering of school heads to delve into a profound discussion about the essence of leadership and the transformative impact it can have on the young people in our care and our wider communities. Our focus was on ‘Changing the Mindset of Leadership’, an emphasis that aligns seamlessly with the timeless principles outlined in Stephen Covey’s influential book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

Covey’s book has certainly endured the test of time, resonating with readers for over 30 years. Its enduring appeal lies in the fundamental principles of fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity. In a world increasingly driven by trends and popular psychology, Covey’s ‘7 Habits’ guides leaders towards sustained success. At the core of his teachings is the idea that no matter how competent a person is, lasting success requires effective self-leadership, the ability to influence and collaborate with others, and a commitment to continuous improvement. These elements are not just relevant in the professional realm but we understand they are also vital for the personal growth of our children.

This week alone at Bishopsgate we have witnessed a myriad of examples of leadership that exemplify these principles. Our teachers, true leaders in the classroom, have demonstrated a commitment to fostering an environment of learning and growth. Our Prefects, as shining beacons of responsibility, have showcased their leadership skills every day. On the sports field, our cross-country athletes, just this afternoon, have displayed not only physical prowess but also resilience, competing with determination and sportsmanship. On Monday our rowers achieved dominant victories embodied by a spirit of effective discipline, whilst our Upper School pupils, participating in the Poetry Recital this morning, showcased their leadership on the stage, captivating their audience with eloquence and passion.

But the leadership we observe at Bishopgate extends far beyond the walls of our classrooms and sports fields. It’s embedded in the everyday actions of our children, teachers, and staff. It’s about fostering a culture that values not just achievement, but also the journey of personal and collective growth.

Since 1896, Bishopsgate has been a beacon of leadership, shaping the minds of many prominent and interesting contemporary and past leaders. From Sir Richard Branson to James Reed (Chairman of Reed) to Abhisit Vejjajiva (the Former Thai Prime Minister), Bishopgate has played a pivotal role in nurturing leaders who have left an indelible mark on the world stage. In the spirit of Covey’s timeless wisdom, we continue to foster a community where leadership is not just a position but a mindset, creating a legacy that transcends generations.

As parents, we play a crucial role in nurturing our leaders of tomorrow. Collectively, we encourage our children to embrace the principles of effective leadership in their daily lives – whether it’s in their studies, interactions with peers, or participation in extra-curricular activities. By instilling habits early on, we pave the way for a future generation of young people who will lead with integrity, empathy, and a commitment to excellence.

Wishing you a weekend filled with continued inspiration and growth.

Timeless exploration

Timeless exploration

This week, our Year 1 classrooms were transformed into a haven of nostalgia as they welcomed the Chertsey Toy Museum. The air in our Lower School was thick with the magic of yesteryears and, for a brief moment, they all became time travellers, journeying through the cherished memories of favourite toys of the past.

As parents, we can all think of those treasured toys that bring back memories of the past. For me, the sight of Action Man, complete with moveable eagle eyes and endless uniforms, stirs memories of daring childhood adventures and imaginary battles. I found equal solace in the delicate craftsmanship of Airfix models or the thrill of tiny Matchbox cars navigating imaginary landscapes.

For us as adults, this week’s visit to our youngest children was more than just an educational escapade. It was a journey back to the simple joys that adorned our own youthful days, reflecting our own fond memories of play; a shared experience that transcends generations. In the heart of experiences of looking back in time, our children’s curiosity becomes a bridge between their world and ours.

In this delicate dance between nostalgia and education, we reflect on the profound lesson that toys and play impart in that everyday magic of Bishopsgate. Beyond mere objects, toys are a catalyst for imagination, creativity, and life lessons. Through play, our children learn essential skills of problem-solving, collaboration, empathy and resilience – and all wrapped in the guise of laughter and joy.

At Bishopsgate, we are dedicated to fostering these cherished moments of play, understanding that within each game resides a valuable lesson waiting to be learned, a captivating story waiting to be told, and a precious memory yearning to be cherished. Perhaps, you’ll even find yourself inspired to unearth your long-forgotten toys from lofts and garages this weekend!

A year of promise

A year of promise

A very warm and joyful welcome back to each of you, especially to our new families and staff members joining us this year.

Witnessing our children return to the winter frosts of Bishopsgate this week with such enthusiasm and a spring in their step has been a delight. In the weeks ahead, we know their challenge is to sustain this energy, even in the face of occasional January snow flurries (fingers crossed!). The positive attitude and commitment our children bring to their studies and activities will undoubtedly play a significant role in maximizing the multitude of curriculum opportunities available to them at Bishopsgate, and we eagerly anticipate sharing these experiences with you in the coming weeks and months. Already, we’ve embraced competitive fixtures, exciting trips, and dedicated hard work.

The offers from senior schools to our older pupils that have been coming in over the Christmas break has been truly heartening, and we anticipate more positive news to come. In my discussions with several senior heads, I’ve not only been encouraged but also unsurprised to learn of the high regard in which our Bishopsgate pupils are held, leaving a lasting positive impression on the senior schools they visit. I am immensely proud of them. For families navigating the senior school decision-making process, I extend a warm invitation to reach out to Mr. Pym or myself as we are here to offer support during this important juncture. On a similar note, do please mark your calendars for the evening of January 25th, as we eagerly anticipate the arrival of representatives from 25 senior schools to Bishopsgate. Our biennial Senior Schools Fair presents an invaluable opportunity for you as parents to explore so many of the exciting choices our families choose for their children beyond Bishopsgate.

As we step into the new year, many of us may have made New Year’s resolutions, and perhaps some are successfully sticking to them! It’s also an opportunity for our children to reflect on how they can lead a happy and fulfilling life. This week, I’ve encouraged them to prioritise taking those small steps each day on their road to achieving their dreams – and to dream big.

Wishing each of you a joyful and prosperous 2024.

Bishopsgate's Winter Wonderland

What a magical culmination to the term! From heart-warming ‘Carols for the Community’ on Tuesday to the festive Christmas luncheon on Wednesday, followed by a cascade of other celebratory events, this final week has undeniably etched its place as a cherished and memorable period for all. The resplendent Christmas Concert last night served as a breathtaking crescendo to our Bishopsgate musical celebrations, offering a poignant moment to reflect on the true essence of Christmas through the timeless beauty of carols.

Reflecting on the Michaelmas term, Bishopsgate has simply thrived in a remarkably positive atmosphere. Our new families have seamlessly integrated into the fold, thanks to the trademark welcome of all members of our community, with standout moments like our dazzling BSocial firework celebrations, exemplifying the strong sense of community within our school. Witnessing academics flourishing across the school, enriched learning experiences during captivating field trips, and the exciting achievements of our sports teams across all age groups as recognised in our ‘Celebration of Sport’ assembly this morning, it is clear that every pupil has had the opportunity to find their extraordinary potential.

In extending my gratitude, may I express heartfelt thanks to you all for infusing the spirit of Bishopsgate with such vibrancy. Your generous support across so many fronts has been instrumental in fostering our flourishing community. To the dedicated staff at Bishopsgate, I am immensely grateful. Their daily commitment, care, and unwavering support for pupils, manifested in both grand gestures and subtle actions, are truly commendable. Their tireless efforts to help, challenge, and inspire children know no bounds!

May this Christmas season bring you joy, and may the New Year unfold with blessings aplenty. Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous and fulfilling New Year.

Lifting the Lid on Christmas

Many of you will have been witness to this enchanting week unfolding in The Vickers Hall that has been simply buzzing with festive energy. Melodies of our Christmas choir rehearsals have filled the air, creating a magical backdrop to the heart-warming nativities presented by our youngest pupils and where I know many a Bishopsgate parent fought back a tear as they saw their youngest take to the stage. Special applause goes to Livingstone House for their enchanting victory in the Inter-House Singing Competition today – truly a testament to the exceptional musicians gracing our school.

Amidst the joyful chaos associated with this time of the year, it is easy to be swept away, but events this week have reminded children about the essence of Christmas. The delightful spectacles we have witnessed have gifted us precious moments for reflection on the true meaning of Christmas as we eagerly approach this enchanting time of the year.

While the spotlight is currently on the musical crescendo at Bishopsgate, we will not be overlooking the stellar accomplishments and athletic feats throughout the school and where we look forward to celebrating the triumphs and challenges in sports next week in our Celebration of Sport Assembly. From swimming to football, hockey to rugby, and netball to all the endeavours in between, our pupils have showcased remarkable efforts. I’ve been particularly moved by their sportsmanship, witnessing your children give of their best, embracing victories and defeats alike, all while absorbing invaluable guidance from their dedicated coaches.

For our older pupils, we eagerly anticipate sharing the joy of our annual Carol Concert with you next week.

Temporal Transitions

As we usher in the festive spirit and enter the first day of December, the atmosphere at Bishopsgate is brimming with excitement. Much like the anticipation that accompanies the opening of the first door on an advent calendar, our school community is eagerly embracing this joyous season.

Today unfolded with the captivating energy of 4MA’s showcase Advent assembly. The children, like opening that first door, were filled with anticipation as we now prepare in earnest for Christmas.

As meteorological winter officially commences, our sports teams continue to embody resilience and determination. Despite the colder weather and frosty mornings, the dedication of our children on the sports field shone through, showcasing their true spirit. Winter may bring a chill to the air, but our children’s enthusiasm warmed the hearts of all who witnessed their commitment.

In the midst of this seasonal transition, the week also marked more parents’ evenings, invaluable opportunities for discussions on the progress of our Year 5 pupils. As they navigate important decisions regarding senior school choices, it’s always exciting to engage in conversations about the myriad of options available, each backed by Bishopsgate’s stellar reputation, and the futures our children can look forward to when they do finally depart Bishopsgate.

Our week was further enriched by the wisdom shared in our assemblies by distinguished guests. Monday brought us insights into the incredible power of our brains from the Deputy Head of Downe House. Today, we were honoured to welcome Sarah Rollings, Headmistress of Heathfield School. On Wednesday, I had the privilege of meeting Ms Debbie Picton, the new Head of Sir William Perkins’s School. These interactions reaffirm our commitment to providing unparalleled opportunities for your children beyond the confines of Bishopsgate.

Just as the first door on an advent calendar opens to reveal the delights within, I would take this opportunity to wish all our families a season ahead that is filled with warmth, togetherness, and the continued celebration of happiness at Bishopsgate.

The Tapestry of Learning

This week has underscored the remarkable talents of Bishopsgate children, displaying their multi-faceted skills across so many areas of our broad curriculum. From a captivating journey through time at the Eton Egyptology Museum to those competitive netball and football matches, our children continue to demonstrate friendship, teamwork, and sportsmanship, embodying the holistic development we aim to instil.

Communication, a cornerstone of our approach, was fostered through Parents Evenings and Open Classrooms this week and we simply loved welcoming you through our doors.

Our Music Department is buzzing with activity as rehearsals and practices unfold in preparation for upcoming performances, concerts, and Christmas services. The dedication of our choristers, musicians, dancers, and actors, supported by their talented teachers, promises truly memorable experiences whilst last night’s enchanting Chapel Recital showcased angelic voices and instrumental brilliance of our young musicians.

Our commitment to excellence reached beyond the classroom this week, with strategic insights shared at the Governors’ Main Board meeting, highlighting their dedication to evolving and providing the best possible education. I am very grateful indeed for the immense support and diverse experience of the Board in all that we do.

Our children’s achievements epitomize the spirit of a Bishopsgate holistic education and we have so much to celebrate.

A Week of Illumination

This week, I had the privilege of meeting Major General Paul Nanson, a distinguished figure who recently concluded an illustrious 34-year tenure as Commandant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and Director of Leadership for the British Army. Engaging in conversation with him was not just an opportunity but an encounter with a reservoir of insights that resonated profoundly. I conveyed to him the seamless alignment between his focus on leadership and our approach to cultivating emerging leaders at Bishopsgate.

General Paul underscored the pivotal role of blended learning for officer cadets at Sandhurst, an approach designed to extract the utmost brilliance from young minds while emphasising a commitment to holistic education. Our mission at Bishopsgate echoes this sentiment, aspiring to foster leadership skills through diverse experiences that equip our children for both academic triumphs and formidable challenges that lie ahead.

General Paul’s emphasis on the value of making and learning from mistakes is also interwoven into our educational philosophy that not only cultivates resilience but also nurtures an open mindset in our children—a philosophy that fortifies their foundation for future leadership.

In our ongoing journey to mould the leaders of tomorrow, General Paul’s wisdom serves as a source of inspiration. As a school community, we are resolute in our dedication to creating an environment where academic excellence converges seamlessly with the development of resilient, thoughtful, and capable leaders—individuals finely tuned for the challenges of the future.

Reflecting on these invaluable insights, this week has presented so many inspiring moments across the school. Last weekend’s fireworks extravaganza was not merely a visual spectacle; it stood as a testament to the unity and spirit that defines Bishopsgate. My heartfelt gratitude extends to our exceptional BSocial team for orchestrating this special event and putting back on the map at Bishopsgate.Special mention must also go to our Senior Choir for their unwavering dedication. Their commitment, demonstrated by willingly spending weekends at school to create a lasting legacy, exemplifies the standard of excellence we instil in our children. The Open Classrooms initiative in the Lower School this week showcased the collaborative ethos thriving at Bishopsgate. Witnessing the pride radiating from our children as they presented their work to you was genuinely inspiring for all who visited. Indeed, parental engagement plays a pivotal role in shaping the confident and capable leaders we aspire to nurture.

In the midst of these reflections, I’m delighted to share that this week also saw the welcoming of our Year 5 parents for our 13+ Information Evening. This event provided a valuable opportunity to share insights into our educational approach and offerings. Notably, we were honoured to host two distinguished former alumni, now forging paths as future leaders too in their respective senior schools. Their presence served as a living testament to the enduring impact of a Bishopsgate education.

As we contemplate another extraordinary week, we draw continued inspiration from General Paul’s profound insights but alongside our exceptional teachers and staff. For those eager to delve further into his wisdom, I wholeheartedly recommend his book, ‘Stand Up Straight: 10 Life Lessons from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Wishing you all a most relaxing weekend.

Nothing is lost to those who remember

Welcome back after what I hope was a restful half-term holiday for everyone. As we return this week, it has been inspiring to witness the children enthusiastically challenging themselves both inside and outside the classroom, including so many of our children fully immersed in examinations, achieving excellence across various areas of the curriculum. The joy of hearing about their adventures and the memories created during the break has truly been heartening, as has been the sound of laughter and joy across the playing fields as children have enjoyed the next exciting instalment of ‘Project Play’, thanks to those who have been so generous in contributing to our new adventure playground.

This morning, in our Remembrance Day service, the School community came together to honour members of the Armed Forces, past and present. We took a moment to reflect on the service and sacrifice of those who have defended our freedoms and safeguarded our way of life, including the poignant remembrance of former pupils who once walked our corridors but did not return home. We were honoured to welcome Grenville Chaganis, a former Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Gurkha Rifles, whose presence today served as a powerful reminder of the essence of Remembrance, the role of our Armed Forces both past and present, and the true meaning of service. Bishopsgate takes pride in expressing profound respect and admiration for the veterans and survivors of war. Above all, our thoughts go to those who never returned, those who will never grow old. We are steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that their stories endure, passed on to the current and future generations so that we may draw lessons from their remarkable examples.

I very much look forward to seeing you this evening at our Fireworks celebrations – and we are simply delighted they are back in our Bishopsgate social calendar!

Mr Peter Thacker

In the blink of an eye

It is astonishing how swiftly our half term has arrived! While the memories of those long, sun-drenched summer days still linger, children have been fully immersed in the vibrant life of Bishopsgate. Despite the arrival of these shorter and darker autumn days, their accomplishments in just a few weeks are truly remarkable as we have challenged children in so many ways.

Thanks to an amazing team of staff, our classrooms have been simply buzzing with activity and an impressive level of productivity. It has been heart-warming to see children displaying an innate curiosity, a thirst for knowledge and an ability to roll up their sleeves and ‘have a go’. As headmaster, is has been a real privilege to witness a genuine enthusiasm and energy as they have delved into new discoveries and solidifying their existing wisdom.

Beyond the confines of the classroom, children have already embarked on an exciting journey of fundraising, marked by the remarkable success of today’s Swimathon in support of ‘Lymphoma Out Loud.’ They have also entertained us with mesmerizing musical recitals, explored various destinations on captivating trips, and fully embraced the wonders of our extraordinarily broad curriculum.

On the sports fields, our children have engaged in numerous fixtures, displaying incredible teamwork and determination. It’s evident that this promises to be an exceptionally successful year in sports.

With enthusiasm building, we can look forward to a plethora of exciting events in the coming weeks. We anticipate thrilling sports fixtures and tournaments, Acts of Remembrance, sparkling fireworks, more enriching trips, and the cherished tradition of our annual Christmas celebrations, including our much-anticipated Carol Service.

In the meantime, it would be remiss of me not to wish Miss Thompson only happiness and success and she gets married over the half-term break and a fond farewell, for now, to Mrs McIlwraith as she departs on her maternity leave. I know both will be very much in our thoughts.

The road ahead is filled with promise and potential, and we can’t wait to embark on the remainder of our Michaelmas journey together, but only after a well-deserved break for the whole community. I look forward to welcoming you all back on our return.

A journey towards a brighter tomorrow

In the wake of World Mental Health Day on Tuesday, I find myself reflecting on the extraordinary journey Bishopsgate has undertaken, and the vital role of wellbeing as we prepare our children for an ever-evolving future.

Since that Prime Minister’s address to the nation in March 2020, announcing the first national lockdown, the years that followed were unlike any other, as we navigated the challenges of the pandemic. We watched our children adapt to a ‘new normal’, experiencing isolation from friends and a significant shift in their routines. During this trying period, their strength and resilience shone through, reminding us that we are guiding the next generation of leaders who will face unforeseen challenges with courage.

On Tuesday, our children proudly donned streaks of yellow to commemorate World Mental Health Day. It was a touching display of unity within the Bishopsgate community, and an affirmation of our collective commitment to supporting and fostering the mental wellbeing of young people.

But we recognise that the significance of mental health is not a one-day affair, but a lifelong journey that requires our continual efforts. As parents and teachers we play an integral role in this journey. At Bishopsgate, we recognise that nurturing strong mental health is just as crucial as achieving academic excellence. We will continue to cultivate an environment in which our children feel safe, loved, and empowered to seek help when needed.

Thank you for your unwavering support and partnership in this vital mission.

Nurturing responsibility

In our celebration assembly this morning, what a great pleasure it was to introduce the new roles and responsibilities bestowed upon our Year 8 pupils who stand at the top of our magnificent school. These roles represent the rich tapestry of talents our eldest students possess, while also symbolising our commitment to nurturing leadership and responsibility in all who come through our doors.

Bishopsgate’s tradition of assigning responsibilities goes beyond mere titles; it is a profound journey towards our belief in nurturing leaders, fostering independence, and instilling a profound sense of responsibility in our children.

I believe that at the core of Bishopsgate’s passion for holistic education lies the vital element of responsibility. By entrusting our Year 8 pupils with diverse roles and duties, we empower them with invaluable life skills. In these roles, they will be called upon to make decisions, solve problems, and lead their peers and, with our support, we anticipate that these experiences will boost their confidence and nurture their personal growth.

Across every age range at Bishopsgate, responsibility teaches our children to be accountable for their actions and choices, instilling a sense of integrity and ethical values. Managing prep, extra-curricular activities, and wider social responsibilities demands time-management and organisational skills, which are applicable to all aspects of life and this is why we are so passionate in empowering our children to develop their independence from an early age.

This year, the introduction of the ‘Keeper of the Gardens’ role carries special significance. It pays homage to our school’s enduring relationship with Windsor Great Park and our unwavering commitment to biodiversity. By tending to our school gardens that sit on the Crown Estate, our pupils will actively participate in nurturing the natural world around them, cultivating an understanding of the environment and the significance of conservation.

From the Headmaster’s Study to you at home, I extend my heartfelt gratitude for your unwavering support in nurturing responsible, compassionate, and capable young leaders of the future. We owe it to our children.

Daring to think differently

This week, we had the privilege of hosting a workshop led by Mrs Norton-Edwards, our new Head of Learning Support, focusing on the profound topic of neurodiversity. In an ever-evolving world, we are reminded of the imperative to not only appreciate but also embrace these natural variations in the human brain. Rather than constraining individuals within the confines of conventional norms, we celebrate the beauty of diversity.

Among the long and illustrious list of alumni, the indomitable Sir Richard Branson once walked the corridors of Bishopsgate. A resounding advocate for neurodiversity, Sir Richard often shares his dyslexic journey and how it contributed to his entrepreneurial triumphs.

At Bishopsgate, we continue to nurture a kaleidoscope of minds that constitute our school. Our Bishopsgate family embodies diversity in every conceivable manner, extending to how our children learn, think, and perceive the world. Neurodiverse children often showcase extraordinary creativity, adept problem-solving skills, and a heartfelt devotion to their interests. Dyslexic thinkers excel at pattern recognition and detecting visual anomalies, and have a proclivity to approaching challenges from unconventional angles, a trait invaluable in fostering innovation and devising ingenious solutions to complex issues. Nonetheless, nurturing their self-confidence and belief in themselves is pivotal to unlocking the full potential of all our children.

I have long been intrigued by GCHQ’s pioneering approach to neurodiversity, where their apprentices are up to four times more likely to have dyslexia compared to other apprenticeship programs. This is not a result of selective recruitment but a testament to their commitment to being a neurodiverse employer. The nature of their work and the environment they cultivate naturally attract those with unconventional thought processes. For those interested in delving deeper into this concept, I would warmly recommend Matthew Syed’s enlightening book, “Rebel Ideas.”

Yet, we also recognise that neurodiverse children may encounter unique challenges, often necessitating tailored learning approaches and additional support. At Bishopsgate, our unwavering commitment lies in providing an inclusive and supportive environment for all who come through our doors. Mrs Norton-Edwards and her dedicated team are here to ensure that any child that requires her intervention is supported but that they also thrive academically and personally. This journey need not be a solitary one, as we stand united in fostering an environment where every child can shine. It is by nurturing these inherent strengths that we can empower every child to realise their full potential.

As we approach the weekend, I extend my warmest wishes for a most relaxing time with your families.

Community is the foundation of success

As we draw the curtain on yet another exhilarating week at Bishopsgate, I extend my deepest gratitude to all those who graced our presence with our ‘Back to School’ barbecue last weekend. I must acknowledge the unwavering commitment of those who invested their time and energy to ensure the seamless orchestration of this memorable occasion: a special salute goes to our indefatigable members of our BSocial Committee, our exceptional staff, and our industrious Estates team. This week I also had the privilege of acquainting myself with our new Class Parent Representatives during our inaugural meeting of the academic year. Their invaluable insights spanning various facets of school life are deeply appreciated as we look ahead to such an exciting year.

Last weekend we also witnessed the epic clash between Parents and Staff in our annual cricket match, which unfolded with all its drama. While I won’t linger on the outcome, with the risk of bruising egos, we applaud the Parents’ team for their victory on the field! (I understand teachers have already begun rigorous training sessions for next year’s rematch, plotting their next moves!)

Turning our attention to academic achievements this week, our students have had the chance to shine and demonstrate their dedication to learning, particularly in the Bradfield College Science competition.

On the sporting front, our U13, U11, and U10 boys had an action-packed week participating in the Charterhouse 7-a-side tournaments. Some teams played in as many as eight matches in a single afternoon, providing valuable experience as we gear up for the upcoming IAPS and ISFA competitions. Our coaches were delighted to witness the significant progress made during these sessions, with the U10 and U13 teams even returning as plate winners. Furthermore, we hosted a thrilling swimming gala against SJB on Monday afternoon, featuring the participation of over 48 Bishopsgate pupils in our first gala of the academic year. The substantial number of swimmers highlights the impressive depth of talent within our squads, and we commend our students for their unwavering commitment to training. A special mention goes to Shaurya in Year 3, who broke the 25m Butterfly school record—a record that has remained unbroken since 2019!

Tomorrow heralds the commencement of our Autumn Open Day, an occasion during which we swing open our doors to welcome the wider community. It stands as a splendid opportunity for our pupils to proudly show visitors all that we are so proud of. In recent weeks, our Admissions team inform me we have the most visitors ever registered for our Open Day; evidently, the word is spreading about Surrey’s best-kept secret! Witnessing our children flourish in all facets of their lives fills me with boundless pride and it is especially rewarding when our guests experience the same warmth and positivity that pervades our Bishopsgate community.

Wishing you all a most relaxing weekend ahead.

The greatest adventure is what lies ahead

Friday 15th September

Today, we savoured our first whole school assembly of the academic year, and it brought immense joy to see so many of you gracing us with your presence with a healthy focus on life’s grand adventures.

Speaking of adventure, we extend a warm welcome back to Year 7 and 8, who have returned today from their thrilling team-building camp nestled in the heart of Gloucestershire. It is truly heart-warming to hear how our young explorers fearlessly embraced new challenges during their exploits, and I have no doubt they will enjoy a well-deserved rest this weekend.

This week marked the commencement of our highly anticipated sporting fixtures, and we have received some outstanding results from matches played in the true spirit of sportsmanship. A special mention must go to the U10 girls, who finished an impressive 2nd place in The Marist Netball Festival, conceding only one goal to their 25! It was also truly inspiring to welcome 17 teams from the region last Saturday for our annual U13 7-a-side Tournament.

Throughout the week, we have had the privilege of hosting several ‘meet the teacher’ events, an opportunity to outline the year ahead for your children and an opportunity for you to aquaint yourselves with a brilliant team of staff who are here to inspire and challenge your children this year in equal measure. On the staffing front, I want to share the news that Mrs Robinson will embark on her maternity leave journey this Christmas, while we extend our warmest wishes to Mrs Bird, who begins her maternity leave today.

For those adventurers participating in the ski trials this weekend, we wish you the best of luck as you conquer new heights and slopes, as we look ahead to the IAPS National Ski Competition in Italy this forthcoming season. Closer to home, we eagerly await your presence at the BSocial ‘Back to School’ barbecue. Following this delightful feast, I know many are preparing for a friendly game of cricket, where our courageous staff will take on our resourceful parents in a clash of titans; an afternoon of camaraderie and spirited competition awaits!

Navigating new beginnings

Friday 8th September

What a privilege to welcome you and your children to a new and exciting academic year. As we stand on the threshold of new beginnings, I am filled with a sense of enthusiasm and optimism for the journey that lies ahead. The summer sun has bathed the Bishopsgate estate in warmth this week, and as we embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, I am filled with great anticipation for our new academic year.

The start of a new term is always a time of great hope, both for our children, and you as parents and staff too; a time to reconnect with familiar faces, make new friends, and embark on a fresh chapter in the educational and personal growth of our pupils. At Bishopsgate, we believe that each day is an opportunity for growth, learning, and discovery, and we are committed to providing an environment where your children can thrive and flourish.

This year, we have many exciting developments and initiatives in store for our Bishopsgate community. Staff have been hard at work over the summer months, preparing to offer your children the best possible educational experience. Our curriculum continues to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of our pupils, and we are proud to see our new staff settling in as quickly as our pupils. On that note, I am delighted to announce the appointment of Mrs Stere as a new part-time School Secretary on our Reception desk where I extend to her the warmest of welcomes.

Our Year 6 pupils are already refining their interview skills, that will undoubtedly serve them well in their upcoming senior school applications. Their commitment to learning and personal growth is a testament to the nurturing environment we provide here at Bishopsgate, and I have every confidence that they will continue to excel in their preparations. This early start to interview training is a testament to our commitment to providing them with every opportunity to excel and make a smooth transition into senior school at the end of Year 8.

In addition to our new website which launched this week, we have expanded our social media presence to keep you even more informed and connected. Do please like and subscribe to our Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn pages, as well as Twitter. Our social media feeds provide real-time updates on school news, achievements, and glimpses into daily life at Bishopsgate.

Finally, Mr. Tim Eddis, a dedicated member of our Governing Board, made the decision over the summer to retire from his role. Tim’s contributions to our school community have been invaluable, and we are deeply grateful for his commitment. During his tenure on the Board, Tim served as both Chair of Governors and, more recently, as the Chair of the Education Committee. His leadership, wisdom, and tireless efforts have left an indelible mark on our school. We wish him all the best and I extend my heartfelt thanks for his outstanding service.

As we look ahead, here’s to a year of bright minds shining even in the hottest of times!

The end of a story and the beginning of many

Friday 7th July

Speech Day is always a magical occasion that brings the entire school community together one last time and today we had the pleasure of celebrating the incredible achievements of our Bishopsgate family. This year has been truly exceptional, with remarkable success in exams, unbeatable sports teams, breath-taking performances in music, art, and drama, and an overwhelming amount of funds raised for charities. We have also embarked on exciting field trips and countless unforgettable experiences.

All of these achievements are a testament to the immense talent and boundless enthusiasm of our children. I could not be prouder of each and every one of them. And let’s not forget the unwavering dedication and support of our incredible staff who have been instrumental in nurturing and guiding our pupils.

While it’s bittersweet to bid farewell to our amazing leavers, we know they leave Bishopsgate with cherished memories, lifelong friendships, and the skills to conquer new horizons in their senior schools. To our departing parents too, we extend our deepest gratitude for your unwavering faith, generosity, and enthusiasm throughout your time at Bishopsgate. I hope you will continue to stay connected with us as we move forward.

To all the staff, you have truly been an inspiration to the children here. This year has been exceptional, and as we welcome new families in September, the excitement is palpable. May the summer holiday bring joy and rejuvenation to everyone.

As we conclude this chapter, we can’t help but feel a sense of exhilaration for the future. And speaking of excitement, it would be remiss not to acknowledge the extraordinary ArtsFest that took place this week. The talent and creativity displayed by our children and staff was truly awe-inspiring. It was a true celebration of the arts, and I applaud everyone involved for their dedication and passion.

Here’s to the end of one story and the beginning of many more to come. Have a wonderful summer.

Mr Peter Thacker

Where energy is contagious

Friday 30th June

The pace of life in these final stages of term is certainly exhilarating. This week has been one that must have exhausted even the most energetic of Bishopsgate pupils or staff with all that has been going on and where every heartbeat drums with anticipation, and every step forward brings us closer to extraordinary moments. Year 8 have enjoyed their final camp together whilst others have been swinging clubs, bats and rackets in competitive fixtures, taking formal examinations in music, delivering final election pitches for Heads of School, or exercising vocal chords in final preparations for Arts Fest.

There will be no rest as we enter the final week of term, a time of great celebration but also sadness as we say farewell to those pupils, families and staff who have been with us for many years.

Following the success of Sports Day last week, we look forward to welcoming you all to two more significant days in our calendar next week as Arts Fest and Speech Day draw our school community together. We are honoured to welcome Mr. Adam Williams, Headmaster of Lord Wandsworth College, as our Guest of Honour to Speech Day and I look forward to raising a glass to you all for your support of Bishopsgate in a remarkable year on so many fronts.