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I pop along to at least one assembly a week – Highgate’s assemblies take place in year groups, so there are seven ‘repeats’, a kind of iPlayer assembly loop but with only five days’ catch up – and the diary last week threw up Year 13 and the topic of safeguarding, what young people need to know about a School’s obligation to keep children safe: a politely attentive and engaged audience for what must have felt like a re-run of this important but annual briefing to our most senior pupils. What was blog-worthy was, however, the lovely lead-in by the Head of Sixth Form: Did Year 13 know that it was “National Teachers’ Day”? Sly glance to left field: ‘Thank you for the card, Theo!’ Indulgent laugh from Year 13. Well, National Teachers’ Day, so continued Mr Brunskill, allows each teacher to have three wishes. Mr Brunskill’s? One: that you sign up for Open Day; two, that you bring a contribution to the Harvest collection of foods for the Trussell Trust (‘Stop Hunger’) food bank in Muswell Hill; three, that you create your online fundraising profile for the school’s sponsored walk for the Great Lakes High School in Uganda. It was, if I may say so, one of the best motivational pitches I have seen.

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There’s a bit of a debate in the Maison Pettitt whether the intensification of grey follicles on Dad’s pate is a sign of mid-life allure or a steady march towards irrelevance, but what’s certainly the case is that I am asked more often than was the case how long I’ve been Head, and the sub-text is how long I’ve still got to run! (Answer: the in-tray is still full of things we want done and, whatever my children may say, there’s plenty of enthusiastic energy in the tank!). I am conscious, however, of the number of years, not because I’m counting them but because our youngest child was born in our first year and this year, the fact of his approaching the end of his days in the Junior School has helped me read even more acutely the questions I’m often asked about Highgate from the perspective of parents of ten-year-olds weighing up the choice of school; in particular, how will the School’s achievements, and the ambitions which underpinned them, be played out in the way my son will experience the remaining years of his childhood?

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The realisation that the party conference season is upon is coincided with the end of the beginning, the end of the beginning of term, that is: new pupil and new staff inductions, first assemblies, welcome evenings, House singing (Kingsgate victorious), the House sport spe[x]tacular or ‘Super Saturday’ played out (Westgate – netball - and School House – football - dividing the honours), post-exams prize-giving, all done and dusted in ten busy days. Year 7s face their first homework or prep, and lists for music and drama auditions, the first society meetings and fixtures fight for space on our newly pristine walls putting up a game fight against the blu-tack onslaught. And, of course, this has been preceded by discussion, planning, talks and meetings to get us ready in mind and limb for another year.

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I like to ask my senior colleagues at our weekly meeting what they think needs communicating through my blog: while I may be the scribe, the ideas and insights for our blog come from my diversely perceptive team. However, I was a bit foxed by the suggestions this week: ‘You have to say something about the loos, the traffic and, if you’re really going to take sustainability seriously, the water bottles!’ But, ok, here goes…

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From where I’m sitting (literally – I’m in a temporary office while mine is given a face-lift, so I am perching opposite our library where the GCSE results were handed out), the dust had already settled on the GCSE results within a couple of hours of the doors opening, and the school is more akin to the Marie Celeste than the command centre for distribution and analysis of 1,158 different GCSE grades. I’m left wondering what they all added up to (not literally – the 64.4% A* total is etched on my mind and keyboard).

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