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I’ve just written to parents in our Senior School to thank them for responding to a recent survey which we asked them to complete last term: I can imagine the sinking hearts of a thousand families when they received the survey request – everyone seems to be after our views as soon as you’ve booked a holiday or eaten a meal! I tried to ensure that the ‘you said, we did’ energy came across: we found ourselves galvanised into doing some things which made so much sense once we heard families thoughtfully telling us how things work for them. Just as we abandoned homework for the first fortnight of Year 7 a few years back thanks to a survey of new-joiners, so it made sense to cut back on homework in years 7 and 8 by an hour or more to rein in the youthful enthusiasm to impress and please teacher and peer alike. We hope it’s working!

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Here at Highgate, we just held a quiet celebration for the veterans in Year 11 who’d pulled so much out of the GCSE bag. This was really aimed at ensuring that bashfulness didn’t prevent the young from enjoying just a little parental adulation, with a few words to hammer home the admiration for all that had been achieved. Major embarrassment among the young at being in the spotlight, of course, and at mum or dad looking tearfully proud. But important licence for parents to articulate that pride and love in the face of self-evident adolescent insouciance!

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I’m penning this before I dash home to find out how day one passed off for Pettitt No 3 of the new generation, and I imagine I join the other parents and carers of ‘new joiners’ in Nursery, Years 3, 5 and 7 in having passed a day hoping that all went well. Of course, my wife and I (to those new to these Highgate Chronicles, Madame Pettitt teaches French in our Senior School) get to bump into our children during the day, much to their embarrassment, but you never quite know what’s going on inside their heads and hearts. Still, I hope that all have been happily reunited and are feeling cheerful on having survived the plunge into these unfamiliar waters!

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The air is clearing of emotion after the release of this year’s GCSE results, and we’re settling down to deal with the important post-exam business: what do these results mean for my sixth form plans? Should I change my options if the results seem to tell me I’m stronger in X than Y? I know I was predicted an A if I was lucky, but I see I’m close to the A* boundary – should I get a re-mark? And so it goes on.

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It hadn’t dawned on me that I would be signed into work on my return from holiday by a member of the Class of 2018 but, of course, I should have remembered that a hardy group of leavers is always employed during the summer holidays to ferry contractors to and fro, to answer ‘phones, to lumber several tonnes of stationery and to sign in errant Headteachers. But as I duly signed in I realised that I would know the young people’s results a day before they could have them, and would have to maintain inscrutability throughout. How long the wait for results seemed to have been!

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