How do we measure success? There are tangible and well established methods in the academic sphere such as the examination results and the subsequent awards gained. We recently heard the excellent news that students at Shrewsbury had gained 48 Pearson Outstanding Learners Awards, eight times more than any other school in the country. In addition our university offers are again impressive with 477 offers spread across the world’s best institutions.
However, we all know that these are not the only measure of success in education. In reading the valedictory reports of our departing Year 13, I am struck by the broad and impressive range of activities undertaken. In sport, music and drama of course, but much more than that in debating, MUN, charitable work, mentoring, internships, and also activities away from Riverside. It is this breadth of excellence that is much harder to define, yet much more successful in the long term. It brings the soft skills that employers and indeed top universities require, and it reinforces our passion for the co-curriculum, knowing that not all that you require for life can be taught in the classroom. In his address to the Senior School, visiting Shrewsbury Headmaster Leo Winkley asked to celebrate but ignore the glorious specialism of the anteater, and instead become omnivores - wise words indeed.
There has been plenty of opportunity to be omnivorous this year. This term alone we’ve enjoyed musical events ranging from Siwilai to Rock on the River to an exceptional recital by returning alumni. On the stage the energy and environmental focus of Year 1’s Bee Musical production was echoed in the inter house Scenefest performances, whilst the 9th installment of FUSION was a true demonstration of creative talent and performing flair. There was huge success in Phuket for our Junior athletes in the Primary FOBISIA Games and in Bangkok for our swim team, and there was plenty of sporting endeavour and camaraderie on display at the Senior School sports day and Year 1 & 2 Swim Carnival. Our mathematicians received their reward for their hard work in the ASMAC maths competition as did our top end Physicists in the AS Physics Olympiad, whilst the Spelling Bee, Year 5 balloon debate and Year 6 Fairbairn Exhibition and Tournament of Minds competition were all great examples of ‘beyond classroom’ learning. We shared in the success of individual students in dance competitions, TV talent shows and classical music competitions, and celebrated collective success and talent in the Sports Excellence awards, Art and DT exhibition and Speech Days and Graduation ceremonies. It has been a busy term, and for our International Award Gold students it doesn't stop here. They travel to Japan to complete the adventurous journey element of the scheme; a truly fabulous opportunity.
Over the course of our new Speech Day, Prize Giving and Celebration Day formats, I spoke of the importance of learning from success and failure, arriving at the conclusion that if both of these ‘imposters’ as Rudyard Kipling defined them can be dealt with equally then young people can have lifelong success. Each building brings both experiences but the calm management of areas for improvement by Mr Pinks, Mr Wimpenny and our contractors Ritta have brought the car park project to a hugely successful conclusion. Some find it difficult to get excited about a car park, I do not. It is a serious feat of engineering and also unlocks the site for us to develop in the coming years.
Above: It was a pleasure to welcome back Class of 2018 Graduate Jenny as Guest of Honour at the Y7-9 celebration day, just a few weeks after I had met her at prestigious US College, Harvey Mudd where she has just completed her freshman year
This summer we will complete the refurbishment of our library, upgrade our medical centre to ensure student privacy is at the heart of what we do, and also develop our staff room and boardroom as we grow the range and quantity of talent in our school. At the front of the school we start the building of a new shop and reception area. This, allowing us to reimagine the area around the Morris Forum and ensure parents have a focal point at the very front of the school. In addition to this our entry systems will be upgraded with software ensuring we can assess and track entry to the site. Students safety at the heart of our work in securing a strong Riverside perimeter.
Away from Riverside, I was fortunate indeed to visit alumni at superb universities on the West Coast of the US. In doing so I saw the way Computer Science is growing fast in the 5th largest economy in the world - California. The opportunities are many in this region, and our students are and will be ready for this. Already there is feedback to suggest the importance of Design & Technology in the iterative process of learning Computer Science with our graduating students well ahead of those in the US. In addition our learning from this trip, combined with the senior school’s preparedness for innovation, will result in a change to the Key Stage 3 curriculum involving clear and timetabled links between D&T and Computing departments from 2019 onwards. In response to the need for more vertical articulation, Year 6 will also become a key part of this project.
This shift into the ‘brave new world’ underpinned by traditional processes will also result in a major refurbishment of the design spaces through 2020. Following swiftly afterwards will be the design and build of our new building. Superior dining space, an exciting new 6th Form space and innovative teaching spaces linking more department closer together are the key themes emerging strongly from a committed and knowledgeable staff who talk to alumni, parents and businesses regularly. Riverside preparing to define success in many new ways.
In the closing weeks of the year, Riverside seemed to get busier and busier. This superb expression of celebration and transition showed the Riverside community at its very finest. Smiling students, happy parents, and proud staff provided all the tangible elements and evidence of success any Principal could need.
Thank you all for your contributions to the community this year. SP, parents in general and students have made our success all the more enjoyable and we all look forward to finding new ways to drive our community forward next year.