7th June 2019

With senior school exams upon us, I chose to lighten the mood slightly in Monday morning’s assembly (held in the Sanderson Building corridor) because the Morrison Hall was set up as the exam ‘chamber’ for Forms 6 and 7.  I talked of the controversy surrounding the State visit of ‘The Donald’ who had touched down at Stanstead Airport a few moments earlier.  As any school teacher should, I remained apolitical in my delivery of a few Trump Administration positives, and an equal number of Trump Administration negatives, with the overall aim of leaving our senior pupils to make their own minds up.
Love Trump or hate him, he certainly knows how to draw attention to himself and to wind people up.  One particular quote resulted in a murmur of amusement amongst the pupils;
“The new Pope is a humble man, very much like me, which probably explains why I like him so much!”  -Twitter (December 25th, 2013)  
The fact that more Americans are now employed than ever before in US history, was also mentioned.
As seniors headed to the exam hall, and Form 8s embarked on their final day of revision before Common Entrance exams started the next day, Form 3 headed off on a science trip to The Hirsel Estate.  This went very well and the weather that has proved so unpredictable for much of this term, stayed dry until a few moments after they returned to their buses, then the heavens well and truly opened!
Amazingly, the next day as the Middle School headed for Abbotsford, the weather cleared and an afternoon on the river bank and around the beautiful grounds was enjoyed by all.  Meanwhile, Form 8 began their Common Entrance exams, and as I write, they are sitting the last of the week’s papers.  They have handled the week with focus, composure and diligence well beyond their years.  This has been a pleasure to witness.
Results came in from the ABRSM exams sat recently, and 37 exams had been sat, 37 exams were passed.  These passes included 2 merits and 2 distinctions.  Rightly so, Miss McRae was positively beaming, as were all her peripatetic staff and the 31 pupils who had sat 37 exams.  To add to that, from Reception to Form 7, 67% of children have signed up to learn one or more instruments in the next academic year.  It would seem there is a second St. Mary’s Music School in Scotland (let us hope Scottish Government afford the Borders St. Mary’s the same Non-Domestic Rates rebate they deem applicable to our Edinburgh namesake!).
Borders College students arrived to complete their sessions with the very fortunate Form 5 Mountain biking group.  The students are members of the Elite Mountain Biking Performance Squad and have been developing their coaching qualifications by working with our Form 5 pupils.  The students, our pupils, our staff and the Borders College Tutors involved have all gained hugely from this link, and we thank; Gregor, Ian, Tom and Seth for their excellent contributions.
Throughout the week there have been meetings taking place with parents of Kindergarten pupils and pre prep pupils.  The staff involved in these meetings are always given a lovely lift by the warmth and appreciation shown by parents and as a long and busy half term draws to a conclusion, this serves as a refreshing fillip to those who teach these pupils.
The boarding houses have been bursting at the seams all week and the boarding team have been expert in managing the evenings to make best use of good weather and adapting when the weather makes outdoor activities and free time unwise.
As Common Entrance exam week concludes, we welcome Kith ’n’ Kin of our pupils to school today.  This always proves to be a most enjoyable event, complemented by Madame Syme’s brilliant French Café run by Form 7 pupils.  Madame Syme has chosen The Borders Children’s Charity as the recipient of funds raised from Form 7s hospitality and I have no doubt guests will be as generous as ever. 
This day is also an opportunity to welcome so many from older generations, many of whom were educated at a time when school teachers ruled with rods of iron and school teachers and headmasters were never to be questioned.  Rightly, things have changed, but I do enjoy the occasional whispered apology from a grandparent that their sons or daughters have brought children up in the ‘cotton wool’ age and are far too neurotic!
As I sign off and wish you all a very happy half-term holiday, our best wishes go to Archie D, Cadence, Isaac S, Josh and Emily who will be accompanied by Mr Inwood and Gap student Lily to take part in the Gordonstoun Challenge during the second weekend of the holiday.
I hope the sun shines for all of you during the week.  Sunlight and warmth is much need, and well deserved.  Have an enjoyable break.

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