Baker’s Beacon Blog – Week 31

24 May 2024

Dear Parents,

What a Sports Day that was!  Athleticism and sportsmanship across both morning and afternoon sessions and a huge organizational triumph for Mr David Robinson and the Games Department.  Mr Walker and I got our sums right in the scorers’ cabin and an attendance for an athletics meet not seen since London 2012…thank you to everyone for competing, officiating and spectating – that was the very essence of a Beacon School event.

As the football season draws to a close and the papers and various websites are full of transfer speculation, so too are schools as they look to recruit staff in what is an increasingly difficult market.  As the best football clubs look to get ‘their business done early’, The Beacon is no different and is fortunate to have the standing and reputation to attract the very best teachers to our community as well as being able to promote and develop our own within the organisation.  In addition to the changes noted in my column from March, I announce the following for the next academic year:

After over ten years at the school, Mr Mike Williams will be relocating back to the ‘land of his fathers’, Wales, at the end of this term.  Having witnessed Mike’s passion, enthusiasm and no little coaching acumen firsthand on the touchline and boundary fence on numerous occasions these past two years, I know what a loss he will be to the Games Department here; I will also miss reading his poetic turn of phrase with his weekly match reports.  Mike’s responsibilities as Head of PE will be assumed internally by Mr Alex Walker, our former Welsh rugby international, and I have no doubt he will yet further develop our PE provision at The Beacon.

In what is arguably our Common Room’s best example of character and professional development of one of our own, former Beacon Head Boy, Mr Sam Privett, will be leaving this term to take up a Head of Year position at Peponi House Prep School in Kenya.  Beacon boys are known for their aspiration and sense of adventure and this manifests itself perfectly in what is a very exciting move for Sam who has done a superb job promoting boys’ self esteem and wellbeing at our school.  His position as Head of Self and Society will be filled internally by Mr Matt Davies, who has any number of ideas and initiatives to drive this department forward and continue his good friend Sam’s excellent work.   With Matt moving to this role, his Year 5 class teacher position will be filled by the educator extraordinaire, Mrs Victoria Sandy, who moves up from Year 3.

Having hired her as a newly qualified teacher at my former school, I will be very sad to end my 13 year association with Mrs Alice Furnell, who will be leaving us this year to relocate with her family to the United States.  Alice has made an excellent impression on The Beacon community, particularly in Year 4 where she has taught so effectively alongside Mrs Rachael McDonald for the past two years.  We are delighted that we have continuity with her position filled internally by Mrs Jane Madden who will move up from her current role in Year 2.

Having taught English for the past two years and French this term, we will be sorry to say goodbye to Ms Catherine Lowe who has brought her experience and passion for the subject of English to the school.  Ms Louisa Shaw who has worked wonders in the Performing Arts Department this past year will be leaving us as we welcome back Ms Zenelle Oosthuizen from maternity leave.   Miss Charlotte Anning will be leaving her Teaching Assistant position in Reception to pursue higher education studies at University having brought her calm and personable character to the role this past year.  Matt Aldred, our 23/24 Gap Student who has been invaluable on the sports field will be succeeded by two Beacon old boys for September, William Curry and Fraser Creighton.  Leaving us today is Mr Will Sandy who has been an immense help to Ms Jackson in the Art Department these past two terms – we wish him all the best on his gap year travels to the Far East these next few months.  Special thanks also go to our other amazing temporary staff who have helped us this term including Miss Cate Mancinelli and Madame Estelle Wraight.

 As front and centre as the teaching staff may be, it is often those in the background that have the largest impact on the day to day running of a school and this is absolutely true for Mrs Karen Burden, who for the last eighteen years has run our platforms and information systems with such efficiency and an incredibly diligent and assiduous approach.  This key role in the school will be assumed internally by Ms Laura Bell who will take on the role of Data, Examinations and Cover Manager alongside her existing responsibilities.

 As well as welcoming back Ms Oosthuizen, we also look forward to Ms Olivia Kearns, Mrs Emma Carty and Mrs Danielle Fraser returning from their maternity leave to be back with the boys in September.  Mrs Kearns will be returning part-time and is handing over her Head of Maths responsibility to her trusted colleague, Mr Martin Langley who has been at the helm in her absence.

 Warm welcomes to the following new colleagues this September.  With Year 1 and 2 moving to three classes for 24/25, Miss Scarlett Kimber joins us from Gayhurst School.  Three generations of Scarlett’s family have attended The Beacon so she already has a strong association with us as well as being a highly capable practitioner.  She is also a Watford FC supporter which never does an applicant any harm when applying…With Ms Natalie Jones on maternity leave from this Friday, Miss Janie Sharratt moves from Year 3 to Year 2 and assumes the role of Deputy Head of Pre-Prep.  In Year 3 we welcome Miss Erin Woodcock from Farnham Common Junior School.  An excellent teacher in her own right, Erin holds World Championship titles in Irish dancing and gives us a slight problem with her name as, after marrying our Deputy Head Academic Nikki’s son this coming Autumn Term, she will become another ‘Mrs Olhausen’! In Reception we welcome the ‘Dream Team’ of Mrs Gemma Watkins and Mrs Beth Mason both from Coleshill Infant School.  Gemma and Beth applied together and have a symbiotic approach in terms of ethos and teaching style – they are a dynamic partnership that will bring great energy and vibrancy to our Oakway building.

A few sad departures but plenty of exciting internal staff moves and arrivals to welcome in the new school year in September – we are all Team Beacon!

Have a great half term,

Nick Baker

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