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Will the Winchester Commoner Exams take place this year? Is my son now in?!

If your son is holding a conditional 2020 offer for Winchester College, his place is guaranteed and is no longer dependent upon his passing the Commoner exams. 
So, will the exams take place?  There is not a straight yes or no answer to this question.
As with the 13+, the Winchester Commoner exams will be issued for 2020 boys. They will be sent to prep schools as normal. However, we are not in a normal world, so.... schools can use the papers 'at their discretion' and return them to the College for marking. 
In September, after their arrival at Wincoll, all the JP (Y9) boys will take setting exams. 
So has all your son's work been wasted? Absolutely not. The Commoner exams are designed to test a skill set which is absolutely necessary for boys to thrive at the College. 
My suggestion? Relax a bit but work as though your son will be sitting the exams but, rather than panicking about passing, think about the skills he is acquiring and work out where his strengths and interes…

Will ISEB exams take place this year?

13+ and 11+ Common Entrance exams are designed by the Independent Schools' Examination Board. Students sit the exams in their prep schools (or at Branodn for Hong Kong students), and the scripts are sent to individual senion schools for marking. The decision about whether 13+ exams will be issued is made by the ISEB. So far, the ISEB has indicated that they will be producing the summer 2020 papers. With UK schools closed though, the bigger question is where our students will be taking their exams! Individual senior schools may decide that they do no require their 2020 candidates to sit the exams, or may opt for home 'open book' testing. If this is the case, they will contact parents individually and through their schools.
Most girls' schools sit the 13+ or 11+ exams in January, with boys' and mixed schools normally opting for the June dates.
Eton has indicated that they would like their 2020 boys to sit the exam where practicable. As we here from other schools, I …

The online school: more tips for teachers and students

Brandon has been online for a while now! Here are some tips for teachers who are about to start sharing the online experience. Above all, don’t feel isolated, we are all in the same boat. 
We use Zoom, Kahoots, Google Docs Pre-Quest (our own platform) and a whole range of other products to try to get the most out of our lessons.
Be interactive – we found that just trying to teach in the same way didn’t really work so we have incorporated annotation, interactive whiteboard hangman as a warm-up, Kahoots and masses of quizzes into our lessons. We tried some of the fun gadgets (wishful thinking tropical backgrounds!) but the novelty factor wore off very quickly.
Get physical – ask students to move for a few minutes during longer lessons. We have a series of go-to stretches for when classes start dozing off!
Try new activities – we tried to think about how we could use technology to help some of our less confident students. As part of their interview skills class, we sent the group question…

Is your child a budding Greta Thunberg? Read this

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Where the River runs Gold by Sita Brahmachari is a fantastic read... the first chapter didn't grab me but, oh my goodness, the second did.

Humans have destroyed the natural world and climate disasters have done the rest, leaving food shortages and searing temperatures  Society is fragmented, with the fortunate few living a disposable lifestyle and the remainder working to indulge them...

Does this sound familiar?

Shifa, the heroine, and her brother Themba are sent to a 'pollination camp' where children slave in polytunnels, replacing extinct bees (if you think this could never happen, read this:  The vanishing bee explained.

Relationships, bullying and loss are all examined as the action moves at breakneck speed. An uplifting and challenging book.

If your child:

Wants to be challenged
Was a fan of Louis Sacher's 'Holes'
Enjoys dystopian fiction
Cares about climate change

I highly recommend this book to them.

Buy it at an independent bookseller if you can still find one...…

A moving and inspiring read for 11 - 14 year olds

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Beginning in the run-up to the First World War, The Skylarks' War by Hilary McKay is an incredible (and very moving) read. Winner of the 2018  Costa Children's Book Awards, the story is a worthy addition to the canon of children's books set during WWII and WWI which includes Carrie's War, the Silver Sword, Goodnight Mister Tom and Charlotte Sometimes.

I particularly like the way that McKay explores gender stereotypes (the heroine, Clarry, is always battling against the 'girls don't do that' sentiment of the times)  and the gaps between public behaviour and private fears. You engage with the characters almost immediately. Their behaviour is never cliched and you find yourself warming to people you expected to loathe. Look out for lots of plot twists and some deeply emotional moments)
I strongly recommend this to our students!

Read more about the book here

Share the word... Bible study resources for homeschooling.

Our churches are closed and not being able to attend mass is awful, a feeling that I know is shared by many of my friends. 
Here are ideas for online resources which will help make Lent brighter for you: 
Superb videos for Bible studies
The Apostolate of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter have an incredible link to four churches so you can pray the mass from home. 
Latin mass online! Includes a link to the missal so you can follow the service

We pray for strength during this time.

What I read when I am panicking...

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:34)