Another busy and rewarding week has flown by and it is hard to believe that we have already arrived at our first exeat weekend. For those of you who are new to the school, we have an exeat five times per year, which provide a full weekend of rest for pupils and staff at strategic points during each half term.

One of the highlights for me during the past week was attending the Taunton Deane Swimming Championships last Sunday. As the competitors of each race lined up, it was amazing to see how many of the excellent swimmers on the blocks attend TPS. It is terrific that we have such a good partnership with the club which benefits greatly our pupils and parents. Many congratulations to all of the boys and girls who performed so well.

Thank you to Mr Coleman for holding the reins of the school during the last two days whilst I have been attending the Annual Heads’ Conference of the Independent Association of Prep Schools. My natural inclination is to avoid being taken away during term time from the daily running of TPS which I so enjoy, but a certain level of attendance from me at IAPS events is required in order to maintain the IAPS membership which brings with it large benefits for our school. The theme of the conference has been ‘Tomorrow’s World; Global Citizens’, focusing on the fact that Prep Schools are preparing pupils to be future leaders and change-makers both in this country and further afield.

Whilst picking up one or two new ideas to explore, it has been reassuring to reflect that we are already doing a very good job in this respect for TPS pupils. Last Tuesday, the Year 8 Form Tutors met with their tutees to give them the leadership roles which have been assigned to them. Every Year 8 pupil is now a leader in at least one area of school life, which he or she has chosen. There are Digital Leaders, Performing Arts Leaders (Music, Drama and Dance), Science Leaders, Art Leaders, Design Technology Leaders, Librarians and Eco Leaders. In sport, as well as the appointed captains of individual sports, many pupils will be following a programme which will develop their sports leadership skills. We have around 15 new Junior Leaders and they will be spending time supporting and befriending our pupils in Years 3 and 4. In addition, the Head Boy, the Head Girl, the eight Heads of Houses, and the two Boarding Captains are members of the School Council, and will also meet regularly with me, providing them with the opportunity to work in partnership with their peers and senior management for the good of the school community.

These roles for our Year 8 pupils give them all the opportunity to develop leadership skills, to pursue their interests to a deeper level, and to develop a special relationship with staff which draws upon their increased maturity and independence. They have access to areas during break which are not open to Year 7 and below, they read regularly in Chapel and some of them will be touring the school with prospective parents at Open Morning next week. We believe strongly that the best time to join a Senior School is at the age of 13. During their final year in TPS, as well as taking on responsibilities as leaders of the Prep School, our pupils will spend an increasing amount of time using Senior School facilities and being taught by Senior School teachers and our shared elite sports coaches. It is the best of both worlds and, by the end of Year 8, they will have held on to all of their childhood years as well as becoming self-assured, confident and mature young people, ready to work, play and socialise alongside the young adults of the Senior School.