Excellence, Scholarship and Courtesy

I am truly delighted to 'assume the reins' and feel very privileged to lead and serve the Trust. It has been an action-packed week and my learning-curve has been very steep! I have given briefings to both teaching and support staff in all three schools and know how committed they are to providing the best possible start in life for our young people. I have reminded them all that each of us has a vital role to play in ensuring the success and happiness of our schools, as we embrace shared values of high expectations, opportunity and community.

I have addressed students in our beginning of term service (He is risen) and in Thursday’s whole-school assembly. On Monday, I encouraged them to believe: in themselves, in others and in something, perhaps guided by the example of their heroes, both sung and unsung. Each of our children is very talented in his or her own way, and each can become a world-changer. Yesterday we focussed on the importance of Excellence, Scholarship and Courtesy, remembering Mr Kipling:

"If something is worth doing, it is worth doing exceedingly well indeed."

Or, in the words of the philosopher, Aristotle: 

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

Please feel free to test your children’s recall at the dinner table!

Some of us were treated to an outstanding charity concert on the second evening of term and I also enjoyed watching cricket between rain showers yesterday; our groundsmen have done an outstanding job in their preparation of the squares. We shall henceforth be calling all these wonderful opportunities 'co-curricular' activities rather than extra-curricular, acknowledging how integral they are to our students' growth as human beings.

Our students are very proud to be part of an ambitious, vibrant and caring community, and you too should feel fully justified in your decision to invest in their futures. I am acutely aware that many of you make significant sacrifices to pay the fees, and I was heartened last Friday to read the Times' headline: Fee-paying schools 'save the taxpayer £20 billion'. Our sector has received too much negative press recently, at a time when many independent schools are keen to become increasingly diverse and to make a very meaningful contribution to the education of young people in their area.

This short term will fly by, but I very much look forward to meeting many of you and to consulting pupils, parents and staff on the future direction of the school. I shall be writing this bulletin (to be posted online as a blog) every Friday. We are co-educators in the upbringing of your children, and my bulletin/ blog is intended as a means of sharing values and encouraging reflection!

With Mr Kipling, I wish you an exceedingly good Bank Holiday weekend – whether or not you eat cake!

Best wishes
John Watson
Headmaster and Chief Executive

Staff news
I am pleased to welcome:

  • Mr Stephen Jeffries as the new permanent Trust Business Director; he replaces Mr Nick Edwards, to whom we are greatly indebted for his dedicated service since September.
  • Ms Martine Benitez, who will be teaching Modern Foreign Languages during the maternity leave of Mrs Dewe.

I am very grateful to Mrs Ewington and Mr James for their selfless leadership of the school since the autumn, and they remain very valuable members of the Senior Leadership Team.

Our teachers are very busy lending support to public examination candidates currently and I know how hard they work to assess written tasks and to prepare inspiring lessons in the evenings and at weekends. It is also vital that they too should have time to recharge their batteries with family and friends. We welcome communication with home, but please remember that staff are often teaching all day and that they therefore cannot respond immediately to e-mails. You should not expect to receive a response to an e-mail in the evenings or at weekends. If something is urgent, please do not hesitate to pick up the phone; we shall always do our best to address your query.