Friday, 10th February 2017
There are days in life which are more intense than others and I suspect that most of us could not manage too many of these high-octane days. This week has been filled with the sorts of days where every minute is vividly experienced! The modern school inspection is far from the leisurely inspection of yesteryear. The first inspection I experience in my career came with a few months' warning. Today a school has 24 hours' notice, or in our case, 24 hours and 20 minutes. From the moment that the Head has put down the phone, (s)he knows that the next four days will be devoted to nothing much else other than the inspection. I was extremely lucky in that I was surrounded by people who devoted themselves immediately to making the school ready, to collecting books from children to letting pupils know that they were needed for interviews, to ensure, in other words, that the inspectors could have a timetable which enabled them to see everything they wished to. I was, I have to say, very touched by the way in which all the staff, but most particularly, the SMT and front office rallied round immediately and worked until things were ready. Thank you too to all the parents who took the time and trouble to respond to the questionnaires which gave much insight into what the parental body was thinking, of some things which we could do better but which spoke overwhelmingly of a warm and supportive attitude towards the school. I am very pleased to tell you that things went very well – I am afraid that the rest, for the moment , is confidential – the report should appear in about a month's time. The inspectors were at great pains to stress how much they enjoyed meeting the pupils and how well – mannered, thoughtful and positive they were. This was a particular point of pride for me, I have to confess, and it was particularly lovely to have this vindicated by an external source. I was, I have to say, very impressed with the professional, sensitive and diligent way in which the inspectors went about their business and I feel very strongly that they "got" the school, understanding very quickly its nature; it gives me great confidence in the Independent Schools' Inspection process and it meant that, completely contrary to expectations, I enjoyed the inspection process. May I use this opportunity to thank once more, all of those involved with ensuring that the process went smoothly.
To complete an extraordinary week, today has been Arts' Day, a bonanza of colourful and stimulating activities which should ensure that the first half of term ends on a real high. Indeed the inspectors were disappointed that they were not able to stay in order to witness it. I love Arts' Day; one sees the school in such a positive light. I'm always interested when one sees another side to a pupil whom one thought one knew very well. Suddenly one realises that they have a talent which had, up to that moment, remained hidden. In fact more than ever this week, I was struck by the fact that we must never underestimate people, particularly our children, who really are capable of so much. I spoke to the school this week about the importance of believing in oneself and believing that one was capable of great things. This way great things happen and we will, at CCCS, encourage all pupils, to reach for the skies.
As an illustration of the fact that there is a great deal of sky reaching here already, all this week and last, the telephone has been buzzing with calls from senior schools letting us know good news about awards gained by our pupils. When we have received all the news I will pass on the details but it never fails to amaze me how many of our boys gain awards. These calls really are some of the happiest professional moments. Working at Christ Church Cathedral School is a delight; every day brings something unexpected. The last thing I had anticipated was the greeting I received from an animated boy this morning who bounded up to meet me, weighty tome in hand. "Sir, I've just been reading this inspirational speech – it's one of Vladimir Lenin's very best. Would you like a read?" Revolutions happen; circles turn. Perhaps Lenin is coming back into fashion 100 years after that minor political readjustment in Russia.... I wonder what Donald Trump thinks? Doubtless we'll know soon courtesy of twitter; after all I'll need to have something to read over half term.