Friday, 15th February 2019
I am delighted to announce that we have appointed two Cardinal Scholars in Form 2; Franklin Liu and Trust Tiyapairat. This year, for the first time, we asked everyone in the year group to take the exam so we had a large number of pupils to choose from, including four pupils from outside the school. The competition therefore was very fierce and the quality of the papers very high. The holders of the award retain it for the remainder of their time in the school. It is a great honour and something by which the senior schools are impressed. A special programme of intellectual activities is organised for the scholars and return they will be expected to take a leading role in lessons and be an example of academic achievement and effort for their contemporaries. May I wish both boys a very happy and stimulating time as holders of these awards.
Today has been one of those unforgettable days in school. It started with the Eucharist in the Cathedral, one of my favourite occasions of the term. I love the fact that the whole prep school comes together to celebrate the central ritual of the Christian Church. Christian teaching would suggest that none of us is perfect, and that no institution therefore will be without fault. I know that there is so much that is good and impressive, kind and positive about our school and that so many people work very hard every day, to make the lives of all of those in the school, both staff and pupils, better. The Eucharist is a reminder to us that God’s love for us is infinite, and that all the hard work that goes on is worth it because of his care for us and his unshakable sense that we are all of the greatest value. The singing was sublime and as ever, it was a most peaceful way to begin the day.
The House General Knowledge Quiz is a celebration of the natural curiosity of our pupils. I have remarked upon this before, I think, but I never have a lunch where I am at a loss for conversation as pupils always have an interest to discuss. It is this fact which shows that so many of the boys know a huge amount. Of course, I’m not suggesting that knowing things is the highest intellectual skill – knowledge in itself doesn’t necessarily get you far without a corresponding ability to analyse. Equally, without knowledge it is hard to orient oneself or to understand what is going on in many instances, and one of my greatest pleasures, when teaching RS and PSHE to pupils, is their thirst to discuss current affairs. I am so pleased that the school stimulates such a desire and it was wonderful to see the boys in action this morning, relishing the many facts stored in their brains.
Talking about lunchtime conversation, yesterday I found myself sitting next to a Form 7 boy. He was very keen to tell me that, for his entry in the poetry recitation, he was going to recite a poem by TS Eliot which I taught to my former A level pupils. He was keen to quote various passages from the poem which he was, of course, able to do by heart. The ability to memorise passages of literature is a skill beyond price. Being able to internalise literature is something which will always benefit those pupils who practise it. Decent literature talks of the human condition, of our attempts to live noble lives, of so much more, and to learn it by heart is somehow to make it part of ourselves. I still remember vividly the poetry I learnt as a boy and its power has only increased as the years have passed by. Young minds never cease to amaze me and I was completely thrilled by the quality of the recitations which I heard today.
I very much hope that you all have a lovely half term break next week. Form 8 boys will be having to do some revision for their trial exams which are upon them the moment they return. As ever, with exam revision during the holidays, regular revision sessions, preferably in the morning, combined with rest and relaxation is the best way to tackle the task. I wish all of them, and indeed everyone else a refreshing few days!