Friday, 16th November 2018
The weather this week has been incomparable; anyone who does not like late autumn should have been watching the Form 6s play rugby against Bruern Abbey on Wednesday. The trees on the Meadow were almost blinding in the intensity of their colour while the tower of Merton, under which the dramatic sporting events were unfolding, was almost on fire in the late afternoon glow. Visiting parents from Bruern stood almost open-mouthed at the beauty of the scene. More than one told me that they were the most beautiful school playing fields that they knew. The match was thrilling. As it happened we lost (or came second, as I believe the phrase goes) but this was not something which was in any way inevitable as our boys ran with great speed, went into contact situations with huge commitment and passed the ball with speed and accuracy – at least most of the time. I was so impressed by their enthusiasm and passion. I happen to teach this Form RS and it was a privilege to see them in a very different situation.
The envious Bruern parents were not the only people who mentioned the beauty of the playing fields this week. We were visited by a writer for the Good Schools Guide who was here to update our entry in that publication. Towards the end of the day she went over to the playing fields and was so struck by them that she took a photo and tweeted “One of the most beautiful sports pitches we’ve ever seen (and we’ve seen a few).” She said that she had thoroughly enjoyed her visit to CCCS and remarked particularly on how thoughtful and polite the boys were. This is such an important thing, I think. Manners are so much the outward sign of civilisation and thoughtfulness and, whilst it takes a great deal of effort and reinforcement for them to become engrained and habitual, if they are laid down when children are young, they are there to be drawn upon throughout their life.
I spoke to the boys about change at Assembly this week. I have often heard it said that people are incapable of change, that patterns laid down early in life or determined by genes will always be the guiding principles of life. Of course, experience tells us that one’s nature and character largely determine the actions one takes and that it is very difficult to override these constraints. It is obvious that the longer one has lived, the more set one’s character is – as the old saying goes: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Our ancient dog, Hector, immortalised in the lovely Linda Benton drawing of the School, would always revert to his old trick of rolling over when a treat was presented to him. He was unable to make any modifications to this routine in his latter years but continued to perform it with the greatest of pleasure even if the rolling over became more and more of a flop. But I am convinced that we can teach people, particularly young ones, new tricks, and it is at the heart of education that we should try to change people for the better, to teach them how to behave and how to think, so that, as I said earlier, these good habits are laid down for life. I believe that change for the better is always possible and always to be attempted. At CCCS, we will always believe that pupils are capable of change for the better and will never give up on them.
Talking of dogs, how lovely to have Miss Hunt’s young Cockapoo, Gordon, around in School. He is a hairy bundle of activity, a black frizzy mop of energy who never turns down an opportunity to come and force his affections upon one. Somehow he encapsulates a great deal of what I love about the School!