Friday, 29th March 2019
I am delighted that we now know the results of all our scholarships. We have had a good year, and I want to praise the boys for their efforts and thank the teachers very much for their support.
The awards are as follows:
Bernardo: Radley - The Sewell Scholarship (The College’s top Academic Award)
Sam: Magdalen College School - Academic Exhibition
George K: d’Overbroeck’s - Academic Scholarship
Nate: Our Lady’s Abingdon - Academic Scholarship (to be taken up in Sept. 2020)
Henry: Eton - Music Exhibition
Sebastian: Harrow - Music Exhibition
Ambrose: Radley - Honorary Music Exhibition
Bernardo: Radley - Music Scholarship
George J: Our Lady’s Abingdon - Double Music Scholarship
Ambrose: Radley College - Sports Exhibition and Thompson All Rounder Scholarship
Very many congratulations to all the boys for their successes and for their hard work.
I have just been inspecting a most remarkable school, Brockwood Park, near Winchester, in Hampshire. It is situated in a former country house in the middle of the Meon valley, one of the most beautiful parts of England. From every window the vistas were sublime. But even more striking perhaps was the philosophy of the School. The place is owned by the Krishnamurti Foundation and follows the teaching of this Indian philosopher. His principal belief is that pupils should be at the centre of their own learning. Teachers should not force them to do anything but they should choose to work. Teachers should not discipline them; instead teachers are there to help them negotiate how to deal with the problems which occur. There is no hierarchy between pupils and staff or indeed amongst staff and everyone is known by their first names. Some pupils do 3 A Levels, others do 1 GCSE and a project; some choose to focus on repairing cars and indeed, every pupil in the senior school has their own unique timetable. All pupils and staff actively buy into this philosophy. Some of the effects of this approach are profound; the place has an extraordinary sense of calm. There are no raised voices; teachers are courteous and calm and never seem to assert themselves. There is also an extraordinary sense of care too and sensitivity for the world around them. Every morning all the pupils in the Junior School assemble under an old oak tree and then walk across some fields and through a wood to get to their school. When they arrive everyone of whatever age sits still for 10 minutes outside and listens to the world around them, to the birds whose song, during the course of this silence, becomes almost symphonic. There were some pupils who told us that the School had completely changed their lives. Particularly in today’s world where so many people suffer from short attention spans and where people are increasingly isolated from the natural world, there was so much that I found inspiring. But I was also struck during assembly this morning in the Cathedral, that, in our own way, we too teach our pupils how to remain calm and to concentrate. I was very impressed by the way in which the pupils listened both to the talk and to the wonderful brass group which played with such colour and energy.
Who could not feel inspired by the season? Oxford is now coming into its own; in all Oxford’s beautiful gardens the wild flowers are at their best and the cultivated plants are beginning to emerge. I hope that you will all be able to take advantage of being in Oxford by taking the opportunity to visit some of the College gardens. Both St John’s College and Worcester College which have incomparable gardens, are open to the public for free most afternoons between 2.00pm and 5.00pm. It is also worth reminding you that next term, on Thursday 9th May, we have organised a tour of the Christ Church gardens, which are truly stunning, with the Head Gardener John James. Do please reserve the date.
I was hearing on the news today that psychologists have identified a new condition called ‘Brexit Anxiety Disorder’. An academic writes: “Brexit anxiety is an incipient form of mental disorder that needs to be managed to avoid serious health consequences.” I thought that March 29th might be an appropriate day to mention this and hope that if any of you have succumbed to this condition that you will find your children’s company over the weekend, combined with the beautiful weather, a real tonic. I have recommended in the Cathedral this morning that children do something nice for their mothers on Sunday – let’s hope they were listening! Happy Mothering Sunday!