Friday, 30th June 2017
Ends of year are times of very mixed emotion. Of course, for pupils, the thought of a summer which is not dominated by bells and lessons is a lovely one. It's also a time when we reflect upon all that has occurred throughout the year, upon those things which have gone well and upon those which haven't. It's a time to assess and to mark the passing of a period of time when we should have tried to make the world a better place. But it is also, most poignantly, a time of goodbyes. There are a number of pupils leaving, of course. The irony of schools is that a school's job is to prepare pupils for the moment that they leave and this year, I think that has happened. Our present Form 8s have been a wonderful group of boys who have been splendid ambassadors for the place and have set a fine example to the rest of the pupil body. But, as I am sure you know by now, we also have a number of staff leaving too. Mr Scott who stepped down from full time teaching 3 years ago has decided, after having been at the school since 1989, to retire completely and will be moving down to Somerset where he has a house. Mr Adamson who has taught maths here since 2008 is moving back to his home county of Derbyshire with his youngest son, and Miss Brennan, who has taught English here for the past three years, will be moving to Oman with her partner Tom. They will both be teaching in International schools in Muscat and finally Fr. John Paton, the Cathedral Precentor and School Chaplain, will be moving to look after a small parish in rural Berkshire after having served Cathedral and School for the last decade. I will be writing properly about them in the end of term letter and there will be a chance to wish them on their way in the Cathedral at the end of term but I wanted to mention them now in case news had not reached you. I will miss all of these people very much indeed. Schools depend upon the quality of their staff.
I am so grateful to the school's staff for all that they have done in the past few weeks. In this week alone so much has happened and the pupils of the school have had a feast of entertainments. We have rehearsed for the house plays, a new innovation, there have been trips to the Aegeas Bowl in Southampton, to see the Greek Play at Bradfield (we were the biggest prep school group there), to see the Wind in the Willows in the West End, a Reception trip to the Living Rainforest, a huge number of matches, the 10th Anniversary Outreach concert, a charity run round Christ Church Meadows and then we have had the Sports Day, Meadow Fair and the Summer Ball at Christ Church and all of these things have happened since my last newsletter, only a week ago. It leaves me quite breathless even to think about it. And today we are going to have Enterprise Day for which the boys have worked very hard and which I hope will raise a huge amount of money for our charity, Such Hope. By the time you receive this letter, the event will have occurred and I hope that you will have succumbed to the well-honed sales techniques of the putative businessmen in the Walton Hall.
The Sports Day and Meadow Fair was a huge success I thought. So many parents came and there was a truly lovely atmosphere which was much enjoyed by so many. It was such a lovely day to be Headmaster of the school. I am very grateful indeed to all the people who worked so hard to ensure that it was a success including a number of people who were up extremely early. I arrived before 7.00 am and was very late! Amongst the stalls was the now traditional Headmaster for the Day stall which was quickly filled in. I asked Dr Harskin on Tuesday morning to select a ticket from the hat to see who the person was that I would be handing over to on the appointed day. Dr Harskin's hand plunged into the hat and, in a moment of almost unbearable tension, the number 28 was read out. I walked over to the grid and found, in that space, the name Henry Murray! Keats wrote in his incomparable "Ode to a Nightingale" that this "Light winged dryad of the trees" unlike human beings was immortal. Unlike us, "No hungry generation will tread thee down!" Well I suppose one has to admit that one's children are designed to replace one and though I tend not to think of my youngest son as one of the hungry generation keen to tread me down, his selection as my replacement as Headmaster of the school brought this home to me very clearly! Children look so sweet but we know why they are there! I will be very interested to see, when looking at the photos of the day, whether he will look like a shrunken version of me, or whether, rather like those images reflected in a mirror at the fair, I will look as if I am a very stretched version of him. These are matters for the future to determine.