Headmaster's Blog - 15th January 2018
I am writing this as my first week as Head of Wellingborough School comes to an end, which seems an ideal time to pen my first blog entry.
I've already spoken to some members of the School about this blog, and I hope to make it something which will, at times, raise pertinent and current educational issues that will (for what I am sure will be a very small readership!) open up a forum for debate but also provide an opportunity to inform the School community about issues which affect the way the School runs or the environment in which it operates. As I'd like to respond to events as they happen, the posts will be frequent but not at a set time each week; if there is a lot going on there may be more than one in a week, but if it's a slow news week there could be a longer gap.
But for my first post, much less philosophy. The week has flown by, so much so that Christmas seems months ago. For me, it started with an address to the whole staff, an address in which I made it clear that, although I am buzzing with ideas as to how to take the School forward, such ideas can only be implemented once a real sense of the School has been gained, and that takes time. One cannot expect to successfully transplant a model that has been seen to work elsewhere, because all schools are different and their particular circumstances require a specific, bespoke strategy. To paraphrase Helmuth von Moltke, no plan survives first contact with the students, staff, parents or Governors of a school, and so it is foolish to come in with a pre-conceived notion of what might be best for Wellingborough School.
The Senior School staff have put together their thoughts as to the strengths of the School, and where we might focus in order to make it even better, and that exercise will be repeated in the Prep and Pre-Prep. This will give us a genuine appraisal of where we're at and where we want to be. I stressed to the staff that we need to have a keen sense of what we are and what we hope to be, and our plan evolves from that, not the other way around.
I was glad to have the opportunity to talk to all Senior School students on Tuesday morning, hopefully giving them a bit more insight into who I am and where I've come from. For some, I will have very little influence on their time at the School as it just a matter of months before they sit their final A level exams. But for the rest, I was eager to emphasise that education is a partnership, with the staff doing their utmost to enable the students to reach the heights to which they aspire, and the students taking every opportunity they are given. Education should be done with the students, not to them or for them, and I am here to ensure that that collaboration is a successful one.
This week I've been able to celebrate a Cambridge offer and have heard about students getting interviews for medical schools. I've also been kept apprised of a significant amount of progress amongst our Upper Sixth cohort, many of whom are getting offers from their preferred universities and have already done a huge amount of work to get this far; we now just have to help them get over the line!
The week ended with a few highs. First, I was able to bump into a new pupil who told me how settled he already felt and how things in class were making so much sense. I then saw our Year 10 standing to attention on parade as part of their first week of CCF. And finally, amongst a number of other sporting successes, I witnessed the 1st XI football team complete a notable 7-1 win against Rugby School.
All in all, a wonderful first week and the extent to which my family and I have been received – by the whole School community – is just one example of the welcoming nature of Wellingborough and why the students feel so safe and secure here. I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone in the coming months, but first I have to survive my first encounter with Prep School assembly!