Headmaster's Blog - 29th January 2018
Perhaps it is just my perception that each week seems to have a theme, but there have been a number of situations in the last seven days when I have been struck by the manner in which our pupils have shown an awareness of the world around them and the privileged position they have within it.
I was invited to the whole school Charity Committee meeting on Wednesday morning, and it was good to see so many pupils in attendance (although very few boys – come on, lads!). As well as getting a detailed rundown of recent activities and what is coming up, we were able to discuss ensuring that charity work isn't just a case of putting on fun events that raise money. To have a deeper impact, schools need to create interest and concern for the causes that are sponsored. Talking to the pupils at the Committee meeting, it was clear that they understand the issues faced by people around the world – and locally – and the challenge is to spread these messages around the School. Every pound raised through a bakesale is appreciated, of course, but the Committee is committed (that is, after all, the derivation of the word) to making sure that our charitable work is part of a culture that embraces putting others before oneself and challenging us to reflect on what we take for granted. A House pizza sale sold out in five minutes this week, which shows how keen the pupils are to support our causes; we have to work to get understanding to be at the same level as participation.
I was able to think about this further on Thursday, when I watched the Year 8 play, "Archie Dobson's War". It truly was a tremendous effort by cast and crew, and Mr Hargreaves and Mr Leutfeld deserve a special mention for putting it together. It was a perfectly timed piece, coming in the centenary of the end of the First World War and having a local twist. The link to my previous paragraph came through the poignancy of the scenes towards the end of the performance, as we were reminded of the horrors of war and the sacrifices that were made on our behalf (181 Old Wellingburians lost their life in World War One), not just in that war but in the many that have followed it.
The opportunity to celebrate how the School supports the local community charitably came on Sunday morning, with our annual Civic Service. I was delighted to be able to welcome the Mayor, Paul Bell, and his wife to the Chapel, along with other Councillors. We heard from both Prep and Senior School pupils about not only their recent and ongoing fundraising efforts, but also how they have given up their time for a variety of people. We have pupils who visit care homes to spend time talking with the residents and listening to their stories, others who help those who look after foxes at a local sanctuary, and Sixth Formers who have returned a garden to its former glory. None of this takes place for the purpose of recognition, but it is important that these acts are shouted about, both to highlight that there are others less fortunate than ourselves, and for all of us to think about how we can go about alleviating this, be it through the gift of time, money or thought.
This week we will, amongst other things, be turning the spotlight on our older students, as we begin the process of choosing the next crop of School Prefects. The ability that the current Wellingburians show to offer their services for the good of others is a key part of this, as we look for students who can support our School events and help with its smooth running. Based on what I have seen so far, I think there are some difficult decisions ahead!