Headmaster's Blog - 5th February 2018
Another hectic week goes by; it is incredible to think that, by the time this hits the website, we will only have a few days until half term!
As with all schools, however, an imminent break does not lead to a slowing down.
We were certainly kept on our toes this week as the ISI arrived in order to carry out a Compliance Inspection. The report will not be available until the end of this month but it was great to see the whole school pulling together and showing our visitors what a wonderful place this is to work and learn.
I was delighted to be able to end the week with two very different engagements which brought me into contact with Wellingburians of quite different ages. On Friday afternoon my wife and I had a wonderful time at the Pre-Prep performance of Hansel and Gretel. The enthusiasm shown by everyone on stage was lovely to see, and a testament to the hard work put in by the pupils and staff. It was great to witness such confidence and a lack of self-consciousness.
The same evening took me to Cambridge, where I enjoyed a lovely meal and the company of OWs differing by more than forty years in age. It was good to see our three current Cambridge students and to hear that they are enjoying their time as undergraduates. It was also good fun to hear the reminiscences of graduates of Oxford and Cambridge, whose time at Wellingborough School stretched back to the 1960s.
Such a dinner may seem anachronistic or elitist, but I don't believe it's either of those things. I had the chance to say a few words at the dinner, and I chose to highlight what an embattled position the independent sector is in, and how frustrating I find this. I don't agree with, but fully understand, the views of the Labour Party, who see us as a block on social mobility and as reinforcers of privilege. Perhaps Mr Corbyn should visit our School, speak to our parents and discover the sacrifices that parents make in order to send their children here. Unfortunately, the Press are not interested in that, as it doesn’t sell newspapers; it's far easier to clump all independent schools together and take a shot at all of us.
The other side of the political divide are increasingly embarrassed by their independent school backgrounds, and look to play them down. Where we might once have expected support, there appears to be none. It is simply not politically expedient to back our sector, nor to find any reasons to defend us.
So to come back to the Oxford and Cambridge Dinner, I see it as just one example of a celebration of aspiration. I don't, of course, apply that thought to just those two institutions. As I said to Senior School staff earlier this term, we are helping our students to challenge themselves to get the very most out of the next stage of their life, be that via university, an apprenticeship or a job, and schools such as ours enable the students to dream big dreams and to aim high. That is really what we are about, and I do not see why anyone would be ashamed of that.