“I think that when we know…”

“I think that when we know that we actually do live in uncertainty; then we ought to admit it; it is of great value to realize that we do no know the answers to different questions. This attitude of mind – this attitude of uncertainty – is vital to the scientist, and it is this attitude of mind which the student must first acquire.”

Richard P Feynman

The modern world isn’t terribly good at uncertainty. We as a species have often seen ourselves as the measure of all things, the solvers, the knowers. Progress is regularly seen as a march of progress, we are always going forward, going faster and getting better. Both the start of term and the COVID pandemic are moments in all of this certainty when we, like Feynman, realise that we don’t have all of the answers.

At the start of a new term and particularly if it is a new school then many things are uncertain. Simply finding your way around presents challenges, this year made all the more difficult by a new one-way system. You are never quite sure where you need to be and when, you might not know exactly what is expected of you. Happily, if my less than scientific observations are true, then those who were new a couple of weeks ago now seem comfortably at home.

In class I hope that as pupils grow in confidence they will begin to relish uncertainty. Without a feeling of not knowing there can be little chance of experiencing the thrill of discovery, the satisfaction of understanding something new. If our pupils came knowing everything then there would be little point in spending each day in our school by the Seine. A truly worthwhile school experience is one that allows pupils to ask why and then affords them the opportunity to find out the answers.

What will happen this year, no-one really knows. Studies will be interrupted, we may see year groups sent home, we could even be placed in lockdown once more. Some activities will be restricted or curtailed. I hope that we can find ways to work around and take a different approach rather than simply cancel, I suspect our pupils will come up with some original ideas to overcome the challenges that they face. Staff are working hard to ensure that whilst different the experience of school is still rewarding and fulfilling.

In the coming weeks it is highly likely that our approach will change. Some activities will continue, others will take a different form. Some pupils will be asked to remain at home and isolate, there is an outside chance that we may be asked to close our doors once again. In the midst of this upheaval I am sure our pupils will ensure that they make the most of every opportunity and all classroom experiences. Perhaps this is a year when we give ourselves to uncertainty, we use each moment to its fullest extent, and we seize every opportunity to learn.

Nicholas Hammond

Headmaster

www.britishschool.fr

Real Superheroes Wear Masks

As much as I never thought I would ever be walking around school wearing a mask, I also never thought that I would be looking forward to a week of hot fine weather with the degree of trepidation I currently feel. Rain is usually the meteorological challenge that I fear with the associated steamy classrooms and muddy shoes that follow. Next week we are told that temperatures will rise into the 30s and there is no sign of a relaxation of rules on mask wearing for our older pupils and staff.

Wearing a mask when teaching is a bind, wearing one while learning is no less of a bind. There are some splendid examples of home crafter face coverings and the now ubiquitous hospital light blues that we have become so familiar with. But there is no escaping the fact that wearing a mask makes teaching more difficult. To mitigate my rising irritation with having to cover up I have taken to reminding myself that in wearing my mask I hope that I am protecting other people. Our School holds the concept of service as one of its values. By wearing a mask, we recognise that school value. I also consider the individuals who have given so much of themselves in helping others; front line carers, those who have kept food shops open and others providing essential services such as education. Our masks are therefore a tribute to all who have stepped outside the safety of confinement to support other people. I take the opportunity to remind myself that many people have had to endure far greater discomfort than I feel wearing a mask by contracting this virus. We live, it has often been said, in uncertain times. By wearing a mask, I believe that we are doing something practical and useful, it is a simple act that perhaps provides stability. Seeing so many pupils simply getting on with their learning behind their masks is inspiring. Proof, if needed, that superheroes really do wear masks.

Our approach to re-opening has been one rooted in caution. I am pleased to be able to report that as we move further into term, we will be able to offer a wider range of activities on site. Please do keep checking the website for information. I thank all of my colleagues for their support in this and parents for their patience. As we move into the new normal, we must acknowledge that all our plans could be suspended at very short notice. Should a school-wide measure be necessary then I will inform you by means of a group called letter. Please do take a moment to check that the contact details that we have are accurate.

This has been a most successful first full week of school. Our pupils have made a positive start to their learning this year and they have coped with good humour when new rules and approaches have been instituted. We are trying to ensure that their experience this year is as close to that of every year while keeping them as safe as possible.

Nicholas Hammond

Headmaster

www.britishschool.fr

It’s the same… but different

We live in a changed world. We may not know how long lasting these changes are, but we can be in no doubt that things are different at the start of this year in comparison to last. Starting term wearing a mask, unthinkable a year ago, acceptable now. Performance in academic subjects assessed without an exam, bizarre a year ago, is the reality of today. The Roman writer Tacitus records that before the final stand of the Caledonian tribes against the might of the Roman Empire at Mons Graupius AD 83, the leader of the tribes says the Romans “create a desolation and call it peace”. Coronavirus has affected every community in the world in some way and now it is time for us to decide what we are going to do about building our world once again. The virus is not a conquering imperial power, so it is perhaps a little melodramatic to call it desolation, but it is certainly fair to observe that much has been dismantled. We have a valuable moment to take stock.

As communities we have to decide if we are going to accept cancellation and isolation or if we are going to find new ways to build connections and to provide support. We can choose to be positive about the challenge or negative. There is room to be both as George Bernard Shaw put it: “Both optimists and pessimists contribute to the society. The optimist invents the aeroplane, the pessimist the parachute.” I have been inspired by recent sporting endeavours – the cricket matches between England and the West Indies and more recently against Pakistan have shown that we can enjoy the things we do and we can be inspired by the actions of others, even in a biosphere. The Tour de France and La Course provide us with similar hope. The issue of when to return to the workplace is one under scrutiny in many countries. Some organisations will have people at home until well after Christmas but in the case of schools there is a different approach. We can debate the motivations of governments over the timing of school reopening and the new levels of protocols in place, but I firmly believe that it is better to be educated in a school than to be educated remotely. In saying this I’m making an important distinction between education and teaching. We have demonstrated that technological tools are invaluable in facilitating the delivery of lessons and we know that academic progress can happen (very effectively) via remote learning. What can’t be learned remotely is everything else that happens in schools “around the edges”. All schools have a hidden curriculum, all schools talk about educating the whole person, we all talk about holistic education. Schools are face-to-face places. It is difficult to replicate the social interactions that take place at break times or during lunch, team sports, music, drama, debate can all be done but without all being in the same place (albeit appropriately distanced) it is, quite simply, not the same. Character develops more when we are in real rather than virtual situations.

I am choosing to look at the coming year with a significant degree of hope and optimism. We have the opportunity to relish the opportunities that being in school provides. Nothing makes you appreciate something like coming close to losing it. Whilst there will be challenges along the way we owe it to ourselves to make the very best of the situation that we face. Now perhaps is time not for a wringing of hands but for a rolling up of sleeves.

I’m delighted to extend the very warmest of welcomes to those families who have joined our community for the start of term. We are looking forward to working with you this year and hopefully for many years to come. The BSP community is one that is welcoming and I’m sure that this newsletter will give you a clear picture of all that we do.

Bonne rentrée.

Nicholas Hammond

Headmaster

www.britishschool.fr

Start of Term arrangements 2020 – COVID precautions special

As August draws to a close we are looking forward to having pupils back on site for the start of the Autumn Term. Over the last couple of weeks I have had a number of enquiries as to how school will operate and the nature of our COVID prevention preparations.

It is hoped the following FAQ sheet is useful.

Is School compulsory in September?
Yes. Schools in France are open, and we are following the directive from the Education Ministry. We start term on Thursday 3rd September.

Whose rules do you follow: the French Government or as a British School do you follow the British rules?
We follow the guidance given by the French Ministry of Education. The most recent advice came out this week.

What about pupils with underlying health conditions?
If you are at all concerned about an underlying health condition, then you should discuss this with your doctor. If the doctor says that your child should be absent, then of course absent they must be.

Will the School be publishing online lessons when the school is open?
We understand that some people are restricted in their movement as a consequence of quarantine and travel restrictions. In order to assist with learning, materials will be posted on Frog (our VLE) for pupils to look at while they are unable to attend. We are not offering remote/virtual school while school is open.

What happens if there is a diagnosis of COVID in the School Community?
Should we be unfortunate enough to have a diagnosed case of COVID-19 we will make parents aware and will follow the direction of local health officials as to the next steps. In such a situation there would be a very high likelihood of the school having to close at short notice for a number of days.

Please do let us know if you are suffering from COVID-like symptoms or if you have a family member who has tested positive. It is vital that we are able to make parents and guardians aware of the risk in our community.

Are you maintaining entry checks?
Yes. Each pupil and each member of staff will have their temperature taken on entry. A temperature of 38°C or above will mean a child (or member of staff) will be sent home and we would anticipate a medical check taking place immediately after.

My child seems unwell or is running a temperature before coming to school or the evening before school. What should I do?
Please do not send your child to school if they appear to be unwell. We would urge caution with all health-related concerns at this time. Please take a safety-first approach for the benefit of the community and keep your child at home.

Who wears masks?
Pupils from Year 7 and above are obliged to wear a mask at points during the school day. We strongly advise parents to provide their children with two masks per day.

What about Junior School, can’t Junior school pupils wear masks? If a Junior School pupil wants to wear a mask, then they can. It is not obligatory for them to do so.

All staff will be wearing masks although these may be removed when pupils are a sufficient distance from them to be safe. Teaching is more difficult when a mask is worn so at times (and only when safe to do so) a teacher may remove their mask.

How should masks be worn?
Parents are asked to discuss “proper mask protocol” with their children if they choose to or have to wear masks. There is a great deal of useful information to be found on
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks. We will reinforce the do’s and don’ts at school.

What measures are in place to keep children safe during the school day?

• Where possible we are observing the 1M distancing rule between children
• We are avoiding bringing large groups of children together
• We are wherever possible keeping year groups separate
• One-way systems will be in operation
• There are clear floor markings to guide pupils around on safe routes and to maintain safe distancing
• We will be encouraging pupils to wash their hands during the course of the school day
• The School has multiple hand gel dispensers
• The School has an enhanced evening cleaning regime so as to ensure that the School is disinfected each day.
• Teachers and older pupils will be wearing masks
• In the Junior School those who have PE during the day should come in their PE kit
• In the Senior School social distanced changing spaces are available.

How will lunch work?
We will offer a full cooked lunch. During the lunch period it is difficult for the 1M gaps to be maintained and masks will have to be removed. We will be staggering entry to the refectories and we will control the number of people using the dining facilities carefully.

What about bus users?
Bus users of all ages must wear a mask and where possible should observe the miss-one-seat rule.

Should we still wear uniform?
In the Junior School we will start the year with a slightly adapted uniform – boys are not required to wear ties or heavy school jumpers. Junior School girls should wear summer uniform. They do not need a cardigan. On days when PE is taught pupils may arrive and leave in their school PE kit.

In the Senior School we will be in “shirt sleeve” uniform. It is likely to be warm for some time, so school jumpers and ties are not required.

Sixth Form pupils should wear appropriate clothing for the professional workplace but do not need to wear ties. Button front shirts and blouses are recommended. Clothing that requires over the head removal is considered less safe.

One key element of staying safe is being able to have clothing washed on a regular basis.

Are you running a full programme of co-curricular activities?
As far as we are able, we will be running activities. Some activities will have to work with restricted numbers or using an amended approach. Details about the Junior School sign up will follow. The Senior School activities fair will take place on Friday 11th September.

What happens at break time?
The timings of break will be staggered in the Junior School so as to avoid large congregations of children. In the Senior School, year groups will occupy their own zone. Sadly, we aren’t quite ready to have football etc played at break time.

What happens at the end of the day?
We may need to stagger exit times so as to avoid large groups assembling.

What about quarantine measures?
Parents and Guardians are asked to consult with the relevant governmental websites to ensure that they have the most up to date list of countries that require quarantine. A good place for information is this website: https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/coming-to-france/coronavirus-advice-for-foreign-nationals-in-france/

Parental Access to the School
Access to the school campus will be restricted for the foreseeable future. Details will be provided by the relevant Heads of School for particular events.

I am still not sure what I should do, or I still have questions – who should I ask?
We know that advice seems to be changing on a daily basis and that there are conflicting reports about do’s and don’ts. We follow the lead provided by the local and national authorities. We can try to answer your questions about the practicalities of life in school. We can’t argue about the conflicting views that are out there. Our underlying approach is that we will do all we can to provide a safe learning space that is also an inspirational learning space.

Nicholas Hammond

Headmaster

www.britishschool.fr

GCSE Results 2020 – FAQs

Tomorrow (20th August) is the release date for GCSE exam results.  As everyone will be aware this has not been a normal year and the following is hoped to be a useful guide to coping with the many conflicting reports about grading this year.

How have my grades been calculated?

Ofqual, the exam regulator, has announced that you will be given a grade based on work completed before the school went into lockdown including your January mock exam grades this is called the Centre Assessed Grade (CAG).  In May teachers were asked to provided Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs) and the plan had been to feed these through an algorithm that would have adjusted every school’s grades to reflect what might have happened in a “normal” school year. 

Ofqual has announced that most grades awarded this year will be based on the Centre Assessed Grade.

So, no algorithm?

Yes and no.  The algorithm has been applied to your GCSE result.  But the grade you see on Thursday will be either

a) The Centre Assessed Grade

or

b) The exam board grade (which is the CAG with the algorithm applied because that grade is higher than your original CAG submitted by the School in May.)

In other words – if your CAG would have been pulled down by the algorithm then you will get the higher school generated grade but if the CAG was brought up by the algorithm then you will be awarded the higher processed grade. 

The higher grade will always be the awarded grade.

I’m planning to move to another school in September and they want to see my grades.  What do I send?

Tomorrow we can give you your mock grades from January, your CAG from May and your final grade.  Most schools will want to see your final grade, and this is likely to be the best grade that you have.  If you have any concerns, then we will be happy to support you and can discuss your results with your new school.

I’m disappointed with my grade.  What do I do?

Firstly, talk to us and we can see what we can do to help you.  If you think you could do better than what you have been given there will be a full suite of retakes in the Autumn – GCSE exams will be offered in November.  The appeals system is still being worked out, currently an appeal can only be launched on procedural grounds.

Should I come in to collect my grades?

Yes, please do, it would be great to see you. We are open from 09:00am.  You can collect your results from the Exams Office in the Braille Building.

If you do not come to school and your grades do not arrive via email, then please make contact with the Exams Office. 

I would like to talk about my A level choices for next year.

Great.  Mr. Abdou and Mr. McCann are on hand to assist with plans for Year 12.

Are my grades worth less than other years?

No, don’t be ridiculous.  You worked for these grades and they are true reflection of your commitment and talent.  Be proud of all that you have achieved and use these as a springboard for future success. 

19 August 2020

Nicholas Hammond

Headmaster

A Level and GCSE results 2020 FAQs

This year the awarding of exam results has taken a number of unexpected turns.  The following is hoped to provide some clarification for parents and students who are in receipt of A Level grades or are awaiting GCSE grades.

A Level

I seem to have been given two sets of results, which are my actual results?

The exam boards have been instructed to make a final exam grade award on the basis of Centre Assessed Grades.  Centre Assessed Grades or CAGs are the grades that were submitted to the Boards in May 2020.  In due course you will receive a certificate with these grades recorded on it.

Can my grades go down as a consequence of this change of approach?

No.  The good news is that if the CAG is lower than the grade that you were given on Thursday of last week by the Board then the higher-grade stands.

Is my CAG the same as my UCAS predicted grade?

No.  Your predicted grade was given in September 2019 and your CAG was given in May 2020.  Your predicted grade for UCAS reflects what your teachers think you could get at A Level.  The CAG is a grade that reflects the evidence that you had provided in summer exams (2019), mocks and most importantly work done up until the time that school was suspended for the COVID shut down.

Can I see my CAGs?

Yes, CAGS were embargoed until results day, but you can see them now – contact the exams office for a copy.  Grades can only go up at this point.

What about university and college places?

If you were accepted by your first-choice university on Thursday, then that agreement still stands no matter what your grade is today.  If your grades have improved, then you may consider clearing/UCAS extra.  Please make contact if you are worried about this.

How has this affected the BSP?

Last week we were told that 29 CAGs had been downgraded by the exam boards.  Those students will be able to use their CAG as their final exam grade. Nine pupils had their CAGs increased by the exam board, their higher grade (the one given on Thursday of last week) will stand.

There is no change for the other pupils.

What is all this talk of university caps?

As the national picture has improved more students have gained the grades they require to move to their first-choice university.  Universities have been given permission to make more places available at their institutions to cope with this new influx of students.

What is the BSP’s A*- C pass rate now?

A*-C – 90.9%. 

A*-A – 40.09%

A*-E – 100%

What about other exams?

Media reports suggest that the International A Level and International GCSE grades have been changed in line with the A Level and GCSE grades (the BSP has always done the “home version” of the exams)

International Baccalaureate results were downgraded earlier in the summer and remain so.

Want more?

UCAS have provided a short video to explain the changes to A Level and the impact on university places  https://twitter.com/ucas_online?lang=en

The view from an ex minister via the Times Educational Supplement (TES) https://www.tes.com/news/gcses-2020-call-delay-results-over-flawed-algorithm

More from the TES including a statement from the Head of Ofqual

GCSE

The GCSE grades will be made public on Thursday 20th August as planned.

The exam regulator Ofqual announced that the plan to apply an algorithm to the results submitted by the School in May (these grades are knowns as Centre Assessed grades or CAGS) will not take place.

What should I do on Thursday?

If you are worried about your grades then please do come into school to discuss them.  Results can be collected from the exams office – Braille Building from 09:00am on Thursday.

What if I am not in France?

Then we are ready to answer questions by ‘phone, video call or email.

Will the Ofqual algorithm be used?

It appears that we will only see the CAGs and the algorithm will play no part in this set of results.

Nicholas Hammond

Headmaster

A Level Success

This year has been a turbulent one for our students and none more so (it could be argued) than for our most senior students in Year 13. It gives me great pleasure to be able to report that this year our oldest students have excelled in their final year of studies and the school is enjoying one of its best ever years in terms of grades and university destinations.

A phenomenal 97% of students gained the grades to take them on to their UCAS first choice institution and next year we will see BSP alumni taking up places at Oxford, Warwick, Bristol, Glasgow, King’s London, Surrey, Southampton, Bath and Heriot Watt Universities to study a wide variety of academic courses ranging from Politics, Philosophy and Economics to History of Art and Civil Engineering, Neuro Science and International Business. Students who opted to follow studies in the creative subjects have been equally successful with places being won on prestigious courses at Cours Florent, Ecole de Théâtre, Chichester University and the London College of the Arts. Other students have taken up offers from institutions in Canada, Pakistan and the Netherlands. As is always the case we are delighted that two students will be continuing their studies here in Paris.

One third [now 41% following government intervention] of this year’s results were at A* and A grade and we were delighted to maintain our 100% pass rate. Seven students achieved a “clean sweep” of A* and A grades with two achieving A* in all of the subjects taken. In a year when the media had warned us that many grades would suffer it is particularly satisfying to see the hard work of these pupils and their teachers justly rewarded.

Nicholas Hammond

Headmaster

www.britishschool.fr

The end of the summer term…

When I had the opportunity to study anthropology the seeming obsession of some academics with the concept of rites of passage was striking. It appeared that it wasn’t possible to pick up a monograph without finding some sort of ceremony or event that was, in the observer’s mind at least, the marker of a significant occurrence in the passage of an individual’s life. The longer I am in schools the more important these markers seem to be (and the faster they come around – that is, however, age). From the start of term assembly by way of the Christmas concert via fixtures, performances and exhibitions we always end up back at the same place – the end of the summer term. What anthropologists regard as passage through a liminal zone we simply see as moving up a year group or going to another school or heading off to university. Perhaps this year, more than others, how we should commemorate the end of this most remarkable of years is a question to be answered. Perhaps we have the chance to build new traditions.

This year will, of course, be different. To some extent we have lost the anchor points of the school year, there is a danger of being adrift. I can’t help but spare a thought for those of our pupils who, for whatever reason, won’t finish the year with their friends and their teachers and whose end of term is likely to end (to borrow from T.S Eliot) not with a bang but a whimper. Those in school have had the chance to enjoy time with friends and to consolidate their learning but the end of this year will be different, it will not be the same even for those who are able to be present. Who knows what new ceremonies or customs will develop from our experiences over the last three months?

Whilst it remains difficult to gather, we can, without doubt celebrate. Our Junior School final assembly may be a little less well attended than normal and our Prize Giving may be virtual, but it would be wrong to view them as some ersatz version of the real thing. Both events have been filmed and the resulting productions will be shown in something similar to the normal way – Parents if you wish to put champagne in the fridge before starting it should be chilled by the time the films end! In taking a new approach we record for posterity the achievements of our whole community and who knows, in years to come it might be the sort of thing that is watched again. If nothing else, it will bear witness to the concept of lock-down hair in its many and varied forms.

Our pupils have had an extraordinary year. Many have been given a chance to work in a genuinely independent manner. Perhaps their way of viewing the world will have been shaped by this period of difference. I hope so. If it were the case that this experience leads to a new way of configuring the world and a re-ordering of priorities, then it may well have been time well spent. This has been a time of tragedy and uncertainty. Perhaps it has been a rite of passage that few generations will have the need to experience but it will have profound effects.

Nicholas Hammond

Headmaster

www.britishschool.fr

Year 12 student Rayan shares his opinion…

Student voice is one of the buzzwords ringing around education these days. Here it is in the School’s DNA. Allowing space for young people to express their opinions and giving them the confidence to do so is part of the BSP’s mission. Therefore I am delighted to be able to pass my column over to Rayan this week.

Nicholas Hammond

Headmaster

“Pluralism does not mean the elimination of difference, but the embrace of difference. Genuine pluralism understands that diversity does not weaken a society, it strenghtens it.”

His Highness the Aga Khan

As a student, and a person of colour, I have closely watched the ongoing anti-racism protests and rallies in the USA and around the world. Thousands have mobilized and assembled to stand up against racism. And, finally, governments, business and everyday people are listening and beginning the long process of instituting change.

I want to acknowledge the deep damage to humanity caused by racism. Racism exists everywhere, in all societies, even within our own BSP community. As students we have the right to be loved, respected, and supported for who we are if we are to become the best version of ourselves.

Rayan

As another school year comes to a close, I would like everyone to please remember that the important work of creating the conditions for students to thrive involves all of us. This is not a single moment in time, but rather a moral imperative to create positive and lasting change. We have a collective responsibility to make our community, and the world, a better place. Our teachers have inspired us as students to bring our best, each and every day, inside and outside the classroom. We have been asked to model excellence in scholarship, character and leadership. From the beginning of our student experience, the values of student voice, choice, and agency have been instilled on us.

We can all do something. We can sign a petition. We can (safely) join a protest. Read a book – This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell or Stamped by Ibram X. Kendi. Watch TED Talks such as: The Path to Ending Systemic Racism in the US. Talk with your family about what is happening in the world today. Have they experienced racism? Have they subjected someone to racism? What were they taught about different races in school? What about their parents? Let’s not be afraid to ask the hard questions. And let’s not be afraid of the answers to those questions.

Now is the moment to show our true character as leaders. We have a unique and unprecedented opportunity to commit to the important, ongoing work of learning, understanding, and advocating. Open and honest discourse, standing up for what is right, respecting different perspectives, recognizing the strength which comes from diversity and plurality, and taking visible action are what we do. Let’s challenge each other, on a daily basis to make our school, homes, and community reflective of who we are and what we stand for. It is only in this way that we will be able to embrace our differences and become a stronger and more united society.

Rayan Adatia

Year 12

www.britishschool.fr

“How can you hate me when you do not know me?” – Darryl Davis

Thirty years ago, I spent a year in Minneapolis as an exchange student. For me it was a formative experience. An opportunity to live in a vibrant, progressive and exciting city. Skyscrapers, huge cars, baseball and all the other clichés of American life were there. I was impressed with its adherence to the Scandinavian roots of the city’s founders and I believed it was one of the most forward thinking of US States. More recently Minnesota elected Ilhan Abdullahi Omar to the House of Representatives, one of the first Muslim women to hold such office. Further proof to me that the city of Hubert H. Humphrey, one of the architects of the 1968 Civil Rights Act maintained its status as a city that welcomes all who seek to pursue the American dream.

As is so often the case, my illusion covered an uncomfortable truth. Somewhere well away from the experiences of a naïve 18-year-old something was rotten in this wholesome state.

Colston statue – empty pedestal

Rather more recently I lived in the City of Bristol a place built on the profits of slavery (and tobacco). On my daily commute to school I used to pass the Empire Museum and the now toppled statue of Edward Colston. Another progressive city with an uncomfortable past. A place having to realise that there remains a discussion to be had about what should be remembered and how the experience of the many should be balanced with the fame of the few.

The College I attended as an undergraduate has embarked on a sometimes painful but frank discussion of its past and indeed the source of some of its endowment with current students and alumni. The past cannot be undone but it should be acknowledged. It most certainly should not be ignored. It cannot be rewritten. There is a rational discussion being conducted about the statue of Robert Clive in Whitehall, a man vilified in his own lifetime for his actions in India whose reputation was restored as a hero of empire by supporters in the early Twentieth Century. Whilst this school has no uncomfortable skeletons hidden in the closet of its endowment it, like all other institutions, should pause and reflect. We teach a history of Empire that reflects the brutal truth of exploitation and the industrialisation of slavery, it addresses the horrors of the Nazi death camps and the role of Empire in the world wars. We have a PSHE programme that both addresses and challenges injustice and intolerance. That we could do more is without question. But our diverse population is something that gives me hope that the wrongs of the past can be acknowledged and that our young people will not be condemned to simply missing inherent prejudice and discrimination. Our community is perhaps uniquely placed to answer the question posed by Darryl Davis: “How can you hate me when you do not know me?”

Before coming to Paris, I was the headmaster of a school in a tucked away and often overlooked part of the United Kingdom. It was a school with a long past; it was founded in 1379 with a continuous history of providing education to young people. One such student was Thomas Clarkson and his efforts supporting William Wilberforce in the anti-slavery movement are all but forgotten today. If there is a lesson we can take from the current wave of protest it is that this should be the start of a long, careful and mature debate. It should not be hijacked for photo opportunity or for commercial gain. A movement like this will not be sustained by black squares posted one day on social media but requires long term commitment, it requires education, it requires us all to pay attention.

Nicholas Hammond

Headmaster

www.britishschool.fr