Ongoing Improvements to the School Campuses

Just before Christmas we received the excellent news that the building permit that we had submitted in the summer for the Redgrave building refurbishment had been approved.  As a result we will be able to commence the refurbishment this summer.  The extensive refurbishment will mean that the hall will become a genuinely multi-purpose space, a full suite of changing rooms will be built as well as a dedicated space for our weights machines created.  A lighting box and retractable tiered seating will mean that our concerts and performances will be that little bit more professional and air conditioning will guarantee a comfortable environment for those taking exams. Significant improvements will also be made to the structure between the hall and the refectory which will give us much needed circulation space more lavatories, and a little more space.  The dining hall itself will also be enlarged.  Work will commence this summer and the entire development will be complete in September 2018.

In addition, work has begun on the Junior School campus to install an air conditioning system. This improvement is due to be operational in May, just in time for a glorious summer!

Nicholas Hammond


Next Head of the Junior School – Mr Mark Potter

It is said that everyone remembers a good teacher. Certainly it seems that people are clear as to what makes a good teacher. Perhaps having been to school we all have a view based on our experience. If we were to describe the anatomy of a great teacher we would all have our own opinions; expertise in academic matters, a dedication to the wellbeing of children, a talent for making difficult questions seem easy to answer and a readiness to run a club or coach a sport would be a start. I could go on. All who teach will know of Shaw’s cutting words and I’m sure that some will have taken heart from others who have been more thoughtful. For me Carl Jung sums much of what makes a teacher when he wrote: “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”

As Headmaster, one of the most important elements of my role is to recruit new staff. It is a process that for potential BSP teachers usually involves a visit to the school, letters of application, the teaching of a lesson, an interview or possibly two and lots of forms. Degree certificates have to be dusted off and police checks made. References are written and read. It is a thorough and demanding process. It is a successful one.

Over the past couple of months we have been searching for a worthy successor to Miss Tuckwell. Our goal, to identify an individual who will continue to work with her sense of purpose to the benefit of the children in our Junior School. We (unsurprisingly) received a significant number of applications; the vast majority impressive. Phone interviews were conducted and long list interviews held with the assistance of the school’s governors. Questions were asked and answered, opinions analysed and influences considered. Another list was drawn up and a two day selection programme devised. Short listed candidates were invited to join us in Paris. They taught a lesson, faced a pupil panel, met with a wide range of staff, gave a presentation, wrote sample letters, completed an in tray exercise and faced a second panel interview. We were treated to excellent lessons, thoughtful answers and perspicacious presentations.

At the end of the process it gives me great pleasure to introduce Mr. Potter as the next Head of the Junior School. In the eyes of the selection panel he best met our very specific needs as a school community. He came the closest to embodying Jung’s combination of academic excellence and human warmth. Over the coming months he will visit us and I am sure that he will be keen to meet with as many students and their parents as is possible.

We are fortunate as a school to have dedicated members of staff. Without them, this would not be the place that it is. As we face the prospect of losing one exceptional teacher in Miss Tuckwell we are pleased to anticipate the arrival of another, Mr. Potter.

Nicholas Hammond


Don’t ask me who has influenced me…

Don’t ask me who has influenced me.  A lion is made up from all of the lambs he’s digested and I have been reading all my life…” Charles de Gaulle

At the start of any year, be it calendar or academic, we are encouraged to make resolutions.  Some last, others don’t. Most years I pledge solemnly to im-prove my handwriting. Before long I have reverted to a crabbed scrawl.  This year might be different, only time and commitment will tell.

Ten years ago a group of authors, medical professionals and educationalists wrote an open letter to The Guardian newspaper warning that many British schools spent too little time on outdoor play, limited pupil directed learn-ing and were over reliant on computers.  This week the same forty signatories resent their letter to The Guardian (1)  alerting the world to the dangers of what they term toxic childhood (2). This comes at a time when another educa-tionalist bemoans the demise of the Christmas thank-you letter (3).  Again there is a suggestion that screens might be playing a major part in this particular malaise.

Some might say that this would pose a problem for a school like the BSP which makes use of iPads in particu-lar.  Whilst high profile commentary on the use of tech-nology gives us pause for thought, it doesn’t change the School’s approach to blending the best that technology has to offer with more traditional approaches to learning. We fully expect children to spend time out of doors, they learn through discovery and we also put store by formal testing.  The key is balance.

One element of this wide debate centres on the demise of reading as a pursuit.  Some blame the influence of computer games, just as TV was seen as the distraction from reading in my generation.  As Headmaster I am proud of our libraries, they are well stocked, vibrant and exciting places.  They have a wide variety of books as well as audio books and DVDs.  Our library staff are knowledgeable and enthusiastic.  But do we as a community read enough? Losing oneself in a book is a singular experience and one which I would hope all of our pupils enjoy on a regular basis.

It is a widely accepted idea that young people follow the behaviour that is modelled by the adults around them, in other words if we as adults aren’t seen by children read-ing it is unlikely that they will spend time reading.  So, do we as adults prioritise our screens over the printed word from time to time? Do we find the time to get lost in our reading?

So, back to the whole resolution thing, a resolution that we might just be able to keep is to be a reading role model this year. Does this mean no screens until next year?  No, of course not.  But we might be wise to consider our own reading habits and to pledge to a book a month this year. More importantly, will you make time to read with your children, to discuss their reading and yours and above all enjoy spending time with the printed word? That might just be a resolution worth keeping.

Nicholas Hammond


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