What makes me proud?

Earlier this week I found myself attempting to sum up what it is about The British School of Paris that makes me, as Headmaster, most proud.  Not an easy task when one considers all that has gone on this half term.  In a matter of weeks our community has made great strides forward in learning, moulded as a school and developed ambitions for the year.  Rather like the Redgrave building on the Senior School campus, foundations have been laid ready for more building to commence next half term.  Along the way we have seen notable sporting achievements, musical performances, debates, drama (both on and off stage) and some wonderful art created.  Fish and chips have also been consumed!  That said I suspect that the best is yet to come.  We have come to the end of the beginning and I am impressed with what has been achieved and excited about what is still to come.

One sixth may sound like a small fraction, but in school terms it is a significant one.  What this brief portion of the year has shown me is that we are fortunate to have a group of young people who are not only talented but ready to work; a powerful mixture.  It is clear to all of us who encounter our students that they have energy and ambition, more importantly they are thinking beyond themselves about others.  Yesterday I had the privilege of sitting in on a Year 6 maths class; here I saw talent being shared, teamwork of a most effective nature and the simple joy of discovery in spades.  Immediately after I was fortunate to hear the soapbox debate on UN sustainable goals in which students from Year 10 to Year 13 argued with spirit and eloquence for their most worthy causes.  This series of sharply drawn lessons would tell our political leaders what really matters to the people who will take on the stewardship of this planet in the very near future.  

What makes me proud? It is the willingness of BSP students to think of others, to share their experiences from around the world and their sense of responsibility towards their community.  In the coming few days they have the opportunity to rest and prepare themselves for taking their learning to the next level in the half term to come. I feel confident that they will not let the high standards that they have established slip and that they will build on the advice of their teachers to achieve still greater things in what remains of 2017.  

Have a splendid half term holiday.

Nicholas Hammond


Validus Corpore Animoque

Tag lines, brands and other marketing devices are not always associated with schools and yet we have our own versions of them.  We may lack the flashy indulgence of “because you’re worth it” or indeed the directness of “just do it”, but we have our own forms of words as a school which give a clear sense of our purpose.  Validus, Corpore, Animoque may not trip of the tongue but what these words mean may well stand the test of time more effectively than “I’m lovin’ it”.  

The School adopted Strength in Body and Mind in the 1960s as its motto and it is a fine sentiment for a place of learning which seeks to stretch pupils both academically and socially.  Over the last three years I have questioned whether we live our motto; to great extent we do.  But a motto will not, by itself, drive school forward.  When we consider what makes us the school we are we need to consider our values as an organisation, what it is we stand for as a learning community.  

Looking once again at our crest we are given graphic expression of our values as a school.  At the top of the crest is the victor’s crown, a symbol of excellence and with it integrity; for what is victory without a sense of honesty?  The two supporting lions bring to mind the values of determination and endeavour, qualities that see us recognise achievement and the will to strive when times are tough. 

The galleon, symbol of our host city, reminds us that we seek to learn with a spirit of discovery and that we appreciate the opportunity of learning within our vibrant community, in this great country and beyond.  The fleur-de-lys points us in the direction of both community and service, concepts from which we learn and benefit. 

As a school we consider these values when thinking about our future direction.  It is possible to see the discussion of values as being a bit worthy, somewhat earnest and well, boring.  I make no apology. I think it vital that our young people understand the meaning of the crest that they wear each day.  It isn’t a crocodile, or a polo player, nor a stylised seagull.  Our brand is not a matter of marketing savvy; it is an embodiment of our values and an indication of our purpose.  In many advertisements there is a focus on good value; we as a school are at our best when we are mindful of our values.  A quick look at this week’s newsletter will reassure all who care to look, that our school values infuse all aspects of school life from laboratory to rehearsal room, from classroom to sports field.  And, dare I say, “I’m lovin’ it”.

Mr Nicholas Hammond