One of my favourite films is Les Visiteurs, a comic film from the 1990s. As is the case with most franchises the first one is great, the following films stretch the joke a little too far to be really funny. But for all that, the original film makes a valuable point; when we visit, we are very much strangers in that community. We can understand a good deal but there will be differences between our place and others. We often learn when we have the chance to visit other places and when we have the chance to make contact with other views. I’ve written before about the importance of getting out of the classroom to learn, similarly important is to bring people in to tell us something new or from a different perspective.
For most people the words ‘school visit’ conjure up the time that parents and children take an initial tour around the school before joining. These tours are often led by a Sixth Form student who gives a pupil-eye view of what goes on at the BSP. The participants achieve an impression of the place, a flavour of what we offer. It is, inevitably, a partial view. But prospective parents and pupils are not our only visitors. Each week we welcome a wide range of visitors to our campuses and indeed these visitors are vital for us to develop a wide understanding of the world around us. Unlike Coleridge we believe that our visitors aid creativity rather than disrupting like the person from Porlock.
This week is a case in point. Today we welcomed representatives from London universities who talked to the Sixth Form, Dr Fleury one of our governors who was advising on careers in medicine, Mr Butterworth was discussing engineering and Ashley an alumnus who happened to be in Paris dropped in to revisit the school of his youth… Over the course of the week we have also been visited by an educational consultant, Mr Stone who spent much of the week observing lessons and activities prior to his providing us with a quality assurance report next week. We’ve welcomed representatives from the local Mairie to discuss future projects and a British architect who was involved in the initial planning of our soon to be completed Redgrave Multi-Purpose hall. I’ve probably missed a few others but you get the picture. The School cannot be an island entire of itself as Donne didn’t exactly say.
Perhaps the most unusual visitor this week was the magpie that has taken to participating in Year 10 PE lessons. Bold as brass he has been perching on balls, goals and striding up the touchline like an avian Klopp or Mourinho. Perhaps he just wants to take part as well.
Over the coming months we will be making contact with many of our alumni and inviting them to link with us via social media. In doing this we aim to harness the reservoir of talent in the BSP Community to act as mentors or to record short films for us about their careers and the subjects that matter to them. Visiting in this modern age can take many forms and we are happy to join with people digitally as well as in the flesh (or feather).
We learn when we connect with the stories of other people.