“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.”

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.”

Lao Tzu

That change is life’s only constant is perhaps true. Thursday saw Year 6 take a trip into the past. I suspect that having experienced it they are pleased to find themselves firmly back in the twenty-first century as the frankly terrifying Miss Brodie and her cohort of stern colleagues disappear into the past. Victorian Day happens every year, good to see that our characters from the past could once more come to visit to the delight and shivers of terror of our pupils. This event is part of the annual cycle of school life that was in its normal and appointed place. A pleasant change in this year of upheaval.

Over the course of the week, we received a little more information about the way that our older pupils will be examined and graded in the summer. No major exams, teacher assessed grades and something new in the form of mini assessments. The grade that emerges at the end of the process will have the same value as it always had, but there is a changed process to produce it. I’m hopeful that (at least in part) some of this change remains as it is without doubt a fair way to examine both knowledge and skills. In the short term nothing changes, pupils need to keep working and doing their best.

The pandemic has changed the way that the School operates, and it remains to be seen how long lasting this impact will be. Brexit too will affect the school’s future operations. A brief look at the school’s history will simply confirm that we are a school that has near constantly changed throughout its history. The children of today differ significantly from those that I taught at the beginning of my career; they are exposed to so much more at an earlier age than was the case back in the mid-90s. Education was different then, not quite Victorian but certainly not quite like now. Next year the twin influences of the coming together of pandemic and political change means that we will be a slightly smaller school. We predict that the much spoken ‘bounce back’ will take time in the world of education. A change like that can be dealt with if the school has a clear set of values guiding all that it does. Our values are clear and provide our young people with a moral compass that will guide them to a worthwhile and meaningful life.

One major change this week is that a BSP institution moves into well-earned retirement. For many Amar Ait Mahand was their first contact with the school. Amar joined us 29 years ago as a carpenter on the maintenance team. If you ever tour the Senior School you will still see his careful and well-crafted creations in many buildings, still working well, still doing the job for which they were designed. Later he moved to be our guardian and he has issued late slips, kept visitor registers and maintained a CCTV enabled eye on our security and safety more recently. We wish him every success in his changed life as a retiree, may it be both long and contented.

Nicholas Hammond