“Intelligence plus character…”

“Intelligence plus character, that is the true goal of education.”

Martin Luther King

Some pupils arrive at school knowing where they are headed, in their mind their life goals are decided, and they are focused on realising the prize. Many who have certain ideas now find that these seemingly fixed ideas will, over the months and years, change. Some have no idea and that is perfectly fine too. As a school our role is to provide the conditions in which all our young people will develop the character they require to support their ambitions. In this context character is a mix of intellectual developments, moral growth, the development of an understanding of civic duty and the realisation of talent. This week in the Senior School pupils were treated to a pop-up concert by Tatiana DeMaria a former pupil of the BSP. She played a short set and in between reminisced about her time at the BSP and in particular those who inspired her to follow a career in music. She spoke of a teacher who put a guitar in her hands and gave her the confidence to have a go, to dare to dream and to realise those ambitions. She also spoke of the sometimes bumpy road to success.

During the coming year we will see pupils trying new things both in and out of the classroom. Some will succeed and others will find new things far more challenging. A few may well fail. I feel certain that lessons will be learned. Some will surprise themselves with what they can actually do, they will find that there is more that they can do than they ever imagined possible, and their confidence will grow. That said, they will only experience this true learning if they involve themselves, if they have a go.

Schools should be seedbeds for character development. Places where young people have the support to grow in mind and body and spirit. A place in which the development of independent thought and integrity is at the core of all we do. The Greeks had a word for this, ‘eudaimonia’. Human flourishing. School should be a place where pupils learn not only for themselves but how they can assist in the development of a better community. It was encouraging to see so many Sixth Formers helping to prepare the charity stall for the welcome event this week and there will be plenty more opportunities for development in this area during the term. Jeans for Genes day is approaching fast.

We don’t always know what this flourishing will look like in each individual pupil, but we know that the potential is there. As we start out on this year it is with a real hope that external factors will not interfere with this important work of pupil development. The restarting of co-curricular activities next week will be a first step and I know that colleagues will be doing all that they can to ensure that both learning and character development go hand in hand this year.

I do hope that you are able to join us for our annual welcome event tomorrow. We feel particularly lucky this year to be able to run an event and have every confidence that whatever the weather may decide to do our community will have the chance to come together once more.

Nicholas Hammond