“If we are strong…”

“If we are strong and have faith in life and its richness of surprises and hold the rudder steadily in our hands, I am sure we will sail into quiet and pleasant waters…”

Freya Stark

Schools are sometimes surprising places. On Tuesday it was the surprise of seeing ancient Egyptians alighting from very modern cars. Similarly, I was a shade taken aback by the enthusiasm of our estimable maintenance team who have put up our Christmas decorations this week, something of a surprise for someone who generally endeavours to avoid Christmas until, well, as late as I can in December. Monday provided me with another moment, odd socks had broken out across the Junior School and some thought-provoking posters made an appearance in the Senior School. I am not surprised that BSP pupils are the sort of young people who want to make a stand against bullying in our community and it was certainly reassuring to see them openly expressing their feelings in such a manner. Yesterday, I popped into the Junior School Minecraft Club – who would have thought that this game has a UNESCO unit on sustainable building and how inventively pupils have engaged with it – I am sure the bag of Haribo for the best structure had nothing to do with it!

I was surprised by a quotation that I came across this week from the Dalai Lama. It was about the idea of being wisely selfish. Being wisely selfish it turns out is all about taking care of others, about developing a sense of service. Our community is an ever changing and ever developing one. It is a place where there are almost weekly comings and goings. Pupils leave and join throughout the year. Consequently, our young people develop an extraordinary capacity for welcoming and something of a resilient streak when it comes to the goings. That charity and service activities have one of our highest rates of pupil participation comes as no surprise. This morning there was another surprise, Year 7 having put their baking skills to good use thinking of others. How good to see (and what a treat)!

It shouldn’t be unexpected because after all it has become a regular occurrence but glimpsed behind the masks there are a fair few new moustaches being sported by staff and some senior pupils. Another type of service, another example of thinking of others and of not taking ourselves too seriously for a worthwhile charity (Movember). If you do have the opportunity to support our hirsute pioneers, then do give generously before the end of the month – their itchy faces are all in a good cause.

What isn’t so surprising is that COVID rates are rising. The rest of France has joined us in extending mask wearing in school. Neighbouring countries seem to be tightening up on what had been relaxed and there are gloomy words about the coming month. We have had two year groups affected by contact cases, learning disrupted and families inconvenienced. Time to be wisely selfish. No bad thing to consider how our actions might affect others. We will be reinforcing messages about distancing, hand washing and will be pushing plentiful supplies of hand gel. It would helpful if you could reinforce this with a conversation at home too. Thank you.

Nicholas Hammond