“Fortuna est…”

“Fortuna est quae fit cum praeparatio in occasionem incidit.” (1)


If all the world’s a stage, then there are many mini acts of a theatre in every school day. Performance is an integral part of school life and this week I have had the opportunity to see plenty of excellent performances.

This week we gained a little more information on what our public exam taking pupils will be required to do in the summer, for them performance in the exam hall will be at the forefront of their minds as we break for a well-earned half term holiday. They deserve to rest and revise in equal measure.

I had the privilege of seeing our Year 9s engage is some exuberant performances on the theme of James Bond movies working with Beauville Arts this week. How splendid to see adolescents having the confidence to be able to stand up with their contemporaries and perform: singing, dancing, and acting. A sure sign that they are growing in confidence and become assured of their talents.

I saw a group of Lower VI formers starting to express their opinions through the medium of thunks. The started tentatively and quietly but by the end of the session the debate was raging, opinions were being formed and refuted in equal measure. Perhaps you too would like to give it a go? Here’s a classic thunk: If I paint over a window and can’t see through it, is it still a window? Fancy some more? If a lion could speak, would I understand it? Just two of the questions that they debated. Learning how to find a voice is an essential skill, having the opportunity to develop opinions is equally as important – there is no better way to develop than to put yourself out there and have a go. I’m pleased to say our Lower VI did just that!

Today, I popped into Year 3 who were being treated to an introductory session in the Latin language by Mr. Frank. How good to see the confidence with which verb endings were being performed. From knowing nothing about Latin the pupils were able to translate the school motto and decline the verb to play.

Our basketballers and rugby players have been performing on the court and sports field. They have experienced both success and defeat. In doing so they had to risk something by going out and performing. No matter what the score, they have grown and will take these experiences into their next matches and into other spheres of their development.

Immediately prior to writing today I had the chance to hear the Senior Jazz band performing Uptown Throwdown and saw our junior rugby players carrying on undaunted as strong winds blew carefully weighted passes awry. Whilst our performances do not always turn out the way we might like they most certainly teach us a good deal about ourselves and of what we are capable.
If we are to build resilience in our young people, we need to encourage them to perform. Not simply to do so in a quiet exam room, but to find a voice, develop their opinions, to share their learning and enjoy their knowledge. The last two years have curtailed this opportunity and it is certainly encouraging to see, as we draw to the end of this half term, that we have made the most of every chance to perform.

All this said performing can be a little bit exhausting, so our half term comes at an opportune moment. I hope that the entire community has a moment to daw breath and will return ready to take the stage once more when we start again.

Nicholas Hammond



(1) As Year 3 will tell you this means something like “Luck is where opportunity meets preparation”.

“In times of joy…”

“In times of joy, all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag.”

W.H. Auden

There is one more week to go before the half term holiday. By then I feel sure that we will be ready for it and the chance to have a moment to recharge batteries before heading into the next phase of the year will be most welcome. As I moved around the school this week, I noticed that despite the inevitable weariness that comes with five weeks of school in winter there was a surprising amount of joy to be found.

My days usually start opening car doors for some of our youngest members of the school community. The sheer delight of a Nursery or Reception pupil who happens to spot one of their friends arriving at the same time is uplifting indeed. This element of school life, the making of friends and building of bonds is as important as anything else that we learn through school. On Thursday I met with a group of Year 10s to commend them on their haul of green slips. Again, great to see pride and satisfaction being taken in their achievements; we are a society that generally takes little time to dwell on success and accomplishment (whatever it looks like), all too often we look on to the next thing without enjoying the success in the moment. Also, nice to see that even adolescents can get excited about a packet of Breton biscuits and a cup of hot chocolate – there is a real delight in small treats.

I spoke with a pupil this week who was explaining that she had written a poem over the course of the last few days and her description of finding a literary flow was inspiring to hear. Who knows? We may well find an opportunity to share in her words soon. But how good to hear of a young person losing themselves in something that they love doing.

Yesterday, some of the school buses were late. Blockages in tunnels under La Défense the cause. When I met the late-comers as they came through the school gate I asked how they were doing – “absolutely fine sir” was the answer. Big smiles after two hours sat on a bus, perhaps another example that simply having the time to spend with our friends, even on a bus and in a traffic jam can be joyful indeed.

The staff have not escaped this opportunity for fun. Every Friday just before this newsletter goes live a few staff meet for a fitness session – of late their activities have become more varied. They’ve looked to recover their sense of fun and have played games that they haven’t played for years – they have also enjoyed the benefits of a year 7 PE lesson. Joy can indeed be found in unexpected places!

Announcements today suggest that when we return after half term we will have a new set of protocols to follow. These may well lead to a slight easing in the restrictions we have been working under this academic year. This is joyful news indeed.

In May we will be hosting a Festival of Discovery. The purpose of this day of activity is for parents and friends of the school to gain a flavour of what goes on here every day – you too can feel the spirit that makes this the school all that it is.

Nicholas Hammond



“Believe you can…”

“Believe you can and you are halfway there.”

Theodore Roosevelt

There is a fairly famous photograph of the British Prime Minister stranded half-way along a zipwire that gets pulled out by editors whenever they wish to have a bit of fun at Mr. Johnson’s expense. Sadly, judging by news shared this week there is not so much to be laughing about on this occasion. On Tuesday, I was observing a PE lesson where pupils from Year 9 ascended our climbing wall with both grace and courage. In doing so they were being more Isabelle Patissier or Alex Honnold than Mr. Johnson. Where the British Premier is stranded in a mess of his own making our pupils were problem solving and continuing to climb, they were supporting each other to gain greater heights, and in a week when one who should have known better was clinging on rather grimly, they were moving ever on up with style.

Monday also saw a celebration of the half-way point of the academic year. We’ve passed the middle and are now on the other side of the mountain; soon enough we will be hurtling towards the summer and before we know it the end of the year will be closing in on us. This week also saw at least one European country relax their COVID rules and who knows, following the half term break we may see a change too. Whilst I’m far from expecting anything, I am rather hoping that we may be able to move closer to normal than has been the case during the first half of the year. If that is the case, then there are more adventures to be enjoyed both in and out of the classroom. All that said I’ m bearing in mind the careful explanation that I was given by a member of Year 2 about the fate of the Titanic and how it had been fine when it left Belfast. Perhaps I should rein in my expectations a little for fear of COVID shaped icebergs.

Our pupils are fortunate to enjoy the opportunities of a well-resourced school. It is to the credit of our older pupils that they are ready to think of others who are perhaps less fortunate. The latest community service initiative is the establishment of our very own shop which will throw open its doors tomorrow. So, if you are in the market for books, clothes, toys or sports equipment then do come and pay the team a visit. Opening hours are 10:00- 12:00 (vaccine passes are required and numbers in the shop will be limited). Proceeds are bound for excellent causes including our partner schools in Cambodia.

This may be halfway through the year, but it marks a beginning of sorts. Next week sees the start of the higher education process for Year 12 (Lower VIth). As those in the year above are receiving offers and focusing on the next step, they begin to consider their life outside of school. They will be heading up the next pitch of the climb and I know that they have every right to think ambitiously about their next move. As they do so I hope that they consider their pursuit of excellence with a greater degree of integrity than has been on show elsewhere this week.

Nicholas Hammond