“Integrity has no need of rules.”

“Integrity has no need of rules.”

The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus

And so, we reach the end of term. I hope that all pupils can reflect upon the last twelve weeks of education and conclude that they have both benefitted intellectually and learned something useful along the way. The pupils have worked hard and have demonstrated admirable resilience, it has also been good to see the reintroduction of after-school activities. The shows and concerts have been fantastic. For teachers it has been a testing time, dealing with high level of absence makes teaching more complicated and I thank them for their commitment and professionalism.

Alongside the inevitable relief of having made it to the end of term there will be some in the community who might say they have struggled more than others. Towards the end of term, tempers fray, patience can be in short supply and at times there is a lack of tolerance. It is a time when certain pupils bump up against the school rules and have to accept lessons of a different nature. Don’t assume from all of this that the BSP is descending into anarchy, far from it, behaviour management is not a topic that we have to discuss very often here and for that I am thankful. But if “it is going to happen” it will usually do so at the end of term.

I was pleased at the end of term to read a column by management guru Charles Handy that addressed, in a roundabout way, our approach to school behaviour guidance. He introduced me to a new word, subsidiarity. He talks about giving his own children the opportunity to make their own decisions, be self-reliant, to take responsibility. Subsidiarity is the delegation of responsibility to an appropriate level rather than relying on top-down measures. In the Junior School we have Golden Rules, positively framed guidance to ensure that we all get along, in the Senior School the framework is more formal, but it is much the same. There is a bit of top down, but the vast majority of interactions are positive because these are young people who know what is right and what is wrong. They demonstrate integrity. When I have to be involved with disciplinary matters, I’m usually heartened by the honesty shown by those who have lost their self-control and the willingness they show to put things right. Clearly only so many chances can be given, happily most never find themselves in the position again.

Part of our role as a school community is to develop a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong in our young people. To give them a framework to use in governing their actions. To give them the confidence to stand apart. This is no easy task, particularly when there are many influences to move them off track. At the end of a busy and tiring term it is perhaps worth reflecting on how few instances of questionable behaviour there have been and how this reflects upon our community and our self-imposed rules. So, a hearty well done to all pupils, not only for their work and commitment but for their excellent behaviour. There are many outside this community who could learn a lesson about right and wrong and integrity from you.

I hope that you have a most relaxing and enjoyable holiday.

Nicholas Hammond