“I’ve just been on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday… I tell you what, never again.” – Tim Vine

One of the interesting aspects of my role in school is that I sometimes end up having the most unexpected of conversations. This week I was able to discuss the finer points of pirate etiquette with some extremely well behaved Nursery pirates and I had a conversation with a parent about famous people who insured parts of their anatomy. The insuring of digits, arms and legs is not a new thing. Following some diligent research (ok a swift dip into the guru that is Wikipedia) I’m reliably informed that Bruce Springsteen’s voice has a policy worth 5 million dollars, Julia Robert’s smile is apparently valued at 30 million dollars and the list of actors, celebrities, dancers, sports players and performers who have insured their legs is far too long to list here. The conversation led me to think about education as insurance.

It has been said before that education is one of the greatest investments that a parent can make in a child’s future. Unsurprisingly, I’d agree. Once learned, it is indeed difficult to unlearn, especially when it comes to the development of skills or character. We may need to brush up on the content, but the developed ability remains once it is acquired. Education as investment is easy to justify. But what about education as insurance? Is the link as clear?

Again unsurprisingly I’d say yes. If we define insurance as a thing providing protection against a possible eventuality, then our approach to education is a form of insurance. Over the course of this academic year pupils have developed a bank of knowledge, a group of skills and a mindset that will protect them against a possible eventuality. If we have learned anything over the past few years it is that our young people need to be flexible, adaptable and above all resilient. This year we’ve challenged and encouraged, and the results are excellent – and go far further than the academic sphere. Most recently we’ve seen that lives can be turned upside down by conflict. Our Ukrainian students have shown us that when provided with a suitable environment learning is possible, even in the most extreme and upsetting of circumstances. Their example demonstrates the importance of holistic education. When faced with a challenge we need to know how to do certain things, like make friends, build trust, and co-operate with others. We also depend on others to be ready to assist. It is education that develops these valuable character virtues and therefore provides an insurance policy that offers cover for life and all it may throw at us.

At this time of year we have the luxury of time to reflect on what has been achieved. Not simply that which is commented upon in reports but perhaps it is time to look at both our investments and our insurance. Much has been achieved but if Aristotle is to be trusted our progress to flourishing is a lifetime project – there is still much to do. The summer holiday period gives us the opportunity to reflect, to consider what needs to be done and to gather both energy and resolve. Bill Bailey observed “I think happiness really happens when you least expect it: it’s when you’re not really thinking about it, when you are not trying to achieve it.” Holidays give us the chance to think about what needs to be done rather than focusing on doing.

As we break for the summer, I would like to take this opportunity to thank parents, grandparents and guardians for their support of the school. To those who leave us, you leave with every good wish for future success from the BSP and for those who remain, we look forward to seeing you in September.

Nicholas Hammond