“Wisdom is welcome wherever it comes from.” – Bandamanna Saga

We were visited by Vikings this week. Happily not much obvious pillaging took place, and the buildings are still standing. Year Four had the opportunity to learn about this fascinating group of people from the past, to understand how and why their reputation is not always as clear cut as popular culture might suggest. It isn’t all long boats and raids, but there is a fair amount of migration and farming. One element of Viking culture that just about every historian can agree on was the importance of the oration given at a Viking’s funeral. The eulogy outlined the highlights of a life lived and was often expressed in terms of virtue rather than achievement. Courage, wisdom, integrity and excellence were all prized greatly in this particular culture.

When I have the chance to speak to our oldest pupils about their university applications it sometimes feels that we are dealing with these eulogy values rather than the achievements that might find their way onto another application form. The wider purpose of education is to develop these characteristics, to build the capacity to live a life to the full, to flourish. Last weekend I was delighted to see so many members of the community representing the school in the Paris Schools football tournament. In the middle of the week it was equally good to see others taking time to play rugby and netball against a visiting team at a time when there are plenty of other things on. The team from Bede’s will remember the warmth and hospitality that they experienced and the competitiveness of our teams. Great to see a sense of community, a striving to discover our limits, endeavouring to win and in doing so demonstrating both excellence and integrity. Eulogy values indeed.

This week also saw the commemoration of a great supporter of the school. Mr. James Harman was a governor of the school for twenty-eight years. He gave his time and his expertise selflessly and to the great benefit of the community, not only in his specialist area of financial management but in many areas of the school’s life. He will be missed by his family and his contribution to the development of the BSP will be remembered for many years here.

Today I was visited by a pupil who is keen that we find a way to demonstrate our concern for the safety of young people in Iran. It was clear that this was a request that was being made, not for any political viewpoint, but out of concern for young people in that particular country. If we are thinking about eulogy values then I am encouraged by the empathy, care and kindness shown by our group of young people.

Nicholas Hammond