“The thing that we possess, that machines don’t…”

“The thing that we possess, that machines don’t, is the ability to exhibit wisdom.”

Herbie Hancock

One sign of a successful education is that a young person has developed the ability to express their thoughts and ideas in a rational and constructive manner. There is little need to analyse the woeful start of current public discourse and I regularly am frustrated by the examples set by those in power who resort to dead cat, dog whistle or other forms of base political rhetoric. It was therefore a pleasure to have been invited to Year 12’s recent debates. The debate teams had been given a wide variety of subjects to argue over and the standard of discourse was very high indeed. Those who have been in The Hague this week at the Model United Nations have been similarly eloquent and have expressed their views with wit and rigour. Proper debate requires a good deal of research, thought and consideration. All of which are approaches we value here at the BSP.

Our young people should and do think for themselves. Over the last few weeks, the idea that we should be engaging with such ancient and antiquated notions as rhetoric and research have been called into question. The rise of accessible AI driven research tools such as ChatGPT have been the source of much media interest. Once again, the death of the teacher has been predicted and academic work as we know it pronounced revolutionised. Schools out… and not just for summer? Mike Sharples the Emeritus Professor of Educational Technology at The Open University believes that university students are already using ChatGPT to write their essays, and scientific journals are considering banning the use of AI in their research papers. There is a degree of panic.

I suspect that some of our pupils will have had a look at the services, to satisfy curiosity as much as to use the facility in earnest. I thought that I’d ask it to write the rest of this column and so posed it the simple question Will ChatGPT make teachers redundant? The answer was… well I’ll let you decide:

ChatGPT, as a language model AI, is a tool that can assist teachers in various tasks such as answering students’ questions, providing feedback, and even creating lesson plans. However, it is important to note that ChatGPT is not a substitute for human teachers. Teachers play a vital role in providing guidance, mentorship, and personal interaction to students. Furthermore, they are responsible for creating a positive learning environment, fostering critical thinking, and developing students’ social and emotional skills.

AI-powered tools such as ChatGPT can help teachers to improve their effectiveness and efficiency by automating some of their tasks and providing them with valuable data and insights. However, it is important to use these tools in a complementary way, not as a replacement for human teachers. AI-based tools can never replace the human touch, understanding, compassion and motivation that a teacher can provide.

Well, that’s good news… if the machine says it, it must be true. Have a great weekend.

Nicholas Hammond



“Now were he impostor and called himself prince…”

“Now were he impostor and called himself prince, look you that would be natural; that would be reasonable. But lived ever an impostor yet, who, being called prince by the king, prince by the court, prince by all, denied his dignity and pleaded against his exaltation?”

‘The Prince and the Pauper’, Mark Twain

It turns out that you can’t fool Reception for very long. This week I had the great honour of attending the Reception Ball in the Debussy Building. I was accompanied by the Queen, there was dancing, courtly behaviour, and a lavish spread (orange juice and a biscuit). But it didn’t take long for Reception to realise that I wasn’t in fact a King. Given the recent experiences of the British monarch perhaps I’m quite pleased not to be one. Their dancing was rather better than mine.

In my conversations with young people, they often express a worry that they aren’t living up to the images that they see each day. Having been identified as an imposter I can understand that many feel that they too are imposters. Many worry that they are not meeting expectations; we live in a world that promotes some sort of perfection as normal. Instagram, Tik Tok and a host of others bombard them on a minute-by-minute basis. Some feel that the success they earn is in some way undeserved, that any minute they will be found wanting or will come up short. They need to be resilient; they need to be prepared. We need to provide the opportunities for our young people to prove to themselves that they have more in them than they might believe. We need to ensure that both competition and comparison are handled carefully so as to get the best from them, so often their effect is negative.

As the weather gets steadily worse and the nights don’t seem to shorten this is a challenging time of year. It is a time when enthusiasm may flag. It’s the time that we need to ensure that we are making the most of all opportunities on offer, to engage with the extra-curricular programme as enthusiastically as lessons. This is a time when we can learn an enormous amount about ourselves, about who we really are. It is the time that our oldest pupils may also start to look beyond the school gates at what lies in store for them, university offers are rolling in and plans are being made for future studies around the world and in some cases close to home. This year we will see our pupils take their A levels to a wide variety of institutions around the world. They will grow, they will develop, and I hope that having had their BSP experience will be comfortable in their own character, able to play their part in whatever comes next.

Nicholas Hammond



“And now we welcome the new year…”

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

It is true that the school year has a particular rhythm, it moves along at a pace that is to be expected. There is the excitement of the start of the new term in September, the busy joyfulness of the end of the autumn term and the predictably slightly flat start of the spring term in January. Whilst this may well be the case for most schools and many school years, that hasn’t been the case this year. My thinking has been modified over the last few days because we’ve been busy, we’ve welcomed new pupils, enjoyed having visitors and are looking ahead to what is in store for the rest of the term. It has been anything but flat as a start of term. We’ve started the year at a sprint.

First and foremost, welcome to our new families. The BSP is a warm community, and we are all looking forward to getting to know you. One of the unique features of life at the BSP is that no-one stays “new” for very long, in our dynamic environment we are well used to making joiners feel welcome very quickly and ensuring that they feel at home as soon as possible. Where questions arise then please ask – an answer is usually easy to give. We are delighted to have so many new families joining us at what is for some the start of the academic year and for others is a mid-year transfer.

Spare a thought for our hardworking Year 11 and Year 13 pupils who have had the New Year treat of exams over the past week. These exams are important wayposts on the journey to academic success and fantastic results in the summer. Arguably they are a greater challenge than the real thing as preparation is short, not every course had covered all of the material and skills have yet to be honed in readiness for the summer. Results now will be used carefully and give teachers the opportunity to tailor provision to the needs of students; whilst a good result is satisfying, spotting where more work is required is perhaps an equal achievement at this point in the year.

It has been a week of visits as well as a time for settling back into school life. We were delighted to welcome Mme Alexandra Dublanche, her Choose Paris Region team and our Croissy Mayor, M. Davin so they could see the school and be able to make our offer more widely known. I know that all left school with no doubt that ours is a unique and vibrant environment, and who would not when treated to an impromptu performance of Pitter Patter Raindrops by Reception, a chance encounter with a class of Victorian children and their rather terrifying teachers (Year 2) and a high-level discussion about the habits and lifestyles of penguins (Nursery)? We also had the chance to show our school to Mr. Greg Mulheirn our new British Embassy representative on the Governing Board. Mr. Mulheirn is well versed in school governance having served in this capacity at the British School of Tokyo. He comes with a wealth of experience and will work with us alongside his day job as liaison representative for the Rugby World Cup and 2024 Olympics.

While the weather may well be miserable, the BSP is warming up. It is going to be a great year and this weekly newsletter will chronicle our achievements.

Nicholas Hammond