“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