“Time and space for a full education”

Friday 12th May 2017

May 12, 2017 at 2:06 PM

Sporting success

It has been a fantastic fortnight. Some wonderful weather has helped blossoms and blooms burst out all over the site and has made for some fine sporting conditions too. There have been some super highlights in this arena to report. The 1st XI cricket team are fresh from a victory which saw them score the highest innings total for a 1st team for some years (193), thanks largely to an outstanding partnership between Archie F. and Jack H. who scored 68 runs apiece, with able support from Jack S. On the same day, the U11A rounders team won a cracking game against Taunton School, 16.5-16, putting in a great team performance all-round. At an individual level, we have had the news that Tom N. in Year 7 has made the West Panthers hockey team and will now play for them in the U13 national boys’ cup championship; and Anouska has followed in her older sister’s footsteps, achieving some superb show jumping results which have put her through to the International Scope Show Jumping Festival. What a set of reminders of the excellent levels to which Perrott Hillians’ sport frequently develops. Shortly, we send an U11 team and an U13 team to the IAPS sailing regatta and we wish them well.

Music to our ears

We have also recently enjoyed an informal concert at the music school; the first which has allowed the recital room to be opened up to the adjacent decking area (or ‘Headmaster’s Gin Terrace’ as some mischievous staff have taken to calling it). Although the outdoor seating proved a little cool for some, we all nevertheless revelled in the chance to sit amidst such a stunning landscape and listen to the performing pupils make wonderful music. I do encourage you to come and enjoy the next such concert, even if your child isn’t performing.

Senior school transition

Two weeks ago, I attended a discussion morning for prep heads at one of the many highly reputed senior schools to which we send pupils. There were perhaps some 16 of us heads there from across the south of England, plus members of the senior school’s Senior Management Team. The focus: prep to senior school transition. There were some incredibly interesting debates. Much discussed was the increasing presence of ‘pre-testing’ in senior schools’ admissions procedures. The only consensus seemed to be that:

a)      the ISEB pre-test, while well-intentioned, was creating an ever-more-complicated playing field for prep schools and parents with regards senior school entry due to the many different times across Years 6 & 7 that various senior schools require it;

b)      there was unlikely to be much hope of this being simplified with a common line from all senior schools – thus being an independent sector can have its occasional downs as well as ups…

All this debate certainly prompted me to consider how we can further assist parents in the timely choosing of a senior school and the many idiosyncrasies that can lie along the path to ensuring that each of our wonderful and unique children are happily destined for a senior school where they will thrive.

Beyond Perrott Hill

The other prominent discussion at that morning was regarding the experience of Year 9 and beyond. The senior school’s evidence was clear: firstly, that an increasing number of pupils are manifestly affected by the prevalence of social media and the significant disruption this can potentially wreak on their experience in every other area; and secondly, that an increasing number of parents are anxious to step in to try and protect and manage their teenagers’ low-level needs rather than allow their independence to grow and the school to manage matters with the pupil. It proved a salutary confirmation that the work we seek to achieve at Perrott Hill in developing emotional literacy, social skills and empathy will help our children ultimately to manage relations, and thus aspects of social media, more effectively, so promoting a smoother ride and greater success in their academic and extra-curricular life as they get older.

The kindness of humanity

Mr Andrews’s talk to the Year 3-8 pupils on the Friday of Exeat proved a remarkable tonic to these preoccupations in my mind. I can genuinely say that all the audience seemed profoundly affected by his tale of the passing of his good friend, Tony, and his commitment (with another friend, Anthony) to cycle 17,000 miles around much of the world with Tony’s ashes in aid of Brain Tumour Research. Complete with the presence of his valiant steed of a bicycle, Mr Andrews shared many wonderful anecdotes and messages. The one that seemed to stick most clearly in everyone’s minds was this: that through his 17 months of cycling through 24 countries, not once did he and Anthony experience anything other than the singular, common kindness of humanity. What an uplifting thing for the pupils to take away when the news is so dominated by stories at the other end of the scale.

Cupcake, anyone?

Finally, it seems to have been a fortnight of far too many food ‘treats’ for me… Twice a term, the prefects come to my study for tea, cakes and sandwiches as a ‘thank you’ for all they do. In addition to the first of these this term, with all the good company that entailed, I have also hosted junior and senior ‘Headmaster’s tables’ at lunch recently in order to say a big ‘well done’ to a pupil from every tutor group who has shown particularly good manners and courtesy: ice cream and sprinkles for pudding, of course. And then there was little Renée – shortly to join Nursery – who made my week by passing me as she arrived with her brother, Hugo, in the morning carrying a box full of cupcakes for her birthday: whilst delighted that she should so kindly and sweetly offer me one, I was promptly told that it could only be ‘one of the pink ones’…

Until next time,

Tim Butcher,