A few thoughts

As the end of our first week of term approaches, I am conscious that it is also a new beginning. The excitement and anticipation of pupils and staff is manifest in all aspects of School life. We are blessed to have a School full of boys and girls who are eager to embrace all the opportunities that membership of this wonderful community bestows. It is now, and especially now, that the very special nature of Rossall reveals itself to me.

Our boys and girls are truly outstanding individuals. Their generosity of spirit and friendly demeanour has made the last few days a time of warmth and optimism. How lucky we are to be a School where children have the confidence and consideration to greet you with a smile and engage you in conversation. This openness and desire to make newcomers feel welcome runs through the very core of this community. Yesterday evening, I spent some time in Anchor House and it is impossible not to be struck by the outstanding quality of the positive dynamic that pervades the house. Helen and Lee Gair are houseparents extraordinaire and the fact that our new boarders feel so well settled is due to the love and care of this remarkable couple who have chosen to make this a way of life. Rossall is a school populated by staff who recognise that their professional roles are all pervasive. Working in a boarding school is a vocation as much as a career.

If Wednesday was a day of celebration as we beheld a Chapel full of impeccably smart pupils ready to embark upon the new academic year, then Tuesday was a day when we reflected upon our safeguarding procedures with members of Council and the Senior Leadership Team. I am delighted to say that our annual safeguarding audit was a tremendous success and this is on no small account due to the tireless hard work of Robert Robinson (Senior Deputy Head), and Mark Pryor and Katie Lee our two designated safeguarding leads. However, it is also a reflection upon all of our staff who have worked so hard over recent times to ensure that the level of pastoral care at Rossall exceeds statutory regulations and places us in a category of schools that are excellent in this regard. I am fortunate to be Headmaster of a school where an external audit finds that we should all have a very high level of confidence in the quality of our safeguarding culture.

On the first day of term, I talked to children about the finite nature of life. I suggested that this was not a cause for sorrow but a thought that should motivate us to live life in all of its spectacular and beguiling vividness. In some regards, such thoughts should also remind us to treat those around us with kindness and love. I remember being struck by the Dutch war film, Left Luggage which tried to reflect the anxiety of the Jewish community in Antwerp during the German occupation. It is not an outstanding film but one line stayed with me; an elderly man muses that one should never say goodbye to a friend or family member without saying that you love him or her. That thought has always stayed with me and it is a thought worth reflecting upon as parents, sons and daughters given that we live in an age where young people may become distracted by technology and lost in virtual worlds often devoid of sentiment. As adults, we become distracted by the relentless business of life and we have to cope with conflicting pressures upon our precious time. Yet I would argue that whether our children are far or near, we need to express our unconditional love in a way which is open and reassuring and we should always guard against the risk of lapsing into mundane routines characterised by monosyllabic greetings and cursory nods. After all, many of us grew up in a less demonstrative age and very few of us over the age of forty were ever encouraged to talk about our feelings. Yet, I am sure that we want our children to grow up in a context which will equip them to be confident, happy and empowered within their own relationships friendships. Thankfully, Rossall develops young people who are remarkably confident in their own skins.

Finally, this is an exciting time and the School is entering a period of sustained development. It is our responsibility to encourage all of our children to embrace every aspect of School life. Above all else, I want them to feel inspired to become lifelong learners. I want them to perceive the importance of working hard. We do live in a competitive world and they need to know that they need to earn their places at university or access to the careers of their choosing. It is not just about pragmatism. Education is more than a facilitator. The intrinsic value of education is not measurable but it serves to shape the development of character. It enhances the cultural and intellectual aspects of our lives and empowers us to make meaningful contributions to society. It broadens our emotional landscape and, in itself, the quest for knowledge and understanding, motivates us to keep on reflecting and to keep on growing.

The Chapel Choir this morning sounded on excellent form and our Director of Music, Margaret Young has worked wonders in a very short time so many congratulations to her and her fine musicians. Finally, I would like to share with you a painting which Year 7 pupil Miki Safronov-Yamamotto gave me on Wednesday. It was a lovely gesture from a very talented young lady. It radiates brightness, happiness and positivity – all of which are in abundance here at Rossall.

I hope that you all have a lovely weekend!