Children at Rossall School benefit from a holistic education which owes much to the ethos and values of the International Baccalaureate Organisation and the Round Square Organisation. As a Round Square School we benefit from being part of a vibrant network of 200 like-minded schools in 50 countries, all of which are committed to developing competence, character and confidence in young people. The six Round Square IDEALS are internationalism, democracy, environmentalism, adventure, leadership and service and the overarching aim of the organisation is to develop young people with the capacity and desire to make meaningful contributions to society. As a Round Square School we recognise that there is much more to a rounded education than simply passing progressively more challenging examinations in discrete subject areas. Whilst intellectual enlightenment and academic rigour should underpin all teaching and learning, the development of character is just as important.
We are endlessly ambitious for all our pupils and the model of education which we provide transcends the classroom in every regard. Those of us who watched the Netflix drama The Crown will be familiar with the name of Kurt Hahn (1886-1974). He dominates Series 2, episode 9 and the Duke of Edinburgh credits Hahn as ‘the man that taught me to think’. Hahn founded the progressive Schule Schloss Salem and remained in Germany until Hitler became Chancellor in 1933. He spoke out openly against Hitler and was imprisoned for challenging the School’s teachers and pupils to choose between Nazism and his own well formed ideals. Ramsay McDonald negotiated his safe passage to Britain and he went on to establish Gordonstoun School, the United World College, Round Square Organisation, and he championed the development of outward bounds education. As a twentieth century educationalist, he was a colossus and his long and active life took in the horrors of two World Wars and the devastating impact of communism and fascism. In the most difficult of times he remained an optimist and he believed in the fundamental decency of humankind. He believed that a value based education system offered the only real opportunity to create a better future. The attractiveness of Kahn’s educational ideals is that they are not based on philosophical abstractions or even grounded in empirical research conducted by eminent academics. His ideals are a pragmatic response to the world within which he lived. I would argue that his ideals are both universal and eternal in terms of their relevance.
I am extremely proud that we are part of the Round Square movement and few schools can rival the focus that we place upon the development of character. Our recent residential weekends provided an excellent opportunity for pupils to work together to solve various challenges that would have been impossible to tackle without a sense of resilience and a desire to collaborate. Watching the girls of Wren House work together to transport a full bucket of water around a difficult obstacle course was utterly revealing. Very rapidly the teams discovered their own dynamic and their own rhythm. They demonstrated an extraordinary level of intuition and quickly worked together in perfect unity. Some girls assumed leadership roles while others demonstrated their capacity to think critically and solve seemingly intractable problems. All of this activity occurred amidst the outstanding beauty of the Lake District. We could argue over what an ideal childhood should look like but this weekend I had the sense that it must surely, in part, consist of opportunities such as this. I would like to thank all of our amazing staff for leading such a varied and successful programme of activities.
I was delighted to award the first of our weekly academic awards to Caitlin Hayton (Year 9) and Andres Hernandez Maduro (Year 11). I am particularly thrilled that their teachers have recommended them on account of their faultless work ethic and outstanding achievements during these first few weeks of term. I look forward to making many more awards as the term progresses.
Education is a good deal about inspiration and on Thursday evening our Upper Sixth Form were privileged to have the opportunity to meet our guest speaker, Claire Tighe, who has recently established her own public affairs consultancy Banba Communications. .Claire is also Head of UK Political Relations for the British Irish Chamber of Commerce and assists with the Chamber’s political strategy and engagement in both Westminster and Brussels. She previously managed the SDLP’s Westminster Office and was Director of the Irish4Europe campaign during the referendum on EU membership in 2016. Claire believes in the fundamental importance of young people becoming empowered through active political engagement and she is involved in various youth leadership programmes. Claire shared her experiences with warmth, candour and humour. Our career paths rarely follow a perfect trajectory and it is useful for young people to be inspired by those to whom they can readily relate. Learning how to keep going in the face of professional or personal adversity is incredibly important.
Claire Tighe – Upper Sixth Form Guest Speaker
Claire inspired us with the strength of her conviction and, at a time when the political sphere can appear cynical and jaundiced, she provided us with a fresh and entirely optimistic example.
Finally, I am looking forward to travelling to London later this afternoon to attend the Old Rossallians’ Late Summer BBQ. Whilst the weather might not seem particularly conducive to a barbeque, I am tremendously excited to have the opportunity to meet with Old Rossalians and their families. We are one community and having the opportunity to engage with all constituent parts of this community is the most wonderful privilege.
Term is well and truly underway and I know that you will share in my desire that we should encourage all our boys and girls to keep striving to fulfill their potential in all regards.
With every best wish for the forthcoming week.