Headmaster’s thoughts – memories.

20th June 17

It is as vivid a memory as if it happened yesterday. Despite it being very early in the morning, the October Saharan heat was starting to make its presence felt. We were returning from quite the most extraordinary adventure deep into the Sahara desert, visiting the UNESCO world heritage site of Ghadames, standing on the unmarked border between Libya, Tunisia and Algeria and camping in the dunes with shooting stars zipping across the sky whilst being serenaded by our tour guide who unfortunately had acquired a taste for Boyzone.

We were driving through an unmarked town en route to Tripoli when Salah, our guide pulled over to perform his prayers. It was the first morning of Eid and the sense of celebration and happiness was palpable in the small village. Young boys and their fathers were proudly walking in their newly acquired clothes to the mosque, greeting us with warm handshakes and bemused curiosity. Their optimism struck me as utterly simplistic, naive. Even now, ten years on, I look back with great fondness that for those few minutes our lives had intertwined; eye contact made, smiles exchanged and a genuine warmth and a sharing of the special day. The sense of privilege that I shared from being a part of their day remains with me today.

Fast forward to June and I found myself writing about the wonderful memories that the children will make through competing at the utterly impressive Sir Mo Farah Athletics Track at St. Mary’s University. Nothing beats your first experience of running on a full track. The scale and surprising distance that is a 400m track is somewhat awe-inspiring even now. How lucky our children are to be able to say that they have run on the same track as Sir Mo. Hopefully they will refrain from doing a Mo-bot…

Whether it is the memories of their sports day, a day out at Chessington or camping out with their classmates, our children will add them to their tapestry of experiences that they too will cherish. Do not underestimate just what joy these events bring to their teachers and helpers who will sleep well as a result their efforts but who are also making their own memories.

As important as it is to measure and analyse pupil data and measure their progress we are fortunate in the independent sector to also be encouraged to measure what makes the school unique, special. Each school has a story to tell. What better stories than the memories we all make not just on special days such as Sports Day and camping trips but also the ‘normal’ days when a child comes to me to show their work or tells me about his AR project, encouraged to develop a love of ICT or coding through the passion of a first rate and commited teacher. What a privilege that is to behold, a teacher who lights a fire, who believes in creating memories despite having reports to write, moderation meetings to attend, a camp out to organise, have a cold or are suffering from the natural end of term fatigue.

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