First Chapel of term

April 19, 2012

Headmaster's Address in Chapel, Thursday 19 April 2012

I would like to welcome you all back to school for the start of the Summer Term.

A huge amount has happened over the Easter holiday. Firstly, and most importantly, I was delighted to hear that the two successful trips, namely the ski trip and the canals trip, were enjoyed by all, and that everyone behaved superbly. Thank you for Mr Nicholson and Mr Kibler for organising these events, and to the other staff that supported.

Whilst you were all away, much work was done here at school. On top of the new medical centre being finished
to make way for the enlarge girls house, there were renovations to the Hambro corridor in preparation for that entire wing being updated for Athelstan and Hambro to enjoy. A new Kitchen was put in at the back of the tuck shop to enable more substantial food to be served; the front drive of the school was renovated; and numerous other pieces of work were undertaken. I am delighted to say that the new boarding houses along the drive, Tregonwell and Damer, are on track for completion in September. The teaching staff, who came into school for
two days at the start of this week, were given tours of the houses and will be working this term on finalising the way in which these fantastic new buildings, alongside the newly renovated two houses in the mansion, will be integrated fully into the life of the school.

I am deeply grateful to the maintenance staff, the cleaning staff, the kitchen staff and the bursary staff for all the work that they undertook during the holidays. I’m also incredibly proud of the groundstaff for the work that they have done in the last four weeks. As well as preparing the grounds for summer sports, they have also renovated the astro, done some fantastic remedial work on the golf course, and worked passionately on the farm. Joe Cooper, the Head Groundsman, has been working day and night looking after our sheep. The first Milton Abbey lamb was born on Easter Day. We’re going to keep her, and lamb from her over the coming years. We have, sadly, lost two other lambs in the last week. This is the first time that Joe has undertaken such work, and I know he would be keen to speak to you about what he has done, and how the process has worked. The lambs, pigs, chickens and the farm itself will be more integrated over time into the enrichment programme. It is a magical facility of which we can be justly proud.

I am delighted to welcome back Mrs Peach today after her maternity leave. She will be team teaching English
alongside Mrs Poignton. I am delighted that Mrs Peach and her son, Alfie, are well and it is wonderful to have her back. We also welcome Miss Barton to our community; she will be supporting Mr Lane and Mr Wood in the teaching of Business Studies. Mr Carson arrives this term to teach RE, supporting the work of Mr Barnes and the Chaplain.

Pupils will be aware that at the end of last term we appointed a new Director of Drama, Mr Duncan, to start next term. He will take over from Mrs Doubleday who will be running the Round Square programme. For those in Athelstan, Mr Barnes will be visiting this term to meet with the house, and also with parents.

The reading this morning was the parable of the talents. I felt that this would be suitable for all of us, but
especially those who are undertaking public exams. Those in the third form be made aware – the four years of school life goes incredibly quickly, and those in the MVI will tell you that your school career passes in the blink of an eye. Those in the fifth, Lower sixth and Middle Sixth, this term is not a dress rehearsal, but instead a final performance. On the 8 July school will be finished, and for some of you, adult life will begin. Up until that time,
however, I have instructed the teaching staff to keep you focussed and working hard right up until the end of exams. This summer term will for many of you be the most vital of your school career. I do not wish, on results day, to have pupils saying to me ‘I wish I could have done more’; this happened last year, and I want you to know that we as a teaching staff are doing everything possible to prepare you fully for these vitally important exams.

The reading today is about not wasting your talents. We all have skills and talents –these could be with music, sport, drama, the countryside, the farm. However strong these talents may be, we live in a society that places a huge amount of weight on academic results. Good academic grades will get you to a job interview; your talents and passions at the interview will get you the job. Therefore don’t squander this term. Don’t let yourselves down. We will be doing everything we can to help, support, guide and look out for you; you need to ensure that you are looking out for yourselves.