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Approaching the end of the summer term

‘History is now and England’ is one of those pub-quiz quotes which might stretch even the Eng Lit specialist – it’s TS Eliot in fact and despite the fact that the preceding line is ‘while the light fails, On a winter's afternoon, in a secluded chapel’, a summer’s evening on North Field, with the 1st XI finishing a fine (and victorious) match against Cranleigh felt pretty quintessentially English too. As does the end of a summer term and Graduation, for me always a moving occasion. And for the U6 too, I think: thank you to Ms Patrick for organising, to Mr Burnside and Mr Griffiths for fine addresses, and to Gus for his: thoughtful and moving. It was wonderful to see so many parents, separated it is true from the main action, but able at last and at least to say a proper farewell. Thank you all.

No apologies for repeating two messages I tried to give. In fact a fellow London Head has also pushed one of them: the need to be open to other opinions, however challenging, to your own. ‘It’s OK to come to your own conclusions’, the Head of Sutton High School has rightly said, and I agree. As our leavers go on, mostly to great universities, I hope that that open-ness to disagreement and debate will be one of the things they take away. It has never been more needed.

A colleague asked me if it is hard to find new things to say on these occasions. It is, of course, but one thing I make no apology for repeating word for word: ‘never forget the good fortune you have had, and be ready in your turn to give back’ is a simple formula, but if students at a school like Whitgift don’t, what hope have we? They will. They already have, thanks to the brilliant Lands End to John O’Groats challenge, which you can still give to … here!

But the great thing about schools (and why they are such fantastic places to work) is that new generations come along. Our youngest pupils have been engrossed in Global Citizenship, leadership and performance skills. I did I confess wonder about puppetry, but no-one who watched the brilliant experts getting wonderful improvisation out of the boys could doubt this is a great way to gain creativity. This week the Third Form engage in Model United Nations – no better way to make yourself think of things from a different viewpoint. And the Arts Festival succeeds Brasstonbury in the Andrew Quad auditorium, already a favourite venue, distracting though it is to my chances of work!

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