Helping students to be outward-looking

One of the well-publicised problems of Covid, both for individuals and for society, has been the sense of looking inwards. Completely understandable of course, but families staying in, governments restricting movement, safety first and even internal as opposed to international politics, have all made us a bit more introspective. One of our missions is to help students be outward-looking, so it’s good to be back on that road.

Impossible then not to smile – grin even – to see fixtures once again played on a Saturday. John Fisher, a great local school, so not exactly international, but still … I know how much the boys have missed fixtures, and from tweets and emails that parents have too, so it’s good to get going and yes, we will get spectators back soon too – a plan is ready for enacting in the coming weeks. And even more important are our plans for building on Global Citizenship in the lower years, with some themed days later this term. And, without getting ahead of ourselves, to be planning the more substantial reflowering of the Whitgift spirit – that sense of both inviting lots of people in, and of getting our boys ‘out’.

These were both passionately embraced by Keith Smith, that ‘avuncular magician’ in Simon Armitage’s phrase, whose loss we feel so keenly. That might surprise some, for whom he was a great traditionalist and a long-standing steadfast presence on the Whitgift scene. But he loved nothing more than getting boys thinking outside the box, travelling widely, trying new things. Thank you, on behalf of his family, to all those who have sent such moving messages in tribute to him.

Schools are by definition constantly changing, but values don’t: passion for learning, independent thought, courtesy, giving … as we start to look outwards more than inwards, it is more exciting than I can say to be able to flex all those muscles more. Vincit qui patitur of course, but having done (most of) the enduring, striding on into the sunshine feels pretty good.

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