The turmoil of the academic year’s opening weeks is brought to a welcome end, for Headmasters, by the carefully-timed event that is the annual HMC conference. Once we reach the final week of September we feel that the great ship is well and truly underway and we look forward to the chance to escape for a few days and meet up with the other “skippers” (in two senses of the word!).
This year we are gathering at the Celtic Manor. Two years ago it was St Andrew’s. You might detect a theme here. Sadly, I am no golfer, so I’ll have to look for other amusements.
The extraordinary weather continues. We had a walk on the north Somerset coast today and it was as warm and as calm as the most perfect mid-summer’s day. It all seems rather unnatural and spooky, but I can deal with that. We’ve already had three houses’ third forms round for supper this term, and for each we happily sat outside for the whole evening.
Last week we held our inaugural Grandparents’ Day. When some wise member of the management team suggested the idea we imagined that a dozen or so grandparents might turn up. We had 90. It was a great success, logistical challenges notwithstanding. The highlight, I think, was the lesson in which grandparents sat with their grandchildren in class. In one third form maths class the adults and children sat around tables solving number problems together. What is the sum of all the digits of the numbers from 1 to 99? That had them thinking, and working well together. At our recent third form parents’ meeting one member of staff said to a parent – “your child’s doing well, but your father’s maths is a little rusty”. The response from the grandparents has been wonderful. Many have taken the trouble to write to thank us – proper, handwritten letters, or effusive emails. Either that’s because we put on an overwhelmingly splendid day, or it is the admirable habit of an older generation that they say thank you properly. Maybe both.
We also had our third form parents’ supper on Friday night, at which our newly-minted music scholars performed. They were superb. The future of music at King’s looks very strong. In fact our musicians have been on show around Taunton in the last few weeks. A newly formed jazz quartet of fourth formers played to the assembled Worshipful Company of Woolmen in Brazz (a local restaurant), and then our string group (again, lots of young players) entertained the same be-liveried crowd in the Somerset Museum the following night. And they were outstanding. The forgiving embrace of museum acoustics helped, of course, but I was a very proud headmaster that evening.
Last Friday was the birthday of St Francis of Assisi, a saint with whom I suspect our Chaplain feels some affinity. This Wednesday he will be conducting a St Francis service in our Chapel. Pupils have been asked to bring their pets, or photographs of their pets, to school and bring them to Chapel for a blessing. It will be mayhem. I really am desperately sad to be missing it…I have a golf date in Wales!
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