Headmaster’s Address - Speech Day 2018
20th July 2018
Mr Chairman, Governors, Guests, Parents, Staff and pupils, welcome to Speech Day and what a start. My first thank you of the day goes to our musicians for showcasing their talents, particularly those for whom today marks the end of their time here. I would also like to thank the PTA for the colourful decorations left from the very successful Summer Party last weekend.
This time last year I stood before you and suggested that there never have been such uncertain times – little did I think that I would be here now having even less certainty and more importantly, having seen England win a penalty shoot out! Never have there been such times. What hasn’t changed though is how Trinity is preparing and equipping our pupils with the skills they’ll need to operate on, and in, a dizzyingly dynamic post-school world. In the past we used to talk about having a road map for success. I suppose nowadays we would talk about having a Sat Nav to guide us through life. But what would these instructions sound like. Would they be the same for everybody? As a school we work hard to ensure that we can give direction and guidance for beyond the school gates, not just how to get to the end of the drive.
This thought resonated with me a couple of days ago when I was at home with my children. I was assisting my daughter with her homework when we received a text from Natalie, which read, “What do you want from life?”
Now, this was a somewhat unexpected and undeniably profound question for a Year 6 pupil who was completing her preparations for the summer concert. However, knowing that her mum could be a bit spontaneous and would want an answer we decided to have a go. After getting past the fact that she had already been a Spice Girl in Trinity’s Got Talent, we thought long and hard. Love? Wealth? Exam success? All three?
Five minutes later, we received a second message, which contained a number of red faced emoji’s and the statement ‘I hate predictive text, I meant Lidl not life.’
Reverend Jonathon led the school community in prayer.
The Chair of Governors, Simon Brookman, gave his address outlining some of the highlights of the year as well as presenting flowers, on behalf of the Governing Body, to Natalie Coen, to thank her for her support of the Headmaster throughout the year.
Rachel Eaton-Jones, Head of the Prep Department, gave a review of the Prep Department and thanked staff for their contributions in making the school such a vibrant and happy place to learn and work.
Many thanks Rachel. I know that you would really like me to say nothing about your departure for warmer climes this summer but I’m afraid we simply cannot do that!
Now, there is an awful lot that I could say about Rachel and I hope that I could do her justice. She has made a significant impact on Trinity since her arrival 6 ½ years ago. The prep school has seen continued growth – not just in numbers but also in pride, academic excellence, sporting success, reputation and whilst difficult to measure, happiness. And not just of pupils, but of parents and the staff that have worked for you.
Rachel, we thank you for all you have done and know how lucky Marlborough College are to have you. One of the best things you have done is leave an extremely strong staff team who will continue and develop upon your good work. We have a few presents for you!
Leaving presents given on behalf of the school by the Headboy and Headgirl.
You have in front of you our latest edition of The Trinitionian. Please take your time to enjoy it and soak in everything that goes on at the school. I hope that as you digest everything you can appreciate the time, effort and commitment shown by staff. For every success, achievement and accolade in the Trinitionian, there must be more than double that number occurring on a termly basis. They can only be achieved by our fantastic staff following our mantra of ‘The Individual Approach’ and trying to ensure that we live out our school vision with all those key life skills we believe are so important. There are a few staff leaving, details of whom are in the Trinitionain. I wish them all the best in their next adventures but know you will hold Trinity pupils and staff close to your heart. Thank you staff, for all you do in and out of the classroom, before, whilst and after the children are here. I appreciate it, the governing body appreciate it and I am aware our families here value it.
I would also like to thank all those here that support me and the school in this role – yourselves, the pupils, staff, the governing body and my very understanding wife, Natalie, and our family. I could not do this job on my own.
A couple of years ago, at a Navy Seal passing out ceremony, Admiral William McRaven, famously told the new recruits ‘If you want to change the world, start by making your bed!’ Wise words and I can tell from the number of nodding heads that many parents are already impressed by this Admiral.
The deeper meaning of this resonates with what we do here at Trinity. Success, accolades and progress, do not come easily. Some days are good and some are not so good, but try and make sure you get into the habit of achieving and completing at least one challenge or task every day. Set yourself a challenge every day – if it goes well, set another and then another. However, challenges don’t have to be grand gestures, unrealistic goals or unachievable. Just make sure you achieve at least one task a day. Make your bed in the morning, every morning. If you have a good day then this will not be the only task you have completed. However, have a bad day, and we all have them, then when you return home, your bed is still made and you have still achieved one task.
The fabulous Green Car Challenge vehicles that you see here represent a significant learning point for me this year. There have been more students than ever involved, sponsorship events and significant input from sponsors (for which we thank you), two cars, hours and hours in the work shop. After the recent event, Mr Donaldson called me in a rather despondent mood. We hadn’t won, got a medal or even special recognition. Rather than joining his despondency, I felt the opposite.
Just because you work really hard, support each other, give up your free time and show huge commitment, they do not guarantee immediate success. Success in the Green Car Challenge is a long term goal and possibly not as important as the journey. Lessons learnt this year will help us achieve accolades in future years.
Success is not instant.
Complete one task, it will lead to the next.
Tomorrow sees some of our senior students depart on our first World Challenge expedition to Morocco, led by Mrs Atkins. Success in this has and will not be instant. Mistakes will be made, there may even be tears, but the individual development will be huge. Our Ten Tors team this year, the first we have had for many years, was fantastic. Many pupils expressed an interest but few stuck at it. One task was completed at a time which then led to the next success and then the next. It was not instant.
So, what would your Sat Nav instructions look like?
The first would be to try and think about what makes you happy?
Truly happy. My view is that you should not seek this elusive thing called happiness. It is a feeling, an emotion, a state of being. It is not constant and you can’t revise for it. Try to make other people content. Define yourself by what you love and not by what you don’t like. How often do people tell you about what they don’t like? I don’t like football (although we may do at the moment!), I don’t like him/her, I hate sport/art/ science/ everything! Stop. Be pro. Let people know you for what you love and what you can do for others.
Be hard on your own opinions – be critical of them. Challenge them and try and understand why others may disagree with you. It doesn’t mean you have to join the crowd/ change your view, but at least be able to explain why you have that opinion.
Now you know what makes you happy, think about what makes you angry?
The entrepreneur Trevor Bayliss, who famously invented the wind up radio, did so because he was angry about the HIV and Aids epidemic in Africa. He realised that the way to stop the spread was by educating the poor and geographically isolated communities. Difficult to do with no electricity. Hence the wind up radio. He was angry and did something about it.
You don’t have to have a massive dream. Great if you do and it provides a background but focus on it too much then you will miss the now.
I started the year by challenging our pupils to be interested and interesting. This will get them further than just the fantastic exam results they will achieve here.
So my final bit of advice is to fill life. You’ll be relieved to know parents that I don’t mean attending more clubs/ events which require more hours of driving and supporting. I mean fill life by learning as much as you can. Be curious about what is around you. Have passion. Ask questions and then ask some more. Become interesting. Fill life as it is precious and will fly by. Do it now. Don’t wait.
I enjoy swimming in the sea. This is often a lonely experience for me and the mind wanders – usually to what would happen if a shark decided to swim with me – highly unlikely in Teignmouth I know! However, upon further research, I found that the advice is that if a shark starts showing an interest then it will start to circle you. At this point you should not swim away. Stand your ground and let them circle. Be brave and if they do attack, hit them hard on the nose. They should then back off.
There are many sharks in life, who will circle and look for that fear. And it may not be something physical, it may be an emotion – fear of something, anxiety about situations or uncertainty about the future. Whatever it is, stand your ground, be brave, confront the shark and if it comes for you, give it a mighty metaphorical whack on the nose!
Our young men and women here need to be happy, they need to hold themselves in esteem and have self-confidence – it is our mission to try and ensure that this is the case for every single pupil. Promoting academic excellence does not mean ‘hot housing’. Outstanding pastoral care is not at odds with an insistence on high academic standards. On the contrary; pupils who are cared for, valued for their unique individual abilities and are encouraged to take advantage of all the opportunities available to them, will acquire that curiosity, that life-long love of learning, in all its wonderful forms. Whilst the Sat Nav may not be perfect, and a few wrong turns taken, the ability to reflect and consider what is important, can certainly help with a successful journey
And if in doubt, or struggling, always make your bed.
July 5th 2018