Back on track

By | 5 March 2012

Oops – missed a week.  Apologies!  I do know that a blog should be current and it does not look good to go silent, especially when you’re not even on holiday – but last week just ran away from me.  Actually, in the nicest possible way.  Spent Wednesday visiting Lichfield Cathedral School and revisiting old haunts – my earliest memories are of Lichfield, which we left when I was about 5.  Lovely, human-scale city, with a fine cathedral served by the choir boys of the Cathedral School.  My thanks to Cara O’Donnell for her time showing me around.  Boarding which is fitted into a Bishop’s Palace with all the problems of ancient buildings and listed-ness is a very different business from the now-frequently seen new-build boarding, and as always, it’s the warmth of the staff and the relationships within the building which make it work.
On Thursday to Kent College Canterbury, high on its hill, and an excellent tour with the School Captain.  Lots of refurbishment going on, again fitted into the walls of an original building.  I often think on such tours that if the guide disappeared, I would never find my way back to the main entrance, but students are always completely at home and quick to talk about why they chose this school over the two others they saw at the moment of choice – usually they confirm what I suspect, that choosing a boarding school is like deciding to buy a house – when you walk through the door, you just know, even if you can’t articulate it very clearly for others.  My thanks to Chris Joy, the eminently wise Head of Boarding, for his time and hospitality on a busy afternoon.
From the hill down to town for the King’s Canterbury production of ‘West Side Story’ – superb!  A truly inspiring evening in the Marlowe Theatre – a stage full of young men and women dancing and singing their way through that fabulous score, and a school orchestra sounding completely professional.  I have been humming ever since, and wondering how A level classes went for the last couple of days of the week with this young cast performing 5 times between Wednesday and Saturday night.  But what an experience to remember for the rest of their lives.  Here at BSA, we would say such opportuinities are a major attraction of the boarding life.  Peter Roberts, Headmaster, positively glowed wirth pride at all that these young people had been able to accomplish.
Today – to the Annual Conference of The Society of Heads, held near Croydon – another revisiting of old haunts, since I started my career lecturing at Croydon Tech.  I will be joining a panel to discuss the new inspection regime and to hear from the audience how it is going on the floor (in both senses of the words). We live in interesting times – new NMS, new inspection regime.  Readers expecting an inspection of baording in the near future would do well to consult the ISI website and download the inspection documentation which gives you an idea of what inspectors are looking for.  Also, remember that the national agenda for safeguarding children has moved a long way in the last ten years, whoever does the inspecting – boarding provision has to be spot on with the welfare of children right at its heart.
And with that, if you have been, thank you for reading, and happy week!
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