From the Deputy Head Master – Summer Hill

From the Deputy Head Master – Summer Hill

We have had a significant number of students in Middle and Senior School presenting to the Health Centre with cold and ‘flu symptoms in the last two days, a number of whom have been sent home because they are unwell. If your son is showing any signs or symptoms of cold or ‘flu he must not attend School.

May I also ask that you continue to encourage your sons to practice good hygiene. Handwashing, hand sanitising, covering coughs and sneezes, using tissues, and disposing of them immediately, encouraging your sons to maintain social distancing, including avoiding handshaking and the sharing of drinks and food, are all sensible and reasonable measures that we ought to practise as a matter of course.

This week I had the pleasure of visiting the Field Studies Centre for the first time since 2019, and I was delighted to see the young men of Year 9 throwing themselves into the programme and marvelled again at the beauty of the setting. It is such a wonderful facility that I almost wished I was 15 again, but only for a moment! The programme is formative in so many ways and, from the very beginning when the Pine Bluff Campus was the site we used, almost without exception, many of the young men of the School reflect on the value of the residential component of the programme and the growth they experience from living in community, learning to be independent and being disconnected from social media and the day-to-day administrative minutiae of the modern young person’s world. That is not to say that every young man loves the time away from home, nor is it to say that every young man finds the experience easy. But that is perhaps the point. We believe that boys and young men need to be challenged, so much so, that the very notion forms part of the ethos of Trinity which notes, in part that:

Educating boys in mind, body and spirit requires us to value breadth in educational experiences. In these formative years of schooling, boys benefit from their participation in, and exposure to, a wide variety of curricular and co-curricular activities and experiences. School should be a time for expanding horizons and exploring new possibilities. We are convinced that our boys are better equipped for the years to come if they have a broad base of interests, capabilities, experiences and memories by the end of their school years.

This breadth of our educational offering necessarily challenges our students. We believe that there is more in them than they know. Therefore, we require and encourage them to lean into the challenges that they face, and to seek to overcome obstacles. In academics, in co-curricular, and in their participation in our community, we have high expectations of them. Their experience of these challenges is preparing them for the road ahead.

However, at the same time we challenge our students, we also support them. The journey from childhood through adolescence to adulthood is not easy, and each of our boys has unique needs and circumstances. In partnership with families, we aim to ensure that they are adequately and appropriately supported, at whatever stage of their development, to give them every chance of experiencing success. They do not face their battles alone; their School is for them.

In challenging and supporting our students across the breadth of our education, our focus is on growth. The School celebrates excellence in performance, and many of our boys rise to the highest of standards in the various spheres of their endeavour, but growth is the more important lens through which we look. Every student can learn, every skill can be developed, and every boy can make progress.

We also had a fine address on the Quad from Hugh Browning (12Du) who opened with the amusing observation that it was difficult coming up with a topic for a speech as there is always an inclination to reiterate the classic points like why you should study hard, why you should set goals or why you should create a study plan. And as true as these are, I feel that these exhortations tend to go in one ear and out the other. So, in a last-ditch effort to figure out what I wanted to say I asked myself one question; what is it that I would’ve wanted to hear as a young bloke at Trinity?

You see, I’m a member of Dulwich House and every year since I was in Year 7, we have a tradition of asking the Year 12s at the end of each year what they would have done differently. And every year, I would hear the same thing over, and over again; “I wish I did more co-curriculars,” “I wish I had more fun,” “I wish I tried more things.” And every year I wondered why these boys all have such similar answers. So, I decided that I wouldn’t have that same answer in Year 12 and I decided to get involved in as many things as I could. I have participated in 8 or 9 co-curricular activities, been a stellar bench warmer for multiple sporting teams and been sent about 100 emails about how the co-curricular transfer window had already closed, and I don’t regret any of it. And for one main reason, it has helped me discover what it is I want to do.

What I’m going to say next is a cliché, but the reason things are cliché is because they tend to be true. What I want to say to you is that every single one of you has something to offer. Whether you know it now or not you are 100% unique and matter to the world, and so I suggest that you go and find what it is that makes you so unique. Maximise the opportunities provided by the School.

When I came to Trinity, I was Rohan and James Browning’s little brother. I was presumed to be a fantastic athlete and academic, and was compared to them constantly, and so for me, figuring out what I wanted to do and carving out my own path at Trinity was a difficult trek through the barriers of others’ expectations. Today I stand here as a Dulwich Year 12 young man who can honestly say I have no regrets, and I have been able to figure out who I am. If I can get just one of you lads around the Quad today to try something different and separate yourself from the pack, I can walk away a happy keynote speaker.

Bradley Barr | Deputy Head Master – Summer Hill

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