Prize giving 2022 – Headmaster’s address

“Ladies and gentlemen, guests, boys, and staff – it is my great honour to welcome you here today, to St Marys’, and to have had your company for this wonderful prize giving.

“What is fantastic is that so many of us are here, today, to celebrate the many and varied achievements of our boys, and to be so wonderfully entertained by our musicians.

“Before we go any further, please can we show our appreciation for our guitarists and our brass players, who have done so well today.

“It has been an honour today to award such a terrific number of prizes, and to the parents of prize winners, if your son has won a prize and now says he has nothing to read this summer, that is absolutely not to be believed.

“This end-of-year ceremony is one in which we must make sure we pause to thank a wide range of people and to say our goodbyes.

“Our Year 13 leavers are not here today but we celebrated with them a couple of weeks ago and it was a wonderful occasion for me to be able to bid them a fond farewell and to hear the boys and their parents speak so warmly about the School.

“Today is also the time to offer a public vote of thanks to all of our departing staff. They are a group of people who have worked extremely hard in their time in the School, and we should all be very grateful indeed for their contributions. Of course, all of the staff here today work incredibly hard and do a huge amount for the School, so could I ask you all please to offer a warm round of applause and thanks to all of the Wetherby Senior School staff.

“As we bid farewell to both staff and boys who move on to pastures new, it is also a time to reflect on the year that has passed and to look ahead to next year. For me, this year has seemed to pass in a flash. It does not seem very long ago at all that I was moving my boxes of books into my office and starting to learn some names and learn my way around the School. On a personal note, I have had a wonderful year, and am extremely grateful to all of you here today and to the wider school community for having made me feel so welcome. The people who I was in touch with, in advance of my arrival – both the directors at the Alpha Plus Group and senior members of staff here at the School, spoke of a school that was already incredibly successful but also warm and welcoming. And whilst I wanted to believe them and was looking forward to getting going, it really took my being here to realise just how much they meant it and what a special place this is.

“So, whilst we will all enjoy the break, and I will be heading off to France for some time with my family, I am already looking forward to our return in September and the start of a new school year. Although some of the boys and staff here today might be inwardly groaning at my saying this, I do think that September in schools is a time for fresh starts and new beginnings, a time of renewal, of clean first pages in exercise books, new friends to meet and get to know, old friends to catch up with and share news of your summer adventures both near and far, new teachers and new timetables. We often return to school in bright sunshine and warm weather, and although the evenings have already shortened slightly, the warmth and usually good weather add to a generally happy feeling as we get back to it.

“For me, next year will be my second year at Wetherby Senior School, and perhaps this adds to my eagerness to crack on. Having seen the School in action this year, I cannot help but be excited about where we are going, and what lies around the corner.

“All of you here today, parents, pupils, and staff, and those who couldn’t make it today, have been instrumental in helping the School become such a wonderful place to be. I have seen time and time again this year acts of kindness, of boys having fun, I have watched outstanding lessons, been entertained by wonderful plays and concerts, celebrated sporting successes, heard about personal triumphs on Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, and on a daily basis felt fortunate to be a part of this special community.

“Last week, I was adding my comments to the reports of all boys in Years 7, 8, and 9. There are many ways to assess the health of a school, but it occurred to me last week that reading a large number of reports gives a very clear impression not just of the boys here, but of the School in general.

“For me, from the reports I have read, and the measure of the School I have taken this year, I would choose two adjectives to describe the School and they are ‘Happy’ and ‘Ambitious.’ In some ways, maybe I am pre-disposed towards these two, as they are also a good fit for how I feel right now, in terms of where I want the School to go.

“For our boys and parents in Years 11 and 13, we all know that they are now waiting for GCSE and A Level results to be published in August. Whilst there are a great many different variables in play this year, after two years of there not having been public exams in the country, I am confident that the boys will have done very well indeed. Throughout the year, I have seen them engaging with their studies, and receiving first-class support from their teachers. For you boys here today, who are at different points in your Wetherby Senior journey, you should know that I am academically ambitious for you all. I look at the measures we have of you and I know that you are capable of great things. I look at the teachers who teach you, and the facilities we have, and I know that my sense of ambition for all of you is not misplaced. Wetherby Senior School is a happy and thriving school, and will continue to be so, but at the same time we will help you to flourish and grow as individuals whilst having the highest expectations of your success, and knowing that together we will achieve this.

“Boys, your feeling a clear sense of belonging, of being a Wetherby Senior boy, of being happy and secure, and your thriving and growing and flourishing as individuals is, in my mind, of the upmost importance. I believe if we get this right, then your academic successes will follow. Happy students are successful students. Many of you boys will have enjoyed a whole range of co-curricular clubs and activities this year, and looking ahead to September, you can look forward to the continued development and expansion of this programme – I want there to be something for everyone, new things to try, and familiar and enjoyable sports and activities to return to. The same can be said for trips and visits – we want to offer a breadth of opportunities and chances throughout your time here to explore not just London but parts of the UK and indeed the world. As we continue to broaden our curriculum, we will place an even greater emphasis on our already excellent charitable work, as well as opportunities for service and outreach in both our local community and more widely. The successful Wetherby Senior boy will look beyond the boundaries of our School and out into the wider world, and ask himself where the opportunities are to contribute in a meaningful way. We will continue to develop our careers provision for you, to draw in expertise from across many different fields and professions to open your eyes to the opportunities that you will have when you leave us, and we will prepare you for the most competitive universities, both in the UK and globally.

“But, of course, the bedrock on which these ambitions are built, the foundation to academic success and to your happiness and flourishing and growing as people is our tremendous level of pastoral care. We are fortunate to have an extremely talented group of people supporting you, boys, and I know first hand the work that they put into looking after you, into guiding and supporting you, and into working with your tutors to ensure that every aspect of your school care is done right. Next year, as I have increased the number of people with pastoral responsibility, I have done so full in the knowledge that their hard work unlocks my ambitions for all of the other areas of the School, and is key, boys, to your success.

“So, I hope you can perhaps see now why I am looking forward already to next year. This is a tremendous school and community, and we will continue to grow and go from strength to strength.

“So from me it is a final vote of thanks to all of you, and it remains for me to wish you all a very happy and restful break, and to remind you of how much I am looking forward to seeing you all again in September.

“Thank you.”

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