FOUNDERS' DAY 2017
Founders' Day 2017 – Headmaster’s Speech
Many thanks for attending today as we celebrate our wonderful school, show appreciation for its founders and founding principles, and recognise some of the great achievements and efforts of our pupils.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome The Worshipful the Mayor of Reigate and Banstead. We are very pleased that he has been able to attend today along with the Madam Mayoress.
Our Guest Speaker is Dame Colette Bowe, and it will be an honour to introduce her properly later on, before she addresses us herself, but it is a great privilege to have her here.
We also welcome many of our Governors and members of our Board of Management here today and it is only right to take a moment to thank them for all they have done in the past year – not least in giving me the opportunity to run this fine school! They willingly give much time in support of the school and we are all very thankful indeed.
We are joined by many other friends of the school this morning, and I would like to express my gratitude to them for coming today and also for the support that they give.
Dear parents – it is lovely to have so many of you here to celebrate with us, and I want to take the time to thank you for all your support and the trust that you put in us on a daily basis.
A warm welcome, of course, to the pupils winning prizes today. You should feel rightly proud of receiving one. In addition to the prize-winning pupils we have the entirety of our fantastic Sixth Form with us this morning as well as the pupils from our lovely Year 7.
It would be great to be able to accommodate all our students – but that would require a much larger chapel (donations are always welcome…)
The Royal Alexandra and Albert School exists for its pupils and in every respect it is the pupils that make the school – you are our ambition and we enjoy your successes, struggle with you in your challenges and hope that your time with us gives you enjoyment, fulfilment and, above all, prepares you well for your next steps. Albert Einstein once famously said that ‘Education is what remains after everything that has been learnt at school has been forgotten’. Well, I hope you won’t forget the things that we teach you too soon, but his central point I agree with – that when you leave here, we have helped in some way to form who you are in terms of experiences, interests, friendships and skills.
I have not yet mentioned the teachers. Not all of them can be here, because we have many pupils in lessons right now, but to the ones who are here, and representative for all their colleagues: I thank you for all your efforts. I also thank the huge number of staff that we have who are not teachers: the boarding tutors, co-curriculum and activities staff, the support-staff in both school and Foundation, the estates and maintenance teams, the medical staff, the caterers, laundry staff and cleaners – and I am sure I have left some groups out even now! Our school stands and falls with you – and it is your unparalleled enthusiasm and outstanding commitment that makes RAAS great.
I am coming to the end of my first year at the school and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for the welcome you have given to myself, my wife Kerstin and to our family. We feel blessed to have become a part of the school community, and I am very grateful for being given the awesome and special responsibility for leading it. I look forward to keep working with you all – students, staff, parents and governors – as we continue to move our wonderful school forwards and to progress with ambitions for the school and our whole community.
I am very much enjoying being Headmaster of Royal Alexandra and Albert School, and one of the things I admire every single day is the huge amount of activity which involves all our pupils within our sport, music, drama and activities programme. It is exceptional how diverse the activities that occur in this school are and how it engages the entire community – boarders and Flexi Boarders.
We have prepared a short media-clip to give you a feel of the range of activity that has kept our pupils busy and the many, many successes our pupils celebrated in the course of this year. Me reading out a list cannot possibly do justice to their fun and achievements (and would not be too enthralling for you to listen to.) Of course the clip will only give you a small feel for our busy school life, but as we watch it, I want us to be mindful of the fact that it can only happen because of the enthusiasm and commitment of both pupils and staff, and I am particularly thankful for that.
We can trace the school’s history back to getting near to 260 years - when a group of City gentlemen decided to collect together enough money to set up an institution that would make a real difference to the lives of the pupils it would take in. This principle stays with us now, although of course we are much larger and more diverse. We exist to have an impact and make a difference to the pupils that come through us – whether they are boarders or Flexi Boarders. I am incredibly proud to serve this very honourable purpose.
As I come to an end, I would like to introduce our guest speaker, Dame Colette Bowe. Dame Colette is an economist by profession but has had a longstanding involvement in education. She was Chairman of the Governing Council of Queen Mary, University of London, the university she herself attended. She was also Deputy Chair of Governors at Bancroft’s School, which is where I met her. I fondly remember the tough questions she would ask me when her role was to examine the academic performance of the school, an aspect that I was responsible for, but I quickly won a lot of respect and admiration for her.
Dame Colette is also currently the chairman for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music – the board that runs all the music exams in the country. After a long career in public service and the City of London she is currently the Chairman of the Banking Standards Board, a role to which she was appointed by the Governor of the Bank of England.
Dame Colette, I am very grateful that you have joined us today and on behalf of all of our community wish to thank you and welcome you.