I think a number of our students are getting fed up with hearing “Happy New Year” when so many of them are faced with the prospect of mock exams. Their faces remind me of the time when I told my grandad to “Cheer up. It might never happen” to which he responded “I wish it would!”
I started the term with a Chapel service on Friday and I used a speech I found in a book on my shelves. The book is a compendium of speeches by Harold Nicholson, the Headmaster of Taunton School from 1922 to 1936. I was surprised by the relevance of some of the comments even 80 years later and despite technological advances.
I was particularly taken by the speech on Courage and specifically by the following extract: “Courage is badly needed in school life. It needs courage to fight dishonesty in class, to stamp out unclean speech and unclean actions. It needs courage to make a stand and not drift with the tide. It needs courage to say ‘No.’
Mr Nicholson did go on to describe his great joy in the case of “two very dull boys who just by sheer grit have both succeeded in passing a really difficult public examination”. I’m sure the boys were delighted at this faint praise!
It’s interesting that my speech to the community back in September included the sentence “Don’t stand by and accept things that you know are wrong. Be strong and stand up for what is right”. Pretty much the same message that Mr Nicholson was advocating all those years ago. It is impressive that many of the Taunton School values have stood the test of time and that we continue to instil traditional values although we pride ourselves on being quick to ensure the education we provide enables our students to succeed in a fast moving, constantly changing environment. Despite all the advancements since the 1930s there are traits that we hold dear such as courage, respect and tolerance.
2019 promises to be an exciting year for Taunton School. Planning continues apace for our new Dining Room and I’m hoping to report more news later this term. There will be many opportunities for all members of our community, not just the students, to be challenged, nurtured and inspired.