Farewell and Thank You

By my reckoning, this is my 200th Bulletin and, being my last one, I am a bit sad about it. It’s true that I have cursed some Friday mornings when creative inertia has replaced inspiration but on most occasions I have revelled in the opportunity for reflection and the words have tumbled out, usually roused by the actions of the children. This week, of course, there is plenty to write about but the question is, where to begin?

I really ought to start with the immensely satisfying news we received today that St Andrew’s Prep has been shortlisted for both the Prep School of the Year and Pre-Prep School of the Year in the 2021 Independent School of the Year Awards. I would like to pay testament to every member of staff who has delivered a first-class educational experience to our pupils despite the challenges faced by all over the last year and, of course, to our pupils who have responded so well.

Wednesday evening’s Leavers’ Ball was a reward for Year 8 for all their efforts this year. With the Durlacher turned into the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, the leaving cohort were fed like royals and entertained by jugglers, hula-hoopers, unicyclists and fire-eaters. What an occasion and my heart-felt thanks to the worker-bee parents who put it all together.

Alice in Wonderland was an inspired choice as it holds some important lessons to which we strive here at St Andrew’s. Firstly, Alice does not always play by the conventional rules. She thinks for herself, gives things a go and sometimes takes chances on the unexpected, often achieving positive results. Secondly, Alice comes to realise the importance of knowing herself and having her own opinions. Against the Queen in the denouement, she is set free only when she recognises who she, herself, is. Finally Alice learns to persevere and keep believing, even when the target seems impossible. There were many times when Alice could have given up on her adventures due to all the challenges along the way but, by the end, she learns a golden truth: what is life without impossible hopes and dreams anyway? We must always aim high!

And aiming high on Monday were the high jumpers for our Sports Day which we were relieved could go ahead. Spectating parents could not be on site sadly so we broadcast it live through production company Cheers Mate and it was a fantastic day. The sun even joined us once it realised how well everything was running. If you missed it, you can still watch it here: click here My thanks to Kerry Murray and the sports department for pulling it all together. And well done to Sea Kings for reigning supreme.

Appreciation is sent to the Friends of St Andrew’s too for a brilliant Summer Fayre today. As with everything, it had to be adapted to suit the restrictions but the year groups loved their opportunity, bubble by bubble, to attack the inflatable adventure course, throw wet sponges at staff and other victims, wear bouncy shoes and generally celebrate the end of term. What a day!

Elsewhere this week, there have been goodbye assemblies, various mini Prize Givings and presentations and lots of discussions about moving up or moving on. The Summer Serenade could not go ahead but the music and singing has been filtering out of the Durlacher over the last few days as we have recorded different items in our efforts to create a video for you all to see.

And in terms of videos, I have to say a huge thank you to our marketing team for everything they have put together, not just for this end of term but throughout the whole year. Because of the disruption, they have had to adapt quickly in order for us to maintain our commitments to the pupils and parents and they have done it magnificently. Katie Gent and Michael Rodriguez deserve particular credit for all their diligence and invention.

In praising them, I also curse them as I have no idea how they kept the filming of a humbling tribute film for Mrs Jones and I a secret. Through an elaborate plan that my slightly frazzled brain did not twig, I arrived at the top of the fields yesterday morning to see the whole school outside the pavilion and it was really quite moving for us both. I thought I had taught the children to be more honest but, in this case, the secret was a great one and very amusing in places. Watch here for:  A Day in the Life of Mr Jones

Tomorrow it is Prize Giving for Years 5-8 but it is also Speech Day and the various speeches, mine included, will not just be aimed at those four year groups. In my mind I will be addressing the whole community. So if you can join us for a 10.00am start, please do by clicking here. It promises to be a poignant and thought-provoking celebration of the year.

When the time comes Jemma, the children and I will head off on our way with love in our hearts for the community of St Andrew’s, with happy memories of compassion, fun and laughter, and with the safe knowledge that the school will continue to flourish and we will always be here in spirit. 

Floreat St Andrew’s!