Education isn’t just about exam results. Neither a pupil nor a school can ever be entirely captured in even the most sophisticated performance measures.
Developing young men of excellent character is one of Newcastle School for Boys’ aims. A worthy or lofty ambition you might think. Visit the School and you will see it and feel it. But it’s certainly hard to measure.
We define character in the virtues contained in our character compass with their half-termly focus across the school: community, integrity, resilience, courage, leadership and empathy.
The focus for the first half of this spring term is resilience – a theme I introduced in my Senior School assembly last week and will develop further in the coming weeks. It links, of course, to the very real concern about the increase in mental illness in young people.
One of our school aims is to develop boys and young men of excellent character. The other is to challenge and support each boy to achieve the highest levels of academic progress.
Newcastle School for Boys’ character compass points to the six key virtues we promote in our boys’ personal development. Captured in the compass and in the mnemonic ‘CIRCLE’, the first C is for community. As a school, we appreciate the benefits we derive from our relationships in the local community as well as recognising our obligations to serve that community. We seek to develop those same senses of appreciation and duty in our pupils.
I frequently use the cyclical nature of school life to highlight new beginnings and fresh starts. Of course, by its nature, the academic year also generates endings and conclusions.
As we broke up for summer half term, our Year 13 boys were in school for the very final day of lessons of their school careers. A number of them had been at NSB – or one of its predecessor schools – for their entire school lives; others had joined at various later stages. For all of them, the day marked a significant rite of passage.
The following blog is an adapted version of my opening remarks at Newcastle School for Boys’ eighth annual sports presentation evening sponsored by Oddballs and held at the Newcastle Marriott Hotel Gosforth Park on Wednesday 12th October 2016. The evening celebrated our boys’ individual and collective achievements and participation in the preceding year of school sport and PE. We were honoured to welcome our special guest for the evening: Newcastle Falcons and Scotland international rugby player, Ally Hogg.
School sport means everything. Not as an overwhelming priority detrimental to academic progress but in a wider, more inclusive sense. It complements the academic curriculum and provides a wide range of benefits and opportunities: from preparation for a professional playing career to the health and social benefits of recreational sport and exercise.
In considering what school sport means to our boys, I’ve tried to project myself into their minds in two ways. Firstly, by testing my own long term memory to recall my own experience of school sport and secondly and more relevantly by asking some of the boys themselves.
It was real pleasure to attend our school’s tenth anniversary ball recently. Just as we had hoped, all of the sections of the school community that have contributed to the School’s success were there. And as I said on the evening, it’s easy to forget just how far the School has travelled in its first ten years. We also unveiled at the ball plans for the fundraising projects chosen by parents: improved outdoor spaces at North and West Avenue and a refurbished sports hall at The Grove.
Establishing a new independent school in the north east in the recent economic climate is no mean achievement. As a previous blog highlighted, in this region during the past seven years, seven independent schools have gone out of existence: closing, merging and/or reforming with a different status or source of funding. In this time, we have continued to grow and develop our school.