From the Headmaster - July 2019

Posted by MM - Tuesday 23 July 2019

The last few weeks have been extremely busy with Cricket, the Summer Concert, the Fiesta Ball, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expeditions, Year 12 and Year 7 inductions, Geography trips, the Year 8 and 9 French trip, Year 12 work experience, the Year 7 residential to Osmington Bay, internal School exams – the list goes on!

But one particular event stands out for me this year and that is the Year 13 Prom held at Cheltenham Town Hall in June, entirely organised by the Upper Sixth with members of staff invited as guests. The reason why the evening stands out was the overwhelming sense of community that was apparent. Everyone appearing to enjoy themselves, fully taking part, no one left out – indeed, many making gracious remarks about the education that they had received from Sir Thomas Rich’s. As I remarked to a Year 13 student as we were queuing to go in “I have the New Year 7 induction coming up – time goes by quickly especially at my age!” He replied: “It’s a pity you can’t show those new boys and their parents this,” as he gestured to the smiling, relaxed faces of his fellow party goers, “and they’ll see it will be alright in the end.”

In my final assembly of the academic year, I felt it appropriate to give our students some advice for their future. I spoke about the importance of casting their nets wide and doing different things and meeting different people. I suggested that they should be courageous about meeting people and having a go at things they haven’t done before. It’s right to have dreams and ambitions. The School should prepare them to be resilient and equip them with the grit and determination to succeed and overcome the inevitable knock-backs along the way. It’s easy to feel defeated at times, but these moments should be viewed as a challenge. I insisted that we shouldn’t be afraid to fail, learn from our mistakes and persevere. Perhaps the only mistake we can make is to believe that you are too small or insignificant to make a difference.

With courage, grows confidence and with this I would like to remind pupils to stay safe as they enjoy their time away from School whether this be on their bikes, swimming etc. or trying new things as encouraged above. We do need to have our mind on what we are doing at the time; only last week we had a near miss incident where a pupil ran out of School onto the road behind a bus and straight into the path of a moving van. I am relieved to say, both the pupil and driver were unscathed, however, this could have been very different. Please could I encourage parents to remind pupils about road safety in preparation for returning to School. We will remind pupils again early in September of the importance of road safety.

At the end of this academic year, I wish to pay tribute to all the staff who have worked extremely hard and in particular, I would like to thank those members of staff who are leaving us. We say thank you to Rowena Ewens for covering in the Science Department, and we wish Clare Saunders well and thank her for being a great Head of English, a fierce supporter of the study of English Literature and the critical role that developing literacy and oracy has in building cultural capital. She leaves the classroom to pursue new opportunities but we hope to benefit from her keeping in touch with the School. Holly Stroud is moving on having secured a substantial promotion to Head of Faculty at an independent school in Bangkok – a testament to her intellect, hard work and determination for students to succeed. Alan Passey is retiring after 24 years’ service and has been a stalwart member of staff and a key member of the School community at Rich’s. He was a pupil here between 1972 and 1979 and joined Rich’s as a member of staff in 1995. We thank him for the enormous amount of time, effort and energy he has put into the School. A large number of students are attracted to our school because of the tradition in science education – and he leaves that as his legacy. We cannot thank Alan enough for all he has done to support concerts, plays and productions, fine tuning the sound and lighting systems, and we wish him a long and very happy retirement.

And finally, Jane Spilsbury is leaving after teaching at Rich’s for almost 30 years. Thousands of students have benefited from her teaching and pastoral care. I would like to share some of the contents of a letter I received earlier in the year: “Dear Mr Morgan, I hear Mrs Spilsbury is retiring at the end of the year, I would like you to know that she has been by far the most inspirational teacher my son has ever had – she works extremely hard for the boys and makes a very special effort to get to know them individually. My son has felt so nurtured and supported by her, but the fact that he now absolutely loves English is why I am so pleased.” That letter came as no surprise, and with both Jane and Alan leaving us, it really does feel like the end of an era. Nevertheless, it is important to look towards the future with confidence and I am pleased to report that at the beginning of the week, work started on our new teaching block. I very much hope that all the demolition and foundations can be completed by the start of the new school year.

I will leave you with another letter which I was delighted to receive recently: “Dear Mr Morgan, I felt that I should contact you regarding the students who visited the Quays today on an educational trip. I work in the Quays and encountered some of your students and I wanted to tell you that they are an absolute credit to both you and your school. Well behaved, polite, impeccable manners and a pleasure to serve. In your pursuit of excellence outside of the classroom this has well and truly been achieved. Be proud of your “Blue Coat Students” Mr Morgan, they are a prime example to both young and old that politeness and good manners cost nothing. Keep up the good work.”

I very much hope that students and parents have a well-deserved and relaxing summer break, and I look forward to welcoming new Year 7 and Year 12 students and our returning pupils in September.

M SR Morgan

Matthew Morgan,