From the Headmaster - June 2016
I could not have been more proud of the School on the Thursday before the half-term break when we attended the Service of Thanksgiving at Gloucester Cathedral to celebrate the School's 350th Anniversary. Many of the Old Richians who had returned to the School, often for the first time since they themselves were boys, commented on the excellent behaviour of the pupils, in particular their exemplary conduct during the service. This, coupled with the warmth and volume of the singing, was particularly poignant for many of the congregation.
I have received a large number of letters and cards from Old Richians expressing their gratitude for being invited to the service. I will share with you an extract from just one:
"…Several things about the service impressed me - the music, the manners and decorum of pupils and staff, the lusty singing of the 'Tommy Psalm', the dress standard of both pupils and staff - ties, gowns and hoods properly worn…. As a mark as to how your pupils behave when 'out of sight', some two hours later I went to the station to catch my train home to Somerset. Sitting on a bench listening to music through his earphones was a boy - probably of 2nd/3rd Year, also waiting for a train home elsewhere. When I spoke to him he spotted my tie and immediately stood up, took out his earphones, and engaged in conversation…."
It was especially gratifying to receive this particular note. It not only reminds us of the importance of remembering our heritage by preserving and extending our rich traditions, but it also reveals the respect and sense of duty that our current pupils have towards former pupils of the School.
It was interesting for me to hear Alan Pilbeam's reflection on the history of the School as being characterised by having Great Spirit and resilience. Equipping pupils with emotional resilience so that they can deal better with stress, failure and success is a key contemporary aim in education. Indeed, back in 2006, Anthony Seldon, the then Headmaster of Wellington College, Berkshire, introduced "happiness classes" of which resilience is essentially the most recent incarnation. At Sir Thomas Rich's, one of the ways in which we are promoting resilience and well-being is through the introduction of structured activities to help pupils to develop Mindfulness. Indeed, some pupils are already benefitting from these techniques which are helping them to reduce their anxiety and relieve stress.
The word "resilience", comes from the Latin "resilio", which means to spring back. In our 350 th year, as we celebrate our past and continue to offer pupils high standards of education, we shall continue our commitment to help our pupils cope with the things that life throws at them. Learning at Rich's is just as much about improving young people's ability to communicate and form relationships, so that they have the capacity to develop their emotional resilience, as it is about acquiring knowledge and developing discrete skills.