Monday, 25 November 2019
Headmaster's Blog #46
A large delivery of chocolate prizes arrived in my office this week ready for the end of term mini-prize giving, as well as a top up of lollies and Mars Bars, the currency for Show Ups, which pupils come to sign off with me at Break Times. Especially in a school, a large pile of sweets and chocolate tends to catch the eye, but it is a testament to the values and integrity of Abberley pupils that so far no one has fallen to the temptation that has been sitting there. In an old building like Abberley one also has to face the hazards of mice showing a surprisingly inventive and furtive interest in chocolate and even Chubba lollies. I will not pretend that it has not been a difficult term on the mouse front. Even in September, long before there was any sign of it becoming cold, the mice were making their presence felt in my office (and home). The usual defences were deployed and then strengthened – traps and poison – but the mice were persistent. This coincided with the weather turning cold and the heating at my end of the old building not working – reasons unknown. I have never been one to like over-heated rooms, especially when one is trying to work, and I have some inherent advantages in that respect, with a generous natural covering, nonetheless my study really was very cold for quite a long stretch of time. I had hoped that aside from saving money on the school’s oil bills another benefit would be deterring the mice – it felt just as cold indoors as out; if I had been a mouse I would have preferred to take my chances in the garden.
I won’t deny that it has been a great relief that the heating has been fixed – my whole outlook has been changed and you won’t be surprised that meetings are lasting a little longer than they were. I was seriously worried that I might be found one morning frozen solid in front of my desk. I fully expected the mice levels to rise along with the temperature, but strangely they seem to have disappeared, as if they had migrated, following the Pied Piper to more hospitable climes.
The weather has been undeniably wet. In fact, this is the wettest autumn that I can remember during my time at Abberley. I am bored of the damp and it doesn’t combine well with the time of year and the diminishing levels of daylight. Our astro pitch has not liked it one bit, sand and silt has been forced up through the carpet, and it is only thanks to the groundsmen’s hard work that we have been able to continue playing on half of it. Luckily the children seem impervious to this incessant rain. Even during exam week, which we have just finished, their spirits seemed undimmed – tired by the end, but not gloomy or downcast; an admirable example to the rest of us.
Some news to raise the spirits has been scholarship success among our Year 8s. Although it is only the end of November we have already garnered 8 scholarships or exhibitions. These have been in Sport to Cheltenham College, Sedbergh & Stowe, All-Rounder to Shrewsbury and Drama to Sedbergh. I am so pleased for the pupils, who pour a great deal of time, effort and emotional energy into their preparations. They do not always reap the rewards of their hard work, so it is super to have had a high degree of success this year so far.
So only three weeks left of this term, and lots to pack in – Isle of Man Rugby trip, Parent Meeting, Christmas Fair, Christmas Cracker, Advent Service, Carol Services, Christmas Entertainment – and that is just off the top of my head. Right now I would swap snow for rain, but I may come to regret that thought.
Will Lockett, Headmaster