The wish that Shrewsbury School flourishes has been at the heart of that great institution for a very long time. Both the latin phrase and the simple yet inspirational delivery of Floreat by Headmaster Mr Winkley, proved irresistible to me. At the start of this term we began our very own Floreat celebrations.
Most weeks, nominated students have come to see me in my office. On entry they receive a card with the school logo beautifully embossed upon the front, and inside I thank the students for their success in flourishing and inspiring others to do the same. Once the cards are handed out, we go for the ‘big reveal’. Often the students have no clue as to why they are there, so I reach for my laptop and read out what a member of staff has written about them. The awardees have been varied. A diligent toy tidier, the first student in the school to get to DOEIA Gold this year, exceptional marks on tests, scholars, sporting greats, consistently kind students, and those who have a positive impact on our school. The criteria is deliberately vague, but the notion of it being for something a bit different, and a little bit removed from our usual celebrations has caught on.
Recently I have enjoyed writing more in my Principal’s Blog - Riverside Reflections and in my first edition of that I made clear that Floreat is one of my favourite things about our school. The diverse range of success, the wonderful moments with students and the positivity they bring is often the highlight of my week.
To see young people in positive physical, social and mental state is a highlight of any career in education and at Shrewsbury we see plenty of this. This is not to say that we live under the illusion that everything is perfect. We know that teenagers feel more anxious than they did some years ago, we know that in a digital age parenting can be ever more challenging, and we know that the world of work continues to move towards the sense of it being a 24/7 experience.
This is why Shrewsbury is focussing so strongly on people. The appointment of members of our senior team to focus purely on staff and students is making a difference and in recent weeks with the support of the Executive Committee we have added three more new roles to the school for 2020/21 - another Year Team Leader in the 6th Form to support students through that all important final year, a Head of You-Time to drive forward change and development of the co-curriculum where so much positivity occurs, and a Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead to support Mr Loudon’s work in caring for our growing community. Most of the new appointees will come from within, people we have nurtured, people we trust, people we know will make a difference.
A Darwinian way of looking at flourishing is that we must do this simply to survive. As competition in the city grows more intense our track record of success can be relied upon, but our work in the last few years is about more than that - it is about finding newer and broader ways to flourish.
Over the course of this term there is much evidence for this. Last Night of the Proms once again pushed the boundaries of what is possible with school musicians and is flourishing in a way that each year seems impossible until the last few weeks before the event. The flourishing in music was also evident in the Scholar’s concert where musical heights were reached, and also in the Junior and Senior Stars Recitals. It is great to see new and auditioned recitals in our programme and then also great to see our Christmas Concerts featuring many students who hadn’t taken to the stage until that point in the term.
Not to be outdone, the Drama Scholars performed wonderfully and memorably, and we all look forward to School of Rock which I’m sure will bring a tingle to the spine. On the sports field too, plenty of moments to bring the hairs on the back of the neck to attention. SEASAC Silvers, winners medals in competitions all over the region, and increasingly international sport being part of what we do as our squash players, among others, represent Thailand so creditably.
The alumni sometimes tell me ‘it’s changed’ and they are right. We are larger, and in some areas stronger as a school, building on those great foundations provided by the sadly departing Mr Holroyd. Our alumni from the formative years of the school have a great story to tell and it was lovely to reward Fah - or as we know her Miss Siri (teacher of Biology) - as one of our Alumni of the Year. She founded SISBAA, and with another of our alumni of the year Khun Natty supporting so well, the organisation goes from strength to strength. Our third awardee this year is a nod to the future, Khun Nana, current star of Netflix dramas. Proof that if you are good enough, you are old enough.
Students of all ages give an enormous amount to this community and it is truly humbling to witness. Even more impressively, they give to those outside the community. The Family Golf Day raised 70,000 Baht, non-uniform days even more, the Christmas Cards designed by our students were sold swiftly, and perhaps on another level altogether, time was given to A4D and Operation Smile as students gave up their time to learn about and help others.
Extraordinary success built on strong foundations. We are grateful for our foundations, for they allow us to flourish. Everyone in the community deserves a wonderfully restful Festive Season, but rest assured 2020 will be intense, enjoyable and full of moments where we can see our school flourish more and more.