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Principal's Blog

September 8th 2016

An opening address to new students will have been on the ‘To Do…’ list of many Heads and Principals in the past few days.  How does one hit the right tone of aspiration without intimidating those students about to start at their new school?  How do you explain the context of your school without drowning the poor students in detail and facts which they will struggle to recall?  Can the enthusiasm, trepidation and excitement with which these students approach the first day of school be harnessed, and their fears removed?

This week at Hockerill I have been talking to the new students about expectations and how they can make the transition to the College.  The ‘secret ingredients’ I have highlighted for a successful career at Hockerill are: Pride, Passion and Participation.

‘Pride’ does not refer to the negative emotion associated with hubris, but instead the self-reflective, motivational aspects that encourages one to take pride in what you do. As an acronym, it provides a useful mnemonic, personal responsibility in delivering excellence which I hope even the most nervous of students can remember and act upon.

As Steve Jobs astutely recognised, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”  I cannot endorse this mindset enough.  It is often said that schools remove the passion and the creativity from the learning process but I am at pains to emphasise to the students that they have to discover their passions and then act upon them.  When you know what you love you are able to make sense of all you are asked to do. Passion allows us to be single-minded and to push ourselves, and in combination with pride in what you produce means that ‘difficult’ tasks become more ‘interesting’.

The final ingredient in this powerful mix is ‘Participation’.  As a boarding school Hockerill is an incredibly busy place.  Activities on many mornings start at 7.30 and are still running for older students until 10pm.  There are a myriad of clubs and societies to join and students are able to supplement the excellent teaching in the classroom with equally inspiring and enriching activities.  The Duke of Wellington famously reflected that, “wise people learn when they can; fools learn when they must.”  I challenge all students at Hockerill to be active participants, and know full well that this serves to ease the transition into the College.  Participation extends beyond the co-curricular though, and also touches upon what it means to be an active and engaged learner in all settings.

These three qualities are not measurable. They do not lead to progress data. They cannot be considered as a monitoring tool, but they are I hope inspiring to the students and go some way to explaining how Hockerill approaches the learning journey and what the College is looking for. 

Posted at 14:37 on 8th Sep 2016