Posted Tuesday, 4 December 2012 / Written by Justin Chippendale
As I sit in my study slaving over a hot keyboard, I can hear the Chapel Choir rehearsing in the Woodard Room for Sunday evening’s Carol Service.
A few weeks ago all of the children in the Prep department were given the challenge to compose a new tune to fit the words of ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ to be performed at the Carol Service. They certainly ‘stepped up to the lectern’ and we had eight entries, all of which would have passed muster. After a selection process involving both staff with musical ears and those with a more lay approach to their music (Matron was part of the panel – I will leave you to decide which category she falls into!), the winning composition was selected.
So … we look forward to the Chapel Choir’s World Premiere performance of the tune composed by two Year 6 girls on Sunday!
Posted Tuesday, 20 November 2012 / Written by Justin Chippendale
Half term was great - a good chance to gather oneself for the exciting but full on build up to the Christmas holidays. There is so much to squeeze in ... sometimes there are enough hours in the day but not enough minutes in one particular hour!
The week after half term brought our Remembrance Service, the Friends of King's Hall quiz night and our fabulous firework display. It finished with the OA Dinner at which over a hundred ex-pupils gathered to celebrate 60 years of the School. This was such a good evening full of happy memories and tales of yesteryear - I wonder what our own "It's not like it used to be....." stories will be in 30 years' time?
I don't know if you have seen the publication from the National Trust entitled "50 Things To Do Before You Are 11 3/4". It's a wonderful document and just the sort of attitude to life we subscribe to here at King's Hall. Indeed, I found myself thinking that the majority of our children have had the opportunity to tick off the vast majority of them before they leave the Pre-Prep aged 7 let alone 11 3/4!
I have recently spoken about the importance of one's childhood - we are a long time 'old and sensible' with the responsibilities of adulthood to consider. The carefree nature of our earlier years are so crucial to developing a zest for life, a can-do attitude, a preparedness to fail without losing the crucial appetite for trying something new and, importantly, a sense that life is fun and there to be embraced and enjoyed.
"There are no problems in life, just things to do - every challenge is an opportunity": whilst some would say this is a little idealistic, we would certainly want our children to grow up with ambition and belief, setting their sights on whatever they wish to achieve wouldn't we? Those programmes on television entitled 'Grumpy Old Men/Women' may be amusing and a bit tongue in cheek, but life is definitely more exciting than that when you're a child and we are lucky at King's Hall to have the environment and attitude to make childhood fun.
The National Trust list is below.
1. Climb a tree
2. Roll down a really big hill
3. Camp out in the wild
4. Build a den
5. Skim a stone
6. Run around in the rain
7. Fly a kite
8. Catch a fish with a net
9. Eat an apple straight from a tree
10. Play conkers
11. Throw some snow
12. Hunt for treasure on the beach
13. Make a mud pie
14. Dam a stream
15. Go sledging
16. Bury someone in the sand
17. Set up a snail race
19. Swing on a rope swing
20. Make a mud slide
21. Eat blackberries growing in the wild
22. Take a look inside a tree
23. Visit an island
24. Feel like you’re flying in the wind
25. Make a grass trumpet
26. Hunt for fossils and bones
27. Watch the sun wake up
28. Climb a huge hill
29. Get behind a waterfall
30. Feed a bird from your hand
31. Hunt for bugs
32. Find some frogspawn
33. Catch a butterfly in a net
34. Track wild animals
35. Discover what’s in a pond
36. Call an owl
37. Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
38. Bring up a butterfly
39. Catch a crab
40. Go on a nature walk at night
41. Plant it, grow it, eat it
42. Go wild swimming
43. Go rafting
44. Light a fire without matches
45. Find your way with a map and compass
46. Try bouldering
47. Cook on a campfire
48. Try abseiling
49. Find a geocache
50. Canoe down a river
Posted Tuesday, 30 October 2012 / Written by Justin Chippendale
I so enjoyed wandering around during our History Day recently. As you may well know, it is our Diamond Jubilee year, as well as Her Majesty’s, and every child in the school spent the day exploring the last 60 years here.
I saw some of the Reception children making '60' hats and biscuits and Year 1 were comparing 'then and now'. I had a wonderful conversation with a couple of children in Year 1 who, as a result of all the black and white material in books, photos and film clips, were very definitely of the view that the world (houses, clothes and everything) was black and white in the past and colour is something that has been created / invented / developed since and then put into nature and buildings! The older children were trying to recreate photos taken in 1952 and some were quite tricky to place as the current use, after 60 years of developments, masked the original scene, whilst others had barely altered at all. The bell went for the morning break and one boy said "Aww, for once I'm quite sorry that it's break - this is brilliant!".
Shortly afterwards, just before half term, we held a Service of Rededication exactly 60 years after the buildings were first blessed by the then Bishop of Bath and Wells. The Chaplain sprinkled not only the buildings but several excited children with Holy water as we read passages from the original service of 1952 and some from a service held in 2002 on the 50th Anniversary as well as those from today.
We are away for half term and we have received a letter from the owners of where we frequently disappear to saying they wish to celebrate their Silver Jubilee of ownership in 2013. They have invited people to bring old photos and are seeking the longest 'serving' customer which will predate their 1988 purchase: I reckon there are photos of me at least 40 years ago in this area with my parents and grandparents - it might be my mother they are looking for!
All of this reminds me that we are making history each day - at school, we are part of the journey King's Hall is taking through time: the events of this term will form part of the story as future generations look back. Each Monday I usually review the major happenings of the previous week: outings, achievements from all walks of life, boarders’ themed parties, concerts and other performances and, generally, enjoy the huge range of happenings amongst our community.
We are merely the current custodians of the fabulous estate centred around the magnificent building of Pyrland Hall. Previous incumbents filled their lives with richness and made decisions for the future. It is now our turn (children and adults) to experience the pleasures of growing in such a beautiful place whilst planning to ensure future success for those as yet unborn. I don't mean to sound melodramatic but it is true!
Posted Monday, 8 October 2012 / Written by Justin Chippendale
We had on Open Day on Friday and it was buzzing with activity as a very large number of families came to listen to my thoughts on this terrific school and look around with children and staff available to answer their questions. Everyone went away with a very favourable picture (as well they might) full of the opportunities that lie in wait for their children. We talked a bit about how time passes so quickly: there were toddlers and babes in arms or prams and it was hard to contemplate that they would ever be thirteen and looking for the next move. The discussion moved on to the fact that they will, of course, grow towards independence and leave home one day!
On the matter of leaving home and independence, the night before I attended the OA (past pupils of King’s College) Networking event at the offices of Michael Page in London. Sixth formers who were completing UCAS applications were making the most of the opportunity to think about the next stage and their first steps into the workplace. It was reassuring to see a good number of current pupils and recent leavers all prepared to mix with others who have greater experience than them and indeed may even be able to offer direct assistance. There were a few stories from last year floating around about just such outcomes. One had resulted in a role with RAB Capital and another had been flown to Paris and looked after for few days office experience. You can drift down the river of life allowing the current to take you where it will or you can grasp the tiller firmly and engage an outboard motor and quite definitely chart your course: these had the chance to begin plotting their course
It made me reflect on my own career pathway and it has indeed been augmented by some contacts along the way. Indeed, there are those who might suggest that everything I have achieved since leaving school is down to others but that’s another story!
Joking apart, we all receive help and support from others to varying degrees at varying times. It is a sign of wisdom to recognise when you need help. We also provide help to those around us and certainly this is encouraged here at King’s Hall - we should always consider others and look to be helpful rather than selfish. I gave a visual demonstration of this to the children in assembly last week:
If the bounce in a basketball when you drop it is a strength you (or someone else) may have and a leather juggling ball not bouncing when you drop it is something you (or someone else) find more challenging, then see what happens if you rest the juggling ball on top of the basketball and then let them drop. A fantastic metaphor for the significant impact we can have on others when we help them out.
On a completely unrelated note…… a mother whose child has just joined the school this term experienced her first match tea this week and she was moved to announce that the quality of our ginger cake alone is worth coming over from America! The legend of the King’s Hall ginger cake lives on…….
Posted Friday, 21 September 2012 / Written by Justin Chippendale
It's early days but ……
……the term has started with real energy and excitement for fresh opportunities ahead. At lunch on the second day of term I sat next to a boy who had just made the move from the Pre-Prep to Year 3 in the Prep. He told me that it was his second 'best' day at school ever - after a short pause he said that yesterday had been his first 'best' day at school ever! Yesterday a girl in Year 4 was saying how cool it is to be in Year 4 because they are about to go away for a residential trip to New Barn.
It's early days but ……
…… there are many smiles from a large number of new children and families who have settled to King's Hall life. It is very heartening to witness the natural nervousness of the unknown evaporate as newcomers quickly feel part of the scene.
It’s early days but ……
……there have been impressive signs from new staff who have joined us bringing their own ideas and initiatives to add to the mix. Amongst them four new Heads of Department sit on a launch pad for their discipline full of ideas. These new staff, too, have been welcomed into the Common Room with warmth and geniality.
It’s early days but ……
……we have won medals at a hockey tournament already, won classes at our own Show Jumping event, the 1st XV won their opening match and at least this year we don’t have to worry about the pitches being too hard!
It’s early days but ……
……rehearsals for ‘Dazzle’ have started well, the Chapel Choir numbers have swollen towards 30 and Pre-Prep recorder group were hitting the right notes as I walked by.
It is early days, and no doubt there will be some less positive moments along the way, but this has been a tremendous start to the new term and academic year. I look forward to the clichéd ‘rich tapestry’ unfolding over the coming months confident there will be many more highs than lows. It’s a great time of the school year.
Posted Wednesday, 29 February 2012 / Written by Justin Chippendale
I’d like to make you an offer, and before you get too excited this one is not a real offer but let’s pretend! What if I gave you £86,400 and told you it all has to be used up today. You must spend it, no carrying it over. I’ll come back to that but first a little self-test that you may have done before. Look at your watch, close your eyes and try to open them again when exactly a minute has gone by.
It doesn’t really matter how accurate you were - it’s more about the time that has passed. Did the silence seem a long time? It was of course only 60 seconds but it is quite a long time on its own. During that silence 60 seconds ticked away – 60 seconds of your life. Moreover, not only has that time passed, but we can never bring those seconds back – they’re gone forever.
That’s what life is, millions and millions of seconds ticking away. All those seconds ticking away are adding up to the minutes that tick away, and the hours that pass and the days and months and years. And we can’t have them back and use them again - they're gone.
We know that scientifically time passes regularly, but it doesn’t always feel that way. When you’re bored, time seems to slow down, and the more bored you get, the longer the minutes and hours seem to be.
There are moments when time has seemed to freeze. For example, if you’ve ever kicked a ball towards a window, it always seems to happen so slowly. The best china jug being knocked off the table seems to take an age to hit the floor. Think of the occasions when time seems to crawl very slowly, perhaps when we are waiting for someone.
Then there are the occasions when the opposite happens and time flies. Usually when we are really enjoying something - a good book, a film, a party or when we are really concentrating on what we are doing.
Now back to my £86,400 offer. Remember, you would have to spend it all in one day, you cannot have the money back after that. Think how keen you would be to spend every last penny. You would make every effort to use it all up completely and not waste any of it. You’d feel cross with yourself if you didn’t use it all wisely - perhaps you’d even feel cheated if you didn’t use it all. If you knew you couldn’t bank any of it, I don’t think you would waste a penny.
Well here is a genuine offer and it’s available to all of us. We are all given 86,400 seconds to use in a day. And this offer is better than the last one because once that day is over we get another 86,400 seconds at the start of a new day waiting for all of us to spend wisely: to make the most of them, to use them completely as you can't bank them.
I have heard it said a few times today (Leap day) that we have just had a ‘free’ day, an extra day. I’m not sure I have made the most of it really. I have achieved quite a few things today but there was a period just after lunch where I probably could have ticked off one or two more items on the list or even sat out in the glorious sunshine and chatted to the children. Instead I read through the recently published King’s Hall Life magazine of which, having seen the drafts, I have a good knowledge anyhow and I shall not be able to claim those 25 minutes back.
How much time do we have on this planet? If perhaps you are 35 years old then you would have had about 18,408,600 minutes at your disposal. Let’s imagine that we all live until we are 75. That’s 75 years which is 900 months, which is 3,900 weeks, which is 27,375 days, which is 657,000 hours, which is 39,420,000 minutes. And it all starts with the seconds that are ticking by now…and now…and now………….. so I’d better stop writing so that we can get on with using them.
Posted Friday, 24 February 2012 / Written by Justin Chippendale
Walking around school and seeing all the designs for the BMW Art car posted on almost every wall is fabulous. Every child has put in an entry - it certainly has been a project that has captured their imaginations. And boy, are there some vivid imaginations out there and each one has a different slant and an individual take. It is a powerful demonstration of what makes teaching such an interesting and rewarding vocation as one is very rarely dealing with the same situation twice as there is always the diversity of the personalities involved. I was listening to one of the English department talking about how it is fascinating to discover what is going on in the minds of a child through their writing. it is often those who come across as perhaps a little more demure who choose to express themselves on the page.
The judging process for all entries for the Art CAr is nearing a close and there is plenty of excitement in the air.
Just before half term, I saw a selection of terrific applicants for the positions of Head of Science, Head of Design Technology and our SENCO. It was a privilege to hear of the skills, enthusiasm, passion and eagerness of all involved and I am very excited about the energy and zeal those we selected will bring to King’s Hall from September. From subsequent conversations, I know they, too, are excited about a new chapter in their own lives and joining the team.
The children were all excited this morning as we drew the titles of the songs each House will be singing for the House Music Competition at the end of term. The theme is The Beatles and the air was thick with tension as the tombola barrel turned and bits of paper were withdrawn and then, to a thunderous improvised drum roll, all was revealed. Immediately, children and staff were all considering how they might choreograph certain bits and whether there were tricky refrains, keys and which song had the best ‘hook’. Happy days!
Posted Tuesday, 31 January 2012 / Written by Justin Chippendale
I came home this evening to a collection of boarders filling the sitting room. This is the second Tuesday they have come around as Claire has invited anyone who wanted to do some sewing: they are working on making a fabric flower, as it happens, but the idea is to give them a new skill and have a chat as they go along.
It is not just the girls who have taken up the offer and I noticed a county cricketer and a 1st XV rugby player amongst them all: eyes narrowing as they thread the needle and then set about cutting out as neat a shape as possible. In general, the girls seem to naturally take more care over the tension of their stitching but there is no mistaking that the boys are keen to complete the job properly.
I just went about making sure there were enough logs in and rekindled a fading fire before engaging in conversations ranging from whether the captain of the Concordia was as much at fault as the media portray to whether the snow will fall in earnest on to plans for half term coming up at the end of next week.
Claire and I (and Eliza, Joss and Hettie) are also in the throes of welcoming boarders round for supper. We have six nights booked and so far we have had (very good) sausages and then sticky toffee pudding, a creamy carbonara followed by banana splits with ‘the works’ sprinkled or squirted all over for toppings - of course, the children had to have a little bit of everything leaving the poor banana easily the smallest proportion of the dish - and tomorrow we will be having a Mexican evening.
It’s wonderful to see the children ‘out of school’ and they are without exception good company and entertaining as well as polite and helpful. I am very much looking forward to the next four.
Posted Tuesday, 24 January 2012 / Written by Justin Chippendale
Over the Long Weekend break I went home on Friday after the boarders parents evening looking forward to ‘feet up in front of the fire’. In fact, each of my three children had a friend for a ‘sleepover’ and I was straight into rolling out the dough for a pizza-fest: it was great fun and everyone was on terrific form.
The next day I headed off with 5 other Dads to watch Bath play their final game of the Heineken Cup against Glasgow (interestingly enough the train we caught from Taunton was destined for Glasgow - thankfully the game was at the Rec!). The train was inevitably busy and amongst the throng I bumped into Rick Gore (an old boy of King’s) who was headed in the same direction with his own group. When I started at King’s College aged 13, Rick was my House Captain and seemed like a demi-god. There was another ‘boy’ in the upper sixth who had huge shoulders, propped the 1st XV, swam butterfly lengths in one stroke and was one of the fastest sprinters in the school: as a third former he was definitely ‘Superman’ and to cap it all, at a time when surnames were the normal form of address, his name was King!
Just before the game, another coincidental meeting was with a chap called Chris Howard with whom I had played many games for Bath Youth nearly 30 years ago. We had also played some cricket for a mutual friend’s team but I hadn’t seen him for at least 15 years. It really is amazing how quickly a decade or two can pass and you are left looking back at a time that seems to come from a completely different life.
Bath played pretty well with Tom Biggs impressive in defence for a little bloke and we drifted back to Taunton. It was then time to smarten up for a 40th birthday party at Augustus, a lovely little restaurant in The Courtyard off St James’s Street. It was a terrific evening with a very bubbly atmosphere and a loud hubbub of animated chatter and laughter. The food was lovely and most certainly a good time was had by all.
Sunday was a much quieter affair with at least three members of the family challenging themselves to spend all day in their pyjamas - whether they went on the trampoline or not! A little bit of marking, some preparation but mainly R & R that included quite a lot of Sequin Art.
This week has kicked off with PSHE talks about Internet Safety, Year 3 exploring Reversible and Irreversible Reactions with mainly consumable items heated over an open fire in the woods, we had our first CUB4 Lunch concert and Cross Country matches abound. We are into Scholarship season now and all those involved should be very proud of themselves. Merely taking part is an achievement and the outcome will take care of itself: well done to all those Year 6 who were involved in either the academic, sport or music awards over the last week.
Posted Tuesday, 10 January 2012 / Written by Justin Chippendale
Happy New Year!
I started this term by telling the children at the first assembly that my car had started making very terminal noises and was at the garage - true. Claire was full of hope as the possibility of a newer car began to creep over the horizon and I asked the children to keep an eye out for a delivery over the next few days.
Disappointingly for Claire, the second part of the story was a way of setting up the arrival of a BMW 640 as part of an art project for the first half of term. BMW have produced 17 official Art Cars since 1975 when Alexander Calder was asked to design one by his friend Hervé Poulain to race in the 1975 Le Mans 24 hours race. Since then the likes of Lichtenstein, Warhol, Hockney, Penck and Stella have all been involved. Thanks to the involvement of a parent, Jon Cooper, King’s Hall children have the chance to have their own design put onto the 640. It is currently sitting pretty in the Outer Quad with the number plate KH 1. It is fittingly in white representing a blank canvas awaiting the imagination and inspiration of a child to become its livery. There is much excitement about this project which extends into the Pre-Prep and all sorts of ideas are pouring out already.
We have welcomed six new children to the school this term and it is very good for all concerned to have new faces and new influences around them. I have seen some very happy newcomers amongst our youngest in the Nursery where one was giggling so much it seemed almost impossible to breathe and further up the school Lottie had the confidence to answer questions from our Chaplain in her very first assembly. It is wonderful to see their enjoyment and enthusiasm - so much potential just waiting to be drawn out.
Here’s to a happy term and a fulfilling 2012.
Google BMW Art Cars or click on this link for more background.