Headmaster's Blog Archive

Thoughts from 'the Head' of our Head!

Friday, November 17, 2017 by Justin Chippendale

These are some of the thoughts that have been in my head at various times this week and if there are any dots to join I’ll leave you to weave a way through.

I mentioned last week that I spent time with the uncluttered minds of our 2 year old ‘inmates’. I have also spoken in Assembly about how we are all born with absolutely no preconceptions or prejudices about people and the world around us. Young children will play and engage with each other quite naturally regardless of what may be considered differences by some older observers.

Father Mark, our Chaplain, and I caught up this week and we were discussing the balance between preparing children for a world of diversity, liberation and opportunity, between giving them a sense that anything is possible and we should be open-minded about alternatives to what is traditionally perceived as the ‘norm’, yet wanting them to establish a solid grasp of what the ‘norm’ is in order to inform their decisions. We feel strongly about what may be characterised traditional values as a foundation for good citizenship and social responsibility but wish to develop tolerance and broadmindedness.

I have weekly sessions with groups of our oldest children as part of their Scholarship interview preparation. Recently we were asking ourselves whether we would like to be the most powerful person in the world. In general there was nervousness about the enormous responsibility that would go hand in hand with such status but several were of the opinion that they would be able to do ‘endless good things for all the problems in the world’ and ‘sort out homelessness and famines’. We discussed why not every world leader seems so magnanimous - what are the hindrances to such largesse? We talked about the adage that ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. We ended up considering the possible motivations and responsibilities of Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump today – what have been the influences on their journey from 2 year old to 13 year old and subsequently on to be one of the world’s leaders? We discussed that you don’t need to be in a formal position of power to be influential. We aspire for all children at King’s Hall, whether 2 year old or 13, to go on to be positive influences on the world we share.

First week back...

Friday, November 10, 2017 by Justin Chippendale

After a half term break along the way we are back to it with darker evenings and the countryside looking decidedly autumnal.

I head out to the whole range of classes at various times through the year and I started the second half of this term with a brilliant (albeit far too brief) visit to our very youngest children in Pelican Nursery 1. After a little free play time, we sang (and signed) a good morning song to everyone in turn followed by a little snack before heading over to join Nursery 2 for the beginnings of (brace yourself as it is only 10 November!) Nativity play songs. Sadly, I had to head off at this point but it was just as beautifully carefree as you would hope spending time connecting with their marvellously uncluttered minds.

At the other end of our age range I was with some of Year 8 on Wednesday morning as they worked industriously on clocks they are making in DT. I chatted to them all and observed their diligence with great pleasure. Having thought about the recipient and a back story to their idea there were a wide range of themes, tools, colours and concepts on display. These two visits gave a very stark reminder of the incredible, exponential development that occurs during the formative years of our lives.

I cannot let this week go by without acknowledging the appropriately powerful atmosphere that was created in the Arts Centre yesterday during our Remembrance Service. The children’s singing was fabulous, the choir and accompanists performed beautifully and readings were delivered confidently. During a period of the year full of tradition this is always one of the most potent and emotive.

Please click here for our Weekly Newsletters

Swapping pelicans for penguins at school this week...

Friday, October 20, 2017 by Justin Chippendale

If planes, trains and automobiles have behaved themselves I should be back in Taunton by the time you read this: currently I am tapping away at Hammad International airport for a quick reflection on a very positive Middle Eastern trip.

For the first three days we were delving into school possibilities in the region and then for the second half of the week we have been supporting the team at King’s College Doha. My first impression was how far they have progressed in the change from one year to the next – it doesn’t feel like a start-up school at all. For three days we have been in classes, break times, assemblies (a little more of that later!) and Friends of KCD coffee mornings; we have given brief presentations, spoken to many parents, talked with nearly all the staff and plenty of children, all of which has given us a terrific sense of the shared intent that has created an established and vibrant school in such a short space of time.

There is much to read about in the Newsletter of matters at King’s Hall so I will end with my assembly comment from above: there was a themed ‘Wear it Wild’ assembly at KCD and everyone wore an animal costume. Nick Gunn, the Head, had so graciously organised a costume for me, too, to join with him ... evidence of Nick in costume below.

I do hope that you all enjoy a restful half term and have the opportunity to relax a little and recharge for one of the more tradition-filled sessions of the year ahead.


Hotter climes – home and away

Friday, October 13, 2017 by Justin Chippendale

I leave for the Middle East this afternoon with the Custos, as well as our Director of Finance and Operations. We are exploring further opportunities overseas whilst also visiting King’s College Doha to conduct its annual inspection. I am looking forward to seeing the current scene at KCD with more than double the number of children since it opened last September and I hear the swimming pool development is moving into its final stages.

One of the more obvious aspects of heading to that area is that it will be significantly hotter than here. However, I have been hearing the tag ‘Hotober’ bandied about at the moment as the temperatures here are expected to head into the 20s and even towards 30 if the conditions align. An Indian Summer if ever there was and no doubt many of you will be giving the outdoor furniture and barbecues one last run out.

Whilst I am pretty sure that the phrase ‘Indian Summer’ refers to North American Indians, we will be welcoming some children from King’s College India here for the next week. Four girls and three boys will be with us in Years 6 and 7 and thirteen older children will be at King’s College. There will be some celebrations along the way, including Diwali which falls on the 19th, and no doubt there will be much to gain from each other’s company.

I hope you all have a good weekend before we head into the last stretch to half term.

Please click here for our weekly newsletters

Autumn: an abundance of generosity, enthusiasm ... and preserved lemons!

Friday, October 6, 2017 by Justin Chippendale

What a beautiful day, today, on which to host our visitors to this term’s Open Day. As is so often the case, the children provided the wonderful affirmation that education at this age is a terrific world of which to be part. Both those visiting and those already at King’s Hall inspired the adult generation with their eagerness, enthusiasm, willingness and carefree charm: a real turbo-boost to the spirits on what is a positive day anyhow. A particular well done to Harrie and Max for sharing their insights with a full Pemberton Room – you were both just great!

Thank you to everyone for your support of the Autumn Fayre last week and certainly to those amongst you who ran a stall. I have handed out many prizes for various sideshows and announcements – including staff and parent names – have been made in assembly. We should have a figure for the amount raised very soon but it does look as if your efforts and generosity have led to a sizeable total from just a couple of hours on what was a slightly damp afternoon.

I was home alone on Wednesday night and so was looking around for a bite to eat. We all have some things at the back of the fridge, or in a cupboard that have been there a little too long. In ours we have a jar of preserved lemons. Now I know the ‘clue is in the question’ about how long they might last …. but these have definitely been there years rather than months! We have recently asked your children to consider bringing something to donate as part of our Harvest Festival celebrations and I’m sure you will not do as I heard in a news item recently whereby donations to a foodbank included tins which were 46 and 35 years old!

I’m certain the food for the Paella evening will be a little fresher, too, so don’t forget to sign up – you can click here if you wish.

Please click here for our weekly newsletters

Back to the top of the page