Dear Parents

This is just a quick word to say thank you for all the warmth of your welcome this term and your support of the school.  It has been a great pleasure to get to know as many people as possible this term, though I now know this will be an ongoing theme!  I thought that some of you might like to see the text of the boys’ final assembly this term, which sought to summarise the highlights of these past few months.  They represent a snapshot of school life and give examples of just how much goes on here – but they are necessarily not a complete chronicle.  In fact, I had to cut the below considerably to get it into the 40 minute slot.  I hope, too, that you enjoy the Ousel, which once again is a remarkable production.

I wish you all a very happy, peaceful and fulfilling Christmas.

James Hodgson
Head Master


Final Assembly

We started term in this Great Hall with a prayer, after the sadness of Dr Palmer’s death.  We will end in half an hour with another prayer.  We also acknowledged that life was short and that we should make the most of it – carpe diem, in the words of Horace – and in a little while I will review the term and we will see just some of what you have all achieved in the past three months as you have attempted to make the most of your life.  I also spoke about the importance of effort and academic endeavour to enable you to achieve your long term goals – more of that to come – and of the importance of discipline, in particular self-discipline, in the creation of a happy and well-ordered school.  But most of all in that start to term, I wanted to let you know that I considered one attribute as the bottom line in all of our lives, and that is the gift of kindness.  Without kindness, it is hard to live together; without kindness, it is hard to forge friendships; without kindness, there is no happiness.  I have come across an extraordinary amount of kindness this term.  From my own perspective, it has been present in the welcome I have received from staff, parents, boys and old boys and I thank you for your part in that; but more importantly I have witnessed it everywhere around the school – from the atmosphere in the boarding houses between younger and older boys, to the way that you interact with, and show gratitude to, your teachers, to the teamwork you display in matches and the chivalry afterwards, to the welcome you provide for new pupils, to the way that you lead clubs for the benefit of others, to the tours of the school you give to visitors, to the whole Movember fundraising scene.  Kindness is a fundamental part of our collective DNA at Bedford and it is so important that we protect it fiercely: do not accept the opposite. Another fundamental trait has been obvious to me from the very first day of this term: the Bedford boy is one who shakes your hand firmly, looks you in the eye and has something to say.  I have said this on numerous occasions to people who have visited the school this term, and you have never failed to impress on this front.  It is about as important a life skill as you can possibly learn. 

It is also important to any community that we enjoy each other’s successes. Much of the rest of this morning is about that, and so I now ask The Head of School to come forward to announce the cups for the term, before I look back over the term as a whole.

Awards & Reports


Head Master’s Scarves

I gather it is customary for the Head Master to award scarves at his discretion at the end of each term.  These, I know, are highly prized.  I hope you will not mind if I postpone the majority of these until later in the academic year; I have not yet had the chance to get to know you all well enough and I want to get it right.  However, I do wish to award two scarves at this stage.  The first is to a young man who, quite simply, participates in anything and everything: in the music school, on the sports fields, with the tours team, as a monitor, in Movember, as a swimmer and with societies; even more importantly, he is a genuinely kind and caring person, delightful towards both peers and younger boys and a real role model to all; he is George Lilley-Moncrieff.

The second young man has, as it happens, had plenty of chance to shine, but has done so magnificently; he has played 1st XV rugby; he has read publicly; he has made some memorable speeches; he has led the school with distinction through a period of transition at the top.  He is a shining example to us all of dignity, poise, good sense, intelligence, strong leadership and humility.  He is Josh Wellington.


A short word about the staff

What you have heard is an extraordinary list of achievements; very well done to you all.  I also wish to give my thanks, and by extension yours, to the amazing Bedford School staff here who help this all to happen.  Without them, we are nothing; and their dedication to you is second to none.  I do hope that you all have the chance to say thank you to them as you leave today.  In particular, I’d like to single out our only leaver this term, Mr Sherwin.  Mr Sherwin has taught Maths for eight years, run Pemberley House with real passion and skill, and was able to bow out of his beloved cricket with his Under 17 team being crowned best in the country.  We have been blessed by his company and guidance; the boys in Pemberley in particular have given him a great send-off; we thank him and his wife, Roz, and we wish them and his family the very best of luck back in Australia.


To round up

A word about revision to those doing public exams in the New Year.  Come the Easter holidays, you will have no choice: you will be working flat out.  This therefore represents the last time you will get a proper break.  It is also Christmas time – under no circumstances should you even think of getting a work book out over those couple of days, which should be spent properly with family.  However, you must also make the most of the next three weeks to get your work organised and to revise.  On the days you set aside for work – and for me that will be all of week 1 and week 3, and I suspect something similar for you – my advice is think of the day in three 3-hour slots.  Morning (say, 9-12); afternoon (2-5); evening (6-9).  Work two of these three slots, and ensure that the morning slot is always one of them.  The easiest way to mess up holiday revision is by not getting out of bed and starting early.  If you do it, you will find you have plenty of work time and plenty of rest time, too.  I wish you all luck with it; and I wish everyone here a very Happy Christmas.

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