On a very hot but gloriously sunny morning last Friday, 6 July, Headmaster Chris Staley welcomed the audience of Governors, Guest of Honour Master Chief Mike MacKay, Grammarians, visitors and guests to the 2018 Speech Day. This end of year event celebrates pupils’ achievements and bids fond farewells to leavers. It also includes a review of the last twelve months and some insights into plans for the following year.
Mr Staley opened Speech Day and set the theme of his speech by recalling a recent interview with prospective parents where he was surprised to be asked a question that he had never been asked before, “Headmaster, who was your favourite teacher at school and why?” Without hesitation, Mr Staley was instantly transported back to his 6th Form geography class and one of his 6th Form Geography teachers - Mr Davis - who like most outstanding teachers, taught him a whole lot more that has stayed with him through his adult life without him ever really realising it. Mr Davis’ crucial lesson, noted the Headmaster, was that ”you have to try, and you have to fail sometimes to get it right in the long run…the best lessons are sometimes the hardest ones.” Mr Davis was unashamedly academic, inspirational in showing how to challenge the assumptions that often lay behind questions and thinking of interesting and innovative ways to creatively ‘take on’ the question by looking at it from an unexpected perspective.
Inspiration, transformation and creativity. If ever there were three words that describe what education should be about and what a school should be striving to do then surely these would be them; they applied to Mr Davis then, and Mr Staley shared that it is now his enormous privilege and pleasure to work in a school that ensures that these three words are at the heart of all that the School does, applying to pupils and teachers alike.
There are have plenty of inspirational pupils in the school who very quietly influence and motivate those around them, for example, through study buddy, DofE, the orchestra and ensembles or working closely with other younger pupils as mentors. Others inspire those around them through their achievements – whether it is in the academic world, sport, art or performance; WGS is a place that provides the opportunity for inspiration at all levels.
WGS also has fantastic teachers; they are inspirational through their depth of knowledge and commitment to continual development, for example among them are doctors, published authors, lecturers, textbook writers, performing arts stars, marathon runners, musicians, jewellery makers, mechanics, chefs, international athletes and those completing master’s degrees.
Mr Staley then moved on to recognise the work of the Senior Prefects whose assistance in helping guide younger pupils cannot be underestimated, and gave public thanks to Ollie Mann and Tarn Chamberlain James for their work this year as Heads of School ably supported by their Deputies Katy Landles and James Horsburgh. Next year’s Heads of School are announced as Catherine Missin and Frazer Brown, supported by Deputies, Leena Hussein and Sam Martin and a new team of Senior Prefects.
Speech Day is always as much about looking forward as it is to celebrate the year just gone. Mr Staley said he was pleased and proud to be able to say that Wisbech Grammar School is growing in strength, reputation and popularity because of everyone’s collective efforts. From this position of confidence and strength, the School can now look forward to the next stage of its development against the context of expected significant changes to the independent sector as a whole. Over the coming months the School’s focus will include a new Kindergarten r==within Magdalene House, a review of the curriculum to ensure it is fit for the 21st century, and working to ensure that a Wisbech Grammar education remains accessible to as many people as possible through the initiation of our Working in Partnership Programme.