Prize giving speech from the 5th of July 2023
Farringtons School

Prize giving speech from the 5th of July 2023

Prize giving speech from the 5th of July 2023
A Message from the Head Head Teacher

Senior School Prize Giving Speech from 6th July 2023

A man went to Jerusalem with his wife and mother-in-law. While they were there the mother-in-law sadly passed away. The undertaker told them, you can have her shipped home for £5000 or you can bury her here for £150. The man thought about it for a moment and told him that on balance he would prefer to have her shipped home. Bemused, the undertaker asked, “why would you spend £5000 to ship your mother-in-law home, when it would be wonderful to have her buried here in the Holy Land and only have to spend £150?”. The man replied, “Sir, a man died here 2000 years ago; he was buried and three days later he rose from the dead. I just can’t take that chance”.

Ladies and Gentlemen, when I typed into ChatGPT, “please can you give me a joke to tell as Headmaster at our prize giving ceremony which would be appropriate for a Christian school that has strong family values”, I can assure you that I did so with the best of intentions. I clearly have a bit to learn about how to get the most out of this technological tool but, in the meantime, I promise that all that follows in this address is entirely my own work. The fact that Mrs Jackson told me just as I was about to walk into the marquee that her mother had managed to make it to today’s prize giving after all has added another layer of complexity to proceedings, but I will just have to tackle that challenge later on!

There have of course been numerous challenges thrown at all of us in recent times, and schools have certainly not been spared that. No sooner had we moved on from delivering online lessons, than we have found ourselves considering as educators the very fast-moving possibilities and pitfalls presented by chatbots. I would certainly echo the words of the Chair of Governors in this regard. As is the case for so many different businesses and industries, in the world of education the potential of AI is nothing short of extraordinary, hugely exciting and terrifying in equal measure if we stop to think about the extent to which it can and will transform our lives in so many ways. One thing for sure is that it is here to stay; indeed, in the decade to come, I suspect the use of AI will be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, topics of discussions in schools and universities, alongside tackling climate change and the importance of sustainability. Both are areas to which we are already giving serious thought as a school.

I found myself pondering all this at the ‘Transforming Lives’ Methodist Education International Conference in Bristol and Bath earlier this year, which as Mr Harris said just now, we both had the privilege of attending together with Mr Boyjoonauth and the Chaplain back in April. A conference which welcomed nearly 300 delegates from Methodist Schools and Universities from every continent, well except Antarctica (never say never), to mark the 275th anniversary of John Wesley founding the first Methodist School, Kingswood School in Bath.  I hope you enjoyed watching the video of ‘The World is my Parish’ before this ceremony started, in which Farringtons features quite prominently, not least with a number of pupils as soloists.

What particularly struck me at the conference was that in spite of all the societal changes since the late 18th century, the different industrial revolutions that have occurred, steam, electricity, digital, the technological advancements we have seen in recent years, so much of what Wesley believed and spoke so passionately about all those years ago still rings true today. And when I say this, I refer not solely to his core overarching message you will have heard a number of times before I’m sure, namely that we must seek “to do all the good we can, in all the ways we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we can, as long as ever we can”.  I refer also to more specific issues: his mantra of “For all! For all!”, a recognition that every child is precious in God’s eyes and how this links closely to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, a key theme at the conference; his desire that we should, in his words, “soften our hearts to God’s creation” and seek to look after our world and be environmentally conscious; his view that education is first and foremost about communicating values, or, to quote Wesley directly, that “an ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge”.

This is not to say, of course, that teaching and learning should not lie at the heart of a school and be its core purpose. Of course, it should; lest we forget, our school motto, ‘posside sapientiam’, urges each of us, to ‘grow in wisdom’. But I cannot deny that this more holistic view of what education is really all about resonated strongly with me. Because alongside instilling academic rigour, fostering intellectual curiosity and encouraging creative thinking, there is also, for me, a need, just as crucially, for us to seek to develop character, to inculcate in our pupils a desire to think of others and the environment in which they live, to teach values which will serve them well for life. As Head, I can tell you that getting this important balance right is something my colleagues and I strive to achieve every day.

It has been a fantastically busy and positive year and today gives me an opportunity in my report, not only to reflect on some of the highlights, too many to mention in truth, but also to acknowledge the many varied achievements and contributions of the pupils. Back in November, you will recall that we had a regulatory compliance inspection by ISI, the Independent Schools Inspectorate. Such inspections can be nerve-wracking experiences, not least because the bar is set exceptionally high these days, rightly so, and meeting all of the criteria is by no means guaranteed. It was extremely pleasing, therefore, to be judged compliant in every area. Success in inspections is very much a team effort, of course, but I would particularly like to pay tribute to the Senior Leadership Team, those in boarding, as well as the Estates Manager, and the HR team, whose work came under particular scrutiny.

Shortly after this came news that after an extensive accreditation process, Farringtons had successfully been invited to become part of HMC. To be a member of the Heads’ Conference, an association of the very best Independent Schools across the globe, around 350 in number, is a tremendous accolade and something about which I think we should be justifiably proud. And to round off the year, hot off the press, I am equally delighted to let you know that yesterday we received news that we have been shortlisted in the ‘London Independent School of the Year’ category of the Independent School awards. We will hear whether we have been nominated as a finalist at the start of September. Fingers crossed!

As you will know, pupils in Years 11 and 13 have sat public exams in recent weeks, both year groups for the first time. They have worked hard, and I very much hope that they will be rewarded for their efforts on results day in August. We wish them well. Aside from exams, there has been much else to celebrate academically. A record number of pupils in the Sixth Form, twenty three in total, have taken the Extended Project Qualification in addition to their A levels this year, a qualification which is highly regarded by universities. I am especially grateful to Suzanne Bliss for her outstanding leadership of the EPQ and I hope this surge in numbers is a sign of things to come.

Our reputation as a school for developing oracy skills is also very much intact. Expertly led by Mrs Denman, our Public Speaking Team reached the regional stage of the English-Speaking Union Competition in London, narrowly missing out on reaching the national final. Our ESU Performing Shakespeare pupils enjoyed similar success and then to cap off the year, our Years 7 and 8 debaters returned with an array of prizes from an event called ‘The Mix’ hosted by the Chislehurst Society. Inspired by Mr Coulthard, it has also been wonderful to see poetry really thriving, with a number of our pupils performing extremely well in the Poetry by Heart competition. If you have not had chance to listen to the most recent Farringtons Features podcast, our 11th one in the series, which highlights the value of learning poetry, I can certainly recommend it.

It has been great to see the level of engagement in external competitions elsewhere too. 8 pupils received gold certificates in the Maths Challenges run by the United Kingdom Mathematics Trust. twenty have participated in the Independent Schools Mathematician of the Year competition, with the results coming out in the Autumn. Similar success has been enjoyed by pupils in the British Science Association’s Crest Awards in the Biology, Physics and Chemistry Olympiads.

The Farringtons Futures Careers programme continues to go from strength to strength, with work experience weeks now in place for both Years 10 and 12. Feedback on our pupils from their employers has been overwhelmingly complimentary. Overseen brilliantly by Mrs Miah, pupils have personalised guidance on careers, support with apprenticeships applications, mock interviews and the opportunity to listen to a variety of guest speakers from different industries. More still is planned for next academic year.

The Floreat activities and enrichment programme, masterminded by Ms Azulay and Mr Garwood, which, like Farringtons Futures, is also coming to the end of its second year, remains a real highlight of the week for many of our pupils. We were especially pleased to get external recognition for the programme as a national finalist in the ‘Best Experiential Learning’ category of the Muddy Stilettos competition, but also to see ten of our pupils awarded certificates at the Bromley Rotary Youth Awards ceremony for their involvement in two different community minded projects – one supporting adults with autism, the other linked to a local care home. The programme continues to evolve, with this additional focus on service being very much part of the sixty plus activities taking place every week – next year will see 3D printing, bushcraft and clay pigeon shooting added to the list. Our PADI qualified scuba divers meanwhile now have a trip to Egypt and the Red Sea to look forward to next July.

On the subject of trips, it has been great to see a wide range of educational visits on offer for the pupils this year – a Geography trip to Iceland, a French and Photography trip to Paris, a Spanish trip to Barcelona and a football training camp to Real Madrid. Such trips are wonderfully enriching, and I am very grateful to my colleagues for giving up their time to run them. This is also true of the superb D of E Team led by Mrs White, who have been out on numerous expeditions over the past few months with ninety two pupils doing bronze, silver or gold. In fact, 12 Sixth Formers returned only yesterday, tired and with a few blisters to show for it, from their Gold qualifier. In time, we hope they will receive their awards at Buckingham Palace, as two of our former pupils will be doing this summer.

Very ably supported by their four House Captains, our Heads of House have grown the number of competitions this year. Wednesday mornings have seen a hive of activity, be it in Form rooms or in the Sports Hall. Regular updates on the current merit standings have ensured a healthy rivalry and all will be revealed tomorrow morning at our end of year assembly when the House Cup will be presented – my sources reliably inform me that it is incredibly close again.

In sport, no fewer than 460 fixtures have taken place this year – a truly remarkable effort from the PE Department led by Chris Doyle, who as a modest Aussie, has also very kindly found time of late to keep me regularly updated on developments in the Ashes. Particular mention should go to our U13 girls’ football team who reached the National Finals of the ISFA competition at St George’s, along with 11 other teams across the country, just missing out on a place in the semi-final for the second year running. Our U12 girls meanwhile were crowned Bromley Schools Cup champions, winning a tense final on penalties, whilst our U18 Boys 1st XI were undefeated and won the Kent Small Schools League.

Our netballers, swimmers, cricketers, athletes, basketball and rounders players have all enjoyed considerable success too over the course of the year. The year culminated with a hugely enjoyable Sports Day over at Queen Mary’s Sports Ground and an awards ceremony here in the marquee on Monday. Suffice to say, ambition and the appetite for more is growing year on year.

The same can certainly be said for the Performing and Creative Arts. The Autumn Term saw a hugely accomplished performance of the play ‘12 Angry Men’, before attentions turned to Matilda, this year’s School Musical, in February, a production which delighted not just parents and grandparents, but also fellow pupils, staff, governors as well as alumni who came back to see it. The success of these shows can clearly be seen by the number of pupils who recently auditioned for next term’s Agatha Christie Drama ‘Black Coffee’, rehearsals for which are well underway. And I know excitement is already building for ‘Beauty and the Beast’, scheduled for the Spring.

All of this would not have been possible without the energy, enthusiasm and inspirational leadership of Jacqui Warburton who, together with her team have also put on Christmas, Dance, LAMDA and Performing Arts Showcases, the latter featuring a growing choir, as well as an Easter Concert, not to mention the inaugural Masked Singer competition, organised by our Director of Music, Mr Rayner. Looking ahead, I thought I would take this opportunity to mention the Creative Arts exhibition in early October, where you will be able to see some of the fabulous creations of our pupils in Art, Textiles, Graphics and Photography on display. Something for us all to look forward to.

Many of you will know that we have been frustrated in our plans to develop the site and particularly to build a Performing Arts Centre with additional sixth form facilities. In the last year, we have been working behind the scenes and met with the Chislehurst Councillors and our MP and sought advice as to how we might be able to make our capital ambitions a reality. Working with new planning advisors and architects, we are now almost ready to submit an application to obtain a Certificate of Lawfulness under the General Permitted Development Order for three projects: a PAC and Sixth form centre; a canopy for the Junior School netball court which will include levelling and astroturfing of the existing play surface and lighting; and a new equipment store for the Sports Hall. I hope to have good news in the Autumn that our application has been successful and that we can move forward with the plans.

Chapel continues to lie at the heart of our school and I am delighted that a number of our pupils, following a series of confirmation classes with Reverend Verrier, were confirmed in March. As ever the Remembrance Service was incredibly moving, and it was wonderful to be able to have our first in-person Carol Services since 2020 with the pews crammed full. The annual Service of Light and the Easter Service were also memorable occasions. However, for me the most poignant of all was the memorial service held in school for Her Majesty the Queen on Friday 16 September. This proved to be a very fitting way for us to mark the passing of a quite remarkable woman, a person who touched all of our lives in one way or another, and whose extraordinary strength and sense of duty was a humbling example to us all.

As ever at Prize Giving, this is also the moment in the year when we have to say a fond farewell to a number of our colleagues. Tom Wilkinson joined Farringtons in September 2021 as a Boarding Assistant. Highly capable, he quickly took on increased responsibility within South House, as well as being hugely involved within the PE Department where his contributions in games, fixtures and running sessions in the gym have been much valued. He heads to Worth School this summer where I am sure he will be a tremendous asset.

Charis Taylor also joined the school in 2021 as an English teacher. Hugely passionate about her subject, she has inspired many of our pupils in the classroom over the past two years, as well as being a committed Year 8 Form Tutor. A keen runner, she also managed to encourage a number of pupils to join her on her Friday morning runs before school, following the 1km track around the grounds. She moves to a new position at St Saviour's and St Olave's Girls' School with our very best wishes.

Abdul Miah arrived at Farringtons the year before Charis to be part of the Maths Department. An enthusiastic and dedicated teacher, he too was a Year 8 Form Tutor this year. However, I suspect Abdul will be best remembered in his capacity as an apiarist. Seeing him leading his Floreat pupils out of my office window in full beekeeping regalia to the hives every week has been a sight to behold, the result of which was 150 jars of Farringtons branded honey being produced. We wish him and the family all the very best for their move to Portgual, where Abdul will take up post at St Dominic's International School.

Sue Collier joined Farringtons in 2018 and during her time here has been a matron in both boarding houses, providing invaluable support to the Houseparents of West and South House. Very pastorally minded, she has been able to put her trained counselling skills to excellent use, not just in this role, but also more recently when she assumed the position of school counsellor during Mrs Grindley’s temporary absence. Sue heads to Thomas Tallis where she will be school counsellor from September. We wish her all the very best.

Diana Rabot took over as Head of Learning Development in January 2018. A hugely wise and experienced teacher, she has led the Department with real distinction over the past five and half years and supported a significant number of pupils during her time here, both individually and in small groups. Her insights, professionalism and desire to want to do the very best for every child mark her out as an exceptional practitioner and I know she will be greatly missed by colleagues, pupils and parents alike. She moves to take up a part-time position at Dulwich School in Cranbrook, where I know she is looking forward to a much shorter commute.

Simon Smith was appointed to the position of Assistant Head Pastoral in September 2019. The positive impact he has made during his time here has been nothing short of remarkable. Whether as the school’s Designated Safeguarding Lead, as Head of Boarding or in overseeing pastoral care within the school, Simon has demonstrated a relentless desire to drive for improvement and to keep himself, staff, pupils and parents well informed about all matters relating to mental health and wellbeing. The fact that we were one of five schools nationally to be highly commended in the ‘Outstanding Pastoral Care’ category of the Muddy Stilettos awards is due in no small part to him. One of the most natural public speakers I have seen in schools, I will particularly miss his excellent Chapel talks. Simon heads to Tudor Hall School in Oxfordshire, to embrace a fresh challenge as Deputy Head Academic. Suffice to say our loss is very much their gain.

Sue Mirkovic was appointed as the Bursar’s Secretary at Farringtons and Stratford House School from September 1999. During her 24 years at Farringtons, Sue has very ably supported three Bursars and has worked closely with our Governors to support their meetings and help promote good governance at the school. An integral part of the school administration team, She is always busy shopping for the needs of the school and supporting the well-being of our staff and pupils. Sue will be greatly missed and we wish her a happy and healthy retirement.

And finally, we bid farewell to my wonderful PA, Janet Grima after 22 years of dedicated service. Where do I start? In truth, words cannot begin to express how much I have valued her unwavering support, in every sense, over the last three years. Personable, incredibly hard-working and utterly professional, Janet’s warmth and ability to multi-task are truly remarkable. Her encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Farringtons and her extraordinary memory for names, helped in part by the time she spent as Registrar, also never ceases to amaze me. A listening ear for staff and pupils, I know many parents in attendance today will also have appreciated her calm and reassuring voice at the end of the phone. I could go on. Suffice to say, Janet, you will be missed enormously by everyone in the school community, but with your husband Vince still continuing to work here, you won’t be able to escape that easily! Thank you for everything.

The eagle-eyed amongst you may well have spotted another leaver here today, albeit someone who left in the summer of 2020. I am delighted that Dorothy Nancekievill, my predecessor, has been able to come back to join us in our celebrations today and for the unveiling of her portrait in the Library this morning. Many of you, both pupils and parents, will have known Mrs Nancekievill well. Sadly, with the school closed due to the pandemic, it was not possible to give her the proper send-off she so thoroughly deserved after five and a half years of outstanding leadership of Farringtons. Nor, I suspect, were many of you able to say a proper goodbye and express your thanks for all that she did. On a personal note, I am enormously grateful to Dorothy for being so giving of her time and for ensuring such a smooth handover in the most difficult of circumstances. I am delighted that we have an opportunity today to show our appreciation. Can I invite you Dorothy to come to the stage to receive a small token of our appreciation to our applause.

I will shortly be handing over to Mr Young to oversee the key business of today – the awarding of certificates, trophies and shields. My particular thanks go to Mr Young, of course, not only for his tireless work throughout the year as Deputy Head, but also for his coordination of today’s events. Before I do, however, I would like to take a moment to pay tribute to the amazing pupils sat in front of me, your children. Regardless of whether they have won a prize today, they all deserve our recognition and praise. Indeed, one of the joys of being a Headteacher is that you never cease to be amazed by the remarkable achievements that occur on a daily basis; that you are able to be part of those occasions when a pupil not only surprises you, but also themselves, and does something they never believed possible; that you get to witness moments when a child, unprompted, shows incredible kindness or selflessness for the benefit of others or the school community. So, a round of applause for our amazing students.

Similarly, I am hugely indebted to the teachers who, week in week out, seek to inspire, nurture and support every pupil, to unlock the potential they see, and help them to discover new, sometimes hidden talents, such that, in the words of Mrs Nancekievill, they are able to ‘develop and shine’ during their time at school. Please let’s show them our appreciation too.

The same can be said of our wonderful support staff, superbly led by our Bursar Sally-Anne Eldridge. All too often in schools, their contributions can go unrecognised. They are, of course, equally deserving of our gratitude for all that they do, sometimes very visibly, sometimes more behind the scenes, to help ensure that all runs smoothly, and that all members of the community are well looked after, catered for and provided with a wonderful environment in which to live, work and study. A round of applause please.

And last but by no means least, my thanks to you as parents for all your kind words and support this past year. Please be assured that the investment you make in terms of your children’s education is never lost on me; indeed, I regard it a considerable privilege and responsibility to have been entrusted with leading the Farringtons community. At the same time, I should also say that I continue to be excited about what the future holds.

I very much hope that you enjoy the rest of your afternoon with us and look forward to chatting to you over afternoon tea in the dining room afterwards. Failing that, may I take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful summer break. Thank you.


David Jackson




You may also be interested in...

Join our community

Find us

Farringtons School
Perry Street
get directions

Prize giving speech from the 5th of July 2023
back to start
Farringtons School