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Headmaster's Blog - "Self-confident without a hint of arrogance"

“Self-confident without a hint of arrogance.” That was the phrase which jumped out, for me, when I reviewed the ISI’s inspection report last week. What a powerful phrase! It is what every parent hopes for their child; and it is what every headmaster hopes for his charges, too. Furthermore, it is a quality often attributed to Bloxhamists, and so it is particularly pleasing to have it recognised by outside experts.

Overall, the ISI inspection report makes for an encouraging read, with many positive things to say about Bloxham, its educational provision, pastoral care, students and staff. It rated the students’ personal development as ‘excellent,’ and in particular, confirmed that “pupils develop into happy, mature, confident individuals with a highly developed sense of responsibility for self and others.”

In today’s complex and uncertain world, I don’t take this for granted, and I ask myself, what conditions should we safeguard at Bloxham to continue to achieve this outcome in the future? Critical, is our all-round educational ethos, which encourages students to have a go at a wide variety of pursuits, both in and beyond the classroom. This brings balance to their education, as well as opportunities to develop important life skills like communication, team-work and resilience. Most people have a talent for something and, by pursuing a broad curriculum, we share around the success; whilst encouraging students to have a sense of humour (and a whole lot of grit) when faced with something less appealing.

We develop a strong community, through which we teach responsibility to others and good citizenship. Whether doing your best for the team in an inter-House competition, or learning tolerance for one another in a boarding setting, our students come to realise that respect and acceptance of those around them is an incredibly important skill in life.

Finally, we teach them to be thankful. Thankful for their incredible fortunes, for their place in the world and the opportunities it provides. We encourage self-reflection and mindfulness, which in turn bring about contentment. These are important foundations for future happiness. We take them outside of their comfort-zones to a world less comfortable. Participation in local homelessness and foodbank projects provide an excellent forum to show students how privileged they are, and how they can be a positive force in helping those with less.

I think it is incredible that our students were able to make such an impact on the inspectors in less than 72 hours. That in itself is encouraging, because as they go out into the world, they will need to be just as impactful and use their attributes and qualities to succeed against tough competition and to be the force for good to hope they will become.