Be Different ...

The weather has been absolutely peachy; or at least it was until I decided to have my summer hair cut (a rather fetching grade 2 affair – all over). As I stepped out from the Turkish barbers I was caught by a chill wind and a realisation that the temperature had dropped by a good ten degrees in the last half an hour, although this may have had something to do with the lack of hair on my head and face. If you want someone to blame for the fact that Summer is no longer with us, I’m your man.
 

BeDifferent-4 That said, the lack of sun did not stop both the 1st and 2nd cricket squads enjoying their annual low altitude training camps, as both sides have a ten-day break before their next fixtures with St. Mary’s… 

BeDifferent-5

The Umpire looks on ...

BeDifferent-3

 

The biggest excitement of the week though must surely have been the Scholars’ morning, leading into the Royal Wedding, Cricket against Cargilfield, the Scottish Cup Final and the FA Cup final – all on the same day. There will be reports of this all over social media but I would like to add that my favorite moments were the scholars turning the Defender into an ice cream van, the inter-patrol ‘Meghan Spoon’ race and, of course, a very satisfactory dismantling of Cargilfield at both 1st and 2nd XI.
BeDifferent-1
BeDifferent-2
On Sunday we had the second of our line-up of academic scholars preaching to the school and parents, this time on ‘Kindness’. She was super impressive and hers is another sermon that I will unashamedly add to my collection. This was followed by the annual U13 mixed tennis festival with a host of other schools invited to Belhaven and just under 100 boarders heading off to Fox Falls for the afternoon.
 
This week we have had a charity ice lolly sale, rounders, cricket and tennis against Ardvreck, a lecture on modern technology from a Merchiston Housemaster (following on from the one last week, given by an Old Belhavian, on cycling across China), ABRSM exams and then, in the lead-up to the ‘Out’ weekend, the Poetry Recitation competition.
 
And so, here we are, half way through the term and yet not on half term for another two weeks. Why? Surely it would be far easier to have half term at the same time as everyone else – it would certainly be easier for some Belhaven families with children at different schools. My son is on half term from Marlborough this week and there is nothing that I would like more than to spend the week with him but, as we are at school, I simply can’t – it’s not ideal, but there is a reason behind it…
 
Over the course of this coming week, the Form 1s will have the opportunity to complete their revision programmes under the watchful eyes of those who teach them. That is not to say that parents are incapable of leading the revision process; it is simply that we feel it is our responsibility to do so (and we are better at keeping them calm!)
 
Whilst I am sure that it would be easier for parents to have all their children on holiday together, anyone who has taken a public exam will know the stress that it can create – I’m not sure that taking a 13 year old away on a family holiday in the week leading up to CE is necessarily going to be all peace and harmony. From my own experience as a teenager, I can honestly say that taking any 13 year old on holiday is likely to be fraught with emotion, regardless of looming exams…although that may just have been me.

As a school, we have always thought it more practical to keep the children here through until the end of CE exam week, culminating in Speech Day on the Saturday and a well-earned week of half term afterwards, unencumbered by bank holiday weekends and overcrowding. I would suggest more prep schools do it but, selfishly and in all honesty, that would disturb the peace and relative solitude of a late break.

The powers that be decided last year to move Common Entrance so that it begins on Tuesday rather than Monday; this gives those who take the normal half term a whole day (!) to get back into school mode before the first exam begins. It also means, though, that the results are not available until the back end of the following week, which is a bore, although our lot should still get them while they are on half term and therefore be able to celebrate with their parents, which those who have an early half term cannot do as they are back at school when the results come in.

One final reason for having a later half term is to keep the Leavers’ programme to a sensible length of time. This lot have worked hard and deserve the opportunity to enjoy their final few weeks at Belhaven. This is manageable over a three-week period but five weeks of this would be hard to fill, as other prep schools have discovered.

Whilst the actual programme of events is still ‘under wraps’ it is no secret that the Leavers are all off to Italy for a week after half term and then it is only a week and a half of babysitting until they can leave Belhaven to enjoy their long Summer holidays, before embarking on the next stage of their education at senior school. Exciting times ahead….

That is all.

Henry Knight, 25/05/2018