This is a school which is characterised by the breadth of its conception of education – we are looking at the whole person, we are trying to develop soft skills both via our tutorial system and via the range of extra-curricular activities which we provide. These activities are thus valuable not just because they are hugely enjoyed, but also because of the personal, learning and thinking skills which they promote. These extra-curricular activities help to ensure that our students are equipped not just academically but emotionally and socially for the challenges that lie ahead.
There are many routes to ‘stardom’ here. You don’t have to be a brilliant sportsman or woman, you don’t have to be a brilliant musician, you don’t have to be outstanding at your academic studies, or drama, or art – each of these is a valid route to stardom – and there are many, many more besides. That’s quite distinctive because many schools develop overwhelming strengths which can squeeze out other routes. At Warminster School, we see it as our role to support whatever positive things you choose to pursue in your school life.
Hand in hand with that, this is also a school with a huge range of different opportunities available for people to get involved in, and where students are encouraged to develop more than one string to their bow. For instance, I am proud of the fact that that we had to postpone a 1st XV Rugby fixture last season because over half the team was involved in the matinee performance of ‘Les Miserables’. That is an incredibly unusual feature in a school – and long may it continue. One of the reasons it happens here is because people are not paralysed by self-consciousness. This isn’t a school where people are afraid of having a go. Occasionally we have students who are disappointed because they haven’t got the part they wanted in a play or a concert – or disappointed that they didn’t get a part at all – but that is a great problem to have, when compared with the problem of not being able to put things on at all, because not enough people will put their hands up and have a go.
So why is it that people are prepared to, in fact positively want to, have a go? I think it comes back to the quality of the relationships which exist here – both within the pupil body, and between students and staff. People are rooting for each other, not hoping for someone to slip up, to step on the proverbial banana skin. This isn’t a place characterised by point-scoring: it is characterised, as the ISI inspectors noted for themselves when they were here in 2008, by the warmth of the relationships which exist, by the supportiveness which pervades the school’s ethos.