The Last Word by Rick Clarke, Deputy Head

In the maelstrom that is the end of the Autumn Term, with concerts, dinners and plays going on, it was rather refreshing to be asked to write the Last Word for the Christmas edition of Heads-Up! as it has forced me to step back from my daily work and reflect on the last four years at this remarkable school. What a four years it has been!

Arriving at any school in January is never an easy thing to do, and moving house at Christmas is an additional stress that I promised my wife I would not put us through again. Clearly I have failed miserably on this front as my poor family now have to pack up and move again over Christmas, this time to Frensham Heights in Surrey. And once again, I am going to have to endure the challenge of a January start! That said, if the community at my new school is as welcoming and warm as it has been here at Warminster, I won’t have anything to worry about.

It is fair to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed the last four years at Warminster. I know I speak for my family too when I say that we feel truly blessed to have been part of this community. My children have thrived in the Prep School and Natalie and I have loved getting to know the staff, pupils and parents here. It won’t be easy leaving when the whole family has formed so many close bonds with the community here.

One of the challenges of being a Deputy Head, and particularly one who deals with discipline, is that you often have to meet pupils and parents under difficult circumstances. You become known as the person to whom the naughty pupils are sent, and it can sometimes be difficult to form close relationships with pupils. It is these close relationships on which so much successful teaching and mentoring is based, so I have tried hard to be fair to all those I have seen and to listen to them and their concerns. What has helped in this regard is being able to rely on a remarkable body of staff who provide this support for your sons and daughters. Their commitment and dedication, and their genuine care for the children here, has made my job that much easier, and for this I thank them.

If I were to be asked what my highlights have been from the last four years, it would be difficult to single them out, as I have genuinely loved all that I have done. That said, here are a few:

  • All of my English teaching. I have had the privilege of working with a wonderful team of teachers in English, and my English lessons have been a wonderful escape from the hurly burly of keeping the school running.
  • Overseeing the Operational Group: for those unaware of this, the Operational Group is the engine that keeps this school going. All the myriad events, festivals, fixtures, concerts etc. would not be possible without the hard work of this team, comprising catering, IT support, maintenance, domestics, the Bursary, admin support, boarding and commuications.
  • Seeing the increasing passion with which the pupils participate in the co-curricular life of the School. Of course, it’s great when sports teams go unbeaten for a season, but it is also wonderful to see the joy and satisfaction from pupils supporting each other at the Candlelit Christmas concert, for example.
  • Charlie Whelan’s guitar playing and anything the percussion groups do. They are brilliant.

We came here four years ago knowing that this is a special school with huge potential. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had here to learn and grow, and I want to thank everyone, staff, pupils, parents and OVs for their support. We will miss Warminster and we will watch its continued success with interest.