Posted on 15/01/2020

87. WITHIN SITE

In seven months’ time FBS will be on its permanent site. Take a moment to let that sink in. At the permanent site. In seven months’ time. After six years of knock backs and making the best of it, we are only seven months away. Our journey home is within sight. So what better way to use my first Headmaster’s blog of the new year, even the new decade, to consider: the things we are excited about; the things we will miss; the things that stay the same; and the things we need to do.  

The things we are excited about

Being in a new building where everything just works. Where you can switch on the kettle and not worry it might stop the photocopier working. That when it rains on Open Evening we don’t need to issue hundreds of pairs of wellies just so the Year 6 boys and their parents can make it down the Humanities corridor. Where you haven’t got to walk through a housing estate to get from Music to Maths. Gates that work so you can get in and out the school without the receptionist having to say ‘pull the gate, pull the gate, pull!’ And then having to walk all the way back to reception to be told in order to be let out you need to pull the gate. 

Put simply, we cannot wait to have a building that is designed specifically for The Fulham Boys School. Five floors with purpose-built classrooms and facilities. The basement will have a Sport England spec sports hall as well as a gym that will enable the PE and Sports department to condition our boys to become fit and healthy and the first class athletes and sportsmen we have promised. A drama studio that will allow our drama department to put on first class plays. The ground floor will have offices, a library built for boys, a dining room where we can eat together at lunchtime - not quite in keeping with Hogwarts but not far off. On the first floor will be purpose-built art and design rooms, music studios, nine practice rooms, computer suites, a Food room, a large meeting room for functions and a school chapel. On the second floor you’ll find maths rooms, eight laboratories, heads of houses and of course the fabled, legendary Pupil Support Class. While on the top floor will be the English, Languages, History, Geography and RE classrooms along with the Sixth Form centre and SEN base. We will be near sports fields and facilities which our boys can use for PE lessons and sport.

Discussing the plans in our Senior Leadership Meeting last Friday was so exciting. It is all beginning to really come alive and is now well within our sights.         

The things we will miss

When I was younger my favourite toy was Action Man. This Christmas my dad gave me a sleeping bag my mother made for my Action Men nearly 40 years ago. She also knitted them bobble hats and scarves while dad made a trailer to attach (sort of!) to the Action Man jeep I had for my birthday one year. I am sure that other boys my age were bought much more sophisticated trailers and their Action Men slept in much better sleeping bags and wore way cooler hats and scarves, but when I look back I would not have swapped my trailer, sleeping bag, hat and scarf for anything. They symbolise creativity, care, love, dedication, making the best of what we had and happy memories.

Gibbs Green and Beaumont Avenue are like that old sleeping bag. Places of creativity, where we made the best of what we had; of love, care, dedication and have been the scene of many, many happy memories. I remember only too well on the boys’ first day a cement mixer still being in one of the classrooms; putting chairs out late on the Sunday night before we opened just so boys would have somewhere to sit on the Monday morning (and not just any old chairs but the heaviest pea green chairs that have ever been made).  A space that in year one was a kitchen, by year three was a changing room and today is a sixth form classroom. A library that in years one, two and three was our dining room. A changing room and PE storage room that is now a Science lab. And most amazingly of all, a mannequin factory that in just seven weeks Mark Coward and his team transformed into a school with an assembly hall big enough to fit the whole school in, classrooms, computer rooms, dining room, kitchen and massive reception area. Every year things changed; they had to. Heckfield Place may be our home but the North End Road is where we grew up; where we learnt to be resilient, problem solvers, pull together, make the best of it, be adaptable, learn that having the best things isn’t really what matters.  A place where our ethos and culture were carved out.

We will also miss our neighbours. They’ve been supportive, understanding, cooperative and some actively engaged. They’ve added to all that makes FBS, FBS. They’ve been our friends.           

The things that stay the same

Our ethos. Who we are and what we are about. The shell might be different but inside remains the same. We remain more than just a school. Committed to academic excellence, an emphasis on outstanding teaching and learning, strong pastoral care, developing elite sportsmen and teams while finding every boy at least one sport he enjoys. Boys who are encouraged to think and question.Boys who understand  that character and attitude matter more than anything else. Be brave, say sorry, get up after making a mistake, don’t give in, have a go, never know when you’re beaten, do the right thing not the easiest. And of course a relentless emphasis on Standards, Standards, Standards.

The things we need to do

  • Continue working with the contractors and the Department for Education to  ensure the plans are all in place and on track.
  • Start to really involve the staff in getting their departments and areas spot on.
  • Involve the boys, particularly Year 11 and the 6th Form, in planning their new school.
  • Engage the community and local businesses in making sure the permanent site serves Fulham and becomes the pride of the borough for generations to come
  • Integrate ourselves with our new neighbours while keeping strong links with the neighbours we are leaving behind. FBS is a school for all Fulham boys.
  • Arrange a series of events to mark the momentous opening. 
  • Be thankful for our years on the North End Road. We will look back at them as the good old days!
  • Most importantly, get the marquee and chandeliers to Heckfield place!

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