Posted on 01/06/2015
This time a year ago, I walked into my office in Studdridge Street to find out our plans to open in September were suddenly being called into question.
The following weeks were tough. When the DfE announced they would not give us funding the pressure was on to throw in the towel. Spurred on by parents and boys, we fought for a school we believed in. And when we succeeded in changing the DfE’s mind we still found ourselves with mountain to climb to get everything fit for purpose by September. But against all the odds, we did it.
As I came into school this morning, I thought to myself, “what if we hadn’t fought?” Imagine if the governors and founders had lacked their incredible vision and drive. Imagine if the teachers and support staff hadn’t stuck with us. Imagine if our first Fulham Boys and their parents hadn’t believed in us and demonstrated the risk taking, make it happen, anything is possible attitude they did. Imagine if FBS had never seen the light of day because of temporary uncertainty over permanent site!
This borough wouldn’t now have an academic boys’ school open to all… It wouldn’t have boys from different backgrounds rubbing shoulders with each other and all demonstrating the same high standards. It wouldn’t have a school that was told only a few days before half term by the DfE that it is well placed to be outstanding when Ofsted visit in January 2016. It wouldn’t have immaculately turned out boys who have experienced a year of first class teaching and learning; who have enjoyed boxing, judo, fencing, rowing and numerous other co-curricular clubs; who have had the opportunity to take part in an ‘eisteddfod’ where they sang, danced, acted and performed in front of their peers (and the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan). They wouldn’t have had such top class rugby, football and cricket coaching and wouldn’t have had so many opportunities to learn musical instruments.
As the boys look forward to going to the Science museum tomorrow and the Globe theatre on Thursday and Friday, as they prepare for their end of year exams next week and then look forward to a trip to France the week after, the events of last summer seem a distant memory.
But let us never forget the spirit, energy, vision, strategic thinking, well-reasoned arguments and dignity that got us to this stage. There will be tough days ahead. Fights to get our temporary site as good as we think it should be, battles to get our permanent site fit for a 21st century school that aims to be beyond outstanding, and the dogged, relentless, commitment to have and maintain exceptional standards. But it is all possible. We’ve done it before and we will keep doing it.
I’m biased, but think it would have been a huge mistake for FBS to have been prevented from entering the system – an opportunity missed because certainty of site was deemed more important than pupils, staff, teaching, learning and education. I am sure in hindsight, the DfE as well as the parents and boys of FBS, are grateful for the can do, ‘never lie down’ attitude we demonstrated last summer. And a year on, we are all working together, doing whatever it takes, to make FBS the flagship school we have pledged.