In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Mr Tumnus says, ‘It is winter in Narnia, and has been for ever so long’. The same is true of The Fulham Boys School. For sixteen long months, there has been no Eisteddfod, no Enterprise Week, no carol service, no International Food Market, no summer or winter fair, no school plays, no Going Solo concerts, no whole school and house assemblies, no foreign excursions, and very few sports fixtures. The co-curriculum has not been at full stretch, pupils have been unable to have lunch with staff and boys in other year groups, and our boys have been herded around in year group bubbles. Year 7 don’t know any different, many staff don’t either, while Year 8 has only had a taste of what it is to be a real Fulham Boy. It’s been winter at FBS, and has been for a long time.
But this half term, as the COVID winters thaws, and we gear up for the next academic year, the focus is on bringing back the ‘spirit’ of FBS.
We held Sports Day last week and by all accounts, it was the best so far. It is all systems go to get Enterprise Week ready and make up for lost time. To foster the sense of school houses, boys now wear their house ties every day and will wear their school tie on special occasions. We have started singing again in year group assemblies and are holding two whole school assemblies before the end of term. All of which is essential school business if we are going to be ready for the new 2021-2022 season. September is a big month for the school. Our first opening ceremony, the International Food Market, house welcome meetings and the start of what will probably be an inspection year. We have to hit the road running and be ready and raring to go.
And to get the spirit back, it is not just about the boys. We have missed seeing our parents and are keen to re-engage with you properly. To that end, as you know, over the last two weeks we have held engagement evenings. Everyone was blown away by the building, but the building is just the stadium. No one goes to a football match to look at the stadium. It is what happens on the pitch that matters. What will make FBS one of the best schools in the country is what actually takes place in the building; the classrooms, science labs, sports hall, gym, music recording studios, drama studio, art rooms and the computer suites. It is not about bricks and mortar but the expertise, care and passion of our teachers, the performance of our boys and the support and buy-in from our parents (hence my rallying call for all parents to attend these evenings. It was so nice to see so many of you there).
Together we really can do something special, and despite the very long winter, there has never been a better time to be a Fulham Boy. We’ve restructured and worked hard over the last sixteen months to get certain subject areas in good shape. We are busy putting together an exciting co-curricular programme that will provide our boys with life-changing experiences. A massive piece of work is being carried out at the moment so that our communication is first class in September, with the school, Friends, Foundation, Sport and Enterprise all joined up. We are putting together a database so we know who to contact for what instead of sending out blanket emails to everyone. We are determined to ensure all families feel welcome and are represented at FBS, at every level, from top to bottom. All the while ensuring our standards are as high as ever and our ethos is strong and distinctive.
When the country as a whole comes out of this long winter, things will never be the same again. Elitism and a sense of entitlement are things of the past. How young people will be assessed has to change. Education is there for the taking and FBS are in a good place to do just that. We are in the process of building a family of schools which will include all kinds of schools that learn from each other, share the best practice from primary and secondary, state and private; enabling our pupils to mix with all kinds of young people in different parts of the country, and providing exciting career opportunities for our staff. Our voice is being heard and is influencing education nationally and we have enjoyed good coverage in the Times, Evening Standard and on Radio 5 in the last few weeks alone.
This is our time. We just need to grasp the nettle. All of us. What we are trying to do is not state or private, it is a third way. A way that provides opportunities and privileges that historically have only been accessible to some. And we are doing it within our distinctive, strong, brave ethos.
Let’s never forget who we are, what we stand for and what we all signed up to. It will be hard, at times may seem impossible, but we owe it to our boys and will serve our community and country well. So get onboard, re-engage, become even more involved. Let’s get back the spirit of FBS.