In the last nine years I have made countless speeches and written over a hundred blogs. Many of them at difficult, turbulent and testing times. Speeches and blogs about why FBS should be allowed to open; as a battle cry over site; in defence of our strict policies and advocating our distinctive approach. But this blog is by far the hardest, because it is the last blog I will write to you as the Headmaster of The Fulham Boys School.
As difficult as it is, it has become clear to me that the time has come to say goodbye at the end of this academic year. Before Easter, the school held the final of three memorable events to mark the opening of the school’s amazing state of the art building. It was a clear demonstration that phase one of The Fulham Boys School’s history is complete. For the first seven years, FBS grew up like nomads on the North End Road, between Gibbs Green and Beaumont Avenue, but is now safely home and settled on the Fulham Road. However, as I have said many times, the building is just the stadium. It’s what happens on the pitch that counts (just ask any Tottenham fan!). Far more important than the new building is the fact that I am more convinced than ever the school is in an excellent position to become one of the best schools in the country, state or private: heavily oversubscribed, a school of choice for boys in West London, standards continue to be exceptional, academic results are strong and we’ve got our first boys into Oxford and Cambridge. The battle years are finally over and FBS can now build on the incredible ethos that has been created by everyone involved and go on to achieve its holy grail. Moreover, in my twenty four year career I have never come across anyone better than Mr Smith.
So, all I really want to say in this blog is thank you.
Thank you to you boys. You are incredible young men. From all different postcodes, cultures and backgrounds and yet you are well behaved, resilient, smart young gentlemen who have a go at everything, engage with the big questions of life and according to Ofsted, ‘live and breathe good manners’. Gents, always remember those ‘standards, standards, standards’ and the old trusted ‘can do attitude’.
Thank you to the parents. Almost every single one of you has supported FBS during these roller coaster years and so many of you are fully engaged. I will miss the Christmas and Summer Fairs, the auctions, quiz nights, curry nights and appreciation teas. I will even miss going into the lions’ den that is Headmaster’s Coffee mornings!
Thank you to the staff. Your commitment and ‘buy in’ means FBS is able to be more than just a school. You have all played your part in creating an environment described by the DfE as ‘beyond exceptional’. Many of you have become real friends.
Thank you to the founders and governors. Ten years ago, you took a chance on a free school meal boy from the Welsh valleys and have been so supportive of him ever since. While my heart has been, and always will be, in Wales, I will leave a big part of it in Fulham.
But two people deserve special mention who I have worked alongside from the very beginning: Meriel Stinson and Alex Wade.
Meriel, we have been through so much, have argued over just about everything, but I could not have done any of this without you. Thank you.
Alex, you are one of the most incredible, brilliant men I have ever met and no headmaster or staff could have a better Chairman of Governors. I have no words to express my gratitude and genuine love for you.
I have played quite a key role in FBS so far, but I will no doubt soon be forgotten and be just a footnote on the pages of its history. However, one person I hope will never be forgotten at The Fulham Boys School is the Lord Jesus Christ. Over the years I have given you three words for each of the school’s three pillars. To me, as I leave you, there are three even more important words. The first is the hardest, the second is the bravest and the third is the best a boy can ever say and hear: Sorry. Help. Forgive. If you take the first two to the Lord Jesus Christ he will give you the third. Think about him, ask questions of him and whatever you decide about him, do it kindly.
FBS I salute you. It has been a huge privilege. Go well.