Headmaster’s Newsletter – 22 November 2019

Dear Parents,

Swimming is a central part of life at Hill House and always has been. The ability to swim we believe is of fundamental importance as a lifesaving skill, so much so that we are the only school that takes every one of its pupils swimmingevery week. During this week’s Assembly more than eighty swimming distance awards were presented. This is a lot. We aim to make receiving an award in Assembly something to aspire to and so a certain level must be reached to make it meaningful. Every year Mr Hastings raises the bar a little but equally success must be recognised. The boys and girls this year did swim incredible distances in the time allotted and so we are duty bound to congratulate them. As Mr Hastings said during Assembly, the level of swimming is improving all the time and as such Mr Simeonov, our Head of Swimming is adapting and expanding our swimming programme to continue to stretch and inspire our swimmers. At this time of year when there are inevitably more colds and bugs around we find some parents can be overly cautious and wish to hold their children back from swimming. In general this is unnecessary and means the children fall behind. I would urge you to think carefully about this.

In last week’s newsletter I talked about our Remembrance Assembly. On 11 November Middle School were invited to a Remembrance Service at the National Army Museum. One of our pupils laid a poppy wreath on behalf of Hill House. The children also took part in a live drama with an actor who played the part of an orphaned boy called William Tull who later on in his life joined the army in World War I. It was an excellent way in which to bring to life something that is an important part of the history of this country but can be understandably complex for younger children to grasp.

Lower Senior School visited the Houses of Parliament last Friday. The boys visited the Robing Room where the Queen puts on the Imperial State Crown and her ceremonial robes before making her way to the House of Lords for the State Opening of Parliament. As you know Parliament is not in session and in fact there are no Members of Parliament until they have been elected next month. As a result the boys were able to go into both the Lords and the Commons. They also visited Westminster Hall, which was built in the eleventh century. This is where all Monarchs, senior royals and certain statesmen and women Lie in State. Visiting Heads of State might also address both Houses here such as Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama did. The boys took part in an interactive workshop on making laws and were then given a very informative talk about the role of the Lords by Baroness Garden of Frognal who is Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords.

On Thursday evening, having had a foretaste during Assembly, we were treated to a wonderful performance of Captain Noah and his Floating Zooin Founders’ HallThe boys and girls had prepared for this in Glion under the guidance of Mr Brown, Miss Cameron, Miss van der Westhuizen and Miss Wakefield. They prepared as two separate groups and only came together on the day, which made the final result even more remarkable. 

I will leave the final words on this to an email we received earlier today from a parent:

The kids were on fire last night and it was you who kindled it. I wanted to say thank you for the amazing show you put on last night. You could see the sheer joy and uplift in the audience from watching the performance. Many years ago a wise lady told me ‘education and experience is the best gift you can give a child. It’s something that will never break and be thrown away or go out of fashion. It will be with them forever.’ Hope you realise what a gift you are regularly giving the kids. 

Best wishes,

Richard Townend

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