It has been wonderful to experience my first Summer Term at the College. From the energy and generosity of Royal Sunday at its start, to the celebration of the Master’s Invitation Dance for leavers and their families at its end, the activities, events and experiences on offer to pupils have been many and varied.

Seeing boarders enjoying the long evenings in cricket nets, on tennis courts, in House gardens or in Court after dinner has made the pandemic seem a distant memory. Whole year groups have once again been able to enjoy socials on Saturday evenings, with dancing in the Bradleian and, latterly, an open-air bar at the cricket pavilion for the Lower Sixth. There have been BBQs on the Mill Mead pitches, ultimate frisbee tournaments, mixed football matches and fiercely fought dodgeball competitions. Another excellent rock and pop concert was held in the Memorial Hall, with pupils of all ages and abilities contributing to a fine evening’s entertainment.

Even the return of public examinations had a restorative effect, their presence reaffirming the College’s supportive character. Not only did HMs, tutors, Dames and beaks provide pupils with guidance and reassurance during a time of unavoidable pressure, but it was excellent to see pupils themselves helping one another prepare to pass these academic milestones as smoothly as possible. The Wellbeing Ambassadors, who continued their pastoral work very effectively all term, requested and received specialist training in supporting pupils dealing with severe anxiety, so they were better able to provide their peers with help when needed. My thanks to them and, in particular, to our Upper Sixth Ambassadors, for their outstanding leadership of pupil-led pastoral care.

PSHEE provision – in the classroom, Houses and via talks by experts to whole year groups – continued to educate pupils on how best to meet the challenges of their teenage years. Amongst other topics, there were workshops on consent, talks on drugs, sessions on diversity, and advice on how to stay safe at parties and festivals. Senior pupils also spoke in assemblies to inform their peers about the Pride movement and the US Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v Wade, and I look forward to developing this practice of pupils taking the lead in updating one another on matters of pastoral importance.

On that theme, I offer a ‘thank you’ in advance to the groups of pupil leaders who will guide their peers next academic year. Sacristans, Heads of Shell, Wellbeing Ambassadors, Heads of House and Prefects will share the significant responsibility of supporting, influencing and educating the pupil body from September onwards. We are excited to see how they will enhance the College’s pastoral provision and are grateful to them for all that they will do. I wish them a relaxing summer in preparation for that important work.

And finally, a huge ‘thank you’ to the four HMs who are passing on the leadership of their Houses next term. James Lyon Taylor, Danielle Lilley, Charlie Pembroke and Sandra Finn have provided exemplary pastoral care to the pupils in their respective Houses for a combined total of 29 years. They will be greatly missed but leave their Houses – pupils and staff teams alike – in excellent shape for the future. We all wish them the very best as they move on.

Ed Nightingale
Deputy Head, Pastoral