Message from the Head
February 5, 2024

Message from the Head

‘Heaven lays about us in our infancy.’

William Wordsworth

The news is out that I will be leaving St James in August and I feel rather overwhelmed by good wishes I have received from parents and pupils. There is never a good time to leave such a wonderful role, but it really is for the best.

I was particularly pleased by our recent ISI Inspection report which spoke so highly of the leadership and the spiritual ethos of the school. It is quite something for this to be recognised without the school being allied to one religion. I have accomplished what I came here for some eleven years ago and will leave with so many happy memories. I built the school’s recent success on the Headmasters’ who came before me and the staff who have been willing to follow me.

Our unique starting point is so crucial to the St James story – we view each pupil at St James in their essential self as a pure and perfect being.

I remember watching my children being born, the moment they emerged into the world was one of such spiritual clarity and wonder. Their perfection was clearly apparent and, as a parent, I wanted everything to be perfect for them, a lovely cot, clean blankets, and the most nourishing food. The blossoming of a baby’s sensual engagement with the world is deeply profound; the first smile, the first step and the first word. This is something Mr Davies is experiencing currently with his newly born son Albie. It made me smile as one day out of hospital he had Albie watching the cricket on TV! A man after my own heart.

I have been fortunate enough to work with younger children in Prep Schools for eighteen years and then make that unusual graduation to senior schools, this means a wealth of experience with how children learn from three years old to nineteen. I know how crucial the early years are and I know how important both love and discipline are to the child’s development. This is something our own Prep School in Kensington does so very well, led by the dynamic Mrs Hilary Wyatt, it’s a hidden gem.

Over the years of teaching, studying, reading, and reflecting I have sought to understand the causal level of human potential, what we might call the spiritual. At St James the preservation of the spiritual potential of every pupil in our care is a priority, the bedrock on which all else rests. It is also important to distinguish between spiritual needs and the psychic needs for each child.

One has to be careful what one means by the words spiritual, spiritual needs and the spiritual life as they imply that we cannot grasp with our minds. If there is such a reality it must be impossible to form a picture or image of it and, as our thinking depends upon this we cannot ‘think’ about this in normal categories, although I would suggest that perhaps we can unite with it!