Change is Opportunity
We certainly have a few more staff changes than usual this coming year. There is no clear pattern for this, it’s just one of those things. I know parents like continuity but for me change is opportunity. A valued mentor said to me in my first teaching job, ‘If you’ve been at a school more than five years you're either not very ambitious or not very good.’ And I rather took this to heart; so my career followed this arc : one year at Little Heath School, three years at St Neots in Hampshire, five years at Crossfields in Reading, six years at Davenies in Beaconsfield, eight years at Long Close as Headmaster and now six years at St James.
Moving jobs and moving schools brings significant advantages; your past mistakes are erased and you also have to reestablish your reputation once again. You meet new people and you learn.
My view on my mentor’s advice has rather changed over the years - there are ‘lifers’ like Dr Hipshon, who are as enthusiastic and passionate after 40 years in the same school as they were on day one.
We invest in our staff and work really hard to attract teachers who connect with our ethos. We have some truly talented and exciting ones joining us next year and how great have been the new recruits who joined us last September?
It seems to me after six years that no one arrives at St James without a deep reason; the energy in the school works at a deep level and demands that one’s heart opens. In recent years we have seen staff leave us, like Koen Claeys and Richard Fletcher, who are doing brilliant things at new schools and organisations in positions of significant responsibility. They have taken the St James ethos and made it their own which flowers into new patterns and blossoms. In this way the world becomes a better place.
I love that Alan Bennett play, ‘The History Boys'. That injunction at the end as Monty, in the old teachers' remembrance Assembly, tells the boys you have to just pass on what you know - ‘Just pass it on.’
Simple, beautiful and profound - the joy of an embodied Education!