It has been a great pleasure to welcome everyone back for the new academic year, and we have been fortunate to be blessed with glorious weather as well. I do appreciate that the Hockey and Rugby teams would prefer the temperature to drop just a little bit for this weekend!
The start of a new year promises so much, and with over 150 students new to Felsted, this really is the start for them of a whole new journey. I have tried to keep the messages to the students simple and clear as they come back to school, and the focus has been on three areas. The first is that they should all seek to start well. Don't wait two weeks to get underway, but make the first lesson be the best that it can be, by preparing well, participating in the lesson, and reflecting on what you have learnt after the lesson. Of course, this is important for those who will be facing exams next summer, but it is also really important for everyone to get into good habits from the very start.
Second, we did a lot of work at the end of last term on the Behaviour Charter (click here to view), which defines how we want to behave towards one another. The charter is quite a long document, and it is not easy to keep it all in mind all the time, but it can be summarised very easily, by a single word: kindness. We ask that all of our students (and staff) show kindness to one another, and to themselves, and while I recognise that we will all fall short of this ideal, we should still aspire to this by practising kindness at all times, and if we do get it wrong, be ready to apologise and try to do better next time.
Finally, we must strive to take opportunities when they come along. It is by challenging ourselves that we improve, and whether it is a chance to play in a team, to present to the class, to play in a concert, or to support a cause, these opportunities might lead to something that becomes our real passion in life. There is a great quote from Thomas Edison, who said: "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work". Don't wait for someone else to tell you what the opportunities were that you missed. Get out there, and make them your own. Make the right start now, be kind, and take opportunities.
Today we are also celebrating the contribution of John Cockett to Felsted School. John was the founding Housemaster of Deacon's House, taught Maths, and ran the Hockey and Cricket at Felsted for many years. He had represented Cambridge University at cricket and hockey, and played Hockey for Great Britain at the Olympics of 1952 and 1956, winning a bronze medal at Helsinki and finishing fourth in Melbourne. It is a privilege to be able to recognise someone who contributed so much to life at the school, with a memorial service followed by a game of cricket.
I look forward to seeing many of you at sports fixtures tomorrow, and hope that you have a good weekend.