"Beam us up, Scotty"…. one of the most iconic lines in television history. The transporter essentially dematerialized a human body at one point only to rematerialize it in the transporter bay on the ship. Somehow, it broke down atoms and molecules within the body -- scattered them through the vacuum of space from point A to point B, then the person re-emerged out of thin air. No inventor has been able to realize such a concept. Looking back to early days of watching Star Trek, some inventions did materialise.
Whenever Captain Kirk left the safe confines of the Enterprise, he did so, knowing it could be the last time he saw his ship. Danger was never far away. And when in distress and in need of help, he could always count on his mates….on Bones to come up with a miracle cure, Scotty to beam him up or Spock to give him some vital scientific information. He'd just whip out his communicator and place a call.
Fast-forward 30 years and wouldn't you know it, it seems like everyone carries a communicator. We just know them as mobile phones. The communicators in "Star Trek" were more like the push-to-talk, person-to-person devices first made popular by Nextel in the mid to late '90s. The communicator had a flip antenna that when opened, activated the device. The original flip cell phones are perhaps distant cousins. Whatever the case, the creators of "Star Trek" were on to something.
As I child, I loved the escapism of programmes that looked forward to the future, the next frontier. This week, we learned of the passing of Sir Clive Sinclair, his innovations democratized computing and inspired so many. I vividly remember my first computer, a ZX80, and the sense of wonder and empowerment – Football Manager was no FIFA21....but the early home computers created a powerful autonomy and cultivated an ambition to design, solve problems and create…to innovate.
Sinclair, an entrepreneur and inventor, popularised the home computer, bringing it to British high-street stores at affordable prices. Of the ZX Spectrum, Elon Musk wrote, “RIP, Sir Sinclair. I loved that computer”.
Resilient in the face of disappointment, his battery-powered electric trike called the C5 was not as successful, and Sinclair had to sell his business. But his legacy endures through the ubiquitous pocket calculator, the pocket screens of our mobile phones and electric scooters of our age. His daughter reflected,
“it was the ideas, the challenge, that her found exciting. He’d come up with an idea and say…..there’s no point in asking if someone want it, because they can’t imagine it”.
This week, our Drive Team – like innovators plotting a new course, on a journey to a new frontier – participated in the World Class Schools Award Induction with our new partner organisation High Performance Learning. Head of Faculties, Lucy Clarke (Creative Arts) and Karen Randon (Maths) joined Vice Principal Gary Chalmers and I on a two-day launch, alongside colleagues from leading schools across the UK and globally. Over the next two years, every part of College will engage and collaborate to integrate the framework, aimed at building the capacity of every student to secure the best possible outcomes in preparation for lifelong-leaning and personal development. Cultivating as climate for confident, creative, compassionate, enterprising and innovative young people ready to make a difference in the world.
To help in the impact survey which will be undertaken as we progress through the High Performance Learning framework, we would as if parents and guardians complete the attached link, we shall be sharing information and celebrating outcomes throughout the academic year.
The past week brought many highlights including an enrichment trip to London for seventy students, a visit to watch Leicester FC play Napoli, exceptional performances and results for the Football Academy, a surprise breakfast for the boys in Burnmill House and even a visit to meet the recently appointed Foreign Secretary!
Our U16s competed in the Midlands Independent Schools Association Tournament in the week and were crowned champions. In a League format, Brooke House College FA won six out of their seven fixtures – high performance. On Monday our U16E won at Burton Albion and in a busy series of Wednesday fixtures, three of our U19s squads played Kidderminster Harriers and an U16 squad travelled to play Lutterworth Athletic.
Enrichment continues to thrive with our planned visits and a large cohort of students participating in First Aid workshops, learning skills in CPR, the recovery position, choking and bandaging. Last Friday, a group of students and teachers attended a talk by the Secretary of State, and recently promoted to Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon Liz Truss MP at the invitation of our local MP Neil O’Brien. Congratulations to Guillermo who won the evening raffle and took home an autographed box of chocolates!
Wishing everyone a relaxing weekend. By way of recommendation, a great read is the recently published book Invention: A Life by James Dyson. In the week that saw the passing of one Great British inventor, the words of another to close the introduction are worthy of reflection:
We should be encouraging the young to become doers, to help them strive to solve the problems of their age while looking forward to a better future. During my career, I have tried to seek out those young people who can make the world a better place. I have seen what miracles they can achieve. Some may well become heirs to my heroes – inventors, engineers and designers. Like them, they will not find it easy, and they will need oodles of determination and stamina along the way.
Spending some time this Thursday evening, in the company of the boys in Burnmill House, provided me with valuable insights into the boarding experience and a flavour of the Brooke House spirit within their home from home. Key to fostering a hard-working, purposeful and nurturing atmosphere is the cultivation of a caring environment, comfortable and tolerant, to build strong friendships and connections. The feeling of belonging was a big take-away that the boys shared. A characteristic of our school community that encourages, enables and empowers young people to find their place and thrive. A competitive session of FIFA closed the evening, after they finished homework and tidied their rooms. After a demanding pre-season, practice and fixtures, relaxation was richly deserved.
In assembly this afternoon, together we explored the challenges and opportunities of fitting in and of belonging within a new boarding environment, a new tutor group, meeting new teachers and getting used to a new place. We rely on the support and kindness of others to help. Making a good first impression helps to establish those relationships and develop the connections, so important in the busy and vibrant learning community that is Brooke House.
On Wednesday, a group of enterprising students even managed to make a good impression on a visiting member of the royal family! HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex made a surprise visit to the town to celebrate the 800 year anniversary of Harborough Market. Dr Bremner and her Sociology students provided a Brooke House welcome and ensured that our royal visitors felt at home in the heart of England. Our visibility in the town is a big opportunity to display our values and celebrate our community impact, locally and globally.
Awareness of perspective and the need to take care of the precious pale blue dot, that is our planet, was a theme in the first Principal’s blog. Being part of a community brings responsibilities. We trust that boys and girls will take ownership of their rooms in the boarding houses and show respect to the environment and the support teams that maintain housekeeping on a timely and regular basis. Where there are issues it is our responsibility to provide the appropriate cleanliness and improvements, whilst we trust that every student will acknowledge the value of a tidy room. Expectations are detailed in the Boarding Handbook. Working together as a community and nurturing belonging is fundamental to wellbeing for relationships and establishing the climate of visible learning for high performance.
The same sense of belonging was evident in the high performance of Emma Raducanu in recent days as she progressed through each round of the US Tennis Open in Flushing Meadows, incredibly without losing a set. Asked how she felt about the challenges of being in the locker-room preparing for the biggest semi-final of her life, she replied that she felt she belonged there. At eighteen, she is the youngest British tennis player to reach the US Open final in the Open era, in only her second grand slam and ranked 150th on the world. I recall watching her progress in her first Wimbledon before she retired tearfully in the fourth round this year. Resilience and the importance of wellbeing for personal growth is evident in her progress within elite sport.
Emma was born in Toronto, Canada on November 13, 2002 before moving to Britain at the age of two. Her father Ian is Romanian and her mother Renee is Chinese. She started playing tennis at the age of five at the Bromley Tennis Academy. A shy child, her parents had encouraged her to try different hobbies to boost her confidence. She credits her parents for her determination, resilience and work-ethic.
“They both come from very hard-working countries. They have high expectations, and I’ve always tried to live up to that”.
Emma certainly belongs on the US Open Final Court, and on Sunday she has the chance to realise her dream against another talented teenager, 19-year-old Leylah Annie Fernandez, after the Canadian extended her own astonishing run by scuppering the second seed, Aryna Sabalenka. Together the two players, who last faced each other at junior Wimbledon in 2018, will contest the first grand slam final between teenagers since Serena Williams and Martina Hingis met at the 1999 US Open.
The aspirations to achieve our personal best, aligned to the determination and discipline of purposeful practice, can make dreams our reality. We encourage all students at Brooke House to be aware of others, to be conscious of first impressions and the footprint they leave….but most important to be themselves. Every student needs to feel the sense of belonging to thrive, in the words of Maya Angelou;
A motivating start to the academic year
As a new school year begins with anticipation, a new dawn brings optimism and hope. In my first term as Principal of Brooke House College, taking the reins from Mike Oliver, it is a privilege to be able to contemplate the return of students from so many corners of the world, to their home from home. Following the tumultuous past year, and mindful that circumstances can change swiftly, we continue to monitor the local and global impact of Covid, and our thoughts remain with those more significantly affected. As a College, we have been diligent to update the Covid Risk Assessment and procedures aligned to the Boarding Schools’ Association COVID-SAFE Charter and the frequent updates from the UK Department of Education. Our priority is providing a safe, secure and stimulating learning environment for the wellbeing of the whole Brooke House College community. On the first day, it was a joy to welcome in the Pre-Season and share the excitement with our parents from across the globe.
This first blog will begin a weekly review of our journey as a community and highlight moments and contributions that form our collective story. We embark upon a new school year with new beginnings to experience, new friendships to nurture and new challenges to tackle. The slate is wiped clean, and anything is possible – with dedication, commitment and a creative zest to explore, question and solve. As a staff community, we came together this Wednesday and shared the events of our summer and planned for the lessons, enrichment activities and sporting opportunities ahead. Sure, if you want to go fast go alone – but if you want to go far go together – as a community. Think of others, show kindness and, with the wisdom that comes from perspective, appreciate the value of collaboration and compassion.
Watching Carl Sagan’s beautiful film ‘Pale Blue Dot’ as a community at Brooke House on INSET Day, we reflected on why we are here. Voyage 1 was about 6.4 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) away, when it captured earth as a tiny point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size: Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot OFFICIAL - YouTube.
Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.
— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994
So much happens at Brooke House College and our talented and committed staff play their part in our growth and success. At the centre of this vibrant learning community, that cultivates curiosity, creativity and the courage to learn from mistakes, is the child. Everything we do seeks to provide the opportunity for every pupil to thrive and become the best possible version of themselves as engaged, confident, agile, resilient, socially responsible and globally aware learners. As Greta Thunberg tells us, you are never too small to make a difference on our precious planet.
Personal highpoints this last week included sharing in the celebrations of our visiting Ukrainian students hosted at our Summer School by Wylie Wright and his team. Together, we enjoyed performances and an incredible video diary illustrating five years of activities. The Director of the Center of Linguistics Akademia, Iryna Bednarska, presented our Mangaging Director, Mr Giles Williams, with a wonderful Certificate of Association. Further, at our Staff INSET BBQ we acknowledged the huge contribution to the success of the College by former Principal Mike Oliver. Mike will continue to guide our progress as a member of the Advisory Board. A delightful picture shows Mike with three other Principals, joining Giles our Managing Director, Mr Jon Stanford who returns to teach Economics and myself – Four Pillars, Four Principals.
Finally, we are excited to announce that the College has been chosen to become a partner school with the High Performance Learning organisation, founded by Professor Deborah Eyre. Together, we shall work towards the World Class School Award, a prestigious accreditation recognising our development in terms of collegiate working to secure enhanced student outcomes. High Performance Learning (HPL) is a research-based, pedagogy-led philosophy that responds to our growing understanding of human capability. HPL makes the goal of high performance the expectation for all students across academics, sport and community engagement, and uses a unique teaching and learning framework to systematically cultivate curiosity and grow minds to develop cognitive skills, values, attitudes and attributes needed to reach success. We shall provide more information in due course.
I will leave the final words of motivation to Kid President and his letter to a student on their first day here.