From the Head - Headmaster's Newsletter 17 June 2019

Dear Parents,

The events of the past week have shaken our community and will probably be spoken about for many years to come. The learnings we will take from this incident will make us stronger and better as we continue to prepare our boys to live lives of influence. I take heart from the solidarity and encouragement our community has shown in supporting our school through this difficult time.

All of this affords us the chance to consider a number of matters, especially that of school culture and ethos. Articulating whom we aspire to be is an essential component in our achieving that ideal.

Once articulated, one can establish the mechanisms and structures required to achieve this ideal. We need to remember that, above all, schools are places of learning. I believe in a broad definition of learning; a place where varied opinions are aired and debated such that young people begin to form their own opinions and where they develop the skills required to live these learnings beyond the confines of school.

I believe in a school that moulds character. A place of challenge that ensures a growing understanding of self within a community of others. A place that teaches both exuberance and restraint; relaxation and hard work; camaraderie and brotherhood alongside individual and collective responsibility.

I believe that schools should be places of laughter and joy. Safe places where free thought is encouraged, and difference is celebrated.

I am delighted that our school also supports boys finding faith. I believe that schools of this nature are privileged spaces in their ability to facilitate this critical aspect of a boy’s development.

In my believing that schools can produce the most positive development results, I would be the first to acknowledge that they can also be poor at achieving some of these lofty ideals.

All teams, organizations, institutions have a culture, an ethos, a way of being. All successful ones are deliberate at setting out to achieve this culture. Here are a few aspects of our collective ethos that I believe we are doing well:

1. We celebrate excellence;
2. We enjoy a tremendous sense of camaraderie and belonging;
3. We delight in our association with this place.

Here’s what I believe we can improve upon:

1. Celebrating difference more apparently;
2. Seeking to serve rather than being served;
3. Learning to be more empathetic and compassionate;
4. Learning to be more enthusiastic around learning new things.

Perhaps I should have begun this newsletter by asking you to consider which quintessential aspects of the Hilton ethos you enjoy and indeed, how apparent these may be? This question must then be accompanied by its antithesis: with which aspects of our Hilton culture do you struggle? I would welcome your responses.

One aspect of our strategy that we are determined to execute well, is the notion of having a plan for every Hilton boy. This is indeed a lofty ideal, however, it remains an ideal that I believe is achievable. To this end we have introduced a new structure at Hilton with two Deputy Heads: one will have oversight over Grades 8 and 9, and one over Grades 10 - 12. We will have this full structure in place by the beginning of 2020.

I am delighted to announce one of our Deputy Heads, who will function as Second Master, in the person of Mr Tony Shuttleworth. Tony is an educator of the highest order who exhibits a number of outstanding characteristics; among these is his ability to be highly intentional in his approach to life. His own sporting prowess and his commitment to living above reproach are two examples of these characteristics. Tony has also cultivated a highly successful, professional and excellent sports department who believe firmly in their ability to be the best sports department in the country; this, through developing a strong sense of purpose and a culture of belief. It is precisely this spirit of hope and destiny (one that rejects cynicism) that we prize as we put into place structures, processes and people to support a plan for every Hilton boy.

I trust you will join me in wishing Tony Shuttleworth everything of the best as he transitions into this new role.

A second Deputy has also been appointed and an announcement will follow in the new term. May I wish you a splendid mid-year break and remind Grades 8-11 that we will be writing exams from the 24th of July upon our return.

Thank you all for your ongoing support and encouragement.

Regards,
George

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