|7 Dec 2022
|News from Hazlegrove
It is thirty-five years ago this term that I started my prep school adventure at Perrott Hill, and to this day I remain friends with many Hazlegrovians whom I sparred against on the games field, many of whom I then spent five years with at Sherborne. Matches against Hazlegrove were always a very daunting prospect - I recall feeling an overwhelming sense of doom and apprehension as we drove up the school drive, where we were greeted by the terrifying figures of Mr Carnegie and Mr Cann, before being thoroughly beaten, save one remarkable Under 11 cricket match in 1988, where Perrott Hill pulled off a shock victory, aided by a fluke catch by me off the bat of James Thomas.
This term I have set out for the first time as Headmaster of a school, and it is an immense honour for that school to be Hazlegrove. Despite it being a generation on, I have already been struck by the remarkable similarity in educational experience that I and my Hazlegrove contemporaries enjoyed all those years ago, and it comes as no surprise that many of the parents currently at Hazelgrove went there as children themselves. Most importantly, it is the distinctive, rounded offering that a country prep school provides to young children that has resonated with me most. Two elements have stood out in particular:
The first is SPACE –one only has to travel up Hazlegrove’s sweeping drive to appreciate the sheer acreage and beauty of the grounds. Outdoor space is fundamental to a child’s learning and sense of curiosity, through outdoor lessons, a wide array of competitive sport, not to mention activities and clubs that can utilise areas such as the woods and pitches. It also develops an invaluable appreciation and understanding for nature and the countryside. It has been so heartening to see my pupils charging around the woods, just as I once did, the only difference being a much tighter rein on health and safety!
The second is OPPORTUNITY – by the end of my first year at prep school, I was playing the French Horn and piano, singing in the choir, playing competitive rugby, hockey and cricket, performing in school play productions, and learning a wide range of academic and creative subjects. But I was also building dens, climbing trees, model-making, learning to play Bridge, composing songs, as well as developing my own resilience and personal responsibility through boarding. And through all of this, I was developing friendships and bonds that would provide the bedrock for my emotional development over years to come. I see all of this at Hazlegrove today, only with an even more focused and ever-evolving approach to the pastoral care and wellbeing of every child.
It is therefore as much a pleasure to be part of an outstanding country prep school now as it was all those years ago. I live on site with my wife Amanda and our two teenage children, plus our two dogs.... We feel very lucky to have such a beautiful environment to live and work in, with such a strong sense of community around us.
I look forward to meeting as many Old Hazlegrovians as possible - you are always welcome for a tour of the School and a walk down memory lane.
Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and peaceful New Year,