Top tips for parents with children starting at a new boarding school
Housemaster of Dorset House and Teacher of Economics Adam Beales offers his advice and top tips for new parents looking...Read More
It’s the time of year when you look out of the window and see sprouting green wherever your eyes alight.
You can see why our ancient ancestors put so much energy into the rites of spring when you feel the joy of the return of green life to a dreary, grey world. It may not have been a cold winter but goodness, it was hard work getting through the Atlantic weather from October to February! On the campus we lost about 60 mature trees over that five-month period, and we got off lightly compared to our Somerset brethren. That we did not miss a single day of school is thanks to our superb support staff, not least Dave Jones, our woodsman of 40 years, who sees all this as part of his job and of ‘the circle of life’. The trees we have lost through the storms will allow new trees to flourish, and on we go.
In a school there is the natural cycle of a whole year-group departing each July and another whole year-group of brand new pupils joining us each September. And the five years spent in Bryanston in between are ones in which we hope every child will flourish, once their roots are properly settled in this new, rich soil. We hope that each will find the things they enjoy doing, discover what he or she is not so good at, learn from their mistakes and develop the continuing direction for their lives beyond Bryanston. Not all of this is easy and adolescence does tend to throw a few spanners in the works every now and again. But, to continue the metaphor of growth, the tender saplings we help to plant carefully in D become, we hope, the developing oaks of A2, through an immersion in the day-to-day activity and full engagement in this remarkably fertile and secure environment.
One of my favourite moments in Aeneid IV is when Aeneas must resist the understandable upset of his lover Dido whom he must leave. Virgil describes Aeneas as ‘like some stalwart oak tree, some veteran of the Alps, assailed by a wintry wind whose veering gusts tear at it, trying to root it up; wildly whistle the branches, the leaves come flocking down from aloft as the bole is battered; but the tree stands firm on its crag, for high as its head is carried into the sky, so deep do its roots go down towards Hades’, (C. D. Lewis). If your roots are firm you will be able to withstand enormous blasts of difficulty in life and not be overturned; be able to make the right choices and stick to them; enjoy the serenity you have won when the storm has passed, and continue to develop healthily: but only if your roots are firmly planted, if your annual growth has been sustained and increased, and if you are confident in yourself.
It’s what I hope for all our children. May they all flourish and be healthy, and in due course be as resilient and successful as stalwart oaks!