Bede’s Prefects: Read Bertie's First Whole School Address
Good morning, I hope everyone has enjoyed the first week back.
I've done my best to see as many of you as possible. For those of you who don't know me, I'm Bertie Cook, your Head of School for this year.
Joe and Nadia, the Deputy Heads of School will introduce themselves shortly. But this morning, as is tradition, I've been asked to talk about myself, and what we as a school prefect team, are hoping to achieve in the coming year.
I have been at Bede's since first year, arriving from Skippers Hill, a small, innocent, family orientated Prep School. Thirteen year old Bertie was met with an instant change. You could say that I went from being a big fish in a little pond to a little fish in a big pond.
The transition to joining a Senior School is rarely an easy one, whoever you are, yet I rocked up at the Dicker, not knowing what was to happen, or what to expect.
I hasten to add that I was driven in by my parents, who had heard me fretting at the thought of great, monstrous Sixth Formers looming over me.
The presumptions I made were, of course, completely wrong. The Bede's community, in particular in Knights House, were there to make my first few days, weeks and months at Bede's a lot easier. Naturally I was still wary of course, but a few familiar faces, and the excitement of a new setting, aided my transition to the school I now love so wonderfully.
This sense of slowly growing confidence, mixed with the possibility of becoming someone different, was encouraged and stimulated by my fellow students. Whether they were my fellow First Years or with the School and House Prefects, every experience I had of meeting a new Bede's pupil was an influential one.
Ultimately, it is us, the student body, who make the Bede's community a strong, caring one and I urge you never to forget that.
I could rattle on about things in the school that don't function as well as they should, but fundamentally my role is not to do that. It's to make sure that each and every one one of you feels comfortable in this environment - that everyone's needs are catered for, and Nadia will speak about this idea shortly.
For me, positivity is key. I believe that positivity and self-belief will get you extremely far in life. And what better place is there to encapsulate this than Bede's? Our school overflows with opportunities - as we saw at the recent Activities Fair, there are over 140 activities in the Co-Curricular Programme and a vast range of academic courses.
I don't have to tell you how lucky we are to be standing, or sitting, in this very room today. So why not take full advantage of this? Frankly, we all have an obligation to.
Last year's 1st XV huddle up pre-game.
For me this obligation was fully realised last year. 16 year old Bertie broke into the 1st XV Rugby Team last year and was committed to the idea that he could compete with the Josh Novells, Joe Jurans, and Harry Walkers of Bede's rugby.
We went onto have an incredibly successful year on the pitch, and during every match - every practise - the dynamism and opportunity of Bede's was made clear.
A also found myself singing in the Small Choir for Crossways House during House Music. It was quite confusing to be a 6 foot 3, seventeen-stone teenage boy stood leading a group of young musicians, but as we rehearsed that Bede's House Spirit became infectious. We gelled as a group, and performing for the House and at Cabaret 2014 as a member of the Chamber Choir are moments of my life which I will now never forget.
Bertie and the Chamber Choir at Cabaret 2014.
I don't believe that there is anywhere quite like Bede's for this reason: our school balances academic excellence, Co-Curricular opportunities and House life in such a way that we, as pupils, enjoy a rounded education. We therefore have an obligation to try and make positive change in the Bede's community - to give back to the school which we hold so dear.
Those of you who know my brother will have realised that he’s not always the most profound of people, but one phrase of his is rather applicable to this idea. He says, "A gift, once given, becomes a right," meaning it is so easy to take everything we have for granted. We should not. Instead, we should push for positive change.
My School Prefect team and I have been working hard to make sure that your voices will be heard this year. All of us feel that we, as a student body can do more, and we discussed how last year the School Council's subcommittees never really had the desired impact.
This year, a major target of ours is to formalise the responsibilities of both the School and House Councils, enabling the student body to truly voice any concerns.
Furthermore, the link between sub-committees and the Housemasters, Deputy Heads and the Headmaster is to be shortened. All of this should help to increase the strength and power of Bede's student voices.
Joe, Nadia and Bertie at a recent Prefect Training session.
On a slightly different note, almost a final message from myself, please never hesitate to contact or approach any of us. The School Prefects are truly wonderful people, and are a pleasure to work with. I'm sure that you'll meet them all throughout the year but please approach them with your thoughts and concerns. We want to hear from you.
Now, I'll pass over to Joe and Nadia, who'll tell you about further progress we hope to make this year.
Here’s to a great year, and thank you.
A major part of the school that our prefect team would like to build on from last year’s prefects is the idea of opportunities, both in and outside of school, and how those need to be taken advantage of by students across the year groups.
Bertie just told you that there are around 140 activities available at Bede’s that is already 140 opportunities ready and waiting for you, to gain new skills and experiences. However, with such a huge selection of things to try, there will always be barriers preventing you from exploiting this activities system; we would like to make it easier for students to get a taste for what every activity has to offer, especially for younger years, so you have the chance to discover what you enjoy and what you potentially want to take further during your time here.
Ultimately, we want every student to throw themselves into something at this school, we encourage you to be excited about whatever your interests are, and want to give you a platform to share that passion.
We think standing up in House or even School Assembly to talk to your peers about something you enjoy or achieved is a great way of building confidence and getting the school community involved.
Bede's recent Activities Fair.
Even beyond the countless existing opportunities at school, we hope to inspire independent learning and efforts outside of school. We discussed creating a news bulletin of events and competitions that you could get involved in, a chance to pursue either academic or extra-curricular interests in a completely different context, not sheltered by Bede’s.
This exposure to real-life learning will be invaluable to life.
Again, these things should be announced in school so that you can have the support of your teachers and your House in things you are proud of.
Related to Bertie’s comments on student voice, the prefect team discussed ways of giving junior years more chance to take on leadership positions within the school community. We want to stress that, with an efficient student voice structure, it's not only the Sixth Form who will benefit.
The opinions of our First Years and Fifth Formers are just as vital in running the school, and actually joining a committee or a council will give you new skills, as well as the chance to meet new people you might never have come across otherwise.
We hope to be creating more of these chances for you to get involved, and become even more fundamental to the student voice structure at Bede’s, but be assured that you haven't heard the last from Joe, Bertie or I on this topic.
We will be speaking to you all again soon, but for now - thank you.