I always love this time of the year in schools: our new students have begun to settle into the flow of their new environment; everyone is still energised from the summer break filled with new ambitions for the year ahead; and we get to welcome in current parents and prospective parents to Information Evenings and Open Days. In schools we are so conditioned by the rhythms of the calendar in our day to day lives with key set pieces such as holidays, exams and highly anticipated traditions and social events; I can imagine it could seem quite peculiar to the uninitiated.
The Gregorian Calendar, which virtually all countries use today was introduced to Great Britain this week in 1752, though throughout the Catholic countries of Europe it had been introduced two centuries earlier in 1582. There was a difference of 10 days to the Julian calendar that preceded it, so in its first year countries had to decide which 10 days it had to remove from the calendar, some choosing October and others December. How discombobulating that must have been to suddenly lose such a substantial amount of time from a month; and can you imagine if your birthday fell in that time? Thankfully during my time in South Korea I didn’t have to learn a new calendar as the Gregorian calendar is used, but they do look at age in a different way. For Koreans you age a year every time New Year has passed regardless of whether you have had your birthday or not. It can be quite complicated and sometimes will mean their Korean age is two years more than their international age – quite complex in international schools as you can imagine!
This passing of time and growing in maturity is never better defined than during a child’s education. The difference between our students in Year 3, with their bubbly enthusiasm, to our confident and committed Upper Sixth students, almost ready to fly off to their new lives, is a wonderful privilege our teachers witness first hand. It is particularly noticeable for some of our specialist teachers, such as sport and languages, who still vividly remember some of our Sixth Formers when they were in the Junior School.
I am so proud to be able to show prospective families what we offer here at BGS on our Open Morning this week. I know what a fantastic school we have. We are so lucky to work with such inquisitive and hardworking students; I thoroughly enjoy the opportunities I have to teach them mini-topics in history in the younger years of the Senior School. Their capacity of thought, their creativity, their digital adeptness and their passion for learning is wonderful to behold. I recognise every day what a privilege it is to be part of this amazing community. I cannot think of anything I would rather be doing than providing opportunities for young people to grow and develop, and I know this view is shared across the school.
At BGS I believe we all subscribe to the belief “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” (Plutarch). I look forward to seeing what ideas are being ignited all across the school this year and the impact these will have on the future.