…But we must also acknowledge that the entire school system in Britain is widely out of date.” Words by Sir Anthony Seldon written for The Mill Hill Magazine September 2017 and, no doubt, a sentiment that may appear in his speech at Foundation Day on Saturday 23rd September when he will be our guest speaker. He has a reputation for challenging the establishment so be prepared!
Is Mill Hill School out of date? Do we prepare our pupils sufficiently well for the future?
One answer to this question can be found, ironically, in our past which continues, I hope, to shape our understanding of education. Foundation Day itself is an occasion when we remember our Founders: brave men with a vision of an education which was certainly advanced for their time.
On the academic front they stepped out of the straight jacket of the Classics curriculum offered by the great schools of the day and instead offered Natural and Experimental Philosophy, General Electrical Science and Chemistry, subjects which, in their time, were ground breaking.
And as far as character education goes, the Founders wanted to “train their boys in the exercise of the powers and practice of the virtues, intellectual and moral, which will be called for when they take their position as…men” The Globe 1875.
Our school motto, et virtutem et musas, instilling values, inspiring minds, seeks to encompass our role of educating both the mind and the character, as important now as at our founding.
And today, what will we be celebrating on Foundation Day which indicates we are living up to our Founders’ vision? This formal occasion gives up the opportunity to showcase concrete examples of individuals within the School who live up to these ideals. We will congratulate those who have excelled in academics, in sports and the arts. We will pay tribute to the hard work and focus that resulted in our fine A level and GCSE results, and we will acknowledge the wide variety of university places gained as a result of these. We will, as well, be giving out prizes for leadership, for resilience, for innovation in design, for community support, and, indeed, for kindness, happiness and sincerity.
In last year’s Foundation Day speeches our Senior Monitor summed up his thoughts about what Mill Hill School had offered him in the following words. Words which, I believe, reflect the ongoing spirit of 1807 which remains relevant both now and for the future:
“It is a truism that an education should be for life, and I really believe that a Mill Hill education gives you more than just a grade, it instils in you a deep sense of independence. Of course, the independence to work hard and look after yourself, but perhaps more importantly it equips its pupils to stand up and say ‘This is who I am’.”