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Head’s blog

One Foundation, One Show

Those who know me best would not necessarily say I am an early adopter, preferring to take a middle road until I feel convinced of an initiative’s validity, and am ready to take the plunge. And so it has been with my journey into technology and “socials”. But I have to say I’ve been bitten by the proverbial bug…. The blogging bug! Over the past few weeks I have increasingly found myself making a mental note to share good news, celebrate success and to speak out on those issues about which I feel strongly. This is my third blog in as many weeks but there are some important principles embedded in the events of this week- notably unity, collaboration and perseverance.

One Foundation is a phrase coined of late, but it absolutely epitomises the way in which our family of schools work closely together to a set of shared values and goals. Monday’s full school assembly at Mill Hill brought together Millhillians from all age groups to celebrate their achievements and to look ahead to an exciting range of co-curricular activities that are coming up including The Annual General Inspection and Newcastle Competition – a traditional activity that showcases the very best of those pupils involved in the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) and The Big Idea- the inter-house competition, launched at the start of term, to encourage pupils to get together to pitch for £2,000 of funding to improve an aspect of School life. However, it was the appearance of Grimsdell’s Toffee Bear Choir that really stole the show. Accepting our invitation to sing to the older pupils, the Grimsdell children rose to the challenge, performing Fix You by Coldplay and Everyone Belongs by Glyn Lehmann. It’s safe to say that the senior school pupils were seriously impressed by the quality of the performances and the confidence the children exuded in front of their audience of nearly 700! Both Mrs Simon and I were delighted to have sprung this surprise on the pupils from both Schools – the welcome the Grimsdell children received was warm and generous as they took to the stage and the sense of awe and wonder was palpable amongst the staff and pupils of Mill Hill. But it was the feeling of community that shone through most of all, just as older brothers and sisters will on their younger siblings, so the Millhillians celebrated the achievements of their younger counterparts, whose performance undoubtedly set the benchmark for high attainment.

Since joining Mill Hill 16 years ago, I have seen the Five and Ten Mile Cup grow and develop into a much loved and hotly contested sporting competition – and that is just amongst the staff, who turn out each year determined to demonstrate that they are a force to contend with! This year was no exception and Tuesday dawned with a real sense of anticipation in the air. Slicker than ever before, the event boasted live music, a mascot’s race, a London Marathon-style mass warm up and cake sales raising money for the Overseas Partnerships. Skillfully compered by Mrs Branson, the event showcased the very best of the sporting life at Mill Hill and The Mount, Mill Hill International – top quality athletes, pupils doing it for their House coupled with bags of support from pupils and staff. I was very pleased to welcome a team of boys and girls from Belmont to complete in the respective races;  having trained hard and competed in a number of cross country events over the winter, the children seized their opportunity to compete against the senior school pupils, and they did not disappoint! I have no doubt that the support they received from the crowds, the challenge they derived from this most traditional of Mill Hill events and the opportunity to take part in one of Mill Hill’s most enjoyable occasions will see them return next year for another go. And I have a sneaking suspicion that we will also see a Belmont staff team in the mix too!

Not to be outdone on the sporting front, the Foundation mums have been in training for weeks now in preparation for the Mums’ netball tournament this Saturday. Scheduled on the same day as the Inter-House girls’ netball tournament, it promises to be a fun filled event, bringing together Foundation parents (nearly 50 mums in total on this occasion!) and children, as we continue to develop a key aim of One Foundation.  And speaking of One Foundation, we were delighted to celebrate with our boarding community the festival of Nowruz (Persian New Year). As we gathered around the Haft Sin table during the countdown to new year on Wednesday evening, at 9.58pm, we shared a poignant moment marking the first time Mill Hill School Foundation has marked this important occasion in the international calendar.

Which brings me to the final golden nugget this week- the appearance of Brandon Johnson, Old Millhillian, who featured on Wednesday’s BBC “The One Show” as one of the country’s youngest self-made millionaires. The BBC had filmed Brandon in December, returning to Mill Hill to talk about his entrepreneurial journey and to give out advice to a group of Remove pupils in the Enterprise Education Group. I was delighted when Brandon told us the BBC had deemed the story to be so compelling they decided to produce an extended piece, which allowed his story to be told but also highlighted the excellent work being undertaken by pupils and staff through this increasingly popular leadership activity. Having interviewed Brandon in 2012, when he applied to the school, I remember being hugely impressed by his entrepreneurial spirit, focus, determination and hunger to succeed. Seven years on, it comes as no surprise to see him realising his dreams  and heartening that he was so keen to link his recent achievements with his early ambitions and projects whilst studying at Mill Hill.