Meetings…and Partings

The recent events for Years 11 and 13, where the boys returned their books to school and a sun-kissed barbeque on No11 lawn (on both occasions!) brought the end of yet another school year into sharper perspective.


The fact that these groups of boys have spent a significant part of the academic year learning via the internet gave the events additional poignancy. It always seems to me that the nature of meetings and partings is determined more by the circumstances of relationships rather than purely by their longevity; brief encounters don’t just happen on station platforms. The past year must have been frustrating for them, but they came through with determination, good humour and stoicism, and they will make their way in a more hopeful world that is recovering from trauma instead of one that is still on life support. Most of our Year 11 will no doubt return in September to a bubble-free school to join our biggest-ever Year 12. Our wonderful Year 13 boys will disperse across the world as ever, to do all sorts of exciting things in exciting places.

The Year 13 boys needed more than just burgers and hot dogs to send them on their way, and so we had a brief session in the Chapel to sort the logistics for the day and remind them of what would happen later in the summer around results time. The Sixth Form Team of staff read Dr Suess’s ‘Oh the Places You’ll Go’, a poem that deals with the journey of life, its challenges and joys, most apt for such an occasion. When I spoke briefly at the end I used a short extract from Alan Bennett’s ‘History Boys’ that seemed (to me) to be apposite. In the play Hector, a traditionalist, addresses the scholarship boys shortly before their dismissal from the sixth form with the following words. “Pass the parcel. That’s sometimes all you can do. Take it. Feel it and pass it on. Not for me, not for you, but for someone, somewhere, one day. Pass it on, boys. That’s the game I want you to play. Pass it on.

Pure genius, and very moving. I think that they got it. They are a credit to Bishop’s, and I wish them all well.