Headmaster's Report

Mr. Chairman, Your Worship, Madam Mayoress, Members of the Governing Body, Dr. Dunning, Very Revv. and Revv. Fathers, Sisters, Parents, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the first quarter of this year we were happy to find that the builders were leaving the site and thus for the first time since 1959 leaving us in the comparative peace and quiet of the company of over 400 boys. This is not to imply that the most recent building campaign caused any unnecessary disturbance to the daily life of the school or to the curriculum. Indeed as we have mentioned on more than one occasion, no group of building workers could have shown more concern, under the leadership of their general foreman, for the smooth and efficient running of the school, than did the men employed by Haymills of Wembley.

Once we had all the new accommodation in use we approached the Archbishop of Westminster to officiate at the Solemn Blessing of the school and his reply enabled us to have one of those days which go down as a part of school history. All who were privileged to be present at the ceremony were unanimous in their praise of the simplicity, yet the depth, which the rites unfolded. One feels more secure and more confident when the house in which one spends the greater part of one's working day has been dedicated to God. Since coming to Westminster the Archbishop has been extremely busy in one of the busiest Archdioceses of the country, if not of the world; he has also had to be present at two Sessions of the Ecumenical Council; his time is extremely precious and the free places in his diary are few, yet he found time to come to us as a father and a friend, conscious that the education of the children of his flock is among the most important of his pastoral duties. We were signally honoured and sincerely grateful. Our gratitude was deepened when we found that Bishop Cashman, who had officiated at the blessing of the first major extensions in 1961, also came to grace out platform and we hope that Father McCoy will convey to him our small tribute of gratitude.

Outstanding among the extra mural activities of the school in the past year was the pilgrimage to Lourdes. Now, a pilgrimage is not an unusual occurrence in a Catholic school or among a Catholic community and we have been to Lourdes before. What makes this one memorable is something that may seem at first sight totally unconnected with a pilgrimage a "pop" group. A small group of the boys had formed a musical group which they called the "Midnights" and had prepared a selection of their work in the hope of giving evidence of their talents on Speech Day last year. They were rather disappointed when I had to point out that any contribution to Speech Day must be of something that is taught in the school or participated in as a recognised school activity and I could not consider that their untutored efforts would fall into that category. The suggestion was then made to them, that at the end of the school year they might like to give a Concert to the boys and that the object of the exercise would be to raise some funds which would help send a handicapped child to Lourdes. The target was 30. The audience was asked to contribute their odd coppers to the fund in return for the entertainment which the group would provide. The result of the Concert, from a musical point of view, was outstandingly successful and made the members of Staff aware that boys can be as vociferous in their praise of "pop" as the most fanatical female Beatle fan: the result from the point of view of the charity for which it was run, was evidence that boys can also be as generous as the most generous. The total collected was 78 which enabled us to adopt two handicapped children to take to Lourdes and provide them with a little pocket money as well. Well done, the "Midnights"!

I have heard that it is rather difficult to make one's way around a nursery at playtime; I understand that it is also rather difficult to make one's way around the nursery slopes in Switzerland. A party of our boys, under the leadership of Fr. Louis and Mr. Martin undertook the hair-raising adventure of ski ing in Switzerland last Christmas. Apart from one member of the team arrayed in plaster and prone on a stretcher being among the travellers on their return, everyone seemed to have enjoyed the venture. As it was prior to the recent 15 per cent imposition, a small quantity of bronze was brought home - 15 medals in all. It was a most encouraging start to a new venture. With this success should also be linked, though not chronologically the first Swimming Gala to be held for the school, since it was under the tutelage and guidance of the Physical Education masters. It was an unqualified success and as a result of the enthusiasm engendered many of the boys have participated in the personal survival tests of the Amateur Swimming Association. While some of our dedicated athletes were being decorated on the rostrum in Tokyo, a number of the boys here were being issued with their decorations on the stage of the Assembly Hall. To date they have been successful in gaining 3 Gold; 12 Silver and 35 Bronze medals.

The school drama society continues to flourish and to amaze us by their ability not only to entertain, but to surprise. This year's production was no exception. As you will read in the report of the play "Richard of Bordeaux" on another page in this year's magazine, two days before the play went on the boards "the Queen had to take to her bed". Apart from the disappointment to the boy who had studied the part so faithfully and regally, there was the difficulty of finding someone who would be ready and able to take over the part at short notice since, with such a large cast, it is impossible to have understudies. One boy leapt into the breach and were it not for the fact that it had to be mentioned on the evenings after each performance, no one would have guessed that any boy could have mastered such a lengthy part in such a short time. Mr. Tufnell and Mr. Crawford who directed; the Stage crew; the Craft Club; the sound ingenuity of Mr. O'Connell; the make-up and dress artists were all aided on this occasion by the immense interest shown by the parents and friends who rallied around and assisted by making costumes, or costume jewellery, or providing the wherewithal to make these. The success of this aspect of the joint venture makes us hope that the same co-operation will be forthcoming for our Spring play which is in process of preparation. In the current term we have established, for the first time, a school Drama Festival in which plays chosen, directed, produced and staged by the boys, have been put on the boards and that which was adjudicated by Father Matthew as the best, being presented to you tonight.

The Chess Club continues in the school with undiminished vigour, though the vigour is more mental than physical. The Junior Section were runners-up in the Harrow and District Schools League - no mean achievement in an area where Chess competitions are of a very high standard, Football, Cricket, Table Tennis, Basketball, Cross Country have all made their contribution to the fullness of school life and their achievements are listed in full in the magazine. The crown of the school athletic activities is, of course, Sports Day, and this year was no exception. Perhaps, I should qualify that by saying that it was an exception, both as to weather and to duration. The weather was excellent and for the first time we made it an all-day event. Records were flying as fast as they did in Tokyo and when the competitors, and spectators, felt that they needed some refreshment, there was the pleasant sight of the OLD BOYS tea rooms, presided over by Bill O'Hara and Mick O'Driscoll and his wife. We are sincerely grateful to the Old Boys for this excellent service.

The Friends of the College continued on their indefatigable way with their efforts towards building up the school playing fields fund. Each term saw a Wine and Cheese Party; regular Whist drives were held; the Hobbies evening was organised and the very delightful weather gave them an opportunity of showing their boys and the Old Boys that they still knew a thing or two about Cricket. The crucifixes which were blessed by the Archbishop at the Solemn Blessing of the school were presented by the Friends to the school. Their enthusiasm, however, should call forth a greater response in membership than it does and we hope that all parents will come to appreciate the comradely links that can be made with the school and the Staff by membership of the association.

But the kernel of the school report must of necessity exist on the academic aspect of school life. All other school activities are an attempt to soften the edges of the keenness of effort which must of necessity be made by every boy if he is to make a success of his school life. The extra-mural and club activities; athletics and games; appreciation of art and music; the word sharpening, of the Debate; the histrionic ability, native to every boy, expressed on the stage - these are the essential packaging in which the boy is wrapped so that his mental alertness may be geared to his preparation for the future. The end of five years of Grammar School preparation is examined almost microscopically in the General Certificate of Education examinations. This year we presented 11 pupils for "A" Level in 10 subjects offering a total of 30 papers and gained 16 successes or 53 per cent. At "O" Level we offered 406 papers in 18 subjects with success in 258 cases or a total of 63.3 per cent gains. Of the "A" Level leavers 2 are gone to University; 3 to Colleges of Technology; 2 to the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington; 1 to the Council for Industrial Research and one to the Executive Branch of the Civil Service. Of the "O" Level successes 22 entered the Sixth Form and with the existing Sixth now raises the number in the Sixth to 44. Among new subjects presented at the examination was Economics and the 4 candidates were successful.

As a career is the ultimate goal of every boy in the school, at least in this life, it may be salutary to say a word on this subject. Too often the word career and material gain are listed as synonyms. There is the urge to give oneself to the market which pays out the most, the speediest, for the least. This is a very shortsighted view for any boy to take and one which we discourage wholeheartedly. The dictionary definition of career - a race, a rush, a headlong dash, too often is taken at its face value. The boy who finds that with 5 "0" Levels he can command a post at f400 a year, aged 16, cannot be blamed for not taking time to read the small print, which may well indicate that he may find himself in a one-way street with a very blank wall at the end. The word may also indicate a chariot - a sort of comfortable jog trot around the arena, until one finds that the arena does not change very much and that the outlook is for ever the same. It can also mean a curriculum, a meaning which links it directly with the effort made at school to reach a standard required under care and guidance to fit oneself for a satisfactory future. It is in this sense that we should like our boys to approach the idea of a career. A choice of state of life and of livelihood must of necessity have something in it of a challenge. To enter a field of endeavour for which one feels that one is just adequate soon brings a sense of inadequacy and shortly thereafter a certain frustration. No Chess player worthy of his salt checkmates at the first move. He examines all his possibilities carefully and only makes a decision when he knows that his opponent will have to be wide awake to catch him. No boy should rush into the first attractive offer; he should examine its possibilities with an eye to future extension of himself and the rejuvenating nature of a perpetual challenge. In this way his choice will not become stale as soon as tasted, but will carry an aroma that will attract and encourage his mental capacities to the limit of their content. The opportunities open to young people which are so clearly presented by the Youth Employment Officer, by the varied pattern of Careers talks which are arranged for their benefit should be taken seriously by parent and boy alike. Sometimes the choice is likened to looking for a needle in a haystack - the opportunities offered are so multiform - but the keen magnetic eye of the tutored candidate will soon attract it from its hiding place.

We were sorry to lose the services of Mr. Richards who, after his marriage, moved to Plymouth and whose success with the Maths pupils we appreciate very sincerely. Mr. Tora, our Chemistry master also sought new pastures in which to exercise his undoubted ability - we hope that his new school will respond to his stimulus as we did. While thanking all the members of Staff for their unflagging loyalty in the course of the year, I should also like to welcome our new Staff - Messrs. Lythe; Trevelyan, Creaven; James; Symonds and Miss Day. My sincere gratitude to the Secretary Fr. Aelred and his Assistants; to the Cook Supervisor and her Staff; to the Welfare Officer; to the Medical Officer and his Staff; to the Brother Caretaker and his Assistants and the cleaners, to whom the general condition of the school is a tribute, and to many others for occasional help not forgotten. Finally I should like to express my deep appreciation to the Borough Education Officer and all at the Education Office for their unfailing kindness in co-operation and answering a multiplicity of queries. We are glad that the new Borough of Harrow will be able to continue its record of the past with the inspiration of those who are always aware of the demands of the future.

Rev. Brother Colum, for the past three years, the Assistant Caretaker at the College, heard the call of the Mission field when Bishop Cotey, S.D.S., visited the College in March last and on the 1st September left London Airport on the first leg of his journey to Tanganyika. Before leaving he was presented with the Mission Cross by the Very Rev. Fr. Anthony, the Father Provincial of the English Province. Brother has now arrived in his mission station, but to date has not shot any elephants or crocodiles. So those whom he promised a pair of crocodile shoes or a stuffed elephant to put on top of the television set at home will have to wait a little longer. Our best mode of remembrance of him will be to pray for the success of his work on the mission.


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