It was very good, and a great pleasure, to have 24 hours last week with the Lower Firsts in Lake Garda, where they spent a week, as the L1st do every year, on a team-building and orientation course. Gorgeous weather and scenery aside, they worked pretty hard on tasks, reflections and challenges, and for us, it was a superb opportunity to set expectations.
It was clear to me as a brief visitor that these had been very effectively set, too, by Mr Davenport and his team: as Whitgiftians we expect you to be courteous, to get willingly out of your comfort zone, to be positive. Several members of the public commented on how our boys were showing these attributes, behaviours which will set them up for Whitgift success.
At the other end of the age scale, I’ve been asking some of the U6 if they have found the beginning of this term any different. Yes, is the consensus: more focussed, more intense. And they welcome that. With the importance of performance at the end of a school career undiminished, whatever university admissions teams might propose, the building of success for its own sake is very much on our boys’ minds.
And whilst consistency is of course important (the same expectations, basically, at every level of the school), there are, as in a rugby or cricket match, periods of differing intensity. The 5th and U6th Forms are obviously particularly high-intensity times, with the ground laid by steady work and stretch below, and the goal literally ahead, not that many months away.
Which is why the Lake Garda trip does more than just bond a year group, forge friendships and set rules: it starts to instil values which will make those high-intensity periods fruitful.