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A Fond Farewell

Published on 10/07/18

After thirteen years as Headmaster of the Senior School, it is now time to say farewell to the School that has been so much a part of my life as well as that of my wife’s and our two sons’; to say goodbye to valued colleagues and friends and of course to say au revoir to the many girls and boys and their families who have been with us over these years.

Claremont Fan Court School is in such good spirits because of the strength of the Claremont community and I trust that you and your children have enjoyed this year, all the ones you have been with us, and the years to come, and that life is and will be, very good for you all as you continue at our community school.

When I started here as Head of School in September 2005, the number one song was…

The Importance of Being Idle, by Oasis

followed by…

Dare by Gorilla

I should have looked to the top of the pops for guidance!!

As I began what has been thirteen years of great challenge and huge reward, I really do hope that your experience and that of your child, or children, has been a great one for that has been my primary motive. This School has been about accentuating the positive and elevating the supportive power of education.

During the last week of term, I have been away with thirty really wonderful Year 7 and 8 pupils just north of Barcelona on an excellent enrichment trip. I came back to the Preparatory School’s musical which was terrific and then I travelled with my beloved tennis teams to the Eton Nationals. Since then we have had a wonderful Summer Meeting with the incomparable Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE who gave the most magnificent of addresses encouraging us all to change the world and be strong. Then we finish with what I am sure will be a moving final Senior School assembly before we all head off for summer. I will miss it all so much!

As I prepare to leave, I know Claremont to be a most wonderful of Schools in the truest sense – not just an exam factory. We have built a fine equilibrium between school work, which is our core activity, and balanced this with a broad range of activities and clubs supported by really strong pastoral care. Now that triumvirate is how you tell a good school apart from the rest!!

I have worked hard to find the very finest of teachers that I could to support and encourage and teach your children.  That they are led by wonderfully committed senior leaders, and supported by the best office staff, means that our success and reputation have forged ahead over these years and I am grateful to all the staff, past and present, for their work in and out of classrooms that has sustained and strengthened our pupils.

I will always promote a breadth of experience for school children and our work to expand the wonderful and precious school days our pupils enjoy so much here to include fabulous music, drama, house events, a wide range of sports and arts along with numerous clubs; all of which really do show the depth of care we can offer at Claremont Fan Court.

It is a privilege to work with young people in whichever school we are in... but especially this one. I have worked in a range of schools in my career in two countries – in two schools as Head and those headships have spanned 17 years.  My professional duty as teacher and school leader has always been to care deeply and to get to know the children in my care so that we can respond with expert sensitivity and compassion to support learning and ambition.

I am the greatest of supporters of character growth. Without the nurturing of good character, we would have unbridled ambition or slothful laziness. With good character, we have kind and gentle, ambitious and sharing, supportive and generous pupils and staff.

But change is good and I commend this School again to you all as the best of the best and I am sure that you will welcome Mr William Brierly into the Senior School as our next Headmaster and continue to support your children to work well, be full of energy, ambition and expectation, such that your children, the core of Claremont Fan Court, benefit from the joy and happiness and love within this School.

As my wife Tansy and I head back to New Zealand after 17 years living in England, I am sure there is a lot of England and Europe in us and I hope a little bit of New Zealand will be left here at Claremont. It is a privilege to live and work and bring up one’s family in two cultures and we New Zealanders and Brits are so alike in so many ways, although also a little different, and our lives have been the richer, very much so, for spending time here in Surrey and again, I thank you all again for making us so welcome over the years.

Teaching can be a tough job, yet also the most rewarding, made easier by being within the loveliest of schools with the loveliest of children. I have tried to be my best at all times, to see our girls and boys to be the best they can, the School to be the best it can be. I will tell all who listen that goodness is a worthy prize for us all.

Over thirteen years, I haven’t been idle and I have dared to shake things up. I know the School is in good shape after all these years. I send my best wishes to you and your children for a happy, ambitious and successful future and I am proud of the small part I have played in your children’s lives. Thank you for your trust in Claremont Fan Court School and in me. I hope our paths cross again, somewhere at some time.

Mr Insall-Reid
Head of Senior School