When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it

Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem
It is easy to remember the power of unfamiliar faces like Gillian Duffy and Simon Brodkin to make leaders look foolish, but it is far rarer for a relative stranger to become the defining voice of optimism and new leadership. Afterall, criticising others requires little imagination, but the ability to inspire others, particularly a nation, through the power of words and the skills of performance takes both brains and courage.

Whether Gorman, Rashford or Thunberg, there is no mistaking the impact on us all of a younger generation stepping up to the challenge and shifting opinion.

But courage is not necessarily about hitting the headlines. It is about having the confidence to stand up for what is right and seeking to effect change by carrying others. Our own school’s vision sets out our drive to “develop individuals who are outstanding citizens, aware of their responsibility to others”, contributing “positively to global society” at a school “where girls and boys achieve more than they think is possible.” In many respects our young are showing this in their forbearance and proactivity under remote learning, but we are reminded too of the opportunity we all have to shape the world of tomorrow by the way we work today.

Our own governors have demonstrated considerable courage in recent months in seeking to shape a governing body to better reflect the diversity of our school community rather than the other way around. I take great pride in having been asked to formally take on the role of whole school headmaster, but it is the announcement that was coupled with this, of the further evolution of our governing body, that I take the greatest pleasure; their announcement that the governing body will now open up to governors of all faiths and none marks a historic moment in the magnificent history of the school.

I have interviewed over two hundred prospective pupils in the last month, and in concluding which candidates we would most like to offer places to, I also found myself reflecting upon their decision on which place to accept – a tough challenge when coronavirus has made visits difficult – and it was clear how defining the character of our school is. Our founding mothers and father created a school shaped by people of one faith, but non-denominational in its ethos that deserves to stand the tests of time. It is in recognising the importance of allowing both the leadership and the governance structure to evolve, that our governors have shown a true selflessness for the school and its pupils.

William Brierly

Mr William Brierly