FALCONS PREP – END OF TERM ADDRESS
9th JULY 2021
Good morning boys, staff and parents,
I am so honoured to be included in your prize giving ceremony today.
Boys, I want to start by congratulating all of you.
Despite the challenges you have all faced over the last 16 months of this pandemic, you are here today to celebrate your individual and collective achievements.
And what an amazing set of achievements they have been – and I don’t mean the academic achievements…
I’m talking about the way each one of you will have overcome a personal barrier, learned a new skill, supported someone in need, raised money for charity, helped in your community, taught your grandparents how to Zoom, or even grown some vegetables. Every one of you is stronger because of the hardship of the last year and a half.
You have all been amazing!! – and I include the teachers and parents in that!
There will be moments in the future when you will face other challenges, in those moments it’s important that you think back to this time, here at Falcons and remember what you achieved. You have overcome something difficult; you have shown courage and resilience.
So why does it matter? Because next time something is tough, you can say to yourself, I have done this before, so I can do it again.
Falcons is a wonderful school that gives you the most amazing opportunities. But not every child has the privilege of attending a school like this, or the support of the loving families such as yours.
Did you know 1 in 3 children in our country live in poverty – that’s 4.3 million children AND that number has increased during the pandemic.
Poverty means these families do not have the resources to adequately clothe or feed their children. The number of families visiting food banks has doubled in the last year.
Half of the children living in poverty – that’s 2 million, did not have access to a device, data wifi whilst home schooling – which meant they were not able to access online learning.
I am sure many of you struggled at times when working remotely. As tough as this was, you could still see your friend’s and lovely teachers’ faces on you screens.
Often these children didn’t have a quiet corner to engage with their lessons, in many cases their parents were not at home, they were working on the frontline.
The reality is that many of these children will have to repeat a year in order to catch up.
Increasingly companies are interested in building a workforce that represents society, we call this ‘social equity’ – which basically means fairness.
As you enter the world of work (which for the year 8’s here today is less than 10 years away), you will be judged and evaluated on your efforts to build a team that includes people from all different backgrounds. If you can start thinking about these issues now, it will be easier for you to demonstrate your commitment later.
A challenge for the year 8 boys – if you are curious, perhaps start by taking some time to investigate over the holidays, the following questions:
In the 100 largest companies across the UK:
- Why is it that women earn 25% less than men?
- Why are there no Black executives in the top 3 most senior roles at any of these 100 companies?
- How is it possible that over 20% of the top Executives in these companies attended Oxford or Cambridge?
- How did Oxford and Cambridge offer more places to students who attended 8 of the top private schools in this country?
AND, most importantly, what does all of this mean for the children I described earlier?
As you embark on your summer break, give some thought to those children, children who are no different to you. The circumstances they find themselves in – through no fault of their own – have left them with a very different life experience.
For those of you leaving today, I am sure you will be feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness. Even grown-ups starting new jobs feel nervous. I thought about the advice I give to the leaders I work with, and I realised it’s no different to the advice I would give to you today. So here are a few tips as you start your next chapter:
- You get noticed by being different, not by being the same as everyone else, it’s good to stand out
- None of us grow by staying in our comfort zone, if it feels scary, that’s a good thing
- People don’t remember what you said to them, they remember how you made them feel
- Every one of you has a superpower, if you don’t know what yours is – you just haven’t found it yet.
- To be interesting you need to be interested, interested in the world, interested in others, but most importantly interested in yourself. The most successful people have great personal insight, they understand their strengths, but also when they need to ask for help.
And remember, you are evolving as a person all the time, who you are today won’t necessarily predict where you end up. In fact, let me read you an extract from the school report of someone you might know.
“He is weak in geography lessons, at best average in history, he has no ambition. He is a constant trouble and is always in some scrape or other. He cannot be trusted to behave.”
Sir Winston Churchill, one of the greatest leaders in history and evidence that teachers don’t always get it right!
This is my 11th year attending an end of year prize giving at Falcons Prep & Pre-Prep, and sadly it will be the last, as today my youngest son will be leaving The Falcons family has become an integral part of all our lives. Our boys have made life-long friends, they have been lucky enough to be taught by teachers who have shaped the young men they will become, but mostly, it is clear, they have learned what it means to live life with aspiration, self-belief, and kindness.
These foundations will serve them beyond any academic achievement they reach in the future.
I am sure all the parents will join me in thanking Miss Buchanan and her wonderful team for their dedication and commitment to creating such a special place of learning.
I would like to leave you with some final words from one of the best management gurus of all time, Dr Seuss:
“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! Kid, you’ll move mountains.”
Good luck to all of you and have a wonderful summer!