From The Headmaster's Study
16 December 2022
It was a great pleasure to see so many Hampton families gather for our Festival of Readings and Carols at St Mary’s Church on Tuesday evening, following a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Heartfelt thanks go to over 150 choristers, musicians and readers, by whom a great deal of seasonal good cheer was provided at the end of term.
Similar joyfulness was in plentiful supply at last week’s Christmas Concerts. There was a wealth of talent on show, from our First Year Choirs raising the Hammond Theatre roof to the Symphony Orchestra performing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 with impressive brio. I am indebted to colleagues in our Music department for devoting so much time, energy and expertise to helping Hamptonians produce such high-calibre performances. Please do take time to watch the highlights video of the concerts in the accompanying e-newsletter and you can catch up on this term’s other musical events in the autumn edition of News from Hampton (NfH). A digital copy should have arrived via SchoolPost last week and it can also be found here.
NfH also features our Drama department’s splendid staging of The 39 Steps, a collaboration with our neighbours at Hampton High. The portrayal of Richard Hannay’s intrepid adventures by cast and crew provided audiences with a real end-of-term treat and lots of laughs under Miss Bryant’s and Mr Haynes’ inspired and imaginative direction. Well done to everyone involved in one of the best School productions I have seen during my 15 years here!
Our extensive partnerships programme remains integral to who we are and what we stand for at Hampton, and over recent years 5,800 pupils from 200 state schools have participated in a wide range of shared initiatives. In the context of recent political and media clamour about potential future government policy on independent schools, it should not be forgotten that cross-sector partnerships provide better educational opportunities and outcomes for everyone involved. Feltham College, a pioneering sixth form partnership established by Hampton, LEH and Reach Academy, is an excellent example of what can be achieved through independent and state schools working together harmoniously. Lauded as ‘pushing educational boundaries’ by the Times Educational Supplement, the new college’s September opening was the result of a long-established relationship between our three schools, and has already made a tangible difference to the lives of young people in Feltham.
The weeks since September have been characterised by an uplifting sense of energy, common purpose and shared Hampton values across all areas of School life. This has felt all the more rewarding given where we were not that long ago: Covid-testing, face coverings, social distancing and periods of remote learning. Life at our School feels a great deal more ‘normal’ and human now; we can see smiling faces, learn and teach in classrooms together, play on the refurbished 3G, and collectively celebrate each other’s achievements in assemblies. A further welcome sign that the good ship Hampton is back on its natural course has been the resumption of our programme of School trips, tours and visits, including overseas travel. The last twelve weeks have seen Hamptonians head out on no fewer than 17 trips to destinations including Latvia, Tallinn, Tenerife, Madrid, Lille and the Lake District. And we wish those currently taking part in the Junior and Senior Ski trips a wonderful time together on the slopes in France and Italy.
The autumn term saw plenty of action on the sporting front, as you will see in the accompanying e-newsletter. In this regard, a particular ‘thank you’ is due to those involved in successfully hosting the Hampton Small Boats Head which saw 3,000+ young rowers from across the country compete on the Hampton-Molesey stretch of the Thames. This Herculean feat of organisation by our Boat Club, ably supported by parental HHBCA volunteers, continues to ensure that the event is a highlight of the junior rowing calendar nationally.
In rugby, Hampton’s squads produced strong Middlesex and St Joseph’s Festival performances, with our U13s being rewarded with a well-deserved County title and several year groups finishing as runners-up; and it’s been a typically action-packed term for our footballers too, with 246 matches played across the year groups. Many of Hampton’s sides, including our First XI, have won through to the latter stages of ESFA, ISFA and County Cup tournaments. Their exploits have given us plenty of exciting football to look forward to after the disappointment of England’s exit from the World Cup last week.
I hope that many of you will have already viewed the 2022 Leavers’ Video, which premiered at Senior Prizegiving in mid-November and is linked here. It was tremendously affirming to hear our Class of 2022 reminisce with such fondness and warmth about their schooldays and the lifelong friendships they have forged here. Another striking feature was the breadth and depth of their Hampton experiences and the agency these have given them to embrace future opportunities and challenges with confidence. All of this is, of course, underpinned by the stalwart support and encouragement offered to our pupils by my Common Room colleagues, whose dedication, loyalty and commitment remain as remarkable as ever.
I often observe that I wish that I’d been lucky enough to attend Hampton myself, with one of many reasons for this being the huge choice of lunchtime activities available to our pupils. As a sometime historian, I was particularly pleased to learn about the Archives and Archaeology Club’s new venture, ‘The Hampton Dig’. Having donned the prescribed wellies and warm clothing, I joined club members a couple of weeks ago as they assiduously removed layers of soil in a machine-excavated corner of our playing fields (thank you to our ever-helpful Grounds team!). We are looking forward to discovering the artefacts and treasures that may be unearthed over the coming months and you can keep an eye out for developments on our social media feeds. Alternatively, you can tune into Third Year Oliver A.’s weekly podcast on ‘The Hampton Dig’ via the School website.
The end of a calendar year often represents a time for new beginnings and Andrew Munday KC has recently become the Hampton School Trust’s next Chair of Governors. Andrew, whose sons are Hampton alumni, has served for 26 years on the Board, as Vice Chairman on two occasions and as Development & General Purposes Committee Chair for many years. He succeeds John Roberts CBE, OH (1962) who has completed his second highly successful term as Chair of Governors. I should like to take this opportunity to express sincere thanks to John for his exceptional leadership of the Governing Body, his personal support and his unstinting commitment to our School community.
In closing, it feels fitting to end by thanking our ever-popular and highly talented male-voice choir, Voices of Lions, for providing a suitably seasonal soundtrack for our 2022 Christmas video (linked here). Their mellifluous singing is accompanied by cameo appearances from pupils and members of the Common Room – see whether you can identify all those involved!
I wish all members of the Hampton School community a very happy, peaceful and relaxing festive break and a Happy New Year.
With kind regards and season’s greetings.