The Head of College – Mr Barney Durrant
As you can probably imagine, 2020-21 has been an interesting year in which to start as the new Head of College! However the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and national lockdown has quickly demonstrated the incredible qualities of the St Lawrence community. I have seen first-hand the resilience, determination and good humour of the staff – teaching and support – as well as among the pupils themselves. Teachers’ workloads have increased significantly following the withdrawal of traditional examinations but they have worked incredibly hard to do the best by our pupils. Everybody has been pulling together and I have seen a real ‘Blitz’ spirit – I am very proud of them all.
I have also been incredibly touched and gratified by the many offers of help from the OL community. Countless alumni contacted the School as ‘OL responders’ should practical assistance be required with shopping or simply being a listening ear for those experiencing loneliness and isolation. Many also responded with incredible generosity and thoughtfulness to the Bursary Hardship Appeal when it became clear that many parents of current pupils were being impacted significantly by the financial implications of the pandemic. Thanks to you, a number of deserving pupils who were at risk of leaving St Lawrence through no fault of their own, have been able to continue their special education here and now have the opportunity to fulfil their potential wherever this may lie.
I was fortunate to meet some Old Lawrentians at our alumni reunion in Malaysia just before lockdown, as well as subsequently on Zoom. On every occasion I have been particularly impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit and personal characteristics of OLs. So many demonstrate qualities of leadership; an ability and willingness to get on with people from all backgrounds; and a desire to set up a business or enterprise of their own. It seems as though OLs are entirely unafraid to do things differently – and I am sure that so many of these qualities have stemmed from their Lawrentian education. All good schools should be able to give you the basic education required today and to gain good value-added academic grades. However, our traditional focus on the whole child and an unashamedly holistic education which focuses on the development of teamwork, empathy and emotional intelligence, as well as an understanding of tolerance, diversity and difference genuinely prepares our pupils for life in our 21st century globalised world.
Now that we are emerging from lockdown with a higher and palpable sense of energy amongst the Lawrentian community, I am looking forward to re-invigorating our alumni programme after a year or more of enforced restrictions. As you will read in our newly designed website, we are looking to provide a greater sense of benefit for all OLs, irrespective of their age, location and gender. At a recent OL Society AGM, the former OL President, James Barden, spoke about the importance of OLs hearing what is going on at the School and I share this view. It is vital that we all work together, develop our links and communicate effectively to ensure that the strong connection to the College remains with every member of our community throughout their lives. When our leavers walk out of the doors, it should not be the end of their association with St Lawrence College – it is simply the beginning.
It has been lovely to hear about the various exploits of OLs over the last year and I very much look forward to meeting you in the coming months.
Barney Durrant MA
Head of College