Senior School Home

Welcome from the Head of the Senior School

I regard it a considerable privilege to lead an independent school with the distinguished history of St Lawrence College. It has a long record of providing an excellent academic education within a supportive community, but is also modern in its outlook and very well suited to preparing pupils for a rapidly changing world. In fact, we were recently awarded the coveted award of High Performance Learning World Class School - one of only 14 schools globally to receive this recognition.

You will find on this website many attractive pictures, showing the blend of beautiful historic buildings and state of the art boarding and classroom facilities, which together make St Lawrence one of the finest schools in the country. I would ask though that you judge the school not just on its facilities, or its excellent academic results, but on the attitudes and behaviour of our pupils. They find St Lawrence to be a very happy and caring community, a place which gives them the space to develop their individual talents, but also one that seeks to promote the essential attributes of confidence, teamwork and service.

As a co-educational boarding and day school, St Lawrence welcomes pupils from all around the world to benefit from the best of the British educational system. This diversity makes the school a cosmopolitan and vibrant place, where pupils leave us prepared for the challenges of the globalised world of work and study. They are well served in this by very committed staff who care passionately about their work.

One aspect of St Lawrence that distinguishes it from other private schools is that we are deliberately a medium sized school, when the trend nationally is towards ever larger school groupings. We believe this is essential to ensuring that individual pupils receive the attention and care they require. At the same time, we are large enough to provide facilities that would be the envy of much larger schools, and have something of a reputation for punching well above our weight in school competitions!

David Jackson

Nothing can beat visiting a school when deciding whether it is the right place for the education of your child, and I can assure you of a very warm welcome if you choose to visit this outstanding school.

 

David Jackson  BA (Durham), MEd (Buckingham)
Acting Head

 

Head's Musings

Last week, I began by handing out a good number of Maths certificates and this week I am delighted to say that it is the turn of music. Before Christmas, a number of you took ABRSM exams in a variety of different instruments and there were some outstanding results. So can I please invite the following to come up:

Hannah – Grade 2 Clarinet with merit and Grade 4 Violin

Charlotte – Grade 2 Piano with merit

Sabija – Grade 3 Piano

Atida – Grade 3 Violin with merit

Hiruni – Grade 6 Singing

Georgie – Grade 6 Singing with merit

Tom – Grade 8 Violin with merit

Pupils collecting music certificates

In rugby, our U15A team, as I’m sure many of you know, qualified for the last eight of the National Vase Competition on Thursday and now find themselves two matches away from playing in the final at Twickenham. Trailing 19-10 to Brentwood School, the boys staged an amazing come back, culminating in fantastic try by Max Rogers, to win 22-19. Many congratulations to all you of involved, players and coaches, and the very best of luck for your preparations over the coming weeks as you get ready for the quarter final match against Crypt School, a big Grammar School in Gloucestershire, to be played at home at some point in the week before half-term.

Now as those of you who were in Chapel on Thursday will remember, today is Blue Monday, the third Monday in January, the day which some people claim is the most depressing day of the year. Hopefully the Chaplain’s top tips so far this term on ‘how to survive January’ will have helped you to address this. Nevertheless, I thought it would be good to start this morning’s Headmaster’s Assembly with something a little light-hearted. My theme for today is that of taking risks and to help me to introduce this I am looking for four highly coordinated pupils. So please can Tobi, Penny, Henry and Joshua from our Upper 6th come onto the stage.

Now the rules are as follows. Each of you has 3 bean bags, red, yellow, blue or green. Throwing alternately (girl/boy or boy/girl), your aim is to throw each of your bean bags into the green bucket. If you achieve this you will earn points – 2 points if you choose to throw from the first cone, 5 points if you throw successfully from the 2nd cone and 10 points if you manage to get your beanbag in from the furthest away cone. On each throw it is up to you which cone to throw from. You are competing girls v boys so your scores will be combined, with the winning team the one with the most points. Girls – you have the choice of going first or second.

Risk taking bean bag game demo

Please can we give our four volunteers a big round of applause. The truth is, more or less every day of our lives we find ourselves in positions where we are weighing up the risk of doing something, situations where we have to decide whether we are going to play it safe or else take a chance and be bolder. In the case of the game we have just observed, Aimee, Robyn, Henry and Joshua obviously needed to decide whether to be reasonably conservative and go for a throw with a high chance of success, but less in terms of reward (2 points) or instead to go for the bigger prize (5 or even 10 points), mindful of the fact that there was a higher chance that they might not succeed. Calculated risk taking.

Surprising though it may be to some of you, as teachers we absolutely want you to take risks when you are at school. Sometimes, the risks you take will be calculated ones, like in the example we have just seen here on stage – all part of you honing your decision-making skills. And there are countless other examples. And sometimes, the risks we encourage you to take are ones that we would class as positive risks, risks where failure is a possibility but where the ability to learn from it and improve is significant. Ask any teacher in the Modern Languages Department, for example, and they will tell you that one of the fundamental keys to success is in fact risk taking, a willingness to give it a go, a willingness to speak to and in front of others without worrying if every word is right or if you are making grammatical errors. Your English teachers would say the same about playing with language, so too would your Art and DT teachers about experimenting with different colours, materials and techniques. Your Chemistry and Biology teachers, meanwhile, would, I’m sure, tell you that taking risks is an integral part of scientific research and advancements in medicine.

For some of you, taking a risk might mean other things: signing up to sing at Open Mic night or Cabaret evening for the first time, auditioning for a part in The Great Gatsby, your first time on stage in a school production, or doing a high ropes course when you know you are afraid of heights. Such risk taking is to my mind extremely laudable and absolutely to be encouraged.

And the good news in all of this is that, perhaps unsurprisingly, research shows that adolescents and young adults do in fact take more risks than any other age group. More than that, taking risks is a normal and essential part of our development as human beings. And that is of course fine, so long as the risks in question have been properly considered; when they have been taken in an essentially safe environment; when they are neither reckless or negligent, nor likely to cause serious harm to the person taking them or to others.

But what of unhealthy risk-taking, to which young people are also particularly pre-disposed? And what is behind the decision to partake in it, especially when the potential dangers of doing so are known and understood? The first obvious answer is, undoubtedly, whether we like to admit it or not, the influence of or pressure from peers, that desire to fit in or to impress, all of which are far more keenly felt in the teenage years. Indeed, in an interesting study that was carried out, early adolescents, late adolescents, and adults all behaved similarly on a computerised driving task when they were doing it by themselves. However, when they were paired with same-aged friends, clear differences emerged. The early adolescents were much more likely to engage in risky driving when their friends were present. Late adolescents were somewhat riskier in their driving when they were with friends. However, the presence of friends had no impact whatsoever on adults’ driving.

The second reason is that young people prefer to rely on personal experience to tell them right from wrong, rather than allowing themselves to be told by others whether something is a good idea or not. Consequently, they are more willing to ignore the warning signs and potential consequences until such time as they have tested it for themselves. This can still be the case when the risks are presented to them clearly and objectively by experts, rather than their parents or teachers who they sometimes feel do so more subjectively and judgmentally.

As many of you hopefully know, we do in fact have one such expert in school today. Dave Parvin, a former Drugs Squad Officer in the Police, will be leading our Drugs Awareness day in school today. He will be talking to staff, giving three presentations this afternoon to the 2nd and 3rd Form, to the 4th and 5th Form and finally to the 6th Form. And then this evening he will be addressing some of your parents. The older ones amongst you may well remember him from four years ago. If that is the case, please do not fall into the trap of thinking that there is therefore no need for you to engage with it. Indeed, trends and fads change, new drugs and substances are appearing all the time. And that is precisely why we have asked him back and why he continues to visit a large number of schools around the country, providing the most up-to-date information about drugs, including those which are still not necessarily seen as being harmful or dangerous. And I would urge you most strongly to listen to what he has to say. He is certainly not here to preach or to lecture. But he is here to present you with clear facts so that you can make informed decisions. The truth is that drugs affect different people in different ways. In fact, they can affect the same people in different ways. And in the case of more recent drug paraphernalia, such as Nitrous Oxide (NOS) and Vapes, the true long-term effects are not properly known or understood as yet.

It is a recognised fact that young people are inclined at times to want to push boundaries, to rebel and to seek new experiences – hardly a recent phenomenon. But when it comes to drugs, my strong advice to you is that this is very much one risk that it is not worth taking. Not just because it is against our rules and can result in you having to leave the school, albeit this is of course important and would have a detrimental effect on your educational career. No. Of equal, if not greater significance, for me is the fact that if you are looking for ways to help you relax, to cope with stress, if you are seeking a buzz to help relieve feelings of boredom, or are tempted by the feelings of confidence or a connection with others that drugs are reputed to elicit, experiences most of us have felt or wanted at some point, there are many other healthier, less costly and indeed easier ways to achieve these goals.

In short, taking risks in life can be extremely positive, especially when the outcome is personal growth, change for the better and even when valuable lessons are learned from an initially undesirable or unpleasant result. As Albert Einstein famously once said, “A ship is always safe at the shore, but that is not what it is built for”. But when it comes to taking unhealthy risks, such as drug taking, risks where the short-term benefits are debatable at best and the long-term benefits non-existent, these are invariably best avoided. I hope you find today really useful and informative and that you draw similar conclusions.

As some of you may have noticed, we are joined this morning by the new Headmaster Mr Durrant. He will be in school for the whole of this week and I know he is hoping to have the opportunity to meet and chat to a good number of you over the coming days. Do please make him feel welcome.

We are at that stage when there are a few coughs and colds going around. Do keep going. A chance to recharge the batteries next weekend over the long exeat awaits, but in the meantime work hard and have a great week. 

 

I would like to begin this morning’s assembly by handing out some certificates. In November a good number of you took part in the UKMT Senior Maths Challenge. We now have the results and 21 of you have been awarded a certificate (Bronze, Silver and Gold). The winners are;

Gold and Best in School – Alex – Year 13

Silver and Best in Year – Thomas Year 12

Silver – Zofi, Ryker, Toby, Anmol (Year 13); Alex, Cathrine, Tony (Year 12)

Bronze – Hank, Yibo, Amip, Yea, Ellen, Sirui (Year 13); Joyce, Joe, Kevin, Dilim, Bibek, Sankalpa (Year 12)

It is not too often that we celebrate CCF achievements in Headmaster’s Assembly, but I wanted to make you aware this morning of one which those of you who were on Parade on Wednesday afternoon last week will have heard about. 29 cadets from RAF Sections around the country from 14 different schools applied for the very competitive Air Cadet Pilot Scheme – a week’s course of intensive flying held at Tayside Aviation in Dundee. Toby from Year 12 was one of only four cadets to be selected nationwide and I think he deserves our congratulations. Can we please give Toby a big round of applause.

And finally onto sport. There were some terrific results this weekend against Duke of York's Royal Military School, with a clean sweep of wins for our girls’ netball teams and some equally impressive victories for the boys’ hockey sides - well done to all of you involved. We also, of course, had two teams playing in the Indoor Hockey National Finals. Our U18 girls played amazingly well on Friday recording three wins of 5-1 against Millfield, 6-0 against RGS Newcastle and 6-4 against RGS Worcester to put themselves at the top of their group overnight. A 3-0 defeat to Wellington College on Saturday morning, however, meant that we failed to qualify for the semi-finals on goal difference by the narrowest of margins – indeed, just one goal against Wellington College would have seen us through. Sport can be cruel at times and I know that it will have been hard to take. Led expertly by captain Aimee Plumb, who was the second highest goal scorer in the competition with 9 goals, our coaches could not talk highly enough about you as group, not just as players but as ambassadors for SLC. I hope that with time you will come to recognize the magnitude of your achievements against schools three times our size. 5th-= in the whole country. Well done to you all. 

Our U16s boys, meanwhile, travelled to Croydon. A 2-1 loss to Ipswich School in the first game put us slightly on the back foot, but the boys bounced back brilliantly with wins over Altrincham Grammar, Repton and Sherborne. This set up a semi-final against the much fancied hosts Whitgift, but two goals from Thomas Izzard and another from captain Ben Young saw us through to the final 3-2. Our opponents were Ipswich School once again. In an unsurprisingly tense match, the clock ticked down but the scoreline remained 0-0 until, with just a minute left to play, Tassilo Sura broke the deadlock and scored in open play. The team held on for one more minute to be crowned National Champions. An extraordinary end to a fantastic weekend. Well done all you, both players and coaches.

So onto my thought for this week. Growing up, I must confess that I never considered myself to be a big reader. Like many children my age, I did enjoy books by Enid Blyton, most notably the Famous Five, C S Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, one or two books by Roald Dahl, as well as a few other well-known classics. And I do distinctly recall reading a book called The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend in a weekend, a book which I suspect nowadays would seem spectacularly dated, but at the time was a must-read for any self-respecting teenager. Do ask your parents if you’ve never heard of it! But the truth is, I would never have listed reading for pleasure at the top of my list of pastimes.

At A Level studying English, French and German, my appreciation of the wonders and power of literature, both in my own language and foreign texts, did certainly grow and as I went through university and began a career in teaching, it continued to do so. But, when I look back on those years, aside from some novels read by a pool in the summer holidays, much of what I read were books on reading lists, books I was required to read, rather than books I had specifically chosen.

I dare say that a good number of you may well be able to relate to this. I have often thought that part of it has been down to the fact that I don’t consider myself to be a ‘natural reader’ – someone who reads quickly and has that enviable ability to devour books in a matter of days. And part of it has come down to the fact, perhaps, that during my time as a teacher, I have sometimes fallen into that trap of not always allowing myself to strike a really healthy work/life balance during term time and to pursue hobbies outside school – something, I suspect we all need to think about at times. But it has also meant, I think, that when the holidays have come round and there is the opportunity for some down time, picking up a book has often not been the first thing I have thought to do, since I have not been in the habit of doing so for the majority of the year. A brave confession, you might think, for me to be making standing in front of you this morning – after all, aren’t all teachers meant to be bookworms?

This has, however, changed in recent years and as I look back, I do somehow have a sense of making up for lost time. I have not suddenly become the voracious reader that Mrs Jackson is, nor, I suspect, will I ever be. But what I have really begun to appreciate is the beneficial effect that reading regularly can have. Now I could, of course, spend time going through in some detail the obvious benefits of reading for you as young people – benefits of which I am sure many of you in here will be hopefully well aware: the fact that it exercises your brain, helps your concentration, improves your vocabulary, language skills and spelling, enhances your imagination, to name but a few.

All of this will, I’m sure, come as little surprise, nor the fact that there is considerable research too to back up the fact that pupils who read on a daily basis from a young age, be it with their parents, on their own, or both, are more likely to perform well in exams later on. But whilst this may all very well be true, I want to focus this morning on three other advantages that reading just for the sheer enjoyment of it can bring.

The first is escapism. All of us in this room, be we teachers or pupils, have moments in our week when things our tough; indeed, Rev Goodwin-Hudson and Mr Jameson touched on this very topic in Chapel yesterday. And to be clear, by escapism I do not mean running away from difficult situations or our fears. No. What I mean is, getting lost in a book, becoming part of a world which is not our own, can sometimes be exactly what our brains need to help us switch off. What’s more, there is strong evidence to suggest that as people we become better equipped to socialise and to relate to others if our lives are not solely based on our own experiences; as the famous British writer Malorie Blackman says, “reading is an exercise in empathy, an exercise in walking in someone else’s shoes for a while”.

The second, not altogether unrelated benefit is relaxation. Research carried out on a large number of volunteers by the University of Sussex revealed that just six minutes of reading a day can be enough to reduce stress levels significantly. In fact, they found that doing so worked even better and faster than other recognised activities we use to calm ourselves down and unwind, such as listening to music having a cup of tea and taking a walk. And the reason psychologists give is that reading requires the human mind to concentrate, and it is the distraction of being transported into a different place which eases tension in our muscles and heart.

The third benefit of devoting some time to reading, especially in the period before we go to bed, is that it can help you to sleep better. I certainly have personal experience of this myself, so much so that nowadays it is very much the exception rather than the rule that I do not read for a good 20 minutes before turning in. And when it comes to reading before bed, I would certainly still recommend a paper book rather than an ebook. Not for any anti-technology reason – quite the opposite, I am actually a big fan of kindles and the like. It is simply that, despite improvements, studies still show that, as with mobile phones and other electronic devices, the blue light emitted can suppress the release of the sleep inducing hormone melatonin, thus affecting our ability to get to sleep and indeed the quality of sleep we have. Besides which, for me, nothing quite compares with the smell of new print, the physical turning of pages and being able to know exactly where you are within a book – the percentages can sometimes be misleading.

Escapism, relaxation, sleep; all benefits associated with reading for pleasure, even in relatively small doses, alongside those other oft-cited intellectual advantages. And as you move through this academic year, your school careers and indeed your life after SLC, having the chance to escape mentally from time to time, to relax and to get decent sleep will in fact be vital to your chances of success, academically, in public exams yes, but also for a healthy lifestyle. And for those of you lower down the school for whom GCSEs and A Levels seem a long way off, why not get into good habits now?

In some cases, I know I am preaching to the converted here. For some of you, however, it may very well be that you feel you have given reading a try and decided that it is not for you. Just another way of being made to study. I would urge you to reconsider. You may disagree with the oft cited quote “There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book”. But I do believe that when it comes to reading, there is something for everyone – be it fiction, stories based on true events, autobiographies of people you admire.  And if you are still not convinced, do ask Mrs Robinson, our librarian, for some advice.

The challenge I have set myself for this year is to have ten minutes of DEAR time, Drop Everything And Read time, during the course of the working day, be it at break, after lunch or whenever. I would encourage you all to have a go too – to carve out some time in your busy weeks when you take yourself off, immerse yourself in a book, and allow the words to wash over you. In tutor time later this afternoon, once you have finished your target setting, have a think about this with your tutors. Who knows, like me, you might just get the bug and never look back.

Have a good week.

 

 

Headmaster’s Assembly – Tuesday 7th January

 

Welcome back and a very Happy New Year to all of you. I do hope you had a wonderful Christmas break with your families. In particular, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to our 13 new starters this term – do please look out for them and in typical SLC fashion, help to ensure they are well looked after over the coming weeks.

In my experience the Lent Term is almost invariably a very hectic one. From an academic perspective, the pace and intensity continues to increase, especially for our exam year groups for whom it is worth noting that you are now more of less half way through your teaching time for this year. On that note I do hope that those of you in the U6th, alongside doing some much needed recharging of the batteries, found time to do some structured revision over the holiday ahead of the trial exams this week. A good number of you have received some excellent university offers which will hopefully serve as a real incentive and I wish you well. Similarly, I hope that those of you in the 5th Form are already giving thought to revision for the mock exams after half-term, if indeed you have not already done so. Away from academia, there is much to look forward to this term, not least the much anticipated House Singing Competition and the School Production. And before that, our U18 girls are and U16 boys are heading off this weekend to compete in the Indoor Hockey National Finals. Very good luck to all of you involved.

The eagle eyed amongst you, particularly boarders may well have already noticed a series of boards plotting key moments in the history of the school on the walls above the noticeboards outside the Dining Room. This is a fantastic display and really brings home what a wonderfully rich history our school has – something of which you should be justifiably proud of as Lawrentians. As you are queueing up for lunch, do spend some time studying them – who knows, there may be a quiz about them later in term?

So onto my talk for today’s Headmaster’s Assembly. One of the bits I have always enjoyed about Christmas is the opportunity to watch films on television as a family, films that in many cases I probably would not watch at any other time of the year. It was no different this year. However, I must confess to enjoying one film in particular this Christmas. The film in question is a biopic, which for those of you who don’t know, means a biographical film that dramatizes the life of someone, normally a historical character or a famous person. In the case of this particular film, it retold the story of a British ski jumper called Michael Edwards, more commonly known as Eddie the Eagle.

Some of you may well have seen it. I dare say a number of you, particularly a number of my colleagues sitting behind me, may not have appreciated it to anything like the same extent that I did, may have changed channels, turned it off within minutes or not bothered watching it in the first place. And I understand why – as films go, I’d be the first to admit that it is at the extreme end of schmaltzy and sentimental and, what’s more, factually it is only about 5% accurate. Indeed, to quote a film critic at the time “anyone unwilling to commit to the film’s shamelessness will feel like they’ve hit the ground headfirst”.

So why have I chosen to talk to you about it and indeed Eddie the Eagle today? Well for a start, despite the fact that the amount of poetic licence used in the film is considerable, Edwards himself says that the portrayal of him in many ways could not have been more true. I am also undoubtedly influenced by the fact that I vividly remember watching him as a teenager over 30 years ago taking part in the Winter Olympic Games, along with what felt like half the nation – there weren’t many channels to choose from back then. Far more importantly, however, I find his real story truly inspirational.

As a boy, Edwards enjoyed a variety of different sports and, perhaps unsurprisingly, was pretty fearless. At the age of 12, however, he suffered a serious cartilage injury playing football and was in and out of hospital for two years. That put an end to his dream of becoming a footballer, but he did not give up on sport. Instead, he would watch the Olympics and convince himself that it could be him one day walking around in a Great Britain tracksuit. He just needed to find something that he could excel in. That sport proved to be skiing. He started going to the local ski slope in Gloucester regularly; before long he was going every day, and it quickly became his great love. Eventually he was called up to the English skiing squad, but was sent home on day one. And not because of any lack of ability – indeed, what the film doesn’t show is that he would later become a fantastic downhill speed skier, the 9th fastest in the world in fact. No. In a world very much influenced by money, sponsorship and social status, his working class roots meant that his face simply did not fit and he was looked down upon, all the more so because of his rather geeky looks.

Many would have given up at this point and resigned themselves to the fact that it was simply not meant to be. Not Edwards, however, who instead decided that he would bypass the England squad and try to win himself a call up to Great Britain squad and achieve Olympic qualification that way. He travelled through Europe, with next to no money, starving hungry and desperate to ski wherever he could. He slept in his small motorhome when it was -25C and at times had to resort to scraping food out of bins. But all to no avail, he still didn’t make it.

Not to be beaten, it was at this point that Edwards truly showed the extent of his determination to succeed against all the odds, his resilience and his initiative. He was not going to qualify for the Olympics as a downhill skier, but he might just be able to do so as a ski jumper as Great Britain did not have a jumper and indeed hadn’t had one for sixty years. All he needed to do was jump 70 metres. There was just one problem – he had never jumped before in his life, whilst those he would be competing against had been doing so since the age of 5 or 6.

But Edwards was not going to be put off by this, nor by the many other obstacles that could easily have prevented him from achieving his goal – his lack of any funding, having to borrow boots which were far too big and required him to wear six pairs of socks, the fact that he was 10kg heavier than any other jumper. Worst still, he had terrible eyesight which caused him to have to wear very thick glasses under his ski goggles – at high altitudes these quickly misted up and meant that he could not see a thing.

Quite remarkably, after less than two years of training, during which time he also worked as a plasterer to try to make ends meet, Edwards finally achieved his goal of qualifying for the Olympic Games to be held in Calgary, Canada. In fact he received the good news whilst residing in a mental hospital in Finland, not as a patient I should add, but because he could not afford to sleep anywhere else.

When it came to the Olympics, Edwards competed in the 70m and 90m jumps finishing last in both events by quite some considerable margin. Much to the embarrassment of the Great Britain Olympic Committee, and the annoyance of a good number of his fellow competitors who were irritated and jealous of the attention he received, Edwards endeared himself hugely to the crowds and the media. Indeed, one press conference lasted for four hours.

Sadly, Edwards failed to qualify for the next two Olympic Games, despite his best efforts, and retired 10 years later in 1998. This was largely because in 1990, the entry requirements were strengthened in order to make it nearly impossible for anyone to follow his example. It matters not. Indeed, for many people from all over the world Eddie the Eagle, as he became known, was and is the living embodiment of the Olympic adage, first expressed by the founder of the games, Pierre de Coubertin who said: The most important thing is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well”.

At a time when we often give thought to New Year’s resolutions, I believe there are a number of messages and lessons that we can take away from Eddie the Eagle’s story. The first is about courage. Any of you who have had the opportunity to stand at the top of a 90m ski jump will know how scary that feels in itself. The fact that with relatively little training, and next to none compared to his fellow competitors, Edwards had the bravery to launch himself at speeds of over 60 mph down the slope before flying through the air is little short of remarkable. Little wonder that over the course of his career, he fractured his skull twice and broke his jaw, collarbone, ribs, knee, fingers, thumbs, toes, back and neck. Physical courage is one thing, but what is arguably more impressive to my mind was his mental courage. The courage to keep going, with no guarantee of success, whilst facing significant hardship and pain, and, at times, shame and disappointment.

Linked to this is the quality of perseverance. The reality is that very few high-achievers in life succeed without considerable effort and, just as importantly, without having to bounce back from failure. Some of you may contest that in Edwards’ case, coming last in the Olympic Games and failing to qualify ever again does not exactly constitute a great example of success. But for me this is not the point. There can be few better examples of someone refusing to give up, besides which Edwards set himself the target of competing in the Games and he achieved it – and, more to the point, when the odds were hugely stacked against him.

Thirdly, whilst many of us can be guilty at times of allowing the views and opinions of others to influence our decision making and stop us from doing what we want to do, Edwards showed considerable strength of character – indeed, he simply would not allow the snobbery, derision or ridicule he received from others to prevent him from realising his dream. Indeed, he acted with real dignity, humility and good humour throughout, tempting though it must have been for him to rub it in the noses of his detractors and those who had sought to put him down.

You may not, of course, aspire to be the next British ski jumper, or indeed an Olympian, but as you go into this new term, new calendar year and indeed new decade I would urge you all to aim high, to dream big and not to allow setbacks to quash your ambitions. And at the same time be modest about your accomplishments, and good humoured about your failings. As Eddie Edwards once said “When I started competing I was so broke that I had to tie my helmet with a piece of string. On one jump the string snapped and the helmet carried on farther than I did. I may have been the first jumper ever beaten by his gear”.

I wish you all well for a fantastic term. 

 

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Senior School Statistics

140 Years

St Lawrence College was founded 140 years ago in October 1879 at Dane Park House, not far from the present site, as an Evangelical Church of England school, originally called South Eastern College. Under the leadership of Rev E C D’Auquier, its purpose was to combine religious training with “a sound, liberal education”.

Starting with just 5 pupils, by 1884, when a new Main Building was opened, the number of pupils had risen to 125. In 1905 the Archbishop of Canterbury opened the distinctive Tower, which completed the Main Building of the Senior School and is a Ramsgate landmark.

30 Nationalities

St Lawrence welcomes both boarding and day pupils from all around the world to benefit from the best of the British educational system. This diversity makes the school a cosmopolitan and vibrant place, where pupils leave prepared for the challenges of the globalised world. At any one time we have around 30 different nationalities in total.

Our overseas boarders participate fully in the academic and pastoral life of the College, along with the sports and activities programmes. Although almost half of our boarders are English-speaking, we have a dedicated EAL Centre for those students who need additional English support.

45 Activities

Recognising that there is more to education than just exam results, we aim to develop pupils’ wider skills through our extensive range of extra-curricular activities, with over 45 different activities offered each term. The range of options available to our pupils enables every individual to find their niche, from Scuba-Diving to Film Club, Chess to Horse Riding, and we try to ensure a balance of adventurous, sporting and creative options.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and Combined Cadet Force provide further rewarding opportunities for personal development and leadership, with field trips and expeditions offered throughout the year.

200 Boarders

With over 200 full Boarders in the Senior School, boarding is central to the school’s life and is one of its great strengths. Children thrive in the supportive and calm environment and we are very proud of the level and quality of care that the staff provide to all pupils, especially those who are boarders and for whom the school is their home.

We try very hard to provide a 'home-from-home' for our boarding pupils, both in terms of comfort and atmosphere. In recent years, a massive programme of investment has created some truly remarkable facilities for our boarders, and all rooms are en-suite.

160 Fixtures

Over 160 Hockey fixtures were played over the year by senior boys and girls. Building on our strong foundation of sporting success, we are proud of how many pupils represent the school in so many different sports, including the school’s major sport of Hockey. Expert coaching at all levels develops confidence and skills, and the school has several current and ex-international sports coaches on its staff.

An Olympic-standard water-based hockey pitch is a fantastic addition to the extensive sports facilities at St Lawrence College which also include a swimming pool and purpose-built sports centre housing squash courts, dance studio, fitness suite, climbing wall, etc.

378 kg of Fruit

In an average term-time week, the school community consumes 378kg of fruit and 1020 pints of milk! All meals are freshly prepared in-house in the school’s kitchens, with local produce used where possible.

Catering Manager, Mark Curtis, says: “My team and I strive to provide top quality, delicious and nutritious food.” There is a wide choice of food and individual dietary needs are catered for.

As well as the traditional ‘Hogwarts-style’ Dining Hall used for breakfast, lunch and supper, the school’s modern coffee shop is popular with pupils, parents and staff.

Explore Senior School