Calm in Crisis
Polydore Vergil, an Italian who spend most of his life living in England in the early years of the 16th century, wrote a history of his adopted country: Anglia Historia. In this work, he included one of the only descriptions of one of England’s most effective monarch’s: Henry VII. In my interview as Headmaster of Bickley Park, I cited a quality Virgil said the king possessed as one I thought was essential for Headship: to remain ‘calm in crisis’.
The last fortnight has not so much been fraught with crises, as littered with challenges. The media would have had the nation believe the ‘Beast from the East’ was a crisis, with screaming headlines raising national neurosis about the snow that fell. However, BPS remained ‘calm in crisis’, managing to remain open in one form or another, throughout the week, in spite of the challenge of adhering to regulatory ratios with staff unable to reach school due to living in distant and remote areas. The teachers and assistants who kept the school going pulled together with resolve. The kitchen staff rallied magnificently, in spite of being a skeleton crew, to provide hot dinners for all. The maintenance team kept the site safe and managed the frozen pipes, loss of water to certain parts of the school and subsequent geyser that appeared in Reception due to a burst pipe. Pre-Prep mangers and office staff remained calm in crisis when members of the gas board suggested, at short notice, that the site might need to be evacuated due to issues on Page Heath Lane.
I would recommend a book, written in 1943, by C.S. Forester, as a classic example of English sangfroid in amongst the challenge of warfare. It describes the fantastic team work of the men at all levels engaged in an action aboard a Royal Navy light cruiser in the Mediterranean in World War II. The sense of team work and pride in pulling together towards a single purpose radiates quietly throughout the book.
In amongst crises, it is important to keep a sense of perspective and gallows humour. It was a pleasure to share the boys’ unbridled joy at the appearance of the white stuff and I sign off with some images of this in action.