I recently watched an episode of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Marchant’s observational comedy ‘The Office’. Gervais, the epitome of a dysfunctional boss, sits resplendent astride a failing paper merchants in Slough populated by an equally dysfunctional workforce. The series serves as a reminder of what can happen when the culture of an organisation goes wrong.

The word ‘collaborator’ often has negative connotations. It was collaborators in Vichy France that were reviled for subservience to their Nazi overlords in World War II. Yet effective collaboration is key to many successful ventures. The most important quality Sevenoaks looks for when selecting pupils for entry to one of the most highly regarded schools in the country is the capacity to collaborate. Experts believe that the ability to collaborate with others will be an even more important skill to possess in the future. Some of the most inventive and successful outcomes, such as in the arts and sciences, have been achieved through the genius of collaborative work. Think of James Watson and Francis Crick; Paul McCartney and John Lennon; Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Bickley Park is currently gearing up to its centenary launch. Working parties are quietly collaborating to develop a fantastic programme of events.

Last Friday morning, the ‘Power of 99’ committee met to fine tune arrangements for the attempt to set a world record, on July 10th, for the most 99 ice creams eaten at one time as a farewell to BPS’s 99th year and a curtain raiser for the centenary. The group comprises staff, parents and a pupil representing all boys at the school.

There was creative genius at play in the meeting: Mr Brook and Mr Patel are collaborating to develop a stunning concept in which those assembled for the event will morph from a huge 99 into the number 100, all of which will be captured by drone. Miss Kemmett and Mrs Robert are collaborating on a design project which will result in a Prep and Pre-Prep boy winning a ‘Billionaire’s Ice Cream’. Y8, Morgan, is collaborating with his mum and other senior boys to organise a ‘sweet and savoury’ sale on June 18th to enable the event to be cost neutral.  BPSA reps Charlotte Wakely, Annabel Deen and Alison Bullyment are organising a whole school community après Pimms event, the profits from which will contribute towards a collaboration Mr Patel has set up with contacts in India which will enable four Gujarati boys from an under-privileged community to fly to England in the Summer Term 2019 to experience two weeks at Bickley Park and indulge their passion for cricket. This will enable both Gujarati and BPS boys to have a glimpse into the broad and diverse global family to which they belong.

There’s another fantastic collaboration that has brought joy to many a young (and old) palate: Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. I have written to them to ask for their endorsement of our ice cream themed event!