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Followers of the @BWordsworths twitter feed will have noticed that Thursdays are now marked by the posting of a picture from the BWS archive of photos. Last Thursday, for example there were a series of pictures from the mid-late ‘60s showing temporary classrooms being craned in over the Exeter Street wall and put in place in what was then euphemistically called the ‘Paddock’. Temporary turned out to be a term with a degree of approximation built-in, as the portakabins were not to go finally until 2003 (ie nearly 40 years later). The scenes of the arrival of the modular buildings are redolent of another age entirely, evidenced clearly by the haircuts, the flares and the apparent lack of any health and safety concerns as the loads swung into place.

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Tussle at the Ray Mac

I almost didn’t go last Saturday to the home game against Tiverton. The sun was out and that rare event made jobs in the garden an absolute priority. Several cars and a motorbike to clean and grass to be cut for the first time since October; I got that lot done with a few minutes to spare before setting off to Old Sarum and the footy. I arrived with just a couple of minutes to kick-off, so barely time to sit down before the action started and certainly no chance to read any of my book – that had to wait until the interval. The upside was that just for once I escaped the quizzical looks from other Salisbury fans who clearly don’t understand that odd bloke sat on the terrace immersed in a novel. ‘What’s that then, War & Peace?’ I was once hailed with from higher in the stands, and I suppose I can’t really blame whoever that was…

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A duty to tell the generations that follow…

Last October, during the half term break I realised a long-held ambition to travel to Washington DC. A fascination with American politics in turmoil, with the history of such a new country and the diversity of ethnicity and culture that a population of immigrants guarantees had made me want to see the capital city of the States close-up. I wasn’t disappointed; though we stayed in the more European surroundings of Georgetown, the short metro trip downtown tipped us out into the heart of a very different city, one where neo-classicism rubbed shoulders with plate glass, low-rise and yet imposing. It was great to see the White House, the Capitol, the Jefferson Library and the Supreme Court. We were lucky enough to get into Congress on one of the significant pre-impeachment debate days and the trip through the seat of power of the World’s only super-power will live on with me for a long time. A night time tour through the National Mall will do the same, the stunning memorials to Vietnam Veterans, Lincoln and MLK sear the memory as very few others can do. History feels young, raw and unfinished there in a way that I am not accustomed to in the UK, and it is very clear that the Americans that we met feel the importance of learning and telling stories as their country grows and changes.

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Spring term timeline

After the gathering gloom and incessant wetness of the autumn, this new spring term seems already to have lightened the tone. For the first time in weeks and weeks the sun, though low, is brilliant in a winter blue sky and nature is responding; the snowdrops and crocuses have suddenly poked through the mud and green of the lawn of No11 and the activity and volume of the local birdlife has lifted noticeably. In the same way the post-Christmas period ushers in a wealth of different activities as we both consolidate the current academic year and prepare for the new one to come in September. Last week Year 13 were sitting their mock A level papers in the Sports Hall, and their results (and the associated reports) will appear this side of the half term break. Whether the news is good or otherwise, their sights are now set firmly on the summer. The same will be true of Year 11, as their Parents’ Evening is due this week where the discussions will be split between a post-mortem of the pre-Xmas exams and what comes next.

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130 years and counting…

This Wednesday Nick Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, will be guest speaker for us at our first whole school cathedral service of 2020. It’s great that he is able to be with us, 130 years almost to the day after The Bishop’s School (as it was initially called) started up in the Bishop’s Palace here in the Close. That was more an imperative driven by circumstance than a matter of choice; construction work on Chapel Block was overrunning and presumably the school site was still infested with builders and scaffolding, in somewhat typical British fashion.

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December has arrived

The Year 11 boys are back in class, the prelim exams a thing of the very recent past. The end of term beckons and the last week will, I am sure, slip past in a flash. The Christmas season started for real with the opening carol of the Winter Concert at St Martin’s, and on Tuesday evening the music moves to the somewhat grander setting of the Cathedral where choir and congregation will join together once again. Can’t wait!

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2,000 followers and counting…

@BWordsworth’s just gained its 2,000th follower. I thought that there might be a congratulatory, centrally generated tweet to mark such an e-milestone, but evidently the Silicon Valley Brigade are not quite as sad as I am, so there you go.

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Uplifting conversations

At this point in the academic year there is usually a little time to take a breath before the next onslaught. The start of the autumn term is a frenzy with lots of new boys and some new staff who need to get to know the ropes, new courses to bed in and fresh issues to confront. The combination of planning work, organising assessment, reviewing results and completing priority university applications is an all-consuming one through September and October. By the half-term break everyone should know what they are doing , I have completed all of the staff appraisals and suddenly life seems to have emerged onto an open plain where the horizon is more visible; instead of rushing to keep up, looking at my feet I can start to look ahead and think about what the next few months might bring.

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Remembrance 2019

I have always thought that, given the history of the school and the number of families with Armed Forces connections, we have undersold the Act of Remembrance a little here. Not disastrously so of course – there have been some very moving assemblies and chapel services, and there is always 2 minutes of tranquillity as teachers and students take stock at 11.00am on anniversary day. Nevertheless, for a school which numbers Salisbury’s only VC amongst its alumni and a previous Head who was awarded a DSO at Vimy Ridge we should be doing more to mark those from the school community who have given so much.

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