24 May 2024



As a Head you may not be surprised to learn that I take a keen interest in culture and how to shape it. I am fortunate to lead an invigorating and friendly community at NLCS and as I told my colleagues yesterday at the staff meeting, I look forward to working with them every day. They have made my first 9 months at NLCS so stimulating and collegiate.

It is important to be intentional about culture rather than to hope for happy accidents. And so a group of us have been selecting new values for NLCS, values which we hope are a true reflection of the school we are and the school we want to be. We will share these in September with pupils and parents but I wanted to tell you about one of them. It’s because I think this value is the bedrock of pupil wellbeing. That value is Purpose.

If I had to choose between Purpose and Pleasure I would always choose Purpose, as fond as I am of a new dress or Friday night takeaway. (Shout out to Namaste Lounge where I understand Elton John gave his first performance). Purpose is what gives our lives meaning and without it we humans are rudderless. Of course my dichotomy is an entirely false one. Pleasure and purpose are closely linked. Angela Duckworth in her book ‘Grit’ posits that passionate individuals are those who are motivated by a combination of enjoyment and purpose.

You may also enjoy reading the philosopher Alain de Boton’s book, ‘The pleasures and sorrows of work’ which marvels at the deep sense of satisfaction that human beings can derive from ostensibly quite niche activities – the opening chapter is a remarkably lyrical celebration of the wonders of a shipping yard and its army of highly specialised forklift trucks. There’s also a paean to the people who spend six months designing logos and names for new lines of biscuits. In my own job I move from one topic to another in quick succession. I am a professional generalist and have to know enough (but not everything) about every aspect of school life, helpfully briefed by excellent colleagues. I therefore found it remarkably satisfying to plunge myself into the highly specialist world of shipping yards, storage units and biscuit factories for the time it took me to read the book. Human beings are remarkable in their ability to find purpose in the most dazzling number of activities.

How do schools then give their pupils that sense of purpose? It is through shared endeavours such as the amazing production of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ this term. It is through appropriate challenge and desire to break new intellectual ground. It is through supporting pupils to make a difference in their school community and beyond its gates: Canon Aid has long been a mainstay of NLCS life. It is through the discovery of passions and interests, which is why offering a rich curriculum and co-curriculum will always be central to our provision. It is through giving them the confidence to aspire and be the very best versions of themselves.

To be properly purposeful, we do also need rest. And so whatever meteorological delights the Bank Holiday brings us, I hope you and your daughters enjoy some rest.

Head's Blog