A view from the Close, No. 61

30 September 2016, No. 61

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I apologise for this week’s VFTC being a day late. There’s been such a lot going on that it’s taken until Saturday morning to sit down and reflect on the last week.

Chapel this week focussed on the third theme of the term – forgiveness. It came on the back of Founders’ Day, where we gave thanks to our Founders for all the work they undertook to found the College, but also we looked at giving thanks for those things which we don’t have to endure – hunger, poverty, education to name three. This then moved into a focus in Chapel on Forgiveness. As a community we are lucky in having lots of brilliant people to be friends with and support, but these often sour, and as all parents will know, throughout life there are times when friendships are tested. We therefore need to learn what forgiveness is, and in a community with boarding this is especially important. The wise words of Canon Toby our chaplain have been ringing around our ears:

“People with clenched fists cannot shake hands”
“Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die”

The week has been reassuringly busy. Sports fixtures are continuing apace, with some very impressive games being played and a refreshed focus on training, fitness and games planning by the new Director of Sport and Head of Girls Games. I’ll reflect more on this in the coming weeks, but there has been a marked improvement in this area and we’re confident that we’re making great headway in this area. We celebrated the European Day of Languages on Monday, and the Languages Department did a cracking job in raising awareness of languages with a great sketch in Senior School assembly and a cake sale at break, as well as other activities.

Open Day went well, and I’d like to extend a big thank you to all the pupils and staff who assisted with the running of the day ensuring that it was such a great success. We had a large number of families who visited, and they were welcomed by pupils, staff, and parents
in the form of the Friends of Dover College.

In two weeks’ time we’re starting a new recruitment and College awareness campaign which will be both exciting and will put the College even more dominantly on the education map of both Kent and the world. We’ll share this with you as a preview.

I’m delighted to share with parents that the College Choir will be singing evensong this coming Wednesday, 5 October in Canterbury Cathedral at 1730. This is a superb opportunity to showcase the College’s music alongside giving our pupils the experience of singing in the Cathedral. All parents and families are welcome and I look forward to seeing you in Canterbury.

Last night, we were privileged to welcome Chief Constable Alan Pughsley to the College to speak at this term’s Headmaster’s Lecture. He spoke brilliantly, and was presented with a number of excellent questions from the pupils who were clearly interested in what he had to say and his own personal story. This event came on the back of a visit in Dover Harbour to HMS Kent, and I was very lucky to share the College’s progress with the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and the Captain, Commander Dan Thomas. The College is affiliated to the ship and we have growing a special relationship. As HMS Kent goes for re-fit, a group of pupils have been invited to visit it in dry dock in March, as well as be given a tour of a submarine, in Plymouth.

Thank you for the responses to last week’s VFTC concerning the use of electronic equipment and my fear of the rise of a toxic childhood. I hope that being able to blame me has helped! The College feels strongly about preparing pupils for the future, but also doing it in a way that does not jeopardise manners, communication, interaction, reading and discussion. There is much that we can do together on this, and I will share articles with parents that are of significance.

I am off to Germany on a recruitment trip from Sunday getting back on Tuesday evening. I can be contacted as normal during this time via email and ‘phone. If there are any issues that you wish to raise, please use the normal communication channels.

As ever,

Gareth Doodes.

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