Standing up, standing out and standing firm
Every half term at The Fulham Boys School is full on, but even by FBS standards this half term has been particularly frenetic.
We’ve extended our school’s temporary site so that it now has two wings: one at Gibbs Green and one on Beaumont Avenue. At Gibbs Green we have English (including our new library), Maths, Science, Languages and Additional Learning Needs. The Beaumont Avenue wing houses Product Design, Art, Humanities, PE, our Music and Drama suite as well as our new reception area, including study areas for boys, and our huge school hall. This extra space has transformed the school. As with Gibbs Green, we again self-delivered the renovation with help from our friends at the EFA, and accomplished in 7 weeks what some estimated would take months if not years. At the same time contractors are about to start demolition on our permanent site as we continue to push hard on ensuring we arrive ‘home’ on The Fulham Road as soon as possible. All of this means life is busy and incredibly exciting, and a great opportunity to exhibit our ‘can do’, ‘anything is possible’, ‘make it happen’ attitude which is in our very DNA.
As well as site, our approach to behaviour, attitude and uniform and appearance has come under the spotlight. But whilst our policies have been questioned and our methods have been scrutinised, our resolve has been strengthened that what we are doing is the right thing; boys need clear discipline and high standards to feel safe and secure, and so happy and ready to learn. Everything we do is geared towards boys. Our lessons are designed to bring out the best in boys. Our food is hearty and freshly cooked in order to fuel our boys for their extended day. Co-curriculum and sports afternoons are set up to find every boy at least one sport they enjoy while at the same time developing elite athletes and winning teams in our four core sports of rugby, football, cricket and rowing. We want to make every boy a linguist, get them singing, acting, dancing and performing and make it clear to them that real boys read. But all of this must take place within firm boundaries. Attitude is everything. Upright posture, firm handshake, eye contact, good manners and impeccable uniform and appearance; this is what makes the FBS culture tick and however much pressure we come under to change and relax things, we stand firm.
But as well as being a trying time, this half term has been brilliant. Open days and evening saw hundreds and hundreds of prospective pupils and parents visit the school. And the feedback was that they were blown away. They reinforce what Ofsted found: our ethos is ‘incredible’. Fulham Boys are amazing. Their behaviour on the whole this term has been superb. They really are becoming fine young gentlemen of real character and are developing the enterprising characteristics we are seeking to cultivate in them. Most of them baked some quite amazing cakes for the Macmillan coffee mornings; others run the school shop; some cooked for the homeless last Saturday and after half term our older boys will begin visiting older people who are lonely and infirm in the locality around the school.
Furthermore, our boys are showing they are problem solvers. They really question and think. Perhaps this is most clearly seen in assemblies. Here they are exposed to the claims of Jesus Christ and what the Bible says, and they are then given the opportunity to challenge it. Some reject it, others embrace it but all get on with each other and show respect for each other’s beliefs. Isn’t that what education and school should be all about? As Churchill said, ‘True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous and conflicting information’. The importance of this aspect of FBS’s education was brought home to me this week, with news that a college at one of our greatest universities banned the Christian Union from its Freshers fair. Why? At an event surely designed to give differing agendas and societies a platform? It seems they were concerned their new undergraduates might be unable to challenge and reason the claims of the CU. A sad day. British values of respect and freedom of speech must stretch as far as being allowed to believe the Bible. The Fulham Boys School will always fly in the face of such misguided liberalism.
We are looking forward to our two week half term after what has been a high pressured, high tempo six weeks. But as always, we have stood up, stood out and stood firm.