Headmaster's Open Day Speech

    31 January

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    You have come along this evening to our Open Night to consider in part ‘where next’ on your son’s educational journey.

    A journey that is different for boys than it is for girls. Hence, you look at an all boys’ school. I am going to speak to you for a while and then, Matthew and his younger brother, Tom (Year 9) are going to chat explaining their experience of Campbell College. Finally, I have asked a parent, Mr Ewan Boyle, whose son is through the College to speak for a moment as well.

    Not all schools are the same. As Headmaster, and also a father, I am often reminded of what was important to me, to other parents and to children at this time of year. Campbell has stunning grounds, historic buildings, many cutting edge facilities and a range of academic and extra-curricular opportunities that are without parallel in Belfast and Northern Ireland. But buildings, old and lovely or new and shiny as they may be do not educate our children. Our strength and what visitors repeatedly remark upon are the relationships that define our boy’s educational journeys. The quality of those relationships between children, teachers and parents is second to none. Moreover, when children feel supported, cared for and recognised for who they are – put simply, when they are happy – then they can achieve great things, and enjoy the process.

    Each of our boys may take a slightly different route on their educational journey, but our aim remains constant for all: to lead fulfilled and happy lives. Although we prepare children for some of the most demanding universities in this country and overseas every year, we also celebrate the fact that doing our best is our ambition, our aim and our behaviour. We reintroduced Latin to the curriculum 2 years ago, so let us practice some together. Always doing our best – we say, Semper Excelsius. Ladies and Gentlemen, we know how to teach boys and firmly believe that they are at an advantage in a single sex setting. Our approach within Campbell College is framed around a five-point star.

    The 5-point star is famous at the College; our sporting shirts carry it as a badge. We describe these as five expectations, they deal with learning, respect and that we do so together, the ‘we’ meaning boy, school and home. That triangular relationship has to work.


    The Five Expectations of Campbell College

    1. Excellence in teaching:

    Teachers affect a pupil's achievement more than any other factor. Our teaching staff focus upon being the very best they can be. Our staff will always go the extra mile.

    2. Time for learning, we organise in a manner that means every lesson counts.

    • Lessons are arranged in one hour periods;

    • We assist boys in their organisation;

    • We insist they take responsibility for their learning.

    3. Realizing individual potential: We believe that every boy should be given the opportunity to achieve great things, consequently:

    • We get to know them well as individuals;

    • We set high, achievable expectations for each of our boys;

    I repeat we believe in single sex education which allows boys a greater focus than elsewhere.

    4. Respect for all: We teach our boys honesty, integrity, compassion and a true respect for all around them.

    • The fourth ‘R’ of education after reading, writing and arithmetic, is respect. We believe that being a school with a boarding department we have a broad and varied ethnic and cultural mix, from which we all learn tolerance and respect. You will find our boys courteous and polite.

    5. Together in partnership: Together we ensure that every boy matters.

    The strength of the relationship between teaching staff and pupils is outstanding; our parent Campbellians will confirm that.

    • This allows teachers to focus on teaching and pupils can focus on learning and together with our parents we create a partnership for success.

    How does this happen, how is Campbell different? What you are saying could be said of most schools. Well, I am explicitly setting out our intention, our desire in these Five Expectations. This is backed up by how we organize.

    1. We know how to teach and reach boys. We are experts in teaching them.

    Boys are the barometers of good teaching – because they are not passive in their learning. They must be engaged.

    Our class sizes are small, next year 130 boys will join us in 6 six classes, of around 22.

    • Our unique pastoral system means that boys meet in tutor groups with a member of staff who is directly responsible for their wellbeing, usually for seven years. Taking a different approach with the house system so that boys get to know others from different year groups and encouraging competition.

    We ensure the curriculum is good, appropriate and relevant – for boys that frequently is to do with competition, activity and praise. Teenagers are amazingly productive, full of energy and it is our role to harness that energy into academic study, drama, music, sport. The boys learn lots about themselves and establish deep friendships.

    2. Truly, we are an international school, some schools emphasize that they are integrated; we are way beyond that. Boys from all over the world come here; we invite you to become friends with those who are from Germany, Spain, China, Africa, The Middle East, The Cayman Islands, Groomsport, Ballyholme and Donaghadee.

    3. We are different than most other grammar schools in that we take a breadth of ability and backgrounds; we have the (very) very bright, like Matthew and Tom. The breadth is coped with because we stream our classes, so wherever you are on your journey you start with people like yourself and then you are encouraged to go forward. If you read through the prospectus you will see how success is arrived at.

    At Campbell we are not concerned about selecting a particular group of people; we want simply to continue to do what we have always done, to educate boys to become men of character who make a difference.

    Campbell is a fee paying school, details of which are in the prospectus, I highlight a couple of things here. The fee is direct and transparent, there are no additional costs. Secondly, the Governors significantly support our families throughout each year, through scholarships and bursaries. This year you will read of some very significant changes to how these are to be awarded. We have made changes to award these simply and directly. We also, after a break of some 40 years reintroduce the status of scholars. Therefore, if you achieve a level of academic success due to your achievement at AQE or PPTC we will recognise that very clearly.

    When you visit various schools, lots of things will be spoken of, exam results, extra-curricular activity – with lists of the great and good from the school etc… These are key aspects of what a school provides. However, they are only part. At Campbell College, our aim is not just to prepare boys for a job or career, it is for educations sake itself; we want our boys to leave our school, prepared for life, with the confidence that comes from possessing a store of essential knowledge and the skills to use it. We believe that independence of mind is the goal of a good education and it is our intention that all our boys leave with that ability. Always trying their best - Semper excelsius. And never forgetting the heritage from which they come - Ne Obliviscaris.


    Head Boy Matthew Crowther's Speech