New Boots

I heard a story the other day that instantly brought a smile to my face; it was a story about an incredible gesture of kindness. Will Greenwood, former England rugby player and current Wellington coach, noticed that a student’s boots were looking a little tired after a long season. Having found out that the student shares the same boot size, Will arrived in College this week and presented the player with one of the many pairs of boots he had been given by Canterbury over the years. The student was thrilled to receive them. This act of kindness typifies something that makes me incredibly proud: I am seeing, and hearing, more and more examples of our College values being lived.

This week, we celebrated the success of the U15 Rugby team, who have made it through the national finals, having beaten Whitgift in a brilliant game on Sunday. I was delighted to read in the U15 match report the following words from Dan Richards, Master in Charge of Rugby: “This was a true team effort with the boys evidencing the core values of the College in all they did”. I am proud to be part of an organisation where values are much more than words on a page or ideals to which we might one day aspire.

At Wellington, our College values of kindness, courage, respect, responsibility, and integrity are increasingly part of the fabric of our everyday lives. These words, and the attitudes and behaviours they instil, are referenced in our daily discussions; they are embedded in our rewards and sanctions system for students, and in our appraisal process for staff. On Wednesday, we held a ‘Values Day’ in College, organised by Delyth Lynch, Deputy Head (Safeguarding), and her team of ‘Values Guardians’. Talks and drop-in sessions ran throughout the day, all designed to celebrate the role that our values play in the College and to deepen our understanding of the impact they can have. Meanwhile, this week, we have been interviewing for next year’s Heads of College and College Prefects. For the second year running, we have used values-based assessments to inform our decisions, just as we do when recruiting new members of staff. The result of all of this is that we are developing a culture in which individuals can flourish; it is a culture shaped by clear expectations and moulded by a strong moral code.

Last Friday, Lotte Hemke (L6th, Hn) and Amy Gadhia (L6th, C) organised a charity fashion show, demonstrating courage and compassion combined. Their aim was to raise money for the mental health charity Young Minds UK and to fund a counsellor at Wildmoor Heath primary school. If values provide our moral compass, then the students involved in Friday’s show knew exactly where they were heading; this was a bold and ambitious project, the culmination of which was a spectacular feast of fashion, bringing together all walks of Wellington life. Their endeavours reflected brilliantly the ethos we have aimed to create – it was inclusive and diverse; fun-filled but fuelled by kindness. The themes for the evening included ‘Eco’, ‘Futuristic’ and ‘LGBTQ+’, all of which were explored with creativity, humour and, above all, with respect. Their decision making was sound, but then, as Roy E. Disney said, “It is not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are”.

All around College, good decisions are being made. As the story of the new boots exemplifies, the values are being lived. Where we encounter poor decision-making, or behaviour that is at odds with our core values, we have a culture that allows us to challenge it, to explore the reasons behind it, and ultimately to kick it into touch.

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