22 January 2024

The Monday Briefing: Frozen

The Monday Briefing - Frozen

As the temperatures plummeted this week, it would have been very tempting to shut up shop and become rather insular. 

On the contrary, this week has featured several meetings, gatherings and get togethers, all based around one theme: the importance of community.

My week kicked off with an engaging meeting with my counterpart at the excellent St Benedict’s School, which is situated just up the hill in Ealing, Joe Smith. We discussed not only how the schools could work more closely together, but some upcoming issues for both of our institutions, including the potential impacts of VAT on school fees and future staffing challenges as well as the positives of being situated in our particular part of West London.

Following that, it was wonderful to catch up with the Independent Schools Association Regional Ambassador for London North, Lynn Maggs-Wellings, someone who I always enjoy spending time with. She is a tremendous barometer for the bigger picture within the sector and her tireless schedule of visits to ISA schools within the region adds a sense of coherence to my work. The ability to hear and understand trends amongst similar schools is truly indispensable - and her praise of the work I’ve done at Ealing has always enhanced the measure of confidence I have in my own approach.

A Bellevue Heads’ Meeting gave some group-wide insight, as well as setting out some priorities for the week ahead, which would culminate in our Spring Governance and Marketing Strategy meeting on Friday. Both of these events, which help to sharpen our approach in terms of school management and potential growth for the College again emphasised the importance of community: the togetherness of the community we have at EIC; how that can be expressed so that the locality can grasp the effect of this more securely.

It may not sound like the most groundbreaking of activities, but perhaps the most pleasing aspect of my week was seeing both the Student Leadership Team and the Senior Management Team come together to embark on a litter picking drive to enhance the surroundings of the College at Tuesday lunchtime. The fellowship shown between staff and students in the task, I’m sure, got us through double the weeds, rubbish and leaves in half the time. This will now become a weekly feature of our collegiate approach to maintenance.

In midweek, I was really pleased to offer an online presentation to students in two of our partner schools, Farlington and Surval Montreux, who, for the first time, will be joining us as we travel to Boston for our annual attendance at the Model UN Conference at MIT. I was able to make contact with Aavani, a former student, who gave a student’s perspective on how to write award winning position papers. It was obvious that the session was well received and I’m sure it has inspired the students for the upcoming trip. I’ll be following it up with a session at the start of February with some guidance on the format of the debates themselves.

The following day, I was able to publish another episode of our Alumni podcast, this time with Syed Islam, a student who attended College back in 2016-2017. We had a tremendous discussion about how his time at Ealing helped to exacerbate his transition from one who underperformed to one who had drive and purpose. I was incredibly touched by his closing comments, where he remarked that the bond which EIC had with its students was truly unique, and that our ability to go above and beyond expectations meant that the community spirit lingered more than others. It occurred to me that the driving forces which made the College such a good institution back then are the same ones which still make it great now.

Finally, it has been a really special treat this week to read an increase in coverage in the local, and national, press for the College. Four separate publications have released stories featuring the excellent work we do at Ealing, including our prestigious upcoming scholarship evening on Tuesday, where a student could win a fully funded place for A Levels, and our tolerant and welcoming environment which has helped students from incredibly difficult circumstances to transition here successfully. Two of the stories featured Alisa, a Russian Jewish student in Year 12, our current Sportsperson of the Month, and one of our most modest and self-motivated students. She’d never ask for such a spotlight to be shone on her, but deserves every word of it.

And so, this week touched on the spirit of community in numerous ways: the community of headteachers, the community of Ealing; the community of ISA; the community of Bellevue; and above all, the shared community of students and staff at the College, which starts from the first day of attendance, and endures long after a student has left for university and beyond. 


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