On Saturday 5 September forty or so young OBs, from the Seldon years (1997-2005) returned to the College for an informal reunion. Anthony and Joanna Seldon dropped by to greet them and several members of staff from the same era.
TAG: Richard Cairns (Headmaster 2006)
I am delighted to send you details of this year's GCSE results from Brighton College - the best results in the school's history, with 50 pupils achieving nothing less than an A grade. The highlights include four sets of twins and a boy who moved to the school in Year 9 "to be himself" and clocked up 11 A*s including Classical Greek.
I thought you might be interested to hear that following an independent inspection by Ofsted, the boarding facilities and pastoral care at Brighton College were judged to be 'outstanding'. This is a verdict awarded to very few schools, and comes as news reached us that a league table published by the website www.best-schools.co.uk made Brighton the number 1 co-educational boarding school in the UK.
I hope you are all thriving and enjoying the summer (if that is the season you are in!). I hope too that you have enjoyed reading the latest Brighton College Review recently sent out by the Headmaster, Richard Cairns, and learning of all the exciting developments taking place at your old school.
Are there any gloomy days in Brighton? It seems to me that each and every visit I make to the old school is blessed with (often unseasonably) sunny and warm weather. Saturday 1st March 2008 was no exception, and again I challenge any casual observer not to be struck by how beautiful the campus looks on days such as these.
I feel honoured to have been elected the President of the Association of Old Brightonians, although when David Gold asked me to put my name forward last June, my initial reaction was that I surely could not be eligible for the post, not having been to the College. David assured me that there were precedents for retired members of staff being elected President, and some quick research has shown me that the two very first Presidents were, perhaps not surprisingly, retired members of the Common Room. At least my thirty six years at the College have given me a distinct advantage over all my predecessors, in that I know personally far more former members of the College than any of them! Indeed it was a great pleasure for me to see so many familiar faces from the past at the recent OB Dinner, which was a fitting tribute to the many years of dedicated and multifarious service to the College of Philip Robinson.
As we set off from Hereford I gave a little sigh and, when questioned by Isobel, admitted that I was wondering why I was setting off on a gloomy November day to drive two hundred miles across England for a dinner. Once we had arrived, however, all doubts were dispelled as we plunged into the happy hubbub of old friends.
Bringing back Commemoration Day to the OB calendar does seem a perfect way to celebrate and acknowledge the 125th Anniversary of the Association, and that the day was graced with terrific weather certainly saved the blushes of those of us who had campaigned so vigorously for this summer replacement to September’s OB Day.
Brighton College, has taken the unprecedented step of announcing that Mandarin Chinese will be a core part of the curriculum for all pupils in the College from aged 3 upwards.
What an evening! If you don't believe me then just take a look the ‘photos on this website, you will see plenty of animated smiling faces which, for me, sums up the purpose of events like this. Mind you with a combination of Ann Widdecombe as guest speaker, over 150 guests and a large contingent of 1981’ers what more could one expect?
The 2006 Graduation Day Ceremony, attended by all 6th form leavers, friends, family, staff and alumni, was every bit as uplifting as the OBA President David Gold had told me it would be... I had been asked by our esteemed leader to attend on his behalf as he was busy darting around the country amassing support for his imminent assault on government. I was happy to do so, even though it meant addressing the assembled throng on a summer’s day so hot that it lent new gravitas to the expression "passing-out ceremony"!
The new Headmaster of Brighton College has certainly made his presence felt, what with making Mandarin Chinese compulsory for all students and teaching History to the Fourth Form! With his worldwide search for a young lad to benefit from the Peyton Scholarship, he has also enjoyed considerable media exposure.
If anyone thought the departure of Dr Seldon would also signal the departure of the camera crews and hacks we’ve grown used to seeing around the College they were wrong. After what seemed like only a few minutes in the job, Richard Cairns marked the Chinese New Year by making Mandarin Chinese (Puotonghuà as it is called in Chinese) compulsory for all new pupils at the College and instantly he was the lead item on national news broadcasts across Asia – and CNN, the BBC, most of Europe... Hits to the College website reached their monthly average in one day, calls from diplomats and government departments, not to mention prospective parents, from across the world flooded the College switchboard.
This has been a year of innovation for the Association, especially in the way we communicate with our members and the College community. The Association website, which is now updated almost daily, has been totally revamped with the addition of a community notice board, photo gallery, and an expanded OB Hall of Fame. We are registering an average of more than 150 hits a day on the website and many OBs are emerging from the woodwork to provide us with news. Going forwards, we are developing a new membership page, and looking for greater expansion of the Directory of OB Businesses and Services. My thanks go to our web designer, Alex Bremer (R. 1979-83) for all his hard work and constant enthusiasm which goes well beyond the call of duty.
Twenty five years is a long time but what about the 1949 PE team? They were there too and so were quite a few of those who were only yesterday (as it were) walking across the quad without a (real) care in the world. For those of us celebrating a silver anniversary of leaving the College it was for most the first time we had returned for a great many years.
As Brighton College celebrates its 160th anniversary, in spite of several near misses, it is good to see the place continuing to evolve, experiment, and adapt. I am sure that just as Anthony Seldon will be missed when he leaves us at the end of December, so the newly appointed Headmaster, Richard Cairns, will make his own mark and make his own changes. Sometimes we will approve of those changes, other times not, but he will be aware that to retain the College’s position as a school of excellence, standing still is not an option.