Written by Prof. Lord Robert Skidelsky (C. 1953-58)
Wednesday, 12 September 2012

I am delighted to inform you that the Head Master has been awarded the title of England's Headmaster of the Year at a ceremony at the Dorchester Hotel in London last night, sponsored by Tatler magazine.

This is a terrific achievement following so swiftly on Brighton College being awarded England's School of the Year title in November of last year by The Sunday Times.

In their summary of Richard Cairns' many achievements since becoming Head Master, the judges could point to:

  • Brighton being the only school in England to have seen academic improvement every single year for six years, taking the college from 136th to 16th in UK rankings and the leading co-educational school in the country.
  • The last six years being the best six years in the 167-year history of the school in terms of Oxbridge and Russell Group university entrants.
  • A more than trebling in applications to the college.
  • A more than doubling in boarding numbers such that there are now more boarders than at any time since 1931.
  • The creation of a thriving Lower School, now 4 years old.
  • The most significant new building programme in a century (with the Art School, Sammy Woods pavilion, Skidelsky building, Simon Smith building and Diamond Jubilee pavilion, all opened in the last 5 years).
  • The acquisition of Roedean Junior School to provide a new home for the Pre-Prep, thereby freeing up the northwest flank of the school for the senior boys and girls.
  • The acquisition of Handcross Park Prep School – at no cost to the college - to provide 11-13 boarding for the college.
  • The opening of Brighton College Abu Dhabi to provide an endowment for future bursaries at the college.
  • More sports teams, plays and concerts than ever before with a focus on getting more boys and girls involved as well as on developing élite talent.
  • And, importantly, the recruitment of a wonderfully gifted and enthusiastic teaching staff, the overwhelming majority of whom have joined the college in the last seven years.

But I know that Mr Cairns is most proud of the warm, friendly and tolerant environment that he has striven so effectively to establish. A few days ago, he showed me a number of letters he had received from outgoing Upper Sixth Form leavers. One of them wrote the following:
"I've come to realise that much of a school's atmosphere and ethos radiates from the Head himself. I was struck by your genuine and heartfelt concern for others and how often you emphasised to the pupils of Brighton College the importance of tolerance and kindness. I wanted to thank you personally for that as it is one of the main reasons the College is so exceptional".

That, above all, is why Mr Cairns deserves this award and I know that you will be as delighted as I am for him and for the Brighton College community.

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