Every one of us knows by now that the big wide world is, actually, not so big.
Those who have learned to collaborate will prevail, because new technologies and networks – social, cultural, political and economic – reinforce each other’s reach and power.
So, reciprocity triumphs over command-and-control. Shared interest rather than authority binds us together. All of which means that true learning cannot be standardised. Rote and regime no longer rule. You can’t control an idea.
That is why, at Rugby, the two words ‘fine disregard’ have resonance. They refer to the act of the boy – William Webb- Ellis – who, in 1823, picked up the soccer ball and ran with it, thus creating the worldwide game of Rugby.
Our school is not a simple progression of being honed and sharpened for exam results that beautify a league table. Yet, our performance and our ambition in this arena are at the highest level.
Why would that be? Because, since the time of Thomas Arnold we have opted for a quantum model: one where all the facets of life – academic and artistic, spiritual and sporting – form part of an indivisible whole. The whole person, in fact. And here there is an irony. By engaging wholeheartedly in many things, we discover that excellence is a transferable skill – our drama boosts our DofE, our swimming strengthens our sciences. And vice versa. In fact, our results mark us out as the leading co-educational boarding school in the country
This means that life here for us, the students, is an unbound boundless exchange of interests, talents, abilities, often reaching performance way beyond expectation.
While many schools will cry ‘Conform’, we cry ‘Contest’. Thus, and only thus, is that much over-used word excellence achieved.
We do this from the sanctuary and springboard that is our House. We do this in facilities forever being updated and improved. It means from choir to computing, to cricket, from rhetoric to Russian to, yes, rugby, we try on different personae and, in doing so, find we suit things of which we never dreamt. It means as a town school in the Midlands, we remain unpretentious, and at the same time untaggable.
Is this claim unique? Perhaps not. But Rugby is uniquely well-placed to make it, because it is right here that much of what is our Public School tradition started: the game of rugby, as well as fives; Tom Brown’s Schooldays; Rupert Brooke who talked to us of ‘laughter, learnt of friends’. And now our philosophy of education – how to thrive, to learn, to grow – is being expanded, as we create Rugby, very carefully, around the world, because our students will come from, and will go on to live, around the world.
So what of us, the students who stand on the brink? How do we create our adult selves?
How should we know what we want to become? And how do we recognise the best version of that becoming?
By learning to navigate the structures, traditions, places and people of all kinds that make up our life here. By taking calculated risks within a place of safety. By discovering, for ourselves, that mindfulness and restlessness can and should co-exist. By understanding, from our wonderful, quirky, unconditional teachers that cynicism is the enemy of creativity.
And that the road to wisdom is one of partnership, not deference. This is how we grow. This is why we say The Whole Person is The Whole Point
Our students will come from, and will go on to live, around the world