The Head, Nicola Huggett

Being a Blundellian

Roots and Wings

As we start out on another week I want you to stop and think for a minute about a fairly straight forward question: what does it mean to be a Blundellian? What is it that defines us as a School and what is the mark of a Blundell’s education? If I were to be presenting to an audience who had never come across Blundell’s and who had no preconceived ideas about the School and its pupils, what would I tell them about us – and about you?

As a school we have a very clear set of aims and values. There are five traits listed under the headline ‘Roots and Wings’. We are not perfect at fulfilling all these things but it is what we aspire to. These are the values we hold in the highest esteem; the aims which shape our decision making and strategies.

The idea behind Roots and Wings is that the school ensures that you have a secure start to your lives with roots that are deeply embedded; secure and healthy and nourishing. Roots anchor us and give us a stability and security. Wings on the other hand suggest aspiration and destiny. Wings that will allow you to travel and to explore – and to become all that you are capable of becoming.

I’d like you just to consider for a moment what it is that Blundell’s stands for:

Blundell’s aims to develop CHARACTER. Not character only for its own sake but in order for you to be imbued with resilience and optimism, with generosity and self-control. It is our aim that these aspects of character become deeply embedded in each one of us so that they are a natural extension of who we are. In School House we are explicit about these character traits but throughout the School I hope that we model resilience, optimism, generosity and self-control. That CHARACTER identifies us as Blundellians and is the first of our roots.

The second root is SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY. This is beautifully summed up in the Prep School’s motto: Non Sibi – Not for oneself. It refers to our commitment and responsibility to our School Community, our fellow Blundellians, regardless of gender, regardless of nationality, regardless of house, regardless of age. It represents our commitment to the well-being of others. Of course, it also extends to society beyond Blundell’s and is represented in our involvement with charities such as CHAT locally, and OH’s involvement with the RNLI, and the Laos Project. But more than that it reflects our conscientious mindfulness of the world of which we are a part. It is about developing a social conscience, it is about awareness and engagement with a world that needs our contribution – be it environmentally, politically or socio-economically.

The first of our Wings is INDEPENDENCE. This is about taking responsibility; not making excuses, standing on our own two feet. We are fortunate to be part of this tightknit community but we must never forget that we need to take personal responsibility for our actions, to remember not to look to apportion blame but to look for solutions; to always do everything we can do to make things better. This means thinking about what we need to do to improve ourselves. It is about self-awareness and self-improvement. Most of all it is about putting up our hands and owning the situation – not waiting for others to do things for us but for us to take the initiative to make things happen.

The pursuit of EXCELLENCE is our second Wing and our 4th characteristic. Excellence is about doing everything as well as we can and in taking pride in things done well. It is about finding satisfaction and fulfilment in always giving of our best, for striving to do something as well as we could possibly do it. It is the opposite of complacency and half-heartedness and it is the characteristic that celebrates looking for ways of doing a good job even better. True excellence has the combined effect of a relentless pursuit of doing things better together with the deep satisfaction of knowing when we have tried our hardest.

And finally Blundell’s is about ADVENTURE. If you leave Blundell’s without having tried a whole lot of new things, without having gotten your hands dirty – or perhaps having lost a trainer in a muddy bog – then you’ve not lived the Blundellian life. We want you to be brave and adventurous – not just on the sports field or on expeditions but also in the classroom in your studies and we also want you to be courageous in social situations in the house. The Adventurous side of Blundellians continuously asks the question ‘what if’ and then sets about finding out. That could be applied to conflict in your boarding house or conquering a difficult prep.

We are all, staff and pupils, so fortunate to be part of this institution and we ought not to take what we have for granted. I want us to be continuously mindful of these five aspects of Blundell’s life summed up in our Roots and Wings. It is something we should all celebrate and it is something we should all encourage each other in.