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News > Of Interest > The Headmaster

The Headmaster

The Annual Dinner was a great evening enjoyed by all those that attended. Many comments were made complimenting the speeches made. With that in mind please read the speech of the Headmaster.
1 Mar 2024
Written by Derm Parker
Of Interest

I was on duty at 8 am this morning, standing waiting for the buses to arrive. I was entertained by scaffolding being taken apart. As the workmen removed piece by piece, I thought just like a Meccano set. Then I thought, you’re getting old, none of the boys would know what Meccano was.

Scaffold is here due to the repair and restoration of this Grade 2 listed building. A grade two listed building is not one where we each have to be quite good at piano it’s to do with the nature of the building! Next year, the scaffold will go up on the front face of the College, it is being restored. brick by brick. Perhaps the analogy I should make this with is Lego and Lego bricks, not Meccano.

I wonder as Old Campbellian’s return to the College for events such as this, what is the draw to do so? What is it that brings you back? I hope it’s that you are remembering your days here with fondness, with a spirit of camaraderie that has never left you. I have often regretted that I did not attend this institution for I don’t have an affection for my alma mater as Old Campbelians do. But when you can, in your mind’s eye, think of Campbell, what is it that comes to you? Surely it is the sight of the building as we come up the driveway. The clock tower and the welcoming arms of the school as it reaches out towards us.

The college is in good health; it’s our duty to continually reflect and improve. So, the scaffold is for repair at the stonework (interestingly, the sandstone windows sills are being cut from the same quarry as they were in 1890’s.) The windows are being double glazed, but in the same fashion as the original because it’s a grade two listed building. This process, brick by brick, will continue for approximately 10 years. On top of the heritage work, we have to modernise and consider how best these buildings serve a curriculum for our boys and cope with modern society’s needs.

We believe that we are seen to be meeting these needs. Demand for the College is high, currently I have just over 1000 boys in the senior school and a little over 200 boys in the junior school. A level results and GCSE results in 2023 were the highest on record ever. Academically we are succeeding. Where I hope to progress further is in having boys enter Oxford and Cambridge. Last year 42% of our leavers went to university in a Russell group institution, Queens Belfast, Durham and Saint Andrews being popular.

I often refer to building boys brick by brick, bit by bit and that we at Campbell are proud of our holistic approach to education. A Campbellian should leave the College with a rounded experience, academic certainly, but schooled in good manners, an ability to converse and present in company, to be self-disciplined and to be able to look after himself. To have an independence of mind.

Often, I hear the onus of the school is on rugby football. That is partly true, but one has to recognise that not all will play. Sport offers much, but so do the arts and humanities. CCF remains strong and I have to say to you one of the matters which I am proudest of, is the fact that we have nearly 60 boys involved with the pipe band, playing and learning. I pay tribute to the Friends of the Pipe Band whose organisation has supported our boys terrifically. Bit by bit, boys are built. Think of the independent skills that are taught through drumming, skills of patience, perseverance, discipline…And I can go on with piping, or any other co-curricular offering.

By Easter time we hope to open the new sports centre. It will stand on the site of the swimming pool, one of the casualties of the pandemic. The sports centre will provide, we believe, the largest gym and fitness area in any school setting on the island and will broaden the opportunity for our boys to progress in a range of sports. Immediately after completion the second and third phases of the Sports refurbishment will begin.

Brick by brick, we build our school, our boys, and indeed our support. We hope you enjoy this evening and seeing, meeting old friends again. I have used the phrase regarding bricks so much because in order to fund the changes we need to bring we ask for support from OCs as well as parents. The Buy a Brick Campaign was launched just before Christmas. A brick, with your name, OC number, house, will go on to the donors wall, if you were to purchase one. The price is £1000, and details are on the website. We hope to sell about 400.

(Building For the Future fund which you can find  out more about by following the link.)

I also encourage you to consider that the OC President this year is one of the rare Lady OCs. The novelty of being a different gender is a minor matter. The fact is that in Julie Brown the OCs have one of the most outstanding athletes this school has ever produced, youngest ever Commonwealth Games representative at 13 years (she qualified when 12 years old) - a record that still exists, and first female Irish swimming Olympian, ever. Campbell College produces outstanding people, I am proud to be the Headmaster.

Ne Obliviscaris.

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