Education enters the Carolean Era…

Highlights of the post that follows:

  • The last Carolean era saw the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660;
  • The Restoration saw a flourishing of the Arts, Theatre, Sciences and a return to personal freedoms;
  • It was also characterized by some Greats, the 1665 Plague, the 1666 Fire of London and the reintegration of Great Britain and Ireland;
  • Claires Court enters the new Carolean era, renewed with the best examination results at both GCSE and A Level achieved through public examinations this century (and ever);
  • with the largest leading cohorts of children in Years 6, 11 and 13 as well;
  • and with some pretty impressive investments visible throughout the estate, including the complete refurbishment of our Elizabethan silver jubilee teaching wing (1978) at Senior Boys, at the close of the school’s own Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Claires Court’s history has to date been entirely encapsulated within the modern Elizabethan era; established in 1960 by my parents David and Josephine Wilding as a consequence of the post world war II economic boom enfranchising baby boomer parents to seek the educational opportunities for their male children unavailable otherwise. 

Such ambitions of course included those of the young parents, Queen Elizabeth and Philip, whose separate experiences of education either revolved around home education, or spanned continents, languages and cultures. They chose for their children’s secondary British mainstream boarding education (Charles, Andrew & Edward to Gordonstoun and Anne to Beneden), Charles’ sons going to St. George’s Windsor and Eton (William in 1995), by which time our own school had acquired Maidenhead College and opened its own Sixth Form. 

Queen Elizabeth devoted her life in this 21st century to restore  the country’s trust in her monarchy, to stabilize and reinforce the value of Commonwealth to other countries and above all (my wisdom of hindsight here) to keep a sense of ‘Greatness’ about our country in the eyes of the rest of the World to the extent that President Macron of France was able to say in his eulogy on her death “To you, she was your Queen, to us she was The Queen’. Whilst the 2012 Olympics may come to symbolize the zenith of our country’s recent influence worldwide, I have no doubt that the 2022 celebrations of her own Platinum jubilee were a fitting culmination to her reign and tribute to her benign influence over our remarkable and unique democracy.

So it seems Claires Court has left the Second Elizabethan era on a high, and faces its future (with the rest of the UK) under the incoming Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla with both trepidation and expectation. None of us know how we are going to pay our way in the wake of the energy crisis, nor escape the most serious of threats arising from the war in Ukraine. A new Prime Minister, Liz Truss and government are exercising their first days of government having laid the Queen to rest, and it seems pretty evident that she is using a similar approach to that of the post war prime ministers to cause growth and expansion. Fortunately, Ukraine has the support of a host of nations and not just ours, so the threat to Russia may just cause its own population to make a change at the top to avert world war and worse.

During his lifetime, Charles has developed a host of themes that schools have adopted and embraced; his father’s Duke of Edinburgh award has never been more important for our young people – I quote from the DofE website “In 2020, young people stepped up and played an integral role in supporting communities across the UK to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. A remarkable 330,000 young people continued with their DofE activities – a huge force for good, dedicating 1.8 million hours of volunteering, equating to an investment of almost £8.5 million, to local communities at a time when they needed it most. DofE participants sewed PPE at their kitchen tables, delivered food parcels to those who needed them and put on virtual concerts for care homes. As the UK recovers, the benefits that the DofE offers are more important than ever. Our new strategy puts the DofE at the heart of the national effort to back young people through the challenging years ahead.

Last weekend, 42 of our current Year 9 completed their Bronze expedition, with a further 78 in Year 10/11 are now completing their other sections, which given all the other calls upon the time of our teenage boys and girls shows a really significant commitment to service above self. King Charles’ interest in ecology and sustainability is also to the front of both academic teaching lessons and a major priority if we are to ‘save the planet’. And of course, the generations are clicking over, and his grandchildren and mine both starting school this month locally in RBWM, as day children with parents joining their school community and planning to be active participants in their children’s lived educational experience.

As my key headlines for this post make clear, over the past 10 weeks, our maintenance staff and builders could not have been busier. The official reopening of our ‘Jubilee wing’ at Senior boys is to be scheduled for a formal reopening event week beginning Monday 17 October, and of course wherever within has been full and bursting with life since we returned from our summer holidays on 7/8 September. Perhaps even more importantly, we have invited The Rt Hon Theresa May MP to visit us on Friday 23 September to meet with our invited Ukrainian children here at school, to bear witness to the sustained investment into both nursery and school facilities and to follow up her interest from 12 months ago in our ongoing diverse and innovative activities for our children.

Dear Reader, do please continue to be our unseen ambassadors for the work we do and for the growth we promote in all of our community, whether they be children, parents & guardians or our partners here in RBWM. If ever there is a downside to reporting the best, it is the inevitable fall (if only in volume numbers) that will follow further down the road. Covid-19 was an extraordinary catalyst for change in our society, with working and shopping from home becoming a norm. Here at school, we have lengthened our breaks to ensure that childhood is protected, yet embraced technology to conjoin home and school learning environments and this month to live stream our 1st XV Rugby matches on Wednesday afternoon using AI cameras to enable our supporters to spectate.

Over the coming weeks, we have open days and opportunities for visitors to learn more about Claires Court and what we do – please spread the word, because we do want to see real people to show them what we are about. 

About jameswilding

Academic Principal Claires Court Schools Long term member & advocate of the Independent Schools Association
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