I feel very fortunate to lead a school with such a great sense of community, with staff and parents motivated by a strong desire to care for our boys and provide them with every opportunity to flourish.
As a staff, we are ambitious for our boys academically and we are proud of the range of senior schools they go on to. Yet, just as importantly, we realise the significant role we play in preparing the boys for the future beyond their next school, through nurturing their adaptability to new learning environments as much as through specific subject knowledge. Our goal is to help Hall boys acquire and secure formative ways of learning for this ever-changing wider world.
That is why our approach to learning has an emphasis on collaboration and discovery. That is why we allocate more time to the sort of co-curricular activities like drama, debating and art that nurtures confidence, creativity and communications skills. We have invested in sports facilities at the Wilf Slack Playing Fields to encourage the learning of skills associated with teamwork and resilience through sport and games.
That is why we aim to keep our boys’ feet firmly ‘on the ground’ in promoting an understanding of the world around us, starting with London, the global city in which we are situated. Tolerance of others’ viewpoints and beliefs is encouraged through engaging in local culture as much as learning about issues in the wider world through current affairs lessons, assemblies and charity work. Opportunities to become involved in action within the local community in Camden are plentiful. Boys appreciate the uniqueness of our locality through taking part in joint activities with local primary schools and outreach groups.
This approach stems from the vision of those who nurtured the school in its early years. Former Hall headmasters like Gerard Wathen and Paddy Heazell were challenging thinkers about education, who created a distinctive school for their pupils, from the pink blazers to the culture of ‘courteous questioning’. They understood that a school based in Belsize, with a catchment area drawn from the families of vibrant north London, should embrace the progressive Hampstead values.
Originality and curiosity have always been at the heart of the experience of being at The Hall and such values take on increased relevance as educational experiences for the modern world are tailored to suit each boy. There can be no ‘typical’ Hall Boy leaving our doors at the end of Year 8 – each emerges as an individual, certainly with many strengths to be cherished, but also with self-awareness of particular personal characteristics requiring further refinement. Whilst the composition of The Hall community now reflects the cosmopolitan nature of London, these values remain at the core of school life: we celebrate behaviours revealing integrity, confidence, responsibility, endeavour, curiosity, originality, tolerance and courtesy in all members of our community.
The results can be seen among members of our alumni, gathered at the school’s 130th Anniversary events, who came from an impressive range of professional, cultural and entrepreneurial backgrounds and spoke of the special legacy of a Hall education. People like Oliver Sacks, neuroscientist and polymath, the Rt. Hon. Oliver Letwin MP and Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.
Most strikingly, they lead distinctive lives.