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ASSEMBLYSPRING 2011 From the Headmaster

F

orward looking schools, especially those in London where space is at a premium, will continually look at ways to enhance their facilities.

In recent years £1.8 million was spent re-developing the Canons Park site to house a 150-seater theatre, create two fieldwork labs and upgrade the changing rooms and catering facilities. The Canons Park Activity Centre was ready for business in February 2007 and has helped stimulate the growth of drama and performance in the School, and to broaden the scope of what we can offer the boys with the introduction of Canons Park teaching days.

The all-weather surface at Canons Park

A year later the all-weather surface was relaid and at the same time increased in size to accommodate six tennis courts rather than four. The £200,000 spent has enabled us to expand our games programme by offering hockey and tennis as genuine alternatives to rugby and cricket to boys in the senior part of the School. In early April we will start work on another building project: the roof extension of No. 3 Loudoun Road. By utilising the roof space of No. 3 we will create two new wellappointed classrooms and two smaller rooms for one-toone or small group teaching. Over the last few years we have increased the number of specialist teaching staff at AH and this building project will obviate the need for teachers to share classrooms as some of them have to do at present. The smaller rooms will provide much needed flexibility when it comes to teaching groups of senior boys heading for the

The refurbished Canons Park site which re-opened in 2007 same target senior schools or those being prepared for academic scholarships. The plans are also designed to augment our music facilities by creating another practice room in the Music Suite on the first floor. The overall cost of the building project is set to be £580,000 and is due for completion by the end of August 2011, ready for the beginning of the Autumn term. I am sure that the boys and staff will benefit greatly from these improvements in the years to come.

Vivian Thomas Headmaster

The Arnold House Board of Friends

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ver the past few months we hope you have received letters introducing the Arnold House Board of Friends and explaining our role which is to develop closer links with old boys and parents, as well as supporting the recently launched bursary fund.  We are delighted to announce that to date the bursary fund has received £76,000 in donations, including £13,000 raised at the 2010 Christmas Bazaar, for which we owe our sincere thanks to the Parents’ Association. These donations have enabled the School to offer a number of places to boys with sound academic potential and ASSEMBLY

strong personal qualities who would not otherwise be able to experience an Arnold House education. Our long term goal is to raise funds to support eight bursary assisted places across Years 5 to 8.  By now you should have received an invitation to the Bursary Fund Gala and auction of promises which takes place on Thursday 12th May 2011. We do hope you will be able to join us and give your support to this worthwhile cause, whilst enjoying an excellent evening with plenty of promises!

Thank you for your continued support.

The Arnold House Board of Friends

The Headmaster invite you to attenand the Board of Friends d the Arnold Hous e

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Thursday 12th May 2011 The American Scho , 19:30 ol in London. three cou rse gala din ner, drinks An Auction & of Promises Lord Dalmen conducte y, deputy cha d by irman, Sot

heby’s UK.

Please contact Step

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History at Arnold House

H

istory is certainly a popular subject nationally. Bookshops are full of History books and programmes on TV attract large audiences. The boys at Arnold House share in this wider enthusiasm, but as this article will hopefully show, they also have a deep and productive interest in the subject and the History Department tries to respond to and nurture that interest. A common criticism of History as taught in many schools today is based on the undeniable “dumbing down” that has taken place in the National Curriculum. Let’s not pull any punches here, the subject has been downgraded and devalued into cherry picked studies of unrelated topics, often driven by a politically correct drive for social engineering rather than any sense of inspiration or appreciation of what used to be quaintly called “Our Island Story”. Although I probably sound like some mad “Daily Mail” reader at this point, any objective assessment of History teaching over the past few decades

will come to the same conclusion, although perhaps couched in less strident rhetoric. There is good news on this front however, the new Education Secretary, Michael Gove, is keen to restore “proper” History to state schools and has enlisted the help of that most prominent of TV History Celebs, Simon Schama. I would venture however to suggest that Mr Grove would do well to come to independent schools in general and to Arnold House in particular to see that some of us have never abandoned a rigorous yet enjoyable approach to the subject. The joy of being an independent school means we can select the topics we study with greater freedom. While the early years at Arnold House do follow the National Curriculum, further up the School we go beyond its requirements and in some cases introduce completely new topics. The most obvious example of this is Y5’s work on the History of the United States. They are probably the only children of their age in Britain studying this subject (apart from at ASL of course) – the fact the ASSEMBLY

boys really enjoy it totally vindicates the decision to incorporate it into our programme of study, which can be summarised as follows:

YEAR

TOPIC

1&2

Topic studies (eg transport, toys and homes through the ages)

3&4

Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Romans, Saxons and Vikings

5&6

The New World, the History of the USA, World War One and World War Two

7&8

The Middle Ages, the Tudors and Stuarts

The Department has worked hard over the past few years to ensure that comprehensive notes are available for the boys, which contain information, assessment and extension level materials and “Guns II World War in one Boats” board game (Sachin convenient Oberoi Y6 Summer project) place. Project work is encouraged and valued, most successfully in Y6, when the boys get a huge deal from their in-depth studies of World War One. Although we are concerned with the past, the Department has been at the forefront of technological developments at Arnold House. We have a large amount of resources

Year 4 visit the Roman Verulamium for use on the interactive whiteboards and recently have led the way in using the school’s intranet (DropBox) to allow boys to access electronic versions of the notes and projects mentioned above. Revision material appears in three forms for the CE candidates: written, PDF and as an MP3 file that can be used on iPods. It is however the boys’ work that we are most proud of. Boys from Y1 up to Y8 produce a huge range of high quality work in class and at home. Model making has been a long established part of what boys do (Y4 Viking longship making is almost part of the calendar now!), but this has recently been supplemented by film making, game making, song writing, website designing and poster creation. Nearly all of these latest developments have been part of the voluntary summer projects that boys can do on any aspect of their studies during the academic year. It is gratifying to see so many of them wanting to do something. The latest addition to what we offer the boys is part of the School’s extracurricular Activities programme: the History Documentary Club. This meets on a Wednesday after school and is open to boys in Y5&6. Sixteen boys attend, which may not sound much, but when you think it is a quarter of the total number of boys in Y5&6 you can see that it is a measure of the interest the boys have. Finally thanks to those staff who work in the Department alongside myself and David Cox (the two “professional” Historians), many of whom, though General Subject teachers, have a knowledge and dedication to the subject that is admirable and clearly infectious for the boys.

John Hill Head of History


A History of Arnold House cricket at Lord’s

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here are some uncanny coincidences which have linked us to Lord’s Cricket Ground going back to its establishment and up to the present. It was in 1814 that MCC moved to their third and current ground. In 1860, the Eyre Estate sold the Freehold to a Mr Moses who eventually sold it to William Nicholson MP a public spirited benefactor who gifted the land and built a brick pavilion. His racing colours were red and yellow from which the now famous MCC colours may have come. A cricket school at Lord’s was established with net practice from early times, but it was with Don Wilson (the ex-Yorkshire and England slow left arm spin bowler) as coach that the modern Lord’s nets were established in the 1970’s. When Rick Martin arrived at AH in 1989 fresh from the grime of the northern mines where they played their cricket hard, he was delighted to see cricket nets at Lord’s for AH boys was a long established tradition. The then Headmaster, Johnny Clegg, was keen that the boys had the opportunity to use the facilities at the home of cricket. Johnny was so keen on cricket that it is alleged that an interview for new teachers took the form of ‘here’s a bat , play me an offdrive. Good, you are appointed Head of Maths’

after ascertaining that it was true was more than happy to help out. Rick’s own association with going down to nets ended sometime in the late 90’s when Jon Gray (now a Headmaster) took over the cricket. Jon recollects: “Given my slightly obsessive desire to get as much cricket into the day and term as possible (the senior side played 26 games in my last summer) we ran two hour nets for a couple of years with the best few boys staying on to have a slightly more concentrated and “grown up” session - for example they batted until they were out and faced bowling from the masters as well. Batting for an hour is more fun than crunching two deliveries then heading back to the hutch. This also allowed those boys who were attending Greek lessons after school on a Monday to get a net in. For matches we created an additional “internal” scoring system with a point for a run, ten points for a wicket or a catch - a caught and bowled was a valuable strike! A little bit of individual competition always seemed to grab an AH boy’s’ attention. Running the cricket at AH was a great privilege - and one of the few things I miss in my current job as a Headmaster! “ And so to Richard Bagnall. His ECB coaching qualification and previous involvement with the boys on tour led to him taking over when Jon left. He quickly struck up a good

relationship with Reg Horne the indoor net manager and Cameron King (current pavilion manager) at Lord’s. In an effort to curb Baggers’ continuous enthusiasm, they persuaded John Stephenson, Assistant Secretary and Head of Cricket at Lord’s, to allow the AH boys to play on the Nursery Ground in a match in May 2008. Three games have been played so far between Johnny Clegg XI and John Allain XI (both avid cricketers). In the last two years, the boys have been privileged to use the main pavilion changing rooms of the visitors and England. A magnificent trophy has been established for the winning team and last year Ted Johnson the Chief Executive of the Eyre Estate met the teams before the match in a similar manner in which the Queen greets touring teams at Lord’s annually-so the cycle has turned almost in full back to the origins of Lord’s ground. In 2011 Angus Fraser (ex-England fast bowler), Managing Director Cricket of Middlesex County Cricket Club will shake their hands before popping over to The Oval to monitor Middlesex v Surrey in a night Twenty/20 game. Lord’s is being redeveloped at the nursery end with underground piazza , shops and residential flats with a new indoor school and bigger nursery cricket area. This is under the guidance of Governor and ex-parent Charles Rifkind who was at our Twenty/20 match last year when John Inverdale walked past between appointments and sat watching the game reminiscing about their days at Clifton College in Bristol. We are currently researching AH boys who have played for Eton and Harrow at Lord’s and are hopeful that of the boys who have moved to Eton in recent years, we may have one or two appear there in future.

On Rick’s first visit to Lord’s he was surprised to find that one of the ground-staff (specially selected potential England cricketers on apprenticeship) was a boy he had once coached and he was lucky enough to be invited to net with him and his colleagues on a number of occasions after our own boys finished.

The facilities provided for the boys at AH are now without comparison in the prep school world and we look forward to continuing the tradition of playing cricket at the historical ground of Lord’s for many years to come.

On another occasion, Rick was sitting in his office when Alan Knott (a great Kent and England wicket-keeper in the 1970’s) called from Lord’s asking if they could borrow our crash mats for some keeper coaching. Rick thought someone was pulling his leg but

Richard Fletcher Bursar

ch 2010 Arnold House Twenty/20 cricket mat ASSEMBLY


Interview with Mr John Prosser By Head Boys Seth Dunford and Sam Sether John Prosser taught Maths and Science at Arnold House up to Year 6 and was Deputy Head from 1987 to 2000. He is fondly remembered by the boys who came to the School during that time. Mr Prosser continues his association with the School today and Head Boys Sam Sether and Seth Dunford were able to get to know more about Arnold House during the 80’s and 90’s when they met him this term: What has changed since you taught at Arnold House? A huge amount has changed around the School but mainly the building. During the 1980’s, it was somewhat of a rabbit warren with nooks and crannies everywhere. Now you have a very swish 21st century School with splendid facilities. Has the boys’ behaviour changed? It is difficult to judge without being here more often, however, since I started teaching in 1969 I would say that the general behavior of our younger population has deteriorated - but not so at Arnold House which I am assured is still of a very high order. Do you still keep in touch with any of the teachers from the school? I keep in touch with Mr Faulkner who was the Geography teacher when I was here. He also lives in Oxford and we enjoy a good walk round the grounds of Blenheim Palace. I am also in touch with Mr Gray who taught Science and Mr Pike.

What did you do when you left Arnold House? Ski. I also took a retirement teaching job in a prep school near Windsor for three years and then fully retired. What has made you become involved in Arnold House again? I have always kept in touch with the School. When I left, Mr Allen invited me to be a guest speaker at Junior Prize Giving, and then a few years later, Mr Thomas asked me to do the same. I have also spoken on Armistice Day at the St Cyprian’s Church Service and now I sit on the Board of Friends, so I visit the School at least once a term. Do you have any funny stories from your time here? Once a term I would take the boys in my Current Affairs Club to the Houses of Parliament to watch debates in the two chambers. One year, when we were leaving the Public Gallery in eye catching red blazers, two of the Lords came out and spoke to the boys. One boy asked them who they were and who had made them Lords to which one replied “Mr Heath when he was Prime Minister.” The boy responded “Heath, Heath, I’ve heard of him, he invented the wheel didn’t he?” I was left very embarrassed as the two Lords went off chuckling down the corridor and I have often wondered how many times they have recounted that story themselves.

Did you have any favorite pupils? None, of course not, teachers don’t have favourites. It wasn’t difficult to like all the boys at Arnold House – they were all so engaging, responsive, well behaved and a delight to teach. I never encountered a difficult boy at the School. What has stayed the same about Arnold House? Four things: The parents; who have always been and still are very supportive of the School and want it to succeed. The staff; whose friendship and warmth contribute towards the School’s atmosphere. The boys; who still have the willingness to learn and are determined to succeed. And finally the double yellow lines! The double yellows in Loudoun Road were our salvation and I’m sure still are. When I would rush into School under pressure and would be asked to make at least twenty decisions before reaching the front door; if a parent wanted to inappropriately prolong the discussion one only needed to look hastily in the direction of the lines and the discussion was complete.

Do you keep in touch with any of the old boys from the school? Since I live in Oxford, I often come across old boys who are studying at the University. I haven’t changed as much as they have in twenty five years so it’s easier for them to recognise me and they usually come up and say hello and ask me to guess who they are. I can guess after I have asked them to smile – a smile, in my experience, rarely changes.

John Prosser with Head Boy

s Seth Dunford and Sam Set

her

Arnold House School 1 Loudoun Road St. John’s Wood, London NW8 0LH Telephone: 020 7266 4840 Facsimile: 020 7266 6994 Email: office@arnoldhouse.co.uk Website: www.arnoldhouse.co.uk Arnold House School Ltd (Limited by Guarantee). Registered in London Number 889424. Educational Charitable Trust Number 312725

ASSEMBLY


Arnold House Spring Assembly 2011