No. 203

OSB Logo The Old St Beghian
  July 2023


From the Headmaster

Robin Silk

I write in the midst of scorching weather and a term of largely uninterrupted sunshine; not always the best for the public exam season, but we never turn up our noses at good weather here. Just under five years from refounding and 440 years after the original foundation, we have reached a key landmark of 100 students once again, and despite a small drop off, we finish the year with 97 on the roll and with a likely number in excess of 125 next year. The school is growing in a sustainable way and continues to improve both in the quality it offers and the array of opportunities available to our young people.
Of course, it has been a huge relief that, for the first time in three years in education, we have not been beset by the quarantines, panics and other vicissitudes of the covid pandemic. It has meant our attendance has gone up and, more importantly, made eminently possible those things that educational institutions can and should be doing. Sports fixtures have therefore begun again in earnest with matches taking place in fives, volleyball, basketball, squash, cross-country, cricket, football and athletics. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme has extended its reach to the Gold Award. We have, rather excitingly, taken our first international trip to Iceland. It was thoroughly enjoyed by all who went on it, not least the chance to see whales, dolphins, geysers, basalt columns and glaciers (with the Aurora Borealis putting on one of its finest displays for the St Bees contingent). There have been nine more mountain walks (now eighteen in total and more than fifty Wainwrights conquered by the Wainwright Club), and a series of outdoor pursuit trips (including climbing, kayaking, canoeing and ghyll scrambling activities). Our students have had considerable success in Maths and Science Olympiads and there have been many keenly contested inter-house events. With two weeks of term still to go and a number of competitions still to take place, alongside the final merits to be totted up, Bega and Foundation Houses are neck and neck at the top of the standings with Bega aiming to take the mantle held by Foundation for the last two years.

There have been many other firsts this year, as we have grown large enough to do things that size prohibited us from doing previously: we have had our first Head Prefect election and our first school prefects bringing their leadership to bear round the school. We are helped by having a sixth form that makes up now a third of the school roll - all very helpful for the balance in a very good school. We have appointed our first academic specialist to the SLT and we will also have our first academic middle leaders, with some very able people, appointed to Head of Faculty positions. This will enable us to harness the talents of all our staff and in turn the students. We even have had our first inspection by the Independent Schools Inspectorate, which went very well.
On Speech Day we were joined by Baroness Hayman of Ullock and our CEO from China, Mr Danny Wang. We followed this up the weekend after with our second ever Founders’ Day, with the organ played by OSB, George Robson, and the following day a very enjoyable OSB Day, attended by a number of OSBs and spouses, alongside some teachers and students. The barbecue in the evening was especially enjoyable and it was great to spend some time with OSBs in a somewhat more relaxed fashion than the formal dinner of last year. On that note though, it would be good to get more OSBs, and especially the younger generation to these events. We had to cancel three planned dinners in various locations due to lack of numbers and now with the school going again, it is time to revive the OSB Society once more.
Lastly, I am glad to say our connections with China are up and running once again, with Laurence Gribble visiting twice in the same number of months and myself as Headmaster visiting in August. In July and August we have a number of Chinese students, once more attending from our schools in Dongguan and Huizhou, first for our Activities Week and then our Summer School. We continue to face a number of challenges in getting this fine old school up and running again but we have a great team, and with your support, I am confident the school will flourish into the future. I hope all OSBs have a fine summer and I look forward to writing again at Christmas.
Robin Silk,



The St Beghian Society    
St Bees School,    St Bees,    Cumbria,    CA27 0DS

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