“Mrs White, trustees, ladies, gentlemen and pupils, I take great pleasure in welcoming you all back to our annual Prizegiving.” So began our Headmaster, Mr Steven Allen, as he welcomed pupils, parents, carers, and staff to one of our favourite events of the year. It has been three years since we last shared our in-person event, but with the sun shining and much to celebrate, this year’s event was a true delight.
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On the day Mr Allen reminded the audience, “We last came together to celebrate all of the pupils’ achievements in July 2019 which feels like a lifetime ago, when no one had any idea what Teams, Zoom, bubbles, asymptomatic or social distancing meant, and no one had any interest in following curves.
If you had told me on that day, we would not host Prizegiving for another 3 years, whilst I accept the pupils might have breathed a sigh of relief at not having to endure another one of my speeches, I would have never believed that the next Prizegiving would be in 2022.
During the darkest times of full lockdown in 2020 we had a group of around 16 international pupils who remained stranded with us due to the speed that the world shut down. This is my first opportunity to publicly thank the boarding team for their support during what was a very scary and uncertain time.
They made life enjoyable, stable and safe for our international pupils who are a very important part of our school. The boarding teams sacrifice during these difficult days will always be one of the most important, if largely unseen contributions in Fyling Hall’s history. Thank you for everything during those difficult days.
This school generation have sacrificed more than most and missed out on so many opportunities that were once taken for granted. Starting this academic year things were still uncertain and I dreaded the regular publications of the latest Government guidance for schools. We set out determined to return school life to as normal as possible for our pupils and try to reintroduce the experiences that make school life what it should be.”
Mr Allen shared how “Some of those experiences are welcomed by the pupils and others not so much. The return of exams was wildly celebrated by the pupils as I am sure you can imagine. Exams are a bit like Brussel sprouts, they come around once a year and we know they are good for us but no one except for a very small strange number of people actually like them.
The uncertainty of awarding results for exam classes over the last few years has been unfair on all parties. The opportunity for exam pupils to have control over their own destiny is the only fair way. Allowing younger pupils to simulate the experience of exams is also a crucial part of their education and whilst they will not look forward to them, in time they will appreciate the importance they play.”
Mr Allen also welcomed the return of sports fixtures both in and out of school. “Sports fixtures offer a crucial opportunity for pupils to express themselves and achieve outside of the classroom.” Special congratulations to several pupils who have achieved district, county and regional honours including:
- Haeun Kim, Anya, Isabella and Tallulah all represented Scarborough and District in Hockey
- Alexander played county level hockey representing Durham
- In show jumping Bethany was selected to represent the North East of England in the inter-regional competition and out of the 42 riders in the UK at Level C, she finished 15.
- Neve qualified to represent North Yorkshire at the regional championships in Gateshead where she went on to be crowned champion in the triple jump.
“These are a remarkable achievement for a small school and testament to the hard work and dedication of the pupils.”
“The return of the social and fun events that are a key element of school life and are those that often provide the lasting memories for the pupils. Olivia and Josh (Our Head Students) right from the start of the year displayed a desire that these events would go ahead as they used to. I would like to commend them both for how they have undertaken the organisation of so many key events throughout the year. . . Alongside creating memories, they have raised a significant amount of money that will benefit their nominated charities and the school.”
Mr Allen also thanked Friends of Fyling Hall (formerly known as the PTA). ‘Their “enthusiastic committee has been a real positive . . . Parent involvement in the school has always been a key element and I look forward to working closely with them next year.”
“But I think for me the most important thing to return is seeing the classrooms coming back to life. Watching pupils sat in seats unable to utilise the enrichment opportunities that are a key part of what we do, was necessary but demoralising. Now the rooms are alive again with all sorts of activities happening on a daily basis. This is the environment pupils learn best in and is what we will build on moving forward. It was fantastic to see so many of you attend the music concerts, drama productions and hopefully, you have had time to view the exhibition of all the exam artwork on the art room. They are just a few examples of what inspires and make pupils thrive.
I think it is clear from all the awards that we have achieved our aim of returning to normal. I now take great pleasure in listening to pupils complain about mundane things that all pupils have complained about throughout the ages. It confirms to me that we have been successful and life is getting back to normal.
I would like to thank the pupils, staff and parents for helping us to achieve this, your support, cooperation and flexibility have been crucial during the last few years.
We can now look to the future and when we assemble this time next year, the school will officially be 100 years old. The preparations for the celebrations next June are gathering pace and I look forward to sharing the plans with you in the not too distant future.
After such a long gap I am delighted we can come together as a community to celebrate all the achievements of our pupils. The hard work and dedication that goes in to winning all of the prizes we will be giving out this morning always gives me a great sense of pride. I hope the winners will take time to celebrate their achievement but more importantly reflect on what has led them to earning the recognition.“
Before closing this special day, Mr Allen reminded the audience, “It is always sad to say good bye to pupils but eventually even for those who have been with us since reception, it is time to move on to the next stage of your journey. This is an exciting time with a whole world of opportunities waiting for you.
I am very confident you are equipped to go and conquer the challenges that lay ahead. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t because you can.
Be an individual, be prepared, strive to be creative, have compassion for those around you, never give in during the hard times and most importantly celebrate the good times.
I am very proud of the pupils we say goodbye to today, I hope you will all take with you many fond memories of your time with us. I would like to wish all of you the very best for the future.”