An address to pupils from the Master on 22.06.20:

From the Master:

“History is messy. It analyses change, and it tells stories, too. The stories we tell ourselves both shape and are shaped by our identities. You will notice I say identities plural; more on this next week. For now, I shall leave you with the words of Walt Whitman, the great American poet whose life spanned the nineteenth century and who tended the wounded in hospitals as a volunteer during the Civil War:

The past and present wilt—I have fill’d them, emptied them.
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”

An address to pupils from the Master on 15.06.20:

From the Master:

“I note that some current pupils have signed an open letter, and I hope to see you leading the way in calling out racism and injustice in all its forms both online and when we are able to reconvene…. More on that in the open letter which I am sending today. I look forward to working through these matters with you, and as ever my faith in you is strong.”

An address to pupils from the Master on 08.06.20:

From the Master:

“This week my podcast considers the Black Lives Matter protests and debates.

At MCS we all have privileged lives in the global scheme of things.  Sitting there feeling guilty about privilege isn’t going to get us very far; recognising what we have been given, speaking up and out for what is right, and doing our bit is much more valuable….   I have spoken to you before about the formation of good habits; what becomes natural now will have a profound impact when you are an adult and are in a position to make decisions about whether and how you use your power….

I say so often that the world needs you to be your best, powerful and strong selves that I risk your not believing me, or not even hearing it any more.  I will never apologise for reminding you of who the world needs you to be. Believe me, I mean it, and it’s becoming more true by the day.”


An address to pupils from the Master on 01.06.20:

From the Master, on the topic of ‘COMO’ (Certainty of Missing Out):

“With the easing of lockdown and the launch of test and trace, we are going to be in new social territory for a time. For those who are in school, the Department for Education is recommending that we keep you in small social and teaching ‘bubbles,’ which is a further example of how covid-19 is forcing us to ride roughshod over our conventional wisdom. Screen time is increased; we are being told it’s our civic duty to keep off public transport as much as we can; ordering from Amazon is no longer the sign of the devil; and now—we must assign you to cliques!  You couldn’t make 2020 up so far, could you?

Nobody is going to be able to see everybody at once, even if they were willing and able to. Perhaps it’s not yet time to say goodbye to our old friend COMO after all.  Which is fine, because photoshopped FOMO with its faux pouts and shout-outs was and is, I think we all know in our heart of hearts, pretty overrated.”


An address to pupils from the Master on 18.05.20:

From the Master:

“We know that this virus, like the Black Death and Spanish flu and indeed most other diseases, disproportionately hits the less-well off and the poor…  They continue to deliver goods, drive buses, stack shelves and empty bins, all things which now as much as ever remains vital to sustaining life in the UK.  If you think about how much more food your family has consumed since March 20th and how much packaging you have thrown away every week, you will see what I mean. This is one of the many reasons why we talk so much at MCS about community and service, to help you navigate the complex web of interconnectedness which sits around you and enables your individual flourishing.

As I have said to you before, it is my abiding hope that you will leave us equipped to do and be better next time, whatever that next time is. Yes, everything passes: soon, eventually, we will commit to the art of forgetting, and return to a joyful and I hope even better normality.  And – but – if the history of pandemics shows us anything, it is that there will be another one.  I trust we will be better prepared.  The experience of this year means we ought to be a bit more … alert. ”


A ‘vodcast’ to pupils from the Master on 11.05.20:

From the Master: “Friday was a special Bank Holiday to mark VE Day, the end of the Second World War in Europe. So today I wanted to speak to you from Big School, alongside the plaques which commemorate our fallen.  On VE day where I am standing was I am told a Dig for Victory vegetable plot, and a thousand years before that a Viking burial mound. I say this to you as a reminder of what we all know: everything passes.

I don’t think that many of are experiencing an unbearable lightness of being just now, but that makes us all the more in need of a lift to the spirits.  OWs Brian Cairns and Leo Goldschmidt have given us this today: one from beyond the grave, and one from Brussels.

These accounts illuminate for us so profoundly a lost time which has now assumed historic interest.  Just as this pandemic will for future MCS pupils, so keep up with your pandemic diaries, and keep on making history while staying safe at home.”


And address from the Master to pupils on 04.05.20: 

From the Master: “Inevitably, and soon I hope, we will begin to move on, and being sociable will entail a putting aside of the fear many of us feel now; this will become part of the individual and collective art of forgetting.  The conclusions I’m hoping you might draw from this podcast will be obvious and famili