KEEP up school friendships, stop yourself doing wrong by concentrating on doing right, and remember that people matter more than things. These three pieces of advice were offered to pupils of Vanbrugh Castle School, Maze Hill, Blackheath, at their speech day on Saturday by the Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Sir Dermot A. Boyle, G.C.B., K.C.V.O., K.B.E., A.F.C
Sir Dermot presented the prizes at this residential school, which is run by the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund for the sons of airmen who have died.
Referring to a remark by the headmaster, Mr John Corner, that all the boys who came to the school were ordinary boys," Sir Dermot said that he did not believe there was such a thing as an "ordinary boy." They had the great asset of all being extraordinary.
Of those who had won prizes or were brilliant, he asked whether they would use their brilliance to sit back and get through life with the minimum of effort, or use their cleverness to go as high as they could.
To the boys who bad just missed out getting prizes, Sir Dermot said: "Don't worry, your turn will come." Those who had not won prizes because they had not worked, he said, would have no difficulty in working once they realised what they were working for.
In his report, Mr. Corner said that it had been a gratifying year because, he believed for the first time, all the 13-year-olds leaving this term were going to grammar schools or boarding schools of grammar school standards. He could report that the work was of high quality.
The boys were just "ordinary." he said, there was no set entrance exam. But given a boy of reasonable intelligence they had their methods and could "deliver the goods."
The school tried to be broad-minded, he went on, telling of some of their activities. The school band was very remarkable for a school of only 50 boys, and the choir was still in great demand at the Naval College. The interest in music at Vanbrugh Castle was as great as at any school he had ever known.
Mr. Corner spoke of all the help the school had from local people, for example at the moment they were sitting in the games room given by Greenwich Round Table. When their neighbours clubbed together to give something costing £4000, he said, It showed there could not be much wrong with the boys.
Ending by thanking the staff for their energy and devotion, Mr. Corner said: "It is hard work bringing up 50 boys, but we do enjoy it."
Prefects' prizes : Hugh Croxford, Peter Lloyd. Form prizes : Donald Taylor, John Crewdson, Jonathan Clelford, Arthur Rodgers. Progress In music : Robert Edmonds. Post boy: Robert Edmonds. Reading : David Evison, Geoffrey Meace. Choir : John Fordyke. Languages : Marton Smith. Old boys' prize: John Day.
For the boys of Vanbrugh Castle, discipline is already second nature
IT was thoughtless not to have realised that the small boys on either side of me were obviously longing to tuck into their roast beef and mashed potatoes. But I was so fascinated by the scene around me that I kept on asking questions. "How many are there in the school?"
"Fifty-one, sir," replied the small boys in unison, toying with their knives and forks.
"And how old are you when you come here?"
"Eight, sir. And we stay till we are 13."
"And you say you have a band?"
"Yes, sir. I play the drums and he plays the flute."
I was about to inquire of the flautist how he had managed to master such a difficult instrument at so early an age when the penny dropped. I was keeping two healthy young lads from their lunch because they were far too polite to begin without me.
So I hastily began to eat, and for a few moments there were no more questions, for in such surroundings one does not speak when one's mouth is full.
I was lunching at Vanbrugh Castle, the remarkable school, overlooking Greenwich Park, which is run by the RAF Benevolent Fund for the sons of dead airmen.
And of all the incidents in a crowded afternoon, this was the one that impressed me.
SURELY nothing could be more trivial—two little boys and two plates of beef? But is an example of perfect manners in the younger generation so trivial nowadays?
This wasn't Eton - where one might expect a veneer of courtesy, though one mightn't always get it!
Nor were the boys being watched by the hawk eye of the headmaster they were acting instinctively, because they had been so disciplined that politeness had become second nature.
On the previous night, I had seen the film version of West Side Story with its tragic tale of youth gone wrong—for lack of elementary discipline.
And for many nights before that indeed for many months and years, I had been sickened by other stones North, South, East and West, in the theatre, in the cinema, on the television screen, in the newspaper columns, of youth run riot, while society shrugs its shoulders and parents fold their hands in despair.
Merely because discipline, in this day and age, is something for which nobody seems to have any time.
Well, they have a great deal of time for it at Vanbrugh Castle. And the curious thing about it is that it is largely maintained by the boys themselves.
Once a small boy has been taught, kindly but firmly, to keep himself clean, physically and mentally, once he has been told that he must show respect for his elders, he ... well, he gets the idea, and he passes it on to those who follow him.
A lot of half-baked psychologists will probably protest that this sort of thing leads to 'repressions.' And some left-wing intellectuals might suggest that Vanbrugh inculcates the spirit of the 'old school tie.' If it does, so much the better.
Of all the shallow and meaningless sneers that are current in modern society the sneer at the 'old school tie' is the most contemptible. If I had an old school tie with the Vanbrugh colours I should be very proud to wear it.
For I believe that discipline is the basis of all achievement, spiritual and ....[missing conclusion]