Mr Simon Henderson, the current Head Master of Eton College (Eton, Berkshire, England), spent time as a gap year student, at St Peter’s Prep. This was years back when the current Rector of St Peter’s Prep, Greg Royce, began his tenure as Headmaster of the Boys School.
At ISASA’s request, Simon Sean Henderson was approached - asking him to deliver a keynote address at the ISASA and Independent Schools Heads’ Conference, which took place over the half-term last week.
Simon and his wife, Ali (a former advisor to Tony Blaire and Gordon Brown) were welcomed at a dinner held at St Peter’s Prep, prior to the conference. It was fascinating to hear his anecdotes about Eton College and the boys, some of which involved the reigning monarch. Much later in the evening, he startled us when he jumped up to make an impromptu speech. He expressed his gratitude to St Peter’s for making him feel so welcome and went on to emphasise the impact that many staff had had on him. He coyly admitted that one of his passwords for the Eton IT network contained the letters ‘FNIMH’ – Furber Nothard Is My Hero. Furber is a recently-retired Boarder Housemaster who pops in from time to time as a substitute teacher. The boys have always loved him.
In his scholarly address to the 500+ delegates at the conference, Simon spoke passionately about the need for a social and emotional connection as technology and artificial intelligence play an increasingly dominant role in teaching and learning.
He went on to say that it was crucial that all children feel accepted at school, welcomed and valued as individuals. Of all the schools at which he had taught or visited, St Peter’s Prep had been by far the most welcoming. He had felt a true sense of acceptance and belonging. His St Peter’s experience, Simon said, had persuaded him to pursue a career in teaching. It was this ethos, he said, that he was attempting to bring to Eton.
St Peter’s Prep featured disproportionately in the conference. The ISASA National Director, a St Peter’s Old Boy, opened the proceedings. This was followed by the annual report by the ISASA Chairman, David Hunter, also a St Peter’s Old Boy. Simon Henderson’s address followed that of the Minister of Education. The speakers were all presented with the gift of an original painting by James Delaney - another St Peter’s Old Boy.
“The culture of making every child and staff member feel included and valued is a facet at which we work constantly, at St Peter’s Prep.” says Rector, Greg Royce. “We see it as the core of our Anglican ethos. We are reminded of our successes and failures in this aspect each time an Old Boy or Girl returns to visit the school. We only ever want to be ‘ahead of the game and behind every child’.”