Mr Alistair Dry (Bishop Bavin Executive Headmaster)
“Big enough to make a difference; small enough to care”. This is the tagline that is used on much of the school’s marketing and advertising. It is one of the first things that comes to my mind when I am asked to tell others about Bishop Bavin School. John Littleford writes, “A tagline properly used permeates the school’s leadership initiatives and [staff] conversations, expresses the school’s mission, and separates the school from its competitors.” As I reflect on the 2016 year that is almost behind us, our tagline provides something of a yardstick by which I look back on what has been a challenging but successful year.
Despite the very tough economic conditions in the country, learner numbers in the school continued to grow during 2016, and it was with great pleasure that I was recently able to report that these have grown by 20% over the past three years, while boarding numbers have doubled. Much of this growth, I believe, has to do with the fact that “every child is known and loved” – my continuous mantra to the teaching staff. And we can do this because we are small enough to care. Knowing and loving each child is an absolutely fundamental condition for him or her to learn, grow and thrive, and it is what drives much of what we do at the school.
In 2016 we celebrated our 25th anniversary as a school. This is a significant milestone, and it was entirely appropriate that we spent time reflecting on twenty-five years of making a difference to the lives of hundreds of learners and their families. The high-point of this celebration was a combined mass presided over by The Visitor, The Right Reverend Steve Moreo, with Dom Timothy Bavin as our special guest and preacher. The service was attended by a number of past staff and learners, as well as the current school community.
As we continue to grow and develop, we are mindful that this has to happen in a way that continues to provide a value-for-money education for parents. And to this end, we are always looking for ways to do things better. The introduction in January of Engage as the school’s single management and information system has been one such move, and our ability to “engage” with parents, staff and learners through portals has been a big step forward in this regard. Towards the end of the year, we also restructured the school by appointing a Head of College to ensure that there is proper focus on leading that important part of the school, and thereby enabling me to focus more on strategic issues that will impact the school’s longer-term success, relevance to society and sustainability.
Although we can look back on 2016 with a great deal of satisfaction, we remain acutely aware of the challenges that lie before us as a school. Issues such as #feesmustfall, accusations of colonial bias in education and even the need re-evaluate codes of conduct and dress have been at the forefront of most of the mainline and social media. I am delighted that our Diversity Engagement Committee, comprising learners, staff and parents, provides a forum for this ongoing discussion and debate to take place at the school. Financially, we remain concerned at the stresses faced by so many of our parents in the harsh economic climate, and we continue to do all we can to ensure that we are good stewards of the resources entrusted to us for the education of the children here.
I need to express my profound gratitude and admiration to all the staff at Bishop Bavin, but particularly the teaching staff to whom we entrust our directive to be “big enough to make a difference; small enough to care”. They are at the heart of all that happens here, and we are very fortunate to have such committed, competent and professional teachers. My thanks too must go to my executive team and the board, under the superb chairmanship of Mr Wayne Hill, for their support and guidance as we seek to make this school great.
I wish all staff, parents and learners a blessed and joyful Christmas, and a happy 2017.
Bishop Bavin Executive Headmaster