Maintaining 300-year-old links with the Royal Navy
Maintaining 300-year-old links with the Royal Navy – James Lockwood, Headmaster of The Royal Hospital School, Holbrook
This last academic year the Royal Hospital School in Suffolk celebrated 300 years of proud seafaring heritage. Today it is a well-respected HMC co-educational boarding and day school, set apart by a unique history that infuses the ethos and daily life of the school.
Founded in 1712 in Greenwich, London, to educate the sons of seafarers for a life in the Royal Navy, the school has retained its maritime connections and the values and traditions born from these historical roots. And while the RHS of today may be a modern-thinking, forward-looking school, its links with the Royal Navy, and indeed the other two armed services, remain strong and are still very much a part of everyday life, manifested in many ways. All our Year 7 pupils are taught to sail in their first term and, through the School's new Sailing Academy, provision for sailing at the very highest level is unrivalled; the School’s CCF includes both Naval and Royal Marine sections as well as Army and RAF, colours and sunset take place each day and pupils take part in ceremonial Divisions on special occasions. Every year the choir performs at the National Seafarers service at St Paul’s Cathedral and at the Admiralty Carol service in St Martin in the Field. Trafalgar Night is a key date on the school calendar and celebrated in fine style.
As recently as just 60 years ago all the boys who attended did so courtesy of the School’s parent charity Greenwich Hospital. A great deal has changed since then. The Royal Hospital School admitted non-seafarers for the first time in 1990, but we still have more than 300 pupils claiming the Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) or in receipt of a mean-tested seafaring bursary as a result of their connections with the Royal Navy or Royal Marines. A year later girls were admitted and in 2005 the school opened its doors to day pupils and more recently, flexible arrangements for boarding have been introduced for younger pupils.
‘Education is a liberating force’
I took up my post as Headmaster in September 2012 and strongly believe that, as a result of this heritage and probably more than any other school of its type, the Royal Hospital School recognises the truth of the great Chartist slogan that ‘education is a liberating force’.
As Headmaster, it is my aim to unlock the potential of each individual by offering them a whole new world of life-changing opportunities and an environment in which academic excellence is promoted through learning and shared experiences. A place that encourages boys and girls to discover themselves; quite simply, to develop a passion that will endure for the rest of their lives. Through passion comes purpose, and from purpose the journey ahead becomes clear.
This can only be achieved if the school experience is a happy one, founded not on learning alone, but on relationships formed and values shared. I firmly believe that a well-balanced individual needs a sense of spiritual awareness, along with academic and sporting achievements, and place great store by the values of kindness, service, integrity and generosity of spirit; these are the invisible strands that hold a community such as ours together.
By working closely together, the staff at the Royal Hospital School ensures that our pupils are able to form strong relationships and make a valuable contribution, both here at school and in the adult world in which many will become leaders in their chosen field. With a commitment to leadership, service and an international outlook at the heart of the school's values, the Royal Hospital School is the first choice for parents seeking an outstanding all-round, balanced, broad and full education for their children.
Why the Royal Hospital School?