A special relationship

11 November 2015

When I was little, I remember when my Grandma came over to see the family, it was a big deal; the house was prepared and a special lunch assembled; she'd sit at the head of the table and I waited my turn to speak to her. She had a unique quality; one which I couldn't describe then and can't describe now. I can recall two things; her rings, on broad hands...and her home-made egg-custard cooked in a cereal bowl.

Today USH invited Grandparents into school to join us in our Remembrance Day Service.

I couldn’t tell whether it was the Last Post, our choirs version of Flanders Fields or our student Cadets saluting in uniform which moved us to tears: I think it was all these and the fact that so many grandparents were standing with us to mark the moment: Poignant and memorable. British teenagers can get a tough time but when they realise an event which such care, dignity and respect as I saw today, it restores the balance and (rightly) makes them our equal.

The USH community is rich with social, moral, spiritual and cultural capital and today's service made us all a little bit happier and more grateful for what we have. Sometimes (in today’s fast moving educational world) moments call for contemplation and stillness.

Later over refreshments, talk quickly turned to relationships and family. I asked one couple (who beamed with pride as their grand-daughter proudly served tea to the guests) ‘What is special about the relationship between children and their grandparents?’ They replied ‘we want nothing from them but to see them happy’. Another couple said of their grandson ‘he will always behave for us’ and a third said ‘when he does a job for me, he knows not to cut corners’.

After a tour of USH, grandparents gathered to leave and I could see the dilemma facing a number of our students ‘to kiss or not to kiss Granny?’ I was pleased that after a moment of self-consciousness, they took a quick look around….and did. Others raced into arms and found the kind of cuddle which only comes from years of careful practice....my staff gladly accepted any spare capacity before returning to their duties. Wonderful.