I am delighted that we are launching the Da Vinci Academy this Saturday morning. This new initiative is just one aspect of our extensive outreach programme which we have designed in order to enrich the lives of young people on the Fylde Coast. Over seventy Year 4 and Year 5 boys and girls from Fleetwood and Blackpool will be joining many of our own Junior School pupils on a journey of discovery. This journey will hopefully inspire a lifelong interest in astronomy, science and maths. There will also be a performing arts stream for budding actors. These masterclasses and workshops will celebrate the joy of working together to learn.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was the archetypal polygoth or Renaissance man. His interests included drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, paleontology and cartography. If that were not enough, he was an inveterate inventor, though, invariably, technological advancements were not able to keep up with his brilliantly creative mindset. He was a futurologist whose intellectual engagement with the world around him dazzled all those who had the good fortune to come into his orbit. His genius and accomplishments were beyond compare but I believe that it is his interest in all aspects of human existence which should really inspire us.
Education is sometimes viewed from a functionalist perspective or as a series of graduated steps towards adult life. Exams are often seen as unnecessary evils and facilitating hurdles that must be endured. At Rossall, we are determined to do everything within our power to inspire our children to be creative. One of the greatest gifts that we can bestow upon our pupils is an endless inquisitiveness with the world around them. When considering the true purpose of education it is well worth watching Sir Ken Robinson’s fascinating TED talk on creativity.. Remarkably, it has now been watched by 64,000,000 people!
This evening, our Year 9 Pupils will attend an information evening about their possible GCSE options and, as a School, there is little more exciting that discussing our pupils’ future plans and seeing them enthused about their studies.
Term is now well underway and I am delighted that alongside the Da Vinci Academy, over 180 of our Senior School pupils will be involved in competitive sports on site. Others, will be taking part in our Learning Development Clinic and working on coursework within the Design and Technology and Art Departments. Unlike many day schools, we operate twenty fours a day during term time. On Sunday, we have a trip to Manchester, an inter-house Bake-Off in the Rossall Kitchen and Choral Evensong at 6:30 pm in the Chapel. Often, our weekends can seem more hectic than an average weekday, but I am delighted that our children have so many opportunities to develop their talents and interests beyond the classroom. This is one aspect of Rossall which really does set us apart.
If you have not been to Evensong, then I would heartily recommend it. Writing in the Spectator Magazine some years ago, the Revd Dr Jonathan Arnold mused that:
Attending a choral service offers an oasis in the busy working day — not just because it is an escapist 45 minutes, but because it is a participation in something significantly other to ourselves. It points towards the transcendent, and forges a bond between all in the sacred space by the shared experience of the liturgical rite.
For me, the music enhances the words of the service, giving beauty and character to the heartfelt words of the Psalms, to the joyful thanksgiving in Mary’s song of praise and liberation (the Magnificat) and to the prayers of the Collects. But you need only glance at the statistics to know that not all of those who attend Evensong are Christian. Choral services do not coerce the attendee into any particular doctrinal confession: even Richard Dawkins admits to having a ‘certain love’ for Evensong. People are free to choose the extent to which they engage with the worship, which is in many respects more passive than in Sunday services: at Evensong, the focus is on listening, and worshippers do not take communion.
Sunday Evensong at Rossall is a wonderful way to prepare for the Week ahead. We love welcoming people into the Chapel to enjoy beautiful music and a moment of stillness.