The headteacher column with Pocklington School’s Mark Ronan

Pocklington School headmaster Mark Ronan.
Pocklington School headmaster Mark Ronan.

We have had a busy start to the year, but one week was particularly eventful and summed up my pride in Pocklington School as a community.

It was the week of our annual House Music Festival – when pupils join across the year groups work together to represent their house in a display of musical talent – and when former pupil Kyle Edmund reached the semi-final of Grand Slam tennis tournament The Australian Open.

Pupils arrived at 6am to be part of the Kyle Edmund TV coverage.

Pupils arrived at 6am to be part of the Kyle Edmund TV coverage.

Also that week – and this is a fairly typical but no less important – our hockey, netball and swimming teams were in action and the Combined Cadet Force had an air experience flying trip, all examples of individuals working together to support each other and represent the school to the best of their ability.

In short, there was a huge buzz of excitement as pupils across the year groups united in joint endeavour and shared delight in what Pocklingtonians past and present could achieve.

Kyle’s Australian Open semi-final, at the end of January, came the morning after half the Senior School had been involved in the last of two evenings’ House Music Festival performances – but it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm for his showdown in Melbourne.

BBC Breakfast News sent an outside broadcast crew to capture our rising excitement in the run-up to the match.

Pupils and their parents arrived at the school sports hall at 6am to be part of the coverage.

Despite the early hour, older pupils played tennis behind the TV presenter, younger pupils worked together to produce a Good Luck Kyle banner, and parents and teachers gamely cheered for the cameras on request.

The BBC then crossed over to the Prep School Hall to interview more of Kyle’s former teachers, while almost the entire Prep School cheered Kyle on as they followed the match on a big screen.

But the excitement wasn’t limited to that room: Kyle’s achievement in reaching the semi-final galvanised us all, lifting our spirits and lightening everyone’s step.

The 23-year-old might have lost the semi-final but just reaching it moved him up to 26th in the world tennis rankings. Current pupils didn’t coincide with him at Pocklington School but they still think of him as “one of ours,” which guarantees him their loyalty and support.

Like any close-knit family, we look out for our own even after they’ve flown the nest.

I admire Kyle’s calm focus and resilience, his modest, respectful attitude despite a steely determination to win, as well as the fact he remains anchored by his family and retains close ties with our school.

That same calm, clear purpose and direction was clearly in evidence from our Sixth Formers as they took charge and enthused younger pupils to represent their house, 49% of all pupils, in the House Music Festival.

The pupils supported each other, listened to others’ points of view and worked as teams to decide which songs to sing and how to present them. Individual talent was there aplenty, but they understood the importance of mutual support as they worked towards a common goal.

That week’s events, and indeed the whole of last half term, left me with an overwhelming pride in Pocklingtonians past and present.

We draw strength from our sense of community and family, respect the contribution everyone can make, and strive together to achieve success.