The headteacher column with Pocklington School’s Toby Seth

Pocklington School headmaster Toby Seth.
Pocklington School headmaster Toby Seth.

Over the past few weeks I suspect I have, in some way or another, met around one thousand new colleagues, pupils, parents and members of the Pocklington community.

I am deeply conscious of how, on each occasion, I am meeting each individual or group for the first time as headmaster of this wonderful school. These overwhelmingly positive interactions have led me to one certain truth. First impressions count.

I have been welcomed to the school with great warmth.

I have been welcomed to the school with great warmth.

There is nothing quite like making someone’s acquaintance and immediately feeling this could be the beginnings of a long and happy relationship. Love at first sight? The optimists amongst us will say it’s worth believing in.

On the other hand, if we were to pay any heed to Lemony Snicket and Franz Kafka, one might arrive at a different conclusion. Snicket wrote “I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong”.

Kafka agreed, “First impressions are always unreliable”. Wise sounding words, but I have to admit to disagreeing.

My first few weeks at Pocklington have been a myriad of wonderful first impressions.

From my first lesson observation, first ever Pocklington afternoon of sporting fixtures, first staff meeting, first experience of House Music, first service at All Saints’, first boarders’ tea, first chapel service, first visit to the Prep and Pre-Prep School, first swim in the pool, first visit to our boarding houses, first run around the school to the first time addressing the whole school, all have been invigorating, exciting and inspiring.

My experiences in the town have been equally stimulating. Whether it be a trip round the wonderful array of shops, watching a training session at Pocklington RUFC, a set of tennis at Pocklington Tennis Club or a visit to the very special Pocklington Arts Centre or Pocela Centre, I have been welcomed with great warmth.

Our theme at school this term is all about “Truth”. We have asked all members of our community to reflect on what truth means for them through means of curious enquiry, creative thinking and reasoned reflection. Truth is something that can be increasingly hard to find in today’s world.

Whether dealing with issues of alleged or otherwise “fake news”, facing up to hard truths or simply starting a process of research that so much of our pupils’ work now involves, arriving at the truth is a challenge.

For my part, my goal this term is to discover more of the “Truth” about Pocklington and go beyond those initial first impressions. I have put in place arrangements to help fill the holes in my knowledge, with a variety of meetings and observations.

I am privileged to spend every working day in such a fantastic institution and so take great pleasure in uncovering the various truths of Pocklington. There is no better way to discover a school than by visiting it and to that end I extend a very warm welcome to our Open Day on the 2nd March. We’ll make sure our first impression counts.