Spotlight on…Nick Waite, Beechwood Sacred Heart School, Tunbridge Wells – Our Children’s Theatre Partner
What does being Trinity’s Children’s Theatre Partner mean to you?
I was delighted to learn of our partnership with the Children’s Theatre at Trinity when I became Head. There is so much pressure on schools around exam performance and league table position that curriculum time and resources devoted to the performing arts can often be squeezed. Beechwood Sacred Heart School has a long tradition of engaging its pupils with bold, ambitious and imaginative theatre and as we seek to inspire and spark that creativity, our connection with Trinity helps us to inspire a life-long love of theatre and encourage the school community to attend their local theatre and support some of the UK’s most talented artists.
Community is obviously important to Beechwood, but how do you feel the performing arts help children in other ways?
Some of the best lessons are learned outside the classroom and the shared experience of a production, from auditions to performance, develop a host of different life skills: resilience, commitment, teamwork, creativity, problem solving, the list goes on. With so many elements involved in a production it has to be a whole school effort and brings everyone together. In my experience, there are always children who surprise you when given the opportunity, and I think the performing arts along with other co-curricular activities are such a vital part of school life because they build friendships, develop interests, and create memories that live long into the future.
If you could plan a perfect night out at Trinity, what would you watch, who would be in it and who would you invite?
As an ABBA fan, I would enjoy a performance of Mamma Mia, providing the audience was on their feet, and encouraged to dance and sing along. I would invite anyone who was prepared to join in, and perhaps even dress up in his or her favourite euro-pop costume. My family would be there, although they may want to sit a few rows away! Meryl Streep would lead and I would definitely want Julie Walters to add to the fun on stage.
What is your personal philosophy (favourite quote)?
An adage I often repeat is that a child given responsibilities will become more responsible, and so we aim to involve the pupils and give them the opportunity to contribute, to lead and to serve the community as much as possible. When I was on a course a few years ago, a Headmaster said that he thought the most important part of his job was to spread joy throughout his school. Trying to make people feel good about themselves and what they are doing, that has always seemed a good philosophy to me.
What is the most fun you have ever had?
I wouldn’t be able to pick out a single moment but I think family holidays would be near the top of the list. Our trip to Disneyland when the kids were younger was a highlight – the positive energy from those working there was infectious and made me feel they were sincere in wanting us all to ‘have a nice day’.
It was great fun going to watch Nottingham Forest when I was a teenager and they were lifting European Cups, (although these memories have been somewhat dampened by the absence of fun in watching them over recent years!). Nevertheless, I continue to enjoy sport – both playing and watching – and look forward to watching Beechwood teams when school matches return.
What are you most proud of – both professionally and personally?
Working in a boarding school is a lifestyle choice, with little to separate your personal from your professional life. I am proud of the small part I may have played in encouraging my pupils to enjoy and benefit from their schooldays. It is a rewarding career, and a great feeling when you can have an impact and contribute towards pupils achieving their goals.
What have been your first impressions on joining Beechwood Sacred Heart as the new Head?
Everyone has been so friendly and welcoming, and even with Covid-19 forcing changes to normal routines, there is a sense of relief and excitement that the school is fully open again.
I have also been struck by how well the staff know all the pupils and challenge them to be the best that they can be. Skills in using technology to stream lessons on line have had to be developed quickly in case they are needed, but in amongst this IT training, the focus has remained on helping each pupil to make progress because, after all, and as Abba would attest, that is ‘The Name of the Game’.
Learn more: www.beechwood.org.uk/