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Headmaster’s Blog

This week’s blog is from our Deputy Head (Pupils) and Designated Safeguarding Lead, Sarah Reddington.

Being married to a serious space enthusiast I have found myself watching and listening to a surprisingly large number of programmes and podcasts about the moon landing over the last few months (I would particularly recommend the BBC podcast ‘13 minutes to the Moon’.) In this the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 there is a lot to remember and celebrate about that incredible technical achievement. People have taken inspiration from many aspects of the event, but a few in particular stand out when we’re thinking about what we’re about as a school and what we do as teachers and parents.

The first is the astonishing Youth of so many of the key players in the Apollo Programme. NASA really believed in its young, fearless and highly educated recruits. When the crew of Apollo 11 carried out its successful mission the Flight Director Gene Kranz was only 36, the average age of his team of Flight Controllers was just 26 years old. Steve Bayles, the Flight controller in charge of the guidance systems, who made the split-second decision not to call an ABORT minutes before the landing, was promoted to that position at the age of 23.

The second is Teamwork. By the late sixties a total 400,000 people worked on the Apollo Programme. Everyone from engineers to computer technicians, communications experts to marine recovery specialists. All pulling together to achieve the one goal of getting a man to the moon and safely back home. It started as a challenge based on international politics. It ended up as the greatest feat of exploration ever, made possible by an extraordinary collective effort.

Finally, and obviously I would argue most importantly, there is Education. Education was the bedrock of it all. The former Director of the Johnson Space Centre George Abbey reflected as follows, “Considering the state of the world at that time and our capabilities it has to go down as one of the greatest achievements of all time…Education is the key to it all. If you look at what we did at Apollo we did it because we had a group of educated young people and I think that if you look to the future and we look at solving the energy problem and the environmental problems that we understand that you have to put that emphasis on education, bring our young people along and be willing to invest in them.”

Just as the team who worked on the moon landing had no idea when they were at school of what lay ahead nor fully do we now, but hopefully by encouraging our children to be creative, independent free-thinkers they will be ready to successfully navigate the challenges and adventures ahead.

15 November 2019
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