Winning is not everything. The desire to come out on top should surely never be so great that deliberate manipulation of the rules gives one competitor an unfair advantage over another. There is a measure of cynicism in top flight soccer – and, as Phil Mickelson’s US Open antics showed, in top flight golf, too. This sets a poor example to our youngsters. But there is another, very positive side. And we saw it in England’s first World Cup game against Tunisia. I understand that Harry Kane works incredibly hard at his game. OK, neither of his goals on Monday were scored from more than six yards, but he deserves to be rewarded for his professionalism.

It is so gratifying to see Blue Coat pupils, too, working so hard on their technique in training, and then drawing a benefit from all that dedication when they are involved in the heat of competition. And so, as we bathe in the euphoria of winning an ESSA swimming title for a second successive year, I must congratulate the team – Skye, Storm, Poppy and Neave. Neither will we forget Maya, who produced a top individual performance and the boys, Shayan, Alex B, Alex F and Kieran, who all put in strong displays. Well done to all. This retention of the title is an outstanding achievement, and it reinforces our reputation as a top school for swimming.

Away from the pool and the whiff of chlorine, there was plenty else to celebrate. Firstly, congratulations to our young athletes who competed so determinedly at the U11 Mercian Prep Schools’ Athletics event at Abingdon School. Like our swimmers, these children pushed themself to the limit and achieved. Well done to all!

This week we were treated to a magnificent montage, put together by Mr Newman, to celebrate the recent Residential Trips. From the Year 3 experience here at School to the Year 6 trip to France, the feedback coming in from pupils, staff and parents has been amazing. Residentials reinforce the importance of teamwork, self reliance and a clear focus. I must thank the staff for their hard work and dedication, particularly Mr Harrison and Mrs Redfern.

On the theme of France, the Prep children enjoyed a French play, ‘Le Château’. A big thank you to Mrs Newman for organising this. The School will continue to develop its language programme in a way which ensures that we are offering a broad range of linguistic experience. This week our Year 6 girls came 3rd at the Semi-Finals of the National Maths Quiz in Reading. Well done to Ritisha, Amulya, Janani and Zara for their hard work and dedication to the competition. Today our Year 5 Mathematicians participated in the KES maths challenge, coming 2nd overall. I am so very proud of their academic achievement. Well done to the children for representing the School so well.

Tomorrow sees The Friends’ Annual Summer Fete. Can I thank all the Friends and the Estates team for their hard work and dedication to this event. It is no mean feat putting together an event of this magnitude.

Doubtless many of you will be tuning in to England’s game against Panama this weekend. I’ll eat my straw hat if they don’t win that one – especially now that they have the confidence of a win under their belt.

MR NOEL NEESON | HEADMASTER