As the Isle of Man marks 2018 as the year of our Island, King William's College fittingly celebrated its Manx connections at its annual Founders' Day.
Former student and parent, the Island's Chief Minister Hon Howard Quayle MHK, was guest of honour at the prize giving and Upper Sixth (Year 13) leaving ceremony.
Offering his best wishes to the departing International Baccalaureate students, Chief Minister Quayle reflected on his time at College and how he was always appreciative of the grounding College life gave him.
'I started at King William's College for the very first time at exactly 6pm on the 9th of September 1979.'
'The School gave me so much and taught me so much. College has an excellent academic record but a King William's College education has always been about so much more than that.'
'King William's College has always been at the very heart of the Island's community.'
'I have no doubt it will continue to succeed in providing a superb Island education for a magnificent global future.'
Chief Minister Quayle humorously recalled the weekly job of requesting pocket money to spend in the college tuck shop.
'You were allowed to ask your Housemaster for pocket money once a week. I never had the nerve to ask him for more than 10 pence. He would then slowly slide the coin over to me. But before I touched it he would say "Spend it wisely Quayle....spend it wisely".'
'That was excellent advice that I have since passed on to the Island's Treasury Minister, Hon Alf Cannan MHK, who is also a proud OKW.'
Addressing the 850 strong audience, Principal Joss Buchanan highlighted the contribution of the College in a close-knit Island community.
He outlined the importance of a school, coupled with its location, to lay solid foundations for students' academic and professional success in today's increasingly global society.
Mr Buchanan also gave an insight into the extent in which the School and the Isle of Man is promoted around the globe and the distances often travelled by staff to endorse the huge number of opportunities provided by College and Island life. He said the School's high-profile reputation in the wider world and the quality of life on the Island offered an invaluable combination.
He told the audience:
'Whether you go all the way back to OKW TE Brown, the Manx national poet, or OKW John Ellerton, the great hymn writer, or if you consider those OKWs who have made their mark in education or the law, business or finance, the College has always made a very significant contribution to the Island.'
'We are very lucky to live on the Island and to live in such a friendly and nurturing environment and we are very proud of the fact we are a Manx school. And in the same way that the Island gives us so much, it is very important that we give a lot back to the Island. We work hard to be part of the local community, particularly here in the south of the Island.'
'However, because of our international boarders, we have to compete not just with the other schools on the Island but actually with the very best schools in the world. A parent in Moscow or Lagos can just as easily send their child to a boarding school in the UK, or to one in Switzerland, or to schools in the US, Canada or even Australia.'
'As we have about 50 international boarders in the School and, in this current Upper Sixth alone, no less than 15 different nationalities, it's important we are out on the road promoting the College and the Isle of Man and at times that does involve extensive travel.'
Mr Buchanan said the School had two unique selling points:
'One is the International Baccalaureate (which is studied in the sixth form). We have got a very strong reputation for delivering the Diploma really well and we are a big player in the IB world – but the other is the island. A beautiful, safe, friendly environment in which to go to school.'
Mr Buchanan said a recent inspection by the Independent Schools Inspectorate, the body that inspects all UK independent schools, was a ringing endorsement of day-to-day College life.
'An ISI inspection is a daunting process,' he said. 'We had six inspectors with us that week, almost all of them heads or former heads of independent schools in the UK, and they had free rein to look at whatever – they went into lessons, spoke to pupils, spoke to staff, inspected our facilities, examined our paperwork.'
'Having scrutinised us in such detail it was extremely pleasing that their final report was so very positive.'
After a vote of thanks from Head of School Antonia Dunn and Head Boy Christopher Raatgever, Chairman of Governors Nigel Wood closed Founders' Day. Acknowledging the event as a mix of formal celebration and informal fun, Mr Wood told the audience it was important to celebrate the achievements of its students.
He spoke of a three-legged theme: the ethos and vision of the School, the recent inspection and its future in which we 'aspire to excellence at every level' with a 'thriving mix of academia, sport, the arts and an entrepreneurial' approach with the International Baccalaureate central to the school's vision.'
He referred to the inspection conclusions that praised the quality of pupils' learning and achievement as 'good' and their personal development as 'excellent'.
In urging College to build a better understanding of what the School and its community represents to the Island and economy, Mr Wood concluded:
'We do have a ready-made network of excellence, speaking a common language; that can create a "symbiotic alliance" of alumnae, parents, business, students and government.
This can enable King William's College to be, not only the academic and educational centre of excellence that it is, but also as an economic gateway of entrepreneurialism and education to further all the interests of our beautiful Island home.'