Matthew Burns

HEAD OF SCHOOL TOM ROBINSON: THE MAKING OF A TRUE SEDBERGHIAN

Tom Robinson’s journey to his role this year as Head of School began ten years ago as a visitor to the prep school when it was at Bentham. ‘I was wearing a bright red sweater and I really stood out – but I remember even today how quickly I felt comfortable. Within half an hour, I felt like I had been there for ages. I was made to feel so welcome.’

Tom is the first Head of School to also have been Head Boy at Sedbergh Prep, and it is also on the Fives courts, as Captain, that he remembers the enthusiasm and influence of his Cressbrook Housemaster Dr Hoskin.

He said: ‘I have great respect for Dr Hoskin. When I was Head Boy of the Prep School, there were many times when I needed advice, and he was someone who was always willing to offer his perspective and guidance, and I owe him a great deal for everything he did for me.

Tom is in Powell House and has experienced the shift in takeover from Mr Webster to Mr Seymour. “Mr Webster was a Powellian in every sense of the word.

He built such a strong foundation within the House and now Mr Seymour, who has taken on the baton, continues to take the House forward from strength to strength. Powell House has a feel that is difficult to put into words – we have a unity throughout all ages and I hope that never changes.”

Tom’s advice to new starters at Sedbergh School is to ‘stay true to yourself’. Pondering his biggest challenge since moving to the senior school, he says: “It is not so much a personal challenge, it is something that every Sedberghian grapples with.

You come here and it’s very easy to set about trying to please everyone in order to fit in. But I believe that you can’t be a true Sedberghian without staying true to yourself. It is about having the confidence to realise that you will be accepted for who you are.”

One of Tom’s first decisions as Head of School was to approach all nine Housemasters and Housemistresses to arrange to have lunch with the Year 9s. “On my first evening of being Head of School, I realised that knowing all the pupils is essential if I am to represent them.

I think that we have to keep up certain traditions and one of those is cultivating the respect that younger pupils have for the older pupils, and the consciousness that older pupils need in order to be good role models.”

Tom’s involvement in school life is varied – he plays piano to Grade 6, is Captain of Fives, Squadron Leader of the RAF section, a member of the Choral Society and Chapel Choir, Captain of the Third XV, Secretary of TGI and President of the School of Athens.

His aspirations after taking A2 English, Philosophy and Economics is to take a Gap year at a boarding school in Vancouver and then to study Law, hopefully at Durham University.

One memory, in particular, that Tom vividly remembers at Sedbergh was his first Remembrance Day Service. “It was an emotional day on many levels. The service itself was beautiful and reflective, and the crisp, autumnal day made it all that more special.

It was followed, the next year, by my visit to the Battlefields and to RAF Valley in Anglesey, where Price William is based. At RAF Valley, I held the Victoria Cross awarded to an Old Sedberghian and that was a moment I will never forget. It is an extremely proud moment for me to be Head of School and Head of the RAF Squadron in this Centenary year of First World War commemorations.

I hope that during my year in this role, I am seen as someone who is approachable, regardless of gender or age. I want to lead by example and set the tone for all pupils. I have a fantastic prefect body behind me, and I am very lucky to have such a supportive Deputy Head in Alex Porter.”

Headmaster Andrew Fleck said: “Tom has been a popular choice amongst staff and pupils. He is a Sedberghian through and through; an enthusiastic 2nd XI cricketer and member of the 3rd XV, he is a chorister and excellent student.

Most of all has a clear moral compass and is measured in his judgement. This has earned him widespread respect and marked him out for the role.”

Tom’s former Housemaster Dr Hoskin said: “I have the highest regard for Tom; he maintained exemplary standards as Head of SJS (2009-10) and proved himself to be utterly dependable as a House Prefect.

Tom’s deep-rooted Christian values were admirable and I recall numerous occasions when he stood up for what was morally right. Tom was an all-rounder in the truest sense and his name adorns the House boards. The only chink in Tom’s armoury, which I am certain he will readily admit to, was his inability to bat against my off-spin bowling!”

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