Dear Parents,
The start of Inter House cricket has moved the season forward at Chandbagh. The school greys have given way to whites and in my head it has suddenly become summer; the only time one can play cricket where I grew up. Many of the younger boys are excitedly practicing and I have watched some wonderful examples of mentoring and coaching of the younger boys by the older boys in the run up to the games.
Our weekend game against The Asian School was a nail-biter, our older boys narrowly missed out on the main field whilst the younger boys won by 3 runs on Skinners.
When Viksit, our School (and Cricket) Captain, spoke during assembly on Wednesday last week, he talked about the school not only having leaders worthy of respect, from whom the boys and masters deserved only the best role-modelling, but also about having an entire SC Form willing and able to step up to this responsibility. I thought it was a bold move for a 17 year old, and a powerful message from a leadership perspective.  As long as those with prefectorial responsibility live up to it, so will the rest of the batch. Holding people accountable, stepping up to call people on something they should not be doing and making sure that bad behaviour is not being condoned by missing the opportunity to respond to it, is what leadership is about. It is also why leadership isn’t for everyone; it’s service and it’s hard work.

When we took the prefectorial body to the Snow Leopard camp near Rishikesh the weekend before last, these were some of the aspects of leadership that we explored together with them. Mr. Burrett, Mrs. Katre, Mr. Philip, Mr. Qezilbash and all of the Housemasters joined me for two and a half days of focus on what we and the prefects think it means to be, create, work in and reflect as a leadership team in school. As lofty as this sounds, we put in a lot of the time exploring ego, power, failure and punishment. The boys spent time with their Housemasters reflecting about the approach that they will take to help move the culture of the school towards one of influence and compassion are the default settings for ‘getting things done’ and where isolation and labelling become as unacceptable in reality as they are when we talk about them.
Since I wrote last we hosted the February board meeting in which the whole of the board were at the school for two days to meet the students and staff, as well as to conduct the formal business of approving the budget, planning the IT and infrastructural priorities and fulfilling their statutory and compliance requirements. One of the aspirations of the board is to grow the scholarship corpus of the school to increase the diversity of boys being admitted through life changing needs based scholarships. Before 1998, the school benefited from having government scholars who brought with them regional as well as socio-economic diversity. We say that we are a school for exceptional boys from all backgrounds but since that government scheme ended, the diversity in school has suffered. This is why, in the coming weeks, I will be travelling to Nepal, Chennai, and Bangalore with our Chairman and the President of the DSOBS to raise wider awareness of what The Doon School is, as well as what it isn’t. Our reputation in some parts of the country is out of date and inaccurate and that is what we want to change.    
During the process of passing the budget with the board, the fees for the following school year were set. In an effort to make sure that we do not get into a situation where we lag too far behind increasing costs we have increased in the fees by 3.5%, which is some way below inflation; for the coming 2018-19 school year, the fees will be Rs.10.25 lakhs. In establishing the fee level, we have gone through the list of some of the things that have, in the past, been charged to families, like the Mid Term expenses and Night Cafe and in future we will include them in the list of things covered by the fees. We are trying to reduce chargeouts as far as is possible, for what boys receive or participate in and cover the bulk of the costs within the fees.

Last week the Wellness Centre was spruced up. The bathrooms were renovated last year and all of a sudden everything else there seemed too tired. Now, from the moment you walk, or limp down the path to see the Doctor, you are greeted by colour.
Prof Sugata Mitra, the 2013 TED prize winner, was in our classrooms last week and with the staff. He led two Self Organised Learning Environment demonstration classes with an S Form and a C Form class. We managed to get about ten teachers in to a class along with the boys, to watch how he led the activity and interact with him, whilst the boys were engaged in the task that he had set. He then spent 90 minutes with the faculty and a few friends from Welham Boys and Girls schools, sharing what he has learned from his research about using computers in the classrooms. What was learning for many of us is that the least effective ratio of computers to students is 1:1. He has found that 1 computer to 5 students is the most effective when it comes to causing learning. He has also found that the more public the computer and the bigger the screen, the better. The following day, as I was walking through the classrooms, I got to see a teacher using what he had seen Prof. Mitra do in his class… as TED says, Ideas Worth Spreading!
I was in Delhi at the end of last week for a Cambridge International meeting with their regional team and 50 other principals from schools in Northern India, offering the IGCSE curriculum. They were sharing some of the new courses on offer, all of which have AIU approval and recognition and asking about what we are looking for in terms of support from them. You may have seen in the newspaper on Friday, February 17th  that a ceremony was held there for some of the country's top scoring IGCSE students; and there were 4 world toppers from Delhi. This is something that we look forward to our boys participating in, in the future.
This weekend our D Formers, with the support of The Doon School Poets' Society, put on a Cultural Induction evening so that the younger boys could have the experience of poetry reading and writing, oration, debating, play production and acting. The evening ended with an energetic performance from a visiting dance group brought to us by the Punjab Cultural Centre.
Exams have started… I know that some see this time of year as a festival. In Prime Minister Modi’s book, Exam Warriors, the letter to parents is valuable and supports the narrative that you have been receiving from school in the last two rounds of PTMs… although I am not sure that our boys share the festival spirit.

We wish them all the best and hope that the work that they have done over the years with their teachers and in their own revision, has prepared them well.
The next opportunity for many of us to meet will be on 3rd March for the Prize Giving and Farewell Assembly for the SC Leavers. On that day the boys will be inducted into the DSOBS by the President and the Chairman and we will enjoy a dinner together for the parents and boys from the Batch of 2018.
Until then, have a good week ahead and enjoy playing Holi on the 2nd.


Matthew Raggett

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