We are delighted to welcome ‘home’ our new Headmaster, Mr Mathew P John and his wife Anuradha (who will be teaching English to Years 6&7). A Cottonian himself (but from the ‘other place’ in Bangalore), Mr John taught at BCS, Shimla from 1994 to 2000 and was instrumental in setting up the Slater Debates. Since then he has enjoyed a successful career in school leadership raising standards in a number of prestigious schools across India. His main task at BCS will be to raise our academic profile to new heights and he has already reinstituted the tutorial system for this purpose. Mr John is very much looking forward to the return of the pupils and for the journey to continue.‘When I first stepped onto the First Flat at Bishop Cotton School, it was late spring or early summer of 1994. I remember feeling as if I had come home, though I had never been in Shimla before, let alone, BCS. In 1998, it was in June that I brought Anu back to BCS, and we were greeted by Upper Sixth boys outside our locked quarters. With a typical Cottonian welcome, they put whatever they were doing on hold, to get us our keys and to help with our considerable luggage! This time was different.Long before we arrived in School, old boys as well as old colleagues were calling and messaging to congratulate and welcome us back. However, it was on Sunday, the fifth of July that we were finally let out of our quarantine and walked onto the First Flat for the first time after twenty years, drinking in the clear air of the hills and the old familiar view of Tara’s Gap. We were Home again!”
I am writing to introduce myself as the new Director of Bishop Cotton School.
As you may be aware my title is to be Director rather than Headmaster. The Board of Governors of Bishop Cotton School feels this title more accurately reflects the multi-faceted nature of modern school leadership. I am responsible to the Board of Governors for ensuring that every aspect of the leadership and management of the school is of the highest class.
I was brought up in London where my father was a university lecturer in Chemical Engineering at Imperial College, London. I studied Modern History at Oxford University where I was a contemporary of UK Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and David Cameron as well as Mr Rajdeep Sardesai (who was in the same cricket team as me). I began my teaching career at the Judd School, one of the finest government schools in the UK. I am married with three children. My wife Rebecca will be overseeing admissions at the school, our youngest daughter (aged eight) has come with us to India. We have two other children. Our oldest daughter is a corporate lawyer and our son is studying History at the University of Warwick in England.
In my thirty-year teaching career, I have worked in several of the top independent schools in the UK and I have significant experience of raising academic standards within those schools and helping students to achieve places in world class universities both in the UK and abroad. Those schools all had extensive numbers of international students and they underlined to me how similar young people are and how connected they are with their peers around the world. The Board of Governors of Bishop Cotton School are determined that we build upon its distinguished reputation as one of the finest schools in India. We must maintain our incredible track record of producing young men who will make a difference to both India and the rest of the world. Under my leadership our ambition for the boys will be evident and we will offer them a range of experiences to help them become productive and successful global citizens.
I am a passionate believer in the holistic and values driven education upon which Bishop Cotton School is built. As well as each boy’s academic progress it is essential that they are tested on the sports field, that they have the chance to be creative and that we provide for their spiritual development. Character is built outside of the classroom as well as inside. It is proven that students who have strong core values study more effectively and contribute more to the world around them. The Bishop Cotton School boarding community allows each individual to develop into confident and resilient young men. The Christian tradition of the school encourages students to be ever mindful of others especially those less fortunate.
After six years of Headship within the UK at Shebbear College, I am extremely excited at the opportunity of working in modern vibrant India – the largest democracy in the world. I look forward to bringing my skills to bear upon the task ahead and also to learn from the expertise that exists within the school already. One area I am particularly keen to develop is how we prepare our students for university. We will review our offer so students do not feel they need to leave for ‘coaching’ and we will improve the quality of spoken English so that it is of ‘undergraduate standard’.
A change in school leadership is always unsettling and I am indebted to the support and handover I have received from my predecessor Mr Robinson (and Mrs Robinson) who has been such a tremendous and effective servant of the school. As such when the boys return to school it will be ‘business as usual’ The rest of the school community has given us a very warm welcome and of course we have already met many distinguished OCAs in Delhi and Chandigarh. Mrs Weale and I are already living in Shimla and look forward to the OCA lunch in Delhi on 9th February. We welcome your ideas as we plan for the future and will write to you with a simple questionnaire about what we might do to develop the school. Most of all we look forward to sharing another tremendous chapter in the history of this great school with you.
Felicitation given by my school Bishop Cotton School, Shimla during the concert day at the Irwin Hall by the Headmaster Mr Roy Robinson. Special award of appreciation by enrolling my name in the prestigious Spartan Club (Highest award given in the school).
Extremely emotional moment to cherish.