Royal Grammar School

Newcastle

The laws of hospitality

The laws of hospitality

As politico-educational storms raged outside the School this week, it was nice to keep our eyes firmly within it and enjoy one of those most pleasurable parts of working in education.

On Tuesday, we greeted a touring party from Craighouse School, Santiago, Chile. They brought rugby and hockey teams, although a tournament commitment prevented us from playing in the latter sport (the Craighouse girls playing Dame Allans instead). 

But in temperatures of 26 degrees (not very English conditions!) our first XV faced the tourists. It was a thrilling and fast-paced match, seeing our visitors run out worthy victors by 17-5. 

In the evening it was my pleasure to take the visiting staff out for a meal, while a good number of our students hosted their Chilean opposite numbers. All agreed they were charming visitors.

There was real regret when we waved goodbye to them on Wednesday morning, after less than 24 hours' acquaintance. But what a vital part of education such visits and home stays are! Our own students know from our sports tours - notably to South Africa this past summer - what a rich part of the experience is staying with families in another country and culture.

It's privilege, when the boot is on the other foot, for us to offer in turn a warm welcome to others. We may never send a reciprocal tour to Chile: there again, we may. But the principle and duty of hospitality are powerful ones,  and we can all learn lessons from giving as well as receiving. 

Great lessons are learnt in understanding others, in learning how they live and what drives them, and in that basic human necessity to offer warmth and welcome. That fundamental humanity and compassion lie at the heart of education: how good it was to be reminded of that fact right at the very start of the school year!

Bernard Trafford
Headmaster