WITH the threat of the BoJo Academy being placed in special measures thankfully a distant memory, and with the promotion of popular geography teacher Ms Truss to the position of Headmistress, the Academy’s future looks secure.
Tradition and ceremony have long been features of everyday life at the school, and never more evident than at a gathering to celebrate the appointment of a new Principal.
As parents, pupils and teachers assembled in the Quadrangle, there was a palpable frisson of expectation, excitement and anticipation.
Like many comparable schools, the BoJo Academy has its own rituals and language that are, to outsiders, almost impenetrable – steeped as they are in history
To signify the start of the ‘Deadbeats Investiture’ the Chapel’s Bell of St Theresa rang for a full two minutes. Known simply by pupils as the ‘calamity clanger’, this priceless artefact was recovered from the wreck of the Eminence Grise, the twin-masted brig navigated by the famously maladroit 14th century navigator Heath of Salisbury.
The Combined Cadet Force kicked proceedings off in style with a wonderfully synchronised response to the command ‘present arms’. Having recently donated all their military hardware to the Kyiv Boys’ School, broom handles had to stand in for rifles (thanks to Cameron’s Cash ’n’ Carry in the High Street for supplying these ‘at cost’).
The School’s orchestra then struck up a jaunty rendition of Cliff Richard’s classic Congratulations, and with the audience clapping and cheering along, Ms Truss emerged from her lodge, ceremoniously carried into the quadrangle on a chair garlanded with yellow ribbons, and was taken to the hastily-constructed stage.
Dressed in fashionable two-piece combat fatigues, she channelled the spirit of the school’s patron St Margaret by saying: ‘Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope.’ In a contemporary twist, she added: ‘Where there are rivals, may we bring the axe.’
It was a poignant moment, with some teachers visibly moved – most notably the Head of Economics, Mr Sunak.
The Headmistress continued: ‘Mark my words, I have no desire to undo all the good work that has been done by the previous incumbent. Whilst mistakes were made and apologies offered, it is time to draw a line in the sand and focus on making the Academy a beacon of progressiveness allied to values that can be appreciated the world over.’
Warming to her theme, Ms Truss continued: ‘For too long the school has relied on fees from day boys and Home Counties boarders – this cannot continue. To grow the school properly, we need to dramatically increase the number of overseas boarders.
‘Whilst Mr Johnson did admirable work in this area, especially with funding the so-called Schools Shuttle Ferry on the South Coast, there is much more to be done and I will make this a number one priority.
‘We must also face facts about changes that are happening all around us. Change is a good thing, and we will have no patience with teachers and pupils who hanker for the good old days. The Academy is not Brookfield, I can assure you, those days are long gone.’
There was a ripple of discontent at this point, but the Headmistress continued: ‘As we gather to celebrate the start of Booster Term, several important additions have been added to the curriculum – many of which will no doubt raise a few eyebrows.
‘I am delighted to announce that next week will see the start of “drag queen story hour”. This exciting initiative will take place in the school library and will be compulsory for junior school pupils. It promises to be a real talking point which I am sure parents will join in me in making a success.’
With her voice rising, she said: ‘As I made plain in my campaign to be elected Principal, I have serious doubts about many current fads. We hear a lot about Net Zero, but what does it mean for us, the school? It means that we must double down on our efforts to be carbon neutral: we cannot afford to ignore what is staring us, quite literally, in the face.
‘The shortage of water in the gender-neutral lavatories, the scorched playing fields and the unexpected appearance of a polar bear in the outdoor swimming pool are stark reminders that the world is crying out for help.
‘I am delighted that Mr Sharma has agreed to stay on in his role as Head of Climate Studies. His vision, commitment and talent will make the Academy a very special place. May I remind all boys that anyone heard using his cruel and unnecessary nickname, ‘Cry Baby’, will face a long spell in detention.’
At this juncture, some parents unfortunately had other commitments and had to leave their seats, so were unable to enjoy Ms Truss’s peroration.
‘Finally, can I assure one and all that the Academy is now both strong and stable and no longer a coalition of chaos. Rest assured, under my stewardship there are only sunlit uplands ahead.’
The culmination of the afternoon’s events was a reading of a poem commissioned for the occasion. Written by the School’s Poet Laureate Mr Giggs, it fell to Head Boy Kwarteng K to deliver it.
Ms Truss, Ms Truss, you’re one of us,
With you before, we stand in awe,
Strong we are to fight our foe,
Climate change and net zero,
The school is safe in your hands
Welcoming pupils from all lands
Lift up our hearts, we must rejoice
After all, there is no choice.
As the audience dispersed, many weeping and overcome with emotion, the orchestra’s violin virtuoso gave a moving rendition of Nearer, my God, to Thee.