Headmaster, Robert Upton, writes a weekly blog post.

The most recent post is below and past posts can be found using the links on this page.


In a few years time, when the communication comes around the office that Abigail is to be the new CEO, you had better prepare yourself. She will surely come in with a smile and a cheeky sense of humour, but beneath the fun exterior will be a strong moral purpose and a determination to succeed. Oh, and make sure your table manners are up to scratch too!

I sat with three-year-old Abigail for lunch today. I glanced across at the line she was in for lunch and as she caught my eye she asked if I would sit with her. Naturally I agreed and shortly afterwards I found myself cutting pizza up in to bite-size pieces. She dutifully opened her mouth wide to show me the rough size that the pieces needed to match.

We chatted around a variety of topics including the history behind the Spider-Man helium balloon that we could see above us in the roof of the hall. I found myself out of my comfort zone a little when the topic moved on to nocturnal animals but I managed to steer the conversation towards owls which was far easier. She did add in some creativity at one point, suggesting all the “beasties” come out in the dark too and I worried this was a concern to her. However she reminded me that they cannot possibly get into the house and, in any case, they were nice beasties.

As you may be able to imagine, there is never a dull moment when having lunch with our Nursery children. I was flicking from one conversation to another and would, I had hoped, have been forgiven by many for not keeping up with who was talking to me. At one point a number of them were talking simultaneously and I was not sure if it was directed at me or not. Forgiven by most but not all. Abigail tapped me on the elbow and said, “Look at him, he is talking to you.” He certainly was.

We were approaching the end of our meals and I announced that I needed to go and feed Jess, our School Dog. I was politely reminded by Abigail that I would need to wait until she had finished her meal before leaving the table (I had no intention of leaving until then but it was good to be reminded!)

I can honestly say that I had a lovely meal with Abigail and friends. It really demonstrated the foundations we provide for children. An education at Yateley Manor is so much wider than just the traditional subjects. It needs to be. We are preparing children for successful adult lives. When they eventually sit outside a restaurant on the South Bank in London and look out over the Thames, I want them to have the social skills and use the correct etiquette to impress the person with whom they are sharing their table. It is often the small things, the attention to detail, that go a long way.

Relationships build these skills and confidence in children. It is through interaction with their peers and with adults, through careful modelling, that children learn how to behave in different situations. It is never too soon to develop interpersonal skills and good manners. I am certain that our children in Nursery have very exciting futures ahead of them. One thing is for sure – they will have the communication skills to make a difference in the world.


Robert Upton