The School started in 1985 with a clear and determined commitment to give the children the very best available content. Hence Shakespeare. The present Shakespeare Festival grew from humble beginnings and reached its present form a couple of decades ago.
Some years ago, when we still performed all the plays under the carport outside the Top House, a parent suggested that John Bell (pictured at left) might be interested in what we were doing. So I wrote a cautious and tentative letter to the great man, asking that he become patron of the Shakespeare Festival. He warmly agreed.
He then needed a little coaxing to eventually come to the School to see the performances (still under the carport). He was completely captivated (his words) by the charm, sincerity and commitment of the children, and, again his words, the generosity of their performances.
The relationship with John Bell and the Bell Shakespeare Company has been a great source of mutual pride. I regularly hear from friends or acquaintances that they were at a function or lecture where John Bell made particular mention of John Colet and its approach to Shakespeare.
A couple of weeks ago a few members of the John Colet community, including Mrs Mane and I, were at a Bell Shakespeare event focusing on their work in education. John Bell came out to address the packed theatre and immediately launched into a paean of praise for John Colet School, and for our approach to teaching children Shakespeare. It was a very proud moment for all of us, and real testimony to the commitment of staff, parents and children to excellence in education.