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An aspect of the character of our School of which we are most proud is our diversity, which comes in many shapes.

11 November 2019

We have a community whose differences include country of origin; regional and urban experience; and linguistic, cultural and religious background.

Diversity helps us as a community. We are strengthened by our wide range of ideas, points of view and approaches to all that is offered across our School community.

To make diversity a strength, as Pembroke has, we must learn the skill of listening. This undervalued but essential skill is making a resurgence. And so it should. In the age of confession, outspoken personal identity and preferential algorithms, listening to others—even those whose views are challenging—is a necessary antidote to saying too much, too often, too easily. Listening, really listening, forces us to encounter others respectfully as human beings, not as representatives of a nation, religion or cultural group. It is our common humanity that surfaces when we dare to consider the possibility that others may be right.

So it is with ideas. We all benefit from the variability of thinking and doing. Educationally it is imperative that a student’s critical faculties, their ability to think well, are recognised and practised at school. In many respects 3 Shipsters Road offers that opportunity. It does so architecturally as spaces merge into one another and across schools of thought, to ensure that students are constantly challenged by their surroundings to think deeply about what they are doing, why they are here and how they can be there.

To bring such a facility into being requires a range of views that all contribute to the whole. There can be no building without the expertise of the concreter, the vision of the architect, the thinking of teachers, the design input of planning experts, the courage of the School community to give it a go, and the students.
It is the mixing of contributions from these people, their thoughts and ideas, all listened to and understood, coalescing into one enterprise that makes it so successful.

We don’t for a second imagine that we have the skills and capabilities individually to build such a building; actually it is the opposite—we actively seek out different views, approaches and attitudes, understandings and skills to ensure that what is delivered is strengthened by collaboration. We listen, we learn and we apply that learning to a common goal.

At Pembroke we consider this heterogeneity of ideas as a natural part of building a community, as it underpins our strength. Many views, ways of being and approaches to life are essential to sustaining a healthy organisation. What binds us together are our School Aims. These offer the clearest expression of all that we believe is necessary to ensure that our School functions in the right way, moving in the right direction and exploring the right opportunities. They are, if you like, our common sense. They bring our individual views and the sense that we make from our interactions with the School to a common purpose.

In 2015 we dared to consider the possibility of bringing the
world into our School and finding a place for the world in our new building. In 2019 we have done just that. Real things happen when we dare to listen.

Luke Thomson