The Head, Bart Wielenga in the school garden


This blog is intended to give an insight into daily life at Blundell's as seen through the eyes of its Head.

With fortnightly updates on new initiatives, themed days and general observations, it will give current and prospective parents some idea as to what goes on behind the scenes at this thriving co-educational school. 


Autumn 2020

Blog #2, October 2020

I hope we never have another year like 2020 but I will look back on this period with unique gratitude. As with many trying circumstances, the opportunities to learn and grow are far greater than during more straightforward times, and these last 9 months have provided fertile ground for reflection, innovation, and progress.

There have been several incidents of accidental learning where we have been forced to do things differently and have discovered that the new ways of doing things have some real advantages. Some things we lacked the courage to do because, despite suspecting that they could work, circumstances have never demanded it of us, and the status quo has been the safer option.

So, when I look back on 2020 it is with sincere gratitude for the lessons learnt and for the discomfort that has caused us to think harder, more creatively and more courageously. Blundell’s is and will be better for it.

I am writing this in the week of Half Term and in Latin Prayer I addressed the School on the topic of gratitude. Gratitude is not about warm fuzzy feelings of thankfulness. Gratitude is as much an intellectual process as an emotional one and it involves the recognition and acknowledgement of being the beneficiary of a kindness, possibly deserved but often not. I reminded the pupils that it is easy to feel frustrated by what the current restrictions do not permit us to do but that it is not difficult to identify many, many things for which we can be deeply thankful.

Gratitude ultimately demands a response and my challenge to the pupils on Monday was exactly that: What is the most appropriate way in which they can respond to their many blessings? I hope that for many it is about making the most of their opportunities at school and by being wholehearted contributors to school life.

When gratitude is nurtured through rigorous and regular reflection it becomes a habit, and corporate habits become the foundation of our culture. It is a culture to be proud of.

Blog #1, September 2020

On Sunday evening we had our first boarders chapel service. We are fortunate to have a chapel in which we could disperse our 140 or so full boarders in a safe and sensible manner. Chapel is always a good reminder of community and although I suspect that some pupils occasionally perceive chapel to be a tedious tradition, I believe that beneath the surface, chapel holds a very sacred place in our hearts. It is safe and secure, comforting, and most of the time, peaceful and calm.

On Sunday I spoke about focusing on what we have in common rather than those things that divide us. It is a characteristic of our age, evident in global and national politics and in the media, to focus on what makes us different. There is a tendency to group together around a characteristic that excludes rather than ones that include. ‘Identity politics’ focuses on exclusivity along claimed characteristics of race, nationality, gender or sexuality. In an age of populism driven by social media, it is easy for young people to be drawn into isolated groups which focus on irreconcilable differences. We need to resist that if we want our children to be open-hearted and meaningful contributors to a global community. The former is driven by fear, the latter by hope.

I said the following in my talk: “The wonderful thing about being a pupil at Blundell’s is that we are all equally Blundellians. Whether you come from Beijing or Shanghai, Nairobi or Dubai, Bristol or Paris, Frankfurt or Tiverton. You are now all Blundellians. We do not only share this space; this wonderful campus, we do not just share dormitories and classrooms. We share so much more than that. We share hopes for the future – futures that will be fulfilling and meaningful. We share the desire to love and to be loved, to have friendships that enrich our lives. We share a desire for justice and peace in our world.”

The reading on Sunday came from Romans 13 and it says: “You must love your neighbour as yourself. Love does no harm to its neighbour. Love is, therefore, the complete fulfilment of the law.”

The message for our pupils is that if we continue to act out of consideration towards others, with a genuine desire to understand each other and to learn from each other, then all the rules we have which are designed to keep people safe, will become superfluous. That ideal is a good starting point for a new academic year.


Blundell's Preparatory School,
Tiverton, Devon, EX16 4NA
Tel 01884 252393   Email


Blundell's School,
Tiverton, Devon, EX16 4DN
Tel 01884 252543   Email
© Blundell's School, 2019. Company limited by guarantee, registered in England, No. 4016403. 
Registered Office: Blundell's Road, Tiverton, Devon, EX16 4DT. Registered Charity, No. 1081249.