Interview With The Head Of St John’s Beaumont In Windsor


Head of St John’s Beaumont, Giles Delany, on the Catholic faith, introducing a love of learning, and Tigers, Yaks and Emus

Could you offer us a potted history of St John’s Beaumont…

St John’s Beaumont was opened in 1888, initially as the preparatory school for the Jesuit public school, Beaumont College. Our beautiful school buildings were designed by John Francis Bentley who, shortly after, rose to fame as the architect of Westminster Cathedral in London. The school was initially built for 60 boys, which still can be seen in the provision of 60 carved wooden chapel pews and 60 individual dormitory cubicles.

We are part of a rich history of Jesuit education that started with St Ignatius of Loyola in the 16th century. Since this time, Jesuits have played a leading role worldwide in the innovation of science, literature, politics, philosophy, mathematics and education and we are proud to be part of a network of 12 Jesuit schools across the UK.

St Johns Beaumont School Headmaster Giles Delaney
St John’s Beaumont School Headmaster, Giles Delaney

Today, what does the school offer?

St John’s Beaumont is a very special place for boys to work and learn. Our 70-acre estate, with its superb facilities, provides endless space for exploration, sports and play. It’s a place where boys can be boys. They are offered every possible opportunity to excel in a wide variety of areas both academically and, importantly, in the wider curriculum.

At St John’s, we take our pupils on a unique journey that will nurture, challenge and prepare them to flourish in this rapidly evolving world.

How does the Roman Catholic faith fit in with your ethos?

We are proud to be a part of the spiritually and culturally rich tradition of Jesuit education and live by the values defined in the Jesuit Pupil Profile. These values include being compassionate, grateful, curious, loving, generous and faith-filled, among other qualities that many of us seek to foster in our own families. These characteristics provide the framework for our ethos and daily life at school.

As a school, we strive to create a generous and supportive Christian community that welcomes families of all backgrounds who recognise our Jesuit values and approach to education as something they wish to nurture in their own lives.

The age range, 3-13, is a key time for a boy’s development. Is it a privilege to help introduce a love for learning?

Absolutely! Since 1888, we have developed the environment, pastoral support and learning tools that enable young men to thrive. Whether in art, sport, music or drama, we open our boys’ minds to their innate potential. Within the safe environment of St John’s, they are constantly encouraged to try something new which will challenge them and in which they may not succeed. We are encouraging our pupils to accept that failure is not the opposite of success, it is a part of it. By understanding this principle, the boys develop a life-long love for learning.

What do you love most about your job?

We often receive visits from former pupils and it always delights me to learn about the journey their lives have taken. For me, a boy’s growth is the culmination of a strong partnership between school and home. Together, we establish values and a way of thinking in our boys that will influence their whole life, and it fills me with pride to know what wonderful humans they are and go on to become.

What curriculum do you follow at St John’s Beaumont?

We follow the National Curriculum. However, being a Jesuit school, our education is rooted in the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm. This approach centres around offering a challenging curriculum, reflecting on a boy’s own experience and transforming this knowledge into understanding, with the ultimate goal of helping these boys to turn into critical, compassionate and reflective young men.

Can you describe a typical classroom scene?

This varies widely, depending on the part of the school you would be visiting. In Pre-Prep (Nursery to Year 2), you might find the boys counting eggs with our resident chickens, hunting for mini-beasts in the forest or mastering the front crawl in the pool. Our teachers are dedicated to finding and igniting the spark in each boy that is waiting to be unlocked.

In Middle School (Years 3 to 5), where the focus is on developing organisation and independence, you might find boys at the front of the class, giving a presentation to their peers or listening to each others’ poetry recitals in the outdoor theatre. We teach them to see a challenge as a positive and aim to build their confidence by making the boys proud of their achievements.

In Upper School (Years 6 to 8), our specialist subject teachers encourage the boys to become independent learners and considerate young men. This might be during a science lesson in the lab, when they dissect a sheep’s heart or during RE when they passionately discuss a philosophical question of faith.

What opportunities do you offer outside of the classroom?

Our unique house system empowers the boys to build relationships with peers from across all year groups. They are assigned an animal (a Tiger, a Yak or an Emu) from the moment they join the school and meet weekly to count up the TYE points that they receive for good conduct, commitment or effort. As a team, they celebrate their successes and support each other when needed.

St John’s is also proud of its strong sporting reputation. Be it rugby, cricket, football, tennis rowing or athletics, our squads are formidable competitors who go through many seasons unbeaten. Each boy plays an integral part in his team, whatever his ability, where friendships and trust are cemented through the joint endeavour. In all opportunities that we create for our boys, we aim to foster a growing awareness of their capacity to be leaders.

The Lion King Zazu
The school’s production of The Lion King

What have been the highlights of the school year just gone?

It’s been fantastic to be able to welcome parents back into school after two years of distance and reduced contact. Music is an important part of school life at St John’s and we were finally able to welcome parents again to a variety of concerts, choir performances and poetry recitals. Our school orchestra is now bigger than ever!

I am particularly proud of the 2022 cohort (our Year 8 leavers) who, after the challenges of the pandemic, emerged successful from the top of the school to depart with a record number of scholarships (21%) to some of the top senior schools in the country, including Eton, Winchester, Wellington & Harrow.

What are you looking forward to as the new school year comes around?

A new Head of Drama, Scott Jenkins, has brought a touch of West End glamour to the school. His first production at the school was the much-loved Lion King Jr musical which took centre stage earlier this year. After the great success of the show, we are now looking forward to two brand-new productions for the coming school year. Our Middle School boys will go on an adventure to Neverland for their Peter Pan Jr performance and the Upper School boys are looking forward to some fun in the swamp with Shrek Jr. Let the shows begin!

In addition, we will see the return of some much-anticipated residentials, including a skiing trip to Austria about which the boys are very excited. And, of course, we can’t wait to hold our traditional carol service in our own beautiful chapel again at Christmas.


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