Head of Faculty: Mrs K. Leslie
Having this day my horse, my hand, my lance,
Guided so well, that I obtained the prize
Sir Philip Sidney's subsequent success on the world's playing fields must have convinced his father, Sir Henry Sidney, that he had chosen the right school for his son when he sent him to Shrewsbury in 1564. Sir Philip himself, however, coveted the laurel of poetry as much as the palm of military victory:
… Nature never set forth the earth in so rich a tapestry as divers poets have done … Her world is brazen, the poets only deliver a golden.
Sidney's descendants-in-learning, like their illustrious forerunner, feel no incompatibility between an active life in the world and a love of poetry. The number of boys and girls who study English Literature at A-Level (usually around 80 in the Sixth Form) is evidence of the enthusiasm and commitment to the subject developed in earlier years.
Tradition is a flag we wave proudly because here it is held in living, vigorous hands. Over four hundred years ago thousands packed the Quarry to see the plays performed by Thomas Ashton's Salopians. Today, they gather in Edinburgh and Covent Garden to see the School's current productions. The oratory, disputation and intellectual sparring in which earlier students were inculcated live on in the annual Elocution and Debating competitions and in the Sidney Society meetings, where recent speakers have included Dr Laura Ashe and Dr Douglas Field. The spark of Satire, kindled for Private Eye by Salopians Richard Ingrams and Willie Rushton, still burns in pupils' samizdat publications.
In one of his poems, Sir Philip Sidney asked a question all teachers must ponder:
For since mad March great promise made of me …
What can be hoped my harvest time will be?
The English Faculty take seriously the charge we have been given, honoured that we have been entrusted with not only our pupils' need for academic qualifications but also their greater need for the personal benefit that the uses of language and the love of literature can confer. We feel confident that we help provide for Salopians a springtime of learning which, while not as mad as a March hare, is intellectually stimulating and leads to an abundant harvest of lasting value.