Robin Paul, who died earlier this year (2008), was appointed ‘Master of the Junior School’ in 1972, following the retirement of Ken Heslop. Heslop had held the position for a good many years and one can well imagine Robin Paul’s brief on his appointment. Certainly, there were wholesale changes planned well before his arrival and documents outlining ideas and intentions were published during Ken Heslop’s final year. These documents were printed in purple ink using the ‘Banda’ method of duplication; there were no photocopiers in those days!
On his arrival at the Junior School Robin wasted no time in introducing his innovative ideas. Aerial runways appeared in the trees, a boat appeared on the pond, all constructed and tested by the Master, and deemed to be perfectly safe. In the summer, following the Common Entrance Examination the leavers embarked on the ‘Leavers Challenge’, trekking along the Downs from the College to Bexhill and camping at various sites along the route. They walked in small groups, navigating their own route and with a minimum of supervision. Boys were encouraged to be adventurous and act responsibly, their health and safety in their own hands and also the responsibility of those in charge, certainly not in the hands of a department.
Within the classroom and in the field of extra curricular activities Robin showed his enthusiasm. He loved teaching and was at his happiest when confronted with a class of boys. It may astonish many head teachers that Robin at one stage taught 22 periods a week, whilst at the same time administering the school with the help of one secretary, two half days a week. He also introduced an ‘Optional Activities Period’, during which each member of staff was encouraged to share an interest with a group of boys.
A thespian by nature, Robin was keen to encourage the development of drama within the school. This took the form of form plays as well as the major productions. Some members of staff, with no previous experience found themselves writing and producing plays! Robin produced several plays, one of his notable productions being ‘The Lord of the Flies’. It was in fact rather typical of him that he should break out of the mould of the normal school play and venture into new territory.
Robin Paul took a great interest in the well being and development of the boys within his charge. He actively supported and encouraged the boys in all that they attempted, whether in the classroom, the games field, their music, art and in their spiritual development. Robin was educated at Radley College and Kings College Cambridge. He had previously taught at Bilton Grange and the Dragon School, Oxford. He was a man of great enthusiasm, which could sometimes border on impetuosity. Not surprisingly, some of his rapidly imposed changes troubled the waters and very careful navigation was required, but many boys and staff will remember him affectionately. He was a kindly man with a more sensitive nature than sometimes appeared to be the case. An occasion arose, when following some gross misconduct by a group of boys the ultimate sanction was applied. Robin was so upset he could not face his Common Room, but left the telling to another. He really cared and it mattered to him.
Robin Paul will be remembered for taking the Junior School into a new era, where it became fashionable to ‘educate the whole person’. His was an important contribution to the development of the school of today where the foundations have been soundly laid down over the years. In his turn he was to make way for another whose task it was to continue that development and so in 1985 he retired and together with his wife Cathy he moved to Spain where he became very involved with the community.
He is survived by Cathy, his daughter and two sons and a number of grandchildren.