Mr Paul Edey’s six year tenure as 18th Headmaster of St Andrew’s College will be remembered as a time of expansion in the fabric of the campus, unprecedented growth in enrolment, outstanding academic results and a focus on the most important aspect of running a successful school – relationships.
His 12 year experience as Headmaster of St David’s, Marist Brothers in Johannesburg has been evident in his acute understanding of how a boys’ school runs, and what is important in creating an environment in which staff and boys are happy, fulfilled and realize their potential.
He has a gift for remembering boys and their parents after one meeting – not only their names but their circumstances and where they live. He knows every boy in the school and has an uncanny intuition about when boys are going through a difficult time, or going off the rails. He made a discussion about boys a standing agenda item at Housemasters’ and Staff Meetings.
His ability to market the school hinged on these gifts and the ability to connect very quickly with a prospective pupil during an interview. He understands that an interview is a two-way street and that it is equally important for the boy to be sold on St Andrew’s College as his school of choice.
Central to this is a wonderful sense of humour. He can put a boy at ease very quickly, and his skill in diffusing tension in the staffroom and the school is due to a keen and razor-sharp ability to see the humour in a situation and make people laugh. His wonderful laugh has filled the Admin building and the corridors of the school on a daily basis, although he has found getting the boys to appreciate his jokes in Assembly challenging!
He believes that if the small, important details are looked after, it avoids having to deal with bigger problems – the “Broken Windows Theory”. He is a stickler for manners, punctuality, dress and deportment. He has made Assemblies and Chapel more formal, in that the boys now have to wear ties and blazers, and he has constantly spoken to the boys about their behaviour, manners and dress. He understands that it is not enough just to talk about something once, but that it is necessary to constantly and continuously remind boys of his expectations. Not a term-end Final Assembly has gone by without Mr Edey reminding the boys that they are St Andrew’s boys wherever they go during the holidays and that they are the most important marketing tool for the school.
He is an inspirational teacher who brings History alive vividly in three dimensions. He has had high expectations of the teaching staff and always sees clearly through the confusing turmoil of South Africa’s educational issues. Fundamental to his belief about good teaching is high expectations, firm boundaries and a sincere relationship of caring between the teacher and his or her pupils. He firmly believes that a school needs to be counter-cultural in terms of the moral and ethical values it espouses, particularly in a time of relativism in the behaviour of global and local leaders. He is also cautious of educational fads and believes that the process of education is essentially a sustained and extensive process to which he draws the organic analogy of growing “unhurried potatoes”.
His style of leadership is collaborative and one which he has used his staff as resources (rather than tools) in which he has created the opportunity and space for them to grow and develop a sense of profound satisfaction in their careers. He is particular about showing sincere appreciation to his staff and his boys. In Chapel, he is the only person who kneels on his knees in the old manner of praying, and this is indicative of a deep sense of humility, and also a clear demonstration of servant leadership, something he believes in fervently.
Mr Edey enjoys sport and the important role that it plays in the lives of the boys. He can remember the score of any rugby game and is a firm proponent of athletics and the great sense of history of the Hirsch Shield. He has very clear-thinking views on straddling the tricky balance between playing competitive sport at the highest possible level whilst not forgetting that it is just one aspect of an all-round education which should be enjoyed by all the boys for the right reasons.
He has seen the school through the Centenary of the Chapel, the 75th anniversary of the Pipe Band, Graham House’s 50th birthday and the 30th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh (President’s) Award, a very special event at which he hosted the Earl and Duchess of Wessex at St Andrew’s College.
He has overseen the refurbishment of Graham, Merriman and Mullins Houses, as well as the building of the iconic centralised dining hall. This multipurpose facility with six separate dining halls, state of the art Gymnasium and rowing ergo room was named the Clapham Jubilee Hall in acknowledgement of the Jubilee 150 celebrations in 2005, and the Clapham Bequest which made this project viable. He also paid tribute to Mr Antony Roy Clark, 16th Headmaster of St Andrew’s College, now Headmaster of Malvern College in the UK, when he was afforded the honour of having the Andrean Resource Centre named after him.
He has been unwavering in his expectation that the Chapel music should be from the top drawer and he has a great love of serious theatre. He is a voracious reader and is always up to date with current affairs. At every assembly and staff meeting he would reflect on important events that were going on in the world. He believes it is of fundamental importance that the boys are made aware of current affairs. If he could have had his way, he would have insisted that all the boys take History because he believes it is important in their understanding of the humanity behind the events that have shaped our civilisation.
Mr Edey is a man of distinguished taste and style. He is an aficionado of ties and cufflinks, good wine and food, art, poetry, theatre, literature and music. He has also been instrumental in insisting that the campus of the school is beautiful and carefully tended. He understands that if boys live in beautiful surroundings they will appreciate them and look after them.
He has been dearly loved and will be sorely missed by the staff and the boys because he has displayed a sincere and genuine interest in, and concern for, people. When the boys have needed to be disciplined, it has eaten away at him, and he has carried any misfortunes of the staff, parents and boys with great pain and empathy. He is a man of great humour and warmth, and an exceptional orator, intellectual and educationalist, with a profound understanding of boys’ education.
He has been a Headmaster of immense humanity.