Return of Mr. French-Wright

16 Dec
Recently named French-Wright Block after former NPBHS headmaster, Mr. Lyal French-Wright.

The "French-Wright Block" at NPBHS

This morning I dragged myself out of bed early to go back to school, for the naming of the French-Wright Block. This is the newest building to the school campus, and the one used for most of the exterior filming of Welbourn Hospital in ORIENTAL STREET MURDER and Tracey’s Back.

Former NPBHS Headmaster (1995 - 2008)

Mr. Lyal French-Wright. Headmaster of NPBHS from 1995 until 2008.

Mr. French-Wright, headmaster of NPBHS for 13 years left in August this year to take up the role of principal at Al Khor International School. He has returned to New Zealand and it was fantastic to see him back at school again today for the official naming of the block and junior prize-giving.

He delivered a short speech at the official naming, talking about how he received a phone call from the Chairman of the Board of Trustees and was expecting to talk about the school’s recent bad publcity. But it was about naming the new building after him. He said that was was shocked, and never even thought about the building being named after himself. When he said that, I remembered back to last year when I asked if it would be named after him. He replied “Not until I leave, the school tends to name buildings after former headmasters and I’m not former – yet.”, so I think he may have thought about it.

Later at the prizegiving, he delivered one of his famously long speeches. And that’s a good thing. They are always interesting and to be honest, I have missed them since he left. He talked about how things are so different overseas in Qatar. He started by explaining how schooling begins at age 3, and the infants there call him “Mr. Lyal” because they cannot say French-Wright; well that’s the ones who can speak anyway.
The temperature is scorching over there in summer, and dead-cold in the winter. People never usually go outside because of the heat or cold; it’s too extreme.

They drive huge cars over there, and Mr. FW had to buy a huge car himself because he was afraid that he was going to get smashed from all sides when he drove his small car. “Appaling drivers” are the Qataris, he believes. The speed limit is 120km and he knows the trick with speed cameras. When driving, everyone knows where the cameras are and slows down from 170km/hr to 120km or less. The cameras can detect 400m, so that’s where you slow. As soon as you are out of the 400m range, you speed up again. He claims to know where the cameras are now and tends to do around 140km – just to stay safe and keep up in traffic.

He teaches Mathematics to Year 11 students and the school recently won a world record: The most people to run 100m in 24 hours. He looks forward (and hopes) that NPBHS will break that record.
He says that teachers need to take courses twice-a-week in learning teaching skills, and that if he isn’t happy with their teaching, he can give them three-months notice and his decision cannot be appealed. The biggest class of the 1600 student school is 24 students, with the smallest being 2 students. In each class there is a Learning Assistant, someone who might not be qualified but is able to help the teachers in their classrooms. His wife assists him in Maths. He is looking forward to introducing more Boy’s High traditions and ways at his new school, which celebrates it’s 10th birthday next September.

He proudly hangs his Tiger Jacket (which he received in his leaving assembly) in the front of his office. Many people ask what it is; which is the point of hanging it there, so he can explain NPBHS and what it represents.

If I remember any more from his speech, I’ll make another post. But it was facinating to hear the differences between here and there, and what he’s been up to since we saw him last.  He said he felt right at home today, really pleased to be back. And hopefully, he’ll pop over & in more often.

We talked about the film and how it was going. When I told him that Mr. Bayly is going to have a guest-role, he lit up with interest and questioned Mr. Bayly.  Mr Bayly then explained how he was excitied about the filming, and how he had previosuly walked past the camera in one of the scenes we filmed at the school. Mr. FW joked that he could be his stunt-double, which Mr. Bayly agreed to. Ahhh. But Mr. FW said he was looking forward to seeing his “starring role” and hoped he didn’t do too badly, but thought it was fun overall and wished he could have done more.

It was great to see Mr. French-Wright again, and I wish him all the best for his future in Qatar.
For more on the Al Khor International School, click here.


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