Graham Burchnall (Burchy) has completed his 100th term at Berkhamsted. This incredible milestone achievement is a testament to his enthusiasm and dedication to teaching and to his students.

The centurion termer started Michaelmas 2019 on 99 not out. His is presence in the classroom, Houseroom, and Rugby pitch has been benefiting students for over 30 years.

Burchy joined Berkhamsted School in 1986 on a one-year contract in the Prep School. He was then offered the opportunity to teach Geography, and he quickly became an indispensable member of staff.

Within a few years he had the idea of hosting a Rugby Sevens tournament, nothing big he said… over the past 28 years he has organised a tournament that has seen over 18,500 pupils come from all over the country to play. He continues to coach the 3rdXV with great gusto, enthusiasm and pride. He was recognised for his achievements by the RFU in 2017.

Vice Principal Andy Ford said “Graham is not only a highly respected, admired teacher and colleague, he is also well-loved. He is a pillar of strength for his students, and trusted advisor to his colleagues; his humility, integrity, and ability to inspire others is remarkable.”

Developing Remarkable People

James Rodwell,  Old Berkhamstedian, former England Rugby Sevens star and Olympic medallist said “I think it was the many hours I spent with him on the sports field which have had the greatest impact on my life. He was and still is an incredibly passionate man who just wants the best for everyone and never seeks to be praised regardless of the amazing job he does.”

Legendary teacher

Throughout this time Graham has been dedicated to his craft in the classroom teaching Geography. He is always seeking to develop his practice. This year, as the School rolled out digital devices to each pupil, Graham has embraced this new technology seeking to benefit from this development. Over the years, he has given weeks of time to field trips to ensure that pupils are prepared for their exams.

He has inspired pupils to raise funds and awareness for local and national charitable causes. Overall it totals more than £126,000. Recent events have included a House Music event, drawing on the talents of pupils and in the process developing them as performers. His own performances on the stage, such as his part of an Mrs Brown in the 2019 staff panto have always been highly entertaining for the Berkhamsted community.

Setting the standard the Burchnall way

However, it is in his two Houses, Loxwood and Reeves, that Mr Burchnall has had the biggest impact. Graham was asked to found Loxwood in the Boys School in 1997. 11 years later he took over Reeves in the Sixth.

Chris Nicholls, Former Head of Berkhamsted Boys and School Governor said “His knowledge and understanding of what makes young people tick is second to none. Those in his care are nurtured and fully supported in every aspect of their development.  He sets and reaches the highest standards and expects those in his care to do the same. He helps them develop as all round citizens, who care about each other and their surroundings. If leading by example is a good thing to do, there are few who do it better.”

Students forever grateful

Old Berkhamstedian and Aistant Head at Uppingham School Richard O’Donoghue said “I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that without having met Graham Burchnall in those formative years of my life I would not be the person I am today. I would not have such a love of Geography, such a sense of responsibility to others, of what is wrong and right, and such a love of sport. When I decided to become a Geography teacher myself, the inspirational teaching from Graham was very much at the forefront of my mind… If I come anywhere near his judgement in my career I will be satisfied.”

A plethora of testimonials and letters proudly displayed in Mr Burchnall’s office serve as a witness to the dedication and love he has shown to numerous young people in his time.

A 2019 leaver of Reeves House said: “I have never met someone who cares so much about others – you always put others first and that is something I truly admire and hope to be like in the future.

“I hope that you realise just how much of an impact you have on so many students, and also how much you are appreciated.  You have been someone who everyone can talk to and I am forever grateful for the help you gave me in public speaking – something that I have always been scared of, and you have helped me to overcome it.  You have taught us respect, discipline and kindness, and these are very important qualities which I know I will take with me throughout life and into the future.”

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