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What does the OEA mean to you?

Tuesday, 6 December, 2016 -- Helen Wilson

It gives me great pleasure to write to you as Chairman of the Old Elthamians Association. Almost a year has passed since my inauguration and many may wonder what I have been doing with my time in office. The answer is a lot of soul searching on behalf of the OEA. I shall explain.

The arrival of the School’s Development Office in the mid-2000s has led to a sea-change in the way former pupils liaise with the School and others in the Elthamians’ network. The Development Office has been a great success in many ways but as a result the OEAL, as the traditional former pupil community liaison, suffers from a fundamental lack of purpose. (It must be acknowledged that many former pupil associations and societies are facing similar realities). So what do we do about it?

At present, the OEAL is run by a group of four committed Elthamians and we have developed the following brief for ourselves going forward:


  • Simply to raise better awareness of, and engagement with, the OEAL as your old school network;
  • Provide support to you by way of business and employment contacts, whether you are entering employment for the first time, changing careers, or you are more experienced and would offer mentoring opportunities to others.
  • Provide specific industry events for former pupils directed at various ages and levels of experience.  
  • Deal with and attempt to remove the baggage of being an “old” pupils’ association which creates the wrong impression;
  • Promote our female Elthamians and provide a dedicated network, to reflect especially the approaching 40th anniversary of girls joining the Sixth Form;
  • Provide more attractive reunion events that are appropriate and wider ranging in their appeal, not just the sport-focused events currently offered.
  • To ensure the Elthamians network appeals to and is meaningful to not just those London-based former pupils. Our network needs to follow you wherever you go. There are regional reunions but are they good enough?
  • The OEAL and Development Office should work in partnership combining the employed staff of the Development Office with the volunteers of the OE network to deliver you a great service.

However, these are our ideas and sound great to us. But have we missed the mark? We need your help to move forward. I pose some questions for you below and I would be pleased to receive feedback via email at chris.brain@hotmail.co.uk:

  1. Do you want the OEAL to exist?
  2. If yes, what do you want it to do for you? Have we proposed anything above that is good for you? Other ideas are welcome.
  3. If no, the solution is that we wind up and dissolve the OEAL to leave the running of the former pupils’ network and all associated liaisons between former pupils to the School’s Development Office.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2017.

Chris Brain (1998)

The Old Elthamians Association (OEA) has been officially divided into two bodies. The OEA Limited and the OE Charitable Trust. The OEAL is the social and former pupil community side of the organisation. The OECT advances education with a preference towards but not limited to pupils and former pupils of Eltham College and promotes amateur sport. The OECT’s income is the rent from Foxbury and charitable donations. In its short existence it has provided bursaries for pupils at Eltham College and made grants to improve the sporting facilities at the school.