BEHIND THE STUDY DOOR
Assemblies in schools up and down the country over the past week will have been focused on ‘new beginnings’, ‘reflections’ of New Year resolutions and ‘goals’ for the year ahead. In our Assembly on Monday morning, I tried – and failed – to play the trombone, an instrument I have wanted to play for many, many years, my frustration exacerbated by the fact that Arthur, my four year old son, can get a better sound than me. I couldn’t master ‘Postman Pat’, or any single note for that matter, so I took the greatest risk imaginable for a teacher: I openly told the school that by July 1 will play Postman Pat to them, flawlessly, on the trombone. Having sat through and – understandably – perhaps not listened to many of my assemblies, I have no doubt they will hold me to that. I used the demonstration to highlight that wonderful Chinese Proverb, ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’. Following on from an inspirational assembly on Arctic Adventures by Mark Burley of Papplewick School last Thursday, a clear message was given to the pupils. Mark told them to follow their dreams, be proud of their successes and set the highest goals. In doing so, there will be challenges, most probably times of failure, and certainly setbacks. Mastering the small steps will lead to the big rewards, and above all, it is important that the children are able to share their own successes.
I recently read an interesting article in 'The Times' on Monday by Jane Lunnon, Head of Wimbledon High School, in which she stresses the importance of supporting children to be independent, to make decisions and to accept the consequences. This led me to Jane’s blog, and I feel she makes three points which are wholly appropriate in our setting:
Encourage them to BLOW THEIR OWN TRUMPET: to be really proud when they have put a load of time and effort into something and that’s paid off in success. Celebrating success appropriately is something that teens – and girls in particular find hard. But DON’T praise things they have no control over (‘cleverness’)…
I am always most impressed when the children do have the confidence to approach me to inform me of their successes, either in or out of school. If they have worked hard for something, it is absolutely right that they should be proud of their success and achievements and share this. If shared in the right spirit, there is absolutely nothing boastful or arrogant about this and I really would encourage you to tell your children to share their successes with us, even better if it is under their own steam. We are prone to under-sell ourselves, especially at interview, and it is a real strength for children to be able to be proud of their achievements and share this with humility.
Encourage them to be proud of belonging to something bigger than themselves – pride in their school, their team, of their friends or community. Help them find their place in the world and a voice in that world without you.
Our theme for the year is ‘togetherness’, and whilst individual success is key, having this sense of pride in a child’s house, team, choir, orchestra and school develops a sense of loyalty, purpose and collegiality.
ARGUE, DEBATE, DISCUSS. Hold the robust conversations over the dinner table. Let them fight for their views and opinions, encourage them to take a different view from you and listen to their opinions. Developing their own voices, their own views and their own approach to life is part of the great fun of growing up – and it’s exciting to witness it as a parent.
I held our first Debating Society activity on Friday, and I was incredibly impressed with the argumentative skills of the children – ranging from Years 3 -8. The Senior Schools who run teamwork events as part of their entrance assessment days are now looking for those who can voice an opinion, and crucially then listen to other people’s points of view. This is about having the confidence and courage to have independent thought, but also respond thoughtfully to others.
Supporting young children in their quest for independence is challenging for parents, as our natural instinct is to help our children at all costs and it can be so hard to see them disappointed or suffer a setback. When they share their successes, it can be more rewarding for children if what they have achieved has seen them overcome an obstacle, bounce forwards from failure and cope with any form of setback along the way.
Please do encourage your children to share all their successes with us this year. It will be an amazing journey for us all to celebrate them.
Head Master's Commendations
Many congratulations to the following pupils who were awarded a Head Master's Commendation during Assembly on Monday morning:
Syun P: for completing an outstanding Maths Prep (from last term)
Owen H, Adhrit P and Harry J: for an excellent and engaging story opening work in English
Nefeli M: for writing a beautiful poem about imagination in her own time
After a busy term the Choristers had a bit of time off before returning to school to start getting ready for the Christmas services. In-between the rehearsals and their beautiful singing in the services, the choristers had lots of fun activities. Amongst other things, they enjoyed watching the latest Star Wars film, talking about McLaren with Mr Gilbert, making bath bombs in Lush and a morning of fun in Alexandra Gardens.
Christmas Lunch at school is traditionally a family event, and it's a lovely time to all chat and spend time together. Excitingly this year, the Choristers and Choir also featured in the Queen's Christmas speech on Christmas Day, which according to the BBC viewing figures, was seen by an estimated 7.1 million viewers!
It goes without saying that we are all immensely proud of everything they achieve over the festive period, and throughout the year.
Ex England netballer and Wasps player Sophia Candappa came to school on Wednesday to take a netball masterclass. It was a great afternoon of netball and an opportunity for the girls in Years 5 - 8 to learn some techniques from this very experienced netballer. Sophie will be returning to school on Friday this week to help our U8 and U9 girls develop their netball skills and improve their understanding of the overall game.
Traditional Wassailing Assembly
The Prep School Assembly on Thursday was very unusual for two reasons: 1) it was held outside in the garden and 2) pupils were encouraged to sing, bang drums and make lots of noise around an apple tree. Mr Giani led the assembly and told them about the history of wassailing and Mansa, representing 'the wassail queen', dipped a piece of bread in some apple juice and placed it in the boughs of the tree so that it would give a good crop. Padre Jonathan ended the assembly with a prayer. Despite the chill in the air, this was a very lively assembly for the start of the term.
Arctic Adventurer Speaks at Assembly
We were pleased to welcome Mark Burley as Prep School assembly speaker on Friday. Mark gave a thoroughly engrossing presentation on his experiences as an extreme ultra marathon runner both in the Arctic Circle and in the Sahara Desert – the Marathon des Sables. He emphasised the huge importance of preparation for these events and encouraged pupils to challenge themselves, try something new, get out of their comfort zone, commit, research and plan, and stay calm.
Year 4 - Formal Letter Writing
Last term, Year 4 were learning about informal letter writing. They looked at the effects of plastic pollution and wrote letters to the Prime Minister to enforce their opinions on the matter. Luckily, despite their extremely busy schedule during the election, we received a reply from the correspondence officer at Downing Street and later from a representative from DEFRA acknowledging our concerns. The children were so proud to receive a response!
The Under 8 rugby teams enjoyed their first game of the season against a tough Papplewick side. It was pleasing to see the teams grow into the game after a slightly nervous start. The second half saw all the team run straighter lines with the ball and work hard in defence. It was a promising start to the season and one that the team will have learned a lot from. The Under 9 rugby teams have been working both in the latter part of last term and the start of this term to build up to their first contact rugby match. It was a challenging first game against a far more experienced Papplewick team, however, they showed wonderful determination and a desire to improve. They are learning so much, particularly the ability to adapt when missing players through illness and injury.
On Friday our Under 8 and Under 9 netball teams made an excellent start to the year in their matches against Waverley Prep. There were some new combinations which worked well and the girls responded well to coaching points given. In the Under 9 matches, there was some excellent play between Jessica G and Sienna L who worked together in the attacking D to score goals. Well done to Millie W who held her position as Centre and was key to defence and attacking play. The blue team found Waverley a tough competition, but worked hard to win back the ball. Well done to Katie K who worked tirelessly to intercept and to Celeste J for some great linking play throughout. In the U8 matches, both teams were up against a very inexperienced Waverley team and the girls showed great kindness and understanding. Both teams won convincingly and also this gave them the opportunity to try different combinations and positions during the afternoon. Well done to Willow J who never gave up throughout the afternoon and showed great focus on the court. Players of the match were Cicily W and Freya S. Well done to all the girls.