Friday, 12 January 2018

Dear Parents and Guardians,

"Being challenged in life is inevitable, but being defeated is optional" - Henry Fraser

On Tuesday, the school came alive with the sound of laughter, energetic children and enthusiasm once more, and I was delighted to welcome everyone back for the new term. As I wandered around the school on Tuesday morning and listened to some of the children's highlights from the holiday, it was refreshing to hear den building, battleships (not the online version) and ice-skating, to name just a few, brought up as some of the favourite activities!

The staff spent Monday engaged in their own learning in the form of CPD sessions to prepare us for the term ahead. Our MYP teachers spent time looking at approaches to teaching, whilst the PYP team, which includes subject specialists, ran through the exciting 'Units of Inquiry' planned for this term.

We spent Monday afternoon looking at our pastoral care practices, focusing not only on our core values and priorities as a school, but engaging in discussion about some pastoral initiatives we will look to introduce over the course of the next two terms.

One of these started this afternoon with the introduction of a buddy system between Year 6 and 3. To extend this level of peer support further, we are looking to introduce a 'Peer Listening' scheme, whereby older pupils take on the role of looking out for, and being available to, younger boys and girls.

We are also looking at reinvigorating our 'House System' to promote teamwork and the value of being part of a vertical collegiate system. I wish to make much more of the houses and develop a real sense of pride to be part of a wider team. Our inaugural Inter-House Unison Singing competition on Friday, 9 February will kick this off, and I do invite you to join us then at 3.30pm for an afternoon of Disney-themed entertainment.

Whilst I suspect many people's New Year's resolutions will be long forgotten by the second week in January, our Lower School Assembly today was focused on re-starting those intentions. Mrs Boissiere highlighted to the children that if one's resolution doesn't work, it can simply be re-started the following day.

My message in Assembly on Tuesday was inspired by a book I read last week. As a 17-year-old, Henry Fraser sustained a spinal cord injury that paralysed him from the shoulders down. His book, 'The Little Big Things', captures his outlook on life, his determination to embrace a new way of living and overcome the many hurdles that have got him to where he is today. Two quotes from Henry stuck out, which I shared with the boys and girls:

'Being challenged in life is inevitable, but being defeated is optional.'

'Instead of looking at what you can't do; look at what you can do and have.'

This philosophy has sustained Henry to live a full, purposeful and happy life, despite his horrific and life-changing injuries. I thoroughly recommend his book to you.

And so, as we look ahead to the new term, there are plenty of challenges for our boys and girls to get stuck into. Rather than simply do what is needed to get by in the classroom, on the games field, in music, drama or art, I hope our children will embrace every challenge, set the highest of standards of themselves, try new things and grasp every opportunity with all their energy. With a positive mindset, encouragement and kindness from others, I know the children will achieve their goals and aspirations, and will accept any challenges along the way.

In addition to the usual array of sporting fixtures and activities, productions and musical events, we have much to look forward to this term. I wish all those taking part in the annual Perth Festival, all the very best of luck. Our World Book Week celebrations are eagerly anticipated and, as ever. I thank the wonderful work of the PA for their raft of events.

Finally, through our focus this year on ' Dare to be Different', I reminded the staff on Monday of our unique opportunity to grow and nurture individuals, not simply clones who need the approval of their peer group for everything that they say or do. Individuality is a powerful and impressive tool, and there is nothing more worthy of respect than children who exercise this by following their own course and destiny.

There is much to do this term - for pupils, staff and the school - and I look forward to our continuing partnership. Here's to 11 weeks of learning and adventure!

With very best wishes,

William Goldsmith

PS. I showed this video to the staff on Monday. It is from Dr. Andrew Curran, a top Neurobiologist, who gives a powerful insight into the development of a young person's brain. You will see how it fits into our overarching ethos that every child leaves us after each lesson, day, week and term with a developed sense of who they are and what they can achieve. This is achieved by feeling understood, by the development of self-esteem and, ultimately, increasing confidence.

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