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Reflections Tim Calvey

Dear OFS Community,

We started the week, reflecting on Black History Month, with a real focus on the most recent events that must remain real in all of our lives.

It is easier to build strong children than repair broken adults.

Frederick Douglas

We reflected on the spark that lit our collective consciousness as George Floyd fought for his life, pleading for breath. Eight and a half minutes later the world realised yet again that not enough has been done.

I was so impressed at the time with the way that our community responded to this and I would encourage pupils and parents to revisit our shared thoughts through this link:

However, now is a good time to look back to ask what has changed? I still hear rather narrow comments such as 'all lives matter', and I recently read a lovely response to this from the Head Girl at Kimbolton School:

“Why can’t I say All Lives Matter?”

This is an incredibly frustrating thing to hear as it’s very problematic. Of course all lives matter, no one said that white lives don’t matter or that only black lives matter but black lives are in immediate danger so by saying this phrase you’re perpetuating a dangerous notion. There are loads of amazing examples to help understand this e.g. if your home caught fire and firefighters were spraying water on it to stop it from burning down, would it be reasonable for your neighbours to complain that their houses weren’t receiving equal attention? No it would not be reasonable and the same applies here.

How amazing is that school aged children are processing this with such wisdom and consideration, especially when many leading politicians appear to lack this sensitivity - in a world of fear and negative news, this has to be the brightest light to burn!

I shared the story of the Colson statue that was such a focus to our response in the UK and the images certainly help to refresh our thoughts:

As you know, I was in Bristol last week to drop my son off at University and his Halls are opposite the site of the Colson statue. We walked from the empty plinth to the mariner where Colson was dropped into the River Avon. Today this site looks more like this:

So my question to Orley Farm is 'what happens now?' Is this simply another pause as we wonder what came of the demonstrations and the momentum, or will there be long-lasting and permanent change. I closed assembly with the advice from an 18 year old school leader - she suggested the following and I can't put it in a better way:

Point #1

You don’t have to be an expert to speak up about racism, go and speak to your family and call people out when they make mistakes and share what you learn.

Point #2

Think about what you are saying. Take care with your messaging, forwarding opinions and posting video. You might find that you are adding to the numerous dangerous stereotypes.

Point #3

Educate yourself. It is your own responsibility to educate yourself not black people’s. There is no excuse not to, if you don't like reading books, watch videos, and listen to podcasts, these’s so much information out there!

Point #4

Acknowledge your privilege and use it for good.

Point #5

Think and acknowledge your own biases. It’s not enough to claim that you aren’t a racist. Everyone has a level of prejudice within themselves. Confront it and educate yourself rather than ignoring it.

Ready to Peddle!

Getting around and being independent starts with us going from crawling to walking - suddenly the world starts to become a place for adventure! However, learning to ride and getting onto the road is a whole new level and it was great to join the Edge cycling group as they learnt to repair punctures and inner tubes...

Mr Du Plessis - Amazing

Mr Du Plessis rallied the school around a heartfelt cause that we have shared with him and his family over recent years. Luan, his son suffered from an incredibly rare and debilitating illness that finally took his life last year.

Mr Du Plessis challenged us to join him at various stages of his marathon run last weekend and there was fierce rivalry between the Yr7 forms to add to the tally of miles!

There was a moment when Mr Du Plessis considered an alternative way to eat up the miles but he dug deep, finding his resilience...!

Well done Mr Du Plessis...you have inspired all of us!

As we approach the first anniversary of Luan's death, this weekend, our thoughts and prayers are very much with Mr Du Plessis and his amazing family.

We are certainly living in the most disruptive times in living memory but I am genuinely uplifted to read blogs from school aged people who are showing such wisdom and consideration as well as energy to capitalise on momentum - this is the only way that we are going to face and deal with what lies ahead...and our classrooms are alive with this engagement. It feels to me like conditions around us, fearful as they feel, are perfect to harvest a vintage crop for the future. How inspiring to live and work in these times! Thank you Orley for being alive to these opportunities...

Tim Calvey