14 April 2017
Head of Secondary blog
Gradually, I have reached the understanding that developing a strong sense of community is the single most influential factor in creating a successful school. The richness, diversity, vibrancy and spirit of the community influence all other aspects of school life: the quality of our pastoral care; our relationships with parents; the strength of our pedagogy. Last Saturday, we celebrated our cultural diversity during our International Day. The day started with a procession in which all students participated; the seventeen nationalities represented in school were introduced in turn. Whilst flags were carried proudly and with dignity, the procession was a celebration of international understanding rather than nationalistic sentiment. At a time of global uncertainty, with a rise in separatism, racial tension and xenophobia in parts of the world, it seems especially important to ensure that our students are mutually supportive and culturally sensitive. Our International Day assembly started with an energetic rendition of We are the World, performed by the school band, as a preface to Mr Charlie’s welcome. The assembly ended with Year 2 leading the school singing Count on Me. It was a wonderful start to the day. Students then took part in a range of immersive activities that enabled exploration and understanding of different cultures. Interspersed with opportunities to sample the vast variety of exquisite food provided by parents and outside vendors, these activities enriched students’ understanding of different cultures and the universal concerns that connect us all.
For me, one of the most successful features of the school is the work we do to develop a professional learning community. The over-arching focus of our pedagogical training this year is literacy: our vision is to ensure that all students are able to engage meaningfully in their learning and in society. This term, all teachers have investigated strategies designed to develop students’ reading skills: their abilities to access texts, develop higher-level analytical skills and read more independently. Thus, teachers have focused on a shared goal but have tried new, individual strategies in their classrooms. This has also involved collaboration, cross-curricular lesson observations and academic research. Last week, teachers presented their findings; I have been impressed by the dynamic energy and the intelligence that has been invested into this work on developing literacy skills. Next term, we will explore approaches to improving writing skills.
This week in the school community, we have supported students in Year 6 and Year 9 as they have undertaken Checkpoint examinations. We have considered carefully how to motivate and advise these students, with morning briefings and individualised guidance. We wish them all well. Also this week, I introduced the Options process for Year 9 with an explanation of the pivotal decisions they will make. Apart from the guidance from subject teachers, the thoughtful advice that parents provide is an essential part of making good choices. On Monday, as part of Parents’ Evening, I will brief parents about possible IGCSE choices and subject teachers will give more specific information. Clearly, creating a productive coalition of students, parents and teachers can only strengthen our sense of community.
It’s been a very busy term! Wishing everyone a refreshing and fulfilling break,