Weekly musing – October 8th

Another week closer to the realisation of the first phase of our Buildings Development Project.  The smell of freshly painted walls and the sweeping of dusty floors is creating an air of excitement and anticipation around the school.  Plans are now afoot for an official opening of the Music Room and practice suites and we hope to confirm a date with you within the next few days.

It has been a fairly exciting week at school, particularly on the sporting front.  So much so that I feel compelled to note it here for all to read.    Mr Spong and the U11 football teams had two very contrasting challenges last Friday and again on Tuesday.  Firstly with an 11-a-side match at Berkhamsted and then a 7-a-side game at Kingshott, our courageous children gave all they could and the A teams came away with a stunning 4-0 victory from Berkhamsted and a 2-1 win at Kingshott while the B teams fought hard and gained admirable 1-3 and results.   A great achievemnet and testament to great coaching and encouragement.

Also, thanks to great coaching and encouragement, our U10 A & B netball teams were very successful at the Heath Mount tournament last Saturday.  With Miss Owen and Mrs Sharp both teams were on great form.  Our B team only narrowly missed winning their part of the tournament but came a well-deserved 2nd place.  The A team were rampant and put away all opposition in their path on the way to gaining our first ever trophy at this tournament.

With all of these events, plus the many activities that the children are engaged in on a daily basis, we get to see the very best in all of them.  The work of Howard Gardner on Multiple Intelligences has been very influential in the teaching profession over the past 10 years or so and is finding greater resonance in more schools.  We find at St Joseph’s In The Park, without attaching a label or calling our approach one thing or another, we already do our very best to provide the learning opportunities that suit the many diverse learning styles that we know our pupils possess.  It is an intriguing and challenging path but one that leads to greater rewards in the success and future well-being of the children.

I alluded last week to the definition of success in adult life. Bear with me now this might be a little deep…We all recognise that this success can come in very many different guises: emotional, material, finanacial, etc..  Yet it is this first, an emotionally stable and lasting happiness and sense of well-being that is the most important.  “Schooling” aims to prepare children for the future through a formal academic curriculum and the application to an “input-output” model of attainment.  Yet “learning” is the process by which we all come to recognise our innate gifts and aptitudes; gain a sense of achievement; develop an “emotional intelligence” and compassion for others and understand that which makes us happy.  It is not sufficient only to define success through the outcome of a child’s schooling (exam grades, awards, university placement).  To marry this success with the opportunity  to learn, i.e. understand yourself, others and the world around you, is the challenge that we set set our selves as parents and teachers.  That, then will lead to greater success.

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Post Conference Musings

The Top 5 things I learned at the IAPS Conference this week:

  1. It affirmed my conviction about St Joseph’s In The Park’s unique ethos.
  2. Despite what it might claim on their websites, many schools struggle to truly understand the concept that “happy children learn”.  We don’t.
  3. The collective noun for Head Teachers is “a procrastination”.
  4. Some Hotels in London are a triumph of style over substance.
  5. Rebecca Romero is “more legs than torso”.

Now, that last one is only because one of the speakers, Dan Hunt, headed the British Women’s Cycling Team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.  He was asked to speak at conference to describe his experiences in developing elite athletes.  It was very interesting to reflect on my role as a Head and our school as a whole in the light of this and the other presentations on, amongst others, Climbing Everest, founding Coffee Republic and the RSA and social mobility.  What I found from the 2 days at the start of this week was that our school is in a very strong place.  Not only with the level of cohesion and commitment in the community, but also the philosophical underpinning of the school.  So much is now being spouted in the press and learned journals about the need to develop a sense of well-being within children; that schools need to prepare their pupils for the workplaces of the future which will require compassion and resilience.  Well, St Joseph’s In The Park already achieves that and more.  Our children learn to be nice people; they understand and realise their character traits and develop an attitude to life and work and school that can only result in their eventual success in adult life, however that success in defined (that is a topic for another Friday Mailing).  It was a delight to return to school on Tuesday and know we have one of the best and most forward-thinking schools around.