Since September, every Wednesday evening bar the holidays, we hold Dads’ football in the Sports Hall. From 8.00pm to 9.00pm, all are welcome. We even have a couple of friends of Pennthorpe dads who enjoy the opportunity to run around (and out of breath) for an hour or so basically kicking a ball into a goal – or relishing the attempt. We have had as many as 15 and so encouraged are we that now actual fixtures against other prep school dads’ football teams are being mooted!
Now, I do not wish to fall into stereotypical characterization of gender roles or deride either gender for its perceived foibles or idiosyncrasies. Quite the opposite. It is not for me to explain why, or even demystify such significant and ancient rituals such as watching live sport or having hobbies involving things with engines or collections of shoes, hats or models of real life objects.
Last Friday’s item on the BBC concerning girls perception of self-worth highlights the importance we must place on balance for all children at Pennthorpe and recognition of the sense of self that each person has.
As schools we are a families, and as such we aim to provide the right pastoral care for all of its members. And this doesn’t mean ballet for girls or rugger for boys; human beings are far more subtle and nuanced than that. We understand that gender, personality and personal well-being all contribute to who you are as a learner – or indeed adult. Therefore our approach to provision in the classroom, needs to recognise that need and interest vary from child-to-child, from week-to-week, day-to-day and even lesson-to-lesson.
Planning for this nuanced, tailored approach to learning is challenging yet is achievable. It lies at the heart of how we can redefine prep school education and it is one of the keys to the excellence, academic and pastoral, that is our commitment as schools. We do this through:
Thorough knowledge of the children and their families
Tracking and record keeping of progress both pastorally and academically
Reporting back at regular intervals
This cycle – or upward spiral – of preparation, experience and reflection propels each child forward. As I discussed last week, the focus on happiness, coupled with the expectation to try your best in all aspects of school life and a desire to focus on the identity of each child, is what leads to successful outcomes. We recognise shared purpose and understand that you are celebrated for who you are. Not a lazy stereotype, but a complex, unique individual who has a great deal of potential and much to offer.