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January 12, 2024

Kindness, Curiosity, Flying Solo and Orch-Kids!

In the first Senior Department Assembly of term, it was a pleasure to be able to talk about the Learner Profile and Values that we have adopted. They will provide a central core to all that we do giving us something concrete and tangible on which to base our thoughts, ideas, initiatives, and policies. Whilst examinationa and academic performance are of paramount importance, schools should be so much more than that. The Prep Department had a similar assembly where they were also able to start the new year with a focus on some of the key elements that make up our clear direction for the future. In the Senior Assembly, we focused on kindness and curiosity; kindness is such an important value for the whole community to hold dear. It will enable great relationships built on positivity where every student can be themselves and flourish following their path. It also has some wonderful side-effects that I was able to talk them all through; it creates a wonderful ripple effect for the whole community, it reduces stress and anxiety, it releases feel-good hormones and it can alleviate some illnesses whilst also reducing the ageing process. What is not to like about that? Curiosity provided the other focus and there is a poignant quote from Einstein that I hope resonated with each and every one of them: “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious”, and he goes on to say, “the important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing”. Whilst he might be underselling the talent that he had, there is no doubt that he has a point. When the CEO of Dell was asked, what is the most important trait that a leader should have in turbulent times, he responded, “I would place my bet on curiosity”. And so, this term I have asked and challenged the students to focus on curiosity and kindness; how will they display this and what will they have done differently by the end of this term? Perhaps this will make for some interesting conversations with them over the course of the next few months.

One student has certainly shown curiosity; we are all incredibly proud of Holly R-W who has made her first solo flight at the age of 16 years and 5 days. Unfortunately, her plans for this to take place on her 16th birthday were undone by the weather! It is though some achievement at an age when she is not allowed to even learn to drive a car; she is already planning her next adventure plotting a path to fly the globe and become the youngest female pilot to do so. We have no doubt at all that she will achieve it and we look forward to hearing more about her plans and preparation.

Despite of my total lack of ability in Music, I am a massive fan of all forms of this creative art, and I am passionate to continue to grow and develop this area of school life. It was wonderful to hear the various choirs perform so beautifully at the Christmas Carol Service and to see the main Choir grow so rapidly to nearly 40 students. The Senior Orchestra is beginning to develop, and we are all looking forward to the performances of Bugsy Malone before half-term. Our very own Prep Department Orchestra is also starting to take shape, affectionately known as “Orch-Kids”, with new wind players in Years 3 and 4, 2 violins, 2 violas, a double bass, an oboe, a flute, clarinet, and saxophone with hopefully a celloist soon! It really is quite something to have an Orchestra with such a wide variety of instruments in it at such a young stage; it is real musical diversity in action.

Yours sincerely,
Matthew Oakman