“The academy has a very good level of awareness about the ‘Prevent’ programme.” Ofsted 2016
I hold the privileged position of head of our school and it’s my job to make these years some of the best of our children’s lives; well-rounded, high achieving and characterful.
Welcome to my Blog. After having read ‘34 reasons to have a Blog’ I feel fully armed (not) to enter the world of blogging.
I’ll start with a thank you (safe territory) to all the families for visiting on Saturday the 26th September for our Open Morning. I continue to be impressed with how many students show generosity and loyalty to promote our school to potential new students; giving up their busy weekends, they are our best ambassadors and are always the highlight of our feedback.
This year my address centred on the subject of character and I recounted the story of me spending a summer (in my early childhood) helping my family lay crazy paving* (for readers under 30, crazy paving was a mid- 80s fashionable option for surfacing front drives). My parents being ever-the -resourceful couple decided we’d do it ourselves and we set to work completing the task aware that we were (rightly) told it would be ‘character building’. I’ve just searched my old family home on Google maps and seen the new residents have undone all our hard work.... An outrage. There's nothing my parents couldn't achieve when they put their minds to it; I feel very lucky to have been brought up in a creative household.
‘Character’ has now formally entered the world of education…(did it ever not exist?) and schools are creating opportunities to enhance a child’s development specifically in this area. I hear of companies running special days to attempt to ‘fast-track’ this aspect of students' development…mmmm, whilst I wholeheartedly agree that getting muddy and making a rope swing is every child’s rite of passage, character is a complex thing; the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual are bound through our upbringing, our view of ourselves, how we celebrate our strengths and how positively we tackle our weaknesses….developing character is an on-going quest, woven into the life of a child’s school not added on like special events.
At Upper Shirley High, fostering character is very much part of ‘how’ we do things rather than ‘what’ we do.…I notice every day how much our students are willing to help each other overcome challenges…it’s as much in the small everyday things as an obstacle race or laying paving over a summer holiday.
*Crazy paving is a means of hard-surfacing used outdoors, most frequently in gardens. Paving stones of irregular size and shape are laid in a haphazard manner sometimes with mortar filling the gaps between. The method, whilst originating in Ancient Rome, was perfected in 1983 by the Woods family in Birkenhead.