“Assume a virtue if you have it not.” William Shakespeare

The virtue we are talking about this week is responsibility and whilst the quotation isn’t necessarily about responsibility, it is certainly a trait that needs assuming.

Each week, our Year 9 students spend some time working on the thought for the week and then give presentations-in any guise they see fit (powerpoint, poster, song, rap, mime etc…) based on their research on a Friday afternoon to me and my deputy. We are attempting to train them to be responsible for their own learning, for their own timekeeping, for their groupwork and pairwork skills, for their creativity, independence, ideas, ICT, research, critical thinking and so forth. A nice idea in theory which will provide them with important skills for GCSEs and beyond. But what about the reality?

Well, let’s contextualise things firstly. In the group of 7 students, there are only 2 who are native English speakers, with the other 5 all working on their 2nd (or 3rd) language. How many of us would be comfortable doing that? All of them are new to the school, those who board are new to boarding and some are new to living in the UK. Aged 13 how many of us would have been comfortable doing that? The idea of having such “unstructured” and undirected time is new and alien. Aged 13 how many of us would have been comfortable doing that? How many of us would be comfortable doing these things now?

Last week, instead of it being based on the thought for the week, their week was based around the theme of The National Trust. The presentations they gave were excellent and talked about the founders, 2 of the estates they manage, the farmland they oversee, their finances and volunteering. None of the international students knew anything of The National Trust before they started but came away from the week proud of their efforts, pleased with their research, happy with their presentations and knowing more than when they started-surely that’s the point of education.

It was World Mental Health Day on Wednesday. 1 in 4 people suffer with mental health issues at some point in their lives. Anxiety, depression and loneliness are all common in our world. We really need to look after ourselves and each other. Remember, it’s ok not to be ok and it’s ok to share things-don’t be too hard on yourself.

Have a great weekend wherever you are and don’t forget to pop in and see us if you are in the area

Best Wishes

Chris Randell