Day in the life of a Head
Pondering my parting message to you for the spring term, my mind travelled down the list of my appointments for just one day of this week (Wednesday, as it happens) and it struck me that my Day in the Life of a Head made a very suitable Life in a Day of the School.
And what a day it has been! A Class Assembly from Year 4 on Water was a model of cross-curricular learning, featuring science, ecology, oracy, singing and (a first for me) tanka poetry. A few steps across the Dining Hall, the Sixth Form Rock Band were centre-stage for a very different sort of Assembly, going through their paces with covers from, among others, Arctic Monkeys. This was closely followed for me by a visit to Reception, finding out more about how the girls use the outdoors for their learning. The flower beds in their garden are ready for planting and – more joined-up learning here – Mrs Shaw is hoping that the class can make soup from the carrots that they grow this season. A spell with Year 2 practising number bonds through an Easter Egg Hunt in the grounds completed a deep dive into the many ways in which junior girls can learn through adventure and exploration.
Late morning brought a planning meeting for our visit from BBC’s Question Time team. Interest in current affairs is at an all-time high among our students and so great excitement greeted the news that we had been selected as the venue for the 9 May Show. We are keen to make the most of the opportunity for them to gain insights into the logistics of the programme as well as introducing them to the cut and thrust of contemporary political debate. All the budding TV producers, journalists or politicians out there – this one is for you.
The afternoon brought a final meeting with a 62 student whom I have been supervising for the Extended Project Qualification, as she prepared to submit her final product. It is always a pleasure to take part in this programme, as individuals take on ambitious projects, juggle their many commitments and wrestle with ethical and methodological questions to reach their final goal. It has also been particularly stimulating for me to supervise a project on mathematics, quite a long way from my specialism, in a programme that encourages the demolition of subject barriers in the pursuit of original intellectual inquiry. A better preparation for university research would be hard to find.
If I stretch a point and include the full 24 hours since tea-time on Tuesday, the line-up of events becomes even more remarkable. Four o’clock found me at a Private View we hosted at the University of Northampton of ‘Yuli’ – an extraordinary film about the life of Cuban ballet phenomenon Carlos Acosta. Not only did we premiere the film a day before it was shown in Covent Garden but we were also able to meet the Director, Icíar Bollain (a Madrilenian living in the UK), who had generously accepted Ms Diez’s invitation to take part in a Q&A with our students. (This they did in Spanish, naturally.) With our GCSE Language oral exams kicking off and the German exchange visit winding down (and planning for the finale of our Erasmus+ project continuing in the background), this has been an intense week for building European links and has taken us several steps forward in our bid to increase the international awareness of all our students as they head towards a global workplace.
Minutes after the film credits rolled, it was a quick change of scene as we began our annual Sports Awards Evening in the Senior School Hall. With a new format and a dazzling line-up of prize winners and guests, the evening reminded us what a very successful year this has been in sport – culminating in the U16 netball team being placed 11th in the National Finals. International netballer, Eboni Usoro-Brown, had earlier in the evening delighted girls in the Junior Awards with her story of playing for England, and her 5 tips for success (including ‘enjoy the journey’) hit the mark exactly for her eager audience. With the summer season yet to start in earnest, it is clear that huge numbers of girls are ‘enjoying the journey’ of their life in sport.
That, then, was my day (and what a privilege to be able to call this work!). From Reception to 62, rock music to ballet – via netball and number bonds, politics and poetry – school is a kaleidoscope of experiences and opportunities. Every girl, every day.
Little wonder, then, that we are ready for a break when the end of term comes. Whatever the spring break brings for you, I hope that it is happy and healthy.