I was lucky enough to be in Key Stage 1 Assembly earlier in the week and as part of the assembly I showed a slide of all of the schools that I attended as a pupil and all of the schools that I have worked at as a teacher. Not necessarily interesting for those in the hall, but it led me to think about what we mean when we say “school”. Each one of the schools that I attended was different from the others. Interesting because they were all meant to be doing the same thing. Schools approach their business in many different ways. At best we are following the exhortation of Piaget: “The principle goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done; men and women who are creative, inventive and discoverers, who can be critical and verify, and not accept, everything they are offered.”
One element that is missing in this definition of education is what schools can do for older members of the community. It is a little top down. The best definition of school that I have heard is that a school is a mixed age learning community. As a definition it smacks of dreaded “eduspeak”. Despite this it makes an important point; that all of us connected to a school should learn. Education can be bottom up as well as top down. I learn each day and my days as a pupil are long since over.
Hopefully, parents feel that they too have the opportunity to learn; not just through the adult learner French classes we offer or through use of the school library but also from each other and from their children. It is important that we as adults can learn from the younger members of the community. Equally it is necessary for us as adults to continue to learn as a good example to those around us. Even if we don’t learn it is good to have to answer important questions like the one at the top of this article. I am still searching for an appropriate answer.
Sometimes the most important questions come from the youngest members of our community.
“Has anything been done about..?” Being far too old and not “down with the kids” I couldn’t make an appropriate response to “What’s happening?” when I was asked, although I did like the fact that it was followed by a rather more traditional “Sir?” The short answers to the above are; lots, loads, yes, I think so and education…
Most obviously, students have returned to campuses which have been either renovated or refreshed. In some cases small changes have been achieved which will have significant consequences. The alert will have noticed that the drain covers in the Junior School play-ground have been changed, not I admit the most glamorous of enhancements but certainly important. Visitors to the Senior School can hardly fail to notice a newly renovated Morisot building, carpets in classrooms, acoustic pods in music and occuli in Braille (I didn’t know what that meant either, ask a student for a translation). We look forward to the appearance of new refectory furniture on both campuses. I’m not going to list all the work done over the summer but I do want to salute the heroic efforts of our maintenance team.
Other areas of school life have received a makeover. There have been curriculum changes and the consequence of the public exam reforms will become clearer as we teach the new specifications this year. Our uniform supply has changed significantly and the design has changed a little. It was fantastic to see pupils wearing their uniform so smartly on the first day – long may it continue and thank you to parents for engaging with a new way of ordering so positively. On the first day we welcomed over 200 new pupils to the BSP and it is here that perhaps we are best to concentrate not so much on the new but rather on the old and the established.
What hasn’t changed is the open and friendly way that established pupils look after new members of the school, what hasn’t changed is the buzz of enthusiasm for activities and challenges, what hasn’t changed is the commitment and dedication of the staff.
It was a pleasure to see smiling faces coming into both the Junior and Senior School on Thursday morning, our aim as it always has been is to see that the smiles remain for the rest of the year.
Whilst there may be changes to the fabric of the campus, to the curriculum and to the uniform, our core values have not been altered or indeed revamped. There is no makeover required. We as a school remain committed to meeting the academic and social needs of each individual pupil, to making the most of our unique com-munity and to infusing our learning with both fun and rigour.
New is often good, old is sometimes better. What is without doubt is that this academic year is going to be an exciting one for all of us here at the BSP. I look for-ward to sharing it with you.