One Step Beyond!…

“One Step Beyond!…”

Prince Buster

Over the course of the last year there have been many newspaper articles about the benefits of being outdoors, the therapeutic effects of forest bathing and the joy of hearing birdsong. Nestled as we are on the leafy banks of the Seine, we have an opportunity to enjoy all of the above on a daily basis. Time in the open air is clearly time well spent so it is always encouraging to see pupils coming into school on foot or by bike. Not everyone has the opportunity to come to school under their own steam, but I wonder if the opportunity to spend time outdoors is a benefit that lasts into the rest of the school day. Our Junior School lost word hunters have the chance to see kingfishers, acorns, bluebells, willows, and starlings. The school day acknowledges the importance of having some fresh air with regular breaktimes allowing pupils to both take a breath and stretch the legs. Thinkers throughout history have promoted walking outdoors as an aid to academic success and a route to wisdom. Certainly, Aristotle favoured walking as a means of helping thought, indeed it is from him that we gain the word peripatetic. Rousseau was similarly enthusiastic describing those who stroll as “always merry, light-hearted, and delighted with everything.” Rebecca Solnit has written inspiringly about the profound benefits of simply putting one foot in front of the other.

As well as the obvious health benefits of walking and the way that it may aid the process of thought, walking gives us a way of describing progress. Phrases such as taking the next step, stepping out of our comfort zone and being in step are part of our everyday speech. Our Year 13 have begun to think about what the future may hold for them. Yesterday they finished their formal lessons and now they take a significant stride forward on their educational journey. A bright future lies ahead, and we look forward to hearing of their successes to come. They have had a different experience form those who have been in previous Upper VIth (Year 13) year groups. They’ve had a year of wondering exactly what they would be doing by way of exams and how their university applications would be dealt with. Happily, they have been able to enjoy more days in school than most of their peers across the world with only Iceland, Belarus and the Faroes having been in isolation for fewer days. They have coped impressively in challenging circumstances; it is likely that they will reap the benefits of this experience in later years. Their resilience and experience of dealing with uncertainty is likely to be a benefit as they encounter the challenges that they may face in the future.

So, to our Year 13s – stride out from school with confidence. You have the skills, values, and strength of purpose to change the world, so make sure that you steer your steps towards the right path. Never forget that you can always turn your route back to school – a welcome will always be ready here.


Nicholas Hammond