“There’s nothing that’s more unfair…”

“There’s nothing that’s more unfair or unjust than people using their power to try to make other people feel small, to tell them who they are or what they are capable of, to say their identity doesn’t belong.”

Jill Biden

Around here there tends to be a week in March when the weather turns, and the skies seem to be rather bluer than greyer. This week was that week. Whilst spring has not fully happened, we’ve been given a quick sight of what is to come. We know that there will be some turbulent weather before the winter is finally done with us but at least we know that spring is coming.

The half term is well underway, and it is a real pleasure to see pupils engaging in a wide range of activities and paying the right levels of attention to their academic work. The week has been a busy one and I apologise for picking out only a couple of examples of the widespread and evident commitment to activities.

This week sees the Senior School production Legally Blonde take to the stage, we’ve sports players heading to play fixtures in Brussels and our Duke of Edinburgh Award expeditioners are off in the wilds. It all feels a bit 2019, almost dare I say it, normal. We have received clarification of the new protocols for schools and I think that we will all welcome the changes that have been suggested.

One of the other notable happenings of this week has been the running of the Sport Relief 5km challenges along the riverbank. I remember cross country running at school. It was a fairly miserable experience and I appreciate that pounding the path is not everyone’s idea of a good time. I was therefore impressed to see the levels of commitment that were shown by such a wide variety of pupils to this event – unsurprising to see talented runners giving it their all, perhaps still more impressive to see those who don’t find running so easy “getting involved”. These events provide a real challenge, and it is important that during a school career we experience activities that we do not find easy, that we experience activities that we might not at first enjoy. In doing so we appreciate that no-one is so perfect as to be good at everything.

Many young people face what is often called confirmation bias; the feeling that in comparison to the false perfection they see on social media they are less worthy and consequently less comfortable about being themselves than they should be. It is all too easy to become bound by what other people define as successful, beautiful, or talented. We are proud to be a school in which we both challenge and support. A school in which we recognise the development of character alongside the certificates of academic success. We have a broad spectrum of experiences and abilities. I was so proud to see the levels of support being given pupil to pupil as each individual made their way along the riverside. For some it was easy, for others it was a genuine challenge. On stage tonight we will have the chance to see the cast of Legally Blonde do their stuff once more. Some are confident, others will find being up there much more difficult, but all will grow. For some it will be the start of a life-long enthusiasm for the theatre, others may never tread the boards again. I hope that by giving these experiences to a wide range of pupils they understand themselves a little better and that they learn how to be content within themselves and not being defined by the often unrealistic and commercially driven expectations made by others.

Having slogged up the river bank this week I can tell you there is a real satisfaction in just making it to the finish!

Nicholas Hammond