“Initiative is doing the right thing…”

“Initiative is doing the right thing without being told.”

Victor Hugo

Initiative is one of those character traits that is a challenge to develop in schools. Schools like many institutions are bound by rules and it is sometimes difficult to reimagine them working in different ways. Earlier in the week we had a group of students who went off to complete their practice adventurous journey section of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Silver and Gold Award. This is perhaps one of those parts of school life where it is easy to give opportunities for initiative. During the journey pupils are left to follow a route across wild country with minimal staff supervision. The idea is that by being put in a challenging situation they will develop valuable transferable skills that they can take into other aspects of their lives. Coping with disputes about which way the map should be read, deciding where exactly tents will be pitched and working together when tired are all experiences to be drawn on in later life.

In the Senior School assembly our new prefect team introduced themselves to the rest of the school. This year the prefects have defined their own roles, they stood up in front of their peers to explain what they are setting out to do and have decided that one of the key targets for development is student voice. Elections for student representatives will be held next week and a wide range of pupils are standing for election. The same enthusiasm to contribute to our community is found in the Junior School student council who meet with Mr. Potter to share their points of view regarding school improvements. I look forward to hearing their ideas and discussing school development with them during the year.

Many of our school charity projects spring from pupil initiatives. Last week alone, between both schools, money was raised for gene therapy (720€), Moroccan and Libyan disaster appeals through cake sales and a small charge for the privilege of wearing their own clothes or jeans with school uniform for the day. Over the coming weeks we will have pupils supporting other charities by giving their time and talent rather than by dropping coins in a bucket. This year we will have pupils lending a hand to a variety of local charities, giving concerts in a retirement home, and providing afternoon activities for a local special school. These initiatives are in many ways the most gratifying to see. Proof, if such were needed that our pupils are able to look beyond their own situation and take responsibility for providing for others. Our aim is to ensure that by the end of this year every one of our pupils, no matter what their age have demonstrated capacity for initiative and (hopefully) shown some too.

Nicholas Hammond