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Posted on: March 12th 2017

Why do we do this?

Like hundreds of Headteachers and Senior Leaders, I spent most of this weekend in Birmingham at a conference for the ASCL professional association. It’s a strange mix of conference, support group, think tank and networking. Education is a small world, and I met many former colleagues and teachers to share ideas and good practice. Paramount to these, was how we maintain what we do in the face of such unrelenting change and challenge. There were a range of speakers. You can check out how Justine Greening’s discussion went following this link http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-39224310

We also had other prominent speakers present. One of those was Malala Yousaffzai, the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace prize,  who took time out of her A Level revision session to share her story with school leaders. It seemed so fitting, during International  Womans Week, for a conference focused on education to end with an individual who so embodies the values of what education can do. When she finished talking, as one, a room full of people, with hundreds and hundreds of years of experience in education, rose as one body to give a standing ovation. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was moved by both her discussion and her humanity. When asked what it was that we could continue to do to support, it was ‘amplify the voices of young people’ like her.

 What she reminded us of, all of us in that room, is why we do what we do as school leaders.  I know that the teachers in our school share the central belief that all students will realise their potential under our care. Teachers actions day in, day out prove it. Last week a number of events outside of the curriculum allowed this to shine – we welcomed our new year group in for the first in a series of events to introduce themselves to each other on Wednesday afternoon. We were supported by our fantastic 6th formers every step of the way in addition to staff.

On Wednesday evening, 6 formers also attended an International women’s event at London City Hall as personal guests of Jennette Arnold, London Assembly member. If anything showed the value that a good school can bring, it was the juxposition of these two events. Students at the start of their Hornsey journey, and those after 7 years looking to new horizons. I was so very proud of the students who mixed with politicians, business people, engineers, activists and students from other schools. Their poise, charm, confidence and ability to engage in a range of conversations was genuinely something to behold. I am immensely proud of these students, the culmination of years of support and opportunity provided by teachers past and present.

This week our staff have shown that again, whether it was supporting with excellent workshops for our new year groups, taking the students out to the west end to see Aladdin and then returning to perform with a cast of 60 students to dance for our audience, having breakfast at the Wolsey with our expert parliamentary style debaters, taking groups to careers events at TFL, or to National Apprenticeship week we seek out opportunities to support learning and we deliver. It was useful this weekend, in a room full of educators, to feel connected to the power of wanting the best. Malala is one child, with an incredible story, and her work and words have already changed lives.

In every school, we have the same potential, the same drive, the same desire to change society for the better. I left the conference inspired by my interactions.  Every child deserves opportunities to experience the breadth of possibility that the world offers them. What a privilege to lead a school that lives and breathes this in all it does. 

Ms R  12/3 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/11/malala-yousafzai-receives-offer-to-study-at-uk-university-birmingham

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