Welcome back! I hope everyone has had a great summer break and is refreshed and ready to work hard…
I know when Autumn is approaching - the supermarkets all start to try to sell off their barbeque stuff & the X-factor starts on the tellie! For me Autumn is probably my favourite season & for lots of reasons.
First of all, there's the autumn colours - we have good weather in September & early October (which usually do), the bright, crisp mornings, with the leaves turning colour are really uplifting. The days are still long enough to enjoy daylight before the nights close in and the animals & birds are all looking to prepare themselves for winter.
And I have been in teaching long enough now to feel that Autumn is sort of a 'new year' beginning as much as January is!
So for me, Autumn is a time of reflection, of the year passed, and a time to think about the year to come. Sort of a new beginning.
And there are lots of new things! (& not just my new beard).. The new building, with all the new space. New pupils, already looking and feeling like they're part of the woodwork. New staff, both teachers and non-teachers. You will all, by now, have met the new teachers; Mrs Berry and Mr Lydiate, teaching STEM (Science, Technology & Maths) & Mr Evans, teaching our PE & enhancing our sporting provision. But we also have Ms. Edwards, working with Mr Timms as our Catering Assistant and Miss Parker & Dr. Faulke, working in the Admin team, to help everything run smoothly!
We also have a number of new routines and practices; the new minibus pick-up route (driven by Mrs Dockerty) - I'm wondering how many of you will want to sign up for that once the weather closes in … And the Breakfast club. I am afraid that, as the numbers have gone up, we have had to stop you coming onto school grounds before 8:35am - it's one of those 'Health & Safety' things. The staff come into school early so that they can be prepared and ready to give you the very best that you deserve; they cannot be supervising pupils on site as well. That is why we have introduced the breakfast club, with Mr Timms supervising people signed up for it until 8:30.
But a lot of what we are doing is the same. We still want the very best for each and every one of you. We will hold you to account for your actions, challenging you to think about what you are doing and the impact it might have on other people. We will expect nothing but your best, because we expect nothing but the best from ourselves.
There are about 7 billion people in the world today, with over 200,000 new babies born every day. (and about 100,000 people dying every day). And even so, each and every one of those people, including every newborn child, is unique and special.
And that includes you, because you are so very special. Every one of you has a unique set of talents and gifts that no-one else on the earth has, ever has or ever will have! There has never been anyone like you before and there never will be. You have a duty to be the very, very best you can be, because there will never be anyone else with your talents. Who knows - you could well be the one person on the entire earth who has the ability to solve cancer, say, or maybe invent the next amazing piece of technology that will change peoples lives forever, or persuade waring countries to live at peace with each other. And here you sit. All that potential, waiting to develop.
The writer, Marianne Williamson wrote a quote that is often quoted;
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
It is often reported that Nelson Mandela quoted this in a speech shortly after being released from prison & that is how I first came across it - Nelson Mandela, now aged 95, was born into a world in a country where his life was limited and restricted merely because of the colour of his skin. He fought the injustice of that to the point where he was imprisoned for life. 27 years later, he was released, after intense pressure from international organisations and, as we hopefully know, went on to become South Africa's first ever black president.
And as I mentioned last week, when we welcomed Foundation 1 in for their Flying Start days, we also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the famous Martin Luther King speech. Born an ordinary kid, in America at a time when blacks had to sit in a different part of the bus, drink from different water fountains and were not allowed to attend schools where white kids went. As he grew up, like Nelson Mandela, he protested about the inequality all around him. This culminated in his famous 'I have a dream' speech:
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'we hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal'.
For daring to stand up and be counted, for daring to challenge people to think about things differently, for daring to not put up with anything less than the best, he was shot and killed. But he did it anyway, knowing the risks.
And that makes all the difference. Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Sandymoor School. You. All of us need to ensure that we do not put up with second best. All of us hold inside us a wealth of talent and passion and we must not be afraid to let that show. As the Marianne Williamson quote says, we should not ask "who am I to be brilliant?", but instead, we should have the courage to say "Who am I not to be brilliant?"!