Tuesday, 31 March 2015


With the Easter Break looming, the clocks now back on British Summer Time and the first glimpses of new growth on the trees and plants, I certainly have started looking forward to warmer weather, longer days and sun …

But this is because we are coming out of winter. The seasons tick off their timing, winter to spring, spring to summer, summer to autumn and then back to winter's icy grip. The revolving door of time, the ever changing, yet unchanging characteristic of nature, the reassurance of the changing seasons. The seasons change, but we are reassured by their predictability.

What about real changes? Changes that make a difference and cannot be reversed? Growing up is one such change, for example. As I have said before, we start off life as a completely helpless babe, entirely dependent on others for everything and as we grow, we start to be able to make choices, take control of things. And it's then that we discover that being in control is hard. We don’t always get what we want, when we want it, so we learn to hate change. Change becomes a signal for unpleasantness, for more difficult things.

But we have to fight that; change is the very essence of the universe, at the very centre of everything and is impossible to fight. If we waste time energy & effort in holding back change, we are wasting opportunities and chances that pass us by. Like King Canute, trying to hold back change will only result in futility as profound as trying to hold back the tide.

(Historical aside: King Canute was a king who reigned over 1,000 years ago - a Viking king, who controlled what is now modern day Denmark, Norway & England - one of the most powerful people in the world. He was thought to be a good king, with great power, but even he could not control the changing nature of time, as demonstrated in his attempting to stop the tide from coming in…)

Change is, paradoxically, unchanging. There will always be change, whether it's global warming, the next version of Windows, or new houses growing up where there were once fields. Change, the only reliable, unchanging fact of living.

So how do we respond to change? As I said, we naturally learn to fear it, to see it as something to dread. But if we change our mindset, look ahead and seek out the opportunities the change brings, we can make so much more of what the future delivers us.

As a school, we are growing, changing, rapidly. That is what we have to do; moving from the temporaries, into this amazing building, was a huge change. And it was not simply looked forward to; some were worried about the space, having got used to the smallness of the old buildings, for example, and feared losing their way, or being caught somewhere they shouldn't be when we moved. And the new students & staff. But such is the way of things and we all adapted and now feel like this building is home, is our 'normality'. So we are now planning to grow again; we have over 100 new students joining us this coming September, and after Easter, we will start the process of getting to know them, so they feel part of our family before they even arrive. It will have a lovely new feel to the school, with almost 300 students in the corridors and classrooms! New friends and new opportunities.

As you know, we have also, last week, started to recruit all the new staff who will be joining us to help you all on your journey. We have, to date, had over 150 applications for 9 posts. Last week, we interviewed 23 people, putting them through a rigorous process to make sure we recruited only the best to join us in our growth.

(I am not arrogant enough to think that everyone who applied for a job here will read this, but if any are, I would like to thank them for taking the time to apply; it is not an easy task to find the time to complete an application form, think about the upheaval that moving jobs will make, and apply, in the complete uncertainty of the outcome. Everyone I met on interview was, in their own right, a truly unique individual, and not once did I think I had chosen badly to shortlist. To the successful candidates, I look forward to working with you as we continue to grow and develop this amazing school & to the unsuccessful ones, I wish you all the best in your own personal journeys - who knows; our paths may cross again.)

The process continues, as we recruit more staff this week & after Easter; in September, we will have over 50 people working in the school, all committed and passionate about helping everyone here be nothing but the best they can possibly be.

One of the questions I posed to the candidates last week was 'What, actually, do teachers do?'. This question was inspired, I must admit, by the great performance poet, Taylor Mali - look him up; he's simply amazing!

A simple question, with a hard answer, especially one that is short and to the point. But one candidate hit the nail on the head, and that is why we appointed them. The answer they gave was:

To be strong for the students, especially when they can't be strong themselves.

That is, indeed, what we are about!

We do have one major change after Easter, one to do with technology. I have stated this time and time again, and now we are getting there. After Easter, you will all be required to have a device, whether a laptop, ipad, tablet, or whatever, in the lesson. The teachers will not be able to provide you with one from a trolley. There are 4 ways you can do this:

Bring in your own device. This is by far the best option, in truth, as it's yours, then, and you know how it works. Your parents will need to check their home insurance, but it is usually possible to add this to most policies.

If you don’t have one, then your parents can lease one through the school. ParentMail letters went out a few weeks ago about this & for about £10 per month, you can have a device to use, with insurance included & it is yours to keep.

Or your parents can loan a device from the school. These cannot be taken home, however, but will be yours, personally, for your use during the day.

Or, finally, you can go to Mr Thow or Mr Connor and book out a device for use. This can only by at the start of school, or during break or lunch, however, and will not be a personal device - you will be given what is available.

But not having a device will not be accepted and will be followed up with a consequence, the same as if you had forgotten a pen or pencil. This technology is your future in work & we are building systems to help you have that important edge when it comes to it.
For details of the school's reason why we are insisting that students have devices in lessons, please read the following blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ukschools/archive/2015/03/31/andrew-howard-why-is-1-1-not-personal-enough.aspx


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