It is interesting how staffrooms used to echo with the infamous piece of advice to younger teachers “don’t smile until Christmas”. It’s not something I have ever been able to manage to see the point of and walking around the school this week in our first “normal” week back the amount of smiles and greetings from the students makes it impossible but to break into a broad grin. There is a lot of academic work around the idea of “positive school culture” and how schools need to be learning laboratories where students and their development are at the centre of all that we do. I have been impressed in my first 2 weeks at Wyedean at the level of commitment and hard work from the staff going into making sure this academic year starts as well as possible building on from last year’s success with OfSTED and the summer results. The conversations I have enjoyed this week include discussing what sort of things we should be focussing on in schools in terms of new technologies supporting learning, the powerful impact of creativity, the need for global learning as well as ensuring our curriculum offers as many opportunities as possible. I had a wonderful moment this week when I went into the JK Rowling library in the school and heard our Carnegie Shadow reading group discuss their next book; “1984” or “A Clockwork Orange”. My educator’s heart beat a little faster to hear such a discussion.
One of the more interesting discussions I had this week with students is a question about uniform. I did point out to a group of Year 9s that as a new Head I would prefer for them to ask me about what will I do to develop new opportunities or new ways of making learning exciting. One of the highlights of the week was the agreement with the Confucius Institute to bring Mandarin teaching to Wyedean School for the next few years and to share with our local primary schools as the new hub for Mandarin teaching in the Forest of Dean/Monmouthshire area. Wyedean School believes passionately in international education and the school is supporting the local charity “Help Calais Chepstow” in collecting food and clothes as well as raising awareness about the refugee situation in Europe. All week the pastoral teams have been focussing on the issues behind the refugee crisis. From the global to the national this was the week where Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning British monarch in over a 1000 years whilst this Saturday it will be the flag waving of “Last Night of the Proms” signalling for many the end of summer. I know I will be going into my weekend smiling as another good week ends at Wyedean School ready to smile on Monday morning as the kids come back in for another week of learning. I won’t even be thinking of how many weeks it is until Christmas – despite my local supermarket’s best efforts with the Christmas decorations out already! Now there is a reason not to smile.