As we look forward to a two week break following this busy half term, perhaps it is right to focus on the well-being that springs from rest. We were lucky on Monday to welcome Natasha Devon MBE and to listen to her wise and informed presentation about the three core elements that lead to well-being; Critical thinking, stress coping mechanisms and emotional literacy. In response to this, all the staff have thought about the opportunities we already have for teaching in these three areas and as part of our well-being award we will put together a document so that parents can be clear about the contribution the school makes to the well-being agenda. As an immediate reaction, it is clear that our focus on higher-order thinking, questioning, giving choices to children and listening to their views already makes a strong start. With a wide, balanced and varied curriculum focusing on high-quality experiences and opportunities in sport, music, art and drama, we also enable stress management to take place although I feel as a school we can develop this further and we will.
Giving children as much information about the link between chemistry, brain function and emotion is high on our agenda through PSHE and assembly work. But there is inevitably a tension between providing a calm, ordered, regular routine and the events that we plan at school that become the memories of children and so we welcome feedback from children and parents on whether we’ve got that balance right.
This morning following on from Natasha’s themes I spoke to Pre-Prep about the different kinds of listening we do and how important it is, whether for pleasure, taking part in conversations, for information, instructions, or to find out how people feel. Perhaps the last thing; listening to people and encouraging them to express their feelings and refocus on experiences that make them feel joyful, is our most important task of all. I have invited children in Pre-Prep, if they would like, to send me a postcard from their holiday destinations or homes and tell me about some of the things they can hear when they listen carefully.
Certainly in Pre-Prep there has been an overdose of joyful events and exciting trips this week as each class in turn went out for a day’s adventure. I’m only sorry that the coach of a visiting sports team caused considerable stress and inconvenience for our parents accessing and leaving the site on Thursday evening. We’ll be in touch with the school to ask them not to use a coach on their next visit to us.
Many parents and grandparents in Prep took great pleasure from the performers’ platform and breakfast on Wednesday morning, showcasing a variety of performance-ready pieces across the full range of instruments and voices. The act of listening to performance and appreciating what other people can share is a special and moving part of the life of pupils and staff at St Michael’s and it was wonderful that several of our new students shared performance with us and gave us much pleasure.
Yesterday we mailed the results of the 11+ to parents of children in Year 6. For some there is great excitement and relief whilst others may not have quite done themselves justice in this exam. We hope that we can support those families that need to appeal and that we can refocus the children for whom 11+ was a long shot and who will be best served by a non-selective environment. Our own Year 7 and 8 give unparalleled support, challenge and experiences to children who stay and my heartfelt wish is that parents will give this serious consideration amongst all of the choices that lie before them. After the half term holiday we will be exploring with Year 6 the opportunity to apply for scholarships here and to become a senior pupil at St Michael’s and we are holding a coffee morning for those interested in finding out more about Year 7 and 8 both within the community and beyond it on November 2nd. In the meantime, have a super half term holiday, do enjoy the change of pace and scene and come back safely.