Dear members of the Earlscliffe community,
I hope this finds you well. The shorter days and longer nights are starting upon us now in Kent; it won’t be long until the students are going to breakfast in the dark; all part of the great British experience.
Many secondary schools in the UK have their students for five years or more. This means there is the opportunity to absorb the culture of the school over time, and that each year only one fifth part of the community is new. As our students are aged 15 to 19 on the whole, and are not with us for so many years, I feel it is important that my colleagues and I spend plenty of time, as the new community forms each September, explaining our values and standards. In this way, we find that a cohort of people where sometimes up to half of the students are new each year, from thirty different nationalities and educational backgrounds, can form a cohesive and friendly community and make the best of their time here.
So far this term we have spoken about service above self, being inclusive and tolerant of differences in personality and cultural norms, being a good neighbour and facing up to our mistakes. I hope that these messages are getting through and being well received.
I often say to the students that THEY are the school; the buildings and environment are just bricks without them. So they have to build the school that they want to be part of every day, in every action and word. If they are kind, and aspirational, and inclusive and patient with others, then that will be the school they build. Likewise, if they reflect less wholesome values, then the school will not be what it should be. Not only do I expect them to regulate their own behaviour for the best, but I expect them to challenge each other when they see someone undermine our values.
If you ask me what I want for our students, I think George Bernard Shaw said it better than I can:
“This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can.”
If you can find this text – he goes on to say even more glorious things – it will reward the research on your part. At Earlscliffe we will all continue to dedicate ourselves to helping our students find their mighty purpose.
With best wishes,