This morning on the news I heard that 38% of the UK population did not intend to mark the two minute silence today, Armistice Day. Here at Gosfield, we come together as a community to show our respect, as people have since 1919, when the first Remembrance Day was marked. Here is how that day was reported in the Manchester Guardian: 'The first stroke of eleven produced a magical effect. The tram cars glided into stillness, motors ceased to cough and fume, and the mighty-limbed dray horses hunched back upon their loads and stopped also….The hush deepened. It had spread over the whole city….And the spirit of memory brooded over it all.'
In tutor time and assemblies this week, we have been reflecting on the horror of war, on the sacrifices made by so many men and women across the world and across the years, and, most importantly, on how we should strive for peace. We have also bought poppies to help us remember and to support those who continue to be affected by conflict. Focusing on Remembrance traditions reminds us how much there is still to do to establish peace throughout the world, and the part we can each play in building positive relationships based on tolerance, respect and kindness.
As a member of the Independent Schools Association, Gosfield enjoys the opportunity to work with other schools, both in our area and nationally. Our teachers benefit from networking with staff in similar schools and from the training courses ISA runs, many of which are held not far from us at the new ISA House in Great Chesterford. Another advantage of our membership is that our pupils can take part in a wide range of events and competitions.
Over half term, Mrs Gwynne, Head of Art, and I had the pleasure of attending the ISA Regional Art competition, hosted by the Cambridge Centre for Sixth Form Studies. Schools from across East Anglia had submitted pieces by pupils of all ages, from Reception to Sixth Form, and in media ranging from paint and pencil to film and textiles. The exhibition was marvellous: there was so much talent, creativity and skill on show. We were delighted that of the six pieces we submitted, four won awards. Jake Graham's striking charcoal portrait of a homeless man was Highly Commended. Jasper Gladman's still life drawing gained a 2nd prize. Rob McAllister's painting of a bluebell wood and the Prep School's 3D sunflowers won first prize in their categories and will go on to the national competition, which is taking place in Daventry next week at the ISA Autumn Study Conference. I am so looking forward to seeing their work exhibited alongside the very best art from pupils throughout the country.
In assembly on Monday, Mrs Gwynne reminded pupils of all the fantastic art produced here at Gosfield, everything from the House Doodles to the highly skilled pieces of our A Level and GCSE candidates, including Ella McAllister and Sophie LeBecq, who were also entered in the regional competition. We are very proud of all our young artists and display their work around the school.
Half term approaches, and we are all looking forward to a refreshing break after a very busy few weeks. Pupils and staff alike have been applying themselves in all sorts of ways since the start of term, not least on Saturday, when we welcomed over 65 families to our autumn Open Morning. Visitors I spoke to were very impressed by the activities taking place-everything from Forest School and soccer skills to samba band, our marvellous grounds and buildings, and, of course, our young people, whose courtesy and enthusiasm make them such excellent ambassadors for Gosfield. We were very grateful to parents for acting as ambassadors, too, and speaking at length to our visiting families about their experience of and relationship with the school.
Before we get to the half term break, we still have the Careers Fair and Sixth Form Information Evening to look forward to on Wednesday, and the GIFA marathon on Friday, organized by Head Boy Jake. It says a lot about our pupils that they are happy to stay for 24 hours to play football together and raise money for charity and it also shows how dedicated the staff are who have volunteered to supervise them-especially those on the 2am-6am shift!
Enrichment Day on Friday involved pupils in all sorts of challenges, from the ever-popular climbing tower to enterprise competitions to music workshops. As usual, everyone took part with enthusiasm and thoroughly enjoyed the day, even if they found themselves out of their comfort zone: for some, that meant being bounced about in inflatables; for others, it was performing modern dance routines in front of their peers. Taking risks in a safe, supportive environment helps to build confidence and resilience, which is as much a part of a Gosfield education as making academic progress. That's why we organise these events on a regular basis.
The richness of the educational experience here is something we hope to share with our visitors on Open Morning this coming Saturday. For the first time, we are inviting them not only to look around the school and speak to pupils and staff but to take part in activities including Forest School, sports and performing arts sessions, to get a real flavour of all that Gosfield has to offer young people. Do come along and join in!
I have been away part of this week at the annual conference of the Independent Association of Prep Schools in Newport, Wales, meeting Heads of other schools and representatives from the Department for Education and attending a range of thought-provoking sessions on everything from story-telling in the Early Years classroom to updates on inspection.
After such events, there is always plenty to think about and bring back to our school, with a view to enhancing the education we offer to our Gosfield pupils. A recurrent theme in education at the moment is adaptability-or 'agility' as it is often referred to in business: the ability to recognise when things need to be changed and act on that knowledge. This applies to school leaders and managers, but also to teachers in the classroom and, of course, the pupils themselves. It is important that we help our young people to have the skills and confidence to react positively to new situations and ideas, drawing on what they have learnt.
We were reminded by one of the speakers that literacy in the 21st century is not only being able to read and write, but being able to 'learn, unlearn and re-learn'-not getting stuck in particular thought patterns or processes but reacting to shifting situations with alacrity and enthusiasm. As we face yet more changes to the curriculum, the examination system and the inspection regime, I think I and my colleagues can learn a lot from our pupils, who every day are facing new challenges, using their initiative and taking delight in fresh opportunities to learn and grow.
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