As the half term break begins, collectively as a community, I know we have benefitted hugely from an uninterrupted and full educational experience. It is certainly worth reflecting on some of the significant moments and sharing my own perspective on Elmhurst’s magic.
The minibuses play a significant part in our lives here: opening up a range of activities and venues that provide boys with diverse opportunities throughout the week. Thanks to our regular drivers Barry and Nigel, we have visited London museums, swimming pools, forests and parks as well as cross country run venues and sports grounds. Watching the boys getting on and off the buses, strapping in and gathering belongings; there is no doubt that these buses are not only a key part of Elmhurst life but they also play a key role in building boys’ independence. It remains a wonder of our community that not even a fuel crisis could hold us back!
Earlier this month, I joined some of our parent body, online, to hear from Michael Thompson, an educationalist who has spent a significant part of his career working with boys. On reflecting on his observations during the evening, there was one point that Michael made that really resonated with me. Teachers in a boys school love working with boys! They choose to do it, they embrace the nature of boys in their learning and they use their understanding to get the most out of the learners they are working with. It is the freedom to adapt and shape a curriculum to those unique traits of boys learners that is the undoubted privilege of leading a boys’ independent prep school.
The integrated curriculum became a key focus for our development at Elmhurst and over the last couple of years significant work has been done to shape a learning experience that is captivating and motivating for all our boys, as well as a joy for the teachers working with them. Beginning our assembly programme for this academic year, Year 4 boys truly showcased the benefits and depth of discovery this approach offers. Parents and boys were treated to an Egyptian extravaganza covering the building and flooding of the Nile in Forest School, singing some rather gory songs about the mummification process and sharing fantastic artwork done in the style of the surrealist, Paul Klee. See more on this here.
Building partnerships within our own school community and beyond is an important strategic focus for the school and this term I enjoyed the opportunity to lunch with Al Kennedy at Trinity School, where we learned of a shared Edinburgh school years connection but avoided the embarrassment of digging too deep! However, he was quick to tell me of the importance of Elmhurst Boys to Trinity and the undoubted synergies between the two schools. This is something we will be working hard to maintain to ensure for boys who choose Trinity at 11+ the transition is a good one. I mention the 11+ consciously as he shares my belief that this is the best time for an independent pupil’s transition.
Placing the diversity of our Elmhurst community at the centre of our curriculum, we now enjoy a plethora of opportunities to reflect on achievements both present day and historical that have influenced so many people. October, for educationalists, has become known as Black History month. This is something that we wholeheartedly embrace at Elmhurst. Whether we recall the challenge of Rosa Parks through drama in Reception or the bravery of Harriet Tubman in Y4, throughout the month of October, and in all other months of the year, our integrated curriculum pays tribute to the avheivements of those who have faced struggles due to thier differences, and seeks to ensure we build a strength of purpose in tolerance, acceptance and inclusivity. See here and here for some of the activities the Elmhust Boys have been doing this month.
As this half term draws to a close, we bring the Super Citizen focus of the Elmhurst All Rounder to a close. The boys across the school have been really working hard outside of school to make a difference to the environment and shared their efforts in assembly today. Whilst we will move on from Super Citizen, it is vital that we all continue with those small efforts and changes, so that collectively we take responsibility for our planet. See some of the Elmhurst boys' super citizenship here.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is a very special school offering a fantastic education with broad opportunities with a community that cares deeply about themselves and others. The parent ambassador meetings this week and last week have reinforced this and also provided some excellent food for thought. Thank you all for such a warm welcome. I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together.