Reflecting on the second half of the Autumn Term, there will be others who have noticed that early mornings starts seem to feel harder on the colder days, and the shorter evenings have the propensity to send us into an almost hibernating state. Except, of course, if you live or work with small children. One of the many joys of spending your working life with young children is they do not meet the change in seasons with the cynicism of the more life-experienced. Indeed, as young people we are often open and embracing of change, ready to adapt and move on.
In moving into the festive season, one great feature is the opportunity it brings to spend time with loved ones and family. Living in the pandemic has served to heighten our desire to make these important times happen. This year, the countdown to the break has been an agonising one for many adults in our community as the fear that changes in COVID restrictions might impact on painstakingly prepared plans. However, as adults, whether it be as parents and caregivers or as educators, our challenge is to manage that fear in a way that allows our young people to enjoy this magical time of year.
As a community, Elmhurst has pulled together to manage the situation responsibly. Although ‘Carols in the Car Park’ may not have had the glamour of St Peter’s Church, the boys had the chance to share some of their excellent work in Music with their parents and, thanks to Mrs King’s swiftly assembled snow machine, real festive spirit was felt by all! Our ‘Whoops a Daisy’ Lower School performances were curtailed, but not before our dress rehearsal was caught on camera and shared with parents. Of course, we would have loved to be together in person but the children did have the experience of performing and working together on a production. In focussing on building a growth mindset in learning, and in life, we are seeking to prepare boys to weather storms such as these and build the resilience that will enable them to keep working towards their goals, even when the goal posts have moved.
A growth mindset is something really important and when it can be harnessed into everyday behaviours the effect is significant. In reading of the death of Colin Powell, the first black American Secretary of State, earlier this year, I was drawn to references of his life rules which build on that growth mindset principle. In particular, part of his rules read: Share credit. Remain calm. Be kind. Have a vision. Be demanding. Simple and powerful principles which fit with my own beliefs as a leader.
To that end, I would like to conclude by: Sharing credit for a successful Autumn Term with the whole community and, in particular, Mrs Mawanda who leaves Elmhurst this term after 17 years of dedicated service. Whilst she will be sorely missed, and we wish her well in her new role in Early Years, her influence will live on in the committed staff team; Remaining calm as we move into a period of uncertainty over the next few weeks knowing that as a school we are well prepared should a longer move to remote learning be required; Be kind in acknowledging how brilliantly the boys have slotted back into a more normal school experience but then adjusted as circumstances changed towards the end of term; I Have a Vision for Elmhurst School for Boys which I know many of you share and I truly believe in a few short weeks we are already taking steps towards. Nurturing brilliance in every boy is our ambition and through school development planning we will be demanding of ourselves to ensure we achieve it.
Until then, I wish everyone a very happy and safe holiday time and we look forward to being back together in the New Year and continuing our journey forwards.