World book day
Dear Parents and Carers
As we enter the month of March, Spring is on the horizon. Longer hours of daylight and the beauty of snowdrops and daffodils offer a promise of warmer weather and brighter days. We hope that the stormy days and rain are behind us and that the sun will eventually break through. The spring term in school is normally a short but busy term. I am writing today to share with you some of the highlights so far and also to bring our community together to consider how we can show empathy and solidarity with those in crisis.
Yesterday was World Book Day and it was brilliant to see the costumes on display and ‘book talks’ taking place across the school. We would like to show our gratitude to the newly formed PSA for their commitment in supporting us with this. At breaktime and lunchtime, they sold hot chocolate to raise funds and hosted a ‘book swop’ for students to explore new texts. Thank you to all the parents and staff involved. We are all aware of the importance of reading and how it can open the world to us, broadening our understanding on a wider map.
As the Covid restrictions begin to lift, we have been excited to return to some of our normal practice this term. The re-introduction of face to face assemblies has been welcomed. We know that this learning time is crucial when building a sense of identity and community spirit in each year group. It is also a time for personal growth, the development of values and the consideration of support for one another. We are acutely aware of the impact that the last two years has had on the well being of members of our school community and in line with our vision, we will be using assembly time to build resilience, self-belief and security for our young people.
The pace and immediacy of the world that our students live in can present challenge. Digital platforms and social media can provide learning and debate for us all, but as adults we are aware of the negative aspects that can also be generated. As a school we remain committed to ensuring that we address these concerns, challenge misconceptions, and educate young people to be safe, informed and courageous in the decisions they make. In recent months we have benefitted from visits by professional organisations and charities to support us in this work. ‘Soulscape’, a Wokingham charity, gave a workshop with our KS4 students regarding understanding pornography in society and, on Tuesday this week, all students from Year 7 – 11 enjoyed a performance from the boy band, ‘Here At Last’. They offered an unplugged concert and spoke to the students about cyber bullying and online safety. The feedback from these sessions has been extremely positive.
We have also valued a series of workshops with the local charity, Brave Minds. This charity has a range of goals centred in supporting schools and sports organisations in keeping the promotion of positive mental health at the heart of their community. This charity has been founded by the Rugby community and it has a number of professional Rugby players as its ambassadors. Their aim is to address the cultural challenge for young men and explore ‘toxic masculinity’ in the broadest sense. They have given a small group of Year 10 boys space to talk, learn and reflect on their mental health and behaviours whilst learning about themselves and who they want to be. We hope to continue our partnership with this charity - #togetherwecan.
Finally, I would like to share with you our response to the conflict taking place in Ukraine. This week, tutors and teaching staff have been ready and prepared to offer time and space for our students to discuss the situation. Using the ‘Windows, Mirrors, Doors’ structure, we have encouraged the students to begin by ‘looking through the window’ at the facts. They have been encouraged to explore the historical and political context, whilst ensuring that they are using reliable sources. Following this, they ‘look into the mirror’ and consider their own thoughts, reflections and questions regarding what they have learned and the impact of the situation. Finally, ‘the door’ supports the students in considering what steps they might take next in response to their learning. In line with our vision of ‘Go and do likewise’, they consider what opportunities are possible in order to make a difference.
We would like to show love and compassion to those who have been affected by the events in Ukraine. This morning, the Student Voice Council will meet and discuss how they believe we should respond as a school community. We are aware that many organisations are accepting donations of resources but we will also consider the possibility of a donation of funds to The British Red Cross or UNICEF, as an additional way of getting support to those who need it. The Student Council will be writing to parents and students to share their intentions and will ask for your support in due course. We hope that you will be able to support their plans, should you be able to. We will continue to pray for all of those in need, focusing on strength, love and hope to carry them forward.
Thank you for your on-going support of our school.