G&T November Update
According to recent research by Teacher Tapp, teachers by and large find this term, with its run up to the festive season, the darker nights, chillier temperature and the impending challenge of mocks, not to mention coursework submission dates coming in close succession, the most exhausting.
So, when I embarked on this week on Monday at 8.10am, my stress levels were somewhat tumultuous. Whilst I love a good trip and the opportunity to see students in a different, more 'real' environment, the safety, relatively predictable routine and womb-like control of the classroom seemed most appealing, cosy and comforting. I liken the feeling to cancelling a game of tennis when it's a bit rainy; the good angel on your shoulder tells you it won't be that bad and reminds you of the feeling of smugness, euphoria and guilt-free chocolate consumption afterwards, not to mention the deep regret that ensues after truanting. Conversely, the devil on the other side reminds you that they don't play tennis in the rain at Wimbledon. (If anyone knows my 'skill' level in tennis, you may be surprised that I would even dream of being in the same sentence as this iconic tournament.) Anyway, the paperwork was in, the rooms were booked and the visitor biscuits were bought so the rollercoaster of my week began.
Tuesday saw two visitors from the Northampton Albireh Palestine Friendship Association visit us who met with the team of Year 12 students involved in setting up a link with a school in Palestine. Kate Hirom and Kate Scott, both former English teachers, have been to Palestine on several occasions and told us a little bit about the school and the country, its beauty, its people, the challenges and the controversy. Together, we are planned a zoom workshop with students in a Palestinian school in December. We discussed the format of the event which will involve sharing information about our schools and lives before embarking on a series of mini debates in breakout rooms. Whilst we have connected with other European schools, we have never ventured this far and we are really looking forward to this event. We hope to collate information about our experiences and to share it with the rest of the school community.
On Wednesday, we welcomed former student Simon Kidney back to the school and he delivered an insightful talk on entrepreneurship. It was a well-attended talk which allowed Simon to share his very candid outlook on his journey to success. Most startling was the admission of his many failings. Being told by the then Headmaster, Bruce Liddington, that he was destined for great results at GCSE, Simon explained that he essentially ‘took his foot off the gas’ and,consequently, barely passed any GCSEs at all. Having scraped by to get into Sixth Form to follow a few A Level courses, he left NSB, attended college and came away with one D grade in A Level Music. From there, his employment history was nothing to write home about and he eventually embarked on a degree in music, achieving a third-class degree. Simon then chartered his rise, from working in pubs to working in the city for a bank to being a very successful businessman and academic. And all this without a GCSE in mathematics to his name, despite numerous attempts... Simon was not dismissive of his failures, highlighting that they shaped his life. It is clear that he is a man of many talents, not to mention an engaging speaker.
We are immensely grateful that skilled individuals take the time out of their busy schedules to see us and speak to us so frankly. Sometimes, it can be made to seem so simple as to which path students need to follow. He is a prime example of the very opposite; you make your own way if you work hard enough and if you want it enough.
Finally, Friday saw the return of our actual attendance to Northampton’s Youth Summit- an event run by and run for the young people in Northampton. Students chose from a series of 9 workshops throughout the course of the day, working with peers from different schools. I was immensely proud to see that we had many of our students also involved in the delivery of the workshops and reporting on the events of the day. In addition, students could discover more of the services available to young people in Northampton in the Youth Fair. I have to say, I personally did not know of all the many free clubs and places of support available. I have mentioned a few at the end of this article and I will be speaking to relevant members of staff as there is so much on offer if we make the time to find out.
At the closing speech, Counsellor Danielle Stone highlighted the grim reality of the funding cuts that youth services have faced in recent years. She also highlighted that young people can and do have a voice, if they want to use it. She urged our young people to get in touch with her and attend some of the council meetings which are open to them to attend so that they can share their views. Whatever your political persuasion, it is a point I fully endorse. Therefore, if you are reading this and would and would like to share your voice, your ideas and your aspirations, please get in touch as I genuinely believe that Danielle is someone that will value your effort and help you access ways to share your ideas with people who can make a difference.
So, does the next week see a quieter time? Certainly not. Several students have been invited to Cake and Debate on Tuesday evening at the Guildhall and Tuesday sees the deadline for our video submissions to The Gresham College Competition. Wednesday sees our weekly Debate Society meet and we are arranging the resources for the Palestine zoom call, as well as organising our own cake, speed debate date with other local schools such as Northampton International Academy and Bosworth College. Finally, Thursday sees our participation in the second Spencer Perceval debate at Duston School. Good luck to Alejandro, Emerson, Sayana and Findlay in Year 12!
KEY EVENTS LINED UP-
NEXT Friday- RECLAIM THE STREETS EVENT MARCH FOR WOMEN AND ALLIES
14TH DEC- ZOOM CALL AND WORKSHOP WITH SCHOOL IN PALESTINE
POSSIBLY 7TH DEC- CAKE, MINI DATE DEBATE EVENT WITH OTHER SCHOOLS.
Mrs Shirley Morrison