Singing the Monkton Song
Monday, 03 July 2017
I'd never have thought that making a slight tweak to my prizegiving speech would have the impact it has. Every Head is proud of their school - big or small; we all feel great pride in the achievements of our inspiring and passionate teachers, our diverse and talented pupils, our kind hearted and generous communities.
Unexpectedly finding myself in the middle of viewing figures on various platforms of over half a million people is a strange thing then. But it causes me to reflect on our use of technology and our ability as a species to communicate with one another. In education and, indeed, government, we have become almost obsessed with the negative power of technology, forever worried about the impact that being constantly connected might have on our children. But there is another way of looking at this world.
Pastoral provision is sometimes seen as discipline for poor behaviour, sometimes support for pupils experiencing difficulties, sometimes comforting those in distress. At Monkton, pastoral care is a proactive process, predicting poor behaviour and helping children understand what might lead them to it, using self knowledge to expect challenges and ensuring children learn from them, giving pupils the tools to coach one another in distress so recovering from that difficulty can become a cornerstone of a stronger future self.
So too, with technology, there is a positive proactive power to the ability to communicate on a large scale, it seems to me. For one brief moment, my relatively ordinary school in which parents are doctors, lawyers, vicars and business people, where children go on to be entrepreneurs, engineers and every other thing that every school is proud of its children for, has a chance to speak of our creativity and community. Our small city of Bath has only 80,000 people in it but now for a moment, an even larger community, and one which stretches across the world, is able to glimpse the magic that happens here. Don't get me wrong, my staff are a creative, dedicated and passionate group; my pupils give my world the colour which makes every day a blessing. But so are the pupils in every school in the land; whether state or independent, boarding or day, town or country, we need not to lose sight of the amazing stories which happen in every school every day. We need to learn to harness technology to tell those stories. And what has struck me most? That where this brief moment could have resulted in criticism, cruelty or condemnation, it seems only to have reinforced the positivity of others, the kindness of social media users the world over, the power of us singing a song to one another and singing it together.