Social side is vital

LBO  July 2016

I am back from the gym and I confess it felt like hard work today.  I reflect that it is in large part the lively chatter with several people I have got to know through our shared gym routines that keeps me going.  Were it a completely solitary experience it would be all the tougher.  The social side is vital.

As another school year draws to a close we enter the summer break, an all too brief pause for holidays and exam results, before we start again in September.  And what strikes me more powerfully than ever is just how important that social side of the school experience is for students.

The summer term with its rash of public exams gives way to a multitude of wonderful opportunities.  The recent gathering of pupils from the town’s lower schools, middle schools and upper schools was nothing short of wonderful.  Hats off to everyone who played a part in this Student Voice Conference.

We have music, dance and drama events; art exhibitions; sports festivals and school trips; and induction days for children moving up to their next school be that lower to middle or middle to upper or Year 11 students joining the Sixth Form.

Every school has its share of these events.  They are about learning with others and the shared experience.  These events often become those memorable moments we want for our students; those memories from our schooldays that stay with us into adulthood.

Our Year 11 students produce a Year Book.  This is a lovely idea and is usually a quite impressive thing.  Alongside photos and excerpts from school newsletters, reports and the like, it is intriguing to read students’ reflections on their time at school: the affectionate portrait of a favourite teacher, a description of dreaded school dinners, the tedium of yet another assembly or cross country running in the mud.

But it really comes alive when we get to the pictures with their friends.  Nothing could be clearer: school memories are all about us and our friends.  The social side and relationships are central to students’ experience and enjoyment of school.  As we make our plans for next term, it’s just as well to remember this.

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