It has been a really successful first week at school – some super teaching, imaginative learning and a strong start to the new year. However, the pace has been relentless for everyone, me included, and there is some thinking to be done to reduce the pressure so that we really concentrate on children and the quality of their lives. The week has been taken up with short and longer observations of teaching and learning, the prelude to some fuller observations of all teaching over the rest of January, dealing with a series of issues around safeguarding, and helping parents to understand what we are on about when we talk about basic skills that their children need to strive towards. We have appointed new staff, welcomed many new children, mostly from beyond the UK, and begun to think about new and better ways of teaching. All good, encouraging stuff, with purpose, drive and good intent. And the first of our wonderful banners, made last November, are being hung on the walls of the hall – and look gorgeous.
Then last night I watched the stunning Oranges and Sunshine, detailing the work of the near-heroic Margaret Humphreys and the Child Migrants Trust which has brought to public view the scandal of tens of thousands of British and Maltese children being deported from their homeland by the British government after the war and sent to abusive or harsh conditions in Australia, Canada, Rhodesia (as was) and New Zealand. Children without hope, without identity, without mother or father, without a country. Just to write of it is agonising. I have known about this situation for years, since it was first exposed, but had not really understood the details.
And I ran again into the deep tragedy of people who own the name of Jesus (Catholic, Anglican and Methodist orphanages all implicated both here and in the Commonwealth) enslaving and abusing young children in their care. There is only so much we can attribute to the “culture of the time”. Britain is the only nation that has ever done this in modern times (the last “shipments” were in 1970), exporting surplus children overseas as an instrument of a generally racial and social policy.
For me, it just absolutely underpins my conviction at the moment – the requirement that Christians, though imperfect and subject to all the trials of the times, take seriously the commandments to, and avail themselves of God’s power to, be transformed by the renewing of their minds into reflecting more and more deeply the likeness of Jesus.We have to be, more and more, who we say we are.
I hate the fact that we have this dichotomy, this disparity between the beautiful name we own and the largely ineffective and unloving lives we live. The apostle Peter says that we should “make every effort to add to our faith goodness, and to goodness, knowledge, and to knowledge, self-control, etc” and why? So that we may “participate in the divine nature, and escape the corruption that is in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3ff)
I lead a school that has the name of the king, the creator, the sustainer of the universe in it, at its very heart. That needs to tell us something of who we follow and who we try and be like. A good week is a good week, and it has been. But to see the sustained impact of God’s holy, joyous love on the families and children I serve – that requires more of me, and of all of us – a transformation under God’s loving hand, day by day.