It has been a wonderful week where I have felt like giving thanks at every opportunity, even though the stresses have been quite high and we have been tired. It has been busy, to be sure, but there are glimpses of light everywhere and the sense of how good and full life is – the life of grace, if you will – has been a constant feature of the term.
So, first of all, I reckon, I have been deeply grateful for my leaders and teachers, who support and encourage me all the time, who bring challenge and wisdom and keep me grounded and careful when I would go off in flights of fancy. This gratitude for my leadership team is a gratitude I carry with me perpetually, which keeps us thoughtful and safe (an excellent and rich discussion at our SLT meeting on Monday, a very helpful visit on Tuesday from my LA improvement partner, Peter, a thorough discussion of our budget by Governors on Wednesday evening, and a challenging teaching staff meeting led by Dan Marshall on raising maths standards on Thursday, are among this leadership support) and broadens the context for learning as well as creating the capacity all the time to move the school to places we want it to go. The budget meeting was interesting simply because we share as leaders a conviction that we are spending the right amount of money on exactly the right things, and yet the pressure on the budget has never been greater. Governors were full of praise for Christine, my SBM, and the work that she does to balance and interpret and strengthen our financial position. It was an evening of forensic detail that resulted in the judgment that we have a good, investment-led budget that blesses children.
Secondly, I have been grateful for parents and their generosity, children and their singing and reading, God and his eternal goodness, as shown in our celebration of Harvest Festival this morning. We couldn’t be totally positive, not whilst the Syrian government is pouring barrel bombs and incendiary devices on its own citizens in its largest city, but thanksgiving persists even through a meditation of the conflicts that destroy what God has called good. God’s promise in the picture above, from 2 Corinthians, to increase our store of goodness became a blessing that we said to each other at the very end of the service.
Thirdly, I was grateful yesterday morning, following an extraordinary and wonderful livestream event with Katie Thistleton and Nadiya Hussain in our school hall for Children’s Authors Live, for all of our children at school. It was part of the promotion of Nadiya’s new book Nadiya’s Bake me a Story. Not only were the two stars of the event absorbing, interesting and inspiring for children, but the children themselves drew so many comments for their conduct, politeness and well-orderedness, particularly from the presenters, camera crews and sound people. It was one of those moments when all the work we have put in about values becoming virtues actually pays off, and I was really proud of all we had done corporately so that the children made such a rich impression.
This only scratches the surface, really, and points to some of the things that have happened that generate joy and thankfulness, enabling us to live in a growing awareness of God’s grace. I want to come in the opposite spirit to those who are simply looking forward to the next pay cheque or holiday, and say that we are engaged deeply in good work, which a good God honours and helps flourish so our store of goodness might increase.