This colloprint (one of the ones that went slightly wonky – the result of trying to squeeze a multilayered collage through a roller press) was I think meant to be a mountain. But, with respect to the artist (whom I know will forgive me!), I actually think it works as a road really well, and as such speaks to me of the term we have just come through. I have been encouraged today by three things that seem to me to be critical if a headteacher is to maintain a good outlook and good mental health during the pressures we have recently endured.
- Firstly, there has been a restatement, through the work of Tracey Feil principally, with contributions from Kaajal Mushtaq and myself, of the core relationship of learning being that between a teacher and a group of students – what makes for learning lies in the interaction. How often we forget this, and how often we must tell each other the story. This is an inspiration to walk the path of the future.
- Secondly, there has been a strong reminder, from Christine Richards to me, of all the great things we have achieved this year and in what strong position we are in to tackle the challenges of the next year. This has been the strong guidance and well-evidenced work provided by a view back along the path of the past.
- And thirdly, there is the clarity of the path provided by those who love us in this school – and here, right now, there is a lot of that. The rich affection we share between us from day to day is real, not imagined; purposeful, not fluffy; a result of the presence of God with us for the blessing of children, building on the decisions we have all created to mdoel that love to each other. In the print above, this is what keeps the pathway clear and easy to see. We walk the path of affection with each other, with room to see clearly the needs of one another. It is what enables us to draw others onto the path, and it is a place of beauty. There is enough testimony from enough adults for us to be confident of this. It is our present, in all three senses of that word.
Today, wonderfully and hilariously, whilst all the children were celebrating the X-Factor talent show in the hall, somebody set fire to the instruction booklet for our new microwave, by using the said microwave to start the fire. The instruction booklet was stuck at the back of the oven, of course, as it was new and nobody had used it. My son once massacred a croissant in a microwave, but this was a proper fire. There was acrid smoke and I had to take the thing to the courtyard and open it – seeing a burning Panasonic instruction booklet at the back told its own story. What was great was the joy and contentment it brought to everyone to have such a funny thing happen. If it wasn’t the perfect end to the term, it was close enough.
So to all my fellow walkers on the path, as we lead and teach this wonderful school, thank you all so much. I am humbled by your love and care for me, and how you serve, day after day, the children you are called to. Have a great Christmas. Should anyone buy you a brand new microwave for Christmas, check the contents carefully.