Mrs Faulkner's Thought for the Week 27th June 2022
This week in school we are looking at honesty. Thinking about this there are many nuances to this statement. Asked in a complete vacuum, we obviously all value honesty and prize it as an important quality. If I ask my husband what he thinks of an outfit just before we go out, I am not sure I need him to be as honest as he usually is! Taking honest criticism can be a scary thing, but we need to become able to do that, if we want to progress in any aspect of our life.
We always say to our students that they only progress by making mistakes and learning from them. I know that society has become obsessed with feedback , which drives me mad when I buy anything. I yearn for the days you could just purchase something and enjoy it without the need to provide feedback to the company who sold it to you or delivered it. However this is an ingredient of modern living which we seem to have to work with. Similarly we need people to be honest with us about how we are, what we are doing and what we could do and we need to repay the favour to them.
Two of my favourite celebrities are people who give very honest feedback. I would love to have a word with Simon Cowell and Craig Revel Horwood and tell them that their honesty is refreshing. They appreciate talent but they do not tolerate people who have erroneously been told by their nearest and dearest that they are talented and deserve to go far. Our throwaway brittle society as exemplified by reality TV shows prizes superficiality over character attributes. Honesty is not prized by many people because it can be difficult to hear and difficult to say. Greta Thunberg is a great example of someone who eschews social niceties to be blisteringly honest for the greater good of the environment. I always love the refreshing honesty of an autistic person- they have no issue with stating the exact nature of the issue with a situation or a person and expecting it to change.
In summary honesty is one of the most important ingredients to a person or a situation, but it is an uncomfortable one to experience. As soon as we embrace the honest of both ourselves and others, we are that much closer to making our small corner of the world and ourselves better versions of who we are already. I find that quite exciting!
As a famous proverb states – the first step towards greatness is to be honest.
Mrs Faulkner’s Thought for the Week 20th June 2022
This week we will be looking at diversity and marking this with Diversity Week across the Magna Learning Partnership.
Difference can be very scary to the average teenager. As their neural pathways rewire and they are questioning their own likes and dislikes, the last thing they sometimes want to do is empathise with other people or embrace difference. It is easier to be part of the pack than someone who treads their own path at that age. Those of us who are older know only too well that there comes a time when you just don’t worry about all of that, when you are confident enough in your own skin to tolerate and embrace the opinions and preferences of others. At least most people get to that stage.
History is littered with examples of intolerance and unwillingness to embrace difference and diversity. Persecution across time by people who are unwilling to accept others is commonplace. Yet we must not stop striving for this to become something we only read about in history books. It starts with each of us, wherever we live and whatever our ethnicity or sexual preference.
Only this week I sent home a message to some students because they have been using really inappropriate language under the auspices of banter and, when challenged, simply stated to staff that it didn’t matter. Of course they are too young to appreciate the ramifications of this sort of low level pernicious name calling, but it certainly does matter. Every time someone uses homophobic or racist language in society it undermines all the good work and positive intentions of the majority of individuals. It is our duty as school staff, in conjunction with parents, to make sure they understand that.
Of course we all think we know everything when we are teenagers and that our parents know nothing. That is a recognised developmental stage. The responsibility we have as educators and parents is to help our children navigate through those tricky years, ready to contribute positively to society.
So this week when we celebrate diversity in the school community, I hope we can all stop and reflect on how difference does not have to be scary and how that difference adds interest and variety to society. How boring would it be if we were all the same? We now need to play our part in embracing diversity and not allowing suspicion and fear of difference to win.
Mrs Faulkner's Thought for the Week 13th June 2022
This week in school we are looking at tolerance. This is a very interesting topic in the light of society today. Many people appear to have lost their tolerance gene since Covid and almost consider it a weakness. Tolerance is actually the oil that greases the wheels of society. Without it we are no more developed than the animal kingdom and we certainly make things harder for ourselves and our society.
Across history there are examples of a lack of tolerance bringing about the very worst of the human condition- man’s inhumanity to man due to intolerance and suspicion of difference. We can all think of the obvious messages from history- the Nazi regime and its suspicion of difference, apartheid in South Africa and the USA. These are very well-researched moments in history where intolerance created an awful situation for many people who were persecuted for the colour of their skin or their religion.
There are smaller moments of intolerance all around us every day though and we need to address these. In school we often see students, as they grow into adults, going through a phase where they are deeply suspicious or judgmental of other students who are different, who may have different ideas or upbringings, or who may be strong enough to say this is me, get over it. To have someone strong-willed and definite like this can be scary to the average teenager, who can resort to derision and try to undermine these students. It is much easier to scoff at someone than admit you want to be like them!
Talking to friends who work in education, healthcare and the police recently, it becomes apparent that the general public have really taken intolerance and run with it post Covid. There seems little appreciation of others from many people which saddens me hugely. I have said in other pieces that I really believed that, post Covid, we would emerge stronger and wiser as a society, but instead things feel like they are imploding financially and morally.
As I am a half full person all the time, I still believe that we can turn a corner on this road of potholes and bumps and we can work together to improve all of our lives and experiences. It is not going to be easy in any way and it is not going to be quick, but, if we start increasing our tolerance of others, that will be a valuable first step in our moral climb. To all those tolerant readers I salute you and to all those people who know they have been a bit intolerant in recent months, let’s try and appreciate each other rather than criticising. Who knows – it just might catch on!
Have a great week.
Mrs Faulkner's Thought for the Week 6th June 2022
This week we are looking at what it means to be strong and spirited.
There is no better example of this than the Queen and her 70 years of public service. She made the decision, when only about 6 years older than our Year 11 students, to devote her life to this country and she has always striven to provide a moral and empathetic backbone to the country.
Remember her address to the Nation at the start of Covid or the lonely but proud and respectful figure she showed at her husband’s funeral and you have a great illustration of what strength and spirit can do.
We, as individuals, have our own setbacks and trials to navigate as we go through life. Our strength and our spirit is in how we encounter these and move forward. I absolutely hate the description of today’s younger generations as snowflakes. There have been snowflakes through the years in all generations but the vast majority of people in every generation are creations of their time and show resilience and spirit in large amounts.
Young people of today have different challenges- their lives have been made much easier and more convenient with the rise in technological answers to all sorts of questions. They have much more leisure and travel opportunities and they have all sorts of gadgets which reduce the time taken to do some of the most mundane tasks. However they have the added social pressure of the Internet , the 24 hour popular culture and the body beautiful expectations perpetuated by Love Island and its fellow programmes. Pressure is everywhere for our young people and, in the middle of all of that, they have had to endure 2 years of their childhood interrupted by a global pandemic. Throughout all of this, we in schools have seen the vast majority of children step up and treat every setback and change in expectations with, at the very least, resignation and understanding, coupled with a belief that the future will be better.
People in the media often rightly praise NHS workers, teachers and other public servants for working through Covid in an admirable way. I would like to see recognition for how children have come through this. For, if there is any example of strength and spirit in recent times, the attitude and effort shown by school and college students during one of the most challenging times in recent history is well and truly it. They deserve all of our gratitude and thanks for showing us what young people can do in times of adversity.
I admire their strength and their spirit.
Thought for the Week 23rd May 2022
As we draw to the end of this term, short and packed as it has been, I know that some of our students and staff will be groaning at the theme of the week- I am enthusiastic. We are all a bit weary and poor Year 11 are in the midst of GCSE exams, being enthusiastic could be a bit of a chore for some.
I have always been a champion of enthusiasm myself and will be annoyingly enthusiastic all week. There is no substitute for the sheer enthusiasm you can put into every aspect of your life. It helps get through the bad times, it helps make a boring task more interesting and it allows you to celebrate everything good that you do. I know I sound slightly evangelistic about this, but I am a great believer in the positive impact of enthusiasm towards mental and physical wellbeing.
We all know it is hard to maintain our enthusiasm for anything at the moment. There is so much bad news - things going wrong nationally and globally- that it would be easy to lock up your enthusiasm and sink to your lowest ebb for many years. We are in the middle of a maelstrom of negativity which none of us have created, and we need to cling on to what is positive to stay afloat.
Our school this week has been full of nervous tension- Year 11 students, the first to take exams since the summer of 2019, and who have had such an interrupted school career, have plunged into the exam season with amazing aplomb. They have been almost completely awe-inspiring in their approach and their attitude. You always have a very small exception to this – but in my opinion this is generally caused by a few students realising what they should have done earlier and trying to deflect out. They too will eventually go on to the next phase successfully but may go more of a scenic route. I take my figurative hat off to the vast majority in Year 11 who have prepared so well and so thoughtfully for what is, after all, an unknown quantity for them. An exam season like no other, with so many hopes and a huge feeling of relief that we are all getting back to some sort of normality.
As Year 11 come to the end of their time with us, we are starting to meet our next Year 7 students. Mrs Ford is going to our primary schools to answer their questions and to make them feel more confident. There is a huge amount of enthusiasm from both her and the Year 6 students. An exciting adventure is about to begin for them which will be over in the blink of an eye.
Enthusiasm is a much maligned quality, possibly considered a bit uncool to the average teenager. However if you embrace your enthusiasm for your job, your hobbies, your social life, any other aspect of your life, you will be all the richer for it.
As Aldous Huxley said, ’The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.’
I hope you have an enthusiastic week and rediscover your inner child!
Thought for the Week 16th May 2022
This week we are exploring what interests we have as individuals.
It is a constant source of amazement to me the breadth and depth of sports, musical prowess, culinary talent and other impressive achievements which are present amongst the student body. Some of them are very private about their exceptional gifts or their special hobbies or the level they have attained in their chosen pastime or sport. It really is heart-warming and inspirational to see and hear all of this marvellousness.
Why is it so important to have interests? Well in its most simplistic it gives some respite form the academic challenges which everyone must navigate as they go through school. It allows personal choice and the ability of even young children to have something which is theirs and not necessarily chosen by their parents. It allows students to explore something in depth which they may not have had the opportunity to do in school or attempt something breath-taking which no-one could ever have predicted.
As Year 11 approach their first GCSE exams this week, I know that in that year group we have martial arts experts, circus skills performers, amazing musicians, fantastic high end culinary masters, great sportsmen and women, incisive debaters, determined eco warriors and so many other skills which may or not be assessed during the exam period. What a privilege to have known these people for 5 years. I whish them well in their GCSE exams – they have had a bumpy road to this and they have generally coped magnificently. It is obvious to me that one of their coping mechanisms has been to keep their interests and hobbies alive and relevant. Indeed they have clung on to them I moments of extreme societal madness which I think we can all agree we have experiences a lot of over the last two years,.
Having interests contributes to us as a whole person and makes us better members of society, better friends and better colleagues. The person who cannot make time for these is missing an obvious truth. No-one wants to spend time with someone who has no interests, who has shrunk their world down to such an extent that they have become one dimensional. There are so many fantastic opportunities to learn and grow in the world it is important that we continue to do that, however old or cynical we are.
Have a great week and try to give yourself some time to reignite your interests!
Thought for the Week 9th May 2022
This week our theme is I am in charge of my own mental health. This brings together two of my favourite subjects to discuss:- support for mental health and personal responsibility. Nationally it is mental health awareness week and our emphasis is very much on what you do currently and can do to support yourself to be mentally healthy. In conjunction with this is the wider issue of personal responsibility, which we really seem to have lost during the post Covid era. I have never seen so many signs up in shops, hospitals and other public places telling people that they will not tolerate abuse towards their employees. This type of sign is strangely incongruous with the huge national concern about mental health and supporting others. We have a national anger problem which needs tackling and which will only get worse with the rising bills, the concerns over hospital waiting times and the war in the Ukraine. It is inexcusable that people expect to be able to shout at others to vent their frustration. It may improve their mood in the short term, but what type of society are we living in if this is accepted?
This brings me back being in charge of your own mental health. This is a lofty ideal but very achievable, but no-one will ever be successful with this unless they accept personal responsibility in its widest sense. In BVT we teach do unto others as you would have done unto yourself- the Golden Rule of Christianity. This is the only mantra you need to improve your mental health, your life in general and society locally, nationally, and globally. If we all just did this simple thing, then most of the anger in the world would dissipate and people would find it easier to co-exist positively.
We are in an undoubtable turning point globally now. Any hope we had of society being better post Covid have long since gone, but there is still a huge amount of hope. It will not be governments who change this, it will be every individual who decides to be positive and life affirming with both themselves and other people around them. It is a classic case of look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. What sort of a penny will you be?
Have a good week.
Thought for the Week 2nd May 2022
This week our theme is I am Spiritual. We will be considering how we nourish our inner selves and whether we think it is important in a broad sense, not necessarily a religious one. We all have different ways of doing this and that difference is something which unites us in finding our true spiritual selves.
Things that nourish our soul can be small things like a new summer’s morning, seeing a wild animal in its natural habitat, completing a long walk and feeling a sense of achievement- the list is endless. I think that ,if you always remember to appreciate these small things, you cannot help but keep your inner self at peace, calm and kind. I enjoyed the Cuckoo Fair on Saturday and I , like lots of other people there, enjoyed the feeling of normality and the sheer joy of seeing people I have not seen for years. There is something great about our village – that sense of cohesion that has never been compromised, even when we have been tested as a community. Living in such a community as ours really does look after your inner self.
At Trafalgar we work to keep this community feel in school as well. We discuss the values that we would like the students to have and we praise them when they get things right. I have had the amazing job this week of reading prefect applications- the time when you can see if our older students have really bought into our ethos. Every year the pride they feel in our school leaps off the page. It has been a humbling experience this year to see the quality of the applications and to realise that what we as leaders think our ethos should be is reflected in the thoughts and aspirations of these amazing students. We now move into the Head Student process which will enhance this further.
There has been a move across education and some schools in recent years to focus on the traditional so-called academic subjects and to strip away the arts subjects such as music, drama and art. These are subjects which are often considered to’ feed the soul,’ to challenge us and cause us to think about aesthetic things, to question ourselves and to empathise with and reflect the experiences of others. I think this is rather compartmentalised and we as a school have not sacrificed the experience of our students to fall in with this. All subjects are equally able to make you think – people are all so different and require different spiritual cues. Once we embrace this and open our minds to our spiritual inner selves, then we open up a whole new vista in our lives.
Have a great week.
Mrs Faulkner's Thought for the Week 25th April 2022
As we return from the Easter Holidays we are thinking about the environment in school this week Our Eco Council will be running a series of House assemblies to promote what they are working on and raise the awareness of environmental issues. In conjunction with this, we will be asking students to reflect on this theme for their Big Question in tutor times.
We are constantly bombarded with scary stories about the environment- about how it is too late to do anything or maybe it isn’t, about how bad we are as individuals, regions, countries and continents about looking after our world. We are reminded of what poor stewards of this amazing planet we are and how things should be so much better.
This is a tricky way of presenting such an important issue. In school if we constantly have a go at people to get them to do what we want or they should, it normally backfires. Constant nagging never has much effect and leads to resentment. Sometimes I think we are in danger of this from an environmental perspective. David Attenborough is a fantastic antidote to this. He is old and wise and presents his opinions in a way which makes you realise what we all need to do, without chiding or scolding. Of course we must make sure the seas are less polluted or animal habitats are prevented from disappearing. It is a no brainer.
Such lofty ideals can seem a long way away from lovely Downton and Salisbury. How can we have any sort of environmental issue when you see the village bathed in sunlight, the thatched cottages and the river, how can what we do have an impact on the world. Well, as with all things, if you start small and work on your individual actions, eventually these little gains and victories do have an impact. Downton has its very own green network( www.downtongreengroup.org.uk) which focuses on making all things environmental clear and achievable for people in the local area. They are firm believers that we can all have a social responsibility towards improving our world and that taking care of the environment is one way of doing this. We are really pleased that in school we have a group of like minded people led by the ever positive Mr Brice and we look forward to listening to their ideas and contributions this week.
Being environmentally aware is a duty for all of us, but better than that, it is a privilege. We are all stewards of the earth and ,in taking care of it, we become better versions of ourselves.
Have a great week!
Mrs Faulkner's Thought for the Week 4th April
Well the final week of term is upon us and what better theme for the week than I work hard. I think I speak for all students and staff when I say that, each term since the pandemic began, has thrown up a variety of different but equally tricky challenges and we all arrive at the holidays looking a bit tired and less sparky than at the start of the term. This has been no different. The counter- intuitive nature of society suddenly being expected to live with Covid and some of our measures being taken away has been slightly unnerving. We have still kept some of our cleaning routines in school, which give a feeling of security, and we have so far escaped the high numbers of cases in other local schools, but it is a constant balancing act.
I work hard seems such a simple statement, but what lies behind it is a huge debate on extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, let alone all the other factors which impinge on hard work-health, character, finances, geography and many more.
Many people need to see an instant reward for that hard work, others are motivated by longer term goals and more abstract rewards-that feeling of satisfaction for a job well done for example or the gratitude of a peer for something you have done well. It is much more complex than it first appears.
We live in this so-called throwaway society at the moment, where people think that they can be successful with no hard work or talent behind them, based purely on their social media likes or the convincing way they can pout into a mirror in their bathroom. I knew I was turning into my mother when I started saying things like "In my day you needed to have some talent to be on the TV!" What I mean by this is that the worrying trend of social media impacting on society can lead our students to think that fame and wealth is just waiting for them, and that they need to have no personal responsibility to go along with that.
Coupled with the current mental health crisis in young people, this is indeed a concerning picture. Many of them fail to feel that intrinsic reward of doing something well and understanding themselves; they spend too much time trying to be the best dressed, coolest, most hip person they know and curating their Instagram account to present themselves as best they can.
Whilst I love social media and the ability to connect with people across the world, I also hanker after those old fashioned values of hard work and that being reward enough. I want my students to have happy fulfilled lives and that needs to have a firm basis of hard work to build on. Appreciating what it feels like to work hard is a skill we try and teach all of our students, with varying success. Several times I have come across someone five or ten years after they have left us, who has said to me "I wish I had listened when you told me to work hard at school. Who knew that it was the best place to get that habit?"
Well ,in short, every teacher who has repeatedly tried to deliver that message to a teenager who thought he/she knew everything!
Let’s have a great hard working last week of term.
Mrs Faulkner's Thought for the Week 28th March 2022
I have just returned from the most lovely of Mother’s Day weekends- my husband has outdone himself this year! As I return to the reality of the week ahead and think about our theme – I am Caring- I find myself reflecting on being a mother and more globally being a nurturing human being. I can appreciate the up and the down sides of Mothering Sunday. Being a mother is both the best and the worst job in the world – a bit like being a pastoral deputy headteacher to be frank. There are days you think you have cracked this parenting lark and they all love you, there are other days when you seem to be the wicked witch of the west with everything you say or do. The trick is to persevere and hold the parenting line, when all about you seems to be mitigating against it. In the middle of all of this you have to be a caring and loving nurturing being who has endless patience and love- not a tall order at all with the speed of modern living!!
Why however does Mothering Sunday seem to be a more important day than Father’s Day? Perhaps it is down to the Christian origins of the first one – from the Virgin Mary- as opposed to the commercial opportunity to sell more cards which saw Father’s Day become a significant date. However, as we move further into 21st century, we need to reflect on how nurturing we all can be, irrespective of gender. It has become ever more acceptable, in the last few decades, for men to show their caring side and for it not to be seen as a sign of weakness. As a human race we have to start showing we care more. We appear to be being rocked ,as a world, by a series of major events- the latest, of course, being the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Although this reveals the unbelievable truth that one man’s agenda can rock the stability of the world , it has also revealed the very best of humankind. All of those individual stories of heroism and caring wrapped up in a disaster so terrible, to which the rest of the world is trying to respond sensitively, while maintaining open lines of communication with all countries and peoples.
Caring is not always an easy thing to do, both as individuals or as nations, but it is a necessary quality for society. It allows us to show love and cohesion as human beings; it lets us support the weakest, while maintaining the strong bond which unites us. Every community needs to care for its individuals as people and also take care of the ethos and values of that community. As teachers and school staff one of our most important gifts to our students is the gift of caring. Knowing that they will in turn pass this on, when they leave us, is legacy enough. I hope that you all have time this week to show other people your caring side!
Mrs Faulkner's Thought for the Week 14th March 2022
This week we are reflecting on how capable we are. It sounds on the face of it quite old fashioned to say I am Capable but, digging beneath the word, it really ties in so well with our constant theme within our school community about not putting a lid on your dreams and about self-belief (not arrogance) being a huge ingredient to make sure you achieve your life goals.
It is very British to hide your light under a figurative bushel. We don’t sell ourselves half as well as someone else would in general, and we are suspicious of people ,who are self-confident ,as being somewhat brash. Counter that with our close American cousins, who seem to possess a huge amount of inner confidence and enjoy their self-belief, both individually and nationally ,because they know that it will support them to get where they want to in life.
The current growth in self-help books and TV programmes over the last few years is testament to the fact that everyone, to some degree, wants to improve aspects of their lives which they feel need improvement ,but probably, like me, most of them think if they read the book it will magically happen. Unfortunately not !
This brings me back to feeling capable and understanding your capabilities. This sounds complicated but is really nothing more than knowing what you can currently do, working out what you want to do and where you want to be, and then planning how you can get there, at no point being held back by your personal idea of what you can and cannot do. The only person who can put a lid on your ambition is you, coupled with the perceptions of people around you. As teachers it is very easy to pigeonhole students from the same group, family etc. and I always make sure that staff are challenged if I see that happening. Even parents do it themselves. We sometimes come across parents who are almost bemused by our efforts to get their children to push themselves with their studies- not often, but it does happen. Those parents have failed to engage with the fact that nowadays there is more competition for jobs which pay well and give job satisfaction, and that we see it as our duty to give the students the best academic start in life, so they can compete in the job market on a level footing or even slightly higher than students from other schools.
Capability is something which we do not often reflect on for ourselves, but we need to. It is one of the jigsaw pieces which allow us to achieve and be successful. It gives us a firm foundation to build on for our futures and that of our families. Once you realise how capable you are, you can relax, aim high and enjoy your journey.
Have a great week!
Mr Faulkner's Thought for the Week ~ 28th February
This week in school we will return from half term and our theme is, rather fittingly, I am Focused. Part of me wants to really rebel when I see that phrase. Nowadays you have to be so focused, full of life goals, always wanting to better yourself. How exhausting! No wonder teenagers today struggle with pressure and resilience at times. We seemed to have a slower more measured pace of life and less stringent expectations on us when we were children. We had time to kick back and just enjoy being young and feeling like the world was our proverbial oyster. Now teenagers are expected to lurch from goal to goal with clear plans and user friendly strategies to help them get there.
However this is not the whole story. You can still enjoy the journey and you can still appreciate every little experience or life event. You just have to be more mindful of it and take the time. It is really easy to go from school to homework to Xbox and back again, without giving yourself some space to savour the daily joy that we all have in our lives. I realise that sounds extremely cringey to the average teenager, but it is true. Some people fill in gratitude journals, but I find that sort of thing just another thing that I have to squeeze into a normal day. Far better, in my opinion, to put your focus into your experiences and senses, so that you are both in the moment and appreciating all the good stuff. We all know half empty people, who lose their focus unless it is on something negative and are never happier than when focusing on their misery. Most of us, however, are able to journey through life with enjoyment and focusing on the positive.
Modern life has made all the mundane things so much easier and efficient so that we are freer to focus on the importance things – family, friends, leisure, care and love. Society has fallen into a trap where it has just got faster the more efficient things are. Interestingly for a time Covid reset this for many people – we could not go to work or our favourite places and we had to look within ourselves and our families and focus on those sometimes abstract important things. If we forget this as things go back to something approaching normality we will lose something else. We have had an opportunity to pare our lives back – the ultimate focus. We must as individuals and collectively as a national and global society ensure that we keep the feeling of focusing on the most valuable parts of our lives but make it work for us and our families and friends and use it to enhance our lives. This truly is the focus that we all deserve.
Thought for the Week 6th February
This week we are marking Safer Internet Day 2022, as are many organisations across the country. The Internet is both the best gift we could have as a society, with its huge potential to stay in touch with loved ones or to make business or online learning more efficient, but also, used naively or without care, it can be something which rocks the very fabric of society.
As Voltaire said, ‘with great power comes great responsibility.’ We can now talk to people across the world on the smallest of devices, which also means people can troll other people really easily or form a view on someone they have never met or do not even want to understand fully and then comment. It has given the people who just sit in their room with no thought for the consequences of their actions online carte blanche to be nasty and to be critical, with no thought for others.
When I was at school ,if you had a problem with someone, you told them face to face, which certainly made you think about what you were saying. Things were most often quickly sorted because, in order to bully using a phone you would have had to queue at home for when your parents had finished making any calls and the use the dial corded phone which lived in the house. By the time you had done all that you had lost the initial anger you felt!
We know all of the rules and suggestions for managing our online presence and yet people continue to be mercilessly cruel to others using this medium. It will always be so - just look at the amount of war in the world at any one time and we all know how harmful warfare is. All that said though, I feel we need to concentrate on the beauty and awe created by the Internet. I hope, probably far too optimistically, that by doing this, people who are tempted to use it for their own nastiness will suddenly find that there are many greater benefits to this marvellous tool we have in our gift.
Personally speaking, I am grateful to the Internet for allowing me to keep a relationship going with my sister who lives in Berlin and for us to be able to see my niece and nephew grow and develop right in front of us, albeit via Zoom. In addition, the amount of knowledge and experiences that you can have online is awe-inspiring - virtual tours of famous museums, living history exhibits, workshops about any topic you can think of, musical tuition, entertainment, personalised greetings cards, meetings, research, almost everything is so much more accessible and easier.
We have this amazing invention with us every day, but ,as with all other things across evolution, we have to make it work for society and we have to be aware of all of the benefits and negative issues which surround it. This should be an addition to make our daily lives easier, not something which completely takes over our lives or something which leads to a negative impact on other people. The Online Safety Bill which is heading to the Commons will put a much tighter legal framework into place to protect people. The theme for Safer Internet Day this year is All Fun and Games- exploring respect and relationships online. If we can get that right we can move forward with the greatest invention of modern times working for us, rather than against us. I hope that this week in school students and staff find it useful to reflect on how they maintain their online presence.
Thought for the Week 10th January 2022
This week in school our theme is I am Valued. Feeling valued covers a huge amount of scenarios and emotions. How we feel valued differs, perhaps, due to our upbringing, our character and our outlook on life. We all know people at opposite ends of this very broad spectrum- some people need constant praise just for doing ordinary things that they are expected to do to make them feel secure and valued. Other people just naturally do things to help and support without desiring any praise. Most of us are somewhere in the middle!
Being valued and knowing you are valued are also two different things. It could be that the people in your life are not the most effusive of people and they just get on with things. You may not know how appreciated and valued you are because they just expect that you will pick it up with your spidey senses. It may be that some of your nearest and dearest spend so much time telling you how valued you are that it gets a bit monotonous and loses its impact. Again, being somewhere in the middle of this continuum is about right; knowing you are valued, but knowing that it only comes from something worthy of being valued.
There is nothing better than that feeling when you realise something you have done or an aspect of your personality is truly valued. Life can be a bit of a drudge and having some really positive feedback (how I hate that word, especially when I have bought something and I am supposed to fill in some mind numbing questionnaire about the efficiency of the experience!) can be so inspiring and uplifting. The thought that you have done something which has helped someone or that you are considered to be a kind, caring, positive and or generous person is humbling in the extreme.
We know in education that our students come from a variety of homes and with differing life experiences. I have always gone out of my way to make sure that I interact with everyone around the school in a positive way (unless of course I have my sanction face on!). Making everyone feel valued is as simple as saying hello, asking how they are, remembering to ask if they are better if you know they have been absent, or contacting home if they do something amazing, so parents and carers can share in the reflected glory. We spend a lot of time trying to praise our students because we know that feeling valued and cared for is the best foundation for life in general. It sets them up to be positive contributors to society and to pay this back in their lives in the way they treat others and bring up their families. Everyone needs to feel valued and to value others. That is the way that the world functions best. Children need to learn this from adults and adults need to remember this as they get further away from childhood.
I hope that, as we discuss this this week, we will make our community members realise that they are valued and appreciated. There is nothing more effective at building a sense of worth than that, and we, as a society, need that firm foundation to go forward in these most uncertain of times.
Thought for the Week 3rd January 2022
Well a New Year always feels like a patch of undisturbed snow or a new page of an exercise book- fresh and unblemished, full of possibilities and exciting future opportunities. This year we may be forgiven for letting that slide a bit! The news and the predictions can be best summarised with the phrase same old same old but, even in the midst of what seems the next month of Covid gloom, there is hope. We can hopefully look forward to a much brighter future, if only we can get over the next few weeks, but many of us have forgotten how to be positive and how to be glass half full. Many of us have had the figurative stuffing knocked out of us from one more setback, one more thing we can’t do.
I marvelled over the holidays that almost every place I went – shops, the surgery, the chemist’s, the cinema, all displayed signs stating that they will not tolerate verbal or physical abuse of their staff. Everyone has become so short tempered and angry with each other that there has been a tremendous mushrooming of workplace aggression which we should and must not tolerate as a civilised society. Aggressive people seem to forget that the people who work in shops and as receptionists are also people with families, poorly children, aging relatives, general anxiety about the current situation – in short just the same as them.
In the Downton area we have had a large amount of break-ins over the Christmas period , including the newly refurbished Co-op. It would be easy to throw up our hands in horror and talk about how great things used to be. This is not the issue however. Society is at a pivotal moment. We are emerging from a pandemic and we need to work together to make sure that the society we move into is one of kindness, tolerance and positivity.
I am determined this year, rather than making the traditional resolutions of fitness and diet, which never last past 3rd January most years, to resolve to make this world a better, kinder place and to call out those people who add nothing to it, other than nasty, self-centred behaviour. Our time on this earth is too precious for us to have to put up with mindless vandalism, selfish behaviour and a very few people spoiling things for everyone else across society. Random acts of kindness are the way to go. If we start small, then we will very quickly see that this engenders more kindness and those negative and self-centred people are left in the minority, looking foolish.
Our theme in school this week is I am a Good Friend – there is no better way to start the New Year in school than all of us reflecting on what a good friend is and how to be a better one. I look forward to working with you all this year to make our little corner of the world more kind and positive.
Happy New Year!
Thought for the Week 13th December 2021
Well, here we are in the last week of term and things feel uncertain again.
This was supposed to be the normal Christmas where everything went back to how it used to be, and yet here we are with media messaging seeming to suggest that things are about to change. Again.
In the middle of all this, our theme in school this week is I am Inspired. At the end of term many of us are not feeling particularly inspired, both students and staff are just trekking quietly to the end of term and hoping that there will not be too many dramas or expectations on us this week.
However, even in times like this at school, there is inspiration everywhere. I am always really grateful to work in a school , even when the day to day minutiae seems to be overwhelming, when a parent is unhappy or a student is struggling with their behaviour. There is no greater privilege than being able to interact with young people, to support them to care for them and to see them fly academically and socially.
Inspiration can be a small moment, a small action or a grand gesture and a pivotal moment. When I started at this school many years ago, there was a legendary Deputy Headteacher, Mr Gibbons, who many parents and friends of the school will remember to this day. He was a hugely inspirational figure in my life- someone so calm, confident and fair that everyone respected him and everyone took what he said as justified and positive. Although he sadly passed away in 2018, his legacy still lives on in school with the Nigel Gibbons prize for the student who most embodies the Trafalgar School values.
He showed me that being fair and just and always caring was so important and he set me on my path of pastoral care.
A truly inspirational man.
On a day to day basis there are many just as important moments of inspiration around the building- the student who enters a lesson unable to do a task and then leaves beaming because they have finally got it, the person who lacks confidence who pushes themselves to ask a question, the members of staff who model to the students how to behave as an adult, how to be kind and how to be fair, the child with additional needs who manages to work through their anger in a way better than they ever have before, the calm kindness of Boo having an impact on a troubled child….. I could go on and on.
All of these things have a positive impact on someone’s life. Sometimes the power for change comes from within the person themselves and sometimes it is created by an external person or force. Inspiration can also be created by an appreciation of art, music , literature, foreign travel and many other extrinsic things. What we all need to hold on to, even in these strangest of times, is that we have the power to inspire ourselves and others, we must never forget to be inspired and to inspire. A world without inspiration is a poor imitation of a world we aspire to live in.
Have a lovey inspirational Christmas – take care and stay warm!
Thought for the Week 6th December 2021
This week in school our theme is I am Determined. I was pretty sure that I knew all about determination and understood why it was important when I was younger. It seemed quite obvious that the more effort you put in, the better your results and ultimately your life choices. It seemed quite an easy thing to do.
It became apparent to me that I knew nothing about it at all, as I navigated my way through the first few years of being a mother. Not because I was unaware of the sheer amount of baby sick or sleepless nights that one has to endure, but because both of my boys had to be so determined from the get go. They are both autistic and, to some extent, could be considered to have things stacked against them. We made a pact as a family when they were both little that this was an opportunity and not a problem, that we would, with trial and error along the way, get through this and that ultimately they would emerge stronger, determined and self-aware, able to both empathise and understand other people and themselves.
It has certainly not been easy and we still have our moments. The important thing is that they themselves have determination and an unswerving belief that we will help them get to wherever they want to go. Ultimately, as we often tell them, it is they who are the people in charge of their success and only their determination will get them there. That is a pretty scary message to hear when you are a small child and also as a parent who suspects something is not quite right but does not want to verbalise it.
We have had years of preparing people for visits, holidays, days out, obsessions such as Minecraft, Pokemon, balloon modelling, streetdance, ukulele and the latest ones – basketball for the eldest and barn owls and Pokemon for the youngest. However what they have taught us is priceless and I would not want it any other way. Everything they do they do to the best of their ability, even if they find it hard. They are not content until they have researched and practiced their latest interest to its logical conclusion. They have an encyclopaedic knowledge of many things, but best of all they have determination to make the best of what they have got and they love life.
Every day at Trafalgar we see other individual and collective stories of determination which are humbling and inspiring. This is one of the best things about working in a school. So many people have so many obstacles and yet strive to overcome them and become better people. As we move towards our second Christmas with Covid, determination is definitely called for from everyone. Only be keeping our focus and determination will we eventually emerge stronger and better, ready for anything that life can throw at us.
Thought for the Week 29th November 2021
This week in school our theme is I am Moral. This sounds quite old fashioned at face value but really we are looking at everyone’s individual code of morals, their blueprint so that they can live their life successfully having a positive effect on both other people and society. Morality is very subjective and can really give a large clue to someone’s upbringing and personality. It is the glue which keeps society together, it is both a joy and sometimes a chore. However what we must never lose sight of is that ,without it, we would live in an anarchical society and our lives would be very much the poorer.
We all know people or groups of people who seem to have a very distant relationship with morality, who waste a lot of time and resources while other people sort out their mistakes, because they do not appear to care. I am talking about society wider than school here. The vast majority of our school community have a strong set of morals which are underpinned by our school values and reflect the determination and will of our students to make a difference and to be positive contributors during their life. Those other people will probably always rage at life because they feel cheated or disappointed in what they have or what they experience. They have failed to understand that they are masters of their own destiny, that they can make their own luck and that this all stems from their morality. This is the most important aspect of a human’s existence and sets the tone for your life.
I have mentioned in other thoughts of the week that my childhood contained moments of poverty, but my parents never let our moral standards slip, never allowed us to be anything other than grateful and I think this has left me with a really useful ability to appreciate everything, however small. As long as a person has acquitted themselves in a positive manner and stuck fast to their moral code, then everything should pass and everything should get better. Once we lose this belief and stop trying to be the best version of ourselves we lose something hard to quantify but so valuable.
The current vogue for reality TV programmes and celebrities with no talents other than self- promotion is a stealthy attack on our morality. Standards shown to our teenagers in these programmes are never going to support them developing a moral code. They are subliminally taught that vacuous self-centred behaviour is acceptable and that, as long as your nails are done, your hair is perfect and you can talk about shoes and clothes without pausing for breath, that is the way to a successful life. How depressing! I am hopeful that soon the throwaway society which prizes this sort of morality will pass, as everything does, and we will learn to appreciate values and morals as 21st century enhancers and things to be prized. Until that happens, we continue as individuals and communities, developing and using our own moral codes because, in the words of Malala Yousafzai, when the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.
Thought for the Week 22nd November 2021
This week in school we will be reminding ourselves about looking after our wellbeing and that of others. This seems a good time to do this, as we are halfway through Term 2, the news is looking quite bleak and the days are becoming darker. At least Christmas is not too far away and looks like it could be better than last year – here’s definitely hoping!
The lockdowns provided us all with a chance to reflect on our own wellbeing and how we could change our lives in some way to make them better. Hence we have seen a lot of people who have changed jobs, started working from home more, taken up new hobbies or just simply reorganized things to spend more time with their families. This is fine if you can do any of these things, but there are many people who have been forced to re-evaluate due to less than positive things happening to them- jobs lost, family members lost, income halved or other pressures being put on their family.
With this backdrop and rising cases in Europe, how can we possibly prioritise our wellbeing? And yet we must. We focused last week on small acts of kindness adding up to making the world a better place. This is true of wellbeing- one small act of kindness to ourselves or others becomes more and more addictive until we are taking better care of ourselves and making sure that how we treat people impacts on them positively for days or years afterwards. People always remember a kind word or deed, but they also remember a nasty one even more clearly.
Last week alone in school, I saw a lot of kind deeds and words – people encouraging their friends in lessons to achieve, people socialising positively and supporting others, staff wanting to get the best out of each other and their students both academically and socially. Yes, we, like any community have that tiny number of disenfranchised, negative students in school who, when they leave us, will suddenly realise that school was actually a great support to them but, while they are here, they continue to kick off at the rules and social norms which any community has to have. However most of us at Trafalgar have an unswerving desire to make our community better, to make our students and staff the best versions of themselves they can be and to come in every single day ready to learn and be positive.
So as regards our wellbeing we can all do several things straight away.
Be kind to yourself – focus on the positive things you have done recently.
Plan ahead in small steps for something you want to have achieved in one week, one month, one year and five years and do it.
Think about how you treat people and how you want to be treated- make sure it is kind.
Most importantly- have good friends, dance, sing, eat well, exercise and love life.
Each of you deserves the very best life chances and opportunities and you can create them for yourself.
No-one else will do it for you.
Life is a blank canvas- make sure you paint a masterpiece!
Thought for the Week 15th November 2021
This week in school we are thinking about kindness and being kind to each other as part of our focus on Anti-Bullying Week. The national focus during this week is One Kind Word. I feel this is very timely. We certainly noticed an upsurge of negative behaviour between students after lockdown as they desperately tried to exist socially in school after months in their homes completing remote learning. This has somewhat settled now – time really is a great healer. We have all become used to each other again and we have all worked out our individual contribution to the school community. I must compliment Year 7 and Year 8 who both had very interrupted transitions due to Covid but who have come in and become great contributors to Trafalgar already.
Talking to friends in other professions, particularly healthcare, it becomes obvious that society as a whole has rather lost its way with kindness over the last couple of years. People are angry, feel powerless, have less money in their pockets, may have lost their jobs and all with the backdrop of a worldwide pandemic with all the normal things which cheer us up such as holidays and socialising off the table. If you thought about it in too much depth you would go mad. Is it any wonder that people feel less kind and are more inclined to complain or to shout about something they are not happy with.? Society has been tested and has gone on an interesting journey. Firstly we all pulled together, clapped for the NHS and bonded together like the Blitz. Then, as it turned out to be a longer period than we first expected, people turned angry and bitter and reflected this out. Now we have a fatalistic feeling of acceptance and a conviction that we are nearer to the end than we have ever been.
Our mission, as a school, has been to allow our students the freedom to express their feelings and to explore the confusion which they have felt – not just about exams but also about their lives in general. With this freedom we have supported and cared for them as best we can, while still having the same thoughts and concerns as all other adults. The school community has been amazingly flexible and adaptable – far more so than we may have expected. The vast majority of them have remained kind despite everything.
This week we will be focusing on developing that kindness and making sure that everyone in our school community appreciates the importance of kindness, the impact of their words and actions on others and the fact that we all have a contribution to make to get our community that little bit kinder. I have asked tutors this week to explore a tutor group anti- bullying pledge with their groups, so that everyone reflects on their group contribution to our ethos and values.
Life is far too short to spend it angry and bitter- one kind word is all it takes to make this world just that bit better.
Thought for the Week 8th November 2021
This week in school our theme is I am respectful. This links in with the whole school focus on remembrance week, which this year will have a local community feel. I am a great believer in the premise that a community is made stronger by remembering the people and events that have gone before. Here in Downton we have a very strong community of which the school is proud to be a part. This year we will be looking at different ways to link in with our local community still further. This community is a direct result of the historical sacrifice and contribution of Downton inhabitants over many centuries. The village does not shy away from celebrating this throughout the year and none more so than on Remembrance Sunday where organisations from the village gather to reflect and remember long lost relatives and names we all know from seeing the names on the memorial, as we go to and from the park or the shops.
I will be telling some of the stories of local soldiers during my Armistice Assembly this year, as well as showing the Trafalgar School Remembrance Slideshow where staff and students across the school have contributed photos of family members from several conflicts or currently serving personnel, so that we, as a school, can really understand what it means to fight for one’s country and to give the ultimate sacrifice in many cases. It is very easy for our students to learn about war in the third person without actually feeling the gut wrenching fear of conflict or the awful realisation that somebody will never see their home or their family again. Looking at the huge contribution from just the families in our school is really humbling. The pride from the families who have provided photos and stories is immeasurable and well warranted.
Some people may say that pride and war must not be lauded as they will be this week. We live in a world where it is unfashionable to be proud and bold about such things. However this remembrance week shows all the very best about humans, emanating from something so brutal. It shows sacrifice, loyalty, pride in one’s country and love for one’s friends. It also shows honour and pride in family members and a willingness to remember people and their contribution, Their stories resonate down the years and leave us a priceless legacy.
As we mark Remembrance Day this week we will be proud to remember the fallen of Downton and to learn their stories. They are what has made us and our community in the 21st century and for that we owe them a huge debt of honour. Let’s hope that we can leave a similar legacy for this community.
Thought for the Week
1st November 2021
In school this week we will be thinking about how we keep ourselves safe. This has a myriad of different nuances depending on the age of the student and the way they manage their social lives out of school. Living in a rural community, as a lot of our students do, many of our villages have poor transport links, little street lighting and our students need to reflect on how they keep themselves safe when they go out. I remember growing up in a small Lincolnshire village where the bus came through on a Tuesday and then usefully did not come back until the Saturday! I was therefore very reliant on my parents to take me anywhere and learnt to drive as quickly as I could!
Keeping ourselves safe nowadays also has an added angle – the dreaded social media. As I have often reflected in these thoughts social media is the very best and, used poorly, can be the very worst development of the 21st century. It gives people the opportunity to connect but this can be a positive or a negative connection. It makes it so much easier for people to be vilified and hated publicly, it removes the distance which can give that oh so needed detachment and makes people reflect on what they are saying and doing. I can spot a developing keyboard warrior a mile away in a school context - those people who may have some sort of beef( oh how I hate that word!) with society, they may be jealous of others success or they just enjoy exploiting the weaknesses of others which reflects away from them. Dealing with bullying and nastiness in the cyber world is something which we as a school take seriously, as we do with other community based issues. We are only as safe as a school if everyone plays their part. Through PSHE lessons we encourage our students to consider huge life issues, looking at them from all angles and emphasising how people from very different cultures and countries think and feel. Only by an understanding of this can our students be confident in keeping themselves and other people safe.
The recent issues in the news with sexual harassment and hate crimes across schools nationally show that current students are struggling to understand their place in the world, as it develops at such a speed. Teenagers have so many competing pressures on them. They may have grown up hearing a certain narrative that is at odds with how they are being taught in school. They have to make their social and moral decisions with a backdrop of nervousness about how they should be behaving in all scenarios. In a world where we are trying to eradicate gender issues, there is still a huge gender divide about how people are expected to behave.
With all of this in play our Trafalgar students are growing up and finding their way. The vast majority are a hugely impressive group of people who are thoughtful, considered, morally upright and, above all, kind. They know how to keep themselves safe both physically, online and morally. With the encouragement and support of home and school, they will be fine contributors to society. Doing all of that in the 21st century is no mean feat - I salute them all!
Thought for the Week ~ 18th October 2021
As we near the last few days in school this term there will be collective sigh of relief from teachers and students- this has been a very strange term across all schools. As has happened so many times in the last 18 months this was trumpeted as the term which went back to normal – whatever that now is. However schools across the nation have had to combat staff and student absence on an unprecedented level, due to Covid but also other illnesses.
The theme for the week in school is I Am Proud. Never has this been more relevant than now. Pride can be seen to be something rather arrogant or negative, something which means that a person or organisation is rather full of themselves. However I am proud to me means the following in school. I am proud of the way that the students have coped with the amount of change and stress, which the last two years has created for them, I am proud of how our staff have managed to step up and keep both our learning and ethos going, when we have had many months without direct contact with the students and I am proud of how our parents and carers have supported us during these challenging times, when in their own personal or professional lives, things have changed at an amazing speed as well.
We will be celebrating Trafalgar Day in tutor groups this week which falls on the first day of half term this week – 21st October. Our school pride is also reflected in this - the pride and gratitude of the nation led to the Nelson family being gifted Trafalgar House in Downton, which is where our new name came from almost 20 years ago – a nod to local past and an emphasis on national pride.
As we start the half term I would like to day a huge thank you to everyone who has got us to this moment of pride- students, staff, parents, carers, the local community – both current and past. We are grateful that we have such strong support and we go forward continuing to strive to make our students the best version of themselves.
Thought for the Week
11th October 2021
Over the course of this month we are looking at Black History in school and reflecting on how this did not just start with the Windrush generation or the American Civil war and that, if you look back at art work, literature and archaeology from ancient and mediaeval times, Black History is woven through global history seamlessly. It is integral and enriching as much as every other culture.
This made me reflect on history in general. In its purest sense history is a repository of our experiences as a world community and should provide us with a roadmap of what to do and what not to do. People always say that history teaches us about how not to make the same mistakes again and yet, if that were totally true, then by now we would have worked everything out and we would have a world without anger, violence and war.
Similarly, if people learnt from their own history, we would all be sorted both personally and professionally, living some sort of utopian dream. This is obviously not a perfect world as we have been shown in recent months more than ever. The Black Lives Matter movement, the violence against women, the poverty of many families, the recent fuel crisis and a global pandemic show us that we will never solve every problem and we will never attain that nirvana. However we should never stop trying. The day we stop is the day the human race loses a major part of its humanity and civilisation.
As we reflect on Black History Month and we watch the reflections of some of our staff on important people from Black History, the biggest homage we can pay to all of them is to keep the story of the struggle of different races uppermost in our minds while at the same time refusing to allow ourselves to treat their story as a separate entity. We are all the same and yet we are all different -that is what makes the world so intriguing and complex.
Thought for the Week 4th October 2021
The Theme of the Week in school this week is I am my own person.
Teenage years are a difficult time for clinging on to this notion. This is a time when you are developing both physically and neurologically at a huge speed, hence why you are always tired and sometimes a bit grumpy. Your body is undergoing massive change – the chrysalis turning into a butterfly. Alongside all of this you have the pressures put upon you by social media, the need to appear sociable, edgy, cool and popular 24 hours per day, presenting a public face of happiness and success. No wonder that anyone who tries to do all of that may struggle with their mental health at times.
Life is not easy or perfect- it is messy and tricky at times. It does not fit into neat boxes or categories, it sneaks up on you with surprise and leaves you feeling a bit battered and bruised. Where a lot of people go wrong is thinking this is not normal. They worry that things are so bad that they are having a significant issue. We see it in school all the time – students who have had no experience of setbacks or things not going right, who all of a sudden have to cope with something out of the ordinary. However this is often not out of the ordinary - it just is for them at that stage in their lives. Most Year 7 students have not had a huge amount of life experience happen to them. It is our job as professionals to teach them that it is not the setback that is the problem, it is the way you react to them which sets the way your life will progress and the person you will become.
When I was an older teenager my father’s business failed, he went bankrupt and we lost our house all within the space of a few months, so I do know exactly what I am talking about. However we were all still healthy and my sister and I knew that we were loved by both our parents as much as ever. That provided the basis for us all to keep going and to stay positive, although that was tough at times, no question. I suppose it also allowed me the chance to develop my positive attitude to life and realise that major things can happen, but the sun still rises in the morning and life does carry on.
Every day at school is a privilege to spend with all our young people as they develop into their own person with their own attitude to life and their own successes and challenges. How exciting it is to see all of this promise of a future generation develop and flourish and then leave us to enter the adult world. While you are on that journey, enjoy finding out what your inner belief and your core purpose is, enjoy the time to investigate what makes you tick.
Never again will you have the time you have during your school days and the lack of major responsibility. You have the ingredients to fashion yourself into the person you want to become - be the best possible version of yourself!
Thought for the Week 27th September 2021
This week our theme in school is I am Community Minded. We will be launching our Co-Curricular Programme and introducing the school to the Head Students. We are a strong community but we are only as strong due to the way that our students, staff and parents interact together, confident that we all have the same goal – to make our students the best possible version of themselves – both academically and socially.
We are lucky that our school community has strong foundations in the local community and the surrounding area. There is a genuine affection for the school from local people – some of whom came here, others who have employed former students and other people who come in to support with mentoring and counselling.
This week the Senior Team will also be touring Year 6 families and giving them a flavour of what makes Trafalgar tick. This is always a tiring but brilliant week for us- a lot of talking but also a lot of appreciation and challenge from people visiting about why Trafalgar should be the place for their children.
Any community must continually evolve and change to make sure that it remains strong. It is easy to relax and hope things just carry on but that never works effectively. IN a school we are constantly evolving due to students arriving in Year 7 and leaving in Year 11 and staff arriving or moving on. Dynamics come and go and the important thing to do is to make sure the ethos and expectations are right, so, whoever is in the building, the core purpose remains the same.
As I start my 26th year at this school( I know!), I count myself extremely lucky to have been able to work here so long and to see so many students pass through and go on be positive contributors to society in whatever they are doing. I have seen so many staff come through as well and have learnt something from almost every one of them. I have worked with so many families which has been one of the greatest privileges, supporting their children with them to get to where they want to go in life.
If I have one piece of wisdom that I have gleaned ,it is that being part of a community is the springboard to a successful life. It gives you a firm foundation and an unswerving belief that you have people who care and will support you, as you make mistakes and try to navigate your way through this life. As Helen Keller said ‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.’
Monday 20th September 2021
This week in school our theme is I am a Good Communicator.
This means so many different things. Many people think they are great communicators but struggle to hear other people’s opinions, many people listen intently to others but do not think their opinion is worthy of expressing. The confident person in the room can sometimes overwhelm and quash the very valid opinions of others. Anyone who has ever been on a committee will know the sort of person I am referring to. Those people who consider everything they think and say to be the most important thing in the room at any one time and refuse to change that opinion or listen to anyone else. As teachers we become very adept at noticing those people and mitigating their effect on a class and also noticing those students who are quiet, lack confidence but who have huge amounts of great thoughts and ideas to contribute.
Last week Mr Curtis met with the School Council for the first time this year and this week I will be meeting with the Prefects, Anti Bullying and Wellbeing Ambassadors. Good communication is key to all of these roles. It is only by listening to the student body and letting them discuss what they perceive to be the issues and the solutions, that the school will continue to evolve and grow as a community. We staff and parents have the tremendous privilege of watching our young people develop their effective communication as they move into near adulthood and leave us, ready to assume their place in the world.
So why is good communication so important?
It allows you to let others know what you are feeling, it helps you put your mark on the world and it gives you purpose. It brings the world together and makes it feel smaller and more cohesive. It provides people with the tools for change and the ability to make their dreams a reality. Interacting with other people, both verbally and non-verbally, should have a positive impact on our lives. If you regularly find yourselves in conflict with others or not expressing yourself effectively, take a step back and think what you need to change to get your message heard. Good communication can change the world!
Monday 13th September 2021
This weekend I have been thinking about loss. It started with the commemoration of that most terrible of days,9/11, where listening to the list of casualties read by their own families was so moving and poignant. A day of hatred and destruction remembered twenty years later and still so raw. Something so terrible has the power to destroy or the power to engender cohesion. The world in the immediate aftermath seemed smaller but also dangerous. However over the years the memories of how we all felt watching the day unfold on television and in person has been lost to people not immediately affected. That cohesive feel has dissipated – we just need to look at the news to depress ourselves about the heartache, sadness and anger across the world currently. That said the human condition at its most basic is full of positivity and love.
I was reminded of this with an example closer to home. One of our loveliest former students , Josh Davies, was sadly killed in a car accident this summer and on Sunday his brother and friends organised a charity football match at Downton Football Club to remember him and to raise funds for the Air Ambulance and NHS blood donation. Josh was a great Trafalgar student with just the right level of cheeky loveliness and an ability to make you feel more upbeat almost every time you spoke to him. The day was a perfect reflection of his personality, with a huge amount of former students turning out to support his family and play the match. What a huge loss he will be to his family and friends, but also the world going forward. I do not mean to sound overdramatic but someone with his outlook is a sizeable cog in the process of making the world that little bit more friendly and positive, that little bit more kind.
As both the 9/11 tragedy and the loss of Josh teach us, we must go on trying to make this world kinder and never forgetting that we carry their hopes and dreams with us. We must make every second of our lives on this earth count and never give up believing that we can make a difference.
I send all of our condolences from Trafalgar to the Davies family – we were proud you chose to send both him and Jack to Trafalgar and we know he enjoyed his time here. We will remember him with love and pride.
Mrs Faulkner's Thought for the Week 4th July 2022
This week we are looking at how we support other people. I am asking the students to reflect on whether they are good supporters of their friends and family and whether they expect support themselves. If they do, what do they find the most effective support?
On the face of it we can all say we provide support well to our friends and family, but do we? Do we provide what they need ,or what we think they need, which are often two different things. Are we prepared to listen to what they say, and more importantly what they don’t say and change our support to fit more effectively?
Some of society today can make you feel very disillusioned with the amount of support offered to others. Lots of people are preoccupied with either making sure they are ok or getting in first and letting people know what they want( normally yesterday!) There is a genuine concern from a lot of people that the support they need is not there- whether it be from medical professionals, the police, social services or just members of their community. We have a bit of an ‘I’m alright Jack’ thing going on.
Contrast this with the huge outpouring of support for Ukrainian families, which we see even in our small rural school. We have had several Ukrainian students join us in the last few weeks and our students have been very empathetic and supportive of them. It is completely mind-blowing for our Wiltshire born students to understand what it must feel like to travel half way across the world, leaving family, school and belongings and suddenly rock up in rural Wiltshire and start secondary school with little English. All of them are quite humbling in the way they have done this and we will support and care for them as best we can.
Currently at the moment in school we are fundraising for our various House charities. This year we have set up Just Giving pages for the Great Big Walk so people can give what they want and do not feel pressurised by having a sponsor form sent home. We realise it is important to support our chosen charities but we also understand that our school families need to feel supported.
It has been really amazing to see the breadth of charity fundraising ideas across the school and the enthusiasm of students and staff to get these up and running. I would particularly like to salute 7R who ran the equivalent of 63 miles between themselves last Thursday lunchtime to raise money for the charity Young Lives versus Cancer which has supported Gemma Faye through her cancer journey. Gemma is a former Head Girl of our school who many of us taught and who was an example of our Trafalgar values all the time she was in school. This highlights the fact that, even when people leave Trafalgar, support continues.
I am off to prepare myself for Sponge the Teacher on Tuesday and am going to be seriously nice to all students until after that. As we all know, support can take many different forms !