The Start of Term

One could not have hoped for a more positive and energetic start to the new Cransley School year!

The GCSE successes of our outgoing Senior 5 pupils were cause for much celebration, reflecting upon the hard work that our pupils put into their examination preparations and the skill and dedication of our academic Staff who delivered the content.

Our pupil roll now stands at 180, with 35 new pupils joining us at Cransley this academic year, a fact celebrated by Mr Pollock during our whole School Assembly on Wednesday morning.   

The extremely high volume of applications for our recent teaching vacancies is indicative of how attractive a career option at Cransley School is to educational professionals. Our newly appointed members of Staff will certainly add much to the Cransley School community and enrich the learning experience of the pupils that they teach.

The new School Pavilion is looking fabulous and is a wonderful asset for the School.  

The launch of our Parent App will enhance communication channels between School and home and our new website provides a more streamlined view of the Cransley School experience and easier access to information.

Our girls are looking ever so stylish in their new School uniform, serving to further promote the image of Cransley School. The boys have impressed with their smart appearance and clean shoes!

Our new Prefect body are eagerly awaiting commencement of their leadership roles.

Our Senior 1 pupils are very much looking forward to their residential visit to Lockerbie in just over a week’s time. Parents, please make room in your washing machines for when they return!

As we enter our first full week at School, we must strive to maintain such a positive and happy atmosphere, underpinned by our core Cransley values and high expectations, within a supportive framework of Behaviour for Learning protocols.

I am sure that keeping such a positive momentum going will ensure that our first Open Morning on Saturday 22/09/18 is an opportunity to present this wonderful School in all of its glory!

Here’s to yet another successful Cransley School academic year!

Deputy Head's Blog: The Darling Buds of May

The somewhat erratic weather of late did provide us with a couple of hot days, hopefully to whet our appetite for a sun filled summer!

It was during the couple of hot days that I witnessed Mr Pollock engaging with some of the Juniors on our back lawn one Friday afternoon. Observing our Seniors practicing their dancing around the Maypole served to prompt yours truly to reflect upon the importance of happiness, both individually and collectively as a School community.

My reflection took me back in time to when Dr Anthony Seldon, then Master of Wellington College, Berkshire, announced that he was introducing ‘happiness lessons’ into the curriculum at his School. Such a brave and forward-thinking decision, made against a long history of a traditional Boarding School education, made headline news!

Dr Seldon deployed those Teachers coached in positive psychology to tutor well-being at Wellington College. His rationale was that:

"We are introducing classes on happiness. We have been focusing too much on academics and missing something far more important.

"To me, the most important job of any school is to turn out young men and women who are happy and secure - more important than the latest bulletin from the Department for Education about whatever."

"Celebrity, money and possessions are too often the touchstones for teenagers, and yet these are not where happiness lies."

"Our children need to know that as societies become richer, they don't become happier - a fact regularly shown by social science research.

Dr Seldon employed the services of Nick Baylis, a Psychologist at Cambridge University, to oversee the piloting of the school's happiness lessons.

Dr Baylis added that:

"Positive psychology is a relatively new branch of the science, which focuses on enabling people to live lives which are flourishing."

Dr Seldon, a political commentator and author, introduced one lesson a week for pupils, aged 14 to 16, in years 10 and 11. The classes offered skills on how to manage relationships, physical and mental health, negative emotions and how to achieve one's ambitions.

My reflection concluded with a genuine sense of admiration of the Cransley values. Simplistic in nature, yet tangible enough to measure, I feel that the underlying philosophy behind such values serves to produce successful and happy pupils.

We are entering a most exciting and positive stage of the Cransley School journey. Increased pupil numbers, the pupil gender gap is narrowing and recruitment of pupils from other Schools in the area are indicators of our success over the last couple of years. Yet such success requires an analysis of how best to embrace and support our School values, within a pastoral and academic framework that serves to embrace positivity, encouragement and support.

In conjunction with our Governors, Mr Pollock, the Senior Management Team and Staff at Cransley School, I have been reviewing our current pastoral and academic framework to identify areas that may be improved.

This review has led to the development of a Behaviour Ladder and set of Learning Expectations, which is almost ready to be distributed to our pupils. Such a document is the first step towards ensuring that, as the School moves forward, the School’s expectations and associated behaviour has a distinct point of reference. The creation of this document is not in any way a ‘knee jerk’ reaction to poor behaviour at Cransley School. Far from it!

In addition, and in preparation for the new academic year, a review of the Senior School PSHEE syllabus will take place, together with the roles of Subject Teachers and Form Tutors.

Consideration is being given to how to best improve our celebration of the many successes of our pupils, via an improved rewards structure.

Mrs Ward is currently assessing the ‘Girls on Board’ approach to pastoral support, specifically tailored for girls. This is an approach which helps girls, their parents and their teachers to understand the complexities and dynamics of girl friendships. The language, methods and ideas empower girls to solve their own friendship problems and recognises that they are usually the only ones who can. By empowering girls to find their own solutions, parents need worry less, schools can focus more on the curriculum and the girls learn more effectively – because they are happier.

I do hope that you share our view of how the benefits of a positive and supportive framework will assist with ensuring that the Cransley School values are subconsciously acted out on a daily basis to produce well rounded, articulate, confident and happy pupils.

After all, according to Dr Seldon:

“Truly happy people are made, not born!”

 



 

Deputy Head's Blog: The Meaning of Education

The Cransley School Values

I remember during my initial Teacher training at University the many occasions that, as Undergraduates, we were encouraged to engage in discussions (and subsequent formally assessed assignments) to unravel the mystery of the true purpose of education. It appears that the same discussions remain high profile today across many educational courses delivered by Universities, so perhaps this mystery remains unsolved!

However, one philosophy of education that resonated with me is attributed to a retired American Teacher and author, who is on record as saying that:

“Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle the big challenges. It should allow you to find values which will be your road map through life; it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whomever you are with; it should teach you what is important, how to live and how to die”.

A powerful philosophy! Note the reference to ‘values’.

My journey into the world of academic research recently introduced me to a theory that warranted further investigation. Namely, a proposal that education serves to deliver:

Qualifications; Socialisation and Subjectification.

Qualifications relates to teaching our pupils knowledge, skills, values and dispositions, so they achieve academically via their Public Examinations and become further qualified to engage in a range of activities – both professional and recreational.

Socialisation is about educating our pupils to become part of existing social, political, cultural and professional traditions, and to contribute to a democratic society. A previous School that I taught in referred to this aspect of education as ‘Creating men and women for others’.

Subjectification refers to the process of becoming autonomous, responsible and critical adults. In this way, subjectification is opposed to socialisation, as it allows an individual to be independent of social structures and traditions – a unique individual, not a conformist?

Two particular mantras that I repeat frequently to our pupils that underpin the notion of subjectification are: “Be yourself – everyone else is taken’ and “An original is worth much more than a copy”!

The theory goes on to explain that the proposed collective virtues of this educational philosophy ultimately serve to develop education as an ‘instrument of enlightenment’! Spiritually rich?

Substitute these virtues for the Cransley School values of: ‘Seeking Excellence; Nurturing Relationships and Venturing Beyond’.  Surely it is too much of a coincidence that the development of the Cransley School values correlates with such a powerful definition of the purpose of Education?

Perhaps no coincidence. Mr Pollock has devoted a great deal of thought and time to the development of the Cransley School values in an attempt to capture the essence of the Cransley School culture and the expectations of our pupils. The cultural impact of the Cransley School values should hopefully serve to empower our pupils to become individual ‘instruments of enlightenment’!

Of course, our pupils do not always get it right! There are times when they fall short of our values. Fortunately, the pastoral and academic leads, form teachers, subject teachers, ably assisted by our wonderful Office and Support Staff are skilled and dedicated enough to ensure that they receive guidance regarding where they have gone wrong, together with the advice as to how to put things right.

After all, if we can agree that making distinctions is part of learning, then I am sure that we can accept that so too is making mistakes!

Perhaps I could have saved myself a bit of time by quoting from the late American writer, William S Burroughs who stated that:

“The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values”.

Whatever educational philosophy sits comfortably with that of your own, I hope that you will agree that the Cransley School Values are making a significant contribution to the development of our pupils – their very own ‘road maps through life’!

 

 

 

Deputy Head's Blog: The Importance of Character Education

On Thursday morning of last week, I delivered a Senior School Assembly referencing Cransley School’s commitment to the Anti Bullying Quality Mark (ABQM). This is a nationally recognised quality mark that reflects a School’s desire to create a community that makes it almost impossible for bullying to exist.  

There are Gold, Silver and Bronze levels of quality. We at Cransley School are preparing to be assessed for the Bronze level and are ultimately striving for the Gold standard.

During the point of the Assembly where I advised the pupils why it is ‘not cool’ to act in an unkind way towards others and how the ‘coolest’ pupils are those who look after the weaker members of the School community by supporting, encouraging and motivating them, I was reminded of a piece of educational research that I recently found interesting. That of ‘Character Education’.

Character Education is a model which focuses around “key” character traits which all pupils are introduced to and taught about. These include:

Resilience
Optimism
Grit
Perseverance
Social Intelligence

The particular School referenced with regard to the development of Character Education designed a new timetabled lesson for Year 7, (our Senior 1 equivalent), centred less around academic success, but interpersonal character skills which would allow pupils to succeed in the future. Embedding happiness into their school life through the acquisition of traits.

A relatively new concept, the approach taken by the School is that throughout the course of one academic year, pupils would take part in lessons which would teach them how to show optimism or resilience (or both) in a certain situation.

The School would reinforce the importance of social intelligence in a manner of different situations, identifying bullying as a weakness of character, and leadership and morality as strength, not the other way around!

Pupils would be taught about the role of peer pressure and coercion.

Pupils would also gain an insight into the importance of optimism, by being taught about the challenges that life has to offer, and how best to view them in a perspective whereby they could succeed.

In terms of measuring the success of this newly founded unit, the School were unsure how to. But it became apparent that by merely by watching these year 7’s that they were beginning to identify with the traits and embed them into their pupil culture. Murmurs of “come on, be resilient” or “how can we show more zest here?” were a common occurrence in the classroom.

By the end of the academic year, and the evening of the Year 7 parents evening, parents commented on how they felt their child had become more rounded since the beginning of this course of character education. They commented on how their child was viewing the world differently, and how they felt their child was now set up for the challenges of Year 8 and the rest of their life at school.

The pupils really thrived under this non-academic setting and viewed it as a time to really understand themselves. Perhaps, for the first time in their lives.

The delivery and development of character education is an appealing one to me. In an age where Schools are regularly targeted for the criticism of ‘wrapping pupils in cotton wool’, surely paying attention to the development of character would offset this (unfair) criticism?

As we engage in a review of our pastoral framework, support and guidance, perhaps this is an aspect of a Cransley School education that could be considered for potential implementation? After all, as Nelson Mandela once said:

‘"The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall’!

 

Deputy Head's Blog: The iGen Generation

There can be no escaping the impact that Information and Communication Technology has had on education over the past twenty years. When faced with a steam-rolling technology, you either become part of the technology or part of the road!

Pretty much everything that I need for teaching is on the Cransley School Network - lesson plans, resources, photographs etc. Pupils can follow instructions as to what they need to do and detailed lesson plans are available to teachers as well as a variety of hyperlinked resources.

Today’s children, the ‘Digital Natives’, enjoy and flourish in an information landscape that would have been unimaginable when most of us were in school, and it dwarfs, by comparison. the experiences they have in their classrooms.  Their information experience puts them in control, gives them information that becomes a raw material for new information experiences.  It connects them to wings instead of anchors.

The perfect classroom would be more like a global trolley car, in which pupils can visit places all over the world and visit any time that has been sufficiently documented.

Technology is a wonderful thing. Isn’t it?

And yet…….

This past week saw me engaged in an ISI Inspection of a Boarding School in the South of the country. The week before the Inspection team arrived, the Headmaster of the School, in conjunction with his Senior Management Team, took the bold (and extremely brave) decision to implement a blanket ban on mobile phones for pupils in the equivalent Cransley School years of Senior 3 and Senior 4.

This decision was taken in an attempt to wean off the pupils from the constant pressure to be using their mobile phones and to engage in more effective channels of communication – talking to each other!

Naturally, (on the face of it), the pupils were collectively up in arms. Parents, however were 100% behind this decision and, removed from any peer pressure, individual pupils reported back to Staff a sense of relief that supported such a decision.

Interestingly, each pupil at the School possessed a School iPad that I witnessed being put to excellent use in the lessons that I visited. The School valued technology as an educational tool (demonstrating an excellent example of using Google Classroom/Docs) but were striving to achieve for their pupils a healthy lifestyle balance to eradicate any threat of ‘screen addiction!

This most interesting decision prompted a personal reflection of the impact that technology has had on the lives of our young children. The timing was appropriate, given that our English syllabus for Senior 2 is currently focusing on Technology!

I am an ICT ‘specialist’ with a particular interest in the benefits of technology on teaching and learning. So where did my personal reflection lead me?

Professor Twenge is a Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University who has been researching generational differences for the past 25 years, using annual surveys of over 11 million young people in the United States. She has discovered a significant shift between the previous cohort of young people – the millennials and the current cohort – who she refers to as the ‘iGen Generation’. Her findings are interesting!

Professor Twenge identified sudden spikes in depressive symptoms with associated sudden changes in how young people were spending their time, with a significant shift in attitude relating to risk and safety.

iGen teens spend six to eight hours each day engaging in digital media that has impacted upon the time that they spend seeing their friends in person, as well as the time they used to spend with traditional media, including reading books, magazines and newspapers.

The iGen teens are obsessed with safety and less interested in taking risks, with the resulting impact being that they are taking longer to grow up! Teachers in America have shared their concerns with Professor Twenge that this new kind of upbringing has made it difficult for pupils to work independently, to make their own decisions or attempt a task without receiving step-by-step instructions.

Professor Twenge is of the opinion that smartphones should at least be banned in Schools during lunchtimes, as this should be a time for pupils to interact with each other. Pupils shared their frustrations that they very often wanted to talk to their friends at lunchtime but could not do so because their friends were always on their phones!

Sally Payne, Head Paediatric Occupational Therapist at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust has expressed concerns that children are using tablets and phones so much that their fingers lack the strength to hold a pencil properly!

A cyberbullying inquiry led by Alex Chalk, MP for Cheltenham and the charities The Children’s Society and Young Minds (bit.ly/children444) revealed that half of young people have been targeted with abusive or threatening messages online.

It would appear that Social Networks are failing to tackle the worrying trend of cyberbullying.

So what can governments, parents and schools do? It is difficult to see an easy solution, but remember that ten years ago, most of these sites and apps did not exist. If we lived with them before, we can certainly live without them again. It would be wise for Social Networks to remember this and that they took steps to fix these problems, before we abandon their sites!

I am pleased that Cransley School has a policy (Senior 5 apart) of handing in mobile phones at the beginning of each day – a significant contribution to maintaining a healthy digital and social balance – as well as allowing opportunities for hand strength and dexterity that will allow our pupils to hold a pencil properly!

Deputy Head's Blog: Sarcasm

In an age where one has to mind their ‘P’s and Q’s for fear of causing offence, and Schools are constantly criticised for ‘spoon feeding’ and ‘wrapping the pupils in cotton wool’, I have been most interested in an ongoing debate and exchange of views with regard to the use of sarcasm in Schools and, in particular, within the classroom environment.

The opposing points of view could not be more contrasting! I present a point of view that regards sarcasm of being extremely negative. There are many like this, but it would appear not to be a view shared by all educators!

 “One of the fundamental principles of human behaviour is that people ultimately respond better to positive consequences than to negative consequences. Sarcasm is considered a negative consequence. It should be the goal of every teacher to interact in a positive way with pupils and foster mutual respect. Nothing lowers a student’s respect for a teacher more quickly than does the use of sarcasm. Whether you speak sarcastically about an individual or the class as a whole, destroys a positive classroom environment and may prompt pupils to lash out with inappropriate comments of their own. The use of sarcasm suggests that you, as the teacher, do not know any better way of interacting and sets the stage for similar negative interactions between pupils themselves.”

My upbringing as a native of the City of Liverpool, renowned for its sarcasm and good humour, together with my ten years spent working in industry, leads me to believe that sarcasm is part of the real world. Sarcasm and good humour have, on occasion, been uplifting to me. The ability to laugh at oneself is a gift!

“Sarcasm is my second language,” says teacher Brittany C. “You are just exposing the pupils to various forms of language in which they will use later in life.” Meghan M. adds: “Better to learn how to recognise and understand sarcasm from a caring educator than send them into the world with no idea of how to deal with it.”

Sarcasm can build connections! “I teach teens,” says teacher Ayn N. “I think sarcasm, when done lovingly, can be one of the best ways to develop a connection. My trick is to be sarcastic about *myself* or be super ridiculous about it so that people get a laugh not a sting. For example, I might say something like: This test is super easy. My dog took it last night and did it blindfolded and passed with flying colours, so you should have no problems.

“I use it all the time and the kids love it,” echoes Kimberly T. “Be who you are and who your kids love.”

From a classroom teacher’s point of view, a good sense of humour and a healthy dose of sarcasm can be essential tools for getting through a teaching day. It would appear that the majority of teachers are in agreement that it is perfectly acceptable to make an occasional sarcastic comment in the staff room with colleagues. But should teachers use sarcasm in the classroom, when interacting with pupils?

Opposing the notion of sarcasm being negative, some research suggests that employing the ‘lowest form of wit’ actually boosts pupils’ creative thinking, despite teachers being advised never use it in lessons.

Yet, Emily Seeber, Head of Sciences at a well-known Independent School in Hampshire in an article that she wrote for the TES in January of this year, claims that this type of humour does have a place in the classroom – if we follow a few ground rules!

Emily commences with the well-known quote by Oscar Wilde, who described sarcasm as “the lowest form of wit, but the highest form of intelligence”. Emily proposes that, if boosting pupils’ intelligence is something teachers should be in the business of doing, why then is there such vehement opposition to sarcasm in the classroom?

Emily cites the fact that if you attempt Googling “sarcasm in the classroom”: you will get a barrage of propaganda instructing you to banish it from your teaching forever!

Emily does not agree with all this sarcasm-bashing. She thinks that teachers should be free to use sarcasm and in fact actively encouraged. In fact, I think that we should all be encouraged to use it.

More than this, believes Emily, there is evidence that, under the right circumstances, teachers should be actively using sarcasm in classrooms to boost pupils’ creativity and abstract thinking.

Emily may have a point! In a major study, Li Huang and her team at Insead (in partnership with Harvard and Columbia universities) found that sarcasm increases creativity – including developing new ideas, and insights into problems – for both the person expressing the remark, and the recipient (Organizational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes, November 2015).

After recalling a sarcastic comment that they received or made, participants in the study were significantly more successful in solving creative tasks, such as spotting the links between seemingly random groups of words.

Furthermore, the research team demonstrated that this boost to creativity is a direct result of sarcasm stimulating abstract thought processes.

This should not be a huge surprise. When a teacher says the opposite of what they mean, the pupil has to recognise this and then relate the conflicting ideas and access the true meaning (the teacher does the same, but in reverse). Both are engaging abstraction in their quest for meaning.

By avoiding sarcasm in classrooms, teachers dismiss an opportunity to activate pupils’ abstract thinking and creativity; to get them to think like scientists or historians, rather than thinking like pupils of science or history. In Emily’s classroom, she is trying to help pupils to become not just knowledge assimilators, but also knowledge generators.

However, there is a caveat. The research team also found that in situations where the expresser and receiver lacked a bond of trust, sarcasm increased “conflict”. The recipient was more likely to misinterpret the ambiguous sarcastic comment as derisory and conflict-provoking. It may well be within such a context that sarcasm can be justifiably described as negative.

Clearly sarcasm can only be justified when teachers and pupils have reciprocal trusting relationships. Here, really, is the problem we have had with sarcasm: it has been thrown out of classrooms not because it is not useful, but because too often we lack the pupil-teacher relationships that have the essential trust to make it appropriate.

Back to Emily now. Emily states that whenever she takes the sarcastic approach – “That’s easily the best, and most elegant, solution I’ve ever seen” – Sarah looks back up with a glint in her eye. I can almost see the wheels turning in her mind, as she engages in a “battle of wit” to come up with a more inventive, more beautiful, more conceptual solution. Her processes of abstraction have been stimulated by the sarcastic comment: we are playing a game of intellectual cat-and-mouse, which she’s desperate to win.

Emily wants her pupils to embrace challenge and move beyond the concrete into the “sweet spot” where their creative juices are flowing. If sarcasm helps Emily achieve that, then she will embrace it.

So instead of a blanket “never” on sarcasm in our classrooms, we need to build more steadfast relationships with pupils. From that base, we should then set some rules as to when we should and should not use sarcasm in class. Emily’s would look something like this:

Sarcasm should only be used in situations of mutual trust: if you would not allow a student to make a sarcastic comment towards you, you should not make such a comment towards them.

Sarcasm should be used before problem-solving and creative-thinking tasks to initiate abstract thought processes.

Sarcasm should not be used to mock intrinsic features of pupils, but to call out their actions instead.

Sarcasm should be used to stretch pupils by daring them to take on ever more complex or conceptual challenges.

Use of sarcasm should be counterbalanced by sincere positive comments at other times to build and maintain trusting relationships.

Sarcasm requires a fine balance: it can be a powerful tool for promoting abstract, creative thinking, but an instrument of harm as well. Trust has to come before witticism. But after that, let us lay down the intellectual gauntlet, and see our pupils fly.

I conclude with a mythical comment written by a teacher for an end of term School Report for one of his pupils. Lowest for of wit, or highest form of intelligence? You decide!

“Johnny sets himself extremely low standards, which he constantly fails to achieve!”

 

 

Deputy Head's Blog: Parents as Primary Educators

This week’s edition of the TES (Times Educational Supplement) included articles and Social Media posts that present an interesting dichotomy between the responsibility of Teachers and Parents with regard to the personal growth and development of pupils. One of the articles, rather controversially, begins with an opening statement of:

“There's an expectation in our country that teachers will step in where parents have failed in their responsibilities”.

The author goes on to state that “Schools can't cure all of society's ills”, explaining that we have created a national expectation that Schools should fulfil literally dozens of roles that parents, irrespective of social class, have gleefully and irresponsibly abdicated.

The author continues by posing the question of:

“Since when did we communally decide that professionals trained and employed to pass on knowledge and skills to children in classrooms should also offer the kinds of advice and guidance which the fundamental qualities of family life – morality, religion, culture, and national and class identity – inevitably underpin”?

Perhaps more controversially, the author concludes his article by claiming that:

“There have been lots of experiments that remove kids from one school type and put them in another – largely because they make good television. But none dare go as far as to scrutinise the quality of parenting and assert that schools are not, and never should be, substitute parents”.

A more balanced point of view, and the resulting dichotomy, is provided by the second article, which is devoted to promoting how society sees education as being the most important factor in developing the well-rounded global citizens of tomorrow. This notion is developed by an investigation of the appropriateness of the expectation that the teaching of morality should fall to teachers.

The author of this particular article suggests that it appears sensible for Schools to develop moral attitudes and behaviour in their pupils. After all, Schools, and teachers within Schools, are society’s representatives in the development of our children.

The question of whether or not moral development is a School’s role rather than that of the parents, is currently being debated across many countries across the world. It is highly relevant in the UAE (United Arab Emirates), who have now introduced moral education into their curriculum.  

In addition to the two articles, this week’s TES is also littered with excerpts from educational Social Media posts. I reference three of them here:

“The teaching of manners should be, and always will be, parents’ responsibility.”

“Getting fed up with Schools being expected to solve all of society’s problems. At what point do we, as a society, make parents responsible for their own children?”

“Parents should teach manners and teachers should model and reinforce them. Not rocket science.”

So where does my allegiance lie with regard to this particular debate?

My teaching career, in co-educational Boarding Schools has instilled in me the virtues of pastoral care and community living. In Boarding Schools, Pastoral practitioners are acting ‘in loco parentis’ taking on the roles of surrogate parents due to the nature of the School environment. I have always regarded education to be a partnership between home and School.

Catholic School Boarding Education lays a heavy emphasis on the role of the parent, which I feel supports and benefits the pastoral care and subsequent development of the pupils. I have taught in Jesuit and Benedictine Boarding Schools.

The Benedictine philosophy of education is categoric in its expectations of ‘Parents being the Primary Educators.’

Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man” is attributed to the founder of the Jesuit order, St Ignatius Loyola.

Both mantras recognise the important parental contribution in the development of a child, without shying away from the responsibilities of the teachers and pastoral practitioners, reinforcing the importance of the educational partnership between home and School.

‘It takes a village to raise a child’ is a proverb which means that it takes an entire community of different people interacting with children in order for children to experience and grow in a safe environment, adding further credence to the notion of a partnership.

Whilst not a Boarding School, Cransley School is no less of a community. As a day school, this does not diminish my attitude towards the home and School educational partnership. I have no qualms about the responsibilities of Staff in contributing to the personal growth and development of our children, underpinned by the Cransley values that I feel encapsulates the essence of our School.

Add to the mix the expectations of the Regulatory Body responsible for School Inspections of Independent Schools – ISI (Independent Schools Inspectorate), who lay a heavy emphasis on a School to deliver an educational experience that serves to contribute to personal growth and development outside the classroom.

The support, loyalty and partnership that exists between Cransley School and parents is impressive. We have a Governing Body consisting of existing and past parents. The Friends of Cransley School are an excellent example of support, loyalty and partnership. We are growing as a School, indicative of an increased number of parents who wish to engage with us on this educational journey and partnership.

Teaching is a wonderfully rewarding, interesting, even uplifting, career, even more so when teachers engage in the pastoral care of our pupils. But compared to successful parenting, is it fair or accurate to describe teaching as being merely a job? 

 

 

Deputy Head's Blog: Creativity

A recent discussion with a friend of mine, a senior lecturer in Nursing at Edge Hill College, raised the topic of creativity in Schools, or, rather, her perceived lack of it!

Quite by chance, during the same week of our conversation, the notion of creativity was the subject of a linked article in the Times Educational Supplement, written by the Headmaster of a School in a deprived area of Portsmouth (his School received judgements of "outstanding" across all categories in the last two Ofsted reports).

The Headmaster was on a visit to Belgium, where he had been invited to deliver a series of educational lectures. His article referenced how interesting it was, when talking to teachers in Belgium, to hear about the extent of the autonomy present in every school and the trust given to every teacher.

How different from our own country, continues the article, with a criticism of how, in the State Sector, that there is far too much control placed on every School via the many layers of accountability – not least of Ofsted standing over the system in a rather threatening way. 

In the opinion of the Headmaster, creativity is considered to be by far the key element of the educational framework in Belgium, resulting in pupils who appear to have far more independence, producing happy and enthusiastic pupils.

What a contrast with the UK system, where, aged 4 and 5, children still arrive at Schools buzzing with excitement: they have so many ideas. But quickly, oh so quickly, the UK education system starts to drive out pupils' creativity and individuality. And our children quickly stop demonstrating their individuality for fear of rejection or humiliation because they are different.

The Headmaster presents creativity as ‘seeing things in new ways’. He feels that we need our children to think differently too. Instead, he believes that, far too often, our core aim seems to be making children agree with us. A "good" pupil, it would appear, is one sitting still and conforming to the perceived norm.

Providing a personal point of view, the Headmaster believes that, in better education systems, it is the job of a Headmaster to create an "ethos" in which creativity is not only allowed to happen but is seen to thrive! Sadly, Headmasters are hindered from so many directions that this is a rarity in the UK. Inevitably, this leads to the stifling of creativity as each school becomes a "clone school" creating similar children up and down the country. Exam robots, even!

The Headmaster concludes his article by answering his own question of: Are we in Britain destroying, or have we destroyed, the creativity in our system? Sadly, the Headmaster’s own answer is a resounding yes.

Of course, creativity and individuality should be allowed to flourish in all Schools. The suffocation of creativity serves only to result in Schools becoming examination factories.

If we look at the Cransley School mantra of ‘Where individuals matter,’ underpinned by our three core values of seeking excellence, nurturing relationships and venturing beyond, such values could not be successfully implemented without the active promotion and encouragement of creativity and individuality!

Our sporting and drama successes are witness to our desire to live out the Cransley School values, rather than pay lip service to them.

The Art work produced by our children is of such a high standard that one can only take a step back to admire such creativity!

We are so fortunate to have been invited by one of our parents to a privileged ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the specialised engineering project that is currently taking place at Liverpool’s Lime Street Station, in an attempt to encourage creativity, that may lead to a career in Engineering! We are all very much looking forward to this trip on Tuesday!

Two of my regular mantras to our children that encourage creativity are:

‘Be yourself – everyone else is taken’ and

‘An original is always worth more than a copy.’

On Friday morning of last week, I addressed the Parents of our new Senior 1 September intake. I spoke with pride about how our energetic and hardworking staff make such a contribution to the holistic approach to education, developing the pupils of Cransley School academically and supporting their personal growth and development.

Later that same afternoon, I witnessed two of our Senior 1 pupils engaging in an outdoor lesson, bathed in sunshine, within an inspirational Cransley School landscape, being actively encouraged by Staff to exploit their creativity. It was a joy to behold!

In the words of Professor Gert Biesta;

“When a child becomes a liability for their School’s performance, education has come to an end.”

We at Cransley School value our children far too much to ever consider them ever being a liability! Our School ethos is one that certainly encourages creativity!

 

Deputy Head's Blog: Adolescent Sleep and Educational Performance

Adolescent Sleep and Educational Performance

The Chartered College of Teaching produces a monthly journal for its members. This month’s journal focused heavily upon the Science of Learning and contains articles and research evidence pertaining to the latest scientific developments and knowledge with regard to the adolescent brain. The array of articles explains the potential impact on teaching and learning that the latest scientific research about the human brain reveals. 

Of the many interesting articles contained in this month’s journal, I was drawn to the research findings related to adolescent sleep patterns and the impact upon educational performance.

I summarise the main thrust of this extremely informative and interesting article below:

Sleep is fundamental for learning, memory consolidation and information processing, alongside restoration and repair of the body. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to sleep disruption around the time of puberty, as both physical and behavioural changes impact upon sleep, which, in turn, can influence their ability to engage in the classroom and learn.

Reference is made to the impact that blue light has on a person’s photoreceptors. Bright light increases alertness, so, if adolescents are exposed to relatively bright light before bedtime, this will increase alertness and delay the onset of sleep. The light emitted from TV screens, tablets and phones is blue light enriched. Parents - time to review the number of electronic devices in bedrooms that emit blue light!

The National Sleep Foundation recommended in 2015 that 14 to 17-year-old adolescents should have eight to ten hours of sleep each night. Studies estimate that   pupils lose, on average, 120 minutes of sleep a night on School nights, comparative to sleep during the holidays. UK adolescents are achieving around seven hours of sleep each evening.

It is well established that insufficient sleep is associated with reduced attention, impaired learning and poorer academic performance and has also been associated with mood and emotional deficits.

The impact of any delay in sleep/wake time is described as asking a teenager to wake for School at 07.00 as being the same as asking an adult to wake at around 05.00!

A small number of schools in America (where schools start earlier, at about 07.30) have taken part in interventions to address the timings of the school day. It has been established that later school start times were associated with an improvement in attendance, a reduction in sleepiness in class and improved academic performance.

Delaying school start times allows adolescents the opportunity to sleep at times more aligned with their chronotype - chronotype being the tendency for the individual to sleep at a particular time during a 24-hour period.

Many adolescents experience chronic sleep depravation during the school week. The resultant shortened sleep in these individuals predisposes them to poorer educational outcomes and poorer health.

In response, small scale studies around the world have begun to look at school-based interventions to improve the sleep of teenagers, primarily by delaying school start times. If we are serious about improving the quality of life and educational performances of teenagers, then it is essential that we generate the evidence base to develop interventions within the school environment to improve sleep.

The article proposes that a large scale and quantitative evaluation of the benefits of a delayed start in UK schools (such as 10.00) is required to contribute to such an evidence base!

It is hard to oppose such scientific research, (much more is contained in the article). It presents an interesting challenge for schools who have implemented timings of the school day for many, many years, assuming that such timings are appropriate. However, if such an adjustment to the start of the school day would impact upon educational performance and the health of our pupils, surely it is worthy of serious consideration?

We live in interesting times…….

 

Deputy Head's Blog: The Teenage Brain

Last week, we managed to avoid the worst of the heavy snow that had inconvenienced most of the UK. On Wednesday evening we held our Options evening for our Senior 3 Pupils and Parents.

Following on from the excellent Academic and Careers presentations from Mrs Lancaster and Mrs Gallagher (Morrisby Careers), I concluded with a brief overview of the Pastoral framework at Cransley School.

I referenced an element of Neurology that impacts upon the development of the teenage brain. Namely, neurones at the frontal cortex area of the brain and the limbic system. As a Pastoral practitioner, it is quite useful to have an understanding of the cause of occasional erratic and challenging behaviour from our pupils!  

I remember vividly two extremely important pieces of advice that were handed to me many years ago at the beginning of my pastoral journey:

1.     Be prepared to be let down – but don’t take it personally!

2.     There are times when, to be fair, you need to be inconsistent!

Such advice correlates with the development of the teenage brain!

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience provides an excellent editorial in the latest edition of the Chartered College of Teaching’s journal ‘Impact’ that served to expand further upon this extremely important subject.

Professor Blakemore states that Education changes the brain. Every time we learn a new fact, a new name or a new face, something in our brain will change!

In Professor Blakemore’s lab, she has undertaken a 15 year in depth study of adolescence that has resulted in the publication of her new book: ‘Inventing Ourselves’, due for release on 22nd March.  

Brain imaging studies, in which children and adolescents are scanned in MRI scanners every two years, have shown that the brain undergoes protracted and substantial change during adolescence. Behaviours such as risk taking, decision making and learning all change during adolescence.

I have often used Socrates’ description of the adolescent age group:

“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise”! (Socrates: 469-399 BC).

Or how about this quote:

“The World is passing through troubled times.

The young people of today think of nothing but themselves.

They have no reverence for parents or old age;

They are impatient of all restraint;

They talk as if they knew everything;

And what passes for wisdom with us, is foolishness to them.

As for the girls, they are immodest and unwomanly in speech, behaviour and dress.”

(Peter the Monk, 1274).

Unfortunately for Socrates and Peter the Monk, they did not have the benefit of MRI scanners to assist with making sense of adolescent behaviour!

Professor Blakemore claims that adolescence is a formative period of life, when the brain is changing in important ways, when neural pathways are malleable, and passion and creativity run high. We should understand this period of life, nurture it – and celebrate it!

I find it remarkable that, despite the challenges that adolescence presents to our pupils, they remain capable of producing such wonderful works of art, high quality academic content, sporting prowess, musical and dramatical talents.

I do hope that you can join us for the performance of a Midsummer Night’s Dream, on Friday 16th March, when such pupil talents will be showcased for all to see!

Deputy Head's Blog: Emotional Intelligence

I have never held the opinion that, as a teacher, my only responsibility was to teach academic content. Indeed, my range of pastoral roles served to provided numerous opportunities for me to deliver advice, guidance, encouragement and motivation to the pupils in my care.

The opportunity to provide an educational framework for children, within an increasingly secular and materialistic society, within a holistic environment, to develop global citizens, served to underpin my core reason for wanting to become a teacher in the first place.

Unwittingly, it would transpire that such pastoral care contributes to the 'Emotional Intelligence' of the pupils.

I have always held the opinion that the challenge for effective school leaders, within this increasingly secular and materialistic society, is to have the courage to build moral communities within their schools, thus rebuilding the social capital. In short, I would argue that teachers within schools are ‘emotional guides’.

Of interest is the approach to emotional intelligence currently adopted by Wellington College, an Independent Boarding school located in Berkshire. Emotional Intelligence is given high priority at this School, based upon the premise that:

"It is evolutionarily important for humans to be able to connect and collaborate for our survival as a species. The parts of our brain to do with social connection, empathy and listening have been shown to be highly plastic, and you can make a massive difference to how they function."

The notion of one of our core Cransley School values of ‘Nurturing Relationships’ contributing to emotional intelligence is rather reassuring. I have spent time this week discussing with the boys from Senior One to Senior Three the importance of how empathy, kindness, tolerance and humility makes a huge difference to social connection and to our school community.

Pastoral roles are, in my opinion, the most rewarding in education. It would also appear to be a good time to be a teacher!

Allow me finish by sharing with you three of my favourite quotations that encapsulate the true essence of being a teacher:

A teacher affects eternity; he/she can never tell where his/her influence stops.

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.

There is no real teacher who in practice does not believe in the existence of the soul, or in a magic that acts on it through speech.

I’m not a teacher: only a fellow-traveller of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead— ahead of myself as well as you.

Have a lovely half-term!

Deputy Head's Blog: E Safety

There can be no escaping the impact that Technology has had on Education over the past twenty years. Schools were initially, and naturally, a tad apprehensive of embracing the philosophy of Technology revolutionising the nature of education, due to the significant financial investment into the required hardware and software required to fulfil such a technological ‘utopia’.  No doubt persuaded by the mantra of: 

 “when faced with a steam-rolling technology, you either become part of the technology or part of the road”.

The Cransley pupils, the ‘Digital Natives’, (as opposed to the ‘Digital Immigrants’ description associated with people of my age) enjoy and flourish in an information landscape that would have been unimaginable when most of us were in School, and it dwarfs, by comparison. the experiences they now have in their classrooms.  Their information experience puts them in control, gives them information that becomes a raw material for new information experiences.  It connects them to wings instead of anchors.

A perfect classroom would be more like a global trolley car, in which teachers and pupils can visit places all over the world and visit any time that has been sufficiently documented.

One could argue that such an educational culture is indeed a technological and educational utopia!

And yet, during last week’s Safer Internet Day, we were reminded of the pitfalls, dangers and misuse of Technology. Technology that our pupils have at their fingertips via their mobile phones, laptops, iPad’s, PC’s and X boxes that places them in a vulnerable position should they be ignorant of the potential unpleasant nature of social media.

Internet pornography, sexting, online grooming and cyberbullying appear to be prolific. Combined with the development of such unkind Apps such as Sarahah, recently described as ‘a breeding ground for hate’ provides a hazardous technological landscape for our pupils.

Having a fundamental awareness of how to use technology safely and maturely and the importance of engaging online in a manner that supports the Cransley value of ‘nurturing relationships’ is an extremely important facet of a Cransley School education. Such issues form an integral aspect of our PSHE syllabus.

On Monday of last week, Mr Pollock used a Senior School Assembly to deliver a thought provoking message of appropriate online behaviour, offset by a supportive attitude towards technology and our obligations as a School to strive to ensure that their online experience is a happy and safe one.

I followed up with the theme of Cyberbullying at my School Assembly on Thursday morning. The content and message were deliberately constructed to be hard hitting to reinforce a very strong message of behaving kindly and sensitively when engaging with others online. ‘Nurturing relationships’.

Of significance was my reference to any perception of ‘anonymity’ online. The laws relating to inappropriate and hurtful behaviour online are currently in the process of being reviewed by Parliament to afford a degree of protection to those individuals on the receiving end of such damaging conduct. Serious breaches of online behaviour are always traceable.

My personal view regarding the use of technology for our pupils is ‘Education rather than Regulation’. Technology is a wonderful tool that, if used safely and sensibly, can enhance the learning experience of our pupils and increase their social and recreational enjoyment of technology.   

Deputy Head's Blog: The Tortoise and the Hare

The mock GCSE examinations are now a distant memory, the subsequent period of pupil (and staff) reflection now complete and our Senior 5 Parents evening took place last Thursday evening.

An appropriate time for me to engage in a reflection of the challenges faced by teachers and the pressures that senior pupils face as they approach the final preparations for their Public Examinations.

Of course, priority for teachers is to ensure that they manage to deliver the syllabus, with adequate time remaining for revision and last-minute preparations. Delivering the syllabus is, understandably, taken for granted.  However, with the recent changes to the syllabus of many academic subjects, together with the restructuring of the GCSE examination grades (now represented numerically), this is proving to be more of a challenge than it once was.

My own teaching philosophy whenever I entered the spring and summer term was to deliver my subject content at a pace that enabled the pupils to academically ‘peak’ at just the right time. The potential consequences for pupils peaking too early are the risk of petering out, losing momentum and enthusiasm and becoming ‘flat’, characteristics which further add to worry, pressure and stress. The challenge of regaining enthusiasm and momentum then presents itself to teachers – who already have one eye on the completion of the syllabus!

It is pleasing to experience many positive attributes displayed by our Senior 5 pupils at this time of the year. A strong desire to succeed, combined with a solid work ethic and being totally supportive of each other will no doubt have an impact as their Cransley School journey enters its final, and extremely important phase.

However, as admirable as such qualities are, the Senior 5 pupils must guard against ‘burnout’ by academically peaking too early. A sensible approach to additional work in their own time needs careful and mature time management skills. The pupils need to obtain enough sleep, eat well and devote enough ‘me time’ that provides opportunities to take a mental break from academia, by participating in social, sporting and other leisure time activities that will serve to maintain a healthy school/life balance. Time away from school should not all be about academia. 

I hope that our Senior 5 pupils take a degree of consolation from Aristotle, who claimed that ‘The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet’.

What the Senior have at their disposal is a dedicated team of experienced and enthusiastic academic staff who are more than happy to go the extra mile and provide as much support and guidance out of the classroom as they do during timetabled lessons. In addition, a pastoral framework at Cransley School that will celebrate the good times and assist the pupils if ever they experience an academic ‘wobble’.

After all, Confucius stated that ‘It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop’.

Headmaster's Blog 5: The Curriculum for the Soul (Part 2 of 3)

Monday 30 Jan 2017

We left the last blog with the consideration that parents and teachers should seek in our children a balance of matters regarding the head, the hands and the heart.

Why only now are schools talking about this?  Why now is personal wellbeing coming to the top of the agenda? 

Does feeling good equal learning well?  

RELATIONSHIPS AND ESTEEM

The increasing pressures on children are enormous: family break-ups, the impact of technology, celebrity, body image and academic expectations from parents, schools and universities, to name but a few.

This is a stressful time to be a child.

We know from research and experience, that the quality of relationships has a real impact on overall happiness and fulfilment.  Positive relationships appear essential both to the overall quality of our lives and the ability to cope with the inevitable losses, frustrations, disappointments and failures.

How we think about ourselves clearly influences how we get on with other people.  How we get on with our peers at the age of three or four seems to be of crucial importance in how we manage our relationships in adolescence and then as adults. 

Having low levels of emotional literacy and the subsequent inability to handle relationships would appear to be related to poor behaviour and under-achievement.  

Therefore, we must ensure social inclusion and high self-worth amongst our children, and this can be facilitated by good early emotional literacy provision and the continued nurture thereof.  Close and positive teacher/pupil/parent relationships are essential.

So does one assume, therefore, that emotional literacy and academic attainment go hand in hand?

ACADEMIC ATTAINMENT AND SELF WORTH

The evidence of the impact of wellbeing strategies in schools on academic attainment is actually inconclusive.

If 'academic success' is simply regarded as passing exams, we have a problem in that the most emotionally illiterate of students may achieve very highly. This may be down to the neurotic need to be the best and the use of academic brilliance as a refuge from the more threatening demands of relationships!

However, problem-solving and creativity are surely the essential skills really needed today for success in future vocations, rather than superficial rote-learning for exams.   The former of the two requires high levels of emotional security and believe in one’s inherent worth, just both skills need an openness to the unpredictable and to risk.

‘Having a go’ requires the pupil to trust those around them, have the self-belief to take the risk, and the confidence and security to survive possible failure.

Equally, any degree of shared problem-solving or the need to work collaboratively or show leadership requires the delicate understanding of the emotions of colleagues in order to foster trust, confidence and reliability. 

Personal politics are inevitable in all professional situations, as they are for pupils in schools, and it is vital that we acknowledge feelings and show sensitivity for shared success.

Therefore, from a sound emotional literacy comes genuine self-awareness, empathy and motivation.  If these are secure, then academic success is more likely to follow.

MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID

Before outlining that which we feel at Cransley is the very best approach to pupils emotional wellbeing, I re-iterate the qualification from part 1:

I write this as a teacher.  We at Cransley are teachers.  We are not psychologists or mental health analysts or child psychiatrists, therapists or counsellors.

The very best teachers amongst us do everything we can to help all pupils deal with anxieties, stresses, difficulties and issues.  We deal with matters openly, positively, constructively and individually.

We don’t claim to have all of the solutions, despite what is expected of us, but we do have the best of intentions.

We will endure conflict with pupils and parents and colleagues alike, and - I assure you - we will make mistakes, but I challenge my staff and, indeed, myself not to avoid this responsibility.  

I ask parents to support my staff in their efforts, just as we will support you.

Our principles must be firm and shared, and although we may fail, our efforts must stem from a commitment to nurture and support these children in our care - their heads, hands and hearts.

 

NOTES

The Head acknowledges the following sources, amongst others:

Ten Trends 2015 RSAcademics
Southampton Psychology Service: Emotional Literacy studies
'Teachers as Mental Health First Aiders: The Danger of a Little Knowledge' by Dai Green, Headmaster of Arnold Lodge School, Leamington  https://arnoldlodgehead.wordpress.com/2017/01/11/featured-content/,
‘Heart in hand’ by Stephen Cook https://www.theguardian.com/education/2004/jun/29/highereducation.news
‘Expansive Education: Teaching learners for the real world’ by Bill Lucas
‘Detoxifying Childhood’ by Sue Palmer

Headmaster's Blog 5: The Curriculum for the Soul (Part 3 of 3)

I want Cransley to be a community where individuals develop and maintain their own sense of value and self-esteem while at the same time maintaining that of others… somewhere that children can nurture relationships, seek excellence and venture beyond.

By teaching our pupils how to be well and how to be emotionally literate, they will be more likely to engage and start to use strategies to support their own happiness and wellbeing.

If this is successful, our children will begin to venture into new learning in class with assurance and security, tackle problems with resilience, face difficult academic and pastoral situations, and find both personal success and subsequent motivation.

The earlier this is established, the more secure the academic success.

One recent comment to me argued that investing in an excellent emotionally literate independent school is more vital at primary level than for Secondary school. By eleven, a child’s personality, values and emotional literacy are already fairly established…

So, enough theory! What do we do about it?

The quality of pupils’ personal development at Cransley is already regarded as being excellent. Our inspections say so, and I hope our parents will reiterate that message. You may wish to comment below!

However, we do not stand still in these matters, and strive to provide the very best to address wellbeing and release academic potential amongst our pupils.

Our class sizes mean that pupil/teacher relationships are close, constructive and caring.

Strengths are celebrated and weaknesses addressed in supportive and structured ways. When we declare that ‘Every Individual Matters’, we include all pupils, all parents, all visitors and, of course, all school staff.

We have recently introduced a monitoring and tracking system evaluating the emotional literacy of every child in the school: specifically, their self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills, with a complex and thorough analysis for the creation of pathways to help children develop emotionally, if difficulties are identified.

It is a system in which I have enormous faith and belief, although one which is not easy to put into practice.

Such pathways may include 1:1 sessions combined with small group discussions on the specific difficulties being encountered. If matters continue to extend beyond our capacity as educators, we are fortunate to have our School Counsellor, Nathalie, to speak to our pupils on a 1:1 basis.

Beyond this, we support parents in finding the correct mental health professional to address our pupils’ needs.

Our children not only have PSHE (Personal Social Health Education) lessons timetabled with a thorough and engaging scheme of work, but also dedicated improvement and reflection time (DIRT!) each week, with the usual though-provoking assemblies. Staff see opportunities for social, moral, spiritual and cultural development and discussion in all areas of the curriculum. Complementing this, we give our children opportunities to develop these qualities further, for example on residentials, team-building activities, cultural experiences, places of worship or meeting people in whom they can find aspiration and inspiration.

Last year in the Junior school, we introduced a new RS scheme of work from the excellent Manchester Diocese, encouraging individual morality and personal spirituality, complementing the wonderful teaching of Humanities in the Senior School.  We will be seeking to bring an early discrete philosophy and ethics lesson also in the very near future.

In regard to the behaviour of pupils - something which is already regarded as excellent - our approach enables those who have been harmed by inappropriate behaviour, however rare, to convey the impact of the harm to those responsible, and for those responsible to acknowledge this and take steps to put it right - a system known as ‘Restorative practice’. It works.

I wish for our provision to be the very best possible expected from a school.

Therefore at the end of a long and arduous blog, I encourage you to consider the points that I have so clumsily made, and maybe also please mull over the first question of the new ISI inspectorate to be asked of our pupils:

“How well do you understand yourself?”

It is by far, the most difficult programme of study for any school - the ‘Curriculum for the Soul’.

Richard

Headmaster

 

I should take the opportunity to particularly thank the staff and parents of Cransley who have given their response to the matter of Emotional Literacy. I also wish to thank Mrs G Pearson, our pastoral governor, for supporting the scheme from the onset, and thank a wonderful dedicated pair of teaching assistants, Mrs K Jackson and Mrs C Riddell, who are charged with putting the system into practice in both Junior and Senior Schools, and have taken time to research, study and enhance the system for the benefit of our children.

Anybody who has encountered and benefitted from the tireless dedication and commitment from Mrs H Ward, our pastoral coordinator, will know how much individuals will put their heart and soul on the line for the sake of our pupils. If you see her, give her a cuddle! She will hate it and love it in equal measure!