To me rites of passage through life, that’s a wonderful, beautiful thing.
You can tell a lot about a school by its rites of passage; the way it marks key times in the lives of its pupils. Two years ago, when I arrived everyone felt that they had missed out. The Year 13s had been clapped out of school – several with tears falling down their cheeks unable to experience their celebration evening or ball. The Year 11s and Year 13s weren’t able to sit exams and, despite the worry and the pressure, missed feeling that they were to experience what they saw years before them go through – and succeed.
So it’s been great, this year, to see and hear how much our students have appreciated everything that they have been able to be a part of. Our Year 10s were clear on how left out they felt having not experienced a residential trip, and so they went to Wales last weekend. They jumped off cliffs, raced across wet, drizzled beaches and swam in cold seas and, of course, laughed and challenged themselves. Everyone, pupils and staff, came back glowing (happiness rather than cold!) and that’s exactly how it should be.
The Year 13 muck up day, last Thursday, was again another rite of passage. The humour of their posters, the gentle humour of removing every single clock around the school and putting them into the Marbles’ Court. As well as redecorating the front of the school to make it look like the entrance to a festival was thoughtful, witty and challenging in the sense that it raised smiles rather than creating upset. The Year 11s who celebrate their final day in school by decorating and altering their uniform, had the most extraordinarily complex creations including stencil cut outs and glued sequins, and impressed us all with their creativity and spark.
I never cease to be astonished by the warmth between students and staff; the video recorded by so many staff across the school as well as some of our youngest pupils to wish the Year 11s luck in their exams, was heartfelt and enthusiastic. As well as the video which the Year 13s put together which showed their tiny selves, as they began at the school, and the ‘brave person’ they have become. Whatever the rigours they face this summer they are prepared and they are looking at it full in the face, and they are ready.
Two years ago, we couldn’t do any of these things and our children suffered as a result – it’s great to know that this year our students are making the most of all of the opportunities created by a community of parents and staff, which work hand in hand to support them.
Marina Gardiner Legge