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Published on 01/11/18

If you have been at the Prep School recently, you may have noticed that we have become poultry keepers. This kindly gesture, to avoid returning Year 3’s chicks ‘to the farm’, is in keeping with our drive to extend our outdoor learning programme. We hope that many scientific and pastoral opportunities for learning will arise from this farming experiment. However, it seems that chickens are not compassionate creatures. With my new chicken interest, a TED talk entitled ‘The Pecking Order’ caught my eye. This featured a study into the productivity of chickens, with two groups central to the experiment. The first group featured an average flock (measured by egg count), left to breed without selection for six generations. In the second group, a flock of ‘superchickens’, the highest producers, were put together, with the superstars leading the breeding, for six generations.

The outcome was interesting. At the end of the study, the average chicken group were plump, healthy, and had an increased level of output versus the first generation. However, among the super flock, only three were left alive. All the others had been pecked to death.

We can probably all picture a time in the workplace, or at school, when we have found ourselves to be in an unhealthy dog eat dog (or chicken eat chicken) climate. As the super flock found, too many dominant chickens vying for the top position in the pecking order creates an unhealthy atmosphere and does not foster success. In an era where the mental and emotional health of young people often hits our headlines, perhaps we have more to learn from the chickens than at first anticipated?

At Claremont Fan Court, we seek to nurture a broad range of ability and talents, creating a positive atmosphere where every child understands their individual strengths and has the confidence to face challenges in a supportive culture. Our children flourish because kindness and consideration towards one another underpins our daily life. During this month, when Compassion is our focus character quality, we will encourage the children to be gentle in their words and actions, look out for ways of supporting one another and to be helpful, generous and giving in their community, both at home and school.

We have no ambition to create a flock of super chickens but we definitely have a wonderful community of super children!

Mrs Helen Hutton-Attenborough
Head of Preparatory School