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Self respect

Published on 03/09/19

There is something refreshing about the start of the autumn term. In the same way some adopt New Year resolutions on the 1 January, the start of the academic year presents the opportunity for pupils and students, and indeed teachers, to recalibrate. Perhaps one has always done the work set, but has not quite done oneself justice with the amount of effort; maybe writing revision notes could have happened earlier so that later revision could have focused on practising past papers; possibly one could have been kinder or simply exuded a different attitude to others. This is the moment to recommence with resolve and determination – with respect for yourself – to do even better in the coming year.

Our school’s mission is to provide an environment where the God-given potential of every individual is recognised and valued. Indeed, this cascades to our vision as a high quality school of choice where girls and boys achieve more than they think is possible. This may sound like something simple but in fact it places the onus on us as teachers, and our pupils as learners, to strive for excellence in everything we do and not just the things we feel most at ease with.

I have to admit that when it comes to the TV programme Countdown I enjoy the numbers round most and I will always have a go at arriving at an answer in time. I never think I am as good with words and I might even excuse myself by confessing I am not as well read as I feel I should be. Admittedly I often find that one of the contestants has come up with an 8 letter word when I am delighted with my own 5 or 6 letter attempt.  However I don’t really pay much attention in these rounds and therefore I am less practised and, unsurprisingly, I don’t get much better. It is as easy for me to say I am not very good with words as it is for a literature expert to say they are no good with numbers - little wonder I can never spot the 7, 8 or 9 letter word in 30 seconds.

So I challenge you to resolve yourself (and me, myself) this year not to be constrained by doing the bits we feel most at ease with, but also by working on the areas we find harder.  If it was a pupil who found the mathematical bits of biology the hardest, we wouldn’t want them to skim through these elements. These would be their priority and, in turn, if a teacher found a certain style of assessing or teaching pupils difficult, or a member of the office team found taking complicated steps with a database challenging, surely those are the things they ought to work on most.

I view our school in the same way. Claremont Fan Court School has made an incredible journey to where it is now and more will always be possible.  The only thing to stop us from making further strides forward is us. Of course success isn’t achieved overnight and it takes great effort. To those who might look at a certain school that they think is in a league above us, I remind them there is only one league which is why we hold our sights so clearly on being, and remaining, a high quality school of choice where we achieve more than we ever thought was possible. 

As individuals we owe ourselves this sense of self-respect as well, in clearing away the obstacles that stop us from thriving and by being people who are determined to persevere in achieving more than we thought was ever possible.

William Brierly