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Peace this advent

Published on 03/12/21

If you can keep your head when all about you   

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   

If you can trust yourself when all [others] doubt you,

    But make allowance for their doubting too;  

Words from Rudyard Kipling’s “If”

In a week where masks have returned and older pupils now find themselves facing several months of hard work towards summer public exams, whilst also preparing for the possible eventuality of mini assessments and teacher-assessed grades, it is easy for our pupils to feel the wind has been taken out of their sails. Thankfully, after individually chatting to each member of Year 11 following their challenging but broadly successful recent mock GCSE exams, this has not been their response.

I wonder, when watching the news, whether the interviewees with their absolutist views on matters ranging from migration to fishing, Christmas parties to vaccinations, could take a leaf out of our pupils’ books?

Of course, there are words in Kipling’s famous poem that belong in a bygone era, but its spirit of resilience, of remaining focused on peace, harmony, reconciliation, forgiveness and serenity holds just as firm as ever. This Christmas, we are once again celebrating a ‘reverse advent’, remembering the principle of giving, kindness and care, of putting ourselves in the shoes of others. This chimes in with our tradition of asking form groups to create hampers distributed by the Salvation Army, wearing Christmas jumpers for Save the Children and watching our sixth form panto production in support of Macmillan Cancer Support and WWF. We focus, too, on reaching out to those whose festive season may be more challenging.

It is easy at times of difficulty to feel frustrated for ourselves, but the approach of holding firm to the positives, being proud of what we have achieved with the resources we have and continuing to stick up for others is the attribute that makes our pupils such strong shapers of the world around them.

Having the confidence of knowing how prepared their teachers are for any eventuality helps our pupils to feel at peace with themselves and the strong community around them.  However, at a time when all of us are perhaps feeling the adversity a little more than usual this advent, let us all be resolved to “fill the unforgiving minute…with sixty seconds’ worth of” positivity, and we can move through tough times as stronger people.

I wish every reader a very harmonious Christmas.

William Brierly