Head Teacher Weekly Blog

Friday 10 July 2020

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”  - Charles Darwin

 

When you all return to school after the six week break you will find a very ‘new’ Dormston. This of course will be temporary and lets all hope that the virus disappears very soon and we can get back to the school we all know. Next week you and your parents will receive more information about how all the changes will affect you so you know fully what to expect and you can be ready to be adaptable.

There are very few successful people or organisations who got to where they are by simply doing the same thing. To be innovative and ahead of the times you must embrace change. But being adaptable is not just about embracing change. Being adaptable means being an optimist and being extraordinarily RESILIENT. Adaptability skills can be possessed both in attitude and in action. I don’t think you can have one without the other to be truly adaptable.

 

If you are adaptable you will embrace change better. You will always face challenges and problems both in school and in life but if you are really adaptable you will be open to seeking out diverse and sometimes unexpected solutions. If you can do this you will stop dreading the challenges and problems life throws at us and instead you will relish the opportunity to seize the issue and work through it to find a great conclusion. If you are really adaptable you will also make use of the range of skills and talents that other people possess to help you work through problems together. Schools and indeed workplaces are always evolving and changing (just as they are now more than ever) and if you are willing to be adaptable you will grow and develop into a better team player and leader.

You can learn to be adaptable by developing the following skills:

Learn from others – Look for the skills and talents in other people and you will also learn how best to navigate change and become more adaptable.

Look for the silver lining – every problem has a solution, sometimes you just need to rethink or re-frame how you approach the problem and look for the good in every issue or challenge.

Accept that sometimes you will make mistakes – No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. The most important thing is that you learn from your mistakes and develop your strength of character. If you learn from the mistakes, share newfound knowledge and test solutions, the chances are these mistakes will form some of the best lessons you will learn in life.

Ask questions – asking questions will help you consider problems from all angles before finding an appropriate solution. Asking questions is a great way to learn more and challenge established ways of thinking.

I am looking forward to welcoming you all back to Dormston in September and I really hope we can all be adaptable and make the most of the changes that we have made.

 

Friday 3 July 2020

“One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between man and nature shall not be broken.”  Leo Tolstoy

 

There is clear water in the Venice canals, blue skies have emerged over Delhi and wild animals are roaming boldly through cities and other lock-down areas all over the world. Carbon emissions are falling fast. Pollution in New York have reduced by nearly 50%. In China emissions fell 25% at the start of the year, whilst nitrogen dioxide emissions are fading away over Italy, Spain and the UK.

However, history tells us that when emissions have fallen sharply in the past, there is often a rocketing re-bound that wipes out any short term cut in emissions. So we have a real balancing act in our future; ensuring we endeavour to look after our planet whilst also recovering from the pandemic to be the fast-paced, energetic world that we all knew before. In a nutshell; we could see long-lasting positive environmental change after the pandemic. But I think it’s all down to how we choose to move on after lockdown.

A global pandemic that is claiming people’s lives across the world certainly shouldn’t be seen as a way of bringing about environmental change. We don’t know how long this dip in emissions will last or whether the clearer skies and return of wildlife will disappear when we return to normal but what lessons should we all learn from the incidental effect of the pandemic on our world? 

These are some of the lessons I’ve learnt throughout the pandemic: I rely on my car every day. But I’ve now learnt that sometimes I can ditch my car, stop being lazy and walk instead. Lots of people started walking every day during lockdown for fresh air and a bit of exercise, so why wouldn’t I want to carry on with that? If I used my car less I’d also save money on fuel and I would have to make sure my travel plans were much more consciously thought out. I’m not really a shopping addict but I have bought significantly less during lockdown. I think we are all conscious of being a little materialistic but not buying ‘stuff’ has been quite liberating. Every single item we purchase has a carbon footprint and a cost to the environment from its manufacture right through to distribution and disposal.

I am also conscious of sometimes wasting food and I feel exceptionally guilty when I have to throw away food I have bought but have not used completely or has passed its sell-by date. I am now planning my meals much more carefully so that I only buy what I need. I try to make sure I use leftovers and make much more use of my freezer. It’s also started to help me with the ‘eating-for-thesake-of-it’ during lockdown. It’s also been great during lockdown to support my local independent shop-keepers rather than queuing up at the supermarket. Maybe this will help the smaller towns and villages regenerate their shopping centres.

I throw away too much waste. Every week I fill my wheelie bin and sometimes make visits to the refuse disposal centre. But while I am keeping my home tidy and clutter-free, I am also adding to the huge mountains of landfill we are now used to seeing. With the disposal centres closed I have started to consider more carefully how I might recycle and reuse some of the items I might otherwise have thrown out as waste.

So despite the horrendous damage that Covid-19 has already wreaked on the world – and not forgetting the recession that is likely to come – some of the collateral gains are undeniable. Fewer cars on the road, more people working from home and fewer people flying around the world have clearly benefited the planet in the short-term. Whether we will be able to learn from these changes in the long-term remains to be seen.

Mother Nature provides us with all the healing, health and vitality that we need. It’s up to us to harness that power and bring these natural powers into our lives so that we can lead a glorious, happy, healthy and long life and ensure the vibrancy and vitality of our planet thrives for generations to come.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 26 June 2020

“Each person must live their lives as a model for others.” Rosa Parks

On December 1, 1955 in Alabama, USA, Rosa Parks rejected a bus driver’s order to give up her seat in the “coloured section” of the bus to a white passenger after the “whites only” section was filled. Park’s prominence in the community and her willingness to become a controversial figure standing up for equality inspired many people to support the campaign for equal rights. She became known as an icon of resistance to racial segregation. She worked with many other civil rights leaders including Martin Luther King. Upon her death in 2005 she was the first woman to lie in honour in the Capitola Rotunda and was only the thirty-first person to receive this honour. California and Missouri commemorate Rosa Parks Day on her birthday, February 4, while Ohio and Oregon commemorate the occasion on the anniversary of her arrest, December 1. Rosa Parks has inspired so many generations and is truly a great role model for others.

Positive role models influence our sections and motivate us to strive to uncover our true potential and overcome our weaknesses. Having them pushes us to make the most of our life. Role models are a must for self-improvement because we must have a standard to strive for or compare ourselves with. Positive role models usually have an ability to inspire others, a clear set of values, a commitment to community, an acceptance of others and an ability to overcome obstacles. Roles models help us to become better versions of ourselves. You might say that a good role model is an expert at being the type of person you hope to be.

So why can’t you be a positive role model? Nothing is standing in your way except your own drive and belief in yourself. You have the capabilities and the power to change not only your own life but also better the lives of those around you. You can easily lead by example and show others how to stay positive and be the best version of themselves. I think there are steps you can take to achieve this every day.

Demonstrate confidence and leadership.      

You might get involved in the student council or apply to be on student leadership team. You might not always be successful but good role models demonstrate how to handle failure as well as success. Everyone likes a person who is happy with their achievements, but continues to strive for bigger and better goals.

Don’t be afraid to be unique.

Be yourself and be proud of who you are. We all have talents so make the most of those abilities. It’s always fantastic to see our talented athletes and sports women and men competing in school, watching our gifted performers on stage, our artists producing their beautiful work, our talented writers and mathematicians doing what comes naturally and our orators debating their cause with confidence. Role models never pretend to be someone that they are not, or fake just to suit other people.

Show respect and concern for everyone.

We all know that every single one of the seven billion people that inhabit the earth are unique. We all have different religions, ethnicities, sexualities, different thoughts and feelings and that’s what makes the world a great place. Great role models accept and celebrate those diversities and treat everyone equal. You can make someone’s day by showing that you care about them.

Have humility and a willingness to admit mistakes.

None of us are perfect and we all make mistakes. Great role models admit their mistakes, learn from them and move forward as better people. Role models are also very tolerant of the fact that other people will make mistakes. Do great things in all aspects of life. Don’t just save being a great role model for school or home, try and find times that you can demonstrate your worth in all aspects of life. Continually try to better yourself and those around you. We might not all achieve the same prominence as Rosa Parks but we can, in our own small way be great role models for others.

 

 

Friday 19 June

“Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.”                                                                                                                                                Dalai Lama

In our modern age the internet has drawn us all much closer together. It links families and friends across cities, towns, countries and continents. It makes us information rich and can educate us quickly in a way like never before. We can see each other, talk to each other, share ideas and stories. With all this at our fingertips I wonder why there is still so much intolerance to others in the world. In this globalisation, where people of different backgrounds, cultures and religions are living together, learning from each other and where the world has become multicultural and full of diversity, establishing harmony and tolerance has become crucial and fostering mutual understanding and respect has become vital.

Lack of tolerance leads to fighting, violence and finally it destroys the peace and security of society. When people fail in their arguments they become intolerant and subsequently use force and aggression to support their point of view. Tolerance does not mean that only one person or party shows tolerance and the others do not. When some people disagree on a certain issue they must express their opinions in a respectful manner, and hateful and provocative words should not be used. Tolerance must be shown from all sides on issues, in order for us to be an effective community in which everyone is valued. There are over 7 billion people on this planet and not one person has ever been born identical and in the whole history of the planet that’s a lot of people who are all different. Different religions, cultures, ethnicities, sexuality, genders, beliefs all coming together to create one world. Humans evolved in the same way. We all have a beating heart, a brain that thinks and reasons and we all bleed in the same way so I don’t understand why we fight and are intolerant of those things that make us individual – surely we should be celebrating differences not fearing them!

You will all have seen that George Floyd’s death has sparked protests across the US with demonstrators calling for an end to police violence. Black Lives Matter are currently campaigning to ensure equal rights. Their aim is to protest peacefully so that their important message is heard but unfortunately a very small minority of people have tried to use the protest and the BLM name to cause trouble and that is unfortunately what is being broadcast on the news sometimes. When we see statues and monuments being demolished, followed by violent right-wing extremists fighting in Parliament Square, London we might start to believe that every protestor is out to cause trouble. We must do our very best to ensure we do not brand everyone as thugs and realise that these aggressive and hateful few are using the BLM movement to create trouble and stir up more hatred. On their website, BLM “stands to embody and practice justice, liberation and peace in our engagements with one another.” Violence and destruction are never the answer and we must all remember that we can protest and try to make a change peacefully. At Dormston we have the ability to ensure that everyone is equal. We are now a supporter of Stonewall ensuring equal rights for everyone and we now have the All Together Award to continually strive to ensure that every student feels valued and respected and safe from bullying. We will continue to explore more ways to celebrate equality and diversity.

What is EQUALITY?                                                                                                                                                    We know that society is made up of a wide spectrum of people. There are many differences and these differences can create connections but can sometimes put people at a disadvantage. This is discrimination. Discrimination can mean that individuals and whole groups are denied opportunities and treated differently and unfairly based on certain characteristics. Equality seeks to ensure this does not happen.

What is DIVERSITY?                                                                                                                                            The term diversity means differences. It celebrates the differences between us and seeks to actively promote them. It aims to recognise and value differences as positives which enhance and progress society. Diversity ensures there is space at the table for everyone and not just those who fit into one particular group of people. This ensures that everyone can reach their true potential.

At Dormston School we will never give up trying to ensure equality and celebrate diversity.                  The rights of every human being that their beliefs and way of life shall not be violated and offended must be recognised. Every person has the right to have an opinion and to express it peacefully. I’ve said in assemblies before that mothers are wise people. Well, my mum always said to me that you should treat everyone like you want to be treated yourself. I would like to thank my mum for instilling that belief within me!

 

 

fRIDAY 12 jUNE

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have you will NEVER, EVER have enough” Oprah Winfrey

Some days are great!

Things go as planned and we bounce our way through the day and feel wonderful inside. Then there are other days…

Life moves so quickly, and a lot of the time it may feel like we can barely keep up. The daily changes (particularly in the current situation) and many expectations placed on us can leave our heads buzzing with thoughts and feelings of concern on a practically minute-by-minute basis. Sometimes it’s the day to day stuff like “Did I remember to finish my English homework?” or “Did I forget to hang out the washing like my mum asked?” At other times it may feel a bit more dense, or less easy to solve. I am sure some of you may have worried a bit about falling behind with school work or not seeing your friends again and “How am I going to be able to manage?”

We can all be worriers from time to time but despite all the feelings of failure, feelings of discomfort, feelings of not being good enough we all have a power within us to change that. We have the power to be positive. The more life you breathe into those things that make you happy, the more you’ll find those kind of things will make you happy. We are all human and sometimes it’s hard not to worry but when things get tough try to find things in life to be thankful and grateful for. Try to start small. Try thinking about little things we have to be thankful for.

However small or insignificant it might appear at first focusing on those things can really alter your mind-set. It might be that you’ve finished a piece of work that was difficult or even that you have finished reading a new book that was more challenging than others you have read. Then try to move on to something a little bigger. Think about how thankful you are to have certain special people in your life or how grateful you are to have a healthy body and an active mind. And then, perhaps the hardest part of all, be thankful and grateful for whatever experience you’re handed, whether it be pleasant or not. Every experience helps us learn and become better people.

Our journey through life can sometimes drop obstacles in our way but the more you focus on the positivite the easier it is to get around, jump over or simply smash your way through those obstacles. When you take the time to count your blessings, the positivity will guide you on to whatever is next on your journey.

Stories about gratitude cross cultures and times. Though many of them share similar themes, not all of them approach gratitude and positivity in the same way. Some focus on the benefits of receiving gratitude from others, while others focus more on the importance of experiencing gratitude ourselves. Many of you will know the story of King Midas which is of course a cautionary tale about greed. King Midas believes he can never have too much gold, but once his food and even his daughter have suffered in his quest for wealth, he realises he was wrong. But this is also a story about gratitude and appreciation. Midas does not realise what is truly important to him until he loses it all. Once he has rid himself of his golden touch, he appreciates not only his beloved daughter, but also the simple treasures of life, like cold water and bread and butter. He concentrates on the positive in order to build a better future for himself.

I began this blog with a very wise quote from Oprah Winfrey. I am going to finish with the lyrics from a song by Joni Mitchell. The song is ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ (ask your parents if you don’t know it as I am sure many of them will SING it to you!). She says; “Don’t it always seem to go That you don’t know what you’ve got Til it’s gone”

 

Friday 5 June 2020

“The internet COULD be a very positive step towards education, organisation and participation in a meaningful society.

” In this day and age it’s difficult to imagine a world without the internet and the modern technologies that are constantly evolving. We all use it every day and it has permeated society and transformed the way we live. But time after time the same question arises; is the internet a good addition to our life? I’m sure that if you ask your parents and grandparents many of them will be able to tell you about a way of life without the internet. I am sure that is an unimaginable world to many of you but in some ways life was a lot simpler and easier. If your parents are a similar age to me they will remember when we had to rely on books if we wanted to find facts, information, ideas. If we wanted to make arrangements with school friends it all had to be done face to face. If we wanted to order something it had to be done via letter and post and often delivery would take weeks. Even when I first started teaching, messages to staff were carried via pupil messengers as there was no email. I know I probably now sound very old to all of Dormston students but this wasn’t THAT long ago really. Our technological world has moved so quickly and I think that now, in light of the fact that we are relying so much on technology during the school closure, it would be a good time to reflect on if the internet really is a good thing.

The internet is a powerful source of information and KNOWLEDGE for all of us. I am sure that most students couldn’t imagine getting through their studies without this powerful research tool. We can quickly Google all sorts of questions and find a myriad of useful facts to help us. However, it is important to understand that not everything you see or read on the internet is 100% reliable. Wikipedia is an example of this. It is run by volunteers and anyone with internet access can alter and make changes to Wikipedia articles so it’s always wise to exercise some caution when using this for research. When researching we should always consult a wide variety of sources and authors. As I mentioned earlier, we can now all do our banking and shopping online. Amazon has made it so easy to find all those items that we want but don’t know which shops to look in. It has saved hours of waiting to get what we need or want. However, it’s always wise to remember that all online accounts can be hacked so we should always try to change our passwords regularly to ensure our details are kept safe and secure. Think carefully about all the online safety lessons you have received in school and do your best to keep yourself protected.

Social media is a huge part of our lives now and it means we can stay in touch easily with friends and loved ones. It often gets a very bad press but when we take RESPONSIBILITY for how we use it, it can allow long distance friendships and relationships to be maintained, conversations can be struck up over shared content and we are allowed a glimpse into the lives of others which will always fascinate us. For me being able to face time my mum who lives 150 miles away has been a real blessing during lockdown. It means that I can stay connected with all my family and not feel so isolated. However many people argue that this is making us lazy in our interaction with other people. Maybe we are forgetting the art of conversation? I think the key to good social media usage is remembering that whatever you write or add is there forever and you really shouldn’t add anything that you wouldn’t be prepared to show your parents or grandparents. All of the words we use will affect someone else in some way. Kind, positive words can make other people feel great but when we are unpleasant, hurtful or even verbally aggressive on social media we can leave other people feeling anxious, unhappy and very isolated.

The world is still learning about the internet as it continually evolves. Whilst some of the negatives can probably never really be eliminated, I think we are slowly becoming much better at keeping ourselves safe on line and recognising the dangers. I have been so grateful during lockdown for all the benefits of the internet that I have made use of, both personally and at school. As I am sure many of you will know Mr Carroll and Mr Clements have been exploring how we provide live online lessons through Microsoft Teams and that is something that the English department and other departments across the school are starting to make use of. What is most important is that we make the technology work in a positive way for us and ensure we take those positive steps towards better “education, organisation and participation in a meaningful society.”

 

22 May 2020

“Start somewhere - Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”

I hope you have had a good week and are looking forward to your half term (albeit slightly different!).

Great news that Colonel Tom Moore was knighted yesterday. A former British Army Officer known for his achievements raising money for the NHS in his run up to his 100th birthday during our current pandemic.

On April 6th 2020, at the age of 99, he began to walk laps of his garden in aid of NHS charities, with the goal of reaching £1000 by his hundredth birthday. In the 24-day course of his fundraising he made many media appearances and became a popular household name in this country, generating much interest in his life story, earning him a number of accolades and attracting over 1.5 million individual donations. He featured in a cover of the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, with proceeds going to the NHS charities. The single topped the UK music charts making him the oldest person to achieve a UK number one. In total he raised £32.79 million. Head of the Army, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith called Tom “an inspirational role model.”

You have heard me say so many times in school that I want you to be the very best version of yourself. I know that it is not always easy to be strong and resilient and driven, especially when times get tough, as they are now, but I think we can all draw inspiration from Tom Moore and accept that we have the power to make a difference and to control our own destiny and ultimately do the best we can for ourselves and others.

If all you do is wait for the best version of yourself to happen, you’re forever going to be stuck with the current version. So, how do you launch the best version of yourself? Start somewhere - Start making progress today. Sometimes, you need to make a big change in order to unleash the best version of yourself or sometimes it might be small steps.

These are my ideas to help you start making those changes:

1. Make a change                                                                                                                                             Say you want to run a marathon, but have no prior experience. The first step is lacing up you shoes and hitting the pavement. Even if you only make it half a mile on your first training run, you’ll be about 2% closer to your ultimate goal than if you didn’t put in any work at all.

2. Start from the beginning                                                                                                                         You don’t just happen to stumble upon the best version of yourself. You need to start from the beginning and take a high number of small steps in order to become what you want to be.

3. Recognise that the best version of yourself should be your vision, not anybody else’s.                       Don’t waste energy trying to live up to what somebody else wants you to be. You should always be true and honest to yourself and be proud of the good things you do and achieve however insignificant they might be to other people.

4. Help other people become the best version of themselves                                                                           You’ll find that the lasting connections you build from helping others will greatly benefit you moving forward. You’ll feel positive and good about yourself when you put in the effort to support and help other people.

5. Take on new challenges                                                                                                                            Doing something productive outside of your school work that makes you happy and helps you become a better version of yourself. So, whatever it is… a new art skill, a musical instrument, a new language, improving a sport, helping a charity, creative writing, whatever…. start doing it on your nights and weekends. And who knows? In years to come it might just turn into a full-time job that you love.

So just like Tom Moore who stepped out on the morning of April 6th at the age of nearly 100, determined to help other people, we can also take steps to being the best version of ourselves. Start somewhere!

 

15 May 2020

Helen Keller (American author) once said:

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

In these testing times, when we are perhaps isolated from contact with our friends and families, it would be so easy to feel a little down. It is a worrying time. We are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic with cities and even whole countries shutting down. We are all sometimes watching the news and wondering “what is going to happen next?”

For many of us the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus is the hardest thing to handle. We don’t know how exactly we’ll be impacted or how bad things might get. Sadly, that makes it all too easy to catastrophize and then spiral out into a little bit of dread and panic. But there are so many things you can do - even in the face of this unique crisis – to manage your anxiety and fears and although we want to know what’s going to happen next, it can help to turn off the news from time to time and try to encourage ourselves to feel more optimistic.

It is easy to slip into the habit of sleeping late, spending all day in your pyjamas and eating junk food but looking after yourself is essential for your mental health. Even simple tasks like washing your face and sorting out your hair can make a big difference to the way you feel. Ensure that you get plenty of fresh air and follow basic self-care regimes. Try to eat healthy food, get enough sleep, get lots of hydration and keep to a routine.

Getting moving is easier said than done sometimes, especially when you feel low or a little anxious, but it can significantly boost your mood. Try to get moving each day and throw yourself into the activity. Add to that some music that helps boost your mood. If you are able, get into the garden and get daily doses of sunshine.

Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help offload any worries and fears that you might be feeling. It is also important to try to keep busy, whether that means going for a daily walk or even learning a new skill. There are still plenty of activities that you can engage with at home, including crafts, painting, reading, cooking and baking. We have seen so many photographs of you engaged in new skills and activities and we love getting these in school so keep on sending them in.

If you don’t feel up to doing anything though, that’s fine too. It’s important to be kind to yourself and recognise when you need a break. Take care of yourself, focus on the positive and you’ll get through this. Tell yourself that what I am doing is good enough. Be good to yourself! If you are feeling a bit fed up remember that you can always contact your form tutors and Head of House too, they are here to help you and support you.

I found this new report recently which really helped me to feel like there is a reason to stay upbeat and optimistic:

Birmingham father says staying positive helped him beat coronavirus A father-of-one who battled coronavirus from his intensive care bed has revealed how thinking positively helped him recover. Anthony Morrison spent a week at the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust where he was ventilated after being diagnosed with Covid-19. Anthony, who works as a receipt and distributions supervisor, first experienced symptoms on his way home from work. He was feeling tired and distant – and his usual commute via public transport felt like it was taking longer than usual. A couple of days later he began suffering headaches and had a high temperature. His wife called paramedics and initially, he was told to take paracetamol. But his symptoms did not ease – and he collapsed. He was then taken to City Hospital, in Birmingham. Mr Morrison said:

"The paramedics rushed me to hospital and once I was there it was confirmed I had coronavirus. My oxygen levels were really low and I was in intensive care. But I kept thinking positively. I knew I had to fight this disease and I practised deep breathing techniques. I knew that I couldn’t let it beat me. It was difficult, but I knew I had to remain positive. I think that is really a key factor with this illness. Also, hearing from my relatives really picked me up and when I received two handmade cards from my grandnieces that really picked me up. Their messages touched my heart. I knew I had to get out of hospital and see them again. There were also the small things too that I tried to do whilst I was in hospital. I would set myself goals, like walking to the bathroom. Every day I made sure I was able to do something that would help me in my recovery. The care I received was brilliant, right from the domestics to the doctors, everyone looked after me really well. “ Anthony has now returned home since his discharge and is resting until he is fit to return to work. He added: “I really would say to people to stay positive no matter what life throws at you.”

Stay happy and healthy and we are looking forward to seeing you all again as soon as possible.

 

8 May 2020

I hope you have had a great week and enjoyed the bank holiday and the honouring of VE Day. Whatever you did to mark the occasion, I hope you stayed safe and well. I know that there were lots of street parties up and down the country (including my road!) and I hope if you were part of one of these you had a great time enjoying the sunshine and participating in the community spirit. On National Nurses Day I would also like to say a big thank you from Dormston to all the nurses across the country who are doing such a fantastic job on the front line.

In 1942 Vera Lynn sang: “There’ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover Tomorrow, just you wait and see. There’ll be love and laughter and peace every after Tomorrow, when the world is free”. Her words gave hope that a brighter future lay ahead to those caught in the terrible atrocities of war. Those words are so relevant in today’s current climate as we all hope and look forward to returning to some normality in the weeks and months to come. It is so important now that we remember our school’s core values of resilience and responsibility during these turbulent times. I was reading about some of the remarkable stories from the war relaying acts of bravery, kindness and resilience and I thought it would be good to share one of these with you to remind us that we have lots to be grateful for and we must be patient and do our best to stay optimistic that a better tomorrow will come. Although our present situation is not directly comparable to those who lost their lives in the war we can be very inspired from the momentous chapter in history.

Then, as now, the nation has responded by coming together for the national good. Then, as now, we are being asked to make sacrifices we never expected to make. One story from this era was revealed by former Army Air Forces Sergeant Lloyd Ponder. As a World War II veteran who was captured and made a prisoner of war, Ponder was determined to make it out of a Japanese-controlled Prisoner Of War camp alive. “Your mental attitude toward how you handle situations has a lot to do with your success.” Ponder said. “A lot of our fellas would give up, and they ended up not getting through it.” While Ponder was captured, he recalled what things in life were most important to him and had a burning desire to do whatever he could to survive. “Regardless of what others do, grit your teeth and do what needs to be done.” Ponder said. “Just never give up.” Physical labour and displays of suffering were a daily occurrence. Despite the difficulties, Ponder kept persevering and credits his survival on his determination. “I remember thinking if anyone is going to get out of this alive, it’s going to be me.” Ponder reflected. “Determination is the attitude you had to have, knowing you could survive whatever!” Ponder proudly shared that not only did he survive being held as a POW, but he also managed to accomplish something more miraculous. “When I got out, I didn’t have a scratch anywhere” Ponder exclaimed. “That’s a miracle!” According to Ponder, the only injury he received was self-inflicted …. from opening a can of rations.

Although times have changed, Ponder shares words of advice that were applicable to him more than 75 years ago. That is to always have hope, no matter what. “Hope makes a difference.” Ponder concluded. “If you don’t have hope, you’re gone. Having hope can get you through anything.” I am sure lots of you will have questions following Boris Johnson’s speech on Sunday night regarding, amongst other things, how schools will gradually re-open. Firstly, we will do our best to make sure you are safe and protected when we do invite you back in. The senior management team at the school are planning ways to help you get back into the normality of school when it is safe to do so. This will probably start with checking your temperature every morning as you arrive. We will also operate classes with only 15 students and ensure you are all kept socially distant. For a while we will all have to accept that the day to day running of the school will change and lessons, the environment and the way we expect you to move around school will look and feel very different.

We have no exact dates yet of when you will return but we will keep you as updated as possible when we have further details to share. We do know that Year 10 will be the first to return and later this week all Year 10 students and parents will receive a letter explaining next steps. We know it is possible that we will not have Year 7, 8 and 9 back in to school for some time and to ensure that learning at home is as positive as possible we will soon be sending all of you details about how you might want to break up your study so that you do not feel too much pressure. We are also currently exploring ways that we can offer some on-line learning with some teachers and you should hopefully be hearing more about this in the next few weeks. We care about every single one of you and the most important thing is that you try to stay healthy and positive.

I know staying at home can sometimes feel quite lonely and you miss your friends but you are always in our thoughts and your teachers will help you in any way they can. If you are struggling please email your Heads of House who will always try to provide whatever support you need. I have said many times that the only thing that matters is that you are trying your best. It is our job to make sure that when we do return to school every student is given the opportunity to catch up on work missed so please don’t worry about falling behind. You can only do what you can at home and we know everyone’s home situation is different. I also want you to make sure you build in some time to enjoy other activities besides school work as it’s much better for your mind if you allow yourself some time to relax, exercise, be with family and enjoy life.

I am very pleased to see that we have had lots of entries to our competition to design a new cover for the school planner. When the competition closes we will pick a winner and the winning design will adorn the front of every student planner next year. Please also try to involve yourself in the weekly challenges being set by your Heads of House. Send us pictures when you do participate as we love to know that you are getting involved and being part of our community. We miss you all and look forward to eventually seeing you again soon. In the meantime please keep healthy and safe.

 

1 May 2020

I hope that you all are staying safe and well. I am sure that you are looking after your parents, family and friends. At this time, you must also ensure that you look after yourself. We have spoken to some parents who have informed us that some of you are placing undue pressure and stress on yourselves at this time. Please look after your wellbeing and take time for you. If there are issues with home learning then please contact us and we will help. Whilst we are not together in the school building, we all still belong to the same school and we are all here to support one another.

Mrs Mosley has asked me to pass the following guidance on to you which may help you as you continue with your home learning:

ï‚· try to stick to a set routine each day;

ï‚· take regular breaks from screens;

ï‚· try to do something positive and creative every day;

ï‚· do your work and contact your teachers between 8.40am and 3.00pm if necessary;

ï‚· be safe online. Never share passwords or personal information;

ï‚· submit the relevant work through email;

ï‚· stay active. Try to complete a physical activity each day;

ï‚· remember to treat your parents/carers kindly and fairly while at home;

ï‚· remember that staff at school are still here to support you if you need to talk;

ï‚· just try your best each day and do what you can.

 

As I have said, the most important thing is that you stay calm and just try to do some school work each day so that when we get back to normality you are able to get back in to the daily routines of school without too much trouble. I have seen so many examples on the news of people all over the world who have been learning new skills and getting involved in new activities to keep themselves going throughout lockdown.

Although Coronavirus has cancelled sporting events across the world, three pole vaulters returned to the sport from their gardens during the pandemic. They used video streaming to compete against each other in the ‘Ultimate Garden Clash’ last Sunday. The trio are among the world’s most accomplished vaulters. Mondo Duplantis from Sweden is the pole vault world-record holder, the USA’s Sam Kendricks is a multiple world champion and Renaud Lavillenie from France took gold at the 2012 Olympics. The three athletes worked together to devise their own competition format, fit for an age of social distancing. (I’m not quite sure what their neighbours on the other side of the fence thought though!) It is remarkable that these athletes have not allowed the virus to stop them from doing what they love – they just turned the threat of the virus into an opportunity; something that I hope we can all learn from.

I wonder what Dormston students are doing to keep themselves active and make the most of the time at home? Let’s also draw some hope and inspiration from Captain (now Colonel) Tom Moore who raised £33 million for the NHS. When he set out with his walking frame at the beginning of April he had a modest goal to raise £1,000 for the NHS by walking up and down his garden 100 times before his 100th birthday. What followed was one of the most startlingly successful fundraising stories of our time. After completing his mission and whilst celebrating his birthday Tom said “Remember, tomorrow is a good day, tomorrow you will maybe find everything will be much better than today.” What a fantastic inspiration for us all and we should remember that even when times are tough we can do anything if we put our heart and soul into it.

It’s so important that during these tough times we look after each other in our families, our circle of friends and in the communities we live in. I would like to finish by sharing with you how much we miss all members of our school community. Teachers, parents, students, governors, indeed everyone connected to Dormston all have a part in making our community what it is and I miss the energy and buzz you all create within the school. We fully understand the reasons for our partial closure, however the school feels a very lonely place without you all. Please stay safe and well.

 

24 April 2020

Dear Students

“Keep going… Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going… tough situations build strong people in the end!”

I hope all Dormston students are keeping healthy and well and had a good Easter break (despite the strange circumstances we find ourselves in).

I think at times like this our resolve is tested to the limit and I am fairly certain that the majority of Dormston students will keep going. Please remember that one of our core values is that we are resilient and we never give in. As you are attempting the work the staff are setting please try your best but also remember that you will NOT get into trouble if you’ve had a go but not quite succeeded or done as well as you would want. I am very aware that in many households there is only one computer which is probably shared so just do what you can and be happy in the knowledge you’ve given it your best shot. When we all finally return to school we will make sure that everybody is given a chance to catch up so we all have the same knowledge and understanding. I also hope that you are helping out your parents and carers and being calm, respectful and helpful. At Dormston we want to make sure it’s a balance between trying to keep up with school work and also taking part in some fun but safe activities. Mrs Elliot, Mr Amos and your Heads of House will be launching a new challenge each week to get involved in. If you decide to have a go please send us photos or, even better, videos of you tackling the challenge. Mrs Otton will put together some of the photos and videos so that as a community we can all stay connected. Please email your photos and videos to kotton@dormston.dudley.sch.uk.

Last time I wrote this blog I shared with you some of the remarkable things people have been doing during the lock down. I thought it might be nice to tell you about other acts of kindness and resilience that I read about. When it comes to news about the coronavirus it’s all about switching the narrative from scaremongering to CAREMONGERING. These are some individual heroes proving love and kindness will always win.

Twitter hero Samantha Kelly set up a hashtag to help the vulnerable. In a time of self-isolation, communication is key. Ensuring those in need of help receive it is Samantha Kelly who started the hashtag #SelfisolationHelp. The idea is to join those who run errands to those who have been forced to self-isolate. Samantha said “There was so much negativity and I wanted to do something useful. This is about people feeling like they are not on their own, and that there are people out there who do want to help.”

Copywriter Becky Wass started a postcard scheme to combat loneliness. An inevitable side effect of self-isolation is loneliness. Aiming to combat it is freelance copywriter Becky

Wass who devised a postcard scheme that allows vulnerable members of society to request that others carry out certain errands for them. Becky designed the postcard that aims to help with essential errands whilst also offering more social services too like a chat on the phone.

Footballer Gary Neville offered up his hotels to NHS staff. Gary hit the headlines with the news that he is closing both of his hotels. In place of guests, Gary is offering rooms to NHS staff and medical professionals to support them whilst they self-isolate from family members. Gary said “We’ve been in consultation with health services and our 176 beds will be occupied by NHS staff. They will be free of charge and there will be absolutely no costs to the workers.”

Chef Jonny Burnett delivered meals for the isolated and vulnerable. With restaurants and cafes instructed to shut down, chef and business owners are turning their culinary talents to helping the isolated and vulnerable where they can. Helping the cause in Somerset chef Jonny Burnett who is cooking and delivering meals to those who cannot leave their homes. He said “I know a lot of people are isolated so I said to my boss, “I’ll take time off work unpaid and just start feeding as many people as possible.”

What is really important to note with all of the four examples I have given you is that none of them gained anything themselves from helping others… apart from the great feeling of doing something positive and making a huge difference to others that is.

I hope that you are being kind to others during these difficult times. It will mean so much if you offer a random act of kindness. I would like ALL Dormston pupils to pick one act of kindness from the list below and do it! (Try a new one each day if you’re feeling positive!)

· call a friend that you haven’t spoken to for a while;

· tell a family member how much you love them and appreciate them;

· make a cup of tea or coffee for someone you live with;

· arrange to have a cup of tea and a virtual catch up with someone you like;

· help with a household chore at home;

· arrange to watch a film at the same time as friend and video call them;

· tell someone you know that you are proud of them;

· tell someone you know why you are thankful for them;

· send a motivational text to a friend who is struggling;

· send someone you know a joke to cheer them up;

· send an inspirational quote to a friend;

· spend time playing with your pets;

· reach out to a neighbour who might be experiencing difficulty. Give them a call to check on them;

· donate to a charity;

· give praise to your family and friends;

· donate to a foodbank.

It will make the world of difference if you are kind not only to others but also to your own well-being and positivity.

Remember… tough situations build strong people in the end!

 

3 April 2020

Dear Students

Each week, until we return, I will add to this blog to keep you as updated as possible and ensure as Dormston community we stay connected.

I hope you are coping with this new way of working.  Although at the moment it might seem like this is just the start as this terrible virus affects the whole world, please always remember that this is temporary.  When I wrote the parent/carer weekly bulletin this week I included this quote which I think is so relevant right now:

“Remember, no storm lasts forever.  Hold on!  Be brave!  Have faith!  Every storm is temporary and we’re never alone.”

We will do our best as a school to get through this and ensure we try to support every single student and member of staff in whatever way we can.

There is no denying that we are currently seeing some terrible news at the moment on TV and it’s awful to hear about so many tragic deaths but through all this I think it’s also important that we applaud the efforts of so many people all around the world who are fighting so hard to ensure we beat this virus.  To that end, I hope that we are all on our doorsteps at 8.00pm each Thursday to show our appreciation for the NHS employees who are now working so hard to care for the sick.  I know that from my doorstep in Birmingham last Thursday the applause was resonant and heart felt and was an emotional experience that meant so much to so many.  Sticking together and supporting our communities is critical at this time.  I also really hope that the sense of community will continue long after our victory over the virus!

I appreciate that these are dark times for people around the world as the coronavirus continues to spread.  Numbers of infections and fatalities are rising, cities and even whole countries now are shutting and millions of people are being forced into isolation.  But amidst all the worrying news there have been so many reasons to find hope.  We are continually seeing so many acts of kindness.  Alongside the stories of panic buying and fights over toilet roll and tins, the virus has also spurred acts of kindness all around the world.

Two New Yorkers amassed 1,300 volunteers in 72 hours to deliver groceries and medicine to elderly and vulnerable people in the city.

Facebook reported that hundreds of thousands of people in the UK had joined local support groups set up for the virus, while similar groups have been formed in Canada, sparking a trend there known as ‘caremongering’.

People all around the world are donating money, sharing ideas and recipes.  People are exercising on-line together, sending uplifting messages to self-isolating and elderly people and transforming businesses into food distribution centres.  Pop stars, including Coldplay frontman Chris Martin and country singer Keith Urban have also been streaming live gigs to combat the boredom of self-isolation.  In future blogs I will share with you other glimmers of hope that have emerged throughout this terrible ordeal.

I for one hope all this CAREMONGERING continues for years to come!  It is something I definitely want to see when we return to Dormston.

I am assuming that you are all doing your bit too.  Our core value of RESPONSIBILITY is now probably more important than ever.

You can play your part by:

  • being responsible for ensuring you are keeping up to date with your school work;
  • being responsible for helping around the house whilst everyone works from home;
  • making sure you are behaving as well as you can for your parents/carers during this difficult time;
  • keeping an eye out for your neighbours to make sure they are all well;
  • being responsible by not mixing in groups.  Follow the Government advice of staying at home;
  • getting involved with any activities that support your local communities.  Please remember to always stay safe though;
  • staying connected and being kind to others on-line.

However you are taking responsibility I would love to hear about it.  Please let us know what you or your families are doing to support the fight against the virus.  You can email your stories or photographs to kotton@dormston.dudley.sch.uk and we will feature some of them in future blogs.

Stay safe and well please.

Mr Dixon

 

 

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