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To be seen and not heard? Headmaster’s Blog – 22 October 2014

October 22, 2014


To be seen and not heard?

I have met a large number of prospective pupils and their parents over the course of this term. Many parents have been areidlowres41looking for a holistic school, like ours, and also one where the self-esteem and confidence of their child can develop. They will refer to large class sizes in their child’s current school and, more often than not, a situation where the quieter pupil is too easily ‘lost’ in the noise of the more confident contributors.

There is an age-old question here: do we develop as communicators because of nurture or nature? In other words, as an article in ‘Attain’ magazine recently put it: Are we born with a pre-determined desire and ability to connect and communicate with others, and an inherent confidence, or does this desire and ability develop as the result of the environments in which we find ourselves?

It’s clear to me that there will be a number of factors at work here and it is part of our responsibility at school to ensure the more confident pupil does not become arrogant and a dominant force in a year group or class whilst enabling the quieter pupil to have opportunities to grow in confidence. Moreover, it’s also important to stress that being quiet – indeed having moments of reflection – are as important as opportunities for more lively expression! Our new outdoor classroom provides for an additional quiet space in break times and last Spring Term’s ‘reflective spaces’ week emphasised the vital importance of contemplation, review and thought. We will also encourage and train children to show visitors around the school (and here the seemingly quieter ones often come into their own), to take on responsibilities in activities (such as being in charge of equipment) and to have a role within the Form group and as mentors for younger children. We try to discover ‘what makes a child tick’ and then encourage them to develop this interest even if it’s a minority hobby or activity such as Eco-Warriors or designing a spaceship to Mars! As the ‘Attain’ article says: Parents can make a real difference here. By taking an interest in what your children enjoy and looking for ways to encourage them, you can help broaden their life experience and gain confidence’.

We recognise that not all children will volunteer in class (but small group sizes ensures no-one is forgotten) and not all will take on the lead roles in plays (but everyone can play a part behind scenes or front of house in a production). The key seems to be patient exploration of interests and opportunities as well as an understanding and acceptance that it’s fine to ‘stop and stare’ and that we value all contributions even if it takes some time for them to be made.

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

N.B. ‘Attain’ magazine is an IAPS publication.

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