WEEK 32 - Friday 27 May 2022
In a school building of over 1300 students and 150 adult staff, the only way of operating harmoniously is for everyone to adopt one of our core values: kindness. Kindness is a virtue in short supply in our world right now and we firmly believe that in order to instil this into our young people, it is our responsibility as adults to model it every moment of every day. No matter how we feel inside!
The small acts of kindness that take place between our staff on a daily basis are truly wonderful to see. Lately, many of our staff have spent much of their time - lessons, and non-contact time - working with year 11 and 13 students in preparation for their examinations. In order to make this happen it is now commonplace to see other colleagues covering their break duties, nipping down to the canteen to grab lunch for them or just making them a hot cup of tea and delivering it to their room. The little things go a long way and when they are seen by our students, they carry even more weight.
Recently, we have adopted a ‘Friday feedback’ quick survey inviting staff to identify anything that has caused them a problem during the previous week or anything they are concerned about for the week ahead. Often these are operational issues such as photocopiers that can’t do the job they were designed to do quickly or to spot a colleague who faces a particularly busy week so that we can try and help them out. It works well. We also ask staff to nominate a colleague who has done an act of kindness for them and I will then say ‘thank you’ on their behalf and on behalf of the school. This is a great pleasure and it gives the recipient a real boost. It is one of the great privileges of my job to be able to pass on praise to my staff, such as I was able to do the other day when a parent stopped me outside the school and paid a tribute to Mrs Coss, our Maths Teaching Assistant who had done such great work tutoring her daughter. When I relayed this to Mrs Coss, she smiled from ear to ear.
Finally, after half term, we will be welcoming our first Ukrainian refugee to our school, who will be going into Year 8. In recent weeks, my colleagues have held several meetings with the family, as well as their local sponsor family, to assess their needs and to determine what support will be needed. Over the coming weeks, we anticipate several more refugees will also be joining us, including at Penshurst and into our Sixth Form. When the time is right, we will hope to share some of their stories with our students so that we can all learn from the experience of offering them refuge and a safe place to study and thrive. It is a humbling responsibility but one we are proud to undertake.
And so we reach half-term with the weather unsettled. My mum always says that ‘it can’t make its mind up’, but I hope that, regardless of the weather, you have some nice things planned for the extended Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend.
Have a lovely break and take care.