Headmaster’s Thoughts – being far too easily led….
13th May 17
Salah, from Yemen, saw me coming. Having spent the previous few weeks complaining each time I opened a drawer or cupboard about the number of items that had simply followed us each time we had moved, I had promised that enough was enough. I would make sure that before the packers arrive we would only be returning with what was strictly necessary.
Sadly, or probably more accurately happily, Salah enticed me further and further into his shop as I discovered treasures that absolutely had to be bought in order to remind us of this particular chapter of our adventures.
I will spare you the details of how even more treasures followed us back to the U.K. and just how long it took to unpack.
The novelty of squirrels I am pleased to say hasn’t worn off, nor has the delight of living and working right next door to Richmond Park. Similarly, living within 25minutes train ride to the centre of London has more than satisfied the urge to explore. Even as a proud son of our second city, I am growing increasingly fond of London and its many villages. It is a delight to hear so many different languages spoken each time we travel around the city to tackle a new museum or exhibition.
I did manage a smile as, exactly a year to the day that I received a visit from the schools inspectorate in Dubai, we received the ISI inspectors for our Regulatory Compliance Inspection. As you can read for yourselves, it was wholly successful and, well I am going to say it, relatively enjoyable. Refreshingly, it was genuinely ‘done in partnership with and not to…’ By its very nature, it is a relatively stressful process as you all want to do well and pride dictates that you want to be perfect. What came across loud and clear was the ISI’s approach of recognising that no two schools are the same, we all must abide by the same regulations but we all stress and promote different attributes and that we must be judged accordingly. It was a pleasure to subsequently hear from the ISI at a recent conference that, when we receive our Education Quality Inspection, we are encouraged to engage with the inspectors to ensure that we can tell ‘our story.’ No sense of ‘one size fits all’ approach to inspection. Seeing the word ‘met’ eight times brought surprising satisfaction, we can now look confidently ahead over the next three years and thoroughly enjoy the continual school improvement journey over a time frame whereby children are the ultimate beneficiaries, away from the constant strain of annual inspection overseas.
The weather has been good to us. A very mild winter was appreciated by us soft repatriates. The blossom at Isabella Plantation exceeded our expectations; how is such colour possible? The copper tinged trees in autumn, the crisp and short days of winter suddenly giving way to such vibrancy. We were a little naive in packing away winter clothing so quickly after Easter. It was a wry smile I was wearing (in addition to several layers of clothing) when teaching cricket a few weeks ago in the hail, sleet and cold.
With the half term rapidly approaching and plans for speech day and prize giving occupying my thoughts I was amused by a supermarket sign reminding me that Ramadan is also nearly upon us. Up until a few months ago it would have meant a very short school day and even more caution out on the roads, in addition to an atmosphere of retrospection as well one of celebration at Iftar as we joined our Muslim friends and neighbours in breaking their fast.
It is also around this time that most expats are craving fresh air and escaping the dry air and coughs and colds you acquire in the summer months, what a novelty it is to be looking forward to the summer months and not climbing into a sweltering car each day.
What unites every city and country we have called home over the last sixteen years has been the sense of community and welcome received regardless of your nationality. Park Hill is no exception. In fact I would like to think that it is by far and away the most welcoming school, underpinned by its vision of inclusiveness.
Our very knowledgeable, welcoming and inquisitive children who eat their morning snack each day whilst watching Newsround may well have a few thoughts about this in the lead up to 8th June.