In this, our 6th year, we brought our Learner Superpowers to life, we grew our curiosity and we celebrated our diversity – so that everyone knows they can say at BPS, I am “Free to be ME”.  To know that these skills are developing and helping shape our brilliant children, we need only look at the performances at prize giving today or last night’s incredible production of Matilda. Astonishing demonstrations of independence, adaptability, curiosity, resilience, collaboration, leadership and of course communication – a genuine source of pride.

My end of year speech is inspired by the book and movie Wonder by R.J. Palacio, A remarkable story that celebrates difference, the importance of empathy and the power of inclusion and kindness, values that I wholeheartedly know we stand for at BPS. Today we come together to celebrate our triumphs, acknowledge our challenges, and remind each and every one of us about the incredible positive impact we can have on the lives of others.
Wonder teaches us that kindness is not just a virtue but a force that can transform the world. Through the eyes of August Pullman, a boy who looks and feels different, we learn about resilience, empathy, and the courage it takes to face adversity head-on. We also see the power of friendship, for standing up for what is right and speaking out about what is not. August’s story reminds us that it is our differences that make us extraordinary, and it is our kindness that brings us together.

August says “I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.” I agree, so please put your hands together, stand and applaud your friends, your teachers, your family and most importantly yourselves! To the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends I extend my heartfelt gratitude for your unwavering support. Your partnership and trust have been instrumental in helping shape a nurturing, safe and inspiring environment for our children. Together, we have created a community where our children feel valued, loved, and empowered.

To our dedicated staff, thank you for your passion, commitment, and tireless efforts. You are the guiding lights, the role models who inspire our students to reach for the stars. Your dedication to their progress and well-being is a testament to your professionalism and kindness.  Throughout this year, I have witnessed countless acts of kindness and compassion within our school community.  From reaching out and welcoming new students, families and staff, to lending a helping hand during difficult times, being patient and allowing each other the space to work something through, supporting each other on the sports field, the stage or the classroom, for showing genuine delight in the success of others, each act of kindness has ripple effects that extend far beyond our walls. Remember, it is in these small moments that we make a difference, for a single act of kindness has the power to change a life.

I think it is important to acknowledge that as part of life’s rich tapestry we have all also faced challenges this year, obstacles to overcome. We all continue to learn through trial and error and leading a school where everyone feels safe to make a mistake makes me very proud. It is in those moments of adversity that we discover our true strength. We learn to overcome our fears, embrace our uniqueness, and champion the values of inclusivity and understanding. Just like August, we all have the power to be heroes in our own lives and in the lives of others.   To the students, I commend your determination, hard work, and the progress you have each made. You have shown incredible resilience in the face of challenges, and I am immensely proud of each and every one of you. Remember, you are the architects of your own futures, and with kindness as your foundation, there is nothing you cannot achieve. In a world where I am delighted that the value of our qualities is as important as our qualifications, I look at our children and know that we are all helping to shape thoroughly decent human beings. Children who know they have the power, but more importantly the desire to make a difference and change the world for the better.

My final words to our Year 6 leavers and to those children spending their last morning at BPS today. I hope you look back on your time at your school with great pride. Look at how far you have come, look at what you learned, marvel at all the things you tried and experienced, look at the friendships you have made and look in the mirror, knowing that you are a wonderful person and we are all very proud of you.

I offer you some top tips from August Pullman to take away with you:

“A fresh start gives us the chance to reflect on the past, weigh the things we’ve done, and apply what we’ve learned from those things to the future. If we don’t examine the past, we don’t learn from it.”

“The best way to measure how much you’ve grown isn’t by inches or the number of laps you can now run around the track, or even your grades — though those things are important, to be sure. It’s what you’ve done with your time, how you’ve chosen to spend your days, and whose life you’ve touched this year. That, to me, is the greatest measure of success.”

“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”

“It’s not enough to be friendly. You have to be a friend.”

“Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.”

“Don’t try too hard to be cool. It always shows, and that’s uncool.”

As we move into the summer holidays and our leavers  on to their next adventures, I encourage each of you to carry the lessons of Wonder in your hearts. Let it be a constant reminder that we have the power to create a world where kindness prevails, where differences are celebrated, and where empathy guides our actions.   May your summer be filled with joy, relaxation, and opportunities to spread kindness wherever you go. Be proud of your school community, a school that believes in the extraordinary power of compassion. Together, we can create a world where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.

And remember “in a world where we can be anything…Be Kind”