This week we have been celebrating community and reminding ourselves of the importance of the people and places around us. Being part of a group or pack is a fundamental human instinct, even though many people enjoy the quieter or more solitary moments, we are hard-wired for connection with others. This is arguably the MOST important aspect of school – even more than academic knowledge or the habits of learning – the skill and experience of being with, and working with other people is right at the top of the list. It’s what we all missed most during the challenge of lockdown, and for our children, an aspect of their development that we monitor very carefully and ensure we support them with these experiences and skills. 

In schools, this happens in a million ways on different days and as I am sure you will all agree, it is very rarely entirely straightforward. Human relationships aren’t, are they? They require hard work and energy, we must develop empathy, patience, tolerance, kindness, forgiveness, generosity (the list goes on) to collaborate effectively and productively.  It is arguably THE skill for, or even of, life! 

We spend a large proportion of our time helping our parents and children manage the situations they encounter and how we can learn from them. I can think of at least a dozen meetings and conversations this term alone centered around helping develop these skills and managing the challenges. We met with the parents of our pre-school children this morning about their children’s journey to Reception in September. It was wonderful to be able to celebrate how well the children are doing in this key developmental area and as terrifying as it may seem when discussing children so young, these foundational skills will be essential in adulthood, they will define our children’s character. 

These skills build relationships, and we have relationships across our community which are varied and exciting, all enhancing this development. For example, I had the genuine joy of joining Nursery at Signature Retirement Home for a Boogie Beats session last week, which was, in every way, magical. The children had a wonderful time; the adults possibly an even better time, and Miss Compton and I had the enormous privilege of observing it all. Last week also saw the termly gathering of our class reps – a great representation of our community and the wonderful support our parents give to the school. This was followed by a BPSA meeting – another wonderful example of the strength of our community. I continue to be immensely grateful for the relationship we have with our governors and for their wisdom and support. Our Chair, Mark Boxall, and I met recently with Jeremy Monsen, our SEND governor and an incredibly knowledgeable and inspiring professional in this field. We are so lucky to have this depth of experience and support within our governing body.  

Our community inspires and sets the standard for that ethereal quality – essential in a school – the “feel” of the place. It is the number one aspect we encourage all parents to consider when choosing their next schools and is, without fail, the aspect of BPS that people comment on the most and the part we are most proud of. Thank you for the huge part you play in this.