A leading day school in Midhurst for 2~13 year olds

Head’s blog – ‘Putting pupils at the heart of a changing world.’

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Be proud of how far you have come. Celebrate yourself and your achievements and be authentically who you are was the message from speaker Afua Adom at the recent Education Summit at Bryanston School where the day’s theme was: ‘Putting pupils at the heart of a changing world’.

I was told recently that I wasn’t a normal Head and I was unsure how to take this comment; was this about my looks, my personality, my educational beliefs, my experience? But in the end I realised it didn’t matter. What is normal? Perhaps what is expected by most? But is this right?

Worryingly, is this a view still held in our world of education despite teaching about inclusivity and diversity in our curriculums, despite explaining to the neuro-diverse young person, the young person struggling with their mental or physical health, the young carer, the young person who is struggling with their sexuality, or those fighting subconscious bias, that they are experiencing their own normal?

Afua talked about the importance of diversity in leadership and the increased innovation that someone who is considered ‘different’ can bring to an organisation. Indeed, if every leader is of the same brand, ‘normal’,  how can change ever happen? Indeed Matthew Syed, in “Rebel Ideas: The power of diverse thinking” shows that the most diverse leadership teams are the most successful. We must use Afua Adom’s message with our young people and teach them how to be the difference makers, the force for change that we need in the world.  Just because this is how it has been doesn’t matter: the time for change is with them. 

The idea of re-creation is interesting, Afua shared with us her education and workplace journey and again her message was to celebrate yourself and to not be afraid of recreating the narrative. She also shared the importance of challenging an injustice; a superb message for us all no matter at what stage of life we are at. As St Augustine said: “Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.”

Our school culture allows the children to understand themselves, celebrate their differences and be a force for change. This coupled with the understanding of being 100% authentically themselves is a powerful combination for the rest of their lives. 

Afua’s talk made me re-focus on being proud of who I am, where I am and where I can still go. We encourage our children to reflect on this daily and I would encourage adults to make time in their busy lives for the same reflection: ” Are you proud of who you are, where you are and where you’re going? Are you being authentically you?”

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