As I have discussed in recent weeks, the autumnal winds, the changing weather and the dark nights make this half term particularly difficult. What you don’t need is a phone call from OFSTED on a Monday morning in November. As many of you will know, OFSTED did call Monday and did visit Oakwood High School during this week.

To all my colleagues, the pupils and our parents associated with Oakwood  I say thank you for all that you have done, at this time of year, and during that process.

And well done and thank you to our colleagues, the young people and their parents who attended the TRC Open Evening of Wednesday. It really was some event, with record numbers of visitors (and a traffic jam to boot). Colleagues were on their feet and busy for the 3 hours +. A great and inspiring evening, which will, in turn, bring in increasing numbers of students to the college next year and beyond.

As those of us who work in schools and college know, when you work in education you cannot just dip in and dip out or take time away from the proverbial and actual chalk face. You need to be their day in and day out. The overwhelming majority of staff, pupils and students are in school and in college, whatever the weather, however they feel, and they do that with a smile.

It’s also been that week when all three institutions have, in their own ways, recognised the importance of remembrance. Ceremonies took place at Oakwood High School and at Thomas Rotherham College and Sitwell Junior School engaged pupils in work and endeavoured to encourage the pupils to understand. We all took time to pause and reflect on the 11th hour of the 11th day. I never cease to be moved when I witness the respect that children and young people show at that time. Out and about, in the wider community and certainly in the media, there is a view that the young people of today don’t have that understanding of why we pause to remember and don’t display appropriate respect. I have no experiences of our young people not showing that understanding or not showing that respect. We all took time to pause, just stopped and reflected upon the horrors of war; historic and through to the present day. I thank all of the staff, children and young people for continuing to behave in a way that shines a very bright and positive light on this community.

Many people will take some time again on Sunday morning to remember and to pause. If you are involved in remembrance activity I wish you well. For many of you there will be another opportunity just to take time to quietly reflect.

Anthem for Doomed Youth

 What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?

— Only the monstrous anger of the guns.

Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle

Can patter out their hasty orisons.

No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;

Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—

The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;

And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?

Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes

Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.

The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;

Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,

And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Wilfred Owen