The Advent …

As we rattle towards the Christmas break we are all determined to keep our foot hard to the floor, right up to that very last day of term, for and with our children and young people. We know that is the way it needs to be and has to be. We have too much ground to cover to allow for down time (that comes when we get to the Christmas week itself) and a slackening of pace. There’s a simple truth: we need to model the work we want our children and young people to exhibit; we cannot expect them all to ‘put in a shift’ if we do not do the same. We must make our learning and behaviour expectations as strong as we know they can be. We know that all pupils and students need to understand and follow our high expectations; be that in the classroom or around the site.

How does this drive manifest itself in the coming weeks? We have formal assessments taking place, we have parents’ evenings delivered and planned, we share good practise with our colleagues, we continue to offer CPD and we deliver high quality teaching and pastoral care right through until Friday 17th December. There’s nothing worse than in a class when there’s a great lesson planned pupil or student says… ‘but in … lesson we weren’t expected to work’ or ‘in … class we were given a free period’. The time will come when we can let our children and young people share in the ‘goodwill’. That will be managed by the institution during that final week; offering assemblies, school productions, Christmas lunches and the like. For now, it’s head down and stay focused. We thank you for your support for this approach.

Why? Because we know that our children and young people in this so-called ‘left-behind’ area do not lack aspiration, but they do lack the resources, support, and quantity and quality of opportunities to fulfil their goals. We must give them those resources that support and offer opportunities. And we can only do that effectively whilst they are in lessons with us. Many of our children and young people will have an ‘amazing’ holiday period – with so much to fulfil, engage and inspire – but, equally, we know that there are far too many who will suffer from poverty; real poverty and a real poverty of experience and opportunity. Many of you will be doing your bit to prepare our children and young people for their breaks; ensuring that all have something to motivate and inspire – this includes Oakwood’s winter school, which will take place, for some key children, in that week before Christmas itself – thank you for that!

We need to be clear that if we are going to affect real change, we need to offer opportunity and aspirations; ensuring all learners have the opportunity to live differently and to work differently.

‘It takes a certain level of aspiration before one can take advantage of opportunities that are clearly offered’. Michael Harrington