It is good to be back! The first few days of a new year are always tinged with some nerves, no matter how often you’ve done it, and my strong impression is that the start has been a strong one. It helped that the weekend was autumn weather at its best, so that Saturday saw a full day of sport, boys able to get going on the fields as they have in the classroom. There has been a genuine sense of energy.
I’m very interested in ‘transitions’, and with university-aged sons, have thought a lot about moving on to Higher Education too. A lot of us in schools have always thought of universities as ‘black boxes’ – we know very little about how life is there until we go, and then students sink or swim. Schools can be the same, so we do like parents to tell us not just whether ‘things are going well’ (or not), but whether things have been as expected. Are we preparing students well enough for what Whitgift will be like, what this specific year will be like? We hope we are, but do tell us.
For example, we ran Sixth Form induction this year before term, and prefect induction too. Of course we also run First Form induction…all of these are designed to make sure boys and parents (and staff) know what to expect. As a researcher said about studies into expectations of life at university: ‘the message is simple – that it’s ok to be worried, and there are many others worried about the same things. There’s also reassurance that although things might seem scary at first, when you look back you will see the benefit.’
Finally, I am delighted that my assembly at the start of term (in which I said few of us can succeed without hard work) drew at least one written response from a Fourth Form boy. He rightly pointed out I had used the term ‘correlation’ loosely (point taken) and wondered whether some great geniuses might genuinely not have to work. That I am still less sure of. But since the boy in question also attached a superb Prism talk on Time, he at least proves that independent thought is alive and well at Whitgift.