Principal’s Blog – My Old School Days

As I left school one night last week I stopped, with Ms Henderson, to watch the last few moments of the Year 8 Basketball club. To finish the students all took part in a 3-point competition, most students missed.  At the end of the queue stood a student who seemed reluctant to take the shot and even asked to move closer but after some encouragement she launched the ball and it sailed straight in the basket. She was elated and the whole club celebrated her achievement. It is a memory I am sure she will remember for a very long time.

What are your strongest memories from your time in school? For me, most revolve around events taking place outside of the classroom; school trips, taking part in school productions and even on the sports field (a very small amount of memories of the latter).

Why is this? Why are these moments so evocative? Firstly these events offer students a break from the norm. However, more powerfully, these activities build character, they force a student to grow in some capacity. School trips expand their cultural horizons, whether that’s a trip to a local city or to a foreign country. Drama productions teach students valuable lessons about discipline, teamwork and courage. Representing the school at a sport, amongst other things, enables students to experience success and failure and learn how to deal with both.

If we look to the Independent sector they devote hours upon and hours, during the school week and holidays, to these pursuits. The reason is because they see the benefits I have spoken about, they know that these extracurricular pursuits build character and create more successful citizens. Another purpose of these activities is cognitive release. In a Year 7 Leadership lesson last week we watched the video ‘12 Shocking Habits of Successful People’. One of these habits was the idea of ‘procrastination with purpose’, finding ways to take your mind of the task at hand with another creative pursuit- reading a book, exercising, painting etc instead of mindless pursuits like scrolling through social media.

For the King’s students we know how hard they work both in terms of the length of the school day as well as the challenging nature of the curriculum. As a school we need to provide them with suitable opportunities to ‘procrastinate with purpose’, especially as we move towards their GCSE examinations and their levels of stress increase. Through these extracurricular pursuits they will build the aforementioned character but also find the release needed to continue to perform at their academic potential.

Covid has robbed our young people of many things and extracurricular activities was just one of them. It has been wonderful to see the after-school sports return this past week. After half-term we would like to launch the rest of our after-school activities, helping to build character and importantly memories that will last a lifetime.