- #11 - 17.01.2022 - Spring Term 2022
- #10 - 10.12.2021 - Reflections
- #9 - 03.12.2021 - The Student Council
- #8 - 05.11.2021 - Sustainability
- #7 - 15.10.2021 - Equality
- #6 - 08.10.2021 - Resilience
- #5 - 01.10.2021 - Perseverance
- #4 - 24.09.2021 - Empathy
- #3 - 17.09.2021 - Inventive
- #2 - 10.09.2021 - Belonging
- #1 - 03.09.2021 - Beginning
As a new term commences, it is exciting to reflect upon so many achievements in the first couple of weeks now that the majority of students have returned after the holiday, from across the world. Already our Football Academy have secured fantastic outcomes in a wide variety of fixtures, including wins at the Etihad Training complex against no less than Manchester City. Such a relationship with a top Premier Club speaks volumes for the aspiration and efforts of our FA coaches to provide outstanding opportunities and a platform to showcase talent, dedication and determination.
Our enhanced enrichment programme continues to thrive and engage students in a wide variety of practical and creative activities. Growing from last term, the enrichment students have had the additional options of practical cooking classes. To date they’ve two British classis dishes - Banoffee Pies and a chicken pie. The group will look at nutrition, cooking on a budget and looking ahead to university, cooking within kitchens with limited equipment. Two other new additions this term, that are proving popular are the Arabic language classes and careers and employability workshops.
This week, the school held an options afternoon for all final year GCSE students (year 11). The afternoon consisted of a talks by our Vice Principal (Academic) on progressing to the Sixth Form (Year 12) at Brooke House College, the Director of Partnerships on subjects and University applications. Again, a focus upon opportunities and leveraging interests to develop the intellectual growth of our students ahead. During the afternoon, students gathered information about the subjects studied at A Level and University Foundation Programme and spoke to the Heads of Faculty and teachers about future A Level subjects. They also had the opportunity to take careers quizzes and complete a survey, regarding their future plans.
Another options afternoon is planned for Tuesday 20th January for pupils in year 9, concerning their plans for GCSE and the subjects that they will choose. There will be a whole school parents’ evening on 16th February, 15:00-17:45. This will be held online, using the school cloud platform. This will provide you with an opportunity to meet your child’s teachers and discuss progress. Mr Chalmers will provide details of how to access School Cloud in the coming weeks and School Cloud will be open for bookings from 31st January.
To start the academic year, we welcomed High Performance Learning Associate Director, Anne Howells, to launch the HPL programme across the whole teaching and FA coaching body. Cultivating a mentality of high performance across the classroom, pitch an track is our mission to inspire, encourage and empower every student with the competencies and capability to be successful in their chosen fields in school and beyond. In each of the Principal’s blogs this Spring Term, we shall showcase the work and outcomes of staff implementing HPL. This week, our EAL teachers Sally and Julie, provide an insight into the integration of HPL in their classrooms within the PK Learning Hub.
HPL in the EAL classroom – Teaching English as an Additional Language
Our HPL focus, in recent weeks, has been ‘Meta-thinking’, specifically designing classroom activities to promote meta-cognition and meta-cognitive strategies, such as teamwork, concept checking, questioning and thinking aloud. It’s been great to share ideas and plan together as teachers to discuss teaching approaches and activities that enhance student learning.
Our aim has been to design tasks that encourage student collaboration to achieve shared outcomes; taking the content out of the textbook and adapting it so that students work together in pairs or small groups to solve problems and complete activities communicatively. It’s been a hugely valuable process and students have responded well to this approach, saying they are more actively engaged in learning and more motivated to participate.
We have many examples of this type of activity in class impacting successfully on learning. One is the ‘Jigsaw Reading’ approach, where different groups within the class (Group A / Group B / Group C) have different parts of a text / source of information. In their groups they work on a task to better understand the content. The students then regroup (A+B+C) and work collaboratively on a second task that requires input from each student to succeed. We believe the success of this approach lies in the notion that learning is a social activity, not an individual endeavour.
As teachers, we feel this approach is making learning more visible (and audible) in our classrooms. Students are talking through their thought processes with a partner; they are checking their own and their peers’ understanding as they work towards task completion, learning from each other. Students support each other in their learning, while consolidating their own understanding. With learning more visible, the teacher can address misunderstandings as they occur and provide constructive feedback instantly to move learning forwards.
We continue to remain vigilant around that College and manage individual cases with quarantine and bespoke support where necessary. Masks are to be worn by students and staff in line with the most recent DfE guidance and protocols. The most recent guidance circulated on 14th January is below:
Changes to the self-isolation period for those who test positive for COVID-19
From Monday 17 January, people who are self-isolating with COVID-19 will have the option to reduce their isolation period after 5 full days if they test negative with a lateral flow device (LFD) test on both day 5 and day 6 and they do not have a temperature. For example, if they test negative on the morning of day 5 and the morning of day 6, they can return to their education or childcare setting immediately on day 6. The first test must be taken no earlier than day 5 of the self-isolation period, and the second must be taken the following day. All test results should be reported to NHS Test and Trace.
If the result of either of their tests is positive, they should continue to self-isolate until they get negative results from two LFD tests on consecutive days or until they have completed 10 full days of self-isolation, whichever is earliest. Anyone who is unable to take LFD tests or anyone who continues to have a temperature will need to complete the full 10 day period of self-isolation. Further information on self-isolation for those with COVID-19 is available.
Education as with most elements of life requires compassion and the resilience to adapt to circumstances for learning and personal growth. This Autumn Term, the whole community has delivered exceptional outcomes to enable every student to transition back to normal schooling in the most challenging of times. With that in mind, I would like to thank our Directors, the Senior Leadership Team and the whole Administrative and Resident Boarding Staff for keeping us operational and safe throughout.
It is my privilege to be Principal of an outstanding school providing such varied and elite opportunities. Early next Term, I will share our FUTUREforward strategy to build upon secure foundations and transform the teaching and learning experience in partnership with High Performance Learning and 8Billionideas. We are thrilled to have received an ‘excellent’ accreditation from the global HPL Team, led by Professor Deborah Eyre, for our implementation. This feedback acknowledges our progress and highlights the exceptional quality of FA coaching. We are considered, by Chris Woodburn Director of UK Football Schools, to be ‘the best institution in the country to develop and progress elite football youth talent’. With our new development of a bespoke catering facility, innovations in teaching and learning and a new intake in January, it is a very exciting moment to be part of Brooke House College.
Each week, since September, I have provided insights into our values and student outcomes through the Principal’s blog. This is being compiled into an e-magazine entitled IMPACT Matters and will articulate our journey as a High Performance Learning school, inspiring curious, creative and compassionate students, whilst encouraging an enterprising, innovative and collaborative mentality. At Brooke House, we relish challenge, chase excellence and embrace every opportunity to thrive. Joining the Bugle and the recent student magazine POST, as we develop our website in the coming year, the e-magazine will offer insights and perspectives from every aspect of College life.
At Christmas time, as with the many cultural celebrations through the year, we can pause and share thoughts and appreciation for others that help us along the way. Last year, as the whole Brooke House community we reflected on the passing of our inspiring founder, Donald J. Williams. One thing Mr Williams would not do is spend too much time looking back, no matter how challenging the context. He would want us to move forward to create a long-term, sustainable organisation that remains unique, relevant and compelling on the education horizon. To that end, we are delighted to have named the converted former Angel Hotel as DJW House, in memory of his commitment to quality and opportunity for every member of the Brooke House community.
Since early September our U19 Elite Team have shown a fantastic attitude and willingness to work for each other. This approach has been reflected in their improving performances and results. To date, the team have played 14 games and won almost all with two draws while scored 78 goals and conceded only 22. The team have played in two major competitions. In the ESFA U18 Super League the team successfully won the group and managed to progress into the best 16 play-off and the ISFA U18 Boodles Cup. In the October half term, the team went to Scotland for a football trip where we played two games in two days against Dunfermline FC and Hibernian FC. Both games have served well for the development of our players, notable they managed to come back from being 4-0 down to Hibs at half-time and managing a draw at the end. Besides these games the team have played some good and beneficial matches against semi-pro and pro teams such as Southend FC, Tranmere Rovers etc. where we have also achieved excellent results. There is so much to celebrate this Term:
- U14s are still competing in ESFA Small Schools Cup
- U15s are still competing in ESFA Schools Cup
- U16s still in all three ESFA Cup Competitions & ISFA Cup
- U17s in ECFA Cup and & ESFA B Team Cup
- All players have had some taste of competitive football with the U17s and U19s in the ECFA Leagues and the U13s-U16s in either ESFA Cup or Team Leicestershire
- Played many games against professional clubs including Burton, Lincoln, Leicester, Derby Coventry, Wolves, Nottingham Forest
- Seventeen players have been invited to trials at professional clubs this Term across England and Europe
- Notably, Deniche, Jackson & Wiktoria represented their National Teams
The new enrichment programme has started well this term with students embracing the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. Integrating High Performance Learning and a new partnership 8billionideas provides rigour and an innovative dimension to careers education. This Term, students have gained first aid certificates, started to first eSports club, created a chess tournament, learned about car theory and maintenance, enjoyed British Culture with Afternoon Tea & even recorded a music track in a professional recording studio. They’ve also found time to let their hair down with excursions to theme parks, the cinema, paintball, laser tag & the set of Harry Potter as well as having had the opportunity to visit and learn about UK cities and attractions.
We look forward to developing this further next term with the view of introducing language clubs – including sign language, the wider implementation of 8billionideas and much more based on student feedback. COVID dependent we’re also exploring the first European trip to either Paris or Rome within the next two upcoming terms.
Our School Council has been particularly dynamic and purposeful this Term. Recent initiatives have included Show Racism the Red Card, Anti-Bullying Week, Children in Need and UN Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women. The Council organised a baking session with the Catering Team and made two hundred cupcakes with yellow icing to raise funds for Children in Need. Selfless service was evident as the students gave up their time and applied their culinary skills to make a difference to those less fortunate than themselves. They have also pioneered a new structure for activities and competitions by organizing the whole school into four sections with UK castle identifiers – Balmoral, Dover, Edinburgh and Warwick. Look out for more information ahead.
At this close of the Autumn Term, I would like to remind parents that communication with the school on boarding/pastoral matters should go directly to our Vice Principal (Pupil Development and Welbeing) Mr Leo. Mr Leo can be contacted by e-mail on email@example.com. Likewise, for all academic matters and concerns, you are requested to contact our Vice Principal (Academic), Mr Gary Chalmers on firstname.lastname@example.org He will deal with the issue or liaise with the appropriate Head of Faculty. He should also be consulted on all matters relating to subject choices and the timetable.
Finally, do please encourage your children to rest and recharge their batteries before the new term begins, but also to remind those taking their GCSEs and A Levels this coming summer that their mock examinations start shortly after the actual term starts. We would also be delighted to see as many of you as possible at the parents’ evening on Wednesday, 16th February 2022. Please also look out for other travel notices that may come into force over the vacation and let us know if this has any impact upon your son’s or daughter’s return.
Finally, may I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year in 2022.
In this penultimate blog of the Term, Leo our Vice Principal (Pupil Development, Welfare and Wellbeing) reflects on the role and impact of our School Council.
The purpose of the Student Council is to allow students to develop leadership skills and competencies by organizing and carrying out school activities and events. In addition to planning events that contribute to school spirit and community welfare, the Student Council is the voice of the student body. They help share student ideas, interests and concerns with the school-wide community.
This year, the Student Council have organized themselves into four strands of whole school impact:
- Events Management
- Sustainability and Recycling
Each week the School Council organise meetings and communicate their actions to the whole school community. Recently, they have integrated the student magazine POST and also used the TV in the main reception to amplify their messages and updates. Each meeting an agenda is generated to organise the discussions. Minutes are taken and each strand is given responsibilities to manage and action. Regular feedback ensures that the School Council is accountable and pro-active.
The Events team take the lead on organizing termly activities for which the whole School Council contribute. They identify key themes for the whole school to focus upon with lead staff and outside agencies. Recent examples have been Show Racism the Red Card, Anti-Bullying Week, Children in Need and UN Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women. The School Council organised a baking session with Lee’s Catering Team and made two hundred cupcakes with yellow icing to raise £230 for Children in Need. Selfless service was evident as the students gave up their time and applied their culinary skills to make a difference to those less fortunate than themselves.
We understand that everyone has come from all over the world, with different cultures and social norms, therefore everyone has had different upbringings. The atmosphere Brooke House has created around diversity within its community is purposeful and engaging. Many students wore red in solidarity against racism in sport and beyond. Ms Barbara Bialek helped to facilitate this annual event and the students rose to the occasion to ensure that their voice was heard.
An important campaign each year is Anti Bullying Week to spread awareness about bullying. Following on from the Principal’s assemblies at the start of the year, the School Council Wellbeing group has developed resources and shared a united front against any behaviours that prevent any student from feeling valued and included. Bullying will have a negative effect on mental health and, because we believe that it is such an important topic, the School Council aims to ensure that we can spread awareness to all the sixty five plus nationalities that Brooke House has combined, to make a community, a family. An Anti-Bullying post, written about students' experience with bullying and their opinions on the topic, has been circulated. The Student Council created a video with multiple students and staff explaining what Anti Bullying means to them.
Sustainability and recycling are key priorities for action around the school. Green bin recycling is being developed and introducing posters around the school to spread awareness about food wastage and waste disposal by encouraging students to bring their water bottles and eliminate the use of plastic cups at schools. The School Council will also host a competition for recycling which will be about making a piece of art from waste materials. In February 2022 there will be a Green Week followed by Science Innovation Week, both incorporating the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Look out for more information from our School Council Communications Team and the School Magazine POST.
A significant achievement of the School Council, under the direction of our President Snehit is the organisation of the whole school into four sections to introduce more identity through a vertical structure that can encourage more social interation between age groups, more competitions and collaborative working to host events. The School Council conceived of the idea and delivered it through assemblies themselves – a very impressive effort. Each section is divided into four castles – Balmoral, Dover, Edinburgh and Warwick with seventy students (7-13) in each one. A variety of competitions ranging from table tennis to debating, baking to mastermind. All the staff will be allocated to a section next term, and perhaps staff competitions can be encouraged. Each section will decide on a charity to support for the year and organise awareness and fundraising events.
Every half-term, the School Council will take over the Principal’s Blog and provide parents and the wider community with updates on their progress and impact.
This week, Glasgow hosted a two-week event many believe to be the world’s best last chance to get runaway climate change under control. In my first lessons this week to Year 10 and 11, teaching the Horizons initiative to introduce awareness of future careers, agency and sustainability (CAS), students reflected on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the impact of COP26. Sport, business, education…every sector is affected, change will present challenge and opportunity.
COP26 is the 2021 United Nations climate change conference.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the world’s to do list, produced in 2015, as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
For nearly three decades the UN has been bringing together almost every country on earth for global climate summits – called COPs – which stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’. In that time climate change has gone from being a fringe issue to a global priority. This year is the 26th annual summit – giving it the name COP26, with the UK as President. World leaders arrived in Scotland, alongside tens of thousands of negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens for twelve days of talks. Not only is it a huge task but it is also not just yet another international summit. Most experts believe COP26 has a unique urgency.
To understand why, it’s necessary to look back to another COP. COP21 took place in Paris in 2015. For the first time ever, something momentous happened: every country agreed to work together to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees and aim for 1.5 degrees, to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate and to make money available to deliver on these aims.
The Paris Agreement was born. The commitment to aim for 1.5 degrees is important because every fraction of a degree of warming will result in the loss of many more lives lost and livelihoods damaged.
They agreed that every five years they would come back with an updated plan that would reflect their highest possible ambition at that time. The run up to this year’s summit in Glasgow is the moment (delayed by a year due to the pandemic) when countries update their plans for reducing emissions.
But that’s not all. The commitments laid out in Paris did not come close to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, and the window for achieving this is closing. The decade out to 2030 will be crucial.
It will take bucket loads of perseverance, resilience and empathy for the world to address the existential threat that is the climate crisis. Each Principal’s blog has considered key words from our High Performance Learning programme at Brooke House College. We have partnered with HPL to build capacity for better outcomes in every aspect of our work.
In the week ahead we will consider being creative and enterprising, skills much needed at the COP26 Conference for problem-solving, collaboration and problem-solving. Mr Chalmers, our Vice Principal introduced the focus for this week:
‘’To be creative and enterprising is to be open-minded and flexible in your thought processes; demonstrate a willingness to innovate and invent new and multiple solutions to a problem or situation; adapt your approach according to need; surprise and show originality in your work, developing a personal style; be resourceful when presented with challenging tasks and problems, using your initiative to find solutions.”
We can encourage this trait in our students by using problem solving and enquiry-based approaches to learning can help students to think in creative and enterprising ways, thinking for themselves. This resourcefulness is an important skill in attaining high performance in all aspects of life. The ability to figure out what to do when it is not obvious is vital in areas as diverse as life and academic exams. Being creative and enterprising is not a tidy or linear process and progress on the journey can be hard to recognise and certainly hard to assess.
The delegates at COP26 in Glasgow will certainly have to demonstrate creativity and enterprise in their attempts to solve the urgent problem of climate change.
15 quotes on climate change by world leaders
Next week, the School Council will take over the blog and share their thoughts on key areas of their focus this year:
- Wellbeing and Mental Health matters
- Waste, Recycling and Sustainability
- Events and the new Team of Teams
- Communications and HPL
Like the School Council, everyone needs to take ownership of the current challenges affecting our planet and, however small, make a contribution. To be the change you want to see in the world.
10 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP SAVE OUR PLANET
‘We have a target to find 100,000 pieces of litter’
Sisters Amy and Ella Meek, 18 and 16 from Nottingham near Market Harborough are founders of Kids Against Plastic, a charity taking action against plastic pollution. They were inspired to launch the initiative in February 2016 aged just 12 and 10 after finding out about the negative effect of single-use plastic. What started as a small school project while learning about the UN’s global goals in their Geography lessons turned into Kids Against Plastic – and one of their first goals they set was litter-picking.
‘We set ourselves the goal of picking up 100,000 pieces of litter, because that is the number of seam mammals that are killed in the sea by plastic annually. We are currently on 96,000 and hope to reach our target soon. Once you start noticing litter it becomes hard to walk by. Sustainability always sounds like a big and daunting thing, but its about everyone doing their own little bit and fitting it into their lifestyles’.
The first film I saw at the cinema as a child was Superman back in 1978.
Superman has always been political. He was created by Jewish writers Jerry Siegal and Joe Shuster. Siegal’s parents fled Lithuania in 1900 to escape anti-Semitism. Shuster’s father was from the Netherlands and his mother was from Ukraine. The pair met in Ohio. Both were shy, wore spectacles, and loved science fiction.
Action Comics issue one, Superman’s first appearance, came out in June 1938. A young orphan is shot out from a decaying planet, ravaged by climate change, to land on a fertile Earth. He is blessed with superhuman powers, as a champion of the oppressed. In his very first adventure, he saves an innocent woman from being executed by the state, in the second a woman experiencing domestic abuse. In the third adventure, we see him in his civilian persona, as the journalist Clark Kent: bespectacled, nervous, socially uncomfortable.
Superman is an undocumented immigrant, intent on doing his best for his new home from home. A shy man who conceals an inner heroism. The chief villain is Lex Luther, incensed that Superman being from another planet is considered a hero. Superman is adopted as a child as the son of a low-income farming family who fights for social responsibility, using his great powers to help others rather than become either rich or famous.
After decades of straight white men dominating the superhero landscape, comics publishers have started to branch out. The new comic Spiderman Miles Morales’s mother is half black and half Latin American. Ms Marvel is a Muslim. Tim Drake, the third Robin, came out as bisexual. And now Jon Kent, son of Superman, has joined him. On screen, this year’s summer blockbuster, Shang Chi, features an Asian superhero. Black Panther featured a black superhero.
Perhaps, in the end, that is what the reactionaries in the supernatural and the real world fear most: that people of other races, genders and sexualities will have a sense of power and autonomy which they themselves enjoy. Or maybe they sense that in the Superman story, they would be the bad guys.
Equality is the right of different groups of people to have the same treatment, to be treated fairly and have the same opportunities - a fundamental pillar within education. Our Business Studies teacher, Barbara Bialek, has inspired us to embrace equality next week with our participation in a powerful initiative that connects our community…..
As Brooke House College we are registered with Show Racism the Red Card charity for Wear Red Day 2021. It will be our 3rd Show Racism the Red Card campaign. In 2019 and in 2020 Brooke House College community stood up against racism and prejudice, wearing red as a show of solidarity and raising funds for the vital work of Show Racism the Red Card, the UK's leading anti-racism educational charity. This year Wear Red Day will be held nationwide on the 22 of October.
We are going to show support for anti-racism by wearing RED and holding a fundraising day at BH on the same day to show support for anti-racism and raise funds for Show Racism the Red Card. We hope each student and staff member will donate minimum £1 to expand the impact of the charity locally and globally. Our newly formed School Council will be actively involved to demonstrate youth agency and advocacy.
Teachers will devote lesson time in the week 18th-22th October to the anti-racism theme by discussing the most recent events, racism in football, famous people of colour, problems of marginalisation and violence, concepts of positive discrimination, workforce diversity, migration patterns, unequal distribution of wealth, to producing creative work, using different techniques, e.g. collage, to performance arts or creative writing. Films, music, quotes, art, mural art, also lend themselves to a variety of uses. We will make a difference. Original Show Racism the Red Card red cards are available to the Brooke House community for selfies to reinforce the campaign on social media. Last week, our Principal gave an assembly to reinforce our collective message of anti-bullying and our passion to be anti-racist brings us together as activists with a common sense of humanity and care for others. For interest, there is a cornucopia of resources at your fingertips when it comes to the theme. Check out Channel 5: Racism: My story.
Check out Channel 5: Racism : My Story
We all have superpowers, the capacity to make a difference, to be nurtured and coached. At Brook House we celebrate individual talents and the opportunity to go far together, through collaboration and valuing community identity. Our School Council is a good example of this, drawing on individual and House perspectives to bring forward improvements for everyone. I have enjoyed visiting all our boarding houses in the last week with our Leo, our Vice Principal (Pupil Development and Wellbeing). Another week of demanding football fixtures serves to reflect the collegiate strengths of different teams and the creativity of individual players to produce magic moments of skill and impact.
Ahead of our week, Barbara shares some resources to make us think and reflect on equality and the importance of demonstrating anti-racism to promote opportunities for everyone to make their contribution in our shared community, to our shared planet.
‘Perseverance’ was our High Performance Learning word of the week and in my assembly to Years 7-10 we explored reaching for goals in life and how school can provide the foundations to prepare us with the skills and competencies to navigate through life. We addressed our commitment to an anti-bullying environment at Brooke House and how we can resolve to supporting each other as a close community in our home from home. Our Anti-Bullying policy is accessible on this website.
An insightful video was shared in tutor time as part of the national campaign by the Princess Diana Award – the Big Anti-Bullying Assembly 2021 – a collaboration with the Nationwide Building Society. Please access more information about the work of the Diana Award and its pledge to put an end to bullying, celebrate diversity and create communities of kindness by clicking the image below.
We seek to cultivate an educational environment where everyone is included. Celebrating International Boarding Day this weekend provides such an opportunity to come together and the theme this year is health and wellbeing. Resilience describes our ability to cope with challenges, barriers or limited resources and is therefore linked to our mental health and wellbeing. Resilience helps us get through difficult times and make it easier to feel better and connect with others. The British Red Cross provide a wonderful toolkit resource for wellbeing and resilience:
Alpine Performance Director, Sasha Rearick, shares his top tips for building resilience:
- Every individual can shift their attention to what’s important. You may overhear negativity or have negative thoughts, but having the ability to focus is paramount.
- Being self aware, and recognising that pressure can affect you is an important part of this process.
- Practising resilience is a gradual process that takes work; whether it’s race day or responding to negativity on social media, these skills are transferable throughout different aspects of life.
Resilience is the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Being resilient does not mean that people don’t experience stress, emotional upheaval, and suffering. Rather it is an inner trait which helps them adapt to the changing situation and keep moving forward. Floating down the river of time, each one of us will meet our own set of obstacles, hurdles and difficulties. How we overcome them or deal with them is based on our resilience. The rivers of the world can show us how to be resilient in life.
“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.” Bruce Lee
The Yarlung Tsangpo river is known as the roof of the world and is the highest river in the world. The river is often called as the “Everest of Rivers” because of its extreme conditions and lofty elevation. The average elevation being about 4000 meters, Yarlung Tsangpo starts from the Angsi Glacier in Tibet and runs across Tibet, India and then meets The Bay of Bengal. It has to navigate its way through multiple mountain ranges. While leaving the Tibetan Plateau, the river forms the world’s largest and deepest canyon, Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon which is much longer than the Grand Canyon. The Yarlung Tsangpo is certainly one among the most unusual and inspiring rivers of the world.
The river is stronger than the mountain. The way of the river, ever searching, ever flowing, always finds its path around the obstacle. In the flow of the river one can observe its true strength. Drawn by its pull to the sea, aided by gravity, every river seeks out its path and sometimes even creates it. These canyons are beautiful pieces of geographical art which serve as a reminder, that in nature, water cuts rock. What constitutes your strength in life? What are the values that you can rely on, to keep you flowing?
As an independent school with a Football Academy, a learning community that offers an exceptional provision for elite sports development alongside achievement in the classroom, we have the support of world class coaches, under the leadership of our FA Manager Istvan Kislorincz and Technical Director Micky Adams. Resilience in sport is fundamental for progress and success. It is inspiring to read about Micky’s life in football, the ups and the not-so ups – a genuine legend who took Leicester City to the Premier League in 2003:
Talking to our coaches this week, each have fascinating stories of their careers in football and a passion to share their experience to help others develop at Brook House College. Supporting boys and girls in the Academy whether learning new skills, preparing for demanding fixtures or recovering from injuries involves the development of resilience to meet challenge and opportunity. Playing against semi-pro teams, with peers older than themselves, requires a strength of character to accompany skill and talent. Micky describes how we build capacity to be professional in different situations – preparing the students for a life in football and beyond.
In this video, Micky reflects on life as a manager – players, recruitment, development and resilience
Last week’s Principal’s blog closed with the TED talk by Professor Jamil Zaki, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Stanford University.
He challenges us to consider that in an ever complex and ambiguous world, can we encourage empathy to show more compassion and care for each other? A favourite song, from a favourite artist is ‘I’m only human after all’ by Rag ‘n’ Bone. An incredibly powerful composition about the fragility of human beings, being human.
I was delighted that our talented Year 11 students addressed the question – What makes us Human? – from English lessons this week, and, with their permission, I share some of their creative writing by handing this week’s blog over to the students and together we can learn from their insights into what it means to be human.
To explore more perceptions and perspectives, Jeremy Vine explores what makes us human in a series of BBC podcasts. Guests deliver their thoughts on the essence of human existence, reflecting on their own lives.
It is a privilege to write a weekly Principal’s blog and offer opportunities for students and staff to contribute. A pillar of high performance learning (HPL) is to encourage all learners to become independent and inter-dependent. It is great to be able to celebrate the Year 11 contributions in this blog and acknowledge the impressive pedagogy promoting collaborative reflection and creative writing from our inspiring teachers.
Our football teams continue to put in exceptional performances. Our u19s played in the ECFA Cat 2 & 3, including a fixtures against Boston Utd, Stamford and Worksop Town, one of the oldest clubs in the world. Our U18E hosted Birkdale in the ISFA Boodles Cup. Fixtures this weekend include away games against Leicester Elite and Repton.
I am particularly delighted to acknowledge a new addition to the Brooke House kit – our hoodies, modelled below by the Enrichment group.
Looking forward to next week, we shall begin the first in a series of Principal’s assemblies, starting with Years 7-10 in the PK Building from 8.15am-8.40am. The theme will be the high performance learning word ‘Perseverance’ and this will be the focus for discussions in tutor time. Sharing an inspiring talk by Angela Duckworth – Grit, the power and passion of perseverance.
I began last week’s blog with a reference to Star Trek, ‘beam me up Scotty’. There were moments this week when transportation was an appealing prospect!
I learned on Monday morning at 8am that the College was to receive a visit from the Independent Schools Inspectorate, and our community prepared for a four day evaluation of our work together. We communicated the required questionnaires and may I extend my appreciation for participation in the quality assurance process. We have provided performance data and showcased our student qualities and outcomes in the classroom, on the pitch and on the racetrack.
Whilst in only week three of Term, in common with so many of our students, we will learn from the inspector’s guidance and respond to their recommendations. We will model the expectations we require and seek to nurture in our students, to have a growth mindset, be open-minded and embrace every opportunity for development.
Empathy is our theme of tutoring this week and it has been interesting to see different perspectives and applications. Empathy for staff, preparing for classroom observations or interviews this week was my overriding emotion. The term “empathy” is used to describe a wide range of experiences. Emotion researchers generally define empathy as the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.
Contemporary researchers often differentiate between two types of empathy: “Affective empathy” refers to the sensations and feelings we get in response to others’ emotions; this can include mirroring what that person is feeling, or just feeling stressed when we detect another’s fear or anxiety. “Cognitive empathy,” sometimes called “perspective taking,” refers to our ability to identify and understand other people’s emotions. Studies suggest that people with autism spectrum disorders have a hard time empathizing.
Empathy seems to have deep roots in our brains and bodies, and in our evolutionary history. Elementary forms of empathy have been observed in our primate relatives, in dogs, and even in rats. Empathy has been associated with two different pathways in the brain, and scientists have speculated that some aspects of empathy can be traced to mirror neurons, cells in the brain that fire when we observe someone else perform an action in much the same way that they would fire if we performed that action ourselves. Research has also uncovered evidence of a genetic basis to empathy, though studies suggest that people can enhance (or restrict) their natural empathic abilities. It is possible to teach empathy, certainly cultivate an empathetic environment for learning,
Showing empathy can help you change that dynamic, so you not only acknowledge and consider what you see and feel, but also what you don’t see. Those unseen challenges could include learning and thinking differences. But other struggles, such as trauma or hunger, may also be involved. Empathy is a way of connecting with other people that shows you understand that they’re experiencing something meaningful—even though you may not understand exactly how it feels for them. In other words, empathy is about finding a way to connect and to be able to say, “I want to understand how this feels to you and let you know that you’re not alone.”
Empathy may not be about feeling sorry, but it is about feelings. Giving yourself permission to acknowledge your own emotions. It’s natural to be frustrated or upset. Being empathetic does not mean lowering our expectations. We can validate and have empathy for students, while at the same time holding them to high standards. In moments when we connect with students empathetically, we can reinforce a belief in their ability to succeed, to reach the highest performance in learning and personal growth.
Researchers have identified four main attributes of what it means to be empathetic.
1. Perspective taking. Taking a different perspective, putting aside your own feelings and reactions to see the situation through other’s eyes. Do I believe my students are doing the very best they can?
2. Putting aside judgment. Taking a step back and avoiding a tendency to leap to conclusions: What more do I need to learn and understand about the situation?
3. Trying to understand the student’s feelings. Each person’s experiences are their own, so saying “I know how you feel” can come across as disingenuous. If you’re struggling, ask yourself: What more do I need to learn and understand about how other people are reacting to or perceiving the situation?
4. Communicate that you understand. As teachers and parents our instinct is often to contain the situation and find a quick fix. That can help in the short term. But it won’t build long-term trust and eventually empower young people to solve issues on their own. What more do I need to learn and understand about how I react in the moment? What more do I need to learn about how I communicate to others that I hear them, even though I’m experiencing my own emotions?
Incorporating empathy into tutor sessions and PSHE is one element of our development work. Enriching our students with opportunities to develop problem-solving, creativity and artistic performance has been a key focus for this year. Our new Head of Enrichment, Wylie Wight offers some insights:
Pre-COVID very few, non-Duke of Edinburgh students would know who I was. I was someone they’d see occasionally around the main campus or in my office as they walked past to see our Admissions and Student Support Director Sarah Doye. Normally during the academic year, I travel to recruit students for the Brooke House College Summer School, which I then run in July and August each year.
COVID brought my travels to a standstill (they start again next month, after almost 18 months!) and I was asked to roll up my sleeves and crack on with COVID testing, managing isolation houses and when students couldn’t return home for Winter or Easter to run camps. I ran these like Summer School… and was pleasantly surprised with the level of engagement students showed to get involved in activities we offered them.
Talking with our Head of Boarding, Head of Admissions, new Principal and Managing Director about this level of engagement we put together a proposal to bring a new project to Brooke House for the 2021 – 2022 academic year – the Enrichment Programme. A comprehensive student survey provided valuable insight into their perspectives on activities. Whilst in the early stages of implementing we’re eagerly anticipating the year ahead and offering an enrichment programme that includes activities, excursions but goes further. Offering an enrichment programme that promotes employability, academic attainment and teaching our young people the skills they need to make good choices – skills that have benefits well beyond the classroom.
A tweet from Tim Peake, the British astronaut living and working on board the International Space Station for six months, summed up perfectly the need for both character skills and work experience.
Our aim is to offer a successful enrichment programme that will promote the life-skills needed for everyday life, develop “soft skills” that employers and universities look for, while also giving students the opportunity to find out more about their interests and passions.
Current Enrichment opportunities:
- Afternoon Tea
- Duke of Edinburgh Award
- Entrepreneurship Club
- First Aid – Become an emergency First Aider
- Music Club
- Social Responsibility
- Sports & Games
- Student Magazine
Looking to the future:
- Cooking Skills
- UK Theory Test, Driving Lessons & Car maintenance
- Sports Leadership Award
- Young Enterprise
- Young Leaders Award
… and more! Follow us on our social media pages to see how the enrichment programme develops over the year. Look out for a very special new addition to the kit list coming next week……
Enrichment and empathy are fundamental pillars of our approach to developing a Wellbeing Charter and integrating High Performance Learning (HPL) across the whole College. Our inspection feedback will guide the journey ahead and enable us to build a better provision as part of continuous improvement.
‘Beam me up Scotty’.
This week has been challenging, insightful and empowering. As the ISI inspection team leave, we embark on our journey to secure the best possible outcomes, inspiring, encouraging and empowering every learner to be the best possible version of themselves in their home from home.
A favourite TED talk to share for the weekend by Professor Jamil Zaki, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. He asks in an ever complex and fractured world, can we hack our own sense of empthy and get others to be more empathetic?
"Beam us up, Scotty"…. one of the most iconic lines in television history. The transporter essentially dematerialized a human body at one point only to rematerialize it in the transporter bay on the ship. Somehow, it broke down atoms and molecules within the body -- scattered them through the vacuum of space from point A to point B, then the person re-emerged out of thin air. No inventor has been able to realize such a concept. Looking back to early days of watching Star Trek, some inventions did materialise.
Whenever Captain Kirk left the safe confines of the Enterprise, he did so, knowing it could be the last time he saw his ship. Danger was never far away. And when in distress and in need of help, he could always count on his mates….on Bones to come up with a miracle cure, Scotty to beam him up or Spock to give him some vital scientific information. He'd just whip out his communicator and place a call.
Fast-forward 30 years and wouldn't you know it, it seems like everyone carries a communicator. We just know them as mobile phones. The communicators in "Star Trek" were more like the push-to-talk, person-to-person devices first made popular by Nextel in the mid to late '90s. The communicator had a flip antenna that when opened, activated the device. The original flip cell phones are perhaps distant cousins. Whatever the case, the creators of "Star Trek" were on to something.
As I child, I loved the escapism of programmes that looked forward to the future, the next frontier. This week, we learned of the passing of Sir Clive Sinclair, his innovations democratized computing and inspired so many. I vividly remember my first computer, a ZX80, and the sense of wonder and empowerment – Football Manager was no FIFA21....but the early home computers created a powerful autonomy and cultivated an ambition to design, solve problems and create…to innovate.
Sinclair, an entrepreneur and inventor, popularised the home computer, bringing it to British high-street stores at affordable prices. Of the ZX Spectrum, Elon Musk wrote, “RIP, Sir Sinclair. I loved that computer”.
Resilient in the face of disappointment, his battery-powered electric trike called the C5 was not as successful, and Sinclair had to sell his business. But his legacy endures through the ubiquitous pocket calculator, the pocket screens of our mobile phones and electric scooters of our age. His daughter reflected,
“it was the ideas, the challenge, that her found exciting. He’d come up with an idea and say…..there’s no point in asking if someone want it, because they can’t imagine it”.
This week, our Drive Team – like innovators plotting a new course, on a journey to a new frontier – participated in the World Class Schools Award Induction with our new partner organisation High Performance Learning. Head of Faculties, Lucy Clarke (Creative Arts) and Karen Randon (Maths) joined Vice Principal Gary Chalmers and I on a two-day launch, alongside colleagues from leading schools across the UK and globally. Over the next two years, every part of College will engage and collaborate to integrate the framework, aimed at building the capacity of every student to secure the best possible outcomes in preparation for lifelong-leaning and personal development. Cultivating as climate for confident, creative, compassionate, enterprising and innovative young people ready to make a difference in the world.
To help in the impact survey which will be undertaken as we progress through the High Performance Learning framework, we would as if parents and guardians complete the attached link, we shall be sharing information and celebrating outcomes throughout the academic year.
The past week brought many highlights including an enrichment trip to London for seventy students, a visit to watch Leicester FC play Napoli, exceptional performances and results for the Football Academy, a surprise breakfast for the boys in Burnmill House and even a visit to meet the recently appointed Foreign Secretary!
Our U16s competed in the Midlands Independent Schools Association Tournament in the week and were crowned champions. In a League format, Brooke House College FA won six out of their seven fixtures – high performance. On Monday our U16E won at Burton Albion and in a busy series of Wednesday fixtures, three of our U19s squads played Kidderminster Harriers and an U16 squad travelled to play Lutterworth Athletic.
Enrichment continues to thrive with our planned visits and a large cohort of students participating in First Aid workshops, learning skills in CPR, the recovery position, choking and bandaging. Last Friday, a group of students and teachers attended a talk by the Secretary of State, and recently promoted to Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon Liz Truss MP at the invitation of our local MP Neil O’Brien. Congratulations to Guillermo who won the evening raffle and took home an autographed box of chocolates!
Wishing everyone a relaxing weekend. By way of recommendation, a great read is the recently published book Invention: A Life by James Dyson. In the week that saw the passing of one Great British inventor, the words of another to close the introduction are worthy of reflection:
We should be encouraging the young to become doers, to help them strive to solve the problems of their age while looking forward to a better future. During my career, I have tried to seek out those young people who can make the world a better place. I have seen what miracles they can achieve. Some may well become heirs to my heroes – inventors, engineers and designers. Like them, they will not find it easy, and they will need oodles of determination and stamina along the way.
Spending some time this Thursday evening, in the company of the boys in Burnmill House, provided me with valuable insights into the boarding experience and a flavour of the Brooke House spirit within their home from home. Key to fostering a hard-working, purposeful and nurturing atmosphere is the cultivation of a caring environment, comfortable and tolerant, to build strong friendships and connections. The feeling of belonging was a big take-away that the boys shared. A characteristic of our school community that encourages, enables and empowers young people to find their place and thrive. A competitive session of FIFA closed the evening, after they finished homework and tidied their rooms. After a demanding pre-season, practice and fixtures, relaxation was richly deserved.
In assembly this afternoon, together we explored the challenges and opportunities of fitting in and of belonging within a new boarding environment, a new tutor group, meeting new teachers and getting used to a new place. We rely on the support and kindness of others to help. Making a good first impression helps to establish those relationships and develop the connections, so important in the busy and vibrant learning community that is Brooke House.
On Wednesday, a group of enterprising students even managed to make a good impression on a visiting member of the royal family! HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex made a surprise visit to the town to celebrate the 800 year anniversary of Harborough Market. Dr Bremner and her Sociology students provided a Brooke House welcome and ensured that our royal visitors felt at home in the heart of England. Our visibility in the town is a big opportunity to display our values and celebrate our community impact, locally and globally.
Awareness of perspective and the need to take care of the precious pale blue dot, that is our planet, was a theme in the first Principal’s blog. Being part of a community brings responsibilities. We trust that boys and girls will take ownership of their rooms in the boarding houses and show respect to the environment and the support teams that maintain housekeeping on a timely and regular basis. Where there are issues it is our responsibility to provide the appropriate cleanliness and improvements, whilst we trust that every student will acknowledge the value of a tidy room. Expectations are detailed in the Boarding Handbook. Working together as a community and nurturing belonging is fundamental to wellbeing for relationships and establishing the climate of visible learning for high performance.
The same sense of belonging was evident in the high performance of Emma Raducanu in recent days as she progressed through each round of the US Tennis Open in Flushing Meadows, incredibly without losing a set. Asked how she felt about the challenges of being in the locker-room preparing for the biggest semi-final of her life, she replied that she felt she belonged there. At eighteen, she is the youngest British tennis player to reach the US Open final in the Open era, in only her second grand slam and ranked 150th on the world. I recall watching her progress in her first Wimbledon before she retired tearfully in the fourth round this year. Resilience and the importance of wellbeing for personal growth is evident in her progress within elite sport.
Emma was born in Toronto, Canada on November 13, 2002 before moving to Britain at the age of two. Her father Ian is Romanian and her mother Renee is Chinese. She started playing tennis at the age of five at the Bromley Tennis Academy. A shy child, her parents had encouraged her to try different hobbies to boost her confidence. She credits her parents for her determination, resilience and work-ethic.
“They both come from very hard-working countries. They have high expectations, and I’ve always tried to live up to that”.
Emma certainly belongs on the US Open Final Court, and on Sunday she has the chance to realise her dream against another talented teenager, 19-year-old Leylah Annie Fernandez, after the Canadian extended her own astonishing run by scuppering the second seed, Aryna Sabalenka. Together the two players, who last faced each other at junior Wimbledon in 2018, will contest the first grand slam final between teenagers since Serena Williams and Martina Hingis met at the 1999 US Open.
The aspirations to achieve our personal best, aligned to the determination and discipline of purposeful practice, can make dreams our reality. We encourage all students at Brooke House to be aware of others, to be conscious of first impressions and the footprint they leave….but most important to be themselves. Every student needs to feel the sense of belonging to thrive, in the words of Maya Angelou;
A motivating start to the academic year
As a new school year begins with anticipation, a new dawn brings optimism and hope. In my first term as Principal of Brooke House College, taking the reins from Mike Oliver, it is a privilege to be able to contemplate the return of students from so many corners of the world, to their home from home. Following the tumultuous past year, and mindful that circumstances can change swiftly, we continue to monitor the local and global impact of Covid, and our thoughts remain with those more significantly affected. As a College, we have been diligent to update the Covid Risk Assessment and procedures aligned to the Boarding Schools’ Association COVID-SAFE Charter and the frequent updates from the UK Department of Education. Our priority is providing a safe, secure and stimulating learning environment for the wellbeing of the whole Brooke House College community. On the first day, it was a joy to welcome in the Pre-Season and share the excitement with our parents from across the globe.
This first blog will begin a weekly review of our journey as a community and highlight moments and contributions that form our collective story. We embark upon a new school year with new beginnings to experience, new friendships to nurture and new challenges to tackle. The slate is wiped clean, and anything is possible – with dedication, commitment and a creative zest to explore, question and solve. As a staff community, we came together this Wednesday and shared the events of our summer and planned for the lessons, enrichment activities and sporting opportunities ahead. Sure, if you want to go fast go alone – but if you want to go far go together – as a community. Think of others, show kindness and, with the wisdom that comes from perspective, appreciate the value of collaboration and compassion.
Watching Carl Sagan’s beautiful film ‘Pale Blue Dot’ as a community at Brooke House on INSET Day, we reflected on why we are here. Voyage 1 was about 6.4 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) away, when it captured earth as a tiny point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size: Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot OFFICIAL - YouTube.
Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.
— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994
So much happens at Brooke House College and our talented and committed staff play their part in our growth and success. At the centre of this vibrant learning community, that cultivates curiosity, creativity and the courage to learn from mistakes, is the child. Everything we do seeks to provide the opportunity for every pupil to thrive and become the best possible version of themselves as engaged, confident, agile, resilient, socially responsible and globally aware learners. As Greta Thunberg tells us, you are never too small to make a difference on our precious planet.
Personal highpoints this last week included sharing in the celebrations of our visiting Ukrainian students hosted at our Summer School by Wylie Wright and his team. Together, we enjoyed performances and an incredible video diary illustrating five years of activities. The Director of the Center of Linguistics Akademia, Iryna Bednarska, presented our Mangaging Director, Mr Giles Williams, with a wonderful Certificate of Association. Further, at our Staff INSET BBQ we acknowledged the huge contribution to the success of the College by former Principal Mike Oliver. Mike will continue to guide our progress as a member of the Advisory Board. A delightful picture shows Mike with three other Principals, joining Giles our Managing Director, Mr Jon Stanford who returns to teach Economics and myself – Four Pillars, Four Principals.
Finally, we are excited to announce that the College has been chosen to become a partner school with the High Performance Learning organisation, founded by Professor Deborah Eyre. Together, we shall work towards the World Class School Award, a prestigious accreditation recognising our development in terms of collegiate working to secure enhanced student outcomes. High Performance Learning (HPL) is a research-based, pedagogy-led philosophy that responds to our growing understanding of human capability. HPL makes the goal of high performance the expectation for all students across academics, sport and community engagement, and uses a unique teaching and learning framework to systematically cultivate curiosity and grow minds to develop cognitive skills, values, attitudes and attributes needed to reach success. We shall provide more information in due course.
I will leave the final words of motivation to Kid President and his letter to a student on their first day here.