It’s easy to be sniffy about Media Studies, but given the huge role the media play in our society learning more about how the media work and how we are often unconsciously influenced by the way in which ‘news’ is mediated to us is surely important, whether it is done through ‘media studies’ or through some other channel. Last week a group of Bennett students took part in the BBC’s annual School Report day, which is a project designed to give young people the chance to work inside the media, alongside professionals in as realistic a context as possible, with the aim of producing a news bulletin. Take a look at what they achieved on http://schoolsreport.bennett.kent.sch.uk/ . I hope you agree that this they did extremely well – congratulations to all students taking part, whether in front of the camera or behind the scenes, and, of coure, as always, to the staff whose initiative made the experience possible.
I have just returned from a day out in Canterbury – always an enjoyable experience. Today it was made especially so as I attended sung Evensong in Canterbury Cathedral at 3.15 this afternoon. It always amazes me that in cathedrals and some churches across England one can hear absolutely first rate music and singing in the setting for which it was intended. In our secular world, so often art and music which was inspired by Christian faith, and intended to aid devotion and prayer, are performed or exhibited in a museum or a concert hall. While it is certainly still uplifting to see and hear such art or music in those settings, there is something much more complete and fulfilling to experience them for the purposes for which they were intended. Just as one can criticise media studies, so one can also easily criticise the Church of England, and those who are closest to the centre of the Church of England can sometimes be its harshest critics. But one thing for which I think we should all be grateful to the Church of England is the way in which the choral and musical traditions of the great cathedrals have been preserved and nurtured against all the odds, often largely through the specialised choir schools. It is very rare now to find such good music in the cathedrals of other countries in Europe. I recommend a Sunday afternoon visit to Canterbury – you can see what is being sung on http://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/events.html . Each time I go there I bump into someone who knows me from Bennett, so I suspect that it already has a following amongst some discerning friends of the school!
Our non-uniform day on Friday was a great success. We have not yet finished counting the proceeds, but we will certainly be able to give generously to the two causes we were supporting, Cancer Research and our partner school in Tanzania for basic learning equipment. There was a very pleasant and amicable atmosphere around the school, assisted by the glorious spring weather we had. I often reflect on how fortunate we are to work in a school where there is such good will and amiability on the part of almost all our students.
We are now getting very close to the end of examination courses, and students in years 11 to 13 in particular are under significant pressure during this final period of preparation. Please do continue to support them practically if you happen to live with one, or more, and remember all those taking examinations in your prayers otherwise.
Finally, we have been informed by the Secretary of State that Bennett will convert to ‘academy’ status on 1st April, next Friday. The school will then cease to be part of Kent local authority, and instead come under its own trust, called the ‘Bennett Memorial Diocesan School Trust’. As promised, there will be no visible change for staff or students, and we fully intend to continue with our normal work at this busy and important time of year as we always do. I would like to record thanks to all those who have made this important step for the school so straightforward, particularly my colleagues working at the Rochester Diocesan Board of Education, and also thank those who have supported the school at this time of transition in their prayers.