Welcome back to all students after the half term break. Although we didn’t quite get the week of sunshine we had hoped for, there were certainly some good days at either end. A group of about a dozen teachers and other staff from Bennett went for a staff trip to North Wales across the bank holiday at the start of half term with the aim of climbing Mount Snowdon. I was pleased to hear this morning that everybody managed the climb well and did so in glorious sunshine, enjoying marvellous views across Snowdonia. Well done to Mrs Salter for organising the trip. I personally enjoyed a couple of days in Norfolk at the start of the week and a few days in Normandy at the end, which included, among various culinary samplings, a trip to Honfleur and to the beautiful village and historic abbey of Bec. Bec was an extremely influential abbey during the centuries after the Norman Conquest, including in Norman England, where it owned a number of sites, among them the then village of Tooting Bec, which retains the abbey’s name in its. A number of the Norman archbishops of Canterbury were either associated with Bec or had been abbots there before moving to Canterbury. The most notable of these is perhaps St Anselm himself. Bec – or Le Bec-Hellouin to give it its full name – is now a sleepy but very beautiful village a couple of hours’ drive from the channel ports.
Parenting teenagers is a topic of constant interest to us at school and a responsibility many parents find – rightly – quite daunting at times. We host our own regular parenting courses here at Bennett which give parents the chance to come together and share and explore ideas and issues under the guidance of an external facilitator. These sessions are popular and oversubscribed, a witness I think to the realisation of the enormity of the task many of our parents have. Learning techniques for dealing with situations which arise as a parent is important, but it often strikes me when I listen to the national debate which constantly goes on in the media about the best way to bring up children, I am often struck by an insufficient emphasis on underlying values. I recently had my attention drawn to the work of an American sociologist and writer on this subject, James B Stenson. He does have a rather Americanised way of expressing his thoughts, but actually I felt when I read them quite a strong resonance with the values which we at Bennett try to embody in our aims and ways of working. A good summary of Stenson’s thoughts on parenting in twelve principles – ‘Born to serve, not to shop’ – can be read at http://www.parentleadership.com/borntoserve.html .
Back at school we are now in mid examination season, with GCSE, AS and A2 examinations running alongside each other in a complicated logistical sequence. In a large school the task of running so many examinations, along with the various special considerations we also manage, is a complex and challenging one. Our examinations secretary, Mrs Owen, does it with great skill and I would want to pay tribute to her commitment and that of her team of administrators and invigilators.
I will finish by wishing all Bennett students, teachers and parents a successful final half term of this school year. We have six teaching weeks before the summer holiday, plus one week of Activities at the end. This is a substantial period of time and we will be expecting all students to continue to give of their best. Those in year 10 are now over half way through their examination courses to GCSE, and year 12 return to school full time from next Monday to begin their A2 study.