We have arrived at last at the end of this long term and begin what seems like a very long period of holidays, sprinkled with bank holidays. This is in part a function of the late occurrence of Easter this year, and in part of the additional royal wedding bank holiday. The tiredness which many staff and students feel has at least been mitigated in recent days by the glorious spring weather which has given everyone a lift. Being able to get outside into the school’s wonderful grounds at lunchtime makes all the difference.
Normally we would be doing special Holy Week and Easter assemblies in the week immediately before the Easter break, but this year, because Easter is still over two weeks away, we have decided to do them in the short week back after Easter, as those will be the closest school days to the Easter weekend. However, we have been giving our assembly worship this week something of a seasonal feel – I have talked about Palm Sunday for example with students in years 9 and 10. With year 9 yesterday I invited students to look at the events of Palm Sunday from a slightly unusual perspective: that of the donkey. I wonder if readers are familiar with G K Chesterton’s wonderful poem ‘The Donkey’? If not, do Google it and have a look – it makes a great starting point. Year 7 and 8 were offered something slightly different earlier in the week: Oscar Wilde’s short story ‘The Selfish Giant’ which can be read out in twelve minutes – again, worth a look if you are not familiar with it and available on the internet.
I have reported earlier this term on this blog on the success of Bennett students in local debating competitions. This week it was communications skills of a different type which led to further success. One of our thriving Young Enterprise teams swept the floor in a local Young Enterprise competition held at a school in Tonbridge. They won: Best Company Report; Best Finance; Most Innovative Product; and the overall Top Company prize. Students who were involved from Bennett were: Jacqui Smith, Oliver Beldham; Ben Walker; Tilly Butler; Olivia Fryer; and David Bland. David was in charge of the finance and the judges commented that the company’s financial plan was the best witnessed in the area for 30 years. Congratulations to all of them – I hope they remember their old school when they all become millionaire businesspeople in the future!
Friday 1st April was a low key but very significant date in the life of the school. On that date we formally left the control of Kent local authority and came under the newly established Bennett Memorial Diocesan School Trust, and independent government funded company whose trustees are appointed by the Diocese of Rochester and which has as its purpose the running of the school. The role of the Trust itself is formally to receive the annual funding grant and the close of year accounts, and to appoint the governing body. The governing body has much the same responsibilities as hitherto, namely the strategic direction of the school, the holding of the school to account for its strategic direction and outcomes and the appointment of the headteacher. The governors discharge their responsibilities through a series of committees and regular meetings. In the light of the new status, the governing body is being reconstituted from 1st April, and we are in the process of seeking nominations for the elected positions of the governing body for parent and staff governors. We promised all through the change of status lead up that there would be little difference for those working and learning in the school in terms of day to day experience as a result of the conversion, and I trust this promise has been fulfilled. However the school is now in a much stronger position in terms of its future and continued development as a Church secondary school serving West Kent and East Sussex.
Today our enormous cohort of Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award candidates is setting out on its walk and overnight camp – the ‘expedition’, which is one of the four elements of the Award, along with service, physical activity and skill acquisition. In the years when I used to accompany D of E expeditions it always seemed to rain – they are in luck this weekend, and I hope they have a fabulous time. It is an experience which enables them to push their own physical and comfort boundaries and learn a lot about working in a team.
Finally, I would like to wish everyone a restful and also reflective Easter holiday. Those preparing for examinations are right up against the end of their courses, and will – hopefully – be setting aside plenty of study time. We keep them and their ever-supportive families in our prayers. I am off to Normandy for the first week of the holiday for a quiet week, visiting probably Honfleur and perhaps the wonderful Abbey of Bec, which has so many connections to Canterbury and the English Church, as well as plenty of good French nourishment, sleep and reading time!