“Your children are wonderful ambassadors for the school…”
“It really feels as though (as a school) you are true to the values…”
“This feels like a school with a difference – not just putting them (children) on an exam treadmill…”
These are just four of the quotes (two verbal, two emailed) said to me following our Open Evening last week, attended by over 800 visitors. Although locked up all evening delivering four presentations to packed audiences, it does appear as though, for a third year running, the students and staff of Avanti House have excelled themselves in celebrating for a willing crowd, what makes us so unique in Harrow. In the run up to the deadline for applications to join Year 7, October 31st, our Open Mornings now take place for those looking to visit the school in action – always an enjoyable experience for all
And of course, at such an Open Evening, for Avanti House, what we are currently ‘promoting’ is far less tangible than it would normally be – in for example a well-established school with a well-provisioned, expansive building. Until we find ourselves taking up residence in our modern, bespoke £20+ million planned new building, our interim facilities are adequate at best. As a result we end up promoting what matters most – a compelling vision-in-action, a values-underpinned education, superb quality of relationships all round – and all resulting in exceptional student behaviour and attitudes to learning followed by the highest quality of teaching and learning. In the evolution of a new school, we are therefore putting the most important things in place first. With the gathering momentum around this school – an anticipated 720+ on roll from 2015 our growing reputation and the cross-party support the school enjoys in Harrow, the permanent infrastructure and therefore long-term security of the largest free school in the UK will surely follow.
On a related note, I look forward to a planning meeting next week with the contractors who have been appointed to renovate our existing building at Stanmore to become our permanent primary school site from September 2015. I am also on the same day joining the Avanti Schools Trust and the EFA on a ‘bidders day’ which will then give rise, to a preferred contractor to design and build our permanent secondary school building. Such designs once completed, will be presented of course for planning permission at the leased Whitchurch site later in the academic year.
Key Events Running up to Half Term
I find it hard to believe, as new Principal, that we are already more than half way through the first half-term. My feet have barely touched the ground and there has been so much to do just to get up to speed with everything that is going on, on two sites and in the bigger picture of working with the Trust and others, planning the future of the school. Now that the Open Evening is behind us, there are some key events ahead of us. First of all, families are asked to check the school calendar on the website and note that Friday October 10th is a pre-planned staff training day – the Annual Conference of all Avanti Trust Schools – with the school (both primary and secondary sites) closed for the day. Just before the October half-term we shall then enjoy our first festival of the year – that of Diwali – the festival of lights; in the same week interviewing to hopefully appoint our new Deputy Principal – who should then join us in January 2015.
The quote this week, from the Bhagavad Gita recalls Lord Krishna imploring Arjuna to not baulk from his duty, his dharma – on the impossible battlefield of Kurukshetra, facing the prospect of slaying his teachers and family; that regardless of Arjuna’s actions, some things are inevitable – fated by karma. Whether viewed historically or symbolically, the quote is nevertheless a not so gentle reminder of the reality of impermanence; calling us all to use every moment of our short (and unpredictable) lives in the best possible way. This is not a difficult challenge to rise to in our wonderful shared purpose – family and school – breathing life, aspiration and hope into the futures of the next generation of young people who inherit our world.
“कालो ऽस्मि लोकक्षयकृत्प्रवृद्धो
I am Time, the great destroyer of the world
Bhagavad Gita 11.32