The Long and Winding Road
As we head towards our bank-holiday half-term, our attention turns to the planning of the school moves (again!) ahead of us – our primary phase from Kingsbury to our final destination at Common Road and our secondary phase to the other side of Harrow; to the site of the former Heathfield School, in Pinner.
No school should ever have faced the seemingly relentless disruption that Avanti House has had to put up with – in only three years of existence. However, as one of our year 9 students astutely and sensitively pointed out, when other students were complaining bitterly at lunch about ‘yet another house move’ – “we have somewhere to go – unlike the thousands of families in Nepal…”. It was certainly a conversation-stopper. The plight of communities in Nepal has certainly caught the imagination of our youngsters and this has triggered a compassionate and empathetic response across our ‘Avanti family’. In just over a couple of weeks, students, staff and Friends of Avanti House have raised well over £2000 to send to those charities leading the relief work in the earthquake-stricken zones of Nepal. This money has been raised across both the secondary and primary phases, through cake sales, non-uniform days, sponsored events and generous donations. The majority of these events came about due to the spontaneous response of our students who simply wanted to do something. We are still collecting this week and we look forward to announcing the final total. My thanks to the many staff and students who have co-ordinated this fund-raising for such a heart-wrenching cause, so difficult to comprehend.
We look forward to welcoming primary parents to the Common Road site this week, to hear more about the building developments and travel plan for the next academic year. Straight after half term, we shall welcome existing and soon to be families of secondary students at the Pinner site – again to hear about plans for the new year.
Rain Stopped Play
In a twist of fate, well prepared for our very first sporting tournament last week, our cricket team were disappointed when the tournament was washed out and postponed to a later date – we shall announce this on our website when we know when it is to be rescheduled.
No such luck for our year 9 algebra award students who headed off last week to Bentley Wood School to take their Level 2 (GCSE A*-C) algebra award – our very first ever public examinations – we look forward to the outcomes and to sharing them with you. We are grateful to Bentley Wood for putting us up on this occasion – it made no sense to pay to set up the Common Road site as a GCSE/A level examination centre – becoming our primary phase, it will never be one after this summer. Invigilators at the school reported how well our students came across – always the case whenever we visit or have visitors to the school.
Secondary School Day – 2015/16
As we conclude our programme of staff appointments in the coming weeks, our secondary school timetable for next year is almost complete. Our plans are to move to a slightly longer core day, finishing at 3:30pm – but with clubs every day (including Monday and Friday) going on to no later than 4:30pm. Opening the school (Pinner) earlier for children too (around 7:15am) for a possible breakfast club – we hope this will assist some families who, faced with much longer and more complex journeys, might wish to drop their children off early and miss the heavier traffic. Once we have finalised the new day, which will also have 6x hour-long lessons (rather than the current 9x 40 minute lessons), we shall publish this online.
School Combined Cadet Force
Motivated by visits to a school of a long-time friend of mine, the Principal at Thomas Deacon Academy in Peterborough, we are now looking to apply to set up our own school Combined Cadet Force. I have recently met with Major Patrick Thompson who will be guiding us through the application process – with the hope that by January-April 2016 we might become fully accredited. The CCF already exists in over 260 schools all over the UK and offers young people aged 13-18 a broad range of challenging, exciting, adventurous and educational activities. The aim of the CCF is to support the development of personal responsibility, leadership and self-discipline – attributes we hold in high esteem at Avanti House School. Each unit or contingent is an educational partnership between the school and the Ministry of Defence. I look forward to keeping you up to speed on this initiative, alongside other outdoor and outward bounds activities – including the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme (just about to be launched), the Princes Trust and others.
Finally, as we try so hard, in the wake of Nepal, to make sense of the devastation caused by such natural disasters, the many affected will of course turn to their faith to help them through such impossibly dark times faced by losing loved ones. And our collective thoughts and prayers go out to the families affected – both in Nepal itself and of course, closer to home where this has been the case.
Lord Krishna, in the Bhagavad Gita, of course tutors His friend Arjuna (son of Kunti and Scion of Bharata in the quote below) through a similarly ‘impossible’ setting – where in fact Arjuna will go on to see and to even to cause the death of his own kin and gurus.
We are reminded in this passage from the Gita of the impermanence of all conditioned phenomena – happiness and distress – and to do everything in our power to support each other, to remain centred and even in the darkest and most difficult of times, to find hope and to be strong for those left behind.