I’ll Be There…

I’ll Be There

What a wonderful celebration to end the academic year; a wonderful feast of drama, dance and choir, our second at the Southbank, this time at the Royal Festival Hall. The show, I’ll Be There, a self penned performance of the Mahabharata was put on by children, from Avanti House secondary and primary along with some of the older pupils from Krishna Avanti. To a packed audience, we were taken through the great epic with far too many ‘stars of the show’ to mention. Once again, as these images suggest,

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our children really rose to the occasion and reminded us all why we do what we do and exactly why we call ourselves, at Avanti House, the family! Thank you to parents and friends who joined is this afternoon and well done and thank you to the supremely wonderful and talented Vandna Synghal, a volunteer at the Trust, the writer and director of this show and also thanks to our Director of Performing Arts, Paul Nash and the many staff who made sure that this wonderful event happened – particularly to Eyvonnie, our new Head of Year 7 and drama teacher, who stepped up to the plate with a level of organisation and attention to detail that is fast becoming her trademark.

Moving On

True to the title of our epic performance, “I’ll be there”, I shall be there, at Avanti House School, in September, to oversee the start of our fifth year of operation. Sadly, however, I shall not be returning to the Trust or to the school in January. As most of our existing parents will know already, my family has decided to move the United Arab Emirates in 2017 and I shall be leading the way in late December. It was always an aspiration for the family that our remaining two daughters, if we could make it possible, would attend school and study in an international setting; the middle or the far East and study the IB Diploma in an International School. I know that when I do move on, in around five months from now, I shall leave my other family, Avanti House, in very safe hands.

We have a brilliant Deputy and succession leader, in Nadira Morris, an excellent day to day head of primary in Richard Halliday and a wonderful and growing body of staff teaching and support, secondary and primary to serve our fantastic children. The Avanti Schools Trust are already putting in additional capacity to support the handover process, once two new Principals are appointed, one for secondary and one for primary, for January. Indeed a Consultant Headteacher will join us at secondary, similar to the one who has recently been supporting Richard at primary – all with a view to adding capacity for the smoothest of handovers to new leadership.

I officially leave my appointed role as Senior Education Officer (deployed as Principal at Avanti House) at the end of December. I will then take up the position of Senior Inspector in the schools’ inspection service in Dubai. Excited by the move, I shall nevertheless be very sad to leave but happy that in my short time, we managed to stabilise what had been a very vulnerable project, find suitable temporary homes, secure full planning permissions, achieve outstanding early years and KS1 outcomes and look set to perform at GCSE in the top 10% of similar schools nationally. I shall spare my thanks and reflections until later in the year.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our families and friends for another fun packed year, the one where we secured with absolute certainty the future of both the secondary and primary phases of the school – and just in time, given how popular and oversubscribed our schools are! The overwhelming majority of parents and families are so incredibly supportive of the school, it makes it a privilege to serve.

Have a lovely holiday and remember..

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Hare Krishna

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What Do You Want to Be?

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There is a now quite infamous story of a pupil in school who when he responded to an assignment given to his class; “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, he replied “happy”. This young pupil went by the name of John. He was told by the teacher that he did not understand the assignment. Rather cheekily he is then said to have suggested that the teacher perhaps did not understand life!

Some time later, of course, John (Lennon) was the founding member of the group, The Beatles; a group of young, untrained but fiercely ambitious musicians from Liverpool, who went on the be turned away by almost every record label at the time, being told that ‘guitar music is on the way out’. Later, some would say, they played a very significant part in changing popular culture in the ten years they were together. They also wrote and sang quite a few nice tunes! There are two messages here; the first is this really is what we all want to be when we grow up – ‘happy’ – and there are probably just as many full grown adults who would say that they have not yet fully achieved this status. The second is a message about the importance of resilience. In our bid to be ‘happy’ and to bring happiness to others, how hard are we going to try and how many times will we be prepared to pick ourselves off the ground. Things do not always go according to plan, life takes unforeseen twists and turns; surely as teachers and as parents, we would want, above all else, to ensure that our children are fully equipped to meet all of life’s challenges and all eventualities, head on. Looking at John’s life journey there is some irony in that one of the last song lyrics he ever wrote was ‘life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans..’ only to have his life cut short by an assassination just outside his home in New York. At Avanti of course, we would also have encouraged respect and self-discipline as two of our values – answering the teacher back was perhaps not the best choice he ever made! But, truthfully, we really do not know what the future holds and it is our duty, I believe, to educate young people in resilience and tenacity (or ‘grit’ as some people call it) – this is as important as the best examination results in my view. As the school starts to settle into a new consolidation phase, with full planning permission now granted (just waiting for the six week, compulsory Judicial Review to close), we are looking at the broader curriculum – the one that develops character, spiritual insight but critically, also all the skills for young adults to be enterprising and world-ready.

Library Preparation at Pinner

As we bring the academic year to a close, the school is busying itself getting ready for the new year in September; the fifth year since opening. One exciting development is that of the library at Pinner. We are blessed to have one of our kind parents, Srirangapriya, recently join us as a volunteer to support the mammoth task of getting the library ready.

Srirangapriya is building on the good work of our Head of English and Literacy, Miss Vasudeva and some of our enthusiastic students who have got most books on the shelves. However, within each section there is a good deal of sorting out to do so that is the first priority followed by cataloguing (Shakespeare is already done!).  Srirangapriya also has some good ideas to promote the library electronically via a library website; showcasing the brilliant books that we have for loan – perhaps with a discussion forum and other features. I think it is worth saying that we should all watch this space – and as a school we are grateful, as always, for voluntary support and this is yet another example of time given up to serve the mission and vision of the school.

The plans are already in place to appoint a librarian, for the first time in the history of the school, hopefully to start with us in September.

Principal Designate Appointment – Avanti House Primary School

As parents and carers will have already heard, following the decision to de-merge the primary and secondary phases of the all-through school into two legally independent schools, an advert is out for the appointment of a Principal Designate of the primary school, for September 2016. We shall keep family and friends posted via this website as and when there are developments in this.

A Weekend of Celebrations

Last weekend really was a weekend of celebrations with both the FOAH organised summer fair as well as the consecration of Sri Sri Radha Krishna deities taking place at Pinner.
As planned and mentioned in recent months in this blog, the months of planning finally came to fruition on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd July we saw the consecration of Sri Sri Radha Krishna deities at Avanti House Secondary School in Pinner. This auspicious ceremony marks an important landmark for Avanti House secondary school and was performed in the presence of His Grace Jananivas Das and His Holiness Bhakti Rasamrita Swami. The rituals were performed by Sri Radharaman Das.This wonderful event was attended by a large group of guests invited by Avanti Schools Trust and which included a number of our own students, who will each day have opportunities to access the shrine. Daily Aarti is now being performed and we look forward to opening up the Altar Room for private and group worship for staff and students. Our thanks to the Trust and to Sahil Agarwal in particular for organising for this auspicious event to take place and for the opportunities it affords the community, going forward.

Our thanks to all who were able to support, yet again, another highly successful summer fair, organised by the Friends of Avanti House. We are particularly grateful as a school to Yogi, Hemang and the Committee for making it such a wonderful and well-attended event. We look forward to hearing of the fund raising totals; family and friends can see some of the excitement of the day at the Facebook page by clicking here.

As with everything that we do at Avanti House, it really is the family spirit and the team that pulls things together; even under the most challenging of circumstances. There are no egos at play here – everyone plays their part, to the best of their abilities and whether it is the design of a new building and curriculum, moving from one site to another, putting on a show at Wembley Stadium or the Royal Festival Hall, a long weekend in the Isle of Wight, installing a new library or inviting Sri Krishna and Sri Radha to reside at the school, although working to a common vision, it is never the work of one person – it is always a collaboration. It is always team work. I look forward to sharing this spirit of Avanti when this week we meet the parents of year 6 children for an information evening and also we welcome many of our new teachers for an induction day. An exciting week ahead!

Last Chance to Get your Tickets

As you well know, Avanti House Primary and Secondary, are with Krishna Avanti, performing a spectacular musical production this summer on the Mahabharata. The performance is taking place at London’s prestigious Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre on Sunday 17th July 2016 at 4.30pm.

Tickets are available at the primary and the secondary sites.

Please contact Mrs Mistry sonal.mistry@avanti.org.uk and Mrs Gupta anuja.gupta@avanti.org.uk at respective sites.

chodronMindfulness and Resilience

I leave you with a quote this week from one of my favourite Tibetan Buddhist writers and teachers, Pema Chodron. Here Pema reflects on our tendency to blame  ourselves and others and to go in search of greater security and certainty – especially when things do not go according to plan. Whereas, it is actually the nature of things to frequently not go according to plan (physicists call this entropy!) – the key to a happier life, perhaps, is to detach – to accept things as they are (if they cannot be changed), then adapt to the circumstances and do something different!

Krishna said something very similar, in a very positive way, to Arjuna, on the battlefield, as we read in Bhagavad Gita Chapter 6, Verse 5:

“Elevate yourself through the power of your mind, and not degrade yourself, for the mind can be the friend and also the enemy of the self.”

Have a great week

Haribol