I was thrilled when on registering at the annual IAPS Heads’ Conference on Monday morning that I was encouraged to download the Conference App. Brilliant! No longer would I have to carry around notebook, pen, delegate list, list of speakers, agenda, plan of the conference centre – all in a useful linen, logoed bag –but I could simply slip my mini-iPad into my handbag and be hands-free to eat pastries and shake hands (though maybe not in that order…).
The App gave me all this vital information at my fingertips. It also provided a site for note taking, with the facility to email my notes back to myself. My chosen agenda of seminars and talks linked directly to my Outlook calendar. I really love it when technology works for me: making life so much simpler.
This might well have been sufficient innovation and revelation for me during my two days. But actually the sessions I attended were so worthwhile. With the Conference entitled, ‘Leading Change’ there were the usual motivational sessions about being a great leader and overcoming adversity (including Henry IV video clips –I struggle to relate too well to him), but two talks really stuck in my mind. The first was by Natasha Devon, co-founder of the ‘Body Gossip & Self-Esteem Team’ (http://www.bodygossip.org/what-we-do/body-gossip-self-esteem-team ) who expounded the difference between talking about our emotions and talking about our feelings. She gave plenty of food for thought, showing how now, more than at any other time, our young people need to be able to reflect on the ways they are feeling, how they relate to one another and how they deal with pressure that emanates from aspects of social media and modern life’s expectations.
The other talk that really resonated was from Nick Pope, Army Deputy Chief of Staff. He really spoke about how leaders have to pare back to core values and vision, before instigating changes that will allow an organisation to adapt for future successes. Stirring stuff!
I ended Conference by saying adieu to the many friends I have made, who are also fellow Heads. One said to me, ‘Remember –the third year of your headship is said to be the most productive’; we shall see!
Mrs Mwale, Prep Headmistress
On Monday morning, Reverend Beresford came to take assembly. He’s not so much a guest these days as a friend and we all look forward to the messages that he brings. Basing his reflections on biblical themes, he always manages to introduce some minor character that we have barely heard of and use their example to inspire us. Monday was no different.
We heard about Bezalel. Bezalel had been chosen to make all kinds of wonderful artisan goods, of silver, gold and bronze, for the tent where the ark of the covenant was kept. Bezalel had been endowed with wisdom, understanding, knowledge and skills: a pretty all-round top bloke. Oholiab was chosen to be his assistant (even great guys need a little help!). They crafted wonderful objects, exactly as they were instructed, producing the finest that they could manage. The message to the girls was that they too should make the best that they can possibly manage.
On Monday afternoon, I went to the burial and commemorative service of a great man. Perhaps if you had met him and even got to know him a little, you would have thought, ‘he’s so kind; he is mischievous; he’s a petrol-head; he’s a wonderful family man’. But you might not have said he was great, in that historical sense: those who have made their mark, changed the world, campaigned and strategised or made a fortune.
But I think he was a truly great man. He had time to listen as well as to talk. He did not judge, yet he gently corrected. He delivered words of insight along with humour. He was modest, yet professed his beliefs with conviction, reminding me of 1 Corinthians where it states, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’ He was an encourager and his presence is greatly missed in our lives.
Two things happened on Monday morning that made me, too, want to be the best I can be….
Mrs Mwale, Prep Headmistress
Wednesday morning looked ominous: well at least the weather did. It reminded me of when, as a schoolgirl, I used to make up rain dances with my friends, every summer sports day in the hope that a downpour would cancel the whole thing. It’s not that I didn’t like sports- I loved them –but I never saw the value in running around a track, unless of course somebody was chasing me. Invariably then, the rain did come but we had to do our races anyway.
Hand on heart, this year I did no rain dance whatsoever. In fact, I was focussed on the BBC weather report every half hour and on the hour. Light showers.
The field events passed with us all smiling and staying dry, yet the start of sports day looked a little worse. Then the wind picked up and instead of blowing the clouds away, it seemed to direct them all to Farlington.
In true British and eccentric fashion, we soldiered on until the girls were starting to feel cold and very damp. With only the relays left, calling it a day was definitely timely.
We apologise once again to all our loyal parent spectators that we couldn’t keep you a little drier. Heartfelt thanks to all of our lovely Prep 5 mums who manned the refreshments gazebo: hopefully a swig of Pimms, a hot cuppa and some strawberries warmed everybody’s spirits a little.
We are immensely proud of you all for weathering the storm and our very, very grateful thanks go to all who organised, competed and helped at the event.
F J Mwale