Newland House School
Acting Head’s Speech
Speech Day 2019
Staff and children will know that I usually relish the opportunity to speak to them in assemblies supported by a powerpoint to illustrate everything – today it is just me on my own so hopefully the power of words will shine through!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the staff for their support this term, with particular reference to the Senior Leadership Team for pulling together, taking on extra responsibilities and working hard to ensure a high standard of education and level of care throughout the school. It has been a real pleasure working as Acting Head and I have enjoyed the challenges and opportunities it has presented.
Newland House is an exciting school to work at and everyday I love seeing the happiness on the pupils’ faces and their excitement as they embark on the numerous and varied opportunities available to them. There is a real sense of community in the building and children race in each day to share news and enjoy the friendships they have made. The school is always a hive of activity and this is what I love about education; no two days are ever the same. There is of course the familiar of the daily routine, but this is peppered with exciting trips, productions, concerts, fixtures and games. The children and staff alike give 110% each and every day to ensure the best possible time is had and above all, everyone cares about their identity and upholding the name of the school. I have thoroughly enjoyed my two years in this vibrant school and have learnt a lot. The children have made me laugh and I love their creative imagination and thought processes.
As at any end of academic year, there are staffing changes and sadly we say goodbye to our gap students Adam Kadlubowski and Emily Magill and thank them for their enthusiasm and support of the school over the last year, particularly in the Sports department.
Amanda Bail and Lucy Woolley leave the Learning Support department where they have provided invaluable 1:1 care for pupils at the school.
Sandra Mills has been a friendly face on Reception for the last ten years and her professionalism and support for parents, staff and pupils alike will be sorely missed.
Mandie Vider leaves the Music department and we thank her for her contribution to the many varied productions and concerts, particularly at the Pre-Prep.
Robyn Temlett has been a dedicated form teacher, Maths and Science teacher since 2014 and leaves us to pursue new opportunities. We thank her for all her hard work and commitment to the school over the last 5 years.
Linda Moody retires having joined the school in 1995 and has been a much-loved member of staff in the Pre-Prep with exacting standards and inspirational teaching. Many children have benefited from her wisdom and care during their time at Newland House.
Tracey Chong leaves us after seven years, having established a fantastic Pre-Prep where children are encouraged to learn through creativity and wonder and her thought and care for each individual pupil will be greatly missed. She has left a wonderful legacy, being pivotal in establishing the new Pre-Prep building as well as the addition of a Nursery. The parents have written in the following book which I would like to present.
And finally, last but by no means least, after twenty-one and a half years, Hilary Coughlan will be retiring from Newland House but definitely not education, as she will continue her work for Buckingham University. She has worked tirelessly to ensure high academic standards for teaching and learning at the school and her no-mess attitude and sense of humour has been a real pleasure to work alongside. The parents have contributed to the following book, I would like to present.
We wish all our leavers, both staff and pupils, all the best for a successful future and please, do keep in touch.
It occurred to me when writing this speech that change is often viewed as something negative whereas it is a really great opportunity and often only comes about as the result of our own hard work. Many of us in the room now will be facing the change of a new school, new job, new house, new friends and will be feeling a mixture of excitement, apprehension and nerves, all of which are totally normal. It is often said that ironically, change is the only constant in life. However, change allows us to embrace new beginnings and gives us the ability to move from one situation to another with relative ease. I often speak with the children about resilience and growth mindset in assemblies, qualities that are absolutely required to live our lives and are the vital ‘soft skills’ outside of academia that enable us to function as human beings in society. A familiar situation is always more comforting as it is assumed that change is a gamble and a risk we have to take, and perhaps one we aren’t comfortable with. Without these different risks and experiences though, we don’t build up our resilience to be able to tackle the different challenges that face us. I love the saying ‘If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again’ but how can you do that if you don’t have the courage to try in the first place? We can feel a loss of control, worried about the future, the transition time and what to expect but often our thoughts and fears are far worse than the reality.
However, many of you in Year 6 and Year 8 have worked hard to bring about the change that you are facing so when does change shift from a negative to a positive? Well, in today’s society, the pace of change is immensely fast and it will only continue to accelerate. As Charles Kettering said, ‘The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.’ Change is good because it provides a fresh start. When we bring about change, we psychologically wipe the slate clean which gives us a chance to take a new approach and start afresh. And we can only do this through hard work.
I have spent a large part of my career in music and this has led me to the very fortunate position I am in today but often it is very easy to miss the key links that have given me the tools I need which are always hard work, determination and discipline. Please note that I haven’t used the word success in there because these are tools which don’t always guarantee success but ensure that you have done your best. My mum used to sit with me whilst I practised the piano – everyday until I was 18 – which of course in itself, brought a fair amount of problems as you can probably imagine! The rows we had were epic at times and whilst I don’t condone that, she did teach me that through the discipline of hard work and practice, I would always achieve my personal best. She never compared me to other children but wasn’t satisfied until I had done everything I could do to succeed for myself. And this is what I hope many of the children leaving Newland House today will feel, a sense of pride in what they have achieved, without relating this to anyone else. Success is about achieving our personal goals and if we can keep those in mind and not be swayed by what others do, then we will remain focused and strong on our own path. Be true to yourself and believe in yourself. The definition of success is ‘the accomplishment of an aim or purpose’ and I hope that this is what many children experience today. However, success is never guaranteed nor should we feel entitled to it. The only way to guarantee a great future is to work for it and know that we will be rewarded when the time is right.
Change is set to feature in the education system too and we will hopefully be applying more relevant techniques for learning, moving education forwards and bringing it in line with today’s attitudes and needs. Sir Anthony Seldon has a fascinating approach to this, saying that there are eight different forms of intelligence which can be paired as follows:
- personal and social
- creative and physical
- moral and spiritual
- logical and linguistic
He quite rightly says that teaching them all will draw these different types of intelligence out of every child. Most schools merely pay lip service to the first six and only concentrate on the last two.
This is wrong not least because the two intelligences being concentrated on are, ironically, the two most easily replicated by machines. The very skills around which we have designed our schools and our exam system are the very ones that will be rendered redundant within the next 20 years.
Schools should be concentrating their resources instead on the first six intelligences or aptitudes that are uniquely human. This century will see the creation of many small companies, which will need to be entrepreneurial and creative to thrive in a rapidly changing world. School shouldn’t be about a right or wrong answer, but we should be encouraging children to come up with their own answers.
When I arrived at the school in 2017, I established some values in conjunction with the school council so that we all work under the same rules of kindness, courage, respect, honesty and community. I cannot think of 5 better pillars to use in our everyday lives and I can guarantee that these will stand you in good stead throughout your education, career and with your friends. Please remember these Newland House values wherever you are and whatever you are doing.
So finally, embrace the change! The world has never been a more exciting place, full of new possibilities and endless opportunities but it is up to you to seize these moments and relish them with renewed vigour. I wish everyone an extremely happy summer with lots of time to recharge the batteries and the best of luck for a successful September wherever you are!
Miss Vicky Savage