Head’s Blog: Embracing Opportunities

What if…

  • Erling Haaland had never kicked a football…?
  • Taylor Swift had never had a singing lesson…?
  • Julia Donaldson had never written a story…?
  • William Shakespeare had never picked up a quill…?
  • Marcus Smith had never kicked a rugby ball…?
  • Thomas Edison had never experimented with electricity…?
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar had never eaten an apple…?

The questions above are ones I posed to the children in my first Headmaster’s Assembly on Wednesday, 3rd January.  We all agreed that it would have been a real shame if these people’s talents had never been discovered. Therefore, my assembly focussed on taking opportunities and risks, having the courage to try new things, and helping friends to do the same. 

I began the assembly by sharing a story that my daughter received from her childminder when she was just two years old. The tale introduces Eric, a very cautious little panda who is hesitant to try new things. Luckily, Eric has a brave friend named Flora, a rabbit, who helps him.

At first, Eric didn’t like the idea of splashing in muddy puddles; he didn’t like getting his boots dirty. He didn’t want to try the new sandwich filling that Mum had put in his packed lunch or climb up the climbing frame. However, with Flora’s encouragement and reassurance, Eric could do all these things.

But, one thing made him very worried indeed… an invitation to a swimming party.  Fortunately, Flora was on hand to take Eric shopping for new trunks, inflatable rings, a swimming hat and a pair of goggles. Eventually, with some gentle persuasion from Flora, Eric dipped in a toe, jumped in and enjoyed swimming with his friends (until a crocodile burst his rings, but that’s a different matter!).

Heywood children are fortunate to receive not only an excellent academic education but also an array of immense opportunities throughout the school. These opportunities include participating in the school ski trip to Italy, showcasing their talents with the Heywood Harmonies at a teacher’s wedding, exploring Cadbury World on a Year 2 trip, engaging in activities such as hockey or swimming at a London 2012 Olympic venue, taking the stage in their year group production, and benefiting from working one-to-one with a teaching assistant to clarify any aspects of the science lesson they may have found challenging. These diverse and well-planned opportunities aim to provide children with extraordinary experiences, foster their understanding, and encourage them to step out of their comfort zones. Already, staff members have been at my door with plans for this term and next: Mr Knight is planning the next overseas Sport and Cultural Tour for 2025, Mrs Williamson and Mrs Smith are auditioning children for the Year 4 production, Mrs West is talking about World Book Day and Science Week and Mrs Evans is in the latter stages of preparing the teams for the First Lego League competition.

I firmly believe that every child possesses a unique talent or skill, and it is our responsibility as a Preparatory School to discover and nurture that potential. It is important for educators and parents to encourage children to take acceptable risks. I always advocate for children to explore new clubs and activities, or even try new foods – who knows, they might enjoy it! If a child hesitates due to fear of failure or the unknown, they may miss out on valuable experiences. It is our duty to ensure that children have the confidence to take risks and explore their interests. Heywood Prep has abundant opportunities, and I am enthusiastic about further developing these in the coming year.