To be a champion, compete; to be a great champion, compete with the best; but to be the greatest champion, compete with yourself” Matshona Dhilwayo
At a time when the school is enjoying such national and regional successes it is important to reflect on the journey these children, and their peers have been on.
In the last two weeks we have entered the South West Regional ISA Cross-Country Championships and won three out of four races, at the same time having eight individuals qualify for the national championships. Our Year 6 Lego Robotics team won their regional competition, therefore qualifying them for the national final In Harrogate during half term. Last week I had the pleasure of driving the Year 6 netball team to the South West Netball Championships; they finished second and again have qualified for the national finals. Earlier this week I had the pleasure of taking the Under 11 boys hockey team to the Olympic Park in Stratford for their ISA National Championships. It was a very long day but a hugely successful one; we finished in silver medal position, narrowly losing on penalties in the final after extra time and golden goal. We have also, in the past couple of weeks received notifications of many scholarships and exhibitions awarded to our Year 6 pupils for secondary school entry next year.
Of course, education is not all about being THE best but I firmly believe that children should always strive to be THEIR best, and as per the quote above, to compete with themselves to be the greatest champion they can be. I do resolutely believe that the staff at Heywood try to ensure that every child is given an opportunity to ‘succeed’ in as many areas of school life as possible; for some children taking part in a performance, offering an answer in a lesson, moving up a reading or a times table level, taking part in a class assembly or playing in a sports fixture is a great achievement in itself which is realised through nurture and confidence-building both at home and at school. The recent successes for Heywood would have started with these two things and this, combined with excellent coaching and teaching and access to practice, well-planned pathways and mentoring eventually lead to success.
I was delighted that James Shone came to Heywood atop his double decker bus last week to speak to the Year 4 children with his ‘I can and I am’ workshop as the successes detailed above do not come without disappointment and setbacks. James’s main message is about ‘inflating balloons of self-belief’ and the importance of blowing up a child’s balloon with success and praise so that they are resilient when set-backs come. As a Year 6 tutor I have witnessed lots of the disappointment that comes hand-in-hand with these successes; I have seen children being told they have not made the final squad for a tournament, children who are unable to attend competitions due to other commitments and I have witnessed first-hand the disappointment of finishing in 11th place in a race, one place off National qualification and the disappointment shown from the brave souls who volunteered to take the penalties in the hockey final. All of these children who received set backs have bounced back as they have other areas, skills and activities to fall back on which will bring them success; this is the joy of a Heywood education; give the children opportunities to experience everything; give them a chance to try, give them a chance to succeed , give them a chance to fail and give them a chance to bounce back.
I am inordinately proud of what the children have achieved in the last two weeks (and of course during their entire time at Heywood) and I am excited about seeing them take the next step up; they may succeed, they may not, but they will have full ‘balloons’ and be ready to take on anything. We are a small independent prep school punching well above our weight; whether that is in the classroom, on the stage, in the lab or on the sports field and long may these successes continue, regardless of the size of them, or the opponent, but let’s remember, in the words of Dhilwayo, to be the greatest champion you have to compete with yourself and be the best YOU can be.