We are living in extraordinary times. If the world is a challenging place for adults to negotiate, just imagine how it presents itself to young learners trying to make sense of it. Whilst our national political crisis consumes the time of our politicians, arguably the greatest challenge facing mankind, climate change, is being lost in the heat of partisan debate. I was greatly struck by a recent article in the Financial Times by Simon Kuper @kupersimon about the drought in Cape Town, South Africa. Last year Cape Town nearly ran dry. Kuper observes wryly “the bathtub felt like a relic of a lost civilisation… Beside it was a shower containing an egg timer. The two minute shower has become standard….”. The long term future of cities like Cape Town in Kuper’s opinion are problematic and the creation of water refugees a real issue.
In the face of mounting evidence of irreversible environmental damage across the globe, what can be done to alert everyone to the real and present danger to our planet? In recent weeks in the UK we have witnessed Eco activists making their presence known in the House of Commons’ gallery during a Brexit debate and school children across our country (and the world) choosing to truant from school to make their concerns about climate change known.
At the Foundation we look to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as international points of principle to help shape our thinking around sustainability; yet we want to do more. Our Festival of Learning on 9 July will be focussed on this crucial issue exploring how our young people regenerate our fragile planet. I am delighted to announce that we shall be joined in this mission by Mr Angus Forbes, a businessman and philanthropist, who is evangelical about empowering young people to believe they can make a difference. Angus and his team are advocates for the creation of a Global Planetary Authority (GPA) whose sole focus is to protect and enhance the biosphere (Votegpa.com). We look forward to our older learners participating in the GPA and our younger learners engaging in a range of activities designed to inform and inspire them about the world around them.
The Festival of Learning is very much a community event and I would ask any member of our broader community, our parents and alumni, who would like to participate either by facilitating discussion, speaking to our learners or supporting activities to contact the school. Mrs Handford (firstname.lastname@example.org) can offer an overview of the 3-11 proposed programme whilst Mr Walker (email@example.com) is responsible for overseeing the 11-18 activities. Mrs McKenna (firstname.lastname@example.org ) is our Inspire and Guide Coordinator and is also happy to speak to anyone interested in contributing to this important event or more generally to our speaker programme.
The success of our CamMUN event earlier this term convinced me that our young people are ready and more than capable of addressing the challenges to our biosphere. It is our responsibility to ensure they are properly equipped and educated.
Happiness, wellbeing, or, for our students of Greek, Eudaimonia. These words are synonymous with the increasing interest in pursuing a life beyond material possession and success. As educationalists with a focus on preparing our students for the future, we seek to question how we not only open the doors for our students via academic success, but also equip them with the tools to become happy, fulfilled and fully-rounded human beings.
My latest evening read is ‘The Happiness Hypothesis’ by Jonathan Haidt. My progress through the book is increasingly slow as we reach the end of term, but it has proved a fascinating read thus far in clarifying what we perhaps all know, deep-down, about what makes us truly happy. Haidt describes the ‘Hedonic Treadmill’, or our ability to quickly adapt to an improvement in circumstance: a sunny day after a cloudy one will make you happy, but months of sunny days will not. One conclusion: rather than strive for material possessions we should look for experiences, ideally shared, to make us happy.
There are many ways in which we can have experiences that enrich our lives, and I hope that our school can contribute in a small way towards providing these. On Monday night we saw one such example with our first ever external ‘Rock School’ gig at the Portland Arms in Cambridge. In the short space of two years we have gone from 0 to 17 bands in the school, and having the opportunity to play in such an iconic venue will provide memories to cherish. It was certainly an event I will remember for a long time.
We also have a number of trips going out over the Easter period, mostly exchange visits organised by our Modern Languages department. Not only will these be great experiences, but they are also the opportunity to form lifelong friendships, another non-material aspect of life proven to increase happiness. I am grateful to those colleagues who are giving up their time to accompany these trips.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish our Year 11 well in their GCSE exams. They will be returning after Easter, but these have been our final days together in ‘normal’ (I use the term loosely!) school. We have enjoyed their company during their time with us and we aim to continue to support them as best we can throughout the exam season. It may be too much of a stretch to link the experience of taking exams with a significant increase in happiness, but I do hope they get a satisfaction from having the opportunity to demonstrate all they have learnt up to this point.
As the Spring term comes to a close it provides a great opportunity to look back at what has been a brilliant term of sport.
We are becoming established on the Senior School boys’ hockey circuit and have produced some good results at both U12 and U13 level. The last few weeks have been spent preparing the U13s for the step up to 11-a-side fixtures and the boys are already adapting well.
Once again we have had a remarkable season on the netball court. With a record number of fixtures played across the year groups, and at times six teams from the same year all playing, it is safe to say that netball at the Stephen Perse accommodates all ages and abilities.
More players this season have qualified to play for Satellite and County and one has gone on to be part of the Saracens Mavericks squad who are the Superleague team that we are in partnership with.
The season concluded with very competitive U12 and U13 netball house matches. The standard of netball on display was plain to see and the depth in quality that we currently have is very impressive. Street were crowned 2019 winners with Kennett securing the runners up spot.
The U13 girls’ indoor cricket team played in the annual Lady Taverners County Cricket Tournament and performed brilliantly to finish as runners up. A great deal was learned on the day and Mr Taylor reported that with some sharper running between the wickets they may well have clinched the cup.
The Summer Term is looming and the groundsmen will be busy preparing the various areas for cricket, athletics and tennis. The Year 7 and 8 pre-season cricket camps are set to be very well attended and this should give the teams a healthy springboard into the season.
For all the other fixture news and results remember to check the website www.stephenpersesport.com and follow us on twitter @SPFSport.
Thanks to all who took part in the Summer Fair 2019 survey - please use the following Google Drive link to view the results: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Dfvrt_hK4zDDOf2EIwS6WqzG7X2BPZKl We plan to have an evening event on Friday 28 June at the Senior School - we might do well to position this as a mini-mid-Summer Festival, with food/drink, music, games and associated fun things.
We're looking for additional volunteers for the organising committee and we are happy to receive additional thoughts for the fair/festival - so if you'd like to get involved (it is a fun thing to do overall!) please do get in touch via ClassList or by email on: email@example.com
Next PFA meeting
The next PFA meeting is at the Senior School at 8pm on Wednesday 1 May 2019. If you'd like to make suggestions for PFA activities and events, or otherwise get involved in organisation and volunteering for these, please do come along. We'll lay on some refreshments for anyone who comes.
If you'd like to add your 2p on any or all of the above, then please do get involved by contacting the PFA directly either via your year-rep / the PFA committee on ClassList or by email on: firstname.lastname@example.org