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.
I am writing this having just returned from an enjoyable and uplifting evening at a local pub. Those of you who know me will realise that this is an unlikely place for me to be spending a weekday evening during term time, but I can assure you it was well worth while. Dame B’s staff were invited to attend an evening during which some of our ex-pupils, now at the Senior School, were taking part in an evening of entertainment featuring their rock bands. We were delighted, but not surprised, at the level of talent on show and the obvious enjoyment that both the students themselves and their appreciative audience (admittedly made up almost entirely of adoring parents, relatives and staff) derived from it.
Wellbeing is an important buzzword of the moment, and it was clear that these students’ wellbeing was bolstered and fed by the pleasure of creating, performing and sharing their music. Our commitment to the importance of our students’ wellbeing is reflected in the recent appointment of our Head of Wellbeing across the foundation Ferre Laevers. Emotional well being and involvement scales are a good starting point for the consideration of children’s mental health and subsequent engagement with learning. He states that “Well-being focuses on the extent to which pupils feel at ease, act spontaneously, show vitality and self-confidence. It is a crucial component of emotional intelligence and good mental health.” This sits comfortably alongside our own ethos and reflects our belief that effective learning will only take place when pupils are emotionally comfortable and confident.
Our youngest pupils happily welcomed their grandparents to share in their learning last Friday, with both age groups expressing pride and delight in what was being done and achieved. On the same day every single one of our Prep pupils took to the stage at Saffron Hall for our third annual concert. From Year 3’s Gamelan performance, through Jazz Band and Rock Band to the choral finale, the children’s delight in performing was clear. The contribution that artistic discovery and performance make to wellbeing are beyond dispute, and it is vital to the wellbeing of all our pupils that each one find an avenue to express and enjoy artistic creativity.
This is equally true of sport and physical wellbeing, and the range of extra curricular opportunities we offer reflects this too, drawing on the passions and enthusiasms of staff to inspire the children and give them the opportunities to try out new skills in a safe and relaxed environment.
At the start of next term we are invited to join the first Walk to School event being promoted by Saffron Walden against Climate Change (SWACC). The focus of this initiative is on not only our own wellbeing but also on that of our environment and, ultimately, of our planet. We want our pupils to realise that each one of them can make a small but significant difference.
The wellbeing of two of our staff has been significantly enhanced over the last couple of weeks with the arrival of the latest additions to the Dame B’s community. Many congratulations to Tom Hannaway and his wife on the arrival of Max Peter, and to Sam Godfrey and his wife who welcomed their daughter Florence Gracie into the world last Friday. We know that they will both make fantastic dads!
With my best wishes to you all for a relaxing break,
The long awaited music and dance spectacle ‘Music for Celebration’ concert was held at the stunning Saffron Hall on Friday 29 March. Pupils from Prep performed a multi-cultural, multi-lingual medley of songs which blew the audience away.
The Spring term sports fixtures came to a close with the U11 football and netball teams playing host to Widford Lodge last week. The visitors proved too strong on the netball court securing two victories, whilst the U11 A football lost with the B team gaining a well deserved victory.
House matches during the past two weeks, have also provided all of the pupils with the opportunity to play competitive sport on the football pitch and netball court this term. All of the children have competed admirably with games being played in great spirit. Valuable house points have been gained which will contribute towards the house shield at the end of the Summer term.
We are looking forward to the cricket and athletics seasons starting after the holidays and on behalf of everyone in the PE department we wish you a restful and happy Easter break.
Keep up to date with the latest goings on within the department by following us on Twitter @ DBS_Sport.
Save the date for our first ever joint PTA and DBS Sports Dame Bradbury’s family fun run in aid of CRUK and EACH (East Anglia Children’s Hospice, chosen by Dame Bradbury’s school council). This will be on the morning of Sunday 19 May at Carver Barracks, and we are putting the emphasis on the fun and enjoyment of taking part! More details and registration to follow.
Following on from this we have the chance to party at the Biennial Dame Bradbury’s Summer Ball being held on Saturday 8 June at Chesterford Research Park. Tickets will go on sale soon!
An exciting day for Kindergarten and Reception with a visit from a fire engine! A huge thank you to Kevin and Nigel for showing us around and even letting us have a go at squirting water from the hose ? https://t.co/PFxZnx03SE