Having had a break from Challoner during my two year secondment to St John’s in Gravesend it has allowed me to come back this year and look at Challoner afresh. This has been invaluable in helping me to appreciate the wide and diverse curriculum offer outside of the normal academic curriculum.
While our number one priority this year has been about developing “everyday excellence” in the classroom and starting to embed formative assessment, we have remained focussed on this wider curriculum and have begun the process of developing a shared language that we can use in school to express the characteristics and values that we already develop in our young people and can use both inside and outside the classroom.
Our philosophy is that learning (and teaching) does not stop at the classroom door but is part of everything we do and is enhanced and developed through this wider curriculum.
To give one small example of how this works in practice is Year 7 Camp. I was privileged to go down and spend a day there with each half of Year 7 and what I witnessed was a truly full education that exemplified many of the characteristics and values that have come up time and again in conversations with Senior Leaders, colleagues, Governors and parents: creativity; resilience; empathy; humour; faith; independence etc….
It is important to remember that this does not happen by chance but is carefully considered and purposefully executed. It is also worth noting that it is built on a bedrock of high expectations. If we didn’t have high expectations in relation to the “little things” in day to day school life, I don’t think we would be able to offer and execute all the other things that make up this excellent wider curriculum offer.
It really all starts with doing ordinary things extraordinarily well. We are then able to build on that.
I am reminded of the Gospel Passage about the man who built his home on rock. It took time and perseverance but was worth it when the storms came.
I want to thank all the staff who have given so willingly to ensure that we are able to offer this wider (not extra) curriculum and all the students who seize the opportunities that are there for them.
Sean Maher – 1st July 2016