We’ve made it to the end of a long and eventful week – a momentous week for Brighton Girls. The two halves of our school have reunited on one site and we have welcomed new staff and new students – the celebratory burst of sunshine on Wednesday seemed to herald a bright new chapter for the school. There had been times earlier in the week when I half-expected Anneka Rice to descend in a helicopter. Our site team worked round the clock to get the school ready for the start of term; our administrative staff were redeployed once again to deliver lateral flow tests (the Dance studio having already been repurposed as a temporary testing centre), our caterers were busy finalising the new menus for the Autumn Term, and our IT team gearing up to distribute 274 Chromebooks. In the end, there was no need for Anneka or (sadly) her pink and blue ‘80s jumpsuit because, as I have written many times, we have one of the best teams here at Brighton Girls and, when we all pull together, it’s a sight to behold.
In my first Headspace of the year, I want to thank everybody who has worked so hard over the summer to deliver phase one of our Designing the Future project and I want to emphasise once again how proud I am to be part of this community. To new parents, welcome; to existing parents, thank you for your support thus far.
With any change comes the inevitable disruption. As we settle into new routines and adapt to the changes necessitated by the temporary loss of the Temple building as it begins its transformation, we will encounter frustrations; but what I can promise is the patience to listen, and a team that works with creativity and with a solution-focused approach. Every time I have asked a question of Rachel Burt, our Domestic Service Manager, this week, her response has been the same: “It’s okay; I have a plan”. This is exactly the spirit we hope to instil in our students and, indeed, this very same message was delivered by Professor Bill Lucas when he came to Brighton Girls on Monday and spoke to staff about creativity, having a shared language and the importance of collaboration.
To ensure that we are all on message, I chose togetherness and supporting one another as the theme of my first assembly of the year and looked back to the Tokyo Olympics. So many positive messages emerged from the 2021 Games, as the podium became the platform for mental health awareness, and for the celebration of equality and diversity. After all the athletes had been through to get there – training schedules disrupted by COVID-19 – the Olympics provided proof that the old adage, “It’s not the winning but the taking part that counts”, really does ring true.
For me, however, what really stood out was the sense community. It was there in the skateboarding events: alongside the breath-taking displays of courage and resilience there was genuine friendship and mutual respect on show. It was there in the men’s high-jump final, when Barshim and Tamberi shared that gold medal – a fitting outcome for two athletes, friends and competitors, who had supported each other through many injury-plagued years. It was there every time we glimpsed families back home, supporting loved ones from the other side of the world. In Tokyo, the spotlight shone not only on the athlete on the podium, but on the people who had helped to get them there.
To underline the point, I played the closing credits from the BBC’s Olympic coverage which juxtaposed sporting triumphs with clips of friends and family and I encouraged students to think about our community at the start of the new term – to consider ways in which they could support one another and to reflect on all the people who are there in the background, helping them towards their goals.
There will be many ways for you to get involved in the community of Brighton Girls this year. Thank you to everyone who is helping with the Brighton Marathon events this weekend. I look forward to working with some of you at our water station. We are delighted, this year, to be able to welcome parents onto the site for House events, plays, social events and sports matches. On this note, I would like to invite you all to support Brighton Theatre who are staging their multi-award-winning one-man show, Mozzz, on Tuesday 21st September at 6pm. A few weeks ago, Brighton Theatre were looking for an alternative venue for their show and were keen to reach a new audience. As a trustee of the theatre, there was only one response available: “It’s okay”, I said, “I have a plan!” (… and also a stage and a potential audience). We are encouraging all students to come along, particularly those in Years 9 to 11, to whom the Biology Department will be providing extra academic enrichment and some scientific context.
The Arts have struggled through the pandemic and this is part of our effort to support the sector as a whole but, on a more local level, to support Brighton Girls governor and alumna, Faynia Williams, one half of Brighton Theatre and director of the show. Come and experience “a week in the life of an undercover mosquito” and, in doing so, celebrate the strength of our community.