This year’s ‘Well-Being Week’ could not have been more perfectly timed. At the end of a long, dark January, everyone was in need of a boost. Time and space to focus on our personal well-being was just what we needed. What we didn’t need was to find ourselves at the epicentre of the UK’s coronavirus outbreak. I am happy to report that the Brighton Girls response was to carry on smiling and Well-being Week went on as planned.

As far as activities known to lift the spirits are concerned, we ticked every box: there were activities that involved risk-taking and challenge (like hanging upside down from a trapeze), and activities to encourage mindfulness (like crocheting and knitting). Some felt exhilarated (like those I met returning from Urban Jump), while others found inner peace, cocooned in a circus silk. Exercise, quiet time, a break from routine, fresh air – all these contribute to our well-being. But it was House Singing at the end of the week that, for me, held the key. Why?

As Ms Plank explained to us in assembly on Monday, it’s all about the moai.

To launch Well-Being Week, Ms Plank transported us to Okinawa, Japan, one of the original ‘blue zone’ hot spots, and explained to us the secret to happiness and longevity. At birth, the Okinawese are placed in a social support group known as a ‘moai’. Originally formed to pool the resources of an entire village for project or public works, today a moai is more a social support network, or second family. Ms Plank’s message was that we should cherish our friends, find our moai, and surround ourselves by positive people – this is the secret to well-being.

It struck me as I was listening to Monday’s assembly, and again as I watched House Singing, that this is exactly what we have at Brighton Girls: one large moai. During my first weeks as Head, I explained to parents the importance of community to the life of the school and how I believe that everyone has a role to play. I have been overwhelmed by the response. In just six weeks, with your help, we have set some exciting projects in motion and have established some unique partnerships. Thanks to one parent, the school will host a special exhibition during National Science Week. Others have offered to provide insights into the literary world, and contacts that could allow us access to innovation hubs, and windows into the world of STEM. A grandparent has offered to work with Support Staff as part of our values work, activities will contribute to research at the University of Brighton. Elsewhere, we have been busy creating partnerships that will provide unique opportunities for students. Beyond our immediate Brighton Girls network, we have been tapping into the wider GDST family, making contact with incredible alumnae like Jess Wade, who will be visiting in June.

As I mentioned in ‘Meet the Head’ events, the city of Brighton & Hove offers something unique and has a role to play in creating an educational experience in which girls can learn without limits. We’ve made progress here too. On Monday, we established a partnership with the Brighton Screen and Film School, something that will give our students the chance to experience workshops, and forge connections, in one of the UK’s fastest growing industries. All this is part of my pledge to create an educational experience that not only prepares girls for the future, but also makes them excited about it.

As the people of Okinawa know, it takes a village to raise a child, but at Brighton Girls the question we are asking is this:

“What would it look like if we involved, not just the village, but the entire city”.