When I sat down to write my edition of Headspace last week, I reflected on the comforting predictability of the school calendar. There was no need to refer back to what I wrote a year ago because, thanks to the cyclical nature of things, I knew that common themes would emerge. We had just enjoyed our annual harvest assembly; rehearsals were underway for the school musical; Momentum, our annual dance show, was… well, gaining momentum. It was ironic, therefore, that Sunday evening brought something unforeseen – a last-minute change to our staffing plans meant that I found myself heading down the M4 towards Boughrood on Monday morning to join the second Year 10 trip (three days earlier than I had planned). No hint of the “comforting predictability” I had anticipated. Canoeing down a canal, land-cart building, welly wanging, and spending time with our students (who were all delightful) were all very welcome additions to my week, however, and I would happily add these activities to my yearly schedule.
Nevertheless, I want to return to the theme I had intended to explore last week because we have reached that particular time of year when we give thanks for what we have, show consideration for others and celebrate the many projects and initiatives that are coming to fruition. There is an abundance of good things at Brighton Girls and, with a satisfying sense of fullness, there is an opportunity to pause and reflect on the progress we have made over the last year.
As we begin Black History Month 2021, there is change happening in the school. Mr Bashford has taken on a new role as Head of Diversity and Inclusion; Maya in Year 13 recently addressed staff about her experience of being a person of colour in the school; our Anti-Racism Committee has suggested pre-Transatlantic slave trade African cultures for the school’s focus during Black History Month, an often overlooked area of history; in our assembly on Monday, two black students talked about their family heritage, making connections to African tribes and civilisations; this coming Monday, we have our third staff training session with Watch This Sp_ce, a local diversity and inclusion consultancy, who will tackle the theme of anti-racism; and, just before half term, the Senior school will come together for the House Song competition, the theme for which is ‘Music of Black Origin’. We have a long way to go, of course, but we are making progress.
As we celebrated harvest this morning and saw the generous contributions to the City Mission food bank, I felt thankful for the work of the Guild and proud that the spirit of charitable endeavour that has been part of our school since the 1870s is as strong now as it has ever been. In fact, I feel this is something else that is gaining momentum – our students are acutely aware of their privilege and express a willingness to give back to the community. I was delighted to receive a visit from two Year 9 students recently with a request for more volunteering opportunities – a timely request as it happens. I am soon to meet a fellow trustee from the Friends of Brighton & Hove Hospitals to discuss how we might establish a ‘Young Friends’ group in school and, yesterday, we met volunteers from the charity Sanctuary on Sea to explore ways in which we might support migrant refugees and those seeking asylum in our city. Earlier in the week, Jo Cresswell, one of our school Governors, pointed us in the direction of The Hummingbird Project – a Brighton-based organisation offering support to young refugees.
It is heartening to see so many connections being made and opportunities created – opportunities that our students are keen to take and connections that will, in time, help to nourish our local community.