It’s the beginning of the school year, in England at least.
50 years ago, I was just starting school at Eaton House, on Eaton Square in Westminster – the same pre-prep school as Bear Grylls, as it happens, though he was there some time after me. My uniform included a green blazer, green cap and green, knee-length socks with red bands. I don’t remember very much. Lunch was taken in the basement, in complete silence. Mrs Ingham, the headmistress, terrified me. But I loved reading.
40 years ago, I was entering my ‘O’ level year at Wycliffe College in Gloucestershire. Blue blazer; red, black, purple and silver striped tie. In the ‘scholarship stream’, I had been fast-tracked to these exams, so I would be only 14 when I sat them. I’d given up Geography in favour of Latin. Mr Wright, the physics teacher, terrified me. I still loved reading.
30 years ago, I had just begun what was to be my last year as a classroom teacher at Chadsmead Junior in Lichfield before I moved to a Deputy Headship in Sussex. I had a class of amazing Y5 and Y6 pupils, who made every day an exciting one for a young teacher. I hope I didn’t terrify any of them. I hope I instilled in them my love of reading.
20 years ago, I was moving into what would be my last year as a headteacher. Manor Farm Junior School in High Wycombe was also where I faced my first (and only) Ofsted inspection. The staff with whom I worked were energetic, gifted and absolutely committed to ensuring that our pupils left primary education with all the skills, behaviours and attitudes they needed to succeed. I did terrify one of the additional Ofsted inspectors so much that he informed his lead inspector that he’d “lost the confidence of the Head”. We all enjoyed reading the final report – “A very good school with some outstanding features”.
Even though I’m no longer in school, September still feels like the beginning of the year. I don’t have the same jitters and sleepless nights that I used to, but tomorrow still holds the promise of as yet unrealised potential and the excitement of new beginnings.
If you’re making a fresh start in the morning, here are some thoughts from a few people to help inspire you in the next week ahead, and perhaps even a little further:
- The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today – H. Jackson Brown, Jr
- What we think, we become – Buddha
- Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible – Francis of Assisi
- Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it – Steve Jobs
- If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door – Milton Berle
- Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts – Winston Churchill
- Action is the foundational key to all success – Pablo Picasso
- However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at – Stephen Hawking
- Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence – Vince Lombardi
- Believe you can and you’re halfway there – Theodore Roosevelt
- If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride – and never quit, you’ll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards – Paul Bryant
- Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known – Carl Sagan
- You must do the things you think you cannot do – Eleanor Roosevelt
- I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’ – Muhammad Ali
- Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world – Malala Yousafzai
- I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine – Neil Armstrong
- It is never too late to be what you might have been – George Eliot
Have a great new term…