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What a year it has been; packed full of memorable experiences for the girls at Blackheath High School and wonderful opportunities. This final fortnight has been no different, with a fantastic Senior Sports Day and Sports Awards evening; Bright Horizons event for Year 10 and 12; a wonderful family camp night organised so generously by the BHSA; a stunning Sixth Form Ball and Year 6 leavers’ party at Wemyss Road followed by a heart-warming summer concert and a wonderful Year 6 and Year 7-9 Prize-giving ceremonies. Every event has needed a real team effort from site staff; parents; teachers; support staff; girls and our catering and cleaning teams, and that #BlackheathHighspirit has been evident in bucket loads. I am incredibly grateful to each and every one of you for the support of the school. Particular thanks also to our catering team, Accent, for sponsoring our Sixth Form Ball this year and giving them that extra special send off.
At Seniors and at the Year 6 Prize-giving this week, I spoke to the girls about the value of optimism and maintaining a positive outlook. At the GDST Summit this term, I was particularly struck by the comments from Sir David Bell (Vice Chancellor, University of Reading) who suggested that optimism was a much underrated quality in young people and something we should actively seek to foster and encourage. It is a simple premise but thought-provoking. Busy information-filled lives can sometimes mean we overlook the simple pleasures of the everyday and remembering to teach our young people to choose a positive outlook can really help them to develop positive mental health strategies
In teenagers in particular, when they begin to hold strong and permanent beliefs about personality or ability (“I’m no good at Maths", "Nobody likes me”), this can be paralysing and mean teenagers have no faith in the future, closing them off to the possibility of good things happening, and tipping them towards depressive thinking. All the more important then, to get our young people into positive optimistic mental habits from as young an age as possible. Studies have shown that even a brief intervention emphasises how people can change. Teenage students who read articles about the brain’s capacity for growth and learning (brain plasticity and ‘growth mindset’ concepts) were more likely to develop resilience and a positive outlook for example.
With that in mind, I talked to the girls about the ultimate optimist: Pooh Bear and his friend Piglet. Pooh is great at seeing a potential new adventure in every day and has much to teach us all about simple pleasures:
“What day is it today?” asked Pooh.
“It’s today” squeaked Piglet
“My favourite day!" Said Pooh.
Sidekick Piglet also offers some little gems about being grateful for the small things: “Piglet noticed, even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
I hope there there are plenty of everyday adventures for you and the girls over the summer and they have time and space to appreciate and feel gratitude for all they have. Thank you for all you have done in supporting us and I look forward to another great year ahead in September.