A Different Start
When starting the first term of the year, like many fellow pupils, we knew we would have to adjust to school life in these unprecedented COVID 19 times. Anxious yet eager to return, we were excited to immerse ourselves in our duties and have been thrilled to witness the camaraderie and brilliance with which our school community has overcome the many challenges.
Our roles as Heads of School have been somewhat different so far. However some key events which have taken place include our Remembrance Day service, which was live streamed to the whole school community, with Bethan playing the Last Post and Hanaan laying a wreath on behalf of the Heads of School. We were lucky that technology allowed all pupils across the Prep and Senior Schools to be involved in remembering those who died in the World Wars. We also delivered a virtual whole school assembly on leadership, each choosing figures we thought were good examples of leaders - luckily, we all remembered to ‘unmute’ when it was our turn to speak!
Bethan spoke about Sir David Attenborough and how his enthusiasm and passion for the living world around us has helped him raise awareness across the globe of the importance of the natural world. His ability to communicate well, in a way all ages can understand, means people want to listen to him. This is a great quality of a leader, because conveying passion for what you do and communicating effectively helps you build trusting relationships in a team.
Also, he is willing to speak out on subjects he feels are important. For example, some of his more recent programmes have covered topical issues such as plastic contamination in our oceans, climate change destroying animal habitats and the destructive impact on ecosystems that we are having as a human race. His proactivity in engaging with world ambassadors about doing more to combat this crisis has shown him to be a leader in a key area of protecting life on this planet for future generations.
Hanaan spoke about Mary Seacole, a British-Jamaican nurse who set up the ‘British Hotel’ behind the frontlines of the Crimean War, nursing and providing a refuge for hundreds of wounded and dying soldiers. However, her path to heroism was not clear cut. When volunteering to help the war effort, the British War Council refused to let her travel to Crimea, and funding was refused on the basis of her being a black woman. Despite this injustice, Mary Seacole used her own resources to travel, and tended to the soldiers on the battlefield. She showed leadership and determination to persevere and do what she believed to be right, and showed resilience against those who judged her, which can inspire us all today, and lead us all to follow her example.
Upon her return to England after the war, Mary Seacole was celebrated by soldiers due to the significant impact she had made on the battlefront, but her legacy was soon forgotten about. In more recent years however, there have been greater efforts to acknowledge her fantastic achievements, with the NHS giving leadership awards for nursing in her name, and her activities being widely taught in schools. This most recent recognition not only gives us hope as we work towards a more accepting and progressive society, but also emphasises how not only should we judge people by the merit of their actions, but also be compassionate and caring to all those around us.
Will discussed the important role that Jacinda Ardern has played in setting an example of leadership embodied by compassion, selflessness and resilience. When New Zealand grieved following the 2019 terrorist attack, she stated that kindness and love were the most important things for the country, putting an emphasis on what unites them instead of focusing on the hatred of the few.
In addition, her success as a leader, embodied by her re-election, has been hugely important for promoting the image of women in the workplace globally. She managed her pregnancy during her first term, and all of the media coverage that came with it, in a manner which showed her resilience and dedication. More recently, her decisive action has meant that New Zealand is much closer to returning to a normal state, having managed to mitigate the impacts of COVID 19. The success of her presidency has been invaluable for driving forward the role of women in politics and other industries alike.
One thing the last several months have taught us is that current affairs are more pertinent to our lives than ever before. Moving forward we would like to get our fellow pupils across the years engaged in relevant matters with discussions to progress their ideas and involve them in thinking about current affairs and events in the news. It is a skill that we have seen is particularly important for the Sixth Form curriculum, and so we think it would be great to get pupils engaged in it before they reach this point.
We would also like to say what a pleasure it has been to join our Solihull community with the Saint Martin’s community this year. We hope to put in place more opportunities for interaction across the whole school, 3-18, to bring both campuses closer together.
While we are sadly starting the Easter term on Teams, life at Solihull is as busy and exciting as ever, and we can’t wait to be back in school as soon as possible.
Bethan, Hanaan and Will
Heads of School
Pictured Head of School, Bethan (centre) and her Deputies Hanaan (left) and Will (right).