Educating the whole child
by Richard Gill and Neil Warner
Headteachers, Arthur Terry School
Many schools, including Arthur Terry, often talk about 'educating the whole child'. It's a lovely phrase and we all agree with it, in principle. It's easy to band about phrases though, so what does it mean? What does it look like? We think it is about three key traits: understanding, love and nurture.
In order to understand young people, you have to become a young person yourself. To see that their perceptions, however misguided sometimes, are their realities and they need to be explained, acknowledged and understood. Children see things with the utmost clarity because they have not yet developed the filters that adults have that prevent us from seeing the things we don't expect to see. You have to understand young people individually, what makes them 'tick' in order to hook them and engage them and relate to them.
Love is rarely found in the mission statements of schools; but it should be. To educate the whole child is to love their idiosyncrasies, harness them and celebrate them. To acknowledge differences and see them as making up the rich tapestry of having a school full of over 1700 different personalities all adding so much to our day. The opposite of love shouldn't be hate, it should actually be indifference. If you don't love, then how can you care?
The final ingredient is nurture. If you want to grow a giant Redwood or oak tree, you have to nurture the sapling. What is most important though, is that you have to work out what might potentially stop it growing. What barriers might be put in the way and how you can overcome them to make the tree stronger, less susceptible and more resilient.
As we approach the end of another half term and, in fact half way through the academic year, developing the whole child continues to be a priority for us. You will have seen the latest press articles and on our websites which place Arthur Terry yet again top of all comprehensives in Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield and top 30 nationally. We are so pleased to have been acknowledged as academically successful but there are no league tables for other things equally as important: for the opportunities, the friendships forged, the life lessons learned, the extra- curricular activities that increase confidence in our young people. In order to succeed academically, you need to be happy, have people understand you, love you and nurture you. Only then can you begin to develop other qualities and skills that you never thought you had.
Have a wonderful half term break.