One of the greatest pleasures of running a school and watching it grow, is seeing how the children are maturing. I have seen a marked difference this school year across all year groups and an evolving respect for ideas, conversation, thinking, relationships, learning and empathy.

The children at WPNY are encouraged to think differently and embrace curiosity. Harnessing the power of curiosity is one of the key ways to unlock a love of lifelong learning. Without being curious, it is arguably almost impossible to research, explore, observe, hypothesise, compare, empathise and take action. Curiosity is highly valued at WPNY as we constantly seek opportunities for our community to hone and amplify their questions, wonderings and problem-solving skills. Spending an hour each day at play with the Kindergarten to Grade 3 children in Central Park, is a good case in point. Whilst they enjoy their leisure time, making dens and charging around having fun together, they are also keen to engage and ask questions. This sort of interaction is a daily highlight for me as Head. No matter how busy we are, it is important to stop and answer these emerging questions and observations, as best we can. This is enabling the children to find their personal learning style and it is an imprint that will stay with them indefinitely. It is also good fun – I love it when I get asked a question I cannot answer at first (this happens quite a lot!) The questions your children ask never cease to amaze me and are such an insight into their mindset and characters. This helps them to create a foundation upon which they can build all future inquiry, so every question is a good question round here.

I also believe the weekly assembly has much to play in developing welfare, understanding and a collective culture, based on values. The quality of the weekly assemblies since September has been outstanding. Whether we are showcasing achievement and celebrating each other’s successes or coming together to consider a theme, each week the bar is raised. These assemblies are run by all members of the team and have covered World Mental Health Day, Black History Month UK, Friendship and Anti-Bullying Month. Fundamentally, we have explored together key themes of compassion, respect, acceptance and the value we should place on each other’s differences.
Over the last few weeks, Miss Wood, Mr Kinsey, Mrs Friend and Miss Cox have presented interactive assemblies which have both inspired and enthralled the children and they have made a fundamental impact on the classes. Last week, I had to run a new parent meeting, so I asked Miss Cox to record her Zoom assembly on anti-bullying, so I could watch it in the afternoon (I hate missing these occasions, as so much work goes into them). Before I got the chance to watch it, I took the Grade 1 to the Park after my meeting and was bombarded with enthusiastic questions and comments about the anti-bullying assembly. It had really got them all thinking and relating it to their own lives and to those around them. Inspiring stuff! I settled down to my computer when I got back to watch back the assembly footage. I always say that Miss Cox runs a good assembly, and this was one of her best. I really was quite moved by your children across Kindergarten to Grade 3 and it was the thoughtful and honest way they chose to answer questions and engage openly with this key topic. Helping your children to understand why bullying might happen explored the reasons, including height, eye colour, family, body shape or size, skin colour, hair colour and what we find tricky or easy to do. In some areas of the globe, this is celebrated with an ‘odd socks day’ in schools, where jazzy, colourful, non-matching socks can be worn to school. So, my message is twofold this week – that in order to help your children grow into happy, appreciated and well-adjusted young adults, we should a) value their questions and curiosity and thank them for questioning in the world around them and b) value their differences. I feel both hold the fundamental key to their future success. Your children will all go on to achieve and excel in unimaginable ways and it all starts now. What luck we can all be part of this fascinating and ever-evolving journey.

Last week, we shared with you the DOH and Governor Cuomo’s Halloween Guidelines for this weekend and these are useful for all to follow. The WPNY Team have created a safe and socially distanced solution for Halloween fun at 7E96, so they do miss out. They will love it – all we ask is that the children do not dress up and do not bring in Halloween Props to school. The creative WPNY Team have more than made up for this with the afternoon activities after Family Assembly. Let’s all have a spooky, yet safe Halloween this year.