Welcome to our first edition of The Wetherbridge for 2021. As you know, we spend a great deal of time fostering your children’s hobbies and interests at the school, and this was the premise for establishing the Notable Neighbours speaker series in 2018. As we know, classroom success is only one aspect in the road to genuine fulfillment and it was good to hear about some of the activities your children had been up to during the holidays.

I know that for many of us, it feels like time has stood still over the last year. Several of my colleagues and Heads have commented that it has been challenging to find forward momentum. Whilst there have been many positives, with people coming together in spectacular fashion for the greater good (community values strong and at the forefront), others have found it hard to plan and master the ever-changing field of new developments. As we move swiftly into the new calendar year, January at WPNY is all about looking ahead and this month in 2021, will be no different to any other year in that respect. As a teaching team we start to look at new curriculum content, review our school development plan and schedule new events and speakers for the new school year from September. We are meeting our new families and it has been inspiring to welcome the new and vibrant energy this annual process affords us. I always feel it is key to plan with strength and confidence and now more than ever. We shall be communicating on all aspects as the next few months unfold.

I was pleased to welcome many of the Grade 3 families to our ‘Looking Ahead to Grade 4’ evening on Tuesday this week. This was designed to give a brief snapshot of curriculum content for our children at the top of the school. In support, Miss Wood spoke on English, Maths and Science and Mr Kinsey gave a brief outline of Sport and PE. Overviews were given on Spanish and supporting curriculum areas. Mr Anderson presented developments in the Music Department, Mr Stephenson on Digital Literacy and EdTech and Mrs Friend on social responsibility and citizenship. From Grade 4, we shall introduce the use of ‘Century Tech’, (AI) artificial intelligence software to enhance and support pupil performance in English, Maths and Science. I shall be inviting you all to a parent workshop, run by the ‘Century Tech’ team, if you are interested in learning more. Whilst this can be used by students from Grade 2 and above, the basic concept and ability will be of interest to you all at the school.

I was further keen to highlight the importance of public speaking as a critical component of the school curriculum. Helping your children build confidence, becoming leaders in their own lives is a central part of our school philosophy. From Grade 4 next year, weekly sessions will help develop the children’s’ ability to speak passionately about both academic topics and social issues. The key aim is to unlock the power of the individual voice and inspire the children to communicate with confidence and power. Being able to speak openly with strength and without fear is a gift, and one step towards producing confident articulate leaders of the future. We are most excited to develop this over the coming years at the school.

In my Grade 3 Shakespeare class in the last two weeks we have been discussing the idea of commemorating life works and talent (we had been celebrating the life of William Shakespeare and his rise to global appreciation and recognition). In our Friday Assembly last week, Miss Wood took the helm and we commemorated the life of Martin Luther King Jr, ahead of the long weekend and public holiday on Monday. This was an exceptional end to the week, deeply moving and inspiring for us all. Commemoration can manifest in so many ways and the small park on 96th and Fifth is a lovely example of this. If you take the chance to stop and look around, the wooden benches are all adorned with named plaques. In 1986 in New York, the institution Adopt-A-Bench was created. It is engaged in supporting the infrastructure of Central Park – with thousands of benches and surrounding landscapes. To date, the organisation has already helped “adopt” more than 6,800 benches. In recognition of the contribution to the park’s foundation, the Conservancy will install a personalised sign on a park bench of the donor’s choice. One playtime, these two signs got the Grade 2 class talking and we felt that Alfred and Marcia Freedman and Rosemary Carroll Hearn (with her commemorative plaque inscribed with ‘patience, fortitude and perseverance’) would have been welcome members of our school community.