At the end of a very exciting year the Princial, Jacqueline Hughes-Williams considers how our school renews and changes as we prepare to celebrate our Diamond Jubilee:
The end of term is a time for reflection and evaluation and our thanks go out to everyone who has supported us in so many varied ways. As this academic year closes we not only say goodbye to twelve months but to yet another decade in our history; September sees the start of Heart of England’s Diamond Jubilee. Our school is neither old nor new; its evolving context and culture have inevitably been influenced by what went before and our future depends upon the strength and delivery of our present vision which is committed to building upon the best of the past.
This academic year began with an assembly that was centred on the 2016 Summer Olympics and the concept of achieving not just gold, silver or bronze but striving for, and achieving, personal bests. I quoted R Shama who stated that, “…truly enlightened people never seek to be like others. Rather they seek to be superior to their former selves. Don’t race against others. Race against yourself.” So many members of our school community have embraced this idea and achieved great outcomes on so many fronts.
Reading our website news blog (that covers just some of the key events of the past three terms) the richness of our academic and extra-curricular offer shines through. Having become a directly licenced centre for the Duke of Edinburgh Award we have augmented our offer from bronze to silver this year and are planning to deliver gold in 2017/18. We have held both US and UK student elections focusing on the centrality of democracy in parallel with the national and international events. Our students have once again been fortunate enough to visit the Hadron Collider at CERN, helping to inspire our next generation of scientists. Our students have achieved great success in the Maths Challenge, public speaking events and Chef of the Year Awards. We gained 43 medals at the Solihull Borough Swimming Gala, continue from strength to strength in selected sports and have a world champion dancer in year 10! Nick Skelton’s visit was a highlight of the autumn and our students have been fortunate enough to attend workshops held by successful writers as we consolidate our whole school DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) initiative. Music, Art and Drama continue to flourish at Heart of England. Educational visits to galleries, the Cavern in Liverpool, theatre visits, the recent musical tour of Austria, our Chamber Choir performing at Warwick Arts Centre and our sell out school production of The Sound of Music are to name but a few of the exciting events that have punctuated the year and exemplify the concept Shama expresses so clearly.
Our academic focus continues to centre upon a broad and balanced curriculum strengthened by an enlightened assessment framework. The futures we create are diverse, spanning routes into work via universities of first choice or other pathways such as apprenticeships. At the heart of our offer is the clear determination to ensure that our students stick with what is difficult in order to achieve their personal best.
When we return in September it will be to even further improvements in our physical environment, with detailed plans in place to refurbish classrooms and study facilities in both the main school and sixth form. On a final note, as Heart of England School leaves its fifties behind, it has been another positive year seeing much change and much consolidation, all delivered with characteristic hard work, humour and great kindness. I will sign off with an overheard remark made by one of our students after a House assembly “ …that makes me want to be a better version of me.” Now there’s a student with the courage to race against themselves!