I recently saw a piece of writing on a wall in Manchester which said 'The future is unwritten...' This immediately made me think of our students with their whole lives ahead of them and wondered whether they truly realised that they were the authors of their own lives? I, like many people I know, have been reflecting of late on the number of people who seemed to have passed away over the past 12 months from the worlds of entertainment; many of whom were central to the culture that I grew up in. The reality however is that whether it is the future we plan or past we reflect on, the real importance is ensuring that make the most of the present. I am a huge fan of the ex Chicago Bulls basketball player Michael Jordan who once said "some people want it to happen, some people wish it would happen, others make it happen." If we can then make it happen; how do we best do it? Returning again to Michael Jordan he was often quoted as saying "I've always believed that if you put the work in then the results will come". The results are things that we cannot control; they are things that have too many external factors for us to even try to! The thing we can control is our effort, the amount of work that we put into something. This is why we challenge our students to be the best they can be, I believe this is truly the only question that we need to ask ourselves in the pursuit of our goals
Waiting for examination results is ultimately one of the most nerve wracking things that most of us experience in education. For students they are often waiting for the confirmation that they have achieved the necessary grades to make that next all important step, maybe on to Sixth Form or University. Waiting for examination results is also a nervous time for teachers, after putting so much work into supporting the young people in their classes they want to ensure that they have achieved to the maximum of their potential. The wait for the examination results days at Morecambe Community High School were no different this year. The real excitement comes however when we see our students open their envelopes and finally have hold of the examination results that they have been working so hard to achieve. It has been such a pleasure to be able to celebrate with so many students at both GCSE and Post 16 who have achieved wonderful examination success. For those that now leave us, they do so with a sense of excitement at what lays ahead. There are many that will move away from their homes for the first time and begin to forge an exciting path ahead. For us in school we now turn to ensuring that we are working to maximise the success of all of our students in school so that when their day comes the experience of opening the examination envelope is one of joy and celebration. No matter what the grade, what the individual situation our challenge remains the same, be the best you can be.
After much preparation Monday saw the launch of our new Behaviour Policy at Morecambe Community High School. If you have not yet managed to do so, I would encourage you to look through the policy by clicking on to the Key Documents tab and the selecting the policies option. I have been delighted in particular to see how many of our students have been talking about the rewards side of the policy. Rewards points are collected in lessons and centrally recorded so that all staff may see who is being rewarded for what, when and by whom. Our parents will shortly begin to receive text messages when a pupil reaches 25 rewards points and star badges will be handed out at different points totals in order that it be very clear to all in the school how many rewards points they achieving. A clear Behaviour Policy and excellent behaviour in lessons is one of the cornerstones for good learning. Myself and Mr Armitstead explained to students this week that any behaviour that stopped learning and teaching would not be tolerated. Our new policy allows for very clear warnings to be given to students who are not following our clear expectations. There are a clear set of consequences and we have increased our isolation provision to ensure those reaching a certain number of behaviour points will be removed from lessons for a period of time. It is important that we as a community re-enforce the high expectations we have of behaviour and conduct, I have no doubt that our parents will want to do this too. We will also be in a position to communicate to our parents the numbers of rewards and sanctions points that their children are picking up every time we report on progress. Our central recording will also mean that we can provide more detailed information on request. It is the rewards element of this policy however that excites me the most. The most common conversation that I have had with students this week, so far, is the number of rewards points that they have collected and seeing how good it made them feel to have their efforts recognised. I woudl encourage all of our parents to ask their sons and daughters, "how many rewards points have you received this week?" We hope you enjoy hearing all about the success that they have at Morecambe Community High School.
There are certain times in your life when you are inspired by people who meet or hear; last week was one of those ocassions for us at Morecambe Community High School. Year 11 students at Morecambe Community High School spent Tuesday morning in the company of one of the greatest legends to play the game of Rugby League. Jamie Peacock MBE captained both Great Britain and England in a career that spanned 16 years playing in the top flight. Year 11 student Amber Dickson said that “I found this very inspiring and made me think about how much more I could achieve if I went the extra mile”. Ben Salem said, “It made me want to keep dreaming big”. Jamie talked through what he believed were the five keys to his success over his career and how hard work can prevail when you do not have the greatest natural talent. These included focuses such as the importance of goal setting, going the extra mile and surrounded yourself with people who are going to positively influence you. One member of the teaching staff commented “It is great to see how down to earth he was; just a normal guy who faces the same internal struggles we all do. He showed though how you can overcome, even when all of the odds seem to be stacked against you”. Jamie signed five England shirts and the school will be presenting them to the students in year 11 who embody most the five characteristics that he talked about.
What do you believe about your own abilities? Are they fixed or are they limitless? Do you believe you have the ability to achieve anything that you choose to put your mind to, or are those great achievements in life reserved for others? Gary Player famously said “People say I am lucky, you know, the more I practice the luckier I get”. Marva Collins tells us “If you don’t give anything, don’t expect anything. Success is not coming to you; you must come to it”. We have talked a great deal this year about dreaming big dreams and then taking the practical first steps towards it. As we are heading into the colder and darker days of Autumn and Winter our dreams can seem a long way away. This is the time we need to ensure we have a growth mindset, believing that no matter how tough it gets we will achieve. Work habits are key. Have you established your routines? Have you surrounded yourself with people who will encourage you and build you? Have you got a growth mindset?
Psychologists tell us that it takes around twenty days to break a habit and about the same to establish one too. When I look at many of our sixth form students working hard in the library it is clear to see that many of them have established really good habits of working already. I have no doubt that these habits will ultimately be one of the key factors in bringing them success when it comes to their examinations.
When you reflect on yourself – what sort of work habits do you have? How do you ensure that you complete all of your homework to the best of your ability? How do you make sure that you make time to scan back over your notes and check for understanding or lack of? We have talked a lot about success this year and looked at many successful people. One thing that I have learnt over the years is that academic success is not something that comes by accident or indeed overnight. People who are successful in examinations were not born with a ‘clever’ gene. In almost every case they have excellent work habits or routines. They plan their weeks meticulously ensuring that every ounce of time is productive. Not all of it is spent working; sporting, social and family time are all accounted for, but the work is planned out thoroughly too. Work often takes place at the same time in the week and it always gets done to a high standard.
It is never too late to start establishing good habits. Sit down with an overview of your week on a piece of A4 paper. Put school down, any extra-curricular activities and then any regular comitments you may have. Then you will need to add your study sessions, keep to it for twenty days and you would have established a habit, one that will ultimately bring you nothing but success!
We have spent the first few weeks talking with our students about the importance of dreaming big dreams. It is vital that we have a direction that we are heading and also the confidence that we can get there. As a school we have banned the phrase “I can’t” which we have been clear point out stands for ‘I Completely Admit to Not Trying’. Instead we have replaced it with a different phrase which is “I can’t yet”. This phrase offers us hope, a belief that we will overcome and is a refusal to allow for any limitations to be put on us. The reality however is very often that the biggest challenge that we have to overcome is the little voice inside our own heads that tells us we are not good enough or that we can’t. Having a dream is often the start of our journey of defiance against that little voice in our heads that tells us that we can’t. Dreams however will never become a reality unless we do something about it, action is needed! When I was a teenager I played guitar with my friend Brenton; it was clear to see that he had a real gift for music and I felt compelled to tell him on almost every ocassion we were together to “dream big dreams”; it almost became a bit of a joke! If you look up Brenton Brown however on Google you will see that he has recorded 6 albums which you can download on iTunes or listen to on Youtube. I was playing with Brenton when he was taking his first steps in the music world. For our students the dream is important but there needs to be a practical first step, they need to do something about their dreams. This practical first step is most easy to achieve in the classroom. Give every task your best, treat every lesson as though it is your olympic final, ask questions that lead your mind beyond the learning of the classroom and when you reach something that is a struggle remember it is not that you can’t it is that you can’t yet.
I have been inspired this week by the vast numbers of young people who have arrived at school with such excellent attitudes to learning. Their appearance has been something that has demonstrated this perhaps most obviously. I believe that it is attitudes that are the biggest key to success, making the decision that you are going to achieve, be your best. Once you have made this decision it is important to work hard, something that has been made easier by the fact that you have made the decision that you are going to achieve. Avoiding distractions is another key to success. Now is the time to establish the right work habits at home. When will homework be done? When will you read over your notes in your exercise book to ensure that your understanding is the best it can be? We also need to recognise that there will be challenges along the way, this is a certainty. The key test though is how you will react?
My challenge for our students this week has been a simple one. Dream big dreams, make a decision to achieve, work hard, avoid distractions and believe that you will overcome the challenges that lay before them.