Welcome Back - Mr Taylor September 2020

A very warm welcome back to life at Fulneck School. I know I say that every year but this year, after a break of almost 6 months for some of you, I’ve never meant it more. As we are all individuals, we will all have had very different experiences over the last six months. We’ll all be a little bit nervous today, it’s just some will be more willing to admit it than others!
I mentioned in my end of year review that I was frustrated that we hadn’t been able to act on all the changes we wanted to make, with a uniform review high on that list. I am sure you will join me, though, in recognising that there is a bigger picture and the fact that you have all returned in good health heavily outweighs anything else.

Some of the conditions that we have had to implement due to Covid-19 will make school life a little bit different. Senior School pupils and adults will wear face coverings on corridors and in indoor communal areas. Lunchtimes will need your cooperation in order to run smoothly. Until this is over, we’ll report to form rooms at the start of the day rather than the library or computer rooms.
What we have done is simply try to make this as safe an environment for all members of the community as we could. Whilst it might take some time to get used to the new conditions and rules - indeed it might take some time to get back used to the routines of school full stop - you all know what makes for good conduct.

In particular, welcome to all the new members of our community, including our new Head of English, Mrs Gleeson, teacher of Maths and Economics, Mr Omran, Head of Netball, Miss Sutcliffe and netball coach Mr Boocock. We also have a new Head of our Junior School, Miss Blanchard. How well you welcome new people is a good test of a community’s strength.
One very difficult task for me over the coming fortnight will be to appoint our new Heads of School. We had six outstanding applications – from Zara, Georgia, Joey, Ayeesha, Ethan B and Ethan N – and they will form this year’s pupil senior leadership team. Each one has lived our values and they will develop into brilliant leaders.
There will be very few amongst you who have not now heard of Captain Tom. You will recall that Captain (now Sir) Thomas Moore – born and bred just up the road in Keighley – became famous during lockdown for walking laps of his garden to raise money for NHS Charities Together. He aimed to raise £1000. By the day of his 100th birthday, he had actually raised over £30 million. You might also remember the coverage of him being knighted for his efforts by the Queen.

Why did he do it? Because he was bothered – the NHS workers deserve all the resources they can get.
Less well-known is the case of Captain Tobias. Nine years old, Tobias Weller walked a marathon over 72 days through his home streets of Sheffield in aid of a local children’s hospital and school, raising over £130000.

Why did he do it? Because he was bothered. What I didn’t tell you is that Tobias has a condition called cerebral palsy. This is a problem with the brain that develops shortly after birth and affects movement and coordination. Tobias cannot stand or walk unaided. He must have been very bothered.
I like this idea of botheredness. I think it fits perfectly with our values.

As I say to every new family, we just want you to come here and work as hard as you can. Some of you will follow the same path as Rabiah who has just left us with a string of A*s at A Level and started medical school. Some of you might choose a very different path, like Arran who has joined West Yorkshire Police. So long as you can look yourself in the mirror when you collect your results and know that you could not have tried any harder, that will do for me.

Take pride in being bothered. If you are really bothered, you won’t just complete your homework; instead, you’ll check through it at the end and go back to improve what you could have done better. If you are really bothered, when you’re set some revision, you won’t practise until you get it right; instead, you’ll practise until you don’t get it wrong.

Whether it be academic work or extra-curricular, if you’re bothered you’ll adopt the add one idea. When your Maths teacher asks you to complete ten examples, you’ll do an eleventh. When your coach asks you for twenty press-ups, you’ll do twenty-one. Successful people are bothered enough to do the extras without being asked.

You also know that at Fulneck we are as kind to each other as we can be. It costs us nothing at all to be kind and respectful, to treat others as we want to be treated ourselves. If we’re working hard and being kind, we really have no time to criticise others.

But, we should make time to back a cause. If you were outraged by the killing of George Floyd and shooting of Jacob Blake – and I think you should have been – were you sufficiently bothered to make an issue of discrimination with your friends? As some of you wrote to me about the School’s response, I know you want to help. Let’s not be naïve or complacent – if you see any form of prejudice, challenge it. This really is a time to show up and be seen.

It bothered me that we weren’t able to support SNAPS as much as we wanted due to the lockdown. For that reason, we’ll be fundraising for them again this year and I know you’ll be bothered enough to get involved.

Sometimes you have no choice but to get involved. Next week I want to tell you the story of Patrick Hutchinson, someone who could quite easily have walked away but was too bothered by what he had seen.

That story is for next time. For now, enjoy being back in school. Work hard, be kind and be useful.

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