Community is one of our six core values. The sense of family is really important to us at Yateley Manor. Just as a value should do, the importance we place on community and relationships flows through our daily practice. Having a sense of community unites us. Being a part of a community can make us feel as though we are a part of something greater than ourselves. It can give us opportunities to connect with people, to reach for our goals, and makes us feel safe and secure. It is important for every person to have a sense of community.
An excellent education should promote not only the academic progression for children but also their development as a person. In order to build confidence, self-esteem and resilience we must, as a community, understand one another and offer support where necessary.
In assembly this morning I spoke to the children about how the breaking of a friendship can have a hugely detrimental effect on a far wider population within a community. I had prepared a string of paper chains and asked two children to hold each end. I explained that the chain represented a class at Yateley Manor, how we were all different but actually connected with a common theme and goal. I demonstrated the strength of the chain and celebrated the importance of every single person within the ‘chain’. I challenged the children to think about somebody who meant a lot to them and what made that relationship special.
Our reflection next turned to why friendships break and relationships fail. What makes us have arguments? Why do we get to the point where we do not talk to the other person or we even speak ill of the person with whom we used to have a relationship?
I represented the breaking of a friendship, or the damage to relationships within a small group, by breaking one of the chains. There was a genuine response of shock from the children as each half dropped vertically. It demonstrated how the whole community could be affected by a breakdown in relationships.
Finally I asked the children to go back to their classrooms and complete a paper chain strip for the school chain of community. These were made into small class chains and have, in turn, been joined together to make the school chain of community which is now on display in Manor Court. It was a really good example of how every single person at our school is important and fits into the community.
This week I spoke to parents of children who have recently attended taster days at Yateley Manor. They celebrated the fact that their children had reported that the best part of Yateley Manor was how kind everyone was. They had half expected comments around play times or perhaps one of the practical subjects but to be told that, on reflection, their children had picked up on the quality of relationships had really impressed them. For me it just emphasised the strength of our sense of relationships within the school; the value we place on community.
Another prospective parent visited recently, off the back of two visits to local schools. She had been very disappointed with both schools, describing the children as “prickly”, “anxious” and “lacking sincerity”. She, like many parents, wanted a school where her children would feel safe to explore their passions, find their strengths and make mistakes in a safe environment; where they knew that staff members had the backs of her children and would support them every step of the way. It was what she found at Yateley Manor that morning.
We are really proud of the sense of community which is tangible at our school. We know that sometimes friendships are placed under pressure and we support one another if this happens, because ultimately the strength of our ‘chain’ relies on every link.