Looking back to the future

lest we forget

Term has re-started after a restorative two week break and staff and pupils have returned to school with energy and enthusiasm. However even during the holidays there were still a range of activities still going on besides Super Skills and W Club: the Juniors enjoyed a wonderful cultural weekend in France; historians visited the Great War battlefields and participated in the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres; senior physicists were scientifically challenged at Liverpool University and another intrepid group of D of E Awardees were blessed with great weather for their expedition.

I never cease to be impressed by the range and diversity of activities provided by staff and indeed undertaken by so many students. Yet these opportunities create the breadth of wonderful experiences that enrich and develop the wider social and emotional skills which are as important GCSEs. All schools are currently trying to plan for the upcoming Government changes to the National Curriculum, GCSE and A Level reforms. We have received various updates and staff have attended information events all over the country. As a professional body, teachers accept the need for curriculum change and innovation to reflect the 21st century we live in and especially the age our young people have been born into. However, as the political arguments are batted backwards and forwards, and with a General Election looming large in May 2015, it is difficult not to feel slightly cynical and cautious as we embrace the necessary change. Whilst uncertainty underpins much of this change, suffice to say that as a school, Westholme are ready to deal with whatever is decided at national level and we will ensure that our students are fully supported and well prepared for the reincarnation of GCSEs and A Levels. This is particularly important as we hold our Sixth Form Information evening on Wednesday this week – we are ready for the next steps and look forward to helping Year 11 look to the future with confidence.

This weekend has been a poignant and important one for the country and also the Westholme community. Firstly our Nursery move had final approval from OFSTED and I am delighted to confirm that they are moving to Billinge House this week. It will be wonderful to have all our youngest children under one roof under the leadership of Mrs Church (Nursery Manager) and Mr Lewis and Mrs Dixon our Head and Deputy of Infants. Secondly on Saturday evening I attended Natalie’s Ball in aid of Brain Tumour research, championed by former Westholme student Elisabeth Devey. Many former pupils were there raising funds for this worthy cause and it was a wonderful occasion.

I have been overwhelmed by the sense of ‘Westholme community’ in the midst of Remembrance weekend. On Saturday we were privileged to watch a powerful and moving performance of The Trench in the Croston Theatre – it was truly breathtaking and set the scene for our participation in Blackburn’s Civic Service of Remembrance on Sunday. 20 Westholme students aged 10 – 18 proudly represented the school, supported by 6 staff prayed at Blackburn Cathedral and then processed to the cenotaph in Corporation Park, where two of our prefects laid a wreath. This year marks the 100th year since the start of the Great War, the 70th anniversary of the D Day landings and the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan this year. On Tuesday the History Department will lead our Remembrance Assembly in school where we ensure that the sacrifices made by so many, will not be forgotten.

The concept of service and responsibility are important lessons for young people to learn. However the overriding message from the Dean’s address on Sunday and for us all is undoubtedly one of peace. Whilst we should never forget the fallen, we must always remember that we are all praying for peace and freedom for all people in the future. We are blessed to live in a country where we can debate education freely, where girls and boys are treated equally and privileged to part of this wonderful Westholme family.

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce head amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lynne M Horner
November 2014