Welcome back

This week I did a welcome back assembly for my S4 year group. I had a lot to say. I decided against doing the usual ‘this year is massively important/pile on the pressure’ approach and instead to give a message about individuality. I asked them for feedback. It ranged from ‘hot’ (temperature in library) and ‘boring’ to ‘inspirational’, ‘helpful’ and ‘moving’.

So I think I made a difference to at least some. Here’s what I said:1

I hope you had a lovely summer. Some of you may have not and that is difficult; we all expect holidays to be a time to relax, have fun.

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The other day, I was asked this question – are you going to do one of those…., Mrs C??

And I thought about it. And I decided that maybe not. Because as I thought about it, I realised that maybe not all of you need to hear that message just now.

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Some of you may well need the first approach just now. You may well need to be told that ‘this is an important year’…and get the proverbial kick up the backside

But others may KNOW THAT IT IS IMPORTANT AND HAVE KNOWN IT SINCE S1. Me telling you is unlikely to help and may indeed make things worse.

Each one of you in S4 is an individual and each one will have a slightly different aim this year:

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Some of you, as you know from the PSE work we did on teenage brain, may be finding it hard to have any sort of plan and may struggle to think beyond tomorrow!!

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It is the job of the adults in this school to help you keep going in the right direction.

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Prelims are the ‘practice’ exams you do if you are doing National 5’s. They may also help you and your teachers decide whether you should do N4 or N5. And they can be useful if you get struck down with an illness during the actual N5 exams – for example if you get glandular fever, which can affect people of your age and may or may not be caused by snogging……..

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Here is another example of how one bit of advice does not work for all people. This looks quite sensible. This is the poster of the week for S2 this week.

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For some of you, who lack motivation and can ALWAYS find an excuse for not doing things (“I’m too tired!!”), this might be great!

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If Mo Farah had given up when he was tired after 4 laps, he would not have gone on to win an Olympic gold. Equally, if he had given up when he fell over, he’d never have got the gold…….

BUT I was terrible at your age and at university for pushing myself TOO hard – always working until I was ‘finished’ and not listening to when I was tired. I was always worried that I wasn’t doing enough, that there were always more books to read and I nearly made myself ill. Some of you may be like me. In some (most) jobs, there is always more work you COULD do.

But fact we all know, if we go back to Mo Farah, that for athletes, training is all about pace. Not doing too much or too little, listening to your body and stopping when you are injured or tired. It is the MOST competitive thing but it is also a field where it is MOST important to know what YOU can do.

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Tom Daly gave a good example in the Olympics of how things don’t always go to plan, even when we work our hardest. He got a bronze medal in the Olympics which is beyond what most of us in the room could even dream of! But he felt he had failed.

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He gives an important message about how we can fall and get up again (like Mo), learn and try again.

In fact Tom Daly is a very interesting example of how hard it can sometimes be to keep going to achieve what we want:

He competed in the Bejing Olympics aged 14.

His father, Robert, died from a brain tumour on 27 May 2011, aged 40 when Tom was 17.

He was also bullied at school and actually moved school after the 2012 Olympics when people called him ‘Speedo boy.’

He took his GCSEs in small batches to fit around his diving commitments. He persuaded supermodel Kate Moss to pose for a recreation of an original portrait by David Hockney, as part of a GCSE photography project recreating great works of art, after meeting her on a photo shoot for the Italian version of Vogue.

He obtained one A and eight A* grades in his GCSEs

In 2012, he did A-level studies in mathematics, Spanish and photography.  He received an A* in his photography A-level, and an A in his Spanish and maths A-levels.

In 2013 he came out and once again was the victim of horrific online homophobic bullying.

He is 22 and worth 4 million pounds.

Where are the people who were abusive now?

Another person recently who has spoken out about bullying is Nadiya Hussain. Last year’s Bake-off winner. Speaking on Desert Island Discs, she said she has experienced racist abuse throughout her life, had things thrown at her and been pushed and shoved.

She said: “I expect to be shoved or pushed or verbally abused because that happens. It’s been happening for years.”

Asked by host Kirsty Young how she reacted, she said she did not retaliate.

‘Be the better person’.

“I feel like there’s a dignity in silence, and I think if I retaliate to negativity with negativity, then we’ve evened out,” she said.

“And I don’t need to even that out because if somebody’s being negative, I need to be the better person.

This leads me to a message I want you all to hear in S4:

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And if you are experiencing abuse or hurt from others, whilst I encourage you not to retaliate and to have dignity in silence, please DON’T suffer in silence. We will be doing more on this in S4 PSE this term as we look at hate crime.

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