Today, we are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to welcome 192 'new' Year 7 girls and their parents to Invicta, having successfully achieved a place for September 2015.
The evening is always filled with excitement and a sigh of relief! We are also looking forward to our Spring Concert that takes place on Tuesday where over 250 students are participating. Both of these events are an opportunity to further seal our important values of collaboration and support for one another.
Last week, a parent commented as to how good it was to see our girls all encouraging, and cheering for, one another at a netball match – which I am thrilled to say we won! Equally, as I write this Blog, I have just received a text to say that ten members of our staff have just completed the Marsden March to raise money for the Royal Marsden Hospital. I know that the support for these teams is a critical aspect of their success. This feeling of supporting one another, of encouraging a sense of ‘belonging,’ is a very important part of our school’s ethos. I see it in assemblies, in sport and music, in tutor time, in drama, in House events and in many other areas of school life. It was certainly evident last week at our Year 7 Girls Night In where our youngsters took great pleasure in one another’s company as they enjoyed an evening of nail painting, popcorn and of course, films!
We all want to be part of something – to be included, to be valued and loved. The need to belong is third on Maslow's famous Hierarchy of needs – this is referred to in many subjects across the curriculum but it is pertinent to all of us. Research shows that when we feel we belong, our lives have greater meaning and less stress. We are more motivated and resilient and more likely to persist despite adversity. However, significant change in society has made life very different compared to sixty years ago. Social isolation is much more common and many people do not feel sufficiently connected. It is therefore critical that we are aware of the need to ensure that we focus on the need to ‘belong’ as part of our day to day life at school.
At Invicta, we work in a variety of ways to promote a sense of belonging. Girls may need to be encouraged, sometimes, to take advantage of the social opportunities available to them, but there are many clubs, lunchtime and after-school activities, and chances to be part of something. Whole year group activities such as the Year 8 trip to Ypres or the Year 10 Team Building day are also important to us in this respect.
We are approaching a time of year when the emphasis is higher than usual on individual academic achievement and while this is obviously something we endorse and celebrate at Invicta, it is important that we do not lose sight of the over-riding importance of belonging and community in our school. Our school’s pastoral team - their Form Tutors, Head of Year, Assistant Head, and all of their teachers, are always willing to give advice and support to girls particularly during examination time.
One of the most important aspects of this is the need for that friendly smile or gesture of acknowledgement which boosts our sense of belonging and undoubtedly makes all the difference to someone else’s day. That is why, today and every day, we work hard to ensure that there are lots of smiles! I shall look forward to seeing the smiles of our ‘new’ students tonight, along with the delight of our musicians tomorrow at the concert, but equally important are the smiles of students as they walk along the corridors and chat with great animation about their day, their friendships and their achievements.