Happy New Year!

You will recall that two years ago we had needed to inform parents and pupils the night before term began that we were again having to revert to online learning as a result of a second national lockdown. Thankfully, we are in a far better position today!

That said, we know that some find this time of year more difficult, and the news does not do much currently to cheer us up. I am fortunate in being a ‘cup-half-full' person, doing my best to be optimistic in my outlook and to look forward to positive solutions; this is helped by the fact that I can count myself as generally very blessed in life.

Given the media’s propensity to focus on bad news, I was very pleased to read a few more deliberately ‘feel-good’ stories over the break. The Times published an article entitled ‘33 good news stories you (probably) didn’t hear about in 2022’, with the summary: “This year may have felt like a permacrisis you couldn’t stop doomscrolling through, but take heart: there is strong evidence the world is getting better all the time, say analysts at Future Crunch.” The article then goes on to talk about global progress: in fighting disease; relating to animals, conservation and climate; and positively affecting people and society. If you have a Times subscription, you can access the full article at: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/33-good-news-stories-you-probably-didnt-hear-about-in-2022-kdglb2pvd

In an upbeat Times opinion piece, Daniel Finkelstein argues that “politics needs a good dose of optimism” and that despite tough times and tales of national decline, wallowing in pessimism won’t bring us solutions. He goes on to say that he realises we are being “tested’ and that many are struggling financially, but that we are far more likely to make positive progress if we remain optimistic that our difficulties are temporary and that we can work together towards inevitable brighter times ahead. He reminds us that “by any standards — global comparison, historical comparison, simple observation — we live in a country that is remarkably stable and prosperous, one that is relatively peaceful and secure, law-abiding and lawful. Technological advances are dizzying; creativity is extraordinary. We are also learning all the time to be more tolerant and less prejudiced.” He cites the book ‘Learned Optimism’ by Martin Seligman: “The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe bad events will last a long time, will undermine everything they do, and are their own fault. The optimists, who are confronted with the same hard knocks, think about misfortune in the opposite way. They tend to believe defeat is a temporary setback, that its causes are confined to this one case. The optimists believe defeat is not their fault: circumstances, bad luck or other people brought it about. Such people are unfazed by defeat. Confronted by a bad situation, they perceive it as a challenge and try harder.”

As we begin a new year and a new term, I am surrounded by young people who are full of promise and by staff who are keen to help them realise their dreams. So, I hope that you and your children will be able to make the most of all that life has to offer in 2023, with your cup half-full.

Best wishes,

John Watson