The educational journey

I hope that you enjoyed a happy and restful time with family over the festive break, and I wish you many blessings for 2024. I was heartened yesterday when discussing January with some Sixth Formers that by Monday we will enjoy 9 minutes’ more daylight – so we can certainly look forward to brightening days!

My father spent most of his career as a travel agent working for Thomas Cook, and I have inherited his wanderlust. I love travelling and discovering new cultures, and an annual Christmas present from my daughter is a desk calendar of ‘1,000 places to see before you die’. This was Tuesday’s page:


What a beautiful picture of Ronda (which I have yet to visit), but I was especially struck by the quotation, as the joy of holidays lies in the experience of different places and opportunities along the way – as well as in the planning! I also felt that it was easily relatable to education and the media coverage this week of a crisis of school absenteeism.

On my travels, I have been privileged to visit countries where people are desperate to ensure a good education for their children, who will often commute for miles in order to access lessons in very basic facilities. You understand the precious nature of education – an opportunity which our children only get once in their lifetime – and that is why you are prepared to invest in that invaluable gift. Education is also a basic human right and it is my duty (with you) to ensure that a child maximises their time in full-time learning. There is no substitute for being in school and benefiting from the dynamic knowledge and understanding of teachers and other pupils. There is also a close correlation between attendance and achievement. Even if our young people are sometimes in a hurry to get to their destination, it is the journey (and the quality of that journey) which counts most.

So, please engage with our pastoral team if you have concerns about your child’s enthusiasm over attending school, as we are always keen to work with parents and pupils to provide support in such circumstances. And, however much you enjoy holidays, please refrain from removing your child from school during term-time – as that time in school will be lost forever.

Best wishes,

John Watson