Meeting the Parents…
Meeting the parents can be a daunting prospect, in any scenario! Parents and families all want the best for their children and therefore have a certain right to question, challenge and ensure they are happy with those involved in the care of their children. The initial meetings between families and a new secondary school is an incredibly important starting point for navigating the journey ahead, and it’s been a privilege to start that journey with our new Mercia families these last few weeks.
Parents have invited us into their homes, cooked for us, met with us at schools and spoken to us over the phone. Without a physical building (yet) to host in, the practical issues could have made this process a nightmare, but actually we feel its surpassed expectation. What this has provoked is an outpouring of support, a touch of imagination and it’s only really enhanced the commitment our parents have already made to the school. A school which may not be built yet, but all this has perfectly exemplified that schools are not buildings, they are communities. It’s about the people we serve. It’s about families and children and relationships and with that in place, we believe Mercia School can achieve some incredible feats, and we cannot wait!
I’ve met inspirational families who have gone above and beyond to support their children in incredibly difficult circumstances. At times, it’s been emotional. I’ve been moved by stories of care, compassion and commitment; all values we will uphold at Mercia School. I’ve met families who have already made sacrifices to invest in Mercia School, and I’ve felt nothing but respect for these people. I’ve also met parents who may not have selected us as first choice, who feel we are too new, too uncertain, too risky; but their children seem to love us. These are the really interesting meetings, where parents are allowing their children already to make decisions, to justify them and then they merely offer support. Pupils have seen something in our vision that they like and fundamentally families just want their children to be happy; there’s really bravery in this. There’s also much excitement, with many parents wishing they could attend Mercia School too! What a compliment and what an endorsement from our families. We have a lot to live up to but we do not intend to disappoint.
Hearing about all our pupils has very much helped to reaffirm and consolidate what we are about. I’ve had tears over SATs exam; I’ve had stories of exclusion from lessons; I’ve had tales of bullying and stress; I’ve also heard utter contentment at schools, making it hard to leave! I’ve started to understand the complex needs and issues in our community and I understand truly that every child is different. Despite all that, knowing these differences, understanding what makes us unique, I feel more committed than ever to ensuring every pupil has the same experience at Mercia School. The reality is that many pupils are openly treated differently, and actually many of our parents don’t want this. Inclusion is not about being in the same building, it’s about being in the same lesson, every lesson, with the same expectations, rules and structures as everyone else. It’s about saying, this is what’s best for you and finding a way, it’s about being consistent. That’s what inclusion really is and we are so thrilled that our parents can see how it’ll work at Mercia School. The consistency and simple rules have been praised by so many families. I think it’s about creating certainty in an uncertain world. That’s what will unite us.
Our motto ‘Scientia Unescamus’ is ‘Let us be united by knowledge,’ and as we’ve met you, gotten to know you and learnt about your children, I feel truly united in a very special community and that knowledge is really powerful. Thanks to you all.