The months immediately following a school Centenary and all that comes with such a 100 year birthday celebration, should provide for most schools and their stakeholders, an opportunity to take a collective breath in the interests of finding a sense of operational normality again.
As much as we are enjoying ‘resting’ in the afterglow of what was a truly memorable 2019 here at The Ridge, we are excited, too, that 2020 will be offering in a rather unique opportunity for us to channel our energies into the next important school programme.
The Independent Quality Assurance Agency – IQAA:
As I mentioned to all parents at the Information Evening on 20 January, we will be undergoing a full Whole School Independent Quality Evaluation in the months immediately ahead. With a new Board Chairman and six new governors about to take office, and with the last Strategic Plan having been implemented back in 2016, the time could not be better to make good use of the IQAA Evaluation by conducting a related Future-proofing Strategic Planning exercise.
Meetings between the IQAA external team and our Ridge internal facilitators have been held in recent days and we can look forward to the evaluation and mentoring process to begin in earnest as the month of March unfolds. In this context, I thought that it would be appropriate to share with parents something of the background to and the work conducted by IQAA.
IQAA was established in 2004 and has subsequently assessed over 800 schools in Southern Africa, including South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Ghana and Swaziland.
IQAA provides quality assurance services to a variety of schools including, Montessori schools, Waldorf schools, Cambridge International schools, Jewish, Christian and Moslem schools, as well as Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres and LSEN schools for special needs learners.
Each school evaluated, its pupils, staff, parents and community, are given complete respect and concern by IQAA, especially in relation to the school’s own distinctive mission, ethos and aims. All of IQAA’s services can be tailor made to suit the specific needs of individual schools and other clients.
The Opinion Survey service will be available online to parents, learners and teachers, in both English and Afrikaans. All that is needed is access by the school community to computers, laptops, iPads, tablets or phones with 3G capacity.
The Ridge has experienced two previous IQAA Evaluations; 2007 and 2014. Both proved to be enormously enlightening and informative. The whole self-reflection process is designed to be very transparent and inclusive.
The Ridge Charter:
As we prepare The Ridge family for this evaluation we need to be mindful that, where we are excited to ‘look in the mirror’ and to critically examine ourselves, we do so against the backdrop of so much that has served, over 100 years, to define our ethos, culture and values.
In an effort to help to prepare the ground for all that IQAA and the Future-proofing Strategic Planning process will be bringing our way, I thought that it would be useful to share again our Ridge Charter with you all. This excellent manifesto was drawn up by then Headmaster, Paul Channon, the Board of Governors, senior management and members of staff several years ago.
What is a Charter?
“A charter is a framework for action. A charter is not simply a reiteration of what is wanted, believed or valued. A charter provides a road map and guide to Ridge stakeholders to navigate change and transformation while preserving the essence of the Ridge, and to prioritise and allocate investment and resources.
Through the Charter we want to unite the school community. Practical, financial and value based support is needed to execute the Charter.
To have a charter is rarely comfortable as it will often challenge a preconception or entrenched position, it is complex, diverse and change driven. As custodians of The Ridge our responsibility is to be clear about what we need to protect while being honest about what we need to do differently, and having the wisdom to know the difference.”
I believe that the months ahead will provide members of The Ridge family with some valuable self-reflection opportunities that will test just how well we are able to recognise and embrace the sentiment of the above highlighted sentence.
In addition, we will do well to reflect too on our Ridge School Values as they are spelt out in the Charter:
- Responsibility for self, property and the consequences of our actions
- The pursuit of excellence
- Tenacity and competitiveness
- Equanimity in handling success and failure
We commit ourselves to a school that:
- Provides a balance and range of experiences
- Is diverse
- Offers education for life
- Is connected to its community
Parent Alert … Dangerous TikTok pranks /games to warn your children about:
As many parents will be aware, TikTok videos are making their presence felt by challenging children, teenagers and even adults to engage in high-risk prank-type activities.
One particular game is called the Trip Jump Challenge and is particularly unpleasant. It can cause serious harm to those participating in it and even death.
The attached video link doesn’t require too much more in the way of explanation.
Please warn your children about the obvious dangers associated with this prank activity.
A Final Word:
Against the backdrop of our chosen Now or Never – Growing Earth Children theme for the year I have taken the liberty in a previous newsletter of sharing ideas from the book Wise about Waste by Helen Moffett. These very practical and useful prompts, reminders and/or suggestions are worth tapping into as we work to change mindsets which in turn will serve to change behaviours.
In her chapter called Concluding Thoughts: Deckchairs on the Titanic, Helen challenges the reader not to feel completely swamped by the enormity of the crisis that is facing our planet, but to rather develop simple strategies that can and will combine with others to make small but meaningful changes.
“If the ship is going down anyway, it might not do any good rearranging the deckchairs, much less wiping specks off them. But we can rope them together to create extra life-rafts.”
It’s in creating life-rafts that appropriate environmental translations can be found. She goes on to say, “Amid all the horror and despair, there is a great deal of kindness and grace. I keep finding wonderful people doing extraordinary things. As we move to lifestyles where we’re making more conscious and creative choices about how we use the world’s resources, we’re finding that hanging around solution-oriented people is good not just for the planet, but for our souls.”
Helen Moffett goes on to offer what she calls a few Resource Checklists. The one entitled ‘Decluttering Checklist’ makes for an interesting prompt or two:
- What NPOs and charity shops that receive used goods are near where you live?
- Which will take your:
- Clothes in good condition (most charity shops)
- Clothing, towels, blankets and other textiles in poor condition (some animal charities to use for bedding)
- Old spectacles and medical equipment (St John Ambulance)
- Books (many charity shops)
- Toys and sporting equipment (schools and crèches)
- Fabric and craft remnants (community employment collectives)
- Furnishings (crèches, homeless shelters, shelters for refugees and/or families fleeing domestic violence)
I wish you all an ‘eco-friendly’, quiet, restful and safe Half-term weekend.
With warm regards