Headteacher’s Address to Our Lady of Sion Senior School
What do I love about this community?
I love how the majority of people here look out for one another – that genuine care and kindness.
Every day, I see and hear people supporting others – sharing words of encouragement, building up one another, taking time to listen and just helping people along the way.
I see young people interacting positively with their teachers and I hear teachers talking so positively about their students.
There is a genuine care for the young people here. Teachers speak fondly of students and their families.
I love the ethos of this school too. The ethos is not consideration always. That is our motto, but that is important too.
Consideration Always is not about how others consider you, but rather it focuses on how you consider others. It is an outward-looking motto and one which demands action of a selfless nature.
It is not a “what about me?” motto, but rather a “how can I help you?” motto.
Our ethos is also “outward-looking” – showing warmth and acceptance to all those we meet.
Our ethos expects us to build bridges between people who do not see eye to eye with one another.
Our Ethos demands of us to actively uncover and destroy our own prejudices, whilst addressing others when we see poor attitudes or witness acts of abuse and hear abusive language.
Our ethos celebrates diversity and recognises the beauty of people being themselves.
We may find individuality challenging at times, but that does not give us a right to disrespect it be unkind to the person displaying it.
A world of identical robots would be a very sad, monochrome world.
Our ethos understands that some people will believe in God and others will consider that absurd.
Our ethos knows that some will believe in Jesus whereas others may believe in the prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Our ethos proactively welcomes all religious believers as well as atheists and agnostics.
This is the beauty of Sion.
This is what makes us special.
This is what makes us an example of what the world could be like.
We are a beacon of possibility.
We need to preserve this.
We need to actively protect such a beautiful ethos.
“Teach about difference. Make difference ordinary. Make difference normal.
Teach not to attach value to difference.
And the reason for this is not to be fair or to be nice but merely to be human and practical.
Because difference is the reality of our world.
And by teaching about difference, you are equipping us to survive in a diverse world. We must know and understand that people walk different paths in the world and that as long as those paths do no harm to others, they are valid paths that we must respect.
Teach that we do not know – we cannot know – everything about life.
Both religion and science have spaces for the things we do not know, and it is enough to make peace with that. This is the only necessary form of humility: the realisation that difference is normal.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,
I observe this school community.
I have done so since arriving here in 2015.
I have been very proud of so many people here – colleagues and students.
I have also been saddened by people here - colleagues and students.
Just because we have a special motto and ethos, does not mean that everyone here will want to live by it – or live it.
I must admit that I find this sad and disappointing.
Personally, I cannot understand why a person would choose to be unkind, abusive, hurtful and hateful.
How is that a good way to spend our breath?
Surely kindness and care bring about positive energy – caring about someone brings light into the dark spaces.
Where there is darkness, there will always be light that comes to destroy it – but there are times when I see too much darkness and it can feel as though it is overwhelming the light.
However, I do believe that kindness always wins over unkindness.
I am horrified that in 2022, we still hear about people being racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic.
I am horrified that in 2022, we still hear about people taking their own lives because of the unkindness and hatred shown to them because they appear “different”.
I am horrified that in 2022, we still hear about people being purposefully ignored and excluded.
I am horrified that in 2022, we still hear comments which include racist, sexist and homophobic language.
I am horrified that in 2022, some people find other people’s misfortunes something to laugh about.
I am horrified that in 2022, we still hear of wars and rumours of wars.
I am horrified that in 2022, there are still people living on the streets, without a home.
However, in amongst all of those horrific feelings, I recognise that there are so many people “out there” who are working hard to unite people, love people and build up people.
This brings me hope.
For me, to use one’s breath to hurt others is a dirty, repulsive and disgusting waste of the gift of life.
We are given numerous opportunities each day to show kindness, encourage others and care with authenticity.
Many people use those opportunities for good. They recognise the power and beauty of an act of kindness – or simply a smile.
A minority prefer to use those moments to destroy, belittle, humiliate, torment, tease and demean.
Wake up to what matters.
Wake up to the power of kindness and wake up to the devastation of unkindness.
Your actions and your words are your responsibility.
You cannot blame anyone other than yourself for what comes out of your mouth and the actions you exhibit.
Live according to your core values.
Swim against the tide.
Stand out for being kind and benevolent.
This is strong – this is powerful.
I say to you all.
Abuse should never be tolerated.
Unkindness should never be ignored.
Stand up for what is right.
Challenge the abuser.
There is no place for that here and I will work hard to eradicate it with you and for you.
Your attitude is yours alone – to develop and evolve.
When I observe this community, I am immensely proud at what I see. I am filled with hope.
Observe yourself- are you immensely proud of what you see? Do you fill others with hope?
These questions are vital. Be the best version of yourself.
Check yourself often.
Human Kind – be both.