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Celebrate Christmas and celebrate children

6th December 2021

As we come to the end of a packed Autumn term, and the glue and glitter season hones into view, I feel we need to celebrate our achievements as individuals, schools and as a trust. The challenges we face in education are very real at the moment, and undoubtably we are all feeling the usual sense of fatigue as we approach the end of the longest term. This year these challenges have proved more pronounced as we endeavour to catch up learning after our covid disruption, manage ongoing pandemic tasks and still deliver the fantastic all round education our schools are known for. Instead of reflecting on where we might find trials in these endeavours, how can we focus on our achievements? Sometimes focusing on the small things gives us a clue in this regard.

Last week, I was delighted to attend Sandfield’s achievement assembly. Held while maintaining year group bubbles and via zoom, this was a wonderful example of celebration that exists in all our schools. For me to visit classrooms and celebrate with the children their achievements in writing, phonics, friendships, participation and reading, amongst many other things, was a real privilege. It helps us all connect back with our core purpose of helping children achieve. Much of our efforts at this time of year are celebrating together. Using the festive season to display kindness and togetherness.

I see this daily in my visits to schools. The building of communities, the strength of individual relationships, the conveying of belief to each other. This is the Christmas message I can get behind. Thank you to all our children, staff, governors and parents whose every day efforts make our schools beacons of hope and acceptance in their communities. As the nights draw longer, these stars shine brightly. All those we serve are contributing and benefiting from the hope that a fantastic education provides. A fantastic education that promotes and drives excellence in academic achievement, but also sees achievement in its widest forms. Achievements in community engagement, participation, appreciation of difference, kindness and self-discovery.

Have a great Christmas break – but before that, celebrate the children. It reminds us of our purpose and why we exist.


Jack Mayhew, CEO, Athena-GEP


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