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Headteacher's Blog - Digital Immigrant Hide

I come from a time significantly before the digital age was even contemplated, let alone brought into being. Although I use a mobile phone, am writing this piece on an iPad and seem to spend increasing hours every day in front of a computer screen, I am not instinctively ‘digital’, am very much an immigrant not a native in this new world, and find increasingly that this state of being brings with it a sense of perspective as well as one of frustration when ‘intuitive’ devices appear to have no connection to my particular type of intuition. Though no great fan of instruction manuals, most notably those which accompany flat pack furniture, I have never quite come to terms with the look of condescending amazement my children give me when I complain that a new digital device does not come with accompanying printed advice and information.

I remember well when Fulston Manor received its first computer. It was positioned in the staff room, between the Banda machines, and there was great scepticism that it would ever prove useful or, indeed, that we would ever perceive the need to purchase another one. Even the acquisition of a first home computer, a state of the art Commodore 64, failed to convince me that the future lay in devices that, at the time, seemed capable of doing little more that electronic ping pong and Tippex free typing. It is a good job that my career choices did not include roles involving prophecy or clairvoyance.

Although endlessly tempting to spend time complaining about the operational efficiency of digital devices - lack of mobile phone signals, battery life, network crashes, printers that don't, endless upgrades apparently designed more to baffle than to benefit - I have come to accept that the overwhelming majority of problems I have with the technology is about what it delivers to me not the way in which it is delivered. Once having reached this all too obvious conclusion it is but a small step to the realisation that the problems I have are about what the digital age has unleashed rather than how it has unleashed it.

On an average day at school I receive between 200 and 300 emails. A few of these are from parents or colleagues, a few more contain important information that needs either to be acted upon or redirected, but the overwhelming majority are simply in transit from the sender to my deleted items, unless, of course, I wish to buy the unsellable, subscribe to the unimaginable or provide all my security details to the unspeakable. Whilst I would not suggest that junk mail did not arrive by post in the past, the proliferation of email does seem to me to be an invitation to the idle to mass communicate to the many and,more worryingly, an invitation to the unscrupulous to prey upon the vulnerable through an ever evolving and complicated series of scams. Although we may all by now be aware of the odds against a Nigerian general wanting to send us £10,000,000 for safekeeping, apparently official communications from banks and tax offices still fool the unwary and the elderly, causing intense suffering and psychological damage.

There is not the space within this piece to consider all the joys and pleasures of other social media which appears to proliferate on an almost daily basis. No sooner had I decided not to participate in Facebook than I was having to decide not to participate in twitter, snapchat, what's app and a whole range of other all too resistible opportunities too.

Let me therefore end by offering genuine thanks to all who send me interesting, relevant and important emails, which stand out from the rest like  diamonds on a dung heap, and apologise if there are occasions when my response is tardy. I appear to have placed 55,389 items into the deleted folder during the past twelve months which, allowing 5 seconds for each action, adds up to around three days of my life and may explain delays in replying, the repetitive strain injury developing in my deleting finger and the spasmodic yearning for the era when the post arrived at a set time each morning and, occasionally, in the afternoon too; those were the days....

 

Holiday Office Closures

Please note the Main School Office and the Finance Office will be closed on Friday, 4th August 2017 but will otherwise be open 9am—1pm during the Summer Holidays.


End of Term Message

Looking back over previous end of term messages it is immediately apparent that the weather has secured a traditional spot in the opening paragraph, something I imagine may be the case for many schools in Britain but a source of mystification for teachers and parents in other parts of the world. It is obvious that the reason for this is the enormous variations in climatic conditions that we “enjoy”, often changing daily, the most recent example occurring last week when generally ideal weather for Year 9 Camp was punctuated by a twelve hour deluge which flooded tents and reduced areas of the site to a quagmire. 

In recent years it seems that the only thing in this country which changes more frequently than the weather is the government’s education policy, in which increasingly briefer periods of calm are interrupted by ever more violent storms and dramatic changes of direction. Whilst we all do everything possible to keep pace with these changes, I would wish to emphasise the school’s view that, whatever amendments to assessment procedures, alteration of syllabi or rewriting of examinations may occur, the core values by which we set our course remain  unchanged. We are here to provide the best possible education for all our students in order that they enjoy their time with us and develop into successful members of society; if staff at camp can overcome waterlogged tents I know that we can overcome all that the government send our way.

Once again the newsletter is full of fascinating articles about the activities and achievements of our students. Although possibly too late to meet the deadline, last week saw perhaps the most successful activity week ever, with students from all year groups occupied in an enormous range of endeavours. There were times when Year 12 were engaged in a mock interview programme with governors, Year 10 were completing units of an NCFE Health and Fitness qualification, Year 9 were paddling kayaks and Years 7 and 8 were working together to create their own stalls for an outstanding fair on Friday morning (not to mention all those in Years 10 and 12 who were out on work placements). It is the breadth of experience offered to students which contributes so much to the character development referred to above and I would pay tribute to all those on the staff who give so generously of their time to make this happen.

As usual at the end of the summer term we have a number of staff leaving us and I would wish to thank all of them for the contributions they have made. Whilst many have been with us for a significant period of time and played a significant role in the school’s development within their areas – Mr Seppala in RS, Miss Jackson in English, Miss Norman in Humanities and Mrs Evans in the library – I would wish to highlight Mrs Collins and, particularly, Mr Johnson, for their achievements. In addition to being an excellent classroom teacher, Mrs Collins has been head of Science, twice, SENCO and taken on a range of responsibilities within the leadership group. She has carried out all these roles with cheerfulness and dedication; I have no doubt that she will prove equally successful as a national Science consultant next year. Mr Johnson is leaving after 38 years at the school, during which time he has been head of PE, Head of House, member of the leadership team and Maths co-ordinator. For many years he was also responsible for Year 9 camp and a multitude of other activities which have helped to enrich the education of generations of students. Mr Johnson will be greatly missed and everyone who has known him will want to offer thanks and to wish him well for the future.

All that remains is for me to thank you for your continuing support for the school and to thank all of the staff for their commitment and hard work. We are all engaged in something that is far too important to allow others to damage, namely the education and development of our young people, and I remain immensely proud of all that Fulston Manor continues to achieve. Have a very good summer break in preparation for another exciting year beginning in September. 

Please see below the link for this term’s newsletter.  I hope you will take the time to have a look at this as it is full of interesting articles and photographs from events this term.  A hard copy of the newsletter can be collected from Reception if required.

Link:      http://www.fulstonmanor.kent.sch.uk/page/default.asp?pid=95

Yours faithfully
Mr A Brookes
Headteacher
    School Dates
    Open Days 2017
    Wednesday 11th October
    Thursday 12th October
     
    Timetabled slots for some local Primary schools will be given closer to the dates above.

    Please click on the link below to view the calendar for parents

    1. Calendar for Parents 2016 - 2017
    2. Term and Holiday Dates