The joys of seasonality in education

I love the start of a new school year. It has a rhythm, an order, a structure. The days are getting shorter bringing a crispness to the air, but there is still enough warmth on my back to remind me of the joys of summer and the reassurance that the cold winter mornings are still some months away. It is the seasonality that I love about the school year. It brings a certainty, a knowledge, a familiarity of what is going to happen in the weeks ahead, yet the real joy is that it is never the same experience.

Armed with these thoughts I made my yearly pilgrimage to Edale last week. An outdoor centre in the Peak District, which is the home for our Year 10 students every second weekend in September. It is part of their introduction to their GCSE course. The girls work together in teams, trying out activities that are designed to take them out of their comfort zone. Activities that range from rock climbing, abseiling, weasling to high ropes and night walks. I have written about it, often.

Each year the experience is different. Each year, a new set of girls, a new set of staff who calm my nerves and sense of anticipation as I take part in activities that do not come naturally to me. Each year, the girls reassure me, cajole me and encourage me to believe I can get through cracks that are not designed for my body, climb up a rock face that to my mind is sheer and take that leap of faith as you step back over what I can only describe as a cliff.

The girls are always kind. We all understand that each of us have different skills and if we are to succeed we have to pool our talent together and make the best of the situation. Their company is always delightful as they chatter away, praise where it is due and reassure when it is needed. So as the weekend approaches and those familiar feelings of nervousness return, I reassure myself that the girls will be kind and supportive as they always are, but the manner in which they do so is always different and I look forward to spending time in their company.

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