Appreciating different points of view

In this school we try to keep ‘people’ centre stage- not data, not bureaucracy, not blind ideology- but people. One of the challenges inherent as always is to make sure an institution like ours is there for all the people in it; that we look to appreciate and cater for individuality, for difference. It is all too easy for any of us in our lives to look down on or disparagingly at those with slightly different value sets to my own; all too tempting.  

A few years back I sat in my mother’s living room having a drink with some of her oldest friends. For some reason I announced to the person next to me who I would be voting for in the upcoming election. A shudder went through the room; left the good people broken off mid conversation and aghast that I had turned out to be from a different tribe. I became defensive and ended up saying rather more than was necessary, further opening up the small chasm that had all of a sudden grown between us. It is such a mistake to assume people with different values to yourself care nothing for other people let alone social justice – a dangerous habit that only serves to further polarise us as a nation. Epictetus said, “From the very beginning, make it your practice to say to every harsh impression, ‘you are an impression and not at all what you appear to be.’’ I keep telling the children we need to always keep an open mind; to treat other people and their views with the respect and appreciation they deserve but these are empty words unless I can model them. 

I have been heartened this week by some of the wise words from our Year 6’s in letters written by them to their younger selves. Here is one pupil’s passionate plea to her younger self regarding appreciating difference: ‘It’s me! You! But in six years time!…Here is some great advice about your future and your life at Minchinhampton……Remember you’re amazing. You are a confident person, maybe too confident sometimes but know you don’t need to change for anyone! Use your confidence to not care what other people think – you need to stand up for what you believe in.The school will teach you it’s important to save the environment but I would say, while of course  it’s important, there are so many other things we need to get right, like what is goes on between people in the world – what about racism, homophobia, sexism…we need to treat each other well. You will learn that everyone is different- you’re different, so you just have to get on with it! It doesn’t really matter what other people think. You have to do what you want and be who you want to be- that is so important. Positivity can get you anywhere! Treat other people with respect and get to know people, you might find something you agree on and stuff you share. It’s what’s inside a person that counts.’

Something in the ether

How often have I said how much I love working in this school? As I say in my Welcome Message on the website, ‘it is because something really quite special exists in the ether in and around this village and the school can’t help but be swept up in it.’ It is a warm environment and a creative one. Perhaps it is this creativity; this constant circulation of ideas, new thinking and beautiful works; the conviction that every day is a new day; that everyone is a valued and unique individual and that what they create is equally of value and unique to them: perhaps this is what makes my/ our time in this school and in this community special.

On my desk right now is an extraordinary piece of writing from one of my Year 6 girls- it is utterly original, intriguing and far more sophisticated than you would imagine possible from a primary age child. I have had it on my desk for three days and show it to anyone who comes my way, not by way of showing off (I take no credit for work like this) but by way of celebration- that I get to work with such creative, inspiring children.

Below are two poems, the first ‘Silence’ published by a Year 6 pupil, in their Learning Journal; the second ‘Our Galaxy’ published recently in ‘Live Canon Children’s Anthology 2021.’


There was silence in that forest.

Only elephants, backs iced with red dust and warm rain,

Their heads bowed, ears curled like crinkled paper.

Only leaves, broad and waxy, bees like red-and-black beads,

Hovering groggily in the humidity.

Only wild cows, hair thick and wiry, burnt with an unceasing sun.

Only birds with bent wings, green and yellow, feathers smoothed with existence.

Only rivers, hushed by leaves clogging muddied banks, pebbles riddled with rusted minerals.


There was silence in that forest.

Or maybe it was too loud, and we don’t listen to the earth’s deep noises.

This poem came from RE work on Hinduism and in particular karma. This pupil was inspired to find out more and came across all the rich symbolism in the Hindu religion; which in turn inspired the poem. Please note the references to:- ‘forests’ seen by Hindus as the primary source of life and fertility; ‘elephants’ symbolic of royalty and democracy; ‘bees’ symbolic of Vishnu, Krishna and Indra; ‘cows’ held as sacred for their gentle nature and strength; birds symbolising all that is wholesome and free and beautiful; the ‘river’ as cleansing and symbolic of life.


Our Galaxy

The earth

A stranded society

A queenless hive

A lost explorer

A life protector

And opportunity giver

An unfinished masterpiece.


The moon

An infinite night light

The earth’s follower

The sun’s substitution

The lieutenant of stars

A search of purpose

A destination


Polaris (north star)

A diamond in an endless treasure chest

A beacon of hope shining through the darkness

A guide for those who are lost

A monument of awe-inspiring beauty

A splash of glitter on an empty canvas


The sun

A start and finish line

Creator of life

A generator of light

A puppet master in an endless show

A core of all

A leader of greatness.

This poem was inspired by learning about the solar system and some star gazing during lockdown. 

The word I keep repeating/ can’t help repeating is the word ‘inspiring.’ How could my job/ our job ever be boring; ever reach a conclusion, ever feel lacking when this is the kind of reward we receive day in day out. If any of you are considering a change of career, can I heartily recommend a switch to teaching. And please don’t think these two excellent poems are somehow the exception, the exceptional. While poetry may be one of my ‘things,’ I am/ we are inspired by all our children, bar none, and by all their creativity. We are surrounded by it and awash with it.