The rhythm of our world beats faster and faster. We live in a society where social constructs expect us to conform to the expectations of a 24/7 presence. Little time appears to be available to pause and think about what we are saying, with life requiring us to communicate seemingly constantly. 

From the sharing of stories in Nursery, to our Sixth formers’ debating and public speaking events, our students’ voice is our most crucial instrument of expression. We nurture a school environment where we quickly and confidently learn that the world judges us by our voice. But also that we as educators, take notice. It informs our best practice, reminding us that at the heart of any learning environment is an openness to the regular, restless nudge of the student community. Our school’s progress depends upon it.

How is it that our students become such confident, effective communicators? Well, we know that how we see ourselves and affect others is influenced by our life experiences. Our school is not just a place of learning, it is a school that learns. We cultivate an environment where our daily interactions are positive, focused on growth and development. We take time to listen – intently – to each other’s ideas, in the knowledge that the true power-house of our school is our student body itself. Respect and understanding lies at the heart of making relevant, relatable choices. School Council’s influence on our outdoor play space, Food Forum’s choices of our lunchtime menus and Pastoral Prefects recommending ways to support wellbeing; this is just a glimpse of the way our students’ voice shapes our decision-making and therefore our culture. 

Our voice is what connects us to the world. It is how we communicate our needs and express our deepest feelings. Our students’ voice has the greatest capacity to generate change, be that through the power of song, the persuasive influence of student-led assemblies or collaborative inquiry in a lesson fuelled by agency. A fellowship which demonstrates resilience, open-mindedness, engagement with the world and a desire to make a difference is the unique learning community which we foster.

The influence of today’s world is significant. We are reminded of that daily, in so many ways. But the most powerful – and yet simple – guiding light through the complexities of the shared endeavour which we pursue as educators remains our united voice. 

Nisha Kaura, Head of The Abbey Junior School