As we enter the final weeks of term my thoughts are straying to next year – what does a Taunton School education mean to our students? What sort of legacy are the current Upper Sixth leaving for next year’s leaders? We recently completed some leadership training with some of our Lower Sixth students and I asked them – ‘when you think of Taunton School, what are you proud of’? They gave the following answers:
- Our tolerance, acceptance and friendly
- Our diversity
- Our Opportunities – nobody is afraid to get involved
- The House system and the integration of year groups and the respect between year groups
- We are a positive school where students are proud to be ambitious
- We feel inspired by old students who come back and want to share their experiences
- We all feel recognised for our achievements
- Our teachers – they help, they support and they care
- Mental health awareness – teachers with mental health first aid training makes us feel safe
- People are respected for what they want to do at school
This week we welcomed back Callum McIntyre who left last year and gave the chapel address. Callum joined the school in the Sixth Form and was a boarder in WE. He spoke to us about his experiences as a volunteer for The International Citizen’s Service in Bangladesh where he lived with a local family for six months and worked with local organisations on projects to support the empowerment of women. Callum reflected that his time at the school had given him the focus and the desire to do something different after school and being in an environment like ours had helped to generate that sense of service and interest in life beyond the confines of school. He reflected on the stress of exams, the pressure he placed upon himself and gave perspective to the online life we build around ourselves, a life which is self-defeating. His message was one of hope based around the joy you gain from living your life through the care you can give others. In a world where we claim to be ever more connected and ‘happy’ through the number of friendships we have, as measured by ‘likes’, we still seem to ever more miserable and lonely.
These experiences and my own excitement about next year at the school can be neatly summarised by a quote from one of our Year 12 students: ‘we are proud to wear the badge’.