Leadership Team Blog – 17th October 2014

Last week I made a point of going in to the Main Hall for the launch of the Y11 challenge. I listened with interest to Miss Cianciola working hard to capture the hearts and minds of Y11. I watched closely for signs of engagement.

There were many.

Standing and watching, I was transported back to the summer when I passed through Calais en route for the sun! Leaving the port, I couldn’t help but notice group upon group of young men – all of whom appeared dishevelled, dirty, bereft of any belongings and utterly desperate. They were the refugees, displaced from troubled homelands far away who endure great hardship to reach the west – but more precisely, to get to Britain. Whatever it takes…clinging on under a lorry, stowing away on the cross-channel ferries…their goal is to reach our shores.


Quite simply, because of the prospect of a better life. They want a taste of all the things that I fear we take for granted. They come from corrupt, lawless, dysfunctional states in search of peace, prosperity and an education.

By now, I am sure that most of you will be familiar with the much-publicised story of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot for going to school.

In 2009, Malala began writing an anonymous blog for the BBC expressing her views on education and life under the threat of the Taliban .During this period, the Taliban’s military hold on her village intensified. As the Taliban took control of the area they issued edicts banning television, banning music, and banning women from going shopping and limiting women’s education.

Malala and her father began to receive death threats for their outspoken views. As a consequence they began to fear for their safety. In 2011, she received Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize. Her increased profile and strident criticism of the Taliban caused Taliban leaders to meet, and in 2012, they voted to kill her.

On 9 October, 2012, a masked gunman entered her school bus and asked for Malala by name.

Malala was shot with a single bullet which went through her head, neck and shoulder.

Malala survived the initial shooting, but was in a critical condition.”

She was just fifteen years old.

I wonder what Malala would make of the Y11 challenge?

I think I know the answer – like Nelson Mandela before her, I think Malala has worked out that:

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

‘You’ was the word used most frequently by Miss Cianciola in her efforts to galvanise Y11. Learning does not happen by osmosis. You need to be active participants in your learning.

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