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Dr Purvis’s Blog

Over the half term holidays, I was lucky enough to visit the Lake District, where I grew up. As I walked along the banks of Ullswater I looked up to sky to be greeted by this sight.

I have been thinking a lot about these geese since I returned to London, not least because you don’t tend to get that much wildlife in Central Croydon. As strange as it may sound, the more I thought about the geese, the more they seemed to serve as a perfect metaphor through which to capture the busy academic life of Croydon High School.

As each goose flap its wings it creates an “uplift” for the birds that follow. By flying in a V formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater range than if each bird flew alone. When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the uplifting power of the bird immediately in front of it. Every pupil at Croydon High School shares a sense of academic direction and community. Furthermore, our pupils can get where they are going quicker and more easily because they are travelling on, and motivated by, the academic thrust of one another.

When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation, and another goose flies to the point position. The diversity and richness of the academic curriculum at Croydon High School empowers our pupils to be the leaders of the future whatever their future may be. Through the arts to the humanities, the sciences to our innovative subject, Enterprise Technology, we seek to position our pupils at the vanguard of their chosen fields by discovering and nurturing their unique talents and skills.

While the geese fly in formation, they honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. In groups where there is encouragement, productivity is much greater. At Croydon High School, pupils and teachers alike are aware of the positive value of encouragement. From conversations in lessons to comments in books, from teachers’ using their own time to answer pupils’ questions to the many enriching opportunities in our co-curricular offer, we take every opportunity to celebrate the hard work of our pupils in order to keep them motivated and focused on their academic goals.

When a goose gets ill or is injured, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay until it can fly again. Then they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock. Learning and progress are anything but linear. There will be times where things do not go as planned for our pupils. At Croydon High School, our supportive academic community encourages girls to take risks. Our teachers stand alongside our pupils when things do not go as planned not least because these are often the richest learning experiences.

The migration routes of geese never vary. They use the same route year after year. Even when the flock members change, the young learn the route from older geese. Similarly, we are steadfast in our commitment to academic excellence, breadth and innovation, creativity, exploration and enjoyment. As such, creative teaching and learning opportunities abound for ‘every girl, every day.’

So the next time you look up to the sky and spot a flock of geese on their well-trodden route, I hope you’ll be reminded of the common sense of academic purpose, the many opportunities for leadership, the celebration of hard work and effort, and the supportive academic community which together are the hallmarks of the unique Croydon High learning experience.

Dr Philip Purvis

Deputy Head (Academic)

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