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Leadership Likes: Mr King

In the space of a few hours this week, the analogy of jigsaws was evident to me on several occasions.

During my individual PPA meetings (Personal Progression Adviser) with Years 9 & 10, more than once our conversations resembled putting together a jigsaw by wanting to combine all the elements of school which they enjoy into a package which they can rely on to serve their needs in a few years’ time. Similarly, Lower Sixth pupils are, this week, trying to flesh out their personal statements for UCAS, selling themselves and their potential. The challenge here is for pupils to appreciate quite how much they have they can write about; things which they assume every applicant will be able to say, which in fact are only possible as a result of their commitment to Croydon High School over the previous years to this point.

The thing about a jigsaw, of course, is that the pieces which come together are often very different. No matter how big or small, each piece is necessary, and being without just one of them will diminish satisfaction at the end. The analogy deepens, of course, when one considers how to conquer a puzzle, as one is often looking for something very small on one piece that will perfectly match the majority of what one already has in hand. It doesn’t need to be a perfect match across the whole piece, but looking for a shared element such that, when the two pieces are placed together, they complement one another and are more useful in the bigger picture of the entire puzzle. Is this not what we do in our everyday lives? Do we not look for people with shared interests or experiences? It is certainly encouraged here at school – try something you like, or might like, and share an experience with your peers. From here, it is much easier to see that we are each formed of several different parts, some shared and others not.

Year 10 had a session with me on speed dating! Well, that’s not entirely accurate – we used a speed dating technique to examine active listening and consider the effect we have as listeners on making and maintaining friendships/relationships. It was networking practice too, of course, and a reminder of some of the “soft skills” which will progress them through life stages long after their Croydon High School years.

And lastly, as the Art & 3D Exhibition is wound up for the year, the Art department and site team will be folding up hours and hours of lovingly, sometimes frustratingly, crafted work which perfectly illustrates another unseen lesson pupils can develop at school – planning, patience and perseverance. A jigsaw over time. The work on show was delightful, thought-provoking as ever, and wonderfully varied. I look forward to the pieces “graduating” to our living gallery of artwork around the school.

I would hesitate to say life is a jigsaw – that suggests we have a fixed role to play. But I’m comfortable knowing that Croydon High School offers plenty of ways in which pupils can understand what it is that makes them individual, and also appreciating some of this can be found in other people too, to a greater or lesser extent.

Finally, when I returned home having seen metaphorical jigsaws all day, I was met with a 500 piece 3D Mandolorian puzzle to attempt with the family.  It was a jigsaw too far for that evening, but my children will no doubt be forced to listen to several of the comments above when we do eventually tackle it!

David King

Deputy Head (Pastoral)

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