Mr Brown considers how opportunity, choice and variety can have a positive impact on children.
A Google search of quotes about ‘opportunity’ brings up the usual mix of cheesy motivational pleasantries. But, for me, one in particular stands out. It is by an American comedian called Milton Berle who said ‘If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.’
I have been thinking about this recently as this week I had cause to count the number of clubs we offer to children each week. I was surprised to find out that it is 46! This is embarrassing as it is my job to co-ordinate clubs so this fact I really should have known. Three years ago that number stood at 28, and I guess I must have lost count of the number of new clubs we have added in recent times. These comprise a mixture of during and after school clubs, and it has been brilliant to see so many new clubs such as Bridge, Zumba, Streetdance, Magic and Judo become established over the last couple of years. When I was growing up, after school clubs were non-existent. Even today, in the local primary school that my daughters attend, there are eight clubs to choose from throughout the week and many of them are very expensive. An after school Science Club, for example, comes in at £100 per term.
It isn’t just after-school clubs where schools can try to provide as many different opportunities as possible; the curriculum should have a major part to play in this as well. I remember as a teenager, I developed a keen interest in economics and politics. Neither of these were available to me at GCSE, A-Level or as a club. School was not a happy place for me and I often wonder if it had been different had a wider range of opportunities been presented to me. It’s one reason why I am so thankful to have found teaching, (if you catch me around school I will happily tell you how I ended up in this career completely by accident!). I get to follow my passion every day, and it is the resulting motivation that drives all of us here at Greenfield to provide a wide range of opportunities to ensure Greenfield pupils can do the same.
An anecdote Mrs Steenekamp shared with me at lunchtime demonstrates this perfectly. She mentioned that in her Art Carousel lesson, a lesson that includes elements of theatre set design, fashion design, art appreciation, sculpture and lots more, Year 2 were making puppets for which they have written a story and designed a set to enable them to curate their own puppet theatre show. Mrs Steenekamp explained that many children who are naturally more academic really struggled with the sewing element of making the puppets while many of those who sometimes find academic work harder to get to grips with really thrived and took to it like a duck to water. It is these opportunities that remind children like this that we all have different talents and instances such as this prove so valuable in nurturing confident and happy children. Whether a Greenfield child loves debating, cooking, languages, gymnastics, drama, dance, design, construction, singing, debating, playing the ukulele or immersing themselves in numbers or the English language, there is something for everyone in the Greenfield curriculum.
We are proud of the doors we build at Greenfield, both during the school day, and after it finishes, and I hope that Greenfield pupils continue to knock on any of them that happens to attract their interest.