Mr Gordon-Brown reflects on this year’s Advice, Care, Help and Empathy programme.
Having not inspected another school for a few years, I have now done two in a month. I was away for two days this week conducting a Regulatory Compliance Inspection of a day and boarding school in the South West. As ever, I find these visits a great source of professional development as we keep our eyes on our mission to be a beacon of inclusive excellence.
I drove back on Thursday afternoon, just in time to check my in-tray and then get home for a lightning change into my black tie for the annual ACHE banquet. The ACHE (Advice, Care, Help, Empathy) programme is something that defines the character of Truro School. Every year between 40 and 60 of our students in the Lower Sixth sign up to be trained as peer counsellors, equipping them with skills and values to look out for other students who may need a kind word, a shoulder to cry on, or perhaps signposting to one of our pastoral care team. The personal growth that I witness in our young adults is extraordinary. I believe that our ACHE counsellors have a powerful impact on what it feels like to be at school, always on hand to use their talents to help others.
Several guests were invited to attend the banquet and to witness the awarding of certificates and the footprint lapel badges that mark out this group. We were treated to an excellent after dinner talk by the Consultant who works at the Emergency Department at Treliske Hospital. He spoke with great clarity on the topic of caring for someone in a crisis, emphasising the fact that crises are part of the human condition and that whilst they are always finite, they take up so much ‘bandwidth’ in a person’s brain that it is often not possible to see light at the end of the tunnel. He gave us all a toolkit to help us to negotiate these times; be a role model of calm and kindness in your life, recognise when others might be in crisis and need help, rally around that person by engaging the support network of family and friends, and finally refer onward to professional help if needed.
We received a short letter from another of our guests which speaks very powerfully for itself. I have taken the liberty of quoting an extract:
“Meeting your students left me feeling there is still some hope in the world…. What with some terrible things going on in the world and unfortunately in the heart of our country, and the day to day incidents that I and others deal with, last night showed me there is still hope for this world with such amazing young people like your students being the future generation to take us forward.
Empathy, understanding, leadership, intelligence, humour and common sense are but a few words that spring to mind regarding your students. I don’t believe young people always get the credit they are due, your school seems to bring the very best out of the students, well done!”
I quipped to our students that they are here to get A Levels but they are getting ACHE certificates instead. When they do finally leave us, no doubt with a clutch of fine academic qualifications, I think I know which certificate will serve them best in life.