Thoughts from the Head - Happiness

The Head's Study

Visions. Strategy. New Year’s resolutions. Three topics that have cropped up quite a bit in my first 48 hours. Three things with which I struggle. Not in the doing; more with the emphasis that is placed on them above values. For me, values guide all we do in life including influencing and, to an extent, trumping strategies and vision.

Whilst values may not produce the extent of data and key performance indicators so loved of our statistics driven society, they do provide a moral compass that can guide all we do. With values as the bedrock of any business, schools included, vision and strategy are much clearer and simpler.

One of my guiding values is the importance of community. I believe communities are only as successful and united as the least happy and engaged member. Furthermore, that it is the responsibility of each and every member of that community to support those struggling the most. Look no further than the tried and trusted expedition adage of always travelling at the speed of the slowest.

So I was surprised to read at the weekend that trying to be happy could make you miserable. I am the first to say that the most important thing to parents when choosing a school is that they must be confident that their child will be happy there. A happy child will risk seizing new opportunities; a happy child can pick themselves up following a setback; a happy child thrives academically, socially, physically.

In fact, the point made by the research team at Reading is that putting too high a value on happiness can be counter-productive. This could be attributable, they suggest, to the fact that in the West we focus on goals about us rather than on helping others. Outward looking community focus is all; not what we can take but what we give.

So to my resolution? The inward-looking ones can go. Here’s to matching the warm welcome and help received from so many staff and girls during my first few days here. Let our community go from strength to strength.

Mrs Kate Reynolds