A note from Kim Lowman
Headmistress: Kingsmead Junior School
“Guard that good thing which is committed to thee” (II Timothy 1:14). These words have resonated clearly each day from the year behind and are further amplified as we look to the future.
Coming in as a new Head in May 2017 was an opportunity to reflect on past and current practice and set up some new initiatives for sustainability and progress. As we approach May 2018, I am delighted with the path we have travelled. I feel secure and satisfied that all our decisions embrace the wisdom and vision founded by Miss DV Thompson, as well as casting light and direction on the future responsibilities as a South African school for girls.
As we look to our future, we attempt to build on previous traditions as well our current realities. During the month of May 2017, our parent body, teaching staff and Senior Primary girls participated in a ‘stop, start, continue’ survey. Themes which were highlighted from all the stakeholders weaved a strong thread of consistency throughout. Together with this input and ongoing insight and expertise, from the educators within the school, we move forward.
It is imperative that, we as a school entity, are always open to learning, progressing and meeting the needs of the individual girls in our care.
It is very clear that Kingsmead Junior School is perceived by all stakeholders as a happy, nurturing, innovative and holistic environment. It is essential for all, that this is maintained and also forms the foundation for all future decision-making as we determine a strategy for the road which lies ahead.
Strategy is ongoing and is not easily confined to a date of completion. We realise that through the dynamic nature of education and the students in our care, that we too all need to embrace change as we adapt and contribute with courage and optimism. Strategy is meaningless without action. Our intent is therefore to refer to our strategic conversations regularly as we take steps to continuously meet the needs of the girls in our care.
After much consideration, it is very evident that the central themes and focus is regularly drawn from DV Thomson’s reference to the ‘The individual matters first and foremost’. This powerful statement refers to the need to consider each student in our care as an individual. It is important that curriculum objectives are differentiated and cater for the many diverse developmental needs of the girls from Grade 000 to 7. It also highlights the need for each girl to find her unique gift within the school and get the opportunity to explore her talents within a holistic educational environment.
It is important, however, particularly within our current social and political context that this statement, referring to the importance of the individual, is regarded as a starting point for our strategic conversation. The step which will take us further, however, is to consider the individual as a contributor and vital role player within a diverse societal context. Although the individual needs of every child is considered as essential – her happiness and development is largely affected by her connectedness within a social context. As parents and educationalists, we assist our girls in making individual progress by supporting their independent connections and contributions. Our society needs culturally intelligent human beings who seek to serve the greater good of community needs. We intend to continue encouraging our girls to engage in courageous conversations which promote human understanding and dignity.
In only one year, I have had the privilege of witnessing the positive interaction of girls, teachers and parents; all with the intent of taking the next step forward. We are immersed in the celebration of our girls and the progress they have made in so many different areas.
Reasons to celebrate
Our sport has shown considerable improvement- with our Athletics and Swimming teams progressing to top 4 and 5 placings at Prestige events. We have girls representing Provincial teams from all disciplines.
Arts and culture is valued and seen as imperative to the holistic development of our girls, as we see the value of the girls expressing their creative talents as well as their passion to perform. We currently have 268 girls who play a musical instrument in the Junior School. Our Grade 7 production remains an opportunity for each Grade 7 Leader to shine.
We have proceeded with our advanced accreditation in Thinking Schools with the University of Exeter. A Kingsmead Old Girl, Professor Lena Green, spent a day at our school and in collaboration with the University of Exeter, assisted in the evaluation of our school as the first South African school to apply for this advanced accreditation.
We look forward to investing time and finances to ensuring that our classroom spaces transform into innovative hubs of learning. The school masterplan hopes to incorporate these needs both short and long term. We endeavour to include our community and all stakeholders in the process of locating the resources and funding for the refurbishment of the current classroom spaces.
We are eternally grateful to our parent body and girls for the ongoing contributions to our various community partners and outreach initiatives. Not only do we encourage our girls to donate, we aim for our girls to build relationships, understand community dynamics and become activators within their societies.
We have introduced a leadership curriculum in Grade 7, spearheaded by Mrs Tania O’Maker. The girls are receiving weekly leadership training in their life skills lessons, and we have sought out opportunities to give the girls the experiences to practice their leadership. Our girls have been involved in the hosting of guests on Open Day, to revising new leadership committees and opportunities, and to running assemblies.
Our Grade 7s came back from camp with a wonderful mission statement: PURPOSE. This anagram represents the following words: Passion, Unity, Responsibility, Possibility, Opportunity, Service and Encouragement. This really is a wonderful reflection of the vision of our girls, and the values of our school and we look forward to them sharing this at their induction assembly.
The decision to review our policy on discipline has been well grounded in feedback from our community, as well as sound and current educational practice, focusing specifically on the needs of girls, how to motivate girls and researched disciplinary practices.
As Kingsmead girls and teachers, we are responsible for our individual lifelong learning, ensuring intellectual freedom and creativity; while remaining intent on a loyal commitment as members of our school community and beyond.
Our commitment to the development of intrinsic behaviour, choices and attitudes was celebrated during an assembly. Taking our deep traditional perspective of maintaining the values and ethos of our school into account, our girls took part in an assembly where this commitment was symbolized in an expression of personal intent to uphold our motto, ‘Franc Ha Leal’. During this assembly, we celebrated the significance of learning to be responsible for our thoughtful and caring behaviour through considered and respectful choices.
Our SP girls have been encouraged to reflect on their individual behaviour (previously symbolized by the Conduct Medal – an extrinsic display of their actions) and dedicate these badges as a symbol of their courage and intrinsic pursuit of expected mindful behaviour. We introduced a rite of passage, where the girls are able to sign their Conduct Medals and insert them into the newly beaded Inyoni – Kingsmead’s Thinking Bird, as we wanted her to take these into her heart and soul.
The united gathering of Conduct Medals and the symbol held within the bird assists our girls in realizing the impact of their behavioural choices, as well as encouraging them to seek personal progress as they live the Kingsmead values of Purpose; Responsibility; Happiness; Possibility; and Service. The motivation to commit to these behavioural expectations and values of our school is thus seen as an increasingly intrinsic process.
In Gratitude to the Kingsmead Family
In 1948, 70 years ago, Miss DV Thompson spoke of Goodwill: “Goodwill, referring to those willing to do everything in one’s power to bring good to other people, not only to those we love most and know best”. We have a responsibility to those we meet every day, and an increasingly important responsibility to reach out to those we don’t.
I am eternally grateful for the way our girls lift each other up when they are down; for the teachers who support each other and the girls in their care; the service staff for the love and sincere commitment in making our school ‘shine’; to the parents for their generosity, time and support in our future vision; and to you our old girls for your contribution, the legacy you leave behind and the foundation to assist in creating for the next generation.
Our mission stands firm to “inspire a truly happy school, through partnering with all our stakeholders”
We have compiled a visual representation of the joy and happiness experienced within all the dynamic and diverse aspects of our Junior School, represented in this video clip. https://youtu.be/oJI32TdMvQU
Thank you, and take care
(Head: Junior School)