Originally published Spring 2021, by Andrew Simpson Headteacher
THE Covid-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption of education systems in history, affecting nearly 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries across all continents. Closures of schools and other learning spaces have impacted 94% of the world’s student population, up to 99% in low and lower-middle income countries. But even as we face a time of continued disappointment and concern, there is reason for optimism. Education and its focus on young people and the future is an inherently positive undertaking and as I write it also feels particularly important to underscore that ACE’s mission to teach and to nurture is one we embrace and celebrate even during difficult times such as these. Our commitment to learning remains entirely undiminished.
The pupils have brought energy and warmth to this 40+ year old building and the staff have shown incredible flexibility and determination to ensure our children get the best education we can provide, working extremely long hours and always putting our ACE pupils first. Succeeding is all about partnership and I would like
to share with you some of the many shining examples of partnership that we as a school community have experienced over the last few months.
ACE puts a lot of emphasis on creating chances for children to get active in order to achieve health, social and economic benefits. As a school this involves a great deal of strategic planning and as part of this process identifying where extra capacity is needed to create a more joined-up approach to tackling inactivity. A large part of our success at this is through close partnerships with local organisations. We have a very strong relationship with the Littlehampton Area Sports Partnership (LASP). LASP is part of the local group of schools in Arundel, Rustington, Littlehampton, Clymping and Lyminister. Just before Christmas Miss Fell and Mr Jones – who are key members of the LASP team – came to visit ACE to train some of our children in Year 5 to become sports leaders. As a school we believe that true leaders act with integrity and in so doing are able to establish trust. This is what we wanted for our sports leaders who learnt from the LASP leaders how to develop activities, how to make games fair and how to use games to promote excellence and inclusivity.
Our children really do follow our vision statement which focuses on reaching out to our neighbours in love. In the book Unselfie: Why empathetic kids succeed in our All-About-Me World, educational psychologist Michele Borba talks about the importance of empathy, why children are having a harder time developing it and how to help children learn empathy to succeed. At ACE we are very fortunate that we have many children who actively seek to develop this quality and frequently put the needs of others before themselves. Although I could name many of our children who show great empathy, three in particular deserve particular mention. Milly in Year 5 has recently been a superstar of social media and has been tidying up the streets of Arundel. During the Christmas period she organised, led and co-ordinated a whole-school Reverse Advent to support local homeless charities. The Mackrell sisters have been working very hard to involve the school community in supporting a charity that helps women who have experienced or are currently experiencing challenging times.
We are very fortunate to be part of such a marvellous town and to be able to benefit from the many partnerships that we have formed. These include the town council, the museum, the Scouts, the Brownies and local businesses, all of which understand the power education has to make a difference to the long-term goals of the town.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those organisations who support the young people of Arundel, but more specifically I would like to thank the people who have had a particular positive impact on our school. Bob Rendall has made a significant contribution to the Scout organisation and has always supported ACE. Bob recently took time to make a lovely lector for our children and as part of our local history week gave talks to the pupils about the Scouts during World War 1. Doctor Mott is an unsung hero of the town; as a former Arundel GP he now continues to support his local school in many ways, such as leading Worship, being actively involved in the school’s governing body and most recently in presenting a number of Zoom sessions for the children on the Lord’s Prayer. Terry Tunmore (Tunmore Design & Build) has regularly supported individual pupils and has more recently supported our ambitious school building plans. Finally John Morrison, a local history expert who also does so much for St Nicholas’ Church, continues to support ACE in developing ways in which we can explore our local history and particularly the rich history surrounding our church.
In the last week of term Bishop William visited the children, staff and governors at ACE. After a tour of the school, Bishop William was introduced to some of the pupils who are involved in a range of charity work allowing them to share some of their ideas about how our school can further develop in this area.
Bishop William chatted to pupils about their class work and he shared some of his ideas about the class topics of Jesus as King and the concept of going on pilgrimages. He showed them some of his own treasures from his recent trip to Walsingham – one of his favourite places to go on a pilgrimage.
The pupils thoroughly enjoyed the visit, with one commenting: “He’s really nice to talk to. I didn’t know what it would be like speaking to a Bishop, but he’s really friendly”.
At the time of writing this article we are one third of the way through our academic year. Our focus is, as ever, on the maintenance of outstanding learning for all; ACE is a place of scholarship. We are confident our teaching and support staff will support all our students – whether here physically or remotely – to learn not just to achieve outstanding results but to gain skills and knowledge that last a lifetime. It is in this light that our work together, teachers and learners alike, continues. Together as a community we can work through this; the dark can embrace the light, but never eclipse it.