I normally write this on a Sunday but this week I have just looked at the weather and I now have a firm plan to be enjoying some long-awaited sunshine this weekend. There's no question that the weather has a positive effect on our mood and general feeling of wellness. That's why the last lockdown was, in many people's view, much more difficult than the first one. It was dark and cold, Christmas had been all but cancelled and we couldn't see our friends and family. In some ways, those working in front line services, including education, had it easier. At least we could see our work colleagues and we had a routine every day.
Routines are important, especially to young people. The daily pattern of arriving at school and going to form and rotating through lessons and going to breaks, gives students a clear, positive structure to their day which is consistent for them. Structure, with its firm and solid connotations, is exactly what the students need to feel secure and safe. When that is taken away, as it was in lockdown, it creates anxieties and worries. Students didn't know what tomorrow would look like or feel like. The routine was broken and days were unpredictable. Now they are back, the timetable and the routines give purpose and direction and the students genuinely look like they are fully settled back in and enjoying it.
Routines are great for attendance too. Today (Friday) some national statistics were published regarding attendance and the comparison to LECA was stark. Nationally, attendance in secondary schools is currently 90%. LECA's attendance is 95.2%. First and foremost, well done to our students and our team at LECA for driving this to such a level. Secondly, it's down to those good routines, those good habits. Thirdly, it's down to our students and families valuing what we offer them and knowing that we will keep them safe. I'm proud of all the students who have developed great attendance habits and I'm proud of my team who doggedly put attendance at school right at the top of their agendas every day.
A while ago I referenced a book called 'Atomic Habits' by James Clear. It's a great book which, in summary, talks about creating a series of small habits to change your life. Sounds simple. It's not of course but it is clever way of looking at something that may seem like a insurmountable challenge. Take reading for example. If we give children a copy of War and Peace, they're likely to use it as door stop. If we say: 'pick a book and read for 5 minutes' that's much more likely to actually happen. The great thing is, if they read for 5 minutes, they'll probably read for longer. If they do that every day, their reading and vocabulary will improve and they will have created an atomic habit. Try it. Better still, buy the book and try some other techniques in there. I'm not on commission, I promise!
For Year 10, the good habits need to start now. Revising core knowledge, revisiting old topics, making revision resources, getting mentally ready for Year 11. How quickly has that come around!? Mr Tatham and I recall the very first assembly every now and then and I remember saying to our new cohort that the time would fly by and how it has. In September they will have 2 and a half terms left at LECA so we must now work harder than ever to secure every bit of knowledge and skill and lock it in. The earlier these habits are formed, the better. They will embed and the students will be ready without any of the last minute panicking we often see before exams. Students panic when they don't know stuff. If they do know stuff, they are calm and collected and ready. This happens with good routines and habits and the growth mindset we have talked about since Day 1.